Before And After: The North Breeze Boundary

‘Boundary’ is a polite term for what should have separated our garden from that of ‘North Breeze’, the unoccupied house to the west of ours. It stretches from front to back from the street to the corner of the back drive and most of the way down that.

I learned this when the Head Gardener decided to hack through the undergrowth on that side of our brick path. Until then I had enjoyed a short-lived oblivion.



I began on the section adjacent to the patio. This is what I found on 26th May 2014. The lonicera hedge had romped with brambles over and through the bits and pieces that were meant to divide the gardens, rooted on our side, and sent further stems to settle further in. I really rather wanted to go home, until I remembered I was already there.

Lonicera tangle

By 1st June I had cut my way to a length of strong wire. I still had to dig out the root shown on our side.

Netting fence

There was quite a lot of netting lying around the garden. We gathered this up and the next day I reinforced what I could make out of the dividing line. I could now see where I had come from, if not yet where I was going.

Blackbird's eggs in nest

The day after that, mother nature granted me a respite, in the form of a blackbird’s nest, complete with eggs. I clearly could not disturb this any more than I had done already. I waited patiently for another couple of weeks whilst the parent incubated her offspring. Then a magpie struck. This story was not inspired by Bruce Goodman, although I trust that fine storyteller would approve of it.

Adjoining fence of IKEA wardrobes

On 21st July, I continued my makeshift fence with discarded IKEA wardrobe sections.

Lonicera hedge far corner

I had reached the far corner, and was about to turn into the back drive. Oh, joy.


Ivy covered stump

Brambles and ivy proliferated, even rooting in the line of dead stumps, and, of course, across the drive itself.

Wire netting in hedge 1

Wire netting had become entwined with the infiltrators. The iron stake in the bottom left of this photograph was one of two rows each of four lining either side of the drive.

Derrick hacksawing iron stake

They were deeply buried in concrete, so I had to hacksaw most of them off.

Rooting out

Having reached the five-barred gate at the far end on 16th October I made a photograph showing the lopping of the griselinia and the rooting out of brambles.

I stayed inside today, whilst Jackie continued her sterling clearance work.

For the first dinner I have been able to face in two days, I opted for a bacon sandwich which I enjoyed. I required no liquid sustenance. How long, I wonder, will an opened bottle of malbec stay potable? Fortunately there was still some curry left for The Cook,


Walker on clifftopOn another warm and sunny morning, I began by walking the coast road route to Hordle cliff top where sun glinted on the memorial benches, and walkers were silhouetted against the sea and sky. I descended the steps to the shingle, and returned home via Shorefield.
BarriersScooterUnknownOn the right hand side of the road I noticed another set of barriers to ramblers. These were  a five barred gate, a padlocked pedestrian one, and a stile warning of an electrified fence. Clearly private land, I wondered why the stile was there. Had it once been the entrance to a public footpath?
Further along, a blue scooter had been abandoned on the grass verge reminded me of Imogen’s story. She was very proud of her pink micro scooter that had been given to her last Christmas. One day recently on an outing with a friend, confusion had arisen about who was pushing it home. The result was that it was left behind. Louisa posted an alert on Facebook, but this was not needed because, a day or so later, she discovered it had been handed in at the park, from where it was retrieved by my granddaughter. This brought great relief, not least because of the expense of replacing it.
Beetles in dandelion clock
On the way down to the beach, pausing to pass the time of day with beetles exploring the mechanism of a dandelion clock, I noticed a young man crouching at the bottom of the steps intent on photographing something on the pebbles.ScootersPhil
This was Phil, a very engaging personality who had focussed on a pair of pink two wheeled chariots apparently left there by a family group seated at the water’s edge. We had a pleasant conversation about scooters, cameras, and lenses.
On my return, I joined Jackie who had already begun the continued clearance of the back drive. From now on we will be saving the brushwood for a bonfire when Jessica and Imogen bring their parents down in November.
Buried in the undergrowth by our five-barred gate Jackie discovered the remains of two little boys – sculptures, that is. Boy sculptureOne was largely intact, but with a severed head, so she laid him to rest, with a smooth stone for a pillow. The other is in rather more pieces.
So far we have found five iron stakes with ring tops protruding from the gravelled earth. Apart from constantly tripping us up, they seem to serve no useful purpose. Maybe they were once used to tether elephants. Jackie spent most of the morning trying to dig one up. Somewhere deep down there is a further fixture preventing us from pulling them out.Iron ring stakeDerrick sawing iron stake Three, with aid of an axe head, I have managed to bury out of harm’s way. The other two required the hacksaw treatment.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja opened the day before yesterday.

Escape From Alcatraz

Today’s Lily, yet another different variety, has two layers of petals.
After Jackie, making use of a couple of plates from the rail of the too large IKEA wardrobes,

had repaired the bed head screwed to the weeping birch, we spent a long day completing the work on the clematis montana fence in the kitchen garden.

