The Green Man

It was just about warm enough on a not very bright morning for us to visit Mum in the

beautifully designed, planted, and well maintained, garden at Woodpeckers this morning.

While waiting for my mother to be wheeled out I enjoyed a conversation with the gardener who works on this plot with the help of a group of volunteers.

Our visit lasted an hour with much more to talk about than is possible inside and through a screen. There was no difficulty with hearing each other and we could listen to and discuss chirping smaller birds and chattering jackdaws while watching a pair of robins darting backwards and forwards with beaks full of wriggling things.

This was Mum responding to the story about my fall in the flower bed. She was delighted to know that her photograph would be going round the world..

Afterwards we drove to Helen and Bill’s at Fordingbridge, briefly to deliver Jackie’s sister’s sunglasses and sunflowers she had left at our house a couple of days ago.

At Hale, while its mother picked daisies, a foal stirred itself to roll over and attempt to rise at the sight of my camera, then, deciding it couldn’t be bothered and flopped back into its ditch-bed.

The spreading limbs of an ancient oak framed the cropped landscapes of the green.

Along with a couple of other groups we picnicked overlooking the moorland below Abbotswell.

Beside the well-stocked woodland verge of a North Gorley lane

sprawled the gnarled arms of a broadly smiling Green Man.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice as a base for succulent roast chicken thighs, and prawns, both hot a spicy and salt and pepper preparations, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz..

A Haven Of Peace After The Storm


This morning we wandered around the garden investigating signs of Spring regrowth. We have snowdrops, hellebores and crocuses coming into bloom.

Daphne odora

The still small daphne odorata is keeping its powder dry until the temperature is warm enough for its burgeoning buds to burst open.

From these signs of burgeoning life we visited the Woodland Burial Ground at Walkford so that, on what would have been her mother’s birthday, she could add to the planting around her burial plot. Pleased to see her earlier snowdrops coming through, she added more and a further primula.

The idea of this scheme is that human remains be allowed to rest in communion with natural woodland. There are no gravestones. Some bodies are buried; others’ ashes are interred. Each has a little marker. The soil around the plots settles naturally back into the earth. Only native woodland flowers are permitted to be planted on the sites, although it is clear that many people do stretch a point.


Wreaths, such as that which we set in place in December, must be removed by the end of this month. Jackie took it away today.


Two gardeners were busy tidying up after yesterday’s gales. In speaking to one, I observed that there was much to do after the storm. He agreed, adding that what was worst was the rain, bringing a great deal of mud and heavy soil that was difficult to work, especially in the digging of graves. I described his workplace as a haven of peace.

A diversion on our return home took us past Shelly and Ron’s home. Naturally we called for a pleasant chat, coffee, and, in my case, a slice of delicious Christmas cake.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice served with Thai style prawn fishcakes, peas, and green beans.



Tending Livestock And Crops

Purple flowersPoppiesWriting three-quarters of a millennium ago, Geoffrey Chaucer, our earliest great poet, in his classic ‘Canterbury Tales’ displayed a talent for capturing characterisation with simple descriptions of clothing and habits.  Whether or not she was inspired by this writer, the modern P.D. James has this facility in abundance, as demonstrated by ‘A Certain Justice’ which I finished reading this morning.  Her descriptions of place are equally poetic and add enormously to our understanding of the natures of her subjects.  Within this elegant writing she weaves an intriguing and credible murder mystery.

Landscape from Eymet road

In a not wholly successful attempt to dislodge yesterday’s stubborn mud, I grated my shoes along the gravel footpaths leading out of Sigoules as I set off on this much brighter but still chilly morning to walk the La Briaude loop.  Apart from the rather raucus distant cawing of rooks, the birdsong was glorious, and the day fresh.

CattleUnlike the New Forest ponies, who refuse to be distracted from their grazing, the more inquisitive Dordogne cattle would often lift their heads and stare.

Stony track

BarleyTempted by a stony uphill track, I took a diversion, and was rewarded by a sight of burgeoning barley.  Through trees, this led to a road on which I turned left.  Miraculously enough, this led me to La Briaude.  I had discovered a wider loop that I will use in future.

Gardener (1)Walking on towards Sigoules, I heard a tender male voice.  Peering through the trees I saw the gentleman was addressing sweet nothings to his obviously well groomed donkey.  We exchanged greetings.  The man and I, not the ass.  Further on, another man was tending his garden.  Beyond a crop of bright yellow tulips, stretched rows of vegetables, at the end of which he tilled the stony soil.Gardener

The sometimes low and relaxed, sometimes more shrill and desperate cries of the as yet unmated woodpigeons drowned the cheerful chirruping of smaller birds as I set about sorting the sitting room.

Jackie will be pleased to learn that today’s Code Bar soup was yesterday’s veg one amplified by noodles.  There followed shredded pot-au-feu beef with a tangy tomato based sauce including little tomatoes and accompanied by half a hard-boiled egg on lettuce.  Not necessarily my favourite food, the main course of lasagne could have me converted.  Profiteroles completed the Italian theme.  Fred paid me the compliment of asking me the English word (strawberries) for the French fraises.  A group of English diners were having them, but I had them yesterday.