Garden Visitors

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Regular readers will know that Elizabeth’s friends, Pauline and Jo were unable to reach us on a recent planned visit, because of a traffic problem on the M27. This morning they made up for that.

My sister took the mother and daughter on a tour of the garden.

We then enjoyed a convivial conversation, coffee and pastries on the patio. Elizabeth displayed, on her mobile phone, a photograph of her grandson and therefore my great nephew Jasper, on his first day at school.

Her friends then moved on to the Garden Albums I had created as a before and after record of our first two years here.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef, onion, and mushroom pie; sublime gravy; sautéed potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage. The Culinary Queen drank her customary Hoegaarden, while Elizabeth and I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2016

 

 

Carefully Cutting To Shape

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Compared with that experienced in other parts of the world, including the rest of the UK, the Christmas cake icing barely coating our garden when we awoke this morning could hardly be called snow. It was a little thicker later on,

and by late afternoon could even display avian footprints.

The Waterboy’s fountain was so frozen that its pump had to be turned off.

Despite a heavy cold, Conor turned up early this morning and completed the flooring. Some of the furniture had been placed in the far left corner to enable him to cover all the other areas. When he was ready to fill that space he rang for help to move the items off the previously prepared screed. Within ten minutes Andy arrived to help. A sheet of plywood was utilised to protect the new flooring. Andy, working at his usual rate of knots, didn’t even take time to remove the hooded jacket that had protected him from the sweeping snowflakes.

Once the final screed base had dried, Conor, carefully, cutting to shape where necessary, completed the job to an exemplary standard.

The fact that we ate at The Royal Oak for the third night running had more to do with the treacherous weather conditions than anything else. This was no hardship. I enjoyed my chicken ham hock, and cider pie in short crust pastry with red wine sauce, broccoli, manges touts,  peas, and mashed potato accompanied by Razor Back beer; Jackie was equally happy with her barbecue flavoured macaroni cheese and garlic bread. She drank Amstell.

Morning Light

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On Sunday mornings when Aaron is due to come, I nip down to the five-barred gate at the end of the back drive to open it so he can drive his vehicle in.

This morning there was no nipping, because I was bewitched by the light.

Our treasured help performed a variety of tasks today. He painted metal chairs, mended a wooden one that had been smashed by the autumn winds, and weeded more paths.

This afternoon we are visiting The First Gallery, visiting my mother, and going out for a meal  with Elizabeth in the evening. It may be that we take Mum with us for the meal. The reason for this is that her domiciliary care has, like everyone else’s, been privatised. This means that it is undertaken by contracted firms whose main object is to make money. The result is rushed and unreliable schedules subject to inconvenient alterations, with or without a warning telephone call.

Mum needs help to get up and shower and to settle herself down for bed. Elizabeth does most other things for her. Today she was informed that the morning visit would be late and the evening early. This could mean starting well after 10 a.m. and finishing well before 6 p.m. In the circumstances Mum cancelled the evening call, so we will come into play. I will report on this tomorrow.

Those who are unaware of the welfare systems here may not know that we have no choice but to have National Insurance contributions deducted from our earnings, and that Local Authorities can keep none of the promises about receiving care free of charge ‘at the point of service’ ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Jackie’s Social Work colleagues from abroad had to have her explain to them why it was that elderly people wondered why they had to pay for these inadequate services. There is much current debate about injecting more money. That will make not the slightest difference because, like so many of our services, the destruction, in the name of Mammon, has already happened.

From Mist To Sunshine And Back

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The mist that shrouded the garden never left Downton today.

Motoring further away from the coast into the forest in the mid-afternoon, Jackie and I left the fog behind us and were treated to bright sunshine sending splayed shafts through the trees alongside

Holmsley Passage

Holmsley Passage.

The few leaves that still clung to the slender branches became dancing will-o-the-wisps flirting with autumn’s bronzed ferns;

Forest 5

and individual trunks were spotlit pillars.

Pony

Haze surrounded a solitary pony on the roadside approaching Burley, where

pools of recent precipitation reflected housing, trees, and sky.

