A Bottle Of Rum

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Today I scanned another batch of negatives from the long walk of July 2003. I have managed to become slightly out of sequence, but who cares? I never had much idea of where I was, anyway.

The first few were images from the early stages of the row, as Sam, with James’s guidance, left Henley and enjoyed the width of the River Thames, as he approached Sandford Lock.

James rowing

Once through, James took the oars,

Girl in punt

and we soon passed a young lady in a punt considering modelling for Ophelia.

Cattle and horses, with their foal, drank from the river,

while a red-legged partridge took her chicks for an airing. Can you spot two in the second picture?

Sam and James in Pacific Pete 7.03

Fast forward to Napton where, with far less oar-space, the lads were making their way through the moored narrowboats.

Don, Sam and friends

It was quite likely The King’s Head where we enjoyed a meal and a drink with friends we had found. I was not to know it at the time, but, Don in the front of the image, had given Sam a bottle of rum with instructions not to open it until he had won the Atlantic race. Fortunately he was victorious, and, as a thank you for my support, was to start on it with me.

Just beyond that location is the 250 metres long Newbold Tunnel. As we didn’t have a horse, a couple with a narrowboat offered to tow Pacific Pete through it. Here are the preparations taking place.

Bridge underside 7.03

This underside of a bridge may or may not be part of the tunnel, but it would be similar.

Goodness knows how I reached the other side, but the standard of towpath was all downhill from here. However, I did, and was able to photograph grasses, burdock, and convolvulus clogging up the potholed paths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid turkey fillets jalfrezi, perfectly aromatic and colourful pilau rice, and small vegetable samosas. The culinary Queen drank more of the Coquimbo and I finished the Shiraz.

 

Evil Little Weevils

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Jackdaw

Yesterday afternoon our peace was disturbed by a clattering and scratching emanating from the wall behind a radiator in the TV half of the sitting room. We used to hear that in the open fireplace. Until we lit a fire. Clearly the jackdaws were back, building their nest in a now boarded up chimney. Sure enough, one was perching sentinel on a chimney pot this morning.

Violets

Much of the day was spent attending to the garden, throughout which violets are popping up.

My contribution was generally tidying up and cutting the grass.

The Rose Garden is coming along quite well,

Front garden

as is the Front Garden.

 I was close enough to this wasp in the orange shed to be sure that we do have them.

Jackie’s efforts included relining the Waterboy’s pond which had sprung a leak;

Vine weevil

replenishing the soil in pots and hanging baskets, during which she discovered her first clutch of evil little vine weevils;

and poking holes with an aerator into the less healthy looking grass patches.

Hole in fence

While we took drinks in the Rose Garden before dinner, Jackie spotted that the Big Beast has shown us what it thinks of my pathetic round peg in the square hole. It has simply moved along a touch and ripped off a lot more fencing. We really do hope it is not a rat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and vegetable samosas. Jackie, having drunk Hoegaarden earlier, did not join me in my Bergerac 2015. Not that she would have done anyway. It is not her tipple.

From Autumn Leaves to Snowdrops

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Bill Edney had the unenviable task of getting those of us schoolboys at Wimbledon College who could not manage Latin through ‘O’ Level Geography after several terms without a teacher. Today I remembered a different anecdote from that told in the link highlighted above.

Sheep, I know do not like long, lush, grass. How do I know? Because Mr Edney, a bluff countryman, publicly humiliated a classmate by ridiculing him for writing in an essay that sheep “like long, lush, grass”. According to the master they most definitely do not. How were we townies to know that? This lasting intelligence prevented me from seeking ovine assistance on our patch of overgrown grass. Having no sheep, I sheared it myself.

Grass cut

It still looks manky at the moment, but should perk up now the air can get to it.

Gazebo Path

This exercise exposed the tortoise, removing its hibernation cover.

Heligan Path

Close examination of this view along the Heligan Path reveals that

Crocus

purple crocuses are now emerging.

Crocuses and snowdrops

These paler ones share with snowdrops the shade of hellebores in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Bee on Hellebore

During the morning the warm sunshine brought out insects such as bees on hellebores

Bee on snowdrop

and on snowdrops;

Red Admiral on laurel

and a Red Admiral butterfly basking on laurel leaves,

Red Admiral on autumn leaves

seeking camouflage in autumn leaves,

Red Admiral on snowdrops

and slaking its thirst on snowdrops.

Palm Bed

This view across the Palm Bed leads to the grass patch.

