Precipitation

Yesterday Jackie tidied up the area fronting the garage door trellis. This involved clearing away last year’s plants that were beyond their best-before date, especially the still blooming nasturtiums that should have shrivelled and died months ago. She then added new life to the pots.

Today was one of steady, light, rain. Starting with the Head Gardener’s new planting of perky primulas and pansies

I photographed pellucid precipitation on diverse daffodils;

on fresh tulips;

on other pansies;

on hellebore brollies;

on winsome wallflowers:

on camellia petals;

on slender summer snowflakes;

on pink pelargoniums;

and on a closed clematis Cirrhosa Freckles.

Floral lichen on the back of the Nottingham Castle bench is developing nicely.

This afternoon, Valentine from HSL brought a sample chair,

one of which he tried out for size for each of us. Having taken an order he returned this one to his van and, for the first time in two years, I was able to rise from a seat without using my arms.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken; crisp roast potatoes; and crunchy cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, with tasty gravy. I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

Cold Soup

Jackie took advantage of the early morning sunlight to photograph

a variety of colourful daffodils;

a striking range of hellebores;

a bee probing pulmonaria;

my dwarf azalea, still thriving after twenty years and several moves;

pale yellow primroses

and their brighter primula relatives;

mahonias,

companula,

wood anemones,

summer snowflakes;

and burgeoning tulips blending with light blue pansies.

When Jackie delivered my muddy red jacket to White’s cleaners last week she was diverted by the purchase of a weighty brass owl, now perched on a lurching post. Its relatives may be glimpsed throughout the beds.

We collected the dry cleaning this afternoon and went on to visit Mum, who, although not quite aware of the global nature of the pandemic, is certainly fully au fait with the precautions at Woodpeckers and the reason for them. Conversation included Spanish flu and the death of Mum’s aunt Holly.

We were required to wash our hands on arrival when our temperatures were taken and pronounced perfect.

As we approached Brockenhurst we spotted a contented pony enjoying the now familiar New Forest vichyssoise soup.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; crisp Yorkshire pudding, sweet potatoes, cauliflower carrots, and broccoli: and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016.

Visiting Restrictions

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of his grappling with the erection of the Agriframes Bower.

After this Elizabeth dropped in to return a hammer and drink a cup of tea. She stayed for lunch after which we engaged in a wide-ranging discussion much of which centred on the coronavirus. This pandemic now seems to be following a geometric progression throughout Europe with consequences that are beginning to effect us all.

Andy, Elizabeth’s beloved son-in-law, despite asthma and diabetes, ┬áhas trained steadily for this year’s London marathon which has now been postponed to October.

Louisa and her family are booked to visit her brother, Sam, and his family in Australia in a couple of weeks’ time. It must be touch and go whether they will be able to fly.

With 41 cases of the virus now in our county the inevitable procedures have yesterday been implemented in Mum’s care home. Only near relatives can visit: we have to ring the bell for admission; wash; and have our temperature taken when inside. It can only be a matter of time before visits will be banned altogether. On leaving us, my sister would go on to see Mum and report back on the smoothness of the procedure.

Apparently those of us over 70 will be ordered to self isolate within a matter of weeks. The courage of the villagers of Eyam should never be forgotten.

After rain during the rest of the afternoon spent reading I wandered, camera round neck, while the weak evening light still held.

It only takes a twitch from me for the birds to scatter from the feeders suspended from the prunus Autumnalis in the front garden which contains a range of plants including

euphorbias, also found elsewhere, such as

on the back drive borders.

Ipheions persistently push through the patio paving;

Numerous hellebores,

and daffodils add their splashes of colour. The peach-centred beauties above are from a trough Jackie planted up for Mum when she was still in her own home.

Primroses appear throughout the garden, but there are still some waiting for a permanent place.

We now have some idea of the tints of the tulips sharing their pots with purple pansies.

Grape hyacinth spears stand proud. These are fronted by New Zealand flax.

The more cultivated hyacinths transplanted from gift pots continue to thrive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beefy cottage pie; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot 2018.

 

 

A Closer Look

Elizabeth popped over this morning to collect some wood and nails to repair a fence on a temporary basis until Aaron can do it for her. She fixed a time with him.

Having concentrated on general garden views yesterday I took a closer look at

a variety of daffodils;

primulas and

primroses;

hellebores;

camellias;

anemone Blandas;

 

vinca;

viburnum;

and Amanogawa cherry blossom.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby international between Scotland and France. Just before half time the game erupted into a 30 man handbags session. One player threw a punch and was sent off. The game deteriorated after that.

Elizabeth, Danni, Andy and Ella came to dinner.

Before hand the usual fun ensued. Elizabeth and Danni graced the white sofa.

Ella has taken a shine to the bell with which Jackie wakes me when I have fallen asleep during Bargain Hunt.

