Watching The Swans

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This morning I scanned the next dozen of my Streets of London colour slides, but had no time to write them up before Elizabeth arrived for lunch and the rest of the day. As I wrote yesterday, there is always tomorrow.

After lunch, the three of us went for a drive in the forest.

Jackie with bag in wind

At Tanner’s Lane beach Jackie fought with her bag threatening to fly away in a stiff breeze;

Elizabeth at Tanner's Lane

while Elizabeth took a stroll in the direction of a passing ferry boat.

Mooring rope and buoy

I wandered down to the shoreline where a broken mooring and two stray buoys suggested that the boat normally attached may have blown away in the recent storm.

Cows and calvesCows and calf 1

On the usual grass verge at Sowley, cattle and their calves lay chewing the cud.

Flies on calf

These stoic animals have only their enviable eyelashes to protect them from irritating flies. Although the cattle roam free, the ear tags indicate ownership.

We stopped for tea, coffee, and cake at The Old Bakehouse Tea Rooms in Beaulieu.

Swans and cygnets

Beside the lake a pair of swans and their cygnets provided entertainment for

Swans, cygnets, observer, and pheasant

a gentleman reclining on a fencepost while a pheasant looked on. Uma’s comment below reminded me that this is the same man who crossed the shallows to feed the parents in January – https://derrickjknight.com/2017/01/21/an-act-of-love/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s exquisite lamb jalfrezi, chicken tandoori, savoury rice topped with almonds, all preceded by meat samosas. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

The Beast Is Back

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An early morning inspection revealed that The Beast is back.

Beast hole 1

It has burrowed under the log and presumably wormed its way through the gap between metal stakes, having also chewed more of the fencing.

Beast hole 2

I filled the gap with a spare stake.

Beast hole 3

During this process I spotted another burrow at the far end of the concrete block, with distinct teeth marks on the bottom of the plank. It is as if our nocturnal visitor, having limboed under the fence, has decided to raise the entrance for easier access.

Later, Jackie bought some more stakes and added another piece of stone to the battlements. The rose stems are a bit optimistic.

Back Drive

I made more encouraging progress in weeding the Back Drive.

Robin with worm

A bustling robin was too busy feeding his family, to take any interest in my activities.

This afternoon Becky helped me customise this blog. I wonder if anyone will notice anything.

This evening we dined on pork rib rack in barbecue sauce, with omelette-topped savoury rice and runner beans, followed by profiteroles, followed by lemon tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and the rest of us shared Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2014.

Spot The Difference

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In today’s gardening division of labour my contribution was weeding the back drive, while Jackie continued planting, weeding, and watering.

My main focus was on the bed alongside the new fence.

This involved clambering between dead stumps and the fencing and digging out stubborn brambles and sticky Willies. I had not anticipated needing to use a fork on all this, but, most unusually for April, there has been so little rain that the ground is rock hard. Consequently I didn’t get very far. For those readers interested in the scale of things this drive is 75 yards long and the width of a terraced house plot.

Jackie filled the Rose Garden urns – one on the brick pillar we have just rebuilt – with compost

in readiness for these lilies bought from the Hordle Post Office a couple of days ago.

Other plantings in the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds and the Rose Garden are mostly represented by labels.

Corner of Palm Bed at Fiveways

In this corner of the Palm Bed we have tulips; a yellow Japanese maple that clearly needs the pruning treatment;

Rhododendron 1

and a pink rhododendron just coming into bud.

Tree peony

A yellow tree peony competes with the latter over which will be the first in full bloom.

Daffodils, honesty, and hellebores continue to thrive.

This cream verbascum stands on the Back Drive bed,

Clematis Montana

and this clematis Montana spills over the front garden wall,

behind which a yellow potentilla is flowering. Can you guess what, when I put the first of these pictures of it up on the screen, got me rushing out there?

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins. I drank Doom Bar beer.

Ready For Bed

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It is almost a truism that when I aim my camera at a bird, it flies away. I therefore focussed on this thrush through the window. This time it gave me a chance. Not until it turned and looked at me did it flee from its shrubbery hide.

This afternoon I printed the last set of Poppy pictures to be entered in the album that Jackie is keeping.

I then scanned the last few of the 1985 black and white negatives.

Here are two scenes of the countryside, in the form of fence and woodland;

two of Sam with the children’s adopted dog, and one Louisa showing all the signs of being ready for bed.

Back home we spent Christmas Day at my parents’ home in Rougemont Avenue, Morden. Here are Dad and my brother Joseph;

Auntie Gwen Christmas 1985

Auntie Gwen;

and Louisa and Sam with Jessica in the background.

The rest of that Christmas visit was filmed in colour.

This evening Jackie collected our usual delicious meal for two from Mister Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away, and, as is the norm, we consumed half of it. I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

En Route To Cornwall

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Fence

A.P. Maintenance, in the form of Aaron and Robin, this morning, almost finished the fence they have built  between our garden and that of North Breeze.

Hanging basket

On the way through to the gate to the back drive, I enjoyed the early morning sunlight blazing through this hanging basket,

Thrush

and managed to spot a well-camouflaged dunnock before it took off from the back of a chair.

I took a trip with Aaron to Mole Country supplies to buy more timber. We always have a convivial chat on these occasions, and I am transported in time to my father’s removal van, which contained such familiar clutter and carried the similar evocative odour of petrol and tobacco.

