The West Fence Trellis

Jackie spent most of a day that was dull, warm, humid, and oppressed by a burnished gunmetal canopy overhead,

occupied opening up the trellis at the back of the West fence to the nevertheless absent sunlight. At intervals I removed several trugloads of clippings and weeds to the

compost bins and the ever-increasing

piles destined for the dump.

This afternoon I published

Later, I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations to Dickens’s ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

‘ ‘Here’s my father’s, sir’ ‘

‘Bella was seated on the rug, a handful of brown curls in her mouth’

In ‘Mr Wegg was an observant person’ the artist uses a double spread to advertise the stall-holder’s services.

‘The bar of the Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters’

‘Stumping with fresh vigour, he goes in at the dark greasy entry’

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, onion rings, and garden peas, with which Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Comté Tolosan Rouge.

David Copperfield Is Born

On a most oppressively humid morning we continued with garden maintenance. Jackie weeded, planted, trimmed and composted while I dead-headed roses,

dug out two self seeded elder trees, and bagged up some of the refuse.

Steady rain set in after lunch. During a lull I dug out some brambles from the back drive borders, until a direct drenching downpour sent me dashing inside. A later let up enabled me to finish my task and grab a couple of pictures.

During the rest of the afternoon I began rereading:

The title page is accompanied by ‘I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I have often seen him lie at school. (p.727)’ offering an example of Mr Keeping’s imaginative perspectives.

As before, I will not add my own observations on this very well known classic, but will post Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations as I make my way along this novel of which Charles Dickens wrote in his preface to the 1869 edition: ‘Of all my books, I like this the best,’

‘ ‘Why, bless my heart!’ exclaimed Miss Betsey. ‘You are a very Baby!’ ‘

‘Mr Murdstone and I were soon off, and trotting along on the green turf’ – another vehicle for Keeping’s perspective skill.

‘We stopped to exchange an innocent kiss’ – keeping a safe distance.

Jackie had spent the afternoon at a very well catered for baby shower. She therefore had no need of a meal this evening, yet, for me she

reprised yesterday’s delicious marinaded chicken meal.

Absolutely Fabulous Cricket

The sun was permitted the occasional appearance from behind today’s cloud curtain.

At mid morning, thinking she was attending to the Weeping Birch Bed, I ventured out for a stint of clearing up after the Head Gardener’ general maintenance efforts, and received something of a shock.

Jackie had been diverted by the Rose Garden, upon the paths of which she had dropped considerable debris. That was clearly going to take precedence.

Nugget would keep getting under my feet as he foraged for his brood. In the first picture he has a beakful ready for transporting to yellow gapes at home. “Where’s Nugget?” (86) is the third image. Biggification may be required to spot him.

After I had bagged up and added to the compost bins all the weeding and clipping refuse, I had intended to sweep up the bits I couldn’t pick up, but our little robin familiar persuaded me to leave it for a while since he still found rich pickings.

I therefore concentrated on dead heading and photography.

Love Knot and the red carpet rose blend together with Alan Titchmarsh in the background; Just Joey is the large portrait; Rosa Gallica and Mamma Mia make good companions; the petunias and lobelia adorn a hanging basket over the Phantom Path.

After lunch I swept the Rose Garden paths and made more photographs, details of which can be gleaned from the gallery that can be accessed by clicking on any image.

I watched a minute cricket wandering between the petals of an Absolutely Fabulous rose.

Jackie had by then begun thinning out the wandering plants and their foliage that were choking the Weeping Birch Bed. I carried several trugfuls to the compost bins before collecting my camera from the house, because

Nugget wouldn’t go away and kept posing.

This picture shows how close he was to Jackie.

Half a dozen mice stand guard over the seedlings in the trough beside the frog pond. They are there to deter the lumbering wood pigeons from squashing the plants as they land lurching for a drink. In fact Jackie is beginning to wage war on pigeons. Those building the nest in the wisteria yesterday continue today. Every time the Head Gardener removes the sticks and shoos them off they return and start again. Given that they regularly drop both twigs and poo onto the bench below she does have a point.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender spring greens. The Culinary Queen drank Becks, and I drank more of the Douro opened a couple of days ago.

A Bit Harsh

On an overcast morning promising rain we set about clearing up from Jackie’s pruning and weeding of the last couple of days.

My task was to gather up, chop to size, load the debris into trugs (how many times, WP, do I have to tell you this is not rugs – look it up), and, because the main compost bins are full, transport the contents to the front bin. That is now full.

When I announced that the job was done, the Head Gardener stated “You haven’t seen what I’ve done on the Head Gardener’s Walk”.

It had been clear before I began. “I thought you were just going to sweep and rake the paths”, said I.

“I had to do some cutting back before I could get down it. Don’t worry. I’ll do that. Go back inside and sit down before you fall down”. Such cruelty to be kind seemed a bit harsh to me. Nevertheless, with relief, I obeyed instructions.

She was, however, as good as her word, and filled two trugs while clearing and sweeping the path. The sun had, after lunch, put in an appearance. “Where’s Jackie?” (3) is located in the first of this trio of pictures. Click on any image to access the gallery; for enlargement scroll down to the box under the right side of the picture to ‘view full size’; further enlargement is also possible.

I had time to tour with my camera before a heavy shower sent us inside.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away excellent fare with which Jackie drank Becks and I finished the Rioja.