She also has a new game which involves a tender “Aahh” as she settles her Teddy down to sleep;

she is not averse to ditching him when distracted by her Dad.

The meal consisted of Jackie’s sublime beef pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans, and tasty gravy. This was followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. Elizabeth, Danni, and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank Diet Coke,

Jackie served up to eager participants.

 

 

Ella tucks in beside her mother.

Jackie took the two photographs of the infant enjoying her Kit Kat dessert.

 

 

“I’ll Have A Copy Of That”

Despite yesterday’s rain the Head Gardener drove to Otter Nurseries clutching vouchers for special offers of seven different items. One of these was for 10 fifty litre bags of compost. The helpful staff had stuffed these all into the Modus. Unfortunately they did not offer to unload them at this end. That was my task this morning. I piled them up beside the shed, then staggered inside for a sit down.

Today had dawned as dry, bright, and sunny as yesterday was wet and dreary.

Jackie entered the garden in order to photograph Eric the pheasant. He immediately scarpered, so she cast her camera lens onto the plants.

These cranesbill geranium leaves bear a slight dusting of last night’s light frost.

 

One of Eric’s little games is to decapitate daffodils. He missed those in these three pictures.

Fallen camellia blooms enhance the third composition. Others remain on the shrubs.

 

 

New clematis shoots cling to the weathered iron gazebo, preparing to supersede

winter-flowering Cirrhosa Freckles;

These blue pansies will soon be supplanted by their pot-sharing tulips.

Pink hyacinths,

magenta cyclamens.

two-tone comfrey,

and cream hellebores brighten beds.

Spring is the season for nest-building and incubating eggs. It is prime poaching period for predatory magpies.

On the lookout for potential prey one of these plumed pests perches atop a blighted oak on the other side of Christchurch Road.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

On Shirley Holms Shetland ponies grazed in the soggy landscape

which was waterlogged in parts, a number of reflective pools having been recently created

on the wooded side, the drier sections of which were littered by fallen branches,

beech nuts,

and their leaves.

On my way back to the car I photographed an equestrienne approaching us.

As she drew near she smilingly exclaimed “I’ll have a copy of that”.

“What’s your address?” I enquired.

“I’ll take it off your blog” she replied. It was only then that I realised that the beaming face beneath the unfamiliar helmet was that of Anne of Kitchen Makers.

So I felt the need to produce a close-up of her astride her splendid steed.

Beside Church Lane at Boldre lay a recently uprooted tree in a field occupied by

horses wearing rugs to protect them from the overnight temperatures currently slipping below freezing.

Daffodils surrounded the Church of St John the Baptist, in the graveyard of which

a photographer shepherded his subjects.

A gaggle of geese now occupied Pilley lake;

Hatchet Heath harbours more than its normal quota of ponds;

and swans smoothly glide on the slopes of East Boldre.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice with plain parathas accompanied by Hoegaarden in the case of the Culinary Queen and the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon in mine.

 

 

 

 

Nature’s Umbrellas

Storm Jorge is not due to hit us until tomorrow. Just to get us in the mood, dispiritingly drizzly rain seeped from solid slate skies throughout the day. Even heavy rain would have been more stimulating.

Mostly I read, except when I donned a raincoat and wandered around the garden testing my camera’s imperviousness to the water that

glistened all surfaces

and bejewelled crocuses sagely keeping closed;

camellias on the bushes and

on the ground;

head-bent hellebores –

even those standing proud.

I realised today why these flowers invariably hang their heads.

They come equipped with their own umbrellas.

Daffodils,

primroses,

and mahonias brighten

the beds.

Raindrops cling to boughs until sliding down to drop to the ground.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. Portions are so plentiful that we both opted simply for mains. Jackie enjoyed the thick, meaty house burger with chips and salad while I chose beer battered cod, chips and peas with tartar sauce. The crispy batter was better than most fish and chip shops could produce. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Rioja.

 

An Epitome

The impending visit by storm Dennis determined that we batten down the hatches and stay indoors.

In the event the morning was quite mild so Jackie ventured out to Everton Nursery to purchase a couple of

double hellebores that she had heard they were stocking. One even held up its head at the prospect of being photographed.

I occupied myself reading more of The Pickwick Papers, from which

here are another half dozen of Charles Keeping’s splendid drawings. I will write more when I have finished the book, but this illustration of Sam Weller labouring over a love letter epitomises the artist’s adherence to the author’s description, even to the extent of resting his head on his left arm in his efforts to follow his letters across the page. (It may be helpful for anyone reading the text accompanying this illustration to know that ‘mother-in-law’ is an archaic term for stepmother).

This evening we dined on fine fusion fare consisting of tasty tempera prawns; a rack of pork ribs doused in plum sauce; savoury rice jam-packed with finely chopped omelette and vegetables; and tender mange-toutes, followed by moist and crunchy baklavas, with which the Culinary Queen drank Peroni and I drank Clos des Batuts Cahors 2017.