Godwits Galore

This morning we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of all Purpose compost.

Jackie explored the rows of plants on sale as she also bought some trailing lobelias, and

found time to encourage one of the resident pigs, which was labouring somewhat, to step up to the trough for a drink.

On our way home we took a short diversion through the forest. Like the New Forest itself it has been some time since the title ‘new’ was applicable to the first of these lanes; the second avoids the problem of nomenclature by not having any.

Ponies dotted around the moors en route to Burley.

As in the lanes above the foliage of Holmsley Passage bore an almost luminescent glow.

Late this afternoon Giles picked me up at home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where we spent a pleasant hour in a very crowded cabin watching the birds.

One black headed gull was fascinated by his reflection in the shallow water;

others shared Hurst Pond with shelducks and swans.

For serious birders the highlight was 31 black tailed godwits, their long legs beneath the surface.

We think this might be a snipe, but it had its back to us so we could not discern the length of its beak.

A pied wagtail trotted along much nearer the hide.

Giles stayed on for dinner which consisted of roast lamb; mashed potato and swede; Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with rich gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and our friend and I chose Mora Vista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Angel Lane

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This morning Jackie drove me to the GP surgery at Milford on Sea to collect a blood test result which, along with a questionnaire I then posted, in the pillar box featured yesterday, to UCH Hospital in London. The material is part of a follow-up survey after my metal-on-metal hip replacement nine years ago. Problems have surfaced from this method. I have none. The blood test is normal and requires no action.

Because of the number of comments I have received complimenting the work of the Milford WI, and in order to show the ladies yesterday’s post, I visited the Community Centre in search of a member to whom I could give a blog card. The volunteer running the café this morning was ‘Tricia, who had helped set up the exhibition at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Naturally we had an enjoyable conversation and she asked for four cards which I was happy to hand over.

We chose the somewhat circuitous Angel Lane route to Milford. The sunlight streamed across the narrow, steeply undulating lane, which made for several interesting head-on encounters, mostly with commercial vehicles in a hurry.

Bluebells, cow parsley, and other wild flowers lined the verges; to the left lay private fields, some carpeted with buttercups, one warning us to keep out; to the right a public footpath had been barred off – not an unusual sight in this area.

Bedding plants

We then drove to Hockey’s Farm Café for brunch and returned via Ferndene Farm Shop where Jackie filled the boot of the car with bedding plants mostly destined for her hanging baskets.

Billy

This afternoon I paid the car tax fee over the phone and made an A4 print of this photograph taken 3 days ago for Helen.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

 

No-one Will Buy Any Ice Cream Today

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Today the Met Office threatened us with continuous steady rain. It didn’t come. We were also promised a stiff breeze. We received that. It was to be cold. It was. 6 degrees centigrade to be precise.

Mrs Knight drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop. While I loaded the Modus with three bags of compost she entered the hut to pay for them and emerged with a tray of geraniums. And I had thought we were only going for compost.

There was much on display in the outside garden centre. Rows and rows of plants like pansies, pierises; heucheras, hottuynias, heathers; and cellophane swathed bouquets.

Numbers of people who had time in the day to shop wandered around making plant selections.

Jackie was one. She sought and found a suitable climbing rose.

Dead-heading Marguerites

The young woman from the sales department, who had been in shorts a couple of weeks ago, offered me the opinion that it was too cold for sandals (sans socks, you understand), upon which I stabbed the air with my right index finger and exclaimed vociferously “I always go into sandals at the first sign of summer and I am not going back to more suitable shoes just because we’re having a little blip. Brrr”. She suggested that the blog-bound photograph I would publish of her tidying up marguerites would make her famous.

New Forest Ice Cream sign

As it was a bit nippy I nipped back into the car while Jackie visited the shop for some carrots. Noticing the advertising sign beside the door I speculated internally that no-one would be buying ice cream today. As my lady returned to the driving seat she announced “I have bought some New Forest ginger ice cream”.

Just to be perverse, the sun crept out this evening, enough to brighten the garden.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots bought this morning. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the merlot.

 

Fire Up Above And Fire Down Below

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1ST DECEMBER 2017

This is being posted two days late because we went away for the weekend and I forgot to take my laptop charger with me.

Christmas trees

You have to be quick to secure a Ferndene Farm Shop Christmas tree. Before setting off for Bicester, we bought one and

Christmas tree

stood it in a bucket of water in the garden. The man operating the tubular apparatus that wraps the trees was a plant supplier who had popped into the shop for coffee and a cake. He found himself standing in for about ten minutes during which time he sold 7/8 trees.

Immediately afterwards we drove to Bicester in Oxfordshire where we stayed overnight at Watts Lodge, a Bed and Breakfast establishment operated by octogenarian Mr Watts, with help from his wife.

