Insect Life Returning

Dawn skies over Downton presaged similar weather to yesterday,

especially when casting its light on Becky’s aptly named painting of a ‘Troll in a Storm’ – although when brightening Giles’s stained glass it appeared more optimistic.

The elements did follow yesterday’s pattern although without the rain which only threatened with the occasional forbidding frown.

While Jackie completed her work on the Brick Path

I concentrated my clearing and bagging up of refuse, my dead heading, and my weeding on the Back Drive where

day lilies, honeysuckle, and roses now look somewhat tidier; and

insect life, like Red Admiral butterflies

and crickets, seems to be returning.

Tired as she was, Jackie was able to bale out yesterday’s waterlogged wheelbarrow and continue her planting after lunch.

This evening we all dined on tempura and hot and spicy prawn preparations on a bed of Jackie’s colourful savoury rice topped with a thick and tasty omelette, with which she drank more of the rosé and I drank Moldovan Merlot, part of Becky and Ian’s Father’s Day set.

Path Clearance

I spent much of the morning recovering the pictures to

This really was a difficult task. None of the pictures was visible – although they were all in my systems I needed Wayback Machine to help me identify them and insert them in the right places. It looks to me as if this is the same for my whole Knight’s Tale series.

Last week, Martin, among other things, cleared weeds from the gravel

of the Oval Path.

Today he worked his way from the entrance to the Rose Garden,

past Florence sculpture at Fiveways,

and along the Gazebo Path. The gravel was raked at the end.

Our prolific rose, Ernest Morse, has been risking his life playing chicken across the Back Drive. Before getting out his kneeler our gardening friend began by tying back this rose which Jackie had bought along with his companion Doris Tysterman as weedy twigs about 6 years ago at Poundstretchers for the price of 49p each. At the end of the season, once these repeating blooms are over, the intention is to build a proper support for them.

Later, in order to submit a post for a request, I converted this post from Classic to Block edit:

This evening we dined on oven fish, chips, and onion rings, pickled gherkins and onions, with which Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

Weeding Plants And Postage Stamps

Warmed by a climbing sun; my paths eased by Martin’s clearance work; ears soothed by sweet birdsong, occasionally accosted by raucous jackdaws; I dead headed roses and Welsh poppies and pulled up weeds this morning.

Before a trip to Ferndene Farm Shop this afternoon in order to buy three large bags of compost,

I photographed more flowers and garden views, each of which bears a title in the gallery.

Something else has gone digital is our postage stamps. I have been doing my best to ignore this leaflet from Royal Mail, but bit the bullet today and followed the instructions, filled in the form on the reverse, and posted to the recycling centre 32 first class stamps which will soon be regarded as weeds ready for composting. We are promised replacements bearing the relevant barcode.

Becky turned up just before dinner and stayed over.

We all dined on pizzas, salad, and sausage rolls our daughter brought with her. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2021.

Prey To Spiders

My Chauffeuse was out today with her sisters.

I spent much of the morning reading more of “Clarissa” and took a walk round the garden this afternoon. 

My intention was to focus on fuchsias, such as

Delta’s Sarah;

Army Nurse;


and Hawkshead,

but I was distracted by various dahlias;

roses, for example Ernest Morse;

and sinuous Virginia Creeper’s varicoloured clothing.

As usual at this time of year I became prey to spiders hoping for something tasty to fill their winter larders. This one didn’t finish up about my person.

WordPress comments and likes seemed to run quite smoothly today, but when I came to write the post I realised that this had been a con by the gremlins.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with similar beverages.


During the morning of this decidedly dank day Jackie worked on tidying the lawn and its surrounding borders, while I did something similar in the front garden, cleared up debris and fed the compost bins front and back.

Just in time for lunch a downpour sent us indoors. The Head Gardener left her tools outside, so, when I took advantage of a drier period to wander around with my camera, I gathered them up and deposited them in the greenhouse.

A hoverfly wasn’t too bothered about the raindrops on clematis Mrs N. Thompson; other clematises, nasturtiums, Black-eyed Susan, angels wings and day lilies were similarly bejewelled.

Various hanging baskets and other containers are flourishing, well stocked with petunias, lobelias, begonias, and more. Beside the vertical picture of Alan Titchmarsh, deep red Love Knot and lighter hued red carpet rose, are portraits of Ernest Morse and the climber Super Elfin. We have encouraged the honeysuckle to infiltrate the Back Drive from the garden of the adjacent care home. The purple and white Delta’s Sarah is in the patio bed.

