Silent Companions

Today the light was dull; the weather warm and dry.

This afternoon we visited Ferndene Farm shop to buy pork for tonight’s dinner.

I joined a young lady happily photographing chickens on her phone. We had noticed that she had chosen a good vantage point. It was a matter of seconds before I discovered that she had no speech and couldn’t understand me. Her carer approached and told me what I had already gathered and that she loved chickens. I said that perhaps she wouldn’t mind me continuing. That was the case and we became silent companions for a while.

I then sought out the resident pigs in order to reassure myself that we would not be eating them.

We continued on through the forest, taking an unnamed lane alongside which refuse had been dumped. At least it had been bagged up;

as had these drink cans on Braggers Lane.

If you are going to dump old fridges on the verges of Fish Street, I suppose you wouldn’t bother to wrap them.

Further along Fish Street we encountered a pair of inquisitive goats, the Billy of which sported a splendid beard.

This evening, when the sun emerged, Jackie went into the garden to plant some bulbs. Nugget kept getting under her feet, so she gave up and photographed a few garden scenes, including

this area she had planted yesterday;

honesty, rudbeckia, and Japanese anemones;

the lawn, eucalyptus, and hanging baskets;

the decking and its planting;

Florence sculpture, petunias, and nicotiana.

Oh, and “Where’s Nugget?” (13).

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s spicily piquant pork paprika and toothsome mushroom rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Hardy’s Chapter and Verse Shiraz 2018.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.

Not For The Birds

This was a day of wind, rain, colder temperatures, coats, and central heating. A bit like Dunedin’s winter.

During a brief period of lessening rain Jackie continued her work on securing sweet peas and other climbing plants; rehanging baskets; and setting other planters back on their perches.

Here are some of the finished projects. The begonias in the penultimate image lost a few broken stems from which Jackie is attempting to produce roots. She is doing the same with a proliferation of pelargoniums.

These ginger lilies happily survived.

Most flowers were bejewelled with raindrops.

This was not a day for little birds to come out and play.

We dined this evening on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’ excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

“What’s Going On?”

In bright sunshine at 10 a.m. this morning it was hard to believe that the meteorologists had threatened us with 48 hours of gale force winds from 11 a.m. onwards. Nevertheless forecasts are now much more accurate than they were in our youth, so we battened down the hatches. Thousands of items of garden furniture and millions of hanging baskets – or so it seemed – needed to be brought down to ground level.

First, the patio furniture was lowered. the two teapots in the bottom left corner are for Nugget’s consideration as a prospective new home.

The hanging baskets required careful handling to prevent causing damage before the gales were given the chance to wreak havoc. Chequerboard fuchsia hanging from the arch over the dead end path is shown in the two pictures before those in which Jackie delicately replaces potted petunias. Having stretched a long arm from its pot it had required tying up. I needed to undo this.

All this activity naturally aroused Nugget’s curiosity. At first he hopped about from the rocks to the gravel,

then took up a position on the back of the white chair in the Weeping Birch Bed. The usual magnification from the galleries will show him clearly tweeting “what’s going on?”.

The Head Gardener found room for what she called “the lucky few” in the greenhouse.

This afternoon we took a coastal trip to see what was going on there.

At Milford on Sea a young girl sheltered along the sea wall in an effort to avoid the violence of the waves and the spray. Kite surfers could be seen in the distance near Hurst lighthouse.

Further along, at Barton on Sea, hardy groups clambered on the rocks.

The Isle of wight seemed shrouded in spray.

At Mudeford black headed gulls bobbed buoyant as corks on the surging waves. Although two skilled sailboarders sped along the surface,

another less proficient pair spent much of their time attempting to lodge and right their sail. No sooner had they seemed upright than they were back beneath the surface. I had to admire their persistence.

This evening we dined on crispy duck, spring onions, cucumber, and plum sauce in pancakes; followed by spare ribs in barbecue sauce; with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Saint-Chinian.

Samuel Beckett Defaced

Knowing we were in for heavy rain this afternoon, Jackie ventured out on this drizzly morning to tackle the storm damage. The idea was that she would free what she could from the entanglements of the fallen tree, then call me to lift it. She seemed to be taking quite a long time, so I wandered out to join her.

She had freed the baskets from beneath the tree which she had hoisted out of the West Bed, and unravelled the still rooted solanum from the trunk

which she had dragged onto the back drive path.

The wicker owl, sans nose, perched on a low stump,

and the hanging baskets found a temporary home on a brick pillar in the recently thinned out Weeping Birch Bed.

