The encouragement Jackie has received from our neighbours about her garden at the Lodge has inspired her to aspire to new heights. This meant we had to visit Cadnam Garden Centre, ostensibly for more netting for the rabbit proofing. I set off a little earlier than Jackie, so she could drive there and have a coffee and read whilst waiting for me to arrive. What I hadn’t been aware of was her plan to add a Gardman Gothic Arch to her little plot which measures 86 inches (220 cm) by 18 inches (46 cm). So we bought one. And the netting. And a couple of terra cotta pots to block a hole between the steps and the end of the building through which a rabbit, capable of breaching a three inch gap, might wriggle. There also had to be a couple of hanging baskets. I was attracted to a display containing a wheelbarrow beautifully coordinated with the plants in front of it. Jackie pointed out that it reflected garden centres’ realisation that most gardeners are women.
The afternoon was devoted to the assembly of the arch. With all our IKEA experience we are dab hands at this now. However, should you ever think of allowing yourself to be diverted whilst stretching out a measuring tape, into letting go the far end without locking the spool, it is not to be recommended. Later, we returned just before closing time for the necessary compost. My right hand wasn’t too comfortable with the Elastoplasted knuckle of its third finger being slid under the compost bags to lift them.
After lunch we had another trip by car to the Acres Down Farm Shop where we bought vegetables for the bank holiday weekend, not fancying braving one of the supermarkets on such a day. It is a distinct feature of country life that trips to buy standard items become outings worth recording. No longer can we obtain anything just around the corner or after a trip on an underground line.
The walk that split the shopping and construction periods was most pleasant. The blooms of an ornamental cherry of a Japanese flavour at the back of the house gleamed in the sunshine or sheltered in the shade of a neighbouring trunk. Running Hill becomes leafier by the day, and shadows were cast everywhere. Ponies, whose numbers were to increase as the day went on, were out in force.
I have already mentioned (on 24th April) the number of fallen trees that litter the forest. As a newcomer to the environment I could only presume that the fact that they appear to be left in situ for the benefit of the ecosystem. During our ancient tree hunt on 1st May, I asked Berry about this. She explained that a comparatively recent policy had changed traditional practices. It was once the case that one third of the fallen tree should be left on the ground whilst two thirds could be removed by local people for firewood. This age-old right of neighbouring residents has now been removed; the forest now looks untidy; and footpaths are blocked. But what do I know about it? Undoubtedly these fallen giants, in various stages of decay, do provide great benefits for a variety of flora and fauna. Jackie pointed out that there must have been a need for a way of establishing when two thirds of a tree had been removed. ‘Suppose’, she said ‘one family took away two thirds; then another took away two thirds of what was left, and so on. You would wind up with nothing’. Well, I hadn’t got an answer for that. Masquerading as Mother Christmas, she had included a Mensa calendar in my stocking. This has a puzzle challenge on a tear-off pad each day. I wonder if there is such a conundrum in there? If so, I’d have to pass on it. You could say I’d be stumped.
On my walk I had taken a diversion through Shave Wood. It was quite difficult to negotiate a way through this, because of the fallen trees.
Ox heart casserole was Jackie’s offering this evening. It was tender and tasty. Plum crumble was for afters. I finished the Piccini.