The herd of red deer that had not been in evidence on our last visit to that village had today, as is their wont, invaded the field in front of the Manor House, where they rendered lawn mowers redundant.

By the time we returned home via Hordle Lane the mist had (in)visibly thickened.

This evening we dined with Becky and Matthew on Jackie’s tasty cottage pie, tender beef in red wine, and piquant cauliflower cheese. I drank Languedoc rouge 2015.

Spectral Ponies

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This morning we brunched in a very crowded Otter Nurseries restaurant before driving to Emery Down, Bolderwood, and back home.

Thatched house

As with many New Forest villages, the approach to Emery Down from Swan Green is quintessentially English.

Thatched house

We have a row of tiny thatched cottages in which I could not stand upright, and a larger thatched house, opposite the green

Emery Down approach

flanking the uphill stretch of an undulating road, one of the warning signs of which bears the image of a pony. Level with the gate in this picture is a cattle grid. Both gate and grid are designed to keep those ponies on the far side.

Thatched house garden

The garden of the house benefits from our Indian summer;

no self-respecting one in this area, except, that is, for ours, is without its bank of nerines,

Roses and nerines

not all accompanied by pink shrub roses.

Turning left in Emery Down the forest road goes through Bolderwood. On its verges Jackie parked with her puzzle book whilst I wandered among the trees,

the leaves of which were beginning to turn rich gold and deep red.

Mushroom

This is also the season for mushrooms to force their way through the forest floor.

Throughout the woods can be seen shattered trunks and hollowed sawn logs from fallen trees.

At Bolderwood silent spectral ponies emerged from the shadows to graze their way across to the greener grass on the other side.

Sunlight played on the road on our return.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and salad, followed by profiterols. I drank Basson shiraz 2014.

No Sale

Deer in forest – Version 2

Here is yesterday’s camouflaged deer, in the centre of the complete shot. As always. clicking on my images enlarges them. If once is not enough, a second gives a supersize.

Garden 1Garden 2Garden 3

Splendid sunlight lit upon the garden today as, leaving Aaron to his work, we drove to the final coffee morning of the exhibition.

Bench - Ace ReclaimGate reset

Aaron completed the painting of the Ace Reclaim bench and reset the front side gate. The brick will hold it firm until the concrete, which he has tastefully covered with gravel, has set.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was less than successful. Attendance was meagre and no pictures, neither mine nor anyone else’s, were sold, although a number of my cards found buyers. We did however enjoy a pleasant couple of hours with our friends and a few of theirs.

This evening we dined on beefburgers, chips, cauliflower cheese, leeks, and tomatoes. I drank more of the madiran.

Mulching And Composting

Front garden 1

The early sun set the front garden glowing gold, as always, this morning. The autumn flowering cherry has been in bloom since last October. The telegraph pole, from which a cluster of cables fans out along Christchurch Road and all points of the compass, receives regular visits from BT engineers.

Front garden 2

What this area looked like a year ago can be seen in ‘Before And After: Through To The Front’.

Much maintenance was carried out today,

Rose garden mulching

my major contribution being mulching the three bags of Landscape Bark bought yesterday into the rose garden;

Jackie mulching palm bed 1

and Jackie’s, weeding and composting The Palm Bed.

Owl

This wide-eyed owl was decapitated by storm Katie. Surgeon Jackie performed the necessary operation.

We are still at least three bags of bark short for the rose garden, so this afternoon we drove back to

Mole yard

Mole Country Stores and bought them;

Ponies and Sway Tower 2

after which we took a roundabout route back through the farm lanes where we spotted a group of ponies, three of which masqueraded as sheep. Sway Tower can be seen in the background. Otherwise known as Peterson’s Folly, this landmark has featured in a number of these posts.

Finally, we topped up with compost in the form of ten 35 litre bags from Lidl.

We left those in the car and settled down for a beer (well, one each, actually) in the rose garden. It is quite a sun trap so we were certainly warm enough.

This evening we dined on tender fillet steak lost under lashings of fried onions. accompanied by mixed vegetables au gratin (left overs in cheese sauce), crisp carrots, Brussels sprouts, and new potatoes. Jackie drank sparkling water and I finished the Memoro.