“A Lot Of Work For One Man”

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This morning Jackie drove us out to MacPenny’s Garden Nursery at Bransgore, where we brunched at The Robin’s Nest. Jackie mooched around the

Plants for sale

sales area, where she learned how necessary were the signs asking people to keep their dogs on leads because they have chickens. Apparently more of their chickens are killed by customers’ dogs than by foxes.

I wandered along the garden paths and up and down the wooden steps.

A flowering cherry and several camellias were resplendent. Some of the latter soar amongst branches of trees, dropping their heavy blooms onto the beds of last autumn’s leaves.

Some spears of bulbous plants are piercing they way through the soil to join a few crocuses and hellebores.

I spoke first to a man collecting and delivering mulch to heaps beneath some trees.

These were for gardener, Rob, to spread around the beds. Rob himself told me that he was the only person who did all the plant care, maintenance, and weeding. “A lot of work for one man”, he proudly stated.

Urns with daffodils, primulas, and ivy

On our way home we stopped at Redcliffe Nurseries where Jackie bought two primulas and an ivy with which to supplement her planting in the iron urn and a new one just in front of it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous sausage casserole; her pulverised creamy mashed potato; and toothsome Brussels sprouts and broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Val de Salis Syrah 2014

 

The Death Penalty

This morning we visited New Milton’s Birchfield Dental Practice, where Mr Hefferan relieved me of one of my choppers which was rather loose. His painless technique was a little more sophisticated than the application of my mother’s fingers many decades ago.

My Dad was a fan of the novelist Edgar Wallace. This is what prompted me to buy a second-hand copy of ‘The Flying Squad’ a good thirty or more years past. A recent exchange with Brian, LordBeariofBow, prompted me to get around to reading it. I finished doing so in the waiting room while Jackie was having her less drastic treatment.

A fairly standard early 20th century detective thriller that would seem tame if translated to today’s TV series, so often penned by women, my copy was the 1940, 13th edition of the 1926, work. Produced during the time of the Battle of Britain, this book has survived longer than would a modern counterpart. A hardback, suffering a little foxing and browning of paper, it is still quite durable. I know it has been read previously for there were one or two minor stains and the occasional crumb lodged within.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Wallace’s novel is it’s constant reference to the death penalty of which the villains were in fear. Had I committed murder before I was almost thirty, I could well have been hanged.

It was not until the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 that the death penalty for murder was abolished, although it was to survive in Northern Ireland until 1973. Wikipedia  tells us that ‘the Act was introduced to Parliament as a private member’s bill by Sydney Silverman MP.’ It provided  ‘that charges of capital murder at the time it was passed were to be treated as charges of simple murder and all sentences of death were to be commuted to sentences of life imprisonment. The legislation contained a sunset clause, which stated that the Act would expire on 31 July 1970 “unless Parliament by affirmative resolutions of both Houses otherwise determines”.[3] This was done in 1969 and the Act was made permanent.’

On 13 August 1964, Peter Anthony Allen, at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and Gwynne Owen Evans, at Strangeways Prison in Manchester, were executed for the murder of John Alan West on 7 April that year. They were the last of such UK executions.

Perhaps better known victims of the hangman were Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged, and Derek Bentley who had met a similar fate two years earlier.

Film, TV, and stage productions have recounted the story of Ruth Ellis who died in 1955, and Derek Bentley, the subject of a 1991 British drama film directed by Peter Medak and starring Christopher Eccleston, Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell.

The Bentley case led to a 45-year-campaign to win him a posthumous pardon which was granted in 1993, A further campaign resulted in the quashing of his murder conviction in 1998.

The gun that killed PC Sidney Miles had been fired by Bentley’s companion, 16 year old Christopher Craig, who was too young to hang. The finding of guilt hinged on the interpretation of Bentley’s cry, ‘Let him have it’. The jury interpreted the phrase to mean ‘Kill him’. The defence view was that he meant ‘Hand over the gun’.

Those two 1950s executions stayed in the memory of this then young boy.

Late this afternoon I wandered around the garden.

Bee? in flight

When I recently photographed an insect such as this one making a bee-line for euphorbia, I described it as a wasp. I don’t think it really can be. A bee, or a hoverfly, perhaps?

