Frisky Cattle, Somnolent Ponies

Hot, flyblown, weather has returned.This afternoon we took a short drive into the forest.

Cattle at East Boldre were surprisingly energetic in the humid heat. They travelled quickly across the moorland, interrupting their grazing with a mounting amount of head-butting.

More somnolent ponies took what shelter they could from the East Boldre bus hut. One prone grey looked as if it might be in need of the defibrillator now occupying the redundant telephone box.

The burning sun cast sharp shadows as the ponies clustered together

twitching tails as protection against

irritating insects.

Once I had returned to the car, this mare above chose to plant herself behind it. Slowly Jackie reversed to nudge her out of the way. The pony ambled round to the driver’s side and Jackie rapidly closed her window before the animal could make her objections known.

Later I listened to more of the Ashes Test match.

This evening Jackie and I joined Elizabeth and Jacqueline for dinner at The Fleur de Lys in Pilley. My starter consisted of crab and smoked mackerel; steak medallions formed the basis of my main course; treacle tart and ice cream was to follow. The service was excellent and the food as superb as ever. Elizabeth and I shared an excellent bottle of Malbec. I am past caring what anyone else consumed.

Better Than Expected

Today’s winds have dropped to 20 m.p.h.

When opening the gate for Aaron this morning I checked on the storm damage.

There really wasn’t much more than I had noticed yesterday. The downpipe to the water butt on the corner of the kitchen wall had become unstuck; a few extra pots had fallen; the sweet peas had been further loosened; quite a few smaller branches had been ripped off the beech and birch trees; some of the ornamental poplar branches were broken; just one rose stem had been torn; many plants have lost stems; and there was a certain amount of wind burn on one side of the winter flowering cherry and elsewhere, such as various fuchsias.

Aaron began the work of tidying up.

He gathered and bagged up many of the fallen branches and leaves;

trimmed the ornamental poplar, removing the broken branches;

and righted the fallen containers ready for Jackie to replace at her leisure. He observed that the morning had gone very quickly. He likes to be busy.

Bob of Lovewillbringustogether’s Weblog has recently suggested a regular feature of “Where’s Nugget” inviting readers to find our little robin. That, of course, depended on his surviving the storm and returning unscathed. I am happy to report that I heard his gentle chirp as he followed Aaron around.

He nipped up onto a chair for a chat, then flitted off into the Rose Garden.

I admit that the first “Where’s Nugget” puzzle is a little difficult.

The red scented sweet peas may have been blown awry, but there are plenty of clinging seed pods which benefited from an early shower,

and its desiccated leaves provide perfect camouflage for our Meadow Brown butterflies.

These dahlias

and the agapanthuses may have bowed to the elements, but, like the rest of the garden, they have fared far better than expected.

Bees, flies, and crickets have come out to play and to work again,

The Rose Garden has remained virtually unscathed,

and one lily kept its head in the front.

Other flowers, like these cosmoses, dahlias, and rudbeckia are wondering what all the fuss was about.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie in short crust pastry; new potatoes; roasted sweet potato and parsnip; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage; with piquant cauliflower cheese, with which she finished the Austrian white wine and I drank Doom Bar.

Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

What Has Been Happening

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY  SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT.

Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,

daffodils,

 hellebores,

and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016

 

Thorns And Scratches

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Jackie is making good headway on her Spring planting

Sarcococca

Two sarcococcas, small shrubs which already dispense amazing scents, have been tried out with temporary plonking in their pots;

Other seeds, bulbs, and corms to come, are marked with packet labels;

Daffodil

Our first daffodil needed a helping hand to hold up its head.

Camellia

Camellias are now proliferating,

Cryptomeria

and the cryptomeria is sporting fresh needles.

Snowdrops

Most beds are blanketed with snowdrops;

Hellebore

more varieties of hellebore are blooming.

Many cyclamens have survived the winter, the white one here offering a fly a perch.

On this fine morning we took a trip into the forest.

At North Gorley a murder of crows were taking a very cold bath in the temporary pools. In order to park safely for a photograph we had to drive on and tun round, by which time most had flown away, a few engaged in aeronautics, and one remained  alone in contemplation.

One of the countryside crafts much in evidence in this area is that of hedge laying. A fine example lines a section of Hungerford Hill at Hyde. Water from the fields is fed into the ditch from pipes sunk into the banks.