Fortunately, when clearing the bed head bed of brambles, I had managed to preserve what turned out to be crocosmia lucifer, now blooming above the erstwhile wooden ornamental feature.
Had I not been familiar with what the DIY efforts of our predecessor had perpetrated inside the house, I may have had trouble believing what, once we had cleared away enough foliage, he had attached to our neighbour’s fence. But there was no mistaking his technique for putting in awkward nails.

A stout post had been driven into the ground from our side, and a beam attached to it at one end of the fence. He must have possessed only one sustaining post because the other end of the long strut was nailed directly into the top of the fence. The diagonally driven nail wasn’t really doing much by now, and was fixed in exactly the same manner as a rough-hewn piece of deal placed across the jamb of one of the kitchen doors which had been blocked up by our vendors’ fridge.
What I described yesterday as wire netting was more like the grille at a prison window. Even Clint Eastwood, as Frank Morris, in the 1979 film ‘Escape from Alcatraz’, would have had trouble getting through that. Heavy duty staples had bound it both to the upright wooden post and to the horizontal beam. A smaller variety, driven into the planks of the fence, Jackie had been able to tap out with a hammer and screwdriver. The large, thick, ones would not budge. The grille itself was going to have to be cut.

Some kind of black plastic material had been wound around the clematis and bramble jumble at the top of this structure. I can only imagine its purpose was to prevent the brambles that had rooted on the other side of the fence from returning home.
Milford Supplies once more had the benefit of our custom, as Jackie drove off to buy a suitable implement, whilst I continued to move brushwood to the site of the bonfire and chop it up. She returned with mini bolt cutters which looked just the job. No such luck. They barely dented the metal.

I had to hack off with a saw each piece held by a staple. Eventually we pulled the whole frame towards us, left it standing, and had some lunch. Afterwards I broke up the frame and hacked off all the bits of grille.

Long after I was done for the day, Superwoman continued to open up the entrance to this part of the garden even more. In doing so she discovered that underneath the earth and rubble are signs of a brick pavement.
After that, she fed us on chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and onion, peas and sweetcorn rice, with which we drank Cobra beer. This was followed by Post House Pud, with summer fruits as the base.

Beyond Rancid

The blackbird was bashing at the office window again this morning. Jackie has a theory that it is the mating season and our friend sees his own reflection and attacks it.

It will be some time before we can tackle the joys of the garden. At the moment we satisfy ourselves with watching what is emerging, such as cowslips and honesty.
Today I took my share of deep cleaning. We don’t use the family bathroom, but the smell as we pass it has been getting to us. I believe the heyday of wooden seats was in the 1980s. The one in this room has probably been receiving its incrustation since that time. Plasticine, whatever its original colours, always ends up brown. I like to think that the various materials adhering to the wood and the fixtures did once have a range of hues. Otherwise it is best not to contemplate what I spent the morning chipping away at. I eventually applied a hacksaw to the fixture. Kneeling with your head closer than you would like to the source of the aromas, and sliding the blade under the plates around the bolts in order to perform this task is probably best avoided. I didn’t really have that option. I then gave the porcelain a thorough scraping and polishing.
Flushed with success as I added the toilet seat to the skip pile, I decided to clean the bath.

This was a more straightforward task, although the sleepy spider I aroused, unused to being disturbed, found the unaccustomed smooth surface of the side of its home rather slippery.
Finally, we could not leave the washbasin unattended. Water left in there refused to budge at all. Jackie eventually baled it out and tackled it, to no avail, with a flexible plastic coated net-curtain rail. We then shifted the cupboard from around it and prised the pedestal from under the basin, whereupon I unscrewed the U-bend. This was blocked solid. And I do mean solid. It was as if someone had poured gravel mixed with liquid glue into it and allowed it to coagulate. I chipped and scraped away first with a straightened wire coat hanger, and finally with a steak knife. By the time I had finished, the gleaming U-bend put its surroundings to shame. So I had to give them a thorough going-over too. The cold tap produces no water, but that is a minor detail.
In the cupboard I found the missing plug from the bath, and gleefully slipped it into place. I then turned the circular plug adjuster. It was ineffective. I knew from The Gite From Hell experience that without the adjuster the bath could not be emptied, so I helped it out with the steak knife.
Then we had lunch. Jackie was impressed with the health and efficiency of the Neff hob as she used it for the first time to heat up an excellent mulligatawny soup from Tesco.

The kitchen is beginning to look quite homely now, especially with the addition of Luci and Wolf’s flower card and Shelly’s daffodils.
It has to be said that the bathroom featured above was beyond rancid, although that word word probably be adequate for the cobbled cupboard in the hall that Jackie cleaned this afternoon, whilst I weeded out papers that should have been scrapped years ago. This was all with the aim of getting some order into the office.
We had intended to dine this evening at Zaika in Milford on Sea, and drove there to do so. This was not possible because we had hit the town’s food week, for which each restaurant was required to do something different. Zaika was fully booked for their serve-yourself at the trough banquet. We therefore went on to New Milton to try Bombay Night which proved to be an excellent choice. The food was superb and the service friendly and efficient. We drank Kingfisher, and went home satisfied.