Far Too Busy To Chat

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Aaron, Jackie, and I continued tidying up the garden this morning.

Daffodils still glow all over;

Honesty

the new generation of honesty crops up everywhere;

Anemone albas

and the Anemone albas are spreading nicely in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Frogs and Jattie's sculpture

Jackie has weeded around and cleaned the little cistern pond, thus revealing the frogs and Jattie’s sculpture.

Snake's head fritillary

The lamp glowing in the sunlight is one of the snake’s head fritillaries Jackie has added to those already shining in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Peacock butterfly on gravel

A peacock butterfly tried in vain to look invisible on the gravel of the Heligan Path which joins

Brick Path

the south end of the Brick Path.

Bee on pulmonaria 1

Bees continue to plunder the pulmonaria.

Collared dove

I had a fairly lengthy conversation with a young collared dove taking advantage of Aaron’s fencing.

Wood pigeon with nesting material

Wood pigeons

Sparrow with nesting material

and sparrows were far too busy gathering nesting material to chat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and special fried rice; followed by apple pie and custard.. She drank sparkling water and I drank Cimarosa limited edition Shiraz 2014.

Sleeping Beauty

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Today, I continued redistributing the gravel on the back drive. This involved shifting barrow loads of the material from one end to another, and raking them smooth. There is more to be done.

rose Félicité Perpetué

Whilst I was there, I noticed, swaying in the breeze, the one Félicité Perpetué bloom that has yet arrived on what should soon be a splendid display draped over the dead stumps.

Rhododendron

On the compost corner the rescued rhododendron is now quite prolific.

Brick path

Does Wedding Day rose, on the Agriframes arch, bloom whilst the viburnum plicatum, visible beneath the arch, is still flowering? If so, the two plants will be in tune.

Rose Garden 1

The Rose Garden now burgeons daily. On the wall of the shed hangs the bird bath Vicki made for us.

rose Schoolgirl

A Schoolgirl has come out to play;

Rose Gloriana

and Gloriana is living up to her name.

Kitchen window view

In the morning this was a view from the kitchen window,

Patio 3

before Jackie removed the honesty to the right, thus revealing the large white clematis Marie Boisselot to anyone sitting in the patio. I put that particular heap of seeding plants onto the compost, because there are plenty more hanging up to dry, ready for scattering later in the year. The frog king, and his princely son ogle Jattie’s sculpture, the sleeping beauty.

Patio 1

Patio 2

We took a short break on the patio with our fizzy lime squash, and surveyed one of Jackie’s myriad of maintenance tasks, namely the tidying up of the corner shingle bed, into which she has set an attractive piece of stone.

Geranium palmatum

Until now, the honesty has carried the purple torches throughout the garden. The batons have now been passed to geranium palmatums.

This evening we dined on our second helping of Chinese takeaway, with which I drank Patrick Chadot Fleurie 2014, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Jack Russell

Some time ago, my friend Harri sent me a photograph of an owlet in her garden. Sparrow Hawk - Female 2Sparrow Hawk - FemaleYesterday,  Chris sent me two shots of a sparrow hawk seen in his. I seem to be collecting donated photographs of birds of prey, better than any I could have taken myself.

Jackie’s sister Helen has a collection of models of owls which has developed in a similar manner. I do hope reading this doesn’t prompt her to send a photograph of one, otherwise I will have to put it in a post. This reminds me of Mary, an old friend who had a vast number of frogs made of all kinds of material. Her apparent love of these amphibians was apocryphal. It had begun with one gift. Someone else had seen that and donated another. The present-giving snowballed, and the creatures took over her flat.

Fortunately my brother’s missive arrived before I was rash enough to telephone BT to sort out an e-mail access problem. I am so frustrated by the lack of service that I cannot be bothered to give you the usual detailed saga. Suffice it to say that two advisers, and virtually a whole morning later the reception is no better, and that it was only the second one who thought to tell me that the problem was widespread and maintenance was being carried out.

Later Jackie, Elizabeth, and I began another blitz on the kitchen garden. Although there was a sharing of tasks when necessary, I was assigned to digging up concrete and stone, whilst the ladies cleared weeds and shrubbery. I was required to extract two rather more mature shrubs.

One piece of natural stone I could not lift was ideal, Jackie thought, for the path-edging she has been working on. Stone and wheelbarrowEdging stonesThis meant it had to be moved. We upended a wheelbarrow, prised the rock into it, transported it to the relevant site, tipped it out, and wobbled it into place.

