Morning And Evening Light

In the early morning light this morning, carrying the camera, I walked to the far end of the back drive to open the gate for Aaron.

Rose peach

The peach rose we inherited beside the patio is producing more blooms.

Petunias, cosmoses, clematis, fuchsia, begonias, lobelias

Just one example of Jackie’s splendid planting in that area includes petunias, cosmoses, clematis, fuchsia, begonias, and lobelias.

Geranium

This geranium hangs in a basket suspended from the kitchen wall.

Fuchsia Delta's Sarah

Fuchsia Delta’s Sarah in the bed beside the Wisteria Arbour was still in shade. After taking this picture I dead-headed a number of small orange poppies.

Lilies

Clumps of these heady scented lilies stand either side of the Westbrook Arbour.

Crocosmias and verbena bonarensis

I turned into the back drive around the corner of the New Bed, where crocosmias blazed in front of verbena bonarensis.

Rose Dearest

There are two Dearest rose bushes in the herbaceous border along the drive. One is laden with blooms; the other is struggling.

Later, Elizabeth visited with Danni and Andy in order to deliver various items of equipment for her room. My sister has sold her house and not yet found another. She will live with us while she seeks one.

Jackie and I watched the Wimbledon men’s final between Kevin Anderson and Novak Djokovic.

Crocosmia Lucifer

The late afternoon light burnished crocosmia Lucifer in the Palm Bed;

Day lilyDay liliesDay lilies

various day lilies,

Day lily and hydrangea

and a bright red hydrangea.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. I chose Davedush, while Jackie’s preference was Chicken dopiaza. We shared an egg paratha and special fried rice, and both drank Kingfisher.

A Glimpse Of What’s Been Happening

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A combination of my own slumbering stupor and a hot, humid, largely overcast, day presaging the predicted thunderstorm caused me to doze the day away.

Jackie, however, prepared Mum’s perching stool, and bolstered one of the wooden chairs, so that, first from the perch, and then from the chair, I would have an opportunity of focussing, to some extent, on that little corner.

My choice of the selection of supermarket ready meals Jackie has kept in stock for these crucial days, was tasty cannelloni. This was followed by vanilla ice cream.

April Showers

April showers in December? Someone’s having a laugh.

Perhaps it’s

Hebe

this hebe;

Viburnum bodnantense Dawn

the viburnum bodnantense Dawn;

Rose Crown Princess Margarete

roses like Crown Princess Margarete, bowing her head to keep her face dry,

Carpet rose Pink

or this Pink carpet rose ripe for dead-heading;

Violas

violas,

Primulas

primulas,

Geranium

or geraniums.

I obliged with dead-heading many of the roses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole (recipe); mashed potatoes; and crunchy carrots and cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

Flaunting Longevity

This morning, before the afternoon wind got up and rain came down, Jackie and I weeded and removed more leaves from the rose garden, in readiness for the application of compost.

Snapdragon

We still have flowering snapdragons

Geranium

and geraniums,

Cyclamen

whilst winter cyclamens emerge from hibernation.

Rose pink

The pink rose stands sentinel on the Oval Bed,

Rose Margaret Merrill

and, showing signs of age, Margaret Merrill still blooms.

Honeysuckle and beech

The honeysuckle rising from the blue arch flaunts its longevity before the falling beech leaves.

This afternoon I inserted the last of the pictures into the garden album.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jafrezi and choice chicken tikka with mushroom and onion rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I quaffed Old Crafty Hen.

The Beach Fortress

This morning Jackie drove me to Molly’s Den and left me there to hunt for a birthday present for her, whilst she carried out various other errands. I didn’t find anything satisfactory, but the journey was worth the excellent brunch that the antiques and bric-brac centre provided. Brunch

Mine was, as you would expect, a fry-up – a first class one. I trust you can see the quality of the meaty sausages,the wedge of non-fatty black pudding, and the lean bacon. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the thick toast was probably home-made bread. Jackie enjoyed an equally well-cooked baked potato stuffed with prawns. We knew we would eat sparingly this evening.

For much of the day winds gusted at more than 30 m.p.h., and diagonal, driving, rods of rain beset us as we left Molly’s.

By mid-afternoon, The skies had cleared, and the downpour had ceased,

Clematis Carnaby

raindrops dripped from the clematis Carnaby,

Cabbage white butterfly on geranium

a Cabbage white butterfly slaked its thirst on a geranium,

Garden shed

and I changed Jackie’s birthday present into a garden shed ordered from Purewell Timber Buildings.

The fourth of my  Five Photos – Five Stories, is inspired by one of our fairly frequent Instow holidays with Henry, Judith, Nick, and Lucy Pearson.

Instow is an old-fashioned, carefully preserved, village lying opposite the former fishing village of Appledore in North Devon. The beach and the village lie within the Instow Conservation Area. It was all the more remarkable, therefore, that within the space of one day in August 1999, a magical construction emerged from the pristine sands.