This seven minute video demonstrates the skill required to maintain such a living boundary:

Donkeys largely eschew the grass they leave for the ponies that they perhaps regard as wimps whilst, occasionally pausing for a good scratch, they tear away at brambles and anything else prickly enough to test their mettle. These creatures were seen, as usual, at Hyde and Frogham. Could it be that the calloused craters between the nostrils of the young white one trimming the hedge at Frogham, have been caused by its chosen nutriment?

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. Service was very friendly and efficient; the food was as superb as ever. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bahjis. My main choice was Davedush; Jackie’s was Noorjehani. We both drank Kingfisher.

A selection of three photographs have been made from those I submitted. The size chosen is A3+. Raj, manager, wasn’t there, and the others want to check once more with him before I go ahead and produce them.

 

 

 

 

Dicing With Death

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What does Aaron have in common with a bee? You might be forgiven for imagining that it is that they both have very high work rates. That would be a good answer, but incorrect.

Aaron lopping cypress 1Aaron lopping cypress 2Aaron lopping cypress 3Aaron lopping cypress 3Watching our friend, unlit ciggy between lips, firing one-handed from the hip with his petrol-operated chain saw as he tackles the reshaping of our cypress tree, may provide a clue,

Aaron lopping cypress 5Aaron lopping cypress 6

especially when you see the height of his tripodal ladder.

Aaron tidying upAaron tidying up 2

Aaron always clears up along the way. Today he dragged branches to the Back Drive where he cut up a few logs for his client, Susan, leaving the rest for the ‘burn site’ of the dump.

Lopped branch on cypress

This branch demonstrates his clean cuts,

View from patio showing Aaron's completed work on cypress

while this view from the patio displays the finished shape.

Persicaria Red Dragon

The persicaria red dragon baring its bloody fangs in the Dragon Bed,

Crocosmia solfaterre

and the crocosmia solfaterre are among the plants that will now receive more light and air.

Fly on Winchester Cathedral 1Fly on Winchester Cathedral 2

In the Rose Garden, an intrepid fly scales the walls of Winchester Cathedral,

Geraniums and Summer Wine

and geraniums in the stone urn beside the potting shed enjoy a glimpse of Summer Wine.

Japanese anemones

 Japanese anemones appear to grow a foot each day.

Bee and spider's web 1Bee and spider's web 2Bee and spider's web 3

The bee skirting a hopeful spider’s web, in order to work on a verbena bonarensis, provides the answer to my opening  conundrum. Each in his own way is successfully dicing with death.

Later this afternoon we pulled up some brambles. As I walked along the Back Drive to deposit them in a bag for the dump, I almost stepped on twin juvenile collared doves sunning themselves on the gravel. Naturally I hurried indoors for my camera. When I returned they seemed to have disappeared. They were, however, simply playing hide and seek, foraging among the pebbles.

Collared doves juvenile 1Collared dove juvenile 2Collared doves juvenile 3Collared doves juvenile 4

Not yet old enough for timidity, almost in tandem, they carried on about their business and left me to mine.

Sweet pea

Here is a sweet pea for Bruce.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

 

 

Knickerbocker Glory

I did a little bit of dead-heading in the Rose Garden this morning, and watched the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals this afternoon.

Agapanthuses 1Agapanthuses 2Agapanthuses 3

Between matches, I took a break and wandered around the garden, particularly to see how the agapanthuses are coming along. The first image shows them against the backcloth of the Palm Bed, on the edge of which they are situated; the second looks out from that bed; and the third down the Gazebo Path.

Palm bed

Here is another view of the Palm Bed,

Garden view from corner of Margery's Bed

opposite which we have this scene from the corner of Margery’s Bed.

St John's Wort

Saint John’s wort glows at the entrance to the Rose Garden.

Fly on sweet peas

A fly also took a break on a white sweet pea.

Continuing with ‘A Knight’s Tale’ I added some new material and edited extracts from ‘Mugging’

and from ‘Tom’

The picture of Tom has been extracted from this school photograph featured in ‘Did You Mean The Off Break?’ 

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and onion pie in proper short crust pastry, with new potatoes, crisp carrots and spring greens. I drank more of the Fronton, then  became  rather excited when I thought dessert was to be knickerbocker glory, but it turned out to be

Hydgrangea in vase

hydrangea in a vase, so we settled for a Magnum each.