Five more chapters read of Charles Dickens’s novel, David Copperfield, carry five more of Charles Keeping’s superb illustrations to my Folio Society edition.

‘She was sitting by the fire, suckling an infant, whose tiny hand she held against her neck’

In ‘We stand around the grave’ the artist chooses to place the burial party in the distance.

‘Away we went on our holiday excursion’

The figures in the foreground, bursting out of the frame of ‘I lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed’ give a typical perspective to Keeping’s street scenes.

Note the artist’s trademark dog in ‘There was a very long-legged young man, with a very little empty donkey-cart, standing near the Obelisk’

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s hot and spicy pasta arrabbiata with full, firm, and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the especially smooth Rioja.

The wind is whipping up, reminding us that tomorrow afternoon we will need to batten down the hatches in the usual manner in preparation for the gale expected to strike early the next morning.

For The Bees

Between stints in the garden today, which varied from overcast-gloom to sun-bright, I finished reading Chekhov’s engaging story entitled ‘Teacher of Literature” (1894).

Essentially tracing the journey from childhood hardship to the consequences of unearned comfort the tale is told with human insight and with delightful bucolic descriptions. I will not reveal the changes in the main protagonist’s thoughts, but I accept the judgement of translator Elisaveta Fen that ‘The theme is among Chekhov’s favourite ones – the emptiness of mere material prosperity with no prospect of change, [and] the tedium of provincial life….’

There is no drawing to this story in my Folio Society edition.

My first spell in the garden, before lunch, involved clearing, bagging up, and transporting to the compost bin the refuse from the Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings.

The air was brighter after lunch when I weeded

another of the narrow brick footpaths between the Rose Garden beds. Silent woodlice slipped away from my scraping tools, and the water feature bubbled whenever the sun peeped out. Once again the path was too wet to sweep clean.

Even after another night of rain, many floppy blooms are beginning to raise their heads. Here we have the prolific peach-coloured Doris Tysterman; Festive Jewel, Aloha, and For Your Eyes Only in various shades of pink; the white Créme de la créme; the blushing Shropshire Lad; the prolific Gloriana; a rambling Ballerina; the aptly named Peach Abundance; a spreading Perennial Blush; and rich red Ernest Morse.

The elder shrub Sambucus nigra now rivals Altissimo in height.

While I wandered around with my camera Jackie, from her perch in the Weeping Birch Bed, pointed out the buds on the sculptural New Zealand flax.

Some three or four years ago our friend Giles, who has his own welcoming wildlife garden, gave us a twiggy stem of Vipers Bugloss with which to attract bees.

This boon for bees now dominates the far end of the Back Drive and lives up to its magnetic billing.

This evening we dined on tender baked gammon; new potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and piquant cauliflower cheese with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.


Today the unrelenting gloom developed as the day progressed. The leaden sky became more so, although the temperature was reasonably warm when, this morning

I jammed more than 20 of our garden refuse bags into the Modus, leaving about 10 in our pile.

After lunch, Jackie having secured a half hour slot at the Efford dump, off we drove joyfully to abandon our rubbish, only to be denied entrance because the gatekeeper did not have us on his list. The man was as helpful as he could be, but despite my best negotiation skills, including pleading age and infirmity, all he was able to do was give us a direct telephone number which was perhaps more helpful than the on-line process previously used.

We returned home, had a cry, and I made the call. I did discover what had gone wrong but cannot be bothered to dwell on it. We have to start the process all over once more tomorrow.

The back drive is quite some length, so we unloaded the bags quite near the gate to make them more accessible to the car when we needed to fill it up again.

While I was there I produced a few photographs of the drive before taking a short trip into the now gloomier forest.

For the seven years we have lived here, and no doubt far longer, the scaffolding protecting passing vehicles from the possible collapse of this dilapidated building on a bend along Silver street has been gathering a rich rust patina. It seemed to fit our mood to stop and photograph it. Then we went home.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

They Escaped The Secateurs

Jackie spent much of the day watering the garden; my major task was dead heading roses. Here is a gallery of some of those that escaped the secateurs:

Each picture is labelled in the gallery which can be accessed by clicking on any image.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot, spicy, pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.