Cow Parsley

We began the day with a trip to Ferndene Farm Shop in order to buy compost, cake for this afternoon’s visitors – oh, and trays of trailing lobelia and petunias.

This led to a drive in the forest.

From Forest Road

we crossed into Braggers Lane

alongside which cotton clouds scudded over the landscape.

Thatchers Lane was next. There I noticed several saddles mounted on paddock rails. Aiming to photograph the scene I quickly changed my mind. It did not seem appropriate to advance with a camera when a woman, receiving ministrations from a pair of companions, one utilising a mobile phone, lay on the ground. Instead, I asked if we could be of any assistance. We couldn’t. Help was at hand. The lady had just been “bumped by a horse”.

I settled for images of calmer creatures cropping the field behind.

The Head Gardener is rather partial to cow parsley flavouring sections of our garden. This is not a taste I share, because I fear the kind of takeover our hedgerows are currently experiencing. They do, however, attract bees. I am no doubt influenced by the fact that Jessica, years ago in Newark, scattered seed from local fields around our orchard. It took several years to eradicate the thug.

Margery, Paul, and Jutta visited this afternoon when we spent a very pleasant time in convivial conversation, with our guests suitably admiring the garden.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Mr Chan’s Chinese Take Away, consisting of splendid spring rolls; special rice; special noodles; chicken in black bean sauce; crispy beef; and king prawns and ginger. I finished the Fleurie and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Six Trains

This post by Linda at shoreacres, https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/32382/posts/2281944455 took me back this morning to my 1940s childhood.

Linda has eloquently described steam railways in America.

From 1947 to 1954 the magical – to us children at least – The Devon Belle steamed past our kitchen window in Raynes Park on its way from Waterloo station to the West Country. Details of the train and its history can be found in http://railway.g3w1.com/The_Devon_Belle/devon_belle.htm

I was intrigued to read that the author of this piece lived in Raynes Park until he was three and a half, and has memories similar to mine, although I was 5 years old in the inaugural year.

My entire childhood from the age of two in1944 to 1960 was spent in the maisonette at 29a Stanton Road, alongside which ran the railway path. The family ate in the kitchen where we could watch the trains. Chris and I would collect the numbers of those driven by electricity at any time during the day. But our favourite was https://youtu.be/XPpqD3GUmSA

This was, of course, because of the steam engines, but also the Pullman carriages which gave us something else to collect. Each of these first class cars bore a different name, usually of a woman.

When eating we were not expected to wolf down our food, leave the table, and get on with whatever else in which we had been engrossed. No, we had to wait for six trains to go by before we were permitted to “get down”.

When I open the back gate for Aaron on a Sunday morning this involves a walk down the gravelled back drive.

Beyond the gate on the south side we have a range of wallflowers and valerian;

on the opposite side there is currently a heap of the redundant griselina stumps, and more yellow wallflowers.

The dark patch of soil a bit further along, beside another stump and a spray of libertia, consists of spent compost from Jackie’s pots. This is being used to fill the holes left by the removal of the overgrown hedging.

Further still, a clump of Johnson’s Blue geraniums is found beside erigeron and bronze fennel.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest for a brief journey before the rain set in.

Forest Road Burley was the venue for an equine mothers and babies group, only occasionally divided by the traffic with which they played havoc. Observant readers may spot the foal featured in ‘Aquatic Surface Cover’ of May 8th.

A young man with a video camera also stopped to film the scene. We enjoyed pleasant conversation.

For this evening’s dinner the Culinary Queen roasted duck breasts in plum sauce and served them with mushroom wild rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

P.S. Our friend Barrie Haynes has made this comment on my Facebook page:  ‘Unfortunately, the Devon Belle was not a commercial success. The Observation Cars had to be turned on the locomotive turntable at Ilfracombe and the station was badly sited for the town. I believe the Pullman observation cars were later used in Scotland and I think at least one of them is still with us. Because there were no water troughs on the Southern, engines were normally changed at Wilton.’

Aquatic Surface Cover

The morning rain was forecast to last all day. In fact, this afternoon blue sky and sunshine relieved the rolling clouds and we went for a short forest drive.

We left Lymington via the long, winding, undulating, and varied Mount Pleasant Lane which offers views of Sway Tower beyond fields alongside.

