A Magnet

Here are the photographs from the garden this morning: Petunia double white Surfinia

A petunia, Double White Surfinia (no, Mr WordPress, not Surfing), is suspended from the eucalyptus.

Bed on former compost heap

It is hard to remember that this bed on the former compost heap was only planted a couple of months ago.


One definition of a weed is ‘a plant in the wrong place’. This plant, with its crimson-tipped flowers, draped over dead stumps on the back drive is definitely in the right place. That means it is not a weed.


Further along, a row of fuchsias, heavily cut back last year, flourishes once more.

Sweet William

This Sweet William is one of the many plants that now line the opposite side of the drive.

Bee landing on poppy

Bees flitted from flower to flower. Can you see both these insects, wings operating, dropping their landing gear?

This afternoon, interspersed with watering the garden, I sorted and scanned a few more of the prints, from the 1980s, returned by Elizabeth. Apart from the 5″ x 7″ of Louisa, these all measured 10″ x 8″

Becky, Louisa, Sam 1982

This one is a crop from a picture featured earlier, in which Matthew was included. Becky, Louisa, and Sam are seated in a shelter in the garden of Jessica’s Aunt Elspeth in Rugby, probably in late 1982. It was shot in black and white, probably Ilford film.

Louisa 6.83

Another recent post contains an image of Louisa in the doorway at Fontaine in June 1983. Here is one more.

Matthew Slate mine 1983

That same post, ‘Memorable Holidays’, mentions one in September of that year in North Wales, where Jessica, Sam, Louisa, Matthew, Becky, and I visited a disused slate mine. Here Matthew perches in the unglazed window space of an old building.

Louisa, Matthew, Sam 1986

Matthew has always been a magnet for young children. This picture of him at Gracedale Road in 1986, reading a bedtime story to Louisa, barely awake, and an amused Sam, gives one indication as to why.

Just four days after her knee operation, Jackie insisted on cooking ‘a simple meal’. This is her idea of one:  OK, the cheese-centred fish cakes did come from Lidl, but by the time Jackie had finished with them they also wore jackets of thinly sliced mature Cheddar. The chips were cooked in the oven, having come from one supermarket or another. The sauteed leeks and green beans was a dish of Jackie’s own invention; even though the accompanying baked beans did come out of a tin. I suspect the bubble and squeak may have owed something to the influence of Bangladeshi chefs, who will break an egg over any number of dishes, thus enhancing the flavour. For those unaware of this classic English breakfast item, it consists of a fried melange of left-over vegetables. Served in any self-respecting working man’s cafe, it would probably not appear on the sideboard of a dining room at Downton Abbey.

P.S. Re the black and white picture, Becky has commented, thus: ‘The bangle I am wearing was a birthday present. That means the pic would have been taken after August 1982 and as it is still sunny and we are in Rugby it was probably during school hols. Therefore late August 1982 is my estimate. Making Lou 3 months old which looks about right’.

P.P.S. I am indebted to Mr Steele for pointing out that I had not mentioned what I’d imbibed. It was more of the Saint-Emilion.

P.P.P.S. Here is more, correct, information from Norma Palmer: ‘Lovely – I think your “not a weed” is fumitory – we get lots on our allotment. In the wrong place there, but still pretty’.

Jackdaws And Chips

New bed amended

Yesterday, Aaron had taken a corner off the new bed to provide a wider turning circle for Jackie on the back drive. Jackie began her day by replanting those items he had had to dig up, then executing a perfect four point turn.Jackie executing four point turn 1Jackie executing four point turn 2Jackie executing four point turn 3Jackie executing four point turn 4

After this, Peter, Ally, Becky, Ian, and Flo joined us for a breakfast of of coloured boiled eggs, toast, and croissants.

We were running out of Mr Pink’s chips left over from four nights ago. This was alarming.

You may ask why? Well, the pair of jackdaws, if not the most timid avian visitors we have, are certainly the most alert. For several days now, I had attempted to photograph them making off with these fried, but no doubt now rather soggy, titbits that Jackie has been feeding into the food tray. It is only jackdaws that have been retrieving them. Maybe the chips still glisten and are mistaken for jewels.

It has taken only the slightest movement from inside the sitting room as I reached for my camera, or rose to my feet to approach the window for the birds to fly away empty beaked. They were even aware that I was sitting motionless in a chair by the window, my arms aching as I held up my camera. My patience was ebbing fast when the photographic task was taken over by Flo, who claimed to be quicker than me. Even our granddaughter had to be content with taking some rather good shots of a young collared dove adjusting its position on the central arbour, a cheery robin camouflaged in the shrubbery, and that once ubiquitous, but now now rather rare, specimen, a house sparrow. Perhaps, like other cockneys, this latter bird has decamped to the countryside.Collared dove 1Collared dove  2Robin in shrubberyHouse sparrow

Until she hit on the idea of aiming the lens through a guest bedroom window. Flo had realised that the pair of scavengers surveyed the terrain from the rooftops and, when the coast was clear, took it in turns to swoop down to collect their chips. They must have seen safe passage as a bit of a gamble.Jackdaws 2Jackdaws 1Jackdaws 3Jackdaw 2Jackdaw 1Jackdaw 3

The assembled party lunched on Jackie’s roast lamb dinner. Roast potatoes, parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots accompanied a leg and a shoulder of meat. What Ian, an expert on the subject, described as the best mixed fruit crumble with custard and/or cream he had ever tasted. Peter, Ally, Becky, and Jackie drank two different sweet Gallo roses.  I drank Alexis Lichine cuvee exceptionelle bordeaux superior 2013. That was enough food for me for the day.

Ian, who drove his parents home soon afterwards, abstained until he returned four hours later.

In The Verges

Today was sunny and warmer. I made my way this morning down to Roger’s footpath and back. This was more of a hobble than a ramble, but the swelling on the knee has subsided and I have left off the Ibuprofen.

To be found in the verges of Downton Lane are:Crocuses





More celandinesDaffodil

DaffodilsGrape hyacinth

Grape HyacinthsBudweiser can

and drink cans, like this one from Budweiser which will soon be nestling in ladies’ bedstraw.Celandine blue

We have blue celandines in the garden, whereNew bed

Jackie has continued work on the new bed,Chain

and we have erected a plastic chain to enhance the barrier at the end of the drive. This seems at least to have deterred a plumber’s van.


When the tits give them a chance, chaffinches are now visiting the bird feeders.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Lymington Hospital for my pre-assessment to see whether I am fit for surgery for the fasciectomy. After completion of a questionnaire, checking of blood pressure and pulse rate; measuring height and weight and calculating BMI; taking swabs from nostrils and groin to check for MRSA; applying an ECG; taking blood tests; and anything else I might have forgotten, it seems that I am. The operation should take place some time in April.

Elizabeth came for a visit and, later, we drove off to Lymington’s Lal Quilla in our separate cars, and enjoyed the usual excellent meal and friendly service, including a chat with the chef who really loves his work. My meal was king prawn naga and special fried rice. We all had onion bhajis for starters and drank Kingfisher.