It has gradually become apparent that, in many places, the removal of one layer of material from the site is not enough. Beneath a thin layer of soil more concrete will be found. A little Time Team type excavation is necessary in the search for such blocks. As I was unable to access the service of one of the family Jack Russells, Scooby or the late Oddie, Elizabeth Elizabeth excavating stoneStone emergingstepped into the role, knelt down and scraped away at one particularly stubborn slab that Stone dug outturned out to be one of the biggest, turned on its side. Even after she had exposed it, I could not shift it with fork and spade. She therefore drove me off to Milford Supplies where we bought a grubber axe which eventually did the trick.

Pork paprika being cookedAs often between stints in the garden, Jackie cooked our dinner. Tonight’s was a piquant pork paprika, served with savoury rice. Needless to say, it was delicious. Tiramisu was a suitable dessert. Elizabeth and I drank Blason de Bourgogne 2012, and Jackie continued with the white Cuvee St Jaine.

A Pair Of Frogs

Path along back of house a.m.Path for clearanceJackie and I spent the whole of this gloriously sunny day on path clearance in the garden. She worked on the brick one at the back of the house, whilst I concentrated on a gravelled track further along our plot.

The plastic bucket on my path has no bottom. There are a number of such receptacles in the flower beds. Perhaps they had a protective role with seedlings.

Because this thoroughfare has a fabric lining and has been more recently trodden, my task was easier than when working on the last one. There was, however, much weeding and defining of borders to carry out, with the usual final raking smooth. A cotoneaster that had obviously been cut back a few times was quite an obstacle to progress. This is because I decided to remove it, first removing the branches, then extracting the tough old stump, following the same process as with the hollies. Here are a couple of photographs of the finished job:Path clearedPath cleared 2Poppies

We are fortunate that the glorious red poppies are still such a focal point, because they took quite a battering in the recent storms, but are now finding the strength to stand proud again.

The flower beds and shrubberies also need extensive weeding, but we have chosen to focus on the paths first because that gives a generally tended appearance if you don’t look too closely at the rampant brambles and suchlike elsewhere. Inevitably some of these other areas do receive some attention, if only to prevent further invasion of the paths. Garden through weeping birch leavesCrow on rooftopThe result is that it is not only the footpaths that are seen in a new light, but new vistas across the garden are opened up. Crow on chimney potsThe beautiful rhododendron in these photographs was largely obscured from across the garden just a few days ago.

I took some time out to watch a considerable corvine conflict on our chimney pots. There is usually one crow or another perched up there shouting the odds or playing sentinel. This afternoon there were often three of four flapping, croaking, and pecking at each other. They didn’t stay around to be photographed, so I had to settle for one lookout and one guardian portrait.

Jackie clearing up after crearing pathFrogsJackie made a beautiful job of her path, and went on to tidy up the surrounding areas. There are a number of small home made ponds in the garden stocked with aquatic plants. One of these was in the bed behind the patio. It needed clearing out and freshly watering for the sake of the atmosphere as much as for the plants. She did this, and in the process, not content with her recent amphibian discovery, found a pair of frogs hibernating in the undergrowth. She returned them, a bit mossy, to their rightful position on the edge of the pond. Rose climbing peachIrisThe whole area around this water feature needed tidying up, which she did, and went on to carry out some heavy pruning of various shrubs, thus liberating a mature peach climbing rose. I rather colourful iris was also exposed for the first time.

We dined on Jackie’s sausage and liver casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. And very good it was too. I finished the Languedoc whilst she drank her customary Hoegaarden.

We finished our drinks on the garden bench. One of the many trees that we don’t recognise, has a rather colourful green and yellow sinuously striped bark. Snail on tree trunkWe noticed that a snail was hoping to use it as a camouflage.

Can anyone identify the tree? This is what the branches carry:Leaves of stripy tree                            P.S. Jackie’s research has revealed that the tree is a member of the snake bark maple group, probably Hers maple, native to China.

I’ve Found A Young Man

I am now entertained by natural sounds throughout the day.  The swarm of little birds, far too quick for me to identify even if I knew how, spend the day chattering in the cascading clusters of ivy on the back garden wall.  The lower, urgent, mating calls of woodpigeons offer intermittent variation.  After nightfall, the incessant, slightly high-pitched, purring of a distant engine, emanates from mating frogs completely covering the pool behind the Carrefour petrol station.  Jackie, who watched this writhing pulsating mass of procreation a couple of years ago, when I was still unable to climb up there, provided the metaphor for me.

This morning I learned that if you do not straighten a duvet for a week, but just drag it over you as you climb into bed at night, it has the capacity completely to reorient itself.

Early on, slightly disconcerted by the albeit painless creaking of my left knee, I did some more sweeping and weeding of the garden.

Ragged robinRagged robin is the most prolific plant in the garden. Ragged robin curve and crop Although a weed, it provides attractive ground cover, provided you have a decent acreage with a wild section, which I don’t.  One fully grown potato had been reared in a flower bed.  It could therefore be expected to have been of the sweet variety, but it isn’t.

