Behind The Nottingham Castle Bench

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After a day in our mother’s garden, I wandered around ours.

Lamiums

Lamiums rise from the Dragon Bed, where

Rhododendron

the first of our rhododendrons is in full boom.

Margery's Bed grass-side

Another of these rich red shrubs, in Margery’s Bed,

Pieris, rhododendron and view across lawn

can be seen on the grass patch side,

Pieris

beyond the pieris

Pieris and view across grass patch

that stands behind the Nottingham Castle Bench,

Honesty

opposite which one of the ubiquitous honesty plants presages the hebe blooms with which it will soon blend.

Cyclamen

Cyclamens border the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Pansies

These particular pansies smile in the West Bed,

Hellebore, comfrey

where hellebores, like these among the comfrey and the tellimas, are adopting their maturer colouring,

Snakeshead fritillaries

and snakes head fritillaries hang their lanterns.

Japanese maple red and camellias

We thought we had lost the red Japanese maple from which I had removed dead material two years ago. Aaron cut some more away recently and fresh shoots are appearing.

Daffodils

Many later daffodils linger

Tulips

and our surprise collection of tulips has revealed yet another dramatic red striped variety.

Spirea

A white spirea cascades over the Palm Bed,

Prunus Amanogawa

and at the front of the house the prunus Amanogawa is now in full bloom. Should anyone wonder at the proliferation of piping on this side of our building, that is because this, we believe, was originally the back of the house.

This evening we dined on real fusion food – Jackie’s superb savoury egg rice, Mr Chan’s spring rolls and prawn toasts, Lidl’s pork rib rack in barbecue sauce; Belgium’s Hoegaarden beer and Argentina’s Trivento reserve Malbec 2017.

What Has Been Happening

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Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,

daffodils,

 hellebores,

and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016

 

Rearing Hellebores

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The first clear sky at dawn for some time promised a sunny day which was appreciated by the garden, especially the winter flowering cherry that has been blooming for seven months now.

Sunshine, shadows, and birdsong returned to the garden paths.

Cryptomeria and eucalyptus trees from the antipodes brightened considerably.

Some of the hellebores even reared their heads.

Bright yellow mahonia blended with paler daffodils.

Although those nearer the soil were a little mud-spattered, primulas that had drooped a little now stood proud.

This afternoon Margery and Paul paid a visit as congenial as ever.

Afterwards Jackie drove me to catch the last post at Everton Post Office and on into the forest. Much of the terrain was still waterlogged, but the ford at Brockenhurst was dry.

Beef pie meal

This evening we dined on the second half of the smaller of Jackie’s splendid beef pies; served with crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts; and sautéed potatoes, peppers, and onions. I drank Serabel Lirac 2015.

 

 

 

Lamb Biriani

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Whilst not exactly sunny, the sky did brighten somewhat this morning, whilst I wandered around the garden, particularly pleased to see that all the camellias and daffodils had survived the recent inclement weather.

Aaron cleaning decking

Among other tasks today, using his pressure washer, Aaron cleaned much of the winter’s mould from the decking and garden chairs. As usual, I gave him an A4 print of this photograph.

Jackie spent much of the morning preparing her first ever lamb biriani. This was made with four lumps of neck fillet and two leg steaks totalling 800 grams in weight.

With her sharp knife close enough to her fingers to frighten the life out of me, she cut the meat into manageable pieces.

Biriani ingredients

Next she laid out basmati rice, ground almonds, ground ginger, Knorr lamb stock cube, tikka paste, mushrooms, garlic, onions, Greek yoghurt, salt, pepper, milk, and olive oil.

Lamb precooked

While pre-cooking the lamb in a pressure cooker,

Slicing onions and mushrooms

the onions, mushrooms, and garlic were all sliced quite small.

Garlic crushing

Jackie crushes the garlic with the flat of a knife before

Garlic slicing

chopping it up.

Frying onions , mushrooms, and garlic

Onions, mushrooms, and garlic are fried together.

Cooking meat, spices, stock

The pre-cooked meat, ground almonds and ginger, and tikka paste with a little oil             are mixed with stock from the pre-cooked lamb,

Biriani fragrant mixture

and stirred over the heat.

Yoghurt addition

Any natural yoghurt is then added.

Saffron rice

Meanwhile, basmati rice is boiled before adding pinches of saffron and a little milk.

Boiled egg,rice, onions, meat biriani mixes

An egg is boiled hard. This; the saffron rice; the meat; and the onions, mushrooms and garlic are all set aside until the final stages.