Rhododendron

I photographed this rhododendron in bud a day or two ago;

Cherry flowering

as I did this flowering cherry.

Erigeron

The erigerons outside the back door are recovering well from their severe haircut.

This evening we dined on shepherds’ pie, carrots and cauliflower. Jackie drank more of the Côtes de Gascoigne, and I drank Lion’s Lair Shiraz 2013.

A Sparrow in Swallow Drive

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Jackie continued with the weeding of the rose garden today, whilst I wandered with the camera.

Tulips are now in bloom.

Tulip 2

This one really did come from Amsterdam, courtesy of Danni and Andy who brought it back for us.

A bank of yellow primroses fronts this striated group at the entrance to the back drive,

Wallflowers

along which golden wallflowers are massing.

Rhododendron

Our first rhododendron is beginning to flower;

Japanese maple

 Japanese maples are coming into leaf,

Cherry blossom

and a deep pink cherry blossom is blooming.

Saxifrages

Saxifrages planted last year are thriving.

Wasp

Clearly confused as to the season. a sleepy wasp staggered about.

This afternoon we went for a drive.

The tide was high at Keyhaven, where the wreck was now submerged,

Boats and Hurst lighthouse 2

and the Hurst lighthouse clear beyond the line of moored boats.

Mallards (purple headf)

A purple-headed mallard and mate basked on a lichen covered wall;

Coot and white bird

and a white-headed coot paddled past a white bird hiding in the reeds.

In view of Hurst spit swans waded, foraged, and drank. One bore a tide-mark causing speculation about what it had been swimming in.

Among those silhouetted on the spit were a woman and two children,

and two young women. In each group there was one person engaged in a mobile phone conversation.

Sparrow

We took a diversion around a housing development in Milford on Sea. Given that these streets all bore the name of a different bird, I wondered what a sparrow was doing on Swallow Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef cobbler, sautéed potatoes and mushrooms, with crisp carrots, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank sparkling water while my drink was San Andres Chilean merlot.

Putting Readers In The Picture

Some of my more recent followers were rather shocked by yesterday’s post. Those who have read my offerings over a longer period will possibly have been prepared by ‘My Branch Of The Family Tree’. It may now be worth explaining that the production of ‘Becky’s Book of Seasons’ was one way of dealing with my grief. The whole piece is a metaphor for life’s ups and downs, and for the value of hope. This morning’s amble round the garden revealed a number of newcomers, such as; Cranesbill geranium

cranesbill geraniums,

Rhododendron 1

the first of the rhododendrons,

Rhododendron 2

with its entourage of white daffodils,

Flowering cherry

and a new flowering cherry.

Some plants are now even more profuse. These include:

Forget-me-nots

flourishing forget-me-nots,

Onion flowers

undulating swathes of white onions that, until disillusioned by Jackie I thought were albino

Spanish bluebells

Spanish bluebells springing from the soil.

Violas

Tough little violas, somewhat chewed, have nevertheless survived the winter,

Azalea

and the transported azalea is now in full bloom.

Stitches in handThis morning Jackie drove me to Hythe hospital for a physiotherapy appointment on my hand. A very careful, affable, and efficient young physiotherapist rejoicing in the name of Sapphire had the task of removing my plaster; examining the stitches; changing my dressing; writing down a couple of exercises for me; and altering the venue for my next appointment to Lymington which is much nearer. The stitches are not due to be removed for another week. Sapphire was pleasantly surprised by what she found, saying that I healed well, which was some consolation. One of the prescribed exercises involves making a fist with the injured hand. After three hours I could do so quite effectively. Bearing in mind that the top joint of the third finger has been incapable of bending ever since I broke it playing rugby about thirty five years ago, I think the next picture demonstrates this. It is to be hoped that the delicate shade of pink chosen for my nail varnish is appreciated.Fist in bandage

Out of consideration for my more squeamish readers, almost foregoing the wordplay of the thumbnail option, I have published a medium image of the stitches. Those who wish to inspect the decorative needlework, may wish to click on the image to enlarge it.

