Five Years On

Today was another thoroughly wet one, so I decided to try a bit more than a test print with my new Epson.

It was in May 2014 that we took on the neglected jungle that was our garden. Soon afterwards I began to compile a kind of before and after record of the project, in extra large photo albums.

Now, five years on, I have decided to update this work. I began with the Back Drive. Here, for comparison is what it looked like in June of that year.

Today I printed a collection of photographs from May,

June,

September,

and October, this year.

Jackie’s borders contain asters, foxgloves, geraniums, hostas, poppies, roses such as Doris Tysterman and Ernest Morse, viper’s bugloss, and Virginia creeper, all of which can be seen in these photographs; and much more.

This time in 2014 we were burning so much on this space.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes;  crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

 

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.