Honeysuckling

We have enjoyed excellent, efficient, and smooth on line repeat prescription service from our local pharmacy adjacent to our GP surgery for a good number of years. Until some weeks ago all changed. There were more people than ever working in the background behind the counter; apparent computer problems; missing prescriptions; people in queues having been told to come back next day – one man 3 days running; a generally harassed atmosphere. I was never inconvenienced myself, except for having queued behind the unhappy people, when previously queueing had been rare; Jackie had suffered from the “try again tomorrow” syndrome, as had someone else in the family – regularly.

When we visited this morning I asked to speak to the person in charge to ask about what was going wrong. I would have had to drive 45 minutes away to do this because that is where the new owner was now based. Our independent company had been taken over by another of that ilk.

My conversation with staff was most amenable and I was given the new owner’s address. They would welcome a complaint from me. Bigger is clearly not better.

Today’s weather was similar to yesterday’s. That is generally overcast until we returned home from a late afternoon forest drive when the sun put in an appearance for the evening.

A tractor working over a field of many pheasants sent the birds scattering across Sowley Lane.

Along St Leonard’s Road a group of donkeys foraged above and within a dry ditch.

One of two foals, having untangled itself from a barbed wire fence crossed to the other side of the road;

the other, probably quite surprised by the presence of a bus we have never seen here before, allowed the vehicle to pass.

From the car, Jackie photographed honeysuckle in the hedgerow and the younger foal suckling.

I contributed a stem of valerian growing from the fourteenth century stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange and a cluster of conkers soon to fall.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which Jackie drank Lambrusco and I drank Mas d’Anglade Montpeyroux 2018.

Inside And Out

This morning and the early part of the afternoon

Jackie continued her work on the Brick Path.

My morning task was returning our bedroom to normal now that Nick has finished his clean decorating. This involved shoving the bed back into position; removing many items from the en suite bathroom, having the advantage of allowing me a shower;

returning some to the bedroom and others to become temporary lumber, in the redecorated sitting room. Some of these items will furnish the room while we will have many pictures to cull.

Nick’s work leads these the eye smoothly through these two rooms.

This afternoon, accompanied by my trusty camera, I carried out more dead-heading and pulled up a few weeds. As usual this gallery provides a title to each photograph.

It was only yesterday that I was conversing with Anne of Something Over Tea about our mutual dearth of butterflies, and today we were visited by a solitary Red Admiral.

This evening we all dined on the patio on Papa John’s pizzas with which Jackie and Becky drank Zesty, Ian drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020.

Dank

During the morning of this decidedly dank day Jackie worked on tidying the lawn and its surrounding borders, while I did something similar in the front garden, cleared up debris and fed the compost bins front and back.

Just in time for lunch a downpour sent us indoors. The Head Gardener left her tools outside, so, when I took advantage of a drier period to wander around with my camera, I gathered them up and deposited them in the greenhouse.

A hoverfly wasn’t too bothered about the raindrops on clematis Mrs N. Thompson; other clematises, nasturtiums, Black-eyed Susan, angels wings and day lilies were similarly bejewelled.

Various hanging baskets and other containers are flourishing, well stocked with petunias, lobelias, begonias, and more. Beside the vertical picture of Alan Titchmarsh, deep red Love Knot and lighter hued red carpet rose, are portraits of Ernest Morse and the climber Super Elfin. We have encouraged the honeysuckle to infiltrate the Back Drive from the garden of the adjacent care home. The purple and white Delta’s Sarah is in the patio bed.

Five more chapters read of Charles Dickens’s novel, David Copperfield, carry five more of Charles Keeping’s superb illustrations to my Folio Society edition.

‘She was sitting by the fire, suckling an infant, whose tiny hand she held against her neck’

In ‘We stand around the grave’ the artist chooses to place the burial party in the distance.

‘Away we went on our holiday excursion’

The figures in the foreground, bursting out of the frame of ‘I lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed’ give a typical perspective to Keeping’s street scenes.

Note the artist’s trademark dog in ‘There was a very long-legged young man, with a very little empty donkey-cart, standing near the Obelisk’

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s hot and spicy pasta arrabbiata with full, firm, and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the especially smooth Rioja.

The wind is whipping up, reminding us that tomorrow afternoon we will need to batten down the hatches in the usual manner in preparation for the gale expected to strike early the next morning.

Emerging From The Gloom

This morning the temperature plummeted, as did rain until after lunch, when the overcast skies brightened and the wind speed escalated, for the rest of the day, to 40+ m.p.h.

We drove early to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three bags of compost, a splendid, tall, lingularia; lettuce and other salad ingredients, before a short trip into the forest.

Beside Church Lane a pair of field horses sheltered under a tree.

The lane, like many others, had recently been resurfaced; hence the skid warning and speed limit. Often such signs stay in situ for months. Jackie had found a section of verge on which to park, otherwise no-one would have been able to pass while I photographed.

Further along the road we spotted a herd of deer which, as soon as they got wind of us, turned tail and huddled together further away. This did not put some of the young stags off their stroke.

As usual, galleries can be accessed by clicking on any image each of which can be viewed full size by clicking the boxes beneath them, and further enlarged if required.

Church Lane is steeply undulating. As this equestrienne reached the top of one slope and emerged from the gloom, even though Jackie was driving very slowly, her horse fell into a panic. My chauffeuse stopped the car and turned the engine off, thus enabling the young woman to settle her steed and sidle past the Modus while preventing the driver’s side from being kicked in.