Villon’s ‘Ballade Des Pendus’ was this morning’s straightforward poem.  The collection’s earlier pieces must all be translations.  I don’t think I’d make much sense of a French Chaucer or a Shakespeare.

When shopping for bread, I met my arthritic old lady again.  This time she accepted my arm and allowed me to carry her extremely heavy bag.  It was uphill from the baker’s.  The sigh of relief as she gained my support, and was able to straighten up, was patent.  On my way to the shop I had greeted her as she was resting on the half-way bench.  She hadn’t got much further.  Coquettishly, as, arm in arm, we adapted our paces to each other, she told a passing male acquaintance that she had found a young man.  I suppose to her I must seem young.  I was still only allowed to help until we reached a parked car she pointed out about a hundred yards away, this clearly being a milestone in her journey.  When we reached it she remained adamant and pointed out her house which still seemed a long way for her.  Otherwise, I didn’t understand much of what she said.

After this it was time to get out the hoover – a Philips actually – and duster.  Thoroughly as the men had swept up after each day’s work, there was inevitably a fine coating of masonry dust covering numerous surfaces.

Half the aforementioned baguette; scrambled eggs and bacon, courtesy of Bill emptying his fridge; followed by an orange, provided a simple but adequate lunch.

For some reason best known to themselves, Don thinks I am always knocking over drinks, and Jackie thinks I am always about to.  They would have each felt justified and probably ‘more than somewhat’ amused when David, replacing a beer I had just overturned whilst posting this entry, made a point of positioning it as far away from me as possible.

Eid

On this dull and humid morning I had intended to follow Jackie’s suggestion that I take a bus somewhere and walk around there.  As I reached Morden bus station, a few drops of rain suggested I should pay attention to the weather forecast, and stay closer to home.  I therefore backtracked and made a tour of the derelict school sportsground and Morden Park.  I had received an e-mail from Mike Kindred telling me it was even hotter in the village I had just left.

As often, before 10 a.m. when they open, there was a queue outside Merton Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  These offices, now found all over London, are charities where people in need may obtain information, and at certain dedicated times, free legal advice.  Relying on various sources of funding, their opening hours are restricted.  This put me in mind of Charles and Betty Wegg-Prosser.  By the time I joined the Beauchamp Lodge Settlement Committee in 1974, Charles was no longer actively involved, although Betty was in the chair, where she remained for some years until I took over the position.  She was still a lively and influential member.  Settlements are charitable community organisations which either run or house activities, such as Adult Literacy schemes and various projects for young, disabled, or elderly people.  There are also facilities for minority groups, often accommodating them until they are established enough to obtain their own premises.  As a leading Labour Lawyer, Charles had founded the Paddington Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  This was a couple who gave a great deal to the poor and underpriveleged of Paddington.

Passing the concrete slabs, on which I sometimes sit and read in the sunshine, at the opening to the former ILEA sportsground, I noticed three vans parked on the grass.  A gang of men were laying something out beside them.  Naturally I wandered over to investigate.  They were in the process of erecting a marquee which was to house the expected overflow from the mosque which would be celebrating Eid at the weekend. Eid celebrates the end of Ramadin.  It is an end to fasting.Cameo event hire 8.12  Although the mosque itself, a tour of which I described on 18th. May, has a great deal of accommodation, it was not expected to cope with the many thousands of people who would be converging on this small suburb at the weekend.   Perhaps in preparation for this, the meadows were being mown by two enormous vehicles.  This was much more sophisticated machinery than the scythe with which I had romantically cut down our orchard meadow in Lindum House every autumn, taking care not to slaughter that year’s young frogs which frantically leapt out of my way.  For a different reason, I also carefully avoided disturbing bees’ nests when I applied the mower to it.

The windows and doors to the derelict building, posted on 29th. June, have now been cemented over, but someone has determinedly broken into two of them and placed an access board against one.  The inside is still a complete shambles.  The unofficial car parking area has had Flytipping (see 2nd. July) notices attached.

Graffiti artists had remembered the Queen’s Jubilee earlier in the year.  The Olympic torch also puts in an appearance.

On a wooded footpath I came across a squirrel burying his nuts.  When he had no trouble scampering away, I was reminded of the hoary old jocular definition of a macho man, being one who runs home from his vasectomy.  The owner of an interested Alsatian made his dog sit down and watch me walk by.  I thanked him.  When I arrived back at Links Avenue, the rain was falling in earnest.  Probably on Ernest as well, since he was going shopping.

Our repast this evening was a varied salad accompaned by Wickham Celebration rose, 2010