Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind

Although The Needles lighthouse fog warning could still be heard, last night’s mist eventually cleared from Downton to reveal a splendid warm and sunny day, on the morning of which my garden meandering revealed:

Forsythia

a forsythia,

Azalea

and, now budding, the azalea transported from Sutherland Place.

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom can now me seen emerging from the North Breeze brambles,

Greenhouse and brambles 1Greenhouse and brambles 2

which are choking that abandoned garden’s greenhouse,

and, ‘imitating the action of the [triffids]’, again sending their tentacles across our makeshift fence. This afternoon I cut them back.

Ponies on greenPony 1StreamStream and ice cream van

This afternoon Jackie drove us around the North of the forest. On this balmy day we knew we would see the usual animals wandering on the roads and through the villages. Ponies chomped grass on the green and by the stream at Ibsley where an ice cream van was doing a good trade. A boy paddled in the water sucking on his ice cream while his parents sat on a rock eating theirs. I didn’t think it politic to photograph them. This area had been waterlogged when we brought Flo there for a photo session last year.Pony 2

Pony 3

On the banks of the stream the dappled sunlight enhanced the strawberry ripple of a grey pony, and another looked as if its dye had run into the gently flowing ruddied water.Donkey on roadDonkey 2Donkey rear view

Donkeys abounded in North Gorley. One, sleepily, lay in the road for a good hour or so, only lifting its head when a car sped past. It pricked up its long ears and raised its nose quite suddenly, but dropped it slowly to the ground once the danger was past. It seemed to know exactly how far to let it fall before coming to rest. At no time did it move the rest of its body, any more than did the grey/white one on the grass outside The Royal Oak pub. These two animals were treating their different heated surfaces as electric blankets.Pheasants on roof

Perched on top of the thatch of Cobweb Cottage in Hyde, were two pheasants. Jackie thought there would be no chance of their flying away at the sight of the camera, so I might get a decent shot in. Perhaps the person who fitted the weather vane was a cricket fan.

It was on the approach to this village that encounters with the fauna became, to varying degrees, disconcerting. Having been attracted by the long shadows cast by the donkeys as they grazed beneath the trees, I emerged from the car, camera at the ready. But they were onto me. Almost literally. One in particular advanced at a steady, silent pace, merging its shadow into mine. Backing away didn’t help, so I settled forDonkey 1

another grazing,

Donkeys necking

and two of its companions necking.

I gave up and returned to the car. No sooner had I sat in the passenger seat and closed the door than my more attentive acquaintance pushed its head through the open window, poised its muzzle inches from my crotched started moving it up and down. I felt particularly uneasy, not to say queasy, until I realised that my persistent suitor was scratching its neck on the window frame. That is what caused the rhythmic movement and the flaring of the nostrils. There was nothing for it but to use it as a photo opportunity.

Donkey's eye 1Donkey's eye 2

Donkey's eye 3 - Version 2

When Jackie asked me if I had taken any shots that showed the animal in the context of having penetrated into the car, I replied that I couldn’t get far enough away to have anything in the frame but the asses head. It was like photographing Shakespeare’s Bottom from centre stage.

I am sure that the donkeys themselves are harmless. But what they carry is not. These creatures bear the ticks that give humans Lyme disease  when they bite them. A visit to Google will provide details of this unpleasant affliction. I did rather hope that my amorous friend wasn’t dislodging its ticks into our car.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her superb sausage casserole, mashed potato, cauliflower and broccoli. I finished the rioja and my lady abstained.

P.S. Becky has pointed out that three of Jackie’s fingers on the steering wheel are reflected in the donkey’s eye.

He Thought It Fun To Push Me Over

Sightings of foxes have been discussed on Streetlife lately. One person reported six in a pack. Another pointed out that these creatures are loners, not pack animals. I have never seen more than one adult at a time, but have been acquainted with two families, one every spring in the garden of the Phyllis Holman Richards Adoption Society, and a single parent and her children in that of our flat in Morden. These posts were published before I was illustrating them with photographs.

Feathers 1Feathers 3Downton LaneFeathers 2

Are the foxes responsible for the scattering of feathers that are often lining Downton Lane in the morning, or maybe birds of prey?

Does anyone have a view on the loners/packs debate, or on the likelihood of foxes or birds of prey committing the slaughter.

This afternoon I rescanned another batch of colour slides from 1964 and ’65, covering our year in Ashcombe Road, Wimbledon. This was the first house I ever bought.

Here are Vivien and Michael in our garden in March 1965:

Vivien & Michael 3.65Michael 4.65

The following month we celebrated our son’s first birthday. I caught him raiding the vegetable store in the kitchen. That cheeky grin was never far from his face.

Michael 6.65 2

 

In June, at least, we bathed him in the kitchen sink, where he loved sucking on the face flannel.Michael 7.65 2

Like any other toddler, in July he fed himself, his face, and his high chair in more or less equal measure. In those days I did my own wallpapering, including what appears in the background of this picture. It is probably the only time I would ever have chosen such a geometric design as was then in vogue.

Michael 8.65 1

Michael and I laid turves in the garden during August, when, as I crouched to take this shot, he took great delight in pushing me over.

Vivien & Michael (forsythia)  6.65

When in June, I had chosen to wait to snap a forsythia bush until Vivien and Michael had appeared in the corner of the frame, little did I know that this would be the last image of them together.

We didn’t eat this evening. Neither of us felt like either consuming or preparing anything. I had knocked up scrambled egg on toast for lunch, but that was it. Jackie remains in the grip of a virulent chest confection and I spent the afternoon unsuccessfully attempting to avoid succumbing myself. Between five and nine p..m. I flopped in front of the television watching consecutive episodes of Morse and Lewis, and slowly subsiding into somnolence. (No, BBC YouView has not been miraculously restored, so these were repeats on DTV). I then finished this post and went to bed.

Watch this space.