Decidedly Not Smart

A number of terra cotta and yellow kniphofias have self-seeded at various places in the garden and have recently chosen to bloom rather late. These are in the Kitchen Bed, accompanied by hibiscus, petunias, Japanese anemones and fennel.

This begonia and the pelargonium are recovering from near death with the benefit of Jackie’s tender care.

Like the white Marie Boisselot glimpsed in the bottom of the Kitchen Bed picture, this pink and blue clematis and the wisteria are producing their third flushes of the year.

I paused, this morning, to photograph this happy planting of pelargoniums, fuchsias, and Japanese anemones in the front garden before embarking into the car for a trip to Woodpeckers to visit

Mum, now well enough settled into her room to have hung her favourite pictures, one of which is a drawing I made in about 1958 when my sister would have been four and I would have been sixteen years of age.

It portrays Elizabeth watching the family’s first decidedly not smart dodgy black and white TV set.

Leaving Mum to her lunch we took a diversion around Burley on our way home for ours. On Bisterne Close we trailed a young woman riding a white horse.

Although dull, it was another warm day, which brought out flies again prompting ponies to cluster under the trees.

Jackie spent the afternoon in the company of her avian under-gardener who continually converses in the sweetest, almost imperceptible gentle whisper. We can just watch his throat pulsating. He spent some time in the cryptomeria above her head, dropping down to a terra cotta lantern beside her.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (21)

This evening we dined at The Wheel in Bowling Green. The food and service were as good as ever. We both chose tempura prawns as starters, with salad so fresh as to have possibly been immediately picked from the garden. Jackie’s main course was thick meaty burger with chunky chips, salad, and onion rings; mine was an excellently cooked rib eye steak with chips, mushroom, tomato, peas, and onion rings. Jackie drank a guest lager which we can’t remember and I drank a good Malbec.

When we arrived a robin greeted us from a hedge in the car park. For a moment we wondered whether Nugget had arrived before us.

Back at home I watched the recorded highlights of the first day of the final Ashes Test match.

Shadows On The Paper


When our friend John Jones visited to paint and draw in our garden last September, the day was so wet that he was confined to the greenhouse to avoid unwanted drops diluting  his watercolour painting.

Today, even John would not have minded a little rain. He arrived on time, and, with  Elizabeth, we sat for a while on the patio, drinking fizzy lime cordial. Jackie then repaired to the kitchen to prepare a splendid salad lunch which the four of us later enjoyed; and I took John on a tour of the garden so he could choose his vantage point. He said he was spoilt for choice

and settled in the Westbrook Arbour looking down the Phantom Path.

One of our first Japanese anemones stood just in front of him, and an accommodating hosta gathered up fallen geranium petals.

Over lunch we shared memories of childhoods – ours in London, and John’s in Southampton. Horse drawn carts were just one of the similarities we all identified. Many of mine feature in ‘An Historic London Borough’.

After lunch, our artist continued with his work. He spoke of how, in some ways, working in the steady light of a rainy day, had been simpler than with grappling with shadows on the paper.

John's Phantom Path painting

Having taken this first piece as far as he could today,

 John transferred to a shady corner of the Rose Garden. His necessary expressions of intense concentration were softened by his engaging smile.

John's drawing

He left his drawing at this point.

The four of us settled into the Rose Garden with pre-dinner drinks. Then it rained heavily, we got wet and eventually fled indoors. Then the rain stopped.

After drinks Jackie drove John to New Milton station to catch his train home to Southampton.

Jackie, Elizabeth, and I dined at Lal Quilla this evening. Elizabeth enjoyed korai chicken tandoori masala with pilau rice; Jackie chicken shashlik with an egg paratha; and I chicken jaljala with special fried rice. We all drank Kingfisher. As always, the food was excellent and the service friendly and welcoming.


“An Artist In My Greenhouse”


This week we have enjoyed three fine days. Tomorrow with also be fine. Today it drizzled most of the time. This, however, did not phase John Jones, an artist friend who had planned to depict the garden and was duly delivered by Paul Clarke this morning.

John Jones 1John Jones 3John Jones 4

John happily became ensconced in the greenhouse where he drew until lunchtime. He didn’t seem to mind the cockerel following progress.

Jackie laid on a splendid lunch of cauliflower and stilton soup, crusty bread, cold meats salad, and cheese and biscuits.

John Jones 5John Jones 6John Jones 7John Jones 8John's painting

Afterwards John applied watercolour.

John Jones 9

Remembering what I was always prone to do when painting, I instructed the painter not to dip his brush in his tea.

“How exciting!” observed Jackie. “An artist in my greenhouse”.

John's drawing

Despite his difficult vantage point, John managed to produce excellent compositions in pencil,

John's watercolour

and in watercolour.