Gorse - Version 2

As we drove across the heathland on Beaulieu Road I felt like an Israelite following Moses across the Red Sea. On either side of the forest road waves of gorse billowed across the landscape sending golden spray crashing onto the division between them.

Stopping in Lymington on the way back, we sampled the set lunch menu at Lal Quilla. This was excellent. For £6.95 each we chose onion bhajis from a range of starters; prawn pasanda for Jackie, and prawn jalfrezi for me, each with pilau rice, from a choice of four main courses; and ice cream. The portions were the same quantity and as well cooked as we are accustomed to in the evenings. Jackie drank diet coke. My beverages were an interesting arrangement. The barrel ran out of Kingfisher whilst the waiter tried to pour me some. He held up a pint glass which was mostly filled with head, and offered me bottled Bangla or Cobra instead. I chose Bangla. Later, he brought me the Kingfisher, now settled to a good half pint. ‘Complimentary’, he said with a smile. This was more than I would have wished to drink, but it would have been churlish to refuse, so I didn’t.

I am not sure that I didn’t drop off to sleep this afternoon before Danni and Andy popped in for a visit, which was very welcome and enjoyable. Such are the geography and timetables of modern life that these casual social activities are generally a thing of the past, which is a shame.

This evening Jackie’s triple decker club sandwiches with sparkling water was more than ample sustenance.

A Rude Awakening

Flowering cherryWe have packed the long life milk, so it fell to my lot, this bright morning, to walk down to the village shop to buy some more. I returned via the church path, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens.

Burgeoning spring has come to Castle Malwood Lodge garden, with its flowering cherries and its shrubs; to those in the village; and to the verges and hedgerows.

I stopped on the way to say goodbye to Alan. We discussed the ‘bedroom tax’, which in my view is far more complex than it seems to some. There is no doubt that many elderly people, often recipients of depleted and diminishing Social Services, are struggling alone to keep going in family houses when all their offspring have moved away, whilst younger people, faced with mounting rents, strive to bring up families in one-bedroomed flats. Whether penalising those Council tenants who cannot, or are reluctant to, move from their life-long homes is the answer, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, somehow a balancing of this problem needs to be achieved.

At the village green I met a couple seeking a walk before lunch in the Trusty. I now have plenty of experience with which to set them on their way.

Celandine & violasHawthorn

Celandine, violas, primroses, and hawthorn sparkled in the sunshine. Primrose & ChampionI find it almost impossible to photograph primroses in bright sunshine, so I settled for an equine one who, with Champion, her male escort, basked at the trough.

Moss on phonebox

Moss adorned the little-used public telephone box.

Berberis

Sawn trunkA flaming bright orange berberis blazed alongside the road leading up to the church.

A number of trees bordering the still soggy church footpath have been cut down. They leave fascinating forms reminiscent of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle.

At one end the signpost has been embellished by the addition of an outstretched gauntlet. Clearly someone thought the direction of the thoroughfare needed some clarification.Gauntlet

Less hardy than the New Forest ponies, many of the adult thoroughbreds in the fields still wear their winter warming coats. The youngsters seem to be deemed not to need them.Horses through hedge

Alex Schneideman, in a recent post, illustrated an enlightening article on the emotional impact of out of focus portraits against sharply drawn settings. I wonder what he would think of this shot of the horses seen through the hedgerow.

Toad

Whilst I was wandering this morning Jackie began the task of dismantling her portable garden. We continued it this afternoon. When she had installed it, she had disturbed a sleepy toad. The creature obviously survived the trauma, for today the horticulturist once again aroused it from its slumbers.

Jackie’s garden contained the deer-proof fencing, various assorted bricks, and a total of 84 pots of flowers, most of which were quite large. Some of the pots were in hanging baskets. There was the bird feeder with its squirrel baffle, and lots of both wooden and metal stakes. This was no mean achievement to put together, and quite a project to take apart. As I trudged backwards and forwards across the garden to return brick-loads to their previous resting place behind the garages, I wondered how she’d managed to carry them all across in the first place.

As I post this we are about to drive to the Curry Garden at Ringwood, where we will enjoy their usual excellent food and a pint and a half of Kingfisher.