The far end of the lane emerges in Pilley where further coronavirus messages include the bus shelter with its Union flag and Stay Home messages; and the HOPE bench.

Back at home raindrops glistened on hemerocallis, nasturtium, honeysuckle, fuchsia Delta’s Sarah, and rose Hot Chocolate, to name a few.

I spent the rest of the day reading a book I will feature tomorrow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi, flavoursome mushroom rice, and plain parathas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the delicious Douro

Working From Home

On an even hotter day we began gardening very early, partly because our septic tank was emptied soon after 7.00 a.m.

Our shared task was dead-heading. I carried a camera with me.

I have noticed that butterflies like to bask on paving or gravel. Can you spot this Red Admiral?

We now have quite a variety of Hemerocallis. Here are a few.

The creamy Shropshire Lad, and the pink carpet rose hosting a pair of what I think are hoverflies, represent the roses in the Rose Garden which also harbours the deep magenta petunias and sweet peas. As usual, the galleries can be accessed by clicking on any of the images in each one; view these full size by clicking on the boxes beneath them. Further enlargement is then possible.

Red rose Super Elfin rambles along the Back Drive border where red and white hot lips welcome honeysuckle that has crept in from next door.

A sunlit heuchera leaf cast its shadow across the brick path.

I spent the whole afternoon wrestling further with my banking problem. Fundamentally I cannot now create a new on line account. Once again I was on the end of a bad line from Scotland. This, it transpired was because the agents were working from home. Eventually I was advised to start again in the hope that I would reach a different call centre. I did. It worked. This time I was told that my Mac had blocked the account. I will have a session with Peacock Computers tomorrow.

Early this evening we took a drive to Mudeford which was awash with people still flooding in with little semblance of social distancing. We turned around and enjoyed a drink on the patio before a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away delights with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carenina.

Sunburst

I wandered around the garden late this afternoon, pointing the camera almost at random.

Here are the results. Don’t miss a couple of bees. The Puerto Rico dahlia provided a sympathetic sunburst. As usual, galleries will provide titles.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn at Bowling Green. We both enjoyed tempura prawns and fresh salad starters. My main meal was a superb rib eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato and peas; Jackie’s was the Wheel Inn Burger, salad, and chips with which she drank Kaltenberg, while I drank Ringwood’s best. Neither of us had room for dessert.

Say “Bye”

I woke later than usual this morning. As I passed our upstairs windows soon after 7 a.m. I spied Jackie standing with a camera at the far end of the garden.

She was taking advantage of the early morning light, which was just as well for the first three images in particular.

Titles, as usual, can be gleaned after accessing each of the galleries with a click. Otherwise I will let her results speak for themselves.

This afternoon she drove me to

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, where I walked for thirty minutes along this reasonably even path.

So crowded were the car parks that we only just managed to find a space. Surrounding the car park, golden St John’s Wort glowed in the sunshine that pierced gaps between the

majestic giant redwoods

surrounded by bracken.

Now the tourist season has begun, and children have been let out of school, I do not walk alone.

Two little boys ran on ahead of their parents, pausing while a woman approached engrossed in her mobile phone. Having put it aside, she greeted me warmly.

Two gentleman I took to be the fathers of the boys called them to stop, caught up with them and turned to communicate with the likely mothers with whom I had been conversing.

The woman carrying a younger child, I think did not speak English. Nevertheless when, realising that they were pacing me and my knees, I urged them not to wait for me she held up her little boy to wave and say “bye”. Her companion had good enough English to tell me about her aunt’s hip replacement.

On my return to the car I paused to photograph a trio playing catch. Anyone who has been accustomed to catching a hard cricket ball will appreciate that it is much easier to pouch than is this yellow tennis ball.

When we set off for home string of cyclists wheeled along Rhinefield Road.

Just outside Brockenhurst a leisurely pony and foal were instructing a patient motorcyclist in the rules of the New Forest roads.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious beef, mushrooms and peppers in red wine; Yorkshire pudding; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans with which I finished the Grenacha Syrah. Mrs Knight had downed her Hoegaarden while seated on the patio in conversation with Nugget.

In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.
Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.


Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.


Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Up And Down The Garden Path

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT
Between phone calls wrestling with internet connection problems, while Jackie began the process of moving the less hardy plants to their winter quarters in the greenhouse, I wandered around the garden inspecting the surprises it still holds for us. Being a natural optimist I hoped I would be able to post my findings later.

We have a profusion of prolific fuchsias, not all of which I can name. A bee clambered dozily into one of the Delta’s Sarahs.

Cyclamens grace the stone tubs on the front wall, and various beds, such as that of the Weeping Birch, also home to asters, begonias, geraniums, petunias, bidens, and a red carpet rose.

Begonias

 geraniums and petunias also bloom in other beds and containers.


 

The primula survives in the West Bed; a little blue iris reticulata in the raised bed; a clematis once again scales the potting shed trellis;

the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis, such as that in a container in front of the garage, stands proud beside its neighbouring nasturtiums, and the honeysuckle and solanum ascending the right hand trellis.

This morning glory may have been a late developer, but it is making up for lost time; hot lips are persistently, provocatively, pursed.

My wanderings involved a few trips up and down the Brick Path.

It must be more than thirty years since I bought our now threadbare but structurally sound Chesterfield sofa from Heal’s. This afternoon it was removed for reupholstering.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent pork chops with mustard and almonds; new potatoes; crisp carrots; tender cabbage and sautéed peppers and onions. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth drank Hop House lager and I drank Réserve de Bonpas 2016. This meal prompted me tell the relevant story that was told in ‘Chamberlayne Road’.