Led by nineteen year old Sam, a team including Louisa, cousins Nick and Lucy, and friends Gemma and James, had created a vast turreted fortress of sand, complete with defensive wall and moat, and embellished with flags. Local children became willing navvies, and the word soon got about. David Shepherd, retired England cricketer and international umpire, gave his support.

Louisa-sandcastle 9.99

I am not sure what exactly was originally envisaged, but an idea of the scale of what was produced is indicated by this photograph of Louisa posing against the setting sun.

By nightfall, the flaming torches lit up the darkness, and what seemed to be the complete population of the village turned out to enjoy the celebration, naturally enough toting an ample supply of liquid sustenance. I expect we all eventually got to bed.

Yesterday I had published my invited story with five photos rather than the suggested one. This was because the book was a tale in pictures. The photo above, as with so many of the single shots I feature, was one of a series that followed the process of the project. Maybe one day I’ll cover the rest.

This evening we dined on Spanish omelette, bacon, and crusty bread and butter.

Far More Insulting Than Two

Raindrops on bottle brush budsRaindrops on poppy budRaindrops on geraniums

This morning more drops of precipitation bestowed magnifying lenses upon the burgeoning bottle brush plants and poppies; and upon the fully grown pink geraniums.

After lunch we drove to Milford Sand & Ballast to buy three more bags of cement for Aaron’s work on Sunday.

When, yesterday, I embarked on yet another series of photographs with which to prod my memory and illustrate my posts, I thought I would have a recap.

First, we have Elizabeth’s ‘Through the ages’ portraits of me.

Becky, Derrick, Sam, Matthew, Louisa, and Michael

Number 60 is dated 5th October 1991. It is easy to remember because it represents my contribution to the gathering of the clans at Tanfield Road, South Croydon, on the occasion of Michael and Heidi’s wedding. I have an arm round each of Becky and Sam. My eldest son has made an early start on the wine. Louisa, who would say that she always looked forward to Matthew’s visits so that she could climb all over him, is already on his lap.

I am also working my way through my early colour slides. Today I scanned a set of Jackie taken in December 1972, when I spent Christmas with her and the children. Here are three of the portraits:

Jackie 12.72 003 - Version 2Jackie 12.72 005 - Version 2 Jackie 12.72 006 - Version 2

This was a very painful time, but we did our best.

After this came the identification and scanning of unsorted negatives, including

Sam at Carole and Brian's wedding  1982

 Sam and Snoopy at Carole and Brian’s wedding meal in 1982;

Louisa 1983 002

Louisa, delighted to be on her feet, flashing her new choppers in 1983;

Sam and Louisa 1983 001

Sam, passing on the benefits of his wisdom;

Jessica and Sam 1983 002

And Jessica singing to him from a song sheet that same year.

Another set is the Streets of London, begun yesterday. Today’s selection from those scanned today were photographed in April 2004.

Streets of London 4. 04 014

Yesterday we saw the point where Maida Avenue joins Warwick Avenue. Here we see Regents canal and its narrow boats running alongside it. There really is a slope in the road. This area is known as Little Venice, and the boats you see are residential. Mooring fees are now pretty prohibitive, but there is a keen community living afloat.

Streets of London 4. 04 015

Just around the corner from there, is Warwick Crescent, W2. The view here is from one of the counselling rooms I rented during the ’80s and ’90s.

Streets of London 4. 04 016

The elegant, I think Georgian, dwellings of Park Place Villas W2, are overlooked by the red-haired tower block soaring further up Edgware Road. It dominated the skyline of the vicinity.

Streets of London 4. 04 018

Another shot from my counselling room window looks down to Harrow Road, W2. The scene features a very large roundabout, in the centre of which is a building that was unoccupied for about forty years. It is now used commercially following the huge canalside development visible in the background. When I first knew Beauchamp Lodge in the early 1970s, this was waste ground occupied by travellers, their families, and their pets. The building on the right won an award, I think around 1960, for the use of concrete in construction. The London taxi cab would have been aiming to go down the road alongside the concrete building, at the bottom of which was a taxi centre.

One evening, when I was leaving my building for home, a car came screeching round the roundabout, stopped, and reversed towards a following vehicle. Both cars came to a halt within inches of each other. I noticed that the car in front was occupied by two young men; the other by a lone young female driver. The driver of the leading vehicle left his car to remonstrate with the young lady. There was nothing for it but to get involved. I ambled across, with as much nonchalance as I could muster, advised the woman to close her window, – I ask you, she had to be advised to do that – and leant against the railings with my hands in my pockets. Just observing, you understand. The remonstrations became more vociferous, probably because the window was closed. The passenger then emerged and menaced me. Keeping my hands out of sight, I politely explained that I was simply a spectator.