Erigeron thinning

Jackie spent the morning clearing and thinning areas such as the erigeron clumps by the windows to the living room. This will soon be carpeted once more with daisy-like flowers.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Jackie’s sage and onion stuffing, sautéed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, cauliflower, and greens. I finished the Cote du Rhone.

A Touch Of Frost

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Early this crisp and bright morning I walked around our sub-zero garden.

Petunia

Except for this sheltered petunia,

all the plants were now frost damaged;

December haze hovered over the paths;

wood and metal harboured the white precipitation;

Frost on table

and the patio table bore memories of patterns found inside the winter morning bedroom windows of my pre-central heating childhood.

Frances at The Ship

Jackie drove us to The Ship in Wiltshire’s Upavon, for a most enjoyable lunch with Frances.

Log fire

The small grate, originally designed to take coal, now burned logs.

My choice of meal was fish pie, followed by apple and ginger trifle. Frances also opted for fish pie, while Jackie chose burger and chips. I drank Wadsworth’s 6X. That was our main meal of the day

Having passed Salisbury Cathedral on our return home, we turned off the High Road to look back at the splendid building. The frosted grass of the verges of the lane had seen no sun at all.

On home territory we diverted to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy a Christmas tree, then to Barton on Sea to catch the sunset.

Isle of Wight, The Needles and lighthouse

The eye of The Needles lighthouse glowed white today.

Can It Be Mid-October?

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The lingering virus from which we have now recovered has really rather reduced gardening for a month. Today, I wandered around on a survey mission, and was pleasantly impressed.

View across grass

The grass could do with cutting, but there is also colour in abundance.

Dahlias we would expect;

chrysanthemums

and chrysanthemums;

but clematises?;

roses Just Joey, Margaret Merrill,

Penny Lane, or Altissimo?,

Begonia

begonias?,

Geranium

geraniums,

Fuchsia

and fuchsias in abundance?

Honeysuckle

Not to mention honeysuckle,

Bee and asters

or bees frequenting asters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious pasta beef arrabiata. Her beverage was Hoegaarden, and mine Santa Julia malbec 2015.

Bread And Cards

Grass

My contribution to garden maintenance this morning was to mow the patch of grass and to assist in the edge-trimming.

Doves and camellias

Later, Jackie continued with general planting and weeding. She chose not to disturb the trio of white doves nesting among glorious fallen camellia blooms.

Bread owl

Margery and Paul paid a visit, joined us for lunch, and produced payment for the cards sold at the exhibition. We also received an owl which reminded me of the first Margery Clarke Original we had been given. Margery is an excellent baker. The bird was a perfectly textured appropriately brown loaf, the feathers having been added by Paul.

Don’t we all, when cutting slices of an iced cake, avoid removing the decorations such as Santa on his sleigh? So it was when Jackie reached the beak. Sadly there was no way round it.

Our guests made the tour of the garden, being appreciative of the evolving developments. I was most impressed by Paul’s seemingly comprehensive knowledge of bird calls, especially of those we could not see.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled onions, and pickled gherkins. We both drank Broadwood’s Folly English white wine.

Spring In Sight

Today began our first serious joint preparation for 2016 garden work.

Heliga

This view of the Heligan Path shows early spring flowers sharing billets with hellebores.

Daffodils

Wherever we look there are snowdrops in profusion; many different daffodils;

Crocuses

a variety of crocuses;

Hyacinth

and even a proud pink hyacinth.

Jackie on Heligan Path bench

Taking the occasional rest on the Heligan Path bench,

Palm Bed

The Head Gardener continued last autumn’s work on the Palm Bed,

Jackie pruning grass 1Jackie pruning grass 2

in particular, pruning the ornamental grass. Two of the camellias, hung with floral decorations, can be seen in the background of the first of these two pictures.

Grass

My contribution was to cut this grass,

pick up some of winter’s fallen branches, and help Jackie load some of the griselinia hedge cuttings into the car. The heap of these stretches the length of the back drive. We have decided the best disposal method is to bag them up in the large canvas gravel containers and cart them to Efford Recycling Centre. My lady had filled two bags. We took them away, one per trip. Naturally we returned with a large terra cotta plant pot.

Mr Pink’s fish and chips, for our meal this evening, was supplemented by Mrs Garner’s pickled onions; Mr Lidl’s Freshona pickled cornichons; and, in Jackie’s case, Hoegaarden, and in mine, more of the madiran.