Back To Sleep

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At very brief intervals this morning the deceptive sun suggested it may brighten our day.

Chionoxa

We believe these little plants forcing their way between wet paving stones are chionodoxa. Just above them poppies are beginning to try their luck.

Pulmonaria

Hairy little pulmonaria seem to tolerate anything thrown at them.

Gazebo path

My walk down the Gazebo Path coincided with the sun changing its mind.

Margery's Bed and beyond

Later the daffodil at the far end positively glowed with pleasure at another change.

Dragon Bed

Heucheras and euphorbias lead the eye to camellias on the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage.

Camellia blooms fallen

Earlier camellias have dropped buffeted blooms which continue to provide a pleasing display.

Crocosmia spears

Thrusting crocosmia spears caught the next bright beams. When gardening becomes possible again, many dead leaves will be removed.

Westbrook arbour

The Westbrook Arbour in the West Bed is now home to the chicken doorstops rediscovered in the cupboard under the stairs.

Daffodils and pansies

Here is the left hand side of that newly cultivated bed.

Across Weeping Birch Bed

From the Weeping Birch Bed with its blue vinca and yellow hellebore can be seen dancing daffodils.

Heuchera

Heucheras are beginning to brighten everywhere.

Brick Path

I do hope the Head Gardener will forgive my having taken this shot down the Brick Path without clearing up. It has been raining for days, after all.

Moss and sedum spectabalis

Moss covered rocks abound. Here one shelters a healthy sedum in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

another is about to be draped by vinca which will need keeping in check.

Pansies

Several hardy pansies have survived the meteorological vagaries;

Bee on pansy

one sleepy little bee had been persuaded to drag itself out of bed and into one of these where it appeared to have gone back to sleep.

Beef, mushroom and onion pie

This afternoon, Jackie made two beef, onion, and mushroom pies. This one is for the freezer.

Beef, onion, and mushroom pie meal

The second was served this evening with potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and thick, flavoursome gravy from the juices of the tender pressure-cooked beef. I finished off the 16 Little Black Pigs

 

Exercising Choices

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I undertook some minimal tidying in the garden this morning. Here are a few photographs of how it looks at the moment:

Daffodils

Many more daffodils are in bloom, including those in tubs and window boxes,

Weeping Birch Bed

and those in beds like the Weeping Birch one

Hellebore

which also has its share of hellebores.

Raindrops on primulas

Raindrops settled still on such as these primulas that survived the snow.

We have many blooming camellias. The shady path is bordered by them.

It could be considered mandatory that a tour of our area should include Big Breakfasts at The Beach Hut Café on

Friar’s Cliff Promenade.

So it was today. Jackie brunched on the marginally more moderate Friar’s Breakfast while Flo, Dillon, and I all went for the Big one.

A number of people were out exercising their dogs;

 others walked, jogged, or cycled.

Efforts at promoting fitness in Mudeford, for these two jet-skiers at least, were rather more strenuous.

Others basked in the sunshine or floated on the wing.

The usual fishing paraphernalia lay in tidy heaps on the quay.

Flags flapped in fortuitously reflective surfaces.

Our last visit was to Highcliffe Castle around which the young people wandered while I peered down the steps to the beach. This set has replaced the zig-zag sloping route used on 6th January 2016, now considered unsafe.

For our dinner the evening, Jackie produced her piquant cauliflower cheese with smoked haddock fish cakes and runner beans. Small portions were in order after our brunch. Flo’s favourite pudding, that gets her all of a quiver, is Grannie’s rice pudding with squirty cream. Naturally, this was served today. I finished the Navarra, and the young couple drank different soft drinks.

 

“A Lot Of Work For One Man”

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This morning Jackie drove us out to MacPenny’s Garden Nursery at Bransgore, where we brunched at The Robin’s Nest. Jackie mooched around the

Plants for sale

sales area, where she learned how necessary were the signs asking people to keep their dogs on leads because they have chickens. Apparently more of their chickens are killed by customers’ dogs than by foxes.

I wandered along the garden paths and up and down the wooden steps.

A flowering cherry and several camellias were resplendent. Some of the latter soar amongst branches of trees, dropping their heavy blooms onto the beds of last autumn’s leaves.

Some spears of bulbous plants are piercing they way through the soil to join a few crocuses and hellebores.

I spoke first to a man collecting and delivering mulch to heaps beneath some trees.

These were for gardener, Rob, to spread around the beds. Rob himself told me that he was the only person who did all the plant care, maintenance, and weeding. “A lot of work for one man”, he proudly stated.

Urns with daffodils, primulas, and ivy

On our way home we stopped at Redcliffe Nurseries where Jackie bought two primulas and an ivy with which to supplement her planting in the iron urn and a new one just in front of it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous sausage casserole; her pulverised creamy mashed potato; and toothsome Brussels sprouts and broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Val de Salis Syrah 2014

 

Thorns And Scratches

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Jackie is making good headway on her Spring planting

Sarcococca

Two sarcococcas, small shrubs which already dispense amazing scents, have been tried out with temporary plonking in their pots;

Other seeds, bulbs, and corms to come, are marked with packet labels;

Daffodil

Our first daffodil needed a helping hand to hold up its head.

Camellia

Camellias are now proliferating,

Cryptomeria

and the cryptomeria is sporting fresh needles.