It was only after the aggressors had sped off out of sight that I realised a taxi and a lorry had stopped on the roundabout. The drivers were both ready to get involved had it turned more nasty. Apparently the reversing driver had overtaken the young woman who had stuck one finger up to him out of her window. That, of course, is far more insulting than two.

Streets of London 4. 04 020

This evening’s final offering from the Streets of London is Preston Gardens, NW10, Neasden. This corner building changed its occupancy, its facade, and its usage on a regular basis during the ten years or so I passed it when visiting Norman. Each new wave of immigrants has imposed its own stamp. If I remember rightly, the Chinese Takeaway in Church Road is now a Somali taxi cab service.

Other series include various sets of prints for which I have not yet traced the negatives. I had planned to feature just one picture from each series. But I got rather carried away, and having spent most of the day on this, I don’t have the energy for going on to the reflective scanning, so I will close in the normal manner.

We dined on chicken Kiev roasted in the oven with peppers, onions, and mushrooms; green beans, leaks, and boiled potatoes. I finished the Madiran, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Let There Be Light

Squirrel baffleJackie may have defeated the crow, but my suggestion that the squirrel baffle could be surplus to requirements was premature. This morning one of these bushy-tailed rodents climbed the central pole of the bird feeder, failed to circumvent the large concave upturned bowl designed to prevent it from nicking the avian fodder, sat on the grass, scratched its head, and pondered the problem. Although fat enough to suggest it’s a pretty smart cookie, when it devised its solution it demonstrated considerable agility by scaling the chimney pot and leaping onto the top of the plastic would-be deterrent from where it could stretch out a long limb and help itself. Jackie has now moved the feeding station further from the chimney pot. Garden with squirrel cliumbing poleThere ensued a persistent effort by the squirrel, seeking to Squirrel on chimney potrival Greg Rutherford. So far the creature has failed. Squirrel climbing poleJackie photographed it on the petunias now doubling as a sand take-off pit; and, having conceded defeat on the jump, having a last attempt at driving itself up the pole. The sticks poked among the chimney pot flowers had deterred the crow. They didn’t trouble the furry invader who just elbowed them aside. No doubt this most intelligent animal will devise another method soon. Perhaps it will try the eucalyptus as a launchpad. Day lilies and geranium

In the centre left of the wide angle shot of the garden containing the view of the intruder climbing the pole, can be seen an interesting new day lily that contrasts rather well with the geraniums beneath it.

As I walked down to the post box, steady motor traffic plied to and from the Shorefield Country Park. Cyclists freewheeling down the slope whirred past me. Others on the return trip announced their presence with the clicking of gears.Jackie sieving beyond newly gravelled pathJackie digging out bricksNewly gravelled path

This morning I laid and raked the Dorset stone we Raised bricksbought yesterday, whilst Jackie sieved earth from the gravel, and raised a rows of bricks from sections of the old path to prevent overspill.

A foxglove appears on the left of the large vertical picture above.

In the heat of this day glorying in a cloudless blue sky, the tinkling of the water feature installed yesterday was most tantalising.

Jackie with Pittosporum treePittosporum prunedA Pittosporum is a small shrub with attractive curly leaves. Except when it is allowed to grow into a tree. Our head gardener states that ours would have taken about five years to reach its current height. This is why those shrubs around it have been deprived of air, space, and light. My task this afternoon was to reduce its impact on its neighbours and, accepting that it is now a tree, to give it shape. This was done with the aid of a sharp saw and long loppers; and Jackie to poke levelling stones under the legs of the stepladder and hold it steady as I ventured aloft. The sun, screened behind the high branches, streamed through those that were left at the end of the effort. Hopefully, the myrtle, and the pink rose, will reap the benefit.

There hasn’t been much time for a while for a journey over to Poulner to visit the delightful Donna-Marie’s hair salon, so, before dinner, Jackie took up her scissors where she had left them off more than forty years ago, and cut my hair. They weren’t actually the same scissors. Dressmaking ones had to suffice.

Beef casseroleDinner was a gorgeously coloured and tasting beef casserole with mashed potato, carrots, and parsnip, followed by Post House Pud. Jackie drank Tsing Tao, whilst I opened a bottle of Las Primas Gran Familia tempranillo 2013 and consumed some of its contents.

The method for cooking the casserole is as follows:

Take about 1 lb. of frying beef in assorted Supermarket packs picked up on special offer; 5 medium onions; 3 peppers (in this case red); lots of mushrooms, and garlic cloves to taste.

Cook the beef in a pressure cooker (15 minutes in our new induction hob friendly one) with a Knorr beef stock cube.

Meanwhile stir-fry the onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms.

Then put all the ingredients together in a saucepan or casserole dish with about half a pint of red wine and simmer on a low heat for about half an hour.