Having checked in we enjoyed a late lunch at Jacob’s Plough. My club sandwich and Jackie’s Caesar salad were very good and we were encouraged by the friendly staff to try Sainsbury’s Superstore for a charger I wasn’t optimistic, but we thought we would give it a try.

Jackie’s late former father-in-law grew up in a small thatched cottage which, as far as she can remember, stood on a site close to Sainsbury’s, now alongside a huge Travel Lodge. I am never very good at negotiating huge stores. This one was no exception. We parked on the top level of the car park. This was entitled Level 2. Even now I can’t remember the logic which was to take us down to the ground floor from which we had to ascend by travelator to the first floor of the store. Feeling like a rat in a maze, I wandered up and down several times without finding my way back into the shopping area, until a helpful customer explained the system. Among the various items of leads, cables, and suchlike, there was no such thing as a laptop charger.

Sunset

Having returned to the rooftop car park I found the best aspect of the trip. The sun

Sunset 1

was sinking

Sunset 2

over the town

Sunset 3

and I happened

Sunset

to be standing at the best viewing vantage point, outside the door to Level 2.

I did my best not to notice the trampoline effect of the surface as I walked across the store roof. As she sat in the car, Jackie found the reverberations difficult to ignore.

I understand that Bicester was once a prosperous town which lost much of its prosperity after the Americans who had been based their during the second world war pulled out some years later.

Bicester Village is a fabrication  It is a vast shopping development concentrating on the luxury market. Because of the boasted price reductions hopeful customers drive many miles to buy the designer goods. Many travel by train from London’s Marlebone station to the renamed Bicester Village (originally Town) railway station. They have no need to visit the old town. Once they have done their shopping they go home.

Opened in 1995 https://www.bicestervillage.com/en/shopping/  invites us to ‘Discover a world of luxury at Bicester Village, the region’s ultimate shopping destination. Home to more than 160 fashion and lifestyle boutiques, each offers savings of up to 60%, all year round.’

Needless to say, we didn’t visit this phenomenon, owned by Value Retail plc.

In the evening I walked into Pioneer Square and booked a table at Shakil’s restaurant.

Christmas lights

On my return I was diverted into New Road, at the end of which stands a house which is reminiscent of our Byron Road. In this case just one man assembles this display in order to raise a considerable amount of money for charity.

The meal at Shakil’s was excellent. It had been wise to book, for the place was packed out. We were advised that the nearest parking spot was Sainsbury’s car park.We therefore returned to the superstore. The public toilets underneath the building were surrounded by firefighters and a couple of engines. All seemed under control, so up we went.once more. A deafening fire alarm reverberated throughout the car park. but no-one was leaving and we knew the fire had been extinguished. Of course the lift wasn’t working, so we walked downstairs and through an alley to the restaurant.

Jackie enjoyed her chicken something, as I did my lamb naga. We both drank Kingfisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bees Are Out

Propped up by my walking stick, I managed to make my way through the garden and a hundred yards or so down Downton Lane this morning.The Royal Oak car park

The Royal Oak pub car park had a look of spring about it.Catkins

Catkins swayed in the breeze.Dove

A pair of doves, which we think must be the parents of the baby that died, regularly feast on suet balls in the bird feeder.Bee on pulmonaria 3Bee on pulmonaria 2Bee on pulmanaria B:W

Hairy humble bees gravitated to the equally hirsute pulmonaria,Bee on hellebore

and the shy hellebores. I had to be quick to photograph this one, because it was about to vanish under the hanging head of the flower.

Sausage casserole (recipe) is far too bland a term for Jackie’s classic dish on which she fed us this evening. Mashed potato, crisp carrots and brussels sprouts accompanied the most tasty melange. The meat content of this particular culinary creation consisted of chunky chorizo sausages from Ferndene Farm Shop; smaller Lidl pork chipolatas; and slabs of lean gammon steaks from Sainsbury’s basics cooking bacon. So much did I salivate on ladling out my helping that some of my own juices slipped down my windpipe, producing a fit of coughing. Finishing the Cotes du Rhone eased this. Jackie drank sparkling water.

It may be of interest that Jackie’s version is a development of mine, which was a development of Delia Smith’s. Delia is a brilliant tutor for all the basic cooking methods. That is why I learned a great deal from her. But I soon wanted to spice her meals up a bit. And Jackie takes this a bit further.

A Plant Hunt

Stubble field

FlintDaisiesThis morning I walked up Hordle Lane taking a route on the right through what are now flint-strewn stubble fields sporting attractive daisies.Yeatton House

Yeatton House, now converted into flats, could be seen peering from the trees in the distance.