As, early this evening, we drove John to New Milton to catch the train to his home in Southampton, the rain had stopped and,

Sunburst over Christchurch Bay

Sunburst over woman on bench

especially across Christchurch Bay, the sun blazed in the sky.

Walkers on cliff path

Walkers strode along the cliff path at Milford on Sea.

Isle of Wight and beach huts

The Isle of Wight was in clear view.

Crumbling cliff

It seemed as if the crumbling edge is further approaching the pedestrian thoroughfare.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled onions and gherkins. I finished the Cairanne.

P.S. Note Jackie’s reply to paolsoren in comments for the soup recipe

Posthumous Portraits


Today I scanned the last of the Christmas 1985 negatives, and here present a selection.

Grandma, Mum, Louisa, Derrick 12.85

When you lunched at Mum’s you not only fought your way through a massive roast meal, but later, you were expected to consume a plentiful afternoon tea. Jessica must have taken this photograph of Grandma, Mum, Louisa, and me seated at the table.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa 12.85

It looks as if Jessica swapped places with me.

Having entertained Sam with Hoopla, Dad spent some time playing with Louisa on the sofa. It looks as if there was a certain amount of competition as to who would fall asleep first. Mum will have made the knitted doll.

Dad and Jessica 12.85

My father’s reward for his exertions seems to have been to have his daughter-in-law read him a story;

Jessica 12.85

after which Jessica found time for contemplation.

Sam 12.85

Sam, however, continued to daydream about another game with his grandfather.

Joseph 12.85

Joseph was well ahead of the current fashion for young men to wear full beards.

There were two more photos of Dad,

Dad's portrait photocopy

one of which I used as a model for a pastel portrait for my mother, the Christmas after he died. The story of how he helped me is told in ‘Would You Believe It?’.

Auntie Gwen 12.85

Auntie Gwen was also the subject of a portrait. This time in pen and ink for a magazine illustration.

Auntie Gwen 85

This is how I adapted the photograph.

This evening we dined at Daniels Fish Restaurant in Highcliffe. With her chips Jackie chose scampi; my choice was haddock. We both had mushy peas. Jackie drank coffee, and I drank tea.

‘Follow Grandpa. He Knows The Forest’

BenchThe day was changeable, but better than predicted.

ImogenThis was a relief, for Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen came for the weekend.

JessicaAs soon as they arrived the two girls were into their princess dresses (see post of 16th February).

Louisa, Jessica and Imogen

Then they were off to explore the garden, which would not have been possible had we had the predicted rain.

Louisa, Errol, Jessica and Imogen and poniesAfter lunch I took the family on a pony hunt.  Louisa drove us to Football Green where we parked because fortunately the area was full of ponies.  Louisa, Errol, Jessica (and Imogen, and ponyThis was a result, which was more than could be said for Manchester City who were beaten by lowly Wigan Athletic in the F.A. Cup Final match that took place later.  Perhaps incongruously, there was a cricket match going on there.

The streams and fallen trees held the interest longer than the ponies, possibly because of a brief moment of excitement. Jessica, Imogen and pony Jessica decided to closer investigate a pony chomping away at the bank of a stream by the roadside.  As she approached, the animal leapt up the bank with a thud and shook itself dry.  We then wandered into the forest in search of good climbing trees, of which there were a considerable number.  Yet another use was found for fallen trunks and their knobbly branches. Louisa and Jessica With a certain amount of help, Jessica and Imogen were adept climbers. Louisa, Jessica and Imogen climbing (2) At one point my younger granddaughter decided she had something in her Wellie, so she sat down on the fallen steed and shook it out. Louisa and Imogen Sometimes she had to be helped down.  Readers of my last few posts in particular may be amused at the quote of the day.  When it came to return to the road, Louisa said: ‘Follow Grandpa. He knows the forest’.

Back home we had an albeit belated Easter Egg hunt.  This created great excitement.  Imogen doesn’t like chocolate, so she gives her spoils to her sister.  It is evidence that she prefers the search to the result that when it was all over she insisted the little eggs should be hidden again.  And again…and again.

Jessica and Imogen

Then it was time to settle down to drawing, at which both the children are very talented. Jessica's rainbow Jessica made one for me and took it away to add some rather significant detail.  There had to be raindrops if there was a rainbow and sun.

Louisa, Jessica and Imogen blowing bubbles

Before bed, blowing bubbles and an adventure in our young neighbour Eleanor’s den, by the bench in the corner, were enjoyed.

The children dined rather earlier than the adults, who waited until after the bedtime stories read by their mother.  The stories continued while the grown-ups ate Jackie’s cottage pie followed by rice pudding and/or profiteroles.  We were entertained by hilarious giggling from their bedroom while Jessica read to Imogen.  Louisa and I drank Oyster Bay merlot 2011; Jackie and Errol drank Stella; the children’s hi-jinks had nothing to do with alcohol.