The Culinary Queen took the bare bones of this from a magazine in the waiting room outside the x-ray department of Lymington Hospital whilst I was being twisted about and photographed. She wrote them on a Feedback form. Naturally she added her own stamp.

Here is her list of ingredients

and a description of the method.

Lamb biriani

Finally, having blended the rice with the onion mixture and the meat, and garnished the whole with boiled egg, cucumber, and tomato, this is what Jackie served up for dinner this evening. Mixed fruit crumble and custard was our dessert. The creator drank Hoegaarden, and I drank 16 Little Pigs 2016.

 

 

Shooting One-Handed

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Soon after Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned home I watched the recorded thrilling final quarter of the Six Nations rugby match between England and France; and the second half live of the Wales v. Italy game.

It has been a dull day, but one that was dry enough to wander round the garden and view our ever increasing daffodil, camellia, and hellebore blooms. I am indebted to an exchange with Cheryl to give me the confidence to hold up the bowed head of the single hellebore. The photo cyan speck on one of my fingers came from my Canon printer ink as I changed the cartridge when printing for Aaron a set of the photographs I took of him pruning roses last week.

The moss-covered branch seen here is what is left of a New Zealand hebe that had snaked along the bed during the time the West Bed was largely overgrown. To its left a new stem, having reached the light, stands proudly covered in foliage which will soon produce flowers.

Jackie, Dillon, Flo, Ian, Derrick, Becky

This Mother’s Day evening Jackie, Becky’s mother, and Becky, Flo’s mother were joined by Flo, Dillon, Ian, and me for dinner at Lal Quilla. We’d mostly finished our meals before I remembered my camera, and waiter, Raoul took this photograph. My main course was king prawn Ceylon. We shared onion bahjis, various rices, two ponir dishes, parathas, and naans. Kingfisher, red wine, lemonade, and water were drunk.

An Assignation

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Before getting stuck into the ironing, I played for time by wandering around the garden with my camera. Some tulips and daffodils were still emerging; many hellebores and other daffs were in bloom; some of the earlier camellia blooms were turning to parchment, as they do; the winter-flowering clematis cirrhosa still flowers; three glass birds fly into the sun.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair and for me to make an appointment with a GP to set things in motion for my knees to be examined. I don’t dwell on it, but it is time to see what’s what. Afterwards we continued into the forest.

A stretch of currently very marshy land separates Undershore from Lymington reedbeds. Undershore is a narrow, winding, lane with a high bank on the other side. Jackie tucked the Modus into a corner beside a footpath so I could walk back photographing the tarmac and the soggy ground. When we stopped, the route seemed unpopulated. Soon one car after another came along. Taking evasive action I nipped onto the verge taking a step onto a muddy path. It wasn’t a path. It was a quagmire of a ditch. That was awkward. My socks and shoes got rather damp. Further along Undershore we came to School Lane which was full of the cars I had seen earlier, and adults and children. School was out.

At East Boldre grey ponies cropped grass and tore at gorse; while chestnuts preferred to stick their noses in ditches and their rears in the air, occasionally disrupting the traffic.

Marvelling at how those dainty little hooves could bear the weight of a heavily pregnant donkey and her load we brought up the rear as she followed two others down to the shingle at Tanner’s Lane. The leading pair were soon chewing on seaweed. Jackie, who had stayed in the car, told me that the bulky creature had had great difficulty squeezing past two cars blocking the entrance to the beach. Once she found her way there a joyful assignation ensued as other donkeys greeted her through the barbed wire to the adjacent field.

My first task on returning home was to change my shoes and socks in readiness for a trip to Lal Quilla where we will be dining with Richard and his wife. I will report on that tomorrow.

We Have Survived

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Saucepans

This morning we unpacked a set of complimentary pans that came with the hob.

The garden has perked up after the snow. Sap is rising in no longer flaccid daffodils, hellebores, irises, and primulas; the first sunshine warms the beds, casting striking shadows.

A couple of days ago we thought it would be impossible for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance to work today, yet, here he was, pruning roses.

Meanwhile, Richard completed the kitchen. The cupboard doors were finished;

one he had made for the under stairs cupboard that had only had a curtain before;

having smoothed over yesterday’s plastering, new power points were fitted everywhere. Notice how Pauline’s light catcher bestows her blessings on the proceedings,

Smiley saucepan face

and a saucepan’s seal of approval is presented in a smiley face.

After a long day’s work, Richard carefully and patiently gave us tutorials on how to operate the scarily complex equipment. Tomorrow I will feature the total tour de force.

This evening, in our new dining area, we enjoyed a takeaway meal provided by Mr Chan at Hordle. I drank Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo reserva 2016.