Feeling like a rat seeking egress from a maze, I took a diagonal tractor track across a Five barred gatefallow field and came to a barrier I recognised. This was the padlocked five-barred gate flanked by barbed wire that had deterred me when I had followed the path alongside Apple Court garden. This time I scaled it and walked back home.

This afternoon, armed with offer vouchers from their brochure, Jackie drove us to Otter CyclamensRoseRosebudNurseries where we bought hardy cyclamens, Murphy’s compost, tulips, and various other items. When Jackie said ‘We’ll get the Murphy’s first’, and walked towards sacks of potatoes, I momentarily thought I’d got the wrong end of the stick.

Afterwards we visited Braxton Gardens and nursery. It was rather late in the season fully to appreciate this establishment, which could do with a little more help with the plants, and for which the proprietors make no charge for entry.Teasels I did, however, find one or two roses in bloom, and the teasels looked attractive in the sunlight.

PansiesThen it was off to Ferndene Farm shop for pansies, violas, and ivies. We planted and watered in the cyclamens, leaving the rest, well soaked, for tomorrow.

ColchicumsWe had no need to hunt for colchicums, for they have risen to the surface in our garden.

Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s chicken curry and savoury rice, always even more tasty the second time. I finished the cabernet sauvignon and Jackie abstained.

Over The Top

Shady pathOnce Jackie had finished her recent clearing job in the bed on what was originally ‘the shady path’, the very wobbly line of the edging tiles so upset my sensibilities that today I reset them into a more pleasing curve with suitably concentric parallels. This required a little more gravel in the sections where I had moved the bend inwards.

We still hadn’t taken our trip to Ace Reclaim at Hurn, so we decided to do that and divert to Ferndene Farm Shop for the decorative stone on the return journey.

At the architectural salvage depot we did not find anything suitable for restraining the rampant rose, but we did find something which readers may be forgiven for thinking we had quite enough of already. View left from Ace Reclaim benchView towards house from Ace Reclaim benchJackie had noticed when clearing her patch that there was an attractive view either to the left or the right, suggesting it might be quite a good position for a perch. She had in mind a single seat, but we spotted a two-seater bench that could just be squeezed into the car. So we bought it.

We bought two bags of Dorset stone at Ferndene. While we were there, if we were going to place the bench on recently dug soil, it made sense to buy a couple of heucheras and a vinca ‘Illumination’ to enhance the site. Jackie on Ace Reclaim bench 1Jackie on Ace Reclaim bench 2Back at home we positioned our purchase, and Jackie planted the flowers, with three begonias for good measure. I then spread and raked the gravel and we had a sit down.

The rooms in our garden can now be described as fully furnished.

Whilst setting the tiles, I reflected on the fact that, for all the work I have done in the garden during the last three months, this was the first satisfyingly creative piece I had managed. The rest was all clearance and destruction. I also thought of how I had come to be rather a dab hand at positioning these attractive boundary markers. This was in the late 1980s in Newark. Our, albeit still very large, garden there had once been much more extensive. A big section of it had been sold for development, but, for our first few years there, nothing was happening. The original Victorian garden had been bounded by these attractive tiles. Some were now buried by a century’s accumulation of soil, but Jessica and I dug them up for use in creating divisions in a vegetable-growing area out of a rough piece of ground. That was also, incidentally, my first effort at laying gravel paths. I had crushed up bricks and road stone to produce about ten inches of hardcore, and covered this with sand before applying the top surface of gravel. This rather amused John Parlett who had bought the aforementioned building plot and erected his own bungalow. He thought I had gone a bit over the top. He was too tactful to say so, but his knowing smile and the twinkle in his eye said it all. This amazing man, a plasterer by trade, used a Readers Digest manual to teach himself how to instal his plumbing and electricity. John had saved our ceiling, as described on 2nd March 2013.

To return to the tiles, I wasn’t sure I would have enough. It was Mum who came up with the idea that the tiles would have extended into what we then called ‘the waste ground’. There was as yet no boundary, and the land looked pretty much like the deserted jungle next door here. But Mum was right. More tiles were there for the taking. Enough to complete the task.

MaizeMaize 2Early this evening I wandered down Downton Lane and turned right into the field, ploughed in April, where a fine crop of maize was coming to fruition.

Deadly nightshade

Deadly nightshade now blooms in the hedgerow.

Bramble across back driveIt is becoming rather more hazardous to use the back drive to enter the lane, as the brambles sporting the blackberries that I still want to pick when they have ripened, stretch right across it.

The final evolution of the splendid sausage casserole, supplemented by pork rib rack in chilli sauce, mashed potato, and vegetables provided our dinner this evening. Jackie drank sparkling water whilst I consumed a glass of Wolf Blass cabernet sauvignon 2012.