The fallen hydrangea terra cotta pot had been righted.

While I surveyed the Head Gardener’s efforts, she furnished the owl with a new beak.

Elizabeth soon came out to lend a hand, which was used to retie the rose Summer Wine.

Jackie had gathered up many fallen branches to add to the few I plucked yesterday. My sister continued until lunchtime when she dripped indoors having cleared the rest.

As the rain hammered down this afternoon, I took a virtual reality tour of the Streets of London, scanning a baker’s dozen of images from colour slides of May 2008.

St Mary’s Hospital in Praed Street, W2 is where, a little over a year later, I would be given a replacement left hip.

Was this a group of student medics? If so, were any of them in attendance at my surgery?

Architectural reflections may be viewed in Bayswater’s Cleveland Terrace W2

The hollyhocks in this garden on the corner of Scarsdale Villas and Earls Court Road W8 suggest that this slide is an interloper and must have been taken a month or two later. I wasn’t cataloguing quite so carefully during this period of one of life’s hiccups. The road mending sign blends nicely with the vibrant blooms.

Nahals Newsagent stands near Westbourne Park Tube Station at 114 Talbot Road on the corner of Powis Mews W11;

Powis Square is not far away;

nor is Westbourne Park Road W11. I wonder whether this fascinating kneeler still stands on the first floor ledge we see.

Nu-Line Builders’ Merchants have produced very professional tromp l’oeil users of their products to mask their windows on the corner of Kensington Park Road W11.

Elgin Mews W11, in a right angled bend, links this road with Ladbroke Grove,

off which we find Bassett Road W10, where there seems to be pruning of plane trees under way;

Faraday Road W10 with its very modern Fire Station;

and St Charles Square W10, on the corner of which someone appears to be in trouble.

Sadly, Samuel Becket had recently been defaced in Blenheim Crescent W11 at its junction with Portobello Road. This 2006 work by Alex Martinez was based on a photograph produced by Jane Bown in 1976. It has now been painted over.

Jackie normally labels pre-cooked meals that she stores in the freezer. When she produced tonight’s protein item she had been distracted from doing so. The crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender spring greens; rich red cabbage were served with fish, not cottage pie. The meal was, nevertheless, most enjoyable. The Culinary Queen had prepared her splendid beef gravy, but refused to give it to us. She drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva 2016.

 

 

If You Weren’t The Head Gardener

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Jackie has spent quite a bit of time in the last three days clearing up after the storm. This has involved sweeping up leaves and broken plants; tying up some of the taller flowers;  generally clearing the paths; and continuing to water the baskets and other containers. Before the rain she carried out most of the required dead-heading. The roses in particular have benefited from the generous precipitation from the heavily laden clouds, so a little more pruning was required. I continued with that this afternoon.

These general path views demonstrate that much has been recovered.

Madame Alfred Carriere has swooned over the bright red petunias in the nearby urn. She will need to wait for Aaron’s attention on Sunday. The full size gallery version of the first picture above contains a bee wallowing in Summer Wine.

Dahlias have largely survived, supported by the Head Gardener’s ties. Those mingling with gladioli Priscilla hold a great attraction for bees.

Tall, slender, verbenas bonarensis, were a particular worry for Jackie as they bent double in the high winds. They have, however, largely perked up, and remain strong enough to bear bees swaying in the gentle breeze.

Many more blooms are appearing in the Rose Garden. Here we have For Your Eyes Only, Absolutely Fabulous, and Just Joey.

Rudbeckia is in its golden prime.

The patio borders are mostly unscathed, as are

the hanging baskets, such as those along the kitchen wall, and large pots like the one at the South end of the garden.

All in all, if you weren’t the head gardener, you might think there had been no storm.

I am happy to report that, of the Two Historic Houses, Elizabeth made the choice that would have been ours, put in an offer, and had it accepted – on the Swedish house. She returned home here this evening and the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid, hot, chilli con carne and wild rice. Elizabeth and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon. Jackie had consumed her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

My Minimal Contribution

CLICK ON ANY MEMBER OF A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

A second brood of sparrows has hatched in our downstairs loo extractor fan.

 

In this corner of the patio this morning I made my minimal contribution to the massive daily watering operation;

Jackie, of course, did so much more, particularly ensuring that all the containers were filled, and that the more thirsty bedded plants did not dry out.

This afternoon Elizabeth, who is staying with us for as long as it takes for her to find a new house, moved in. We enjoyed a relaxing time together before decanting to the Rose Garden for pre-dinner drinks.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice. The Culinary Queen consumed Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.