Snowdrops

Most beds are blanketed with snowdrops;

Hellebore

more varieties of hellebore are blooming.

Many cyclamens have survived the winter, the white one here offering a fly a perch.

On this fine morning we took a trip into the forest.

At North Gorley a murder of crows were taking a very cold bath in the temporary pools. In order to park safely for a photograph we had to drive on and tun round, by which time most had flown away, a few engaged in aeronautics, and one remained  alone in contemplation.

One of the countryside crafts much in evidence in this area is that of hedge laying. A fine example lines a section of Hungerford Hill at Hyde. Water from the fields is fed into the ditch from pipes sunk into the banks.

This seven minute video demonstrates the skill required to maintain such a living boundary:

Donkeys largely eschew the grass they leave for the ponies that they perhaps regard as wimps whilst, occasionally pausing for a good scratch, they tear away at brambles and anything else prickly enough to test their mettle. These creatures were seen, as usual, at Hyde and Frogham. Could it be that the calloused craters between the nostrils of the young white one trimming the hedge at Frogham, have been caused by its chosen nutriment?

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. Service was very friendly and efficient; the food was as superb as ever. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bahjis. My main choice was Davedush; Jackie’s was Noorjehani. We both drank Kingfisher.

A selection of three photographs have been made from those I submitted. The size chosen is A3+. Raj, manager, wasn’t there, and the others want to check once more with him before I go ahead and produce them.

 

 

 

 

We’re Off Out

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Today we are travelling to Leatherhead for the annual Gilbert and Sullivan production of the Godalming Operatic Society directed by Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell.

We intend to make our leisurely way there; join Helen, Bill, Shelly and Ron at the Travelodge hotel where we will be staying the night; watch the second half of the Six Nations rugby match; dine at an Italian restaurant with Pat, Christine, and their daughter Olivia; watch Iolanthe; repair to the bar; go to bed; get up in the morning; all breakfast in the same café; then go home. I might expand this tomorrow. If I can remember.

Before leaving I had a look at the front garden.

Outside there is a SLOW sign. Like many another traffic sign it has been left in the hedgerow after roadworks have been finished. The normal limit is 40 m.p.h. Which is largely ignored. So is the SLOW sign. Even when there are works around the bend up ahead.

Front garden tubs and owl

Although the arch has been partially demolished by Doris Day,

the tubs on Jackie’s makeshift platform have survived.

Tete-a-tetes, snowdrops, and hellebore

Tete-a-tetes, snowdrops, and hellebores share the beds.

Bergenia

The bergenias are beginning to show signs of age.

Hellebore

Behind this hellebore lies a profusion of trachystemon orientalis.

Camellia

Meanwhile, alongside the Dragon Bed which did not exist when we arrived, towers a pastel pink camellia. It was only when we cleared the bramble jungle that covered it that we discovered that the plant was there. This is the first year it has born a profusion of blooms.

A New Brother

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Jackie, on an even duller day, continued her creative cultivation.  My contribution this morning was a raked redistribution of the now rather rutted gravel on the back drive. In doing so I gained even more appreciation of the efforts of Richard in shifting shingle from his beach hut described in ‘Like Shovelling Water Or Coal In A Bunker’. And the ground I was working was at least level.

This afternoon I scanned a batch of colour slides from June 1980.

Jessica 6.80

This one of Jessica was taken shortly before Sam’s birth, in University College Hospital in Euston Road, on 19th.

Sam 21.6.80

Here is the new arrival at two days old. He must have had decent fingernails, hence the protective mittens.

Jessica and Sam 5

Cradled by his Mum he slept peacefully,

Jessica and Sam 21.6.80 6

then shared his first joke with her,

Matthew and Sam 21.6.80 2

and was introduced into the eager arms of Matthew

Becky and Sam 21.6.80 1

and Becky.

While I was drafting this, the rain having desisted, the light was just good enough to photograph the view from my window including part of the front garden, where can be seen

Tulips bed in front garden

euphorbia, tulips, daffodils, pansies, heucheras, hellebores, borage, with a glimpse of

Crab apple blossom

the crab apple blossom, to the left of which, out of shot, a couple of owls, of course, stand sentinel on the fence.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s marvellous steak and mushroom pie, sauteed potatoes and peppers, carrots, and cauliflower in a cheese sauce; followed by treacle tart and cream. The Cook drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

New Arrivals

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Poppy and customers

This morning we all joined the other customers in the cafe. Poppy did actually eat most of what was on her plate.

An hour or so later, Jackie and I set off back home, reaching there early in the afternoon.

Aaron had moved a clump of ornamental grass further back in the Palm Bed,

Chair and candlestick

and removed rust from most of the furniture in the rose garden and painted it with Hammerite. Here we have a reclaimed armchair seated under the arch with a church candlestick behind it.

Pansy 1Pansies

Pansies are flourishing;

Snake's Head fritillaries

the Snake’s Head fritillaries proliferate;

Heuchera

our numerous heucheras now have flowers;

Cowslip, hellebore, violas

and cowslips,

Geraneum Phaeum

geranium Phaeums,Grape hyacinth

and grape hyacinths are new arrivals.

This evening we dined on a Chinese takeaway from Happy Days in Pennington, and, between us, finished the Broadwood’s Folly English white wine.