Kings Hyde is a turning off it.

A small group of ponies on the moors bordering Forest Road was quite suddenly enlarged by a purposeful string we watched dice with death from the other side of the road and further up the hill. We observed them galloping down a slope and hoped that speeding traffic would be aware that they were intent on dashing out to join the others. The first four or five made it through the traffic from both directions. They were then followed by the inevitable straggler who took more of an amble. All remained unscathed and still strode out past their more sedate cousins.

We have noticed on almost all the forest pools carpets of small white flowers offering considerable surface cover. More were in evidence in this area. I can’t be sure what they are called.

Cattle shared grazing further along the road

with more ponies,

among whom another foal kept close to its mother.

This evening we dined on succulent roast beef; crisp Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; broccoli, carrots and cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden while I drank Marcelo Bocardo Malbec 2018 brought by Elizabeth on Sunday.

Further Fox Activity?

Not having quite enough time this morning to reach the Lyndhurst surgery on foot, I set off three quarters of an hour ahead of Jackie, who followed and collected me as I walked past Sinefield on Forest Road. Bournemouth Road She delivered me to the doc’s in good time.

My appointment with Professor Lyon-Maris was to check on the success or otherwise of his  freezing the wart off my face.  This man is not my own GP, whose name I can’t remember anyway, but when keeping an appointment with him I have to be careful not to ask for the popular variety of potato, good for mashing, I believe, Maris Piper.  He is, however, the wart expert.  Well, I suppose someone has to be.  What happened today was I was first of all seen by a medical student who confirmed that there was no sign of the former offending parasite.  I asked him to have a look at what I think is something similar on the back of my left shoulder.  He wondered whether it appeared the same as the other one.  A reasonable thought, but I had to say I couldn’t see behind my left shoulder and I hadn’t thought of using a mirror.  In truth I was unaware of it unless my hand happened to stray in its direction; and it was completely painless except when I tried to pick it off and it tended to bleed a little and feel a bit like a pinprick.  It is easier to dig out a dandelion.

Michael, my friendly student, then had to report to the Prof and present his findings.  The poor chap had to do this in front of me.  He stood up quite well to the third degree.  My blind diagnosis was the correct one, and an appointment was made for the freezer.

We went on to The Firs where we continued the gardening tasks begun two days ago. Primroses I emptied the oldest compost bin and spread the contents over beds weeded by Jackie and Elizabeth.  Buried deep in the last of the rich earthy material produced in the last two years was a cooked, boneless, joint of pork, as fresh and odourless as if it had been kept in cold storage for the winter.  Speculating about the likelihood of a nocturnal raid on a farmhouse kitchen; a journey to The Firs similar to the one taken with golf balls; the soft mouth of a cat carrying a kitten; and a digging party clambering over the walls of the bin, we came to the conclusion that this was evidence of further fox activity.

The newest bin was rather overflowing after the addition of Sunday’s grass cuttings. Pansies I therefore siphoned off some of them to begin this year’s heap.  Already there was considerable heat emanating from them.

We worked in comparative silence after the buzz of the first Saturday afternoon conducive to tipping out the populace from the warmth of their homes.  Today it was just us and the birds.  There must have been some other small creatures about, for a buzzard circled overhead, occasionally gliding on the thermals.  There is always a biplane threading its way across the sky.  Blackbirds were gathering nest building materials. Woodpigeon on Beehive A wood pigeon blended in well with an old wooden beehive.  Others gathered pickings from the recently spread compost.  The difference in flight of these two avian species I find fascinating.  The pigeon lumbers off with ungainly flapping, often looking as if it won’t make it to its perch.  The blackbird swoops with curving elegance and much more economy of movement, venturing no higher than its chosen target, and giving the appearance of hedge-hopping.

Edging tilesMy final task today was trimming the edges of the remaining flower beds and further embedding edging tiles laid in place by Jackie last autumn.

Tonight’s meal, back at home, was Jackie’s delicious roast pork looking so like the contents of the foxes’ winter larder that I was tempted to ring Elizabeth and ask her to check the compost heap.  I thought, however, that probably wouldn’t demonstrate much appreciation of the chef’s efforts.  The second course was an excellent Aldi plum pie.  With this, I finished the Carta Roja and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.