Rose Sawfly larvae

Jackie made a great sacrifice until this afternoon. She refrained from delivering death to a cluster of rose sawfly larvae until I had managed to capture a reasonable shot of these squirming creatures busily engaged in reducing the leaves of Crême de la crême to projecting spikes.

Rose Garden entrance

Entering The Rose Garden I reflected that it bears just one example of Jackie’s signage.

Just as the sun was setting this evening, Mat, Tess, and Poppy arrived for an overnight stay en route to Cornwall.

Tess and Poppy 1Tess and Poppy 2Tess and Poppy 3

Tess lost no time in introducing her daughter to the garden.

Jackie then fed us on gammon steak, mashed potato and swede, sweet potato, roasted vegetables, carrots, runner beans, and piquant cauliflower cheese. Needless to say, this was all cooked perfection. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Tess and I finished the merlot.

Before And After: The Back Drive

A good part of the day, until I set the incinerator going at 4 p.m., was spent in selecting and printing the next section of the garden development album.

If there was any task more daunting than anything else in the Old Post House garden, it was the back drive.

Jackie in back drive

This is what it looked like on 14th June 2014. An extremely careful examination of the picture will reveal Jackie at the far end embarking on spraying herbicide. After about a metre this was abandoned. The gate in the foreground didn’t fit and was roughly attached to a rickety makeshift fence.

Wheelbarrow prepared for bonfire

Nine days later the main burning pile, which will be featured later, had encroached onto this area and the old wheelbarrow that was to hold the pyre, had been put in place. The barrow itself stands on a few inches of soil forming a shallow raised bed on which vegetables had been grown. A ring of granite sets held this in place. There were several such booby traps lying about. The panels leaning on the new fence are, we think, part of what was described in the inventory as ‘greenhouse, unassembled’. further down, the older fence has been pushed over by the neighbours’ firs.

Back drive

By 21st July, further encroachment made combustion seem an impossible task.

Bramble across back driveThick brambles attacked from both sides, rooting freely in the earth strewn gravel. This one was lopped on 28th July, because It kept clawing my head.

Jackie with bonfires 1

By 19th September we had made some little headway on weeding, but were still burning branches, many of which, of course had come from other parts of the garden.

Back drive 10 a.m.

Two days later, felt we were getting somewhere. This was the scene at 10 a.m. when we began taking out the shrubbery and trees growing up the side of our neighbours’ house;

Back drive 1.30 p.m.

and this at 1.30 p.m.

Pruned conifers

Another four days and Jackie had made considerable progress in keeping the invasive firs in their rightful place;

Back drive entrance

and by 1st October we had begun defining the entrance, making yet more use of the excavated concrete slabs.

Aaron working 2

In the new year it became apparent to us that we were definitely in need of help. I reluctantly had to admit that there was a limit to what we could manage alone. By 21st February 2015 we had had the good fortune to engage Aaron of A.P. Maintenance. As I told him today he has had a far bigger impact on what we have achieved than by his work alone. Here he is digging out a clump of ornamental grass which I couldn’t lift. We now call this plant ‘the Phoenix’, because it resisted all attempts at destruction, including burning. It flourishes in Elizabeth’s Bed.

Back drive

Aaron only visits on Sundays, but this is the progress he had made by 8th March, in levelling of the soil, much of which was transferred to the rose garden, and edging the right hand border with found bricks. Jackie and I had pruned the griselinia hedging which has been allowed to become an avenue of tall trees.

Jackie executing four point turn 4

On 5th April, Jackie was able to use the strip for its intended purpose. On the left hand side, Aaron has used the granite sets for edging.

back-drive 26.4.15

Three weeks later, he and Robin had covered the drive with most of the gravel.

aaron-concreting

This was completed on 10th May, after Aaron had cemented a retaining bar outside the entrance.

Back drive

By 11th October the drive was in full use. Jackie has lined both sides with flower beds. No doubt I’ll have to tackle the fallen leaves soon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi, special fried rice, vegetable samosas, and onion bhajis.  She drank Hoegaarden and I drank another glass of malbec.

Now And Then

Because of my severely restricted mobility my rambling currently is confined literally to ‘[My] Own Back Yard’, and metaphorically through my photographic archives.

This morning I ambled along the back drive taking a few more shots of the North Breeze jungle next door.Chair through hedge

This chair rests behind the hedge we have pruned,Dilapidated fence

revealing the dilapidated fence,North Breeze jungle

and the abandoned garden itself.Magnolia

A magnificent magnolia, now ensnared by brambles, is a further example of how splendid the neighbouring plot once was.South corner of garden

Jackie’s new bed has brightened the South West corner of ours.

This morning Jackie drove us on a round trip, first to Lidl to buy a pair of garden chairs and trailing geraniums; then to Stewarts in Christchurch for some edging sheers and digitalis plants; and finally to Molly’s Den for four more Stella glasses, two of which she had bought some days ago. The walking stick was required to take me round the stores.

This afternoon I rambled in the slide collection to the first garden we shared together, and to a photoshoot from August 1972 in the small London plot of 76 Amity Grove.Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)003Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)007Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)008 - Version 2Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)012 - Version 2Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)013

Jackie 8.72 (blue shirt)011

I scanned eighteen photographs. These are a selection from them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s liver, bacon, and sausage casserole; mashed potato, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; followed by apricot and prune crumble and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Lussac Saint-Emilion.