The Containers Were Cleared

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE PAIR TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, EACH MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN ITS PAGE AND CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. THE SINGLE IMAGE JUST NEEDS A CLICK TO ENLARGE.

The kitchen may have looked neat and tidy when we finished yesterday’s decluttering. Now we have to rid ourselves of the piles in the library. We may not pass on the stool in the top right hand corner of the vertical picture. We’ll probably keep the wine for lubrication. The A-Z book in the bottom right of that image is one in which I feature as Mordred. Beneath the clock in the landscape photograph is a flyer for ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Book piles are those which Richard eased off the shelves when fitting the duct for the extractor fan. They will be returned when access is clear.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Scotland and most of that between England and France.

Flo with Chinese meal finished

This evening Mat, Tess, Poppy, Flo and Dillon came to stay. Jackie drove to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our delicious evening meal. Mr Chan and another customer opined that she was buying too much. They were wrong. The containers were cleared. Beers, wines, and soft drinks were imbibed.

 

High Maintenance

In a recent exchange with my Facebook friend Kanan Buta, who had, from afar, been admiring the garden in pictures, I commented that because this was our first year it was full of surprises.IKEA wardrobe fence ‘Pleasant ones, I hope?’, she replied. ‘Not always’, was my answer. One of the less pleasant ones, as my readers may know, is the amount of rubble including chunks of concrete and broken tiles we have been bagging up and taking to the municipal dump. Today, I found a use for the next batch for disposal. The untended garden next door lies at a somewhat lower level than ours. This means the path I have been clearing between the two properties, in parts, drops away steeply, leaving an uneven trench. Several bags of rubble filled the holes and helped to keep the last sections of the IKEA wardrobe fence, added this morning, in place. The whole is not the most beautiful example of garden design, but at least it will help to keep the triffids at bay. That reminds me – the morning’s efforts included cutting down an adolescent bay tree.

Main gravel pathHelidan pathDead end gravel pathAs I spent the best part of the afternoon hoeing, raking, and sweeping the gravel paths, whilst Jackie dripped around with her watering can, I reflected on the fact that, at an age when many of our friends are turning to low maintenance gardening, we have done exactly the opposite. I can, of course, comfort myself with the fact that most of the really heavy projects that have occupied the last three months will not require repetition. But a myriad of potted plants will always need water in hot weather, and weeds will need to be removed. I learned today, too, that the bamboo removed from the oval path will continue to crop up in the middle of it. The hoe was inadequate to deal with that. Brute force to pull up the trailing root, and a pair of loppers to cut it off where it joined the main plant were required.

Hebe - New Zealand

The New Zealand hebe identified by Tess is now full of blooms.

Sweet peasTomatoes

Readers will have gleaned that we do not intend to go in for kitchen gardening. Jackie has, however planted sweet peas and tomatoes, probably as  token gestures.

Seriously, sweet peas are among  our favourite flowers.

I don’t know whether the chef at Hordle Chinese Take Away felt like cooking tonight, but we didn’t, so, thanks to Jackie and her Modus, he provided us with our dinner. This was the usual excellent melange from this establishment, accompanied by T’Sing Tao beer.

‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’

We began the day by transferring our waterboy from the edge of the kitchen garden to a suitable spot nearer the house. WaterboyThis meant two trips by wheelbarrow, one for him, and one for his shell. Before going off to Stewart’s Garden Centre we needed to make sure the whole feature would fit where we planned, and to take measurements of the depth of the water and the diameter of tube required to link a pump to the lad. By ‘we’, as usual, I mean Jackie.  ‘Trust me, I’m a doctor’, said she as she performed a delicate endoscopy with a piece of flexible curtain wire. It was necessary to ensure there would be no internal blockages to impede the regular colonic irrigation of the water that would be flowing through the body. Satisfied in all respects that our find would work we drove to the garden centre. In fact the size of pump we required was purchased from Maidenhead Aquatics, an outlet on the parent company’s campus. At Stewart’s itself, we collected the rest of Jackie’s birthday solar lights, one of which is seen suspended over the patio behind the water feature.

Unfortunately, four of the components were missing from one box of lights, so we had to go back to the shop to replace it. There was no problem with this. As we were out, we stopped off at Ferndene Farm Shop and bought six more bags of gravel.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our evening meal, but Jackie had to go and fetch it. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I imbibed Tsing Tao.

Afterwards we dead-headed a large rhododendron, in order to promote next year’s flowering.Solar lighting 1Solar lighting 2Solar lighting 3 It was almost 10 p.m. by the time the solar lights came on, because we are nearing the longest day. Solar lighting 4These lamps gather their power from the sunlight, but it is only triggered when the night draws in.

Finishing Touches

Chinese cabinet on chest of drawersWe have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.

I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.

The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.

LibraryThe legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.

The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.

Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

PhotiniaPhotinia bloomsA wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

Yellow flowered shrub - Version 2There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

Yellow flowered shrub

The copper beech is now in full leaf.Copper beech

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.StitchwortMay

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.Rook in flight

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

Kitesurfers descendingKite surfers setting upSeascapeSeascape with kite surferSeascape with kite surfersKite surfers & yachtKite surfer, shingle, Isle if Wight & The NeedlesKite surfer & The NeedlesAs I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene. Kite surfer in seaThe surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.

A Rookery

It is not a good idea to venture into a Tesco superstore on Good Friday morning. We learned that today. When we carry out such a shop I usually trot off in search of some items and return to Jackie who is loading the trolley in some other part of the store. It is normally not difficult to spot her in a crowd, but this one rivalled Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve.

For those of you who think that I could not select the wrong kind of long-life milk or apple juice I have to disillusion you. It is even possible for me to fight my way back to the shopper-in-chief with unacceptable apple juice twice. It gets a bit wearing carting several cartons backwards and forwards when you haven’t bothered to pick up a basket.

The majority of people guiding their trolleys through such crowds steadfastly refuse to make eye contact as they thrust forward. Some of my bruises will never come off. I thanked the one gentleman who did catch my eye with a smile.

Back home there were the inevitable items either forgotten or sold out in the mega-store. I therefore walked down to try out the Spar shop who did have coleslaw and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.Wallflowers & Private Drive sign Attracted by wallflowers growing by our back entrance I noticed we have a largely obscured sign designed to prevent uninquisitive parkers blocking our driveway. We may benefit from a little repositioning of this. There I met our neighbour Beverley who was painting her new fence. Unfortunately, as we introduced ourselves, and before I realised what she was engaged in, I rested my hand on top of the newly painted surface. She confirmed that the country park shop was a good resource.Landscape

The right hand side of Downton Lane offers extensive views across fields.

Rook guarding nestRook guarding nest b:wRook over nestRook flyingRaucous cries from the right hand side of Shorefield Road led me down a tarmacked track to a crowded rookery. Most nests had an attentive parent on guard, whilst other cawers flew noisily to and fro. Across a bridge over a stream lay timbered holiday homes to which a couple were making their way. They hoped to see chicks in the nests before they returned to their permanent abode.Rhododendron bloom

Rhododendron time is coming to our garden.Erigeron

Erigeron also does well.

When we dined at The Elephant Walk in Highcliffe three days ago, the meals were so plentiful that Becky took away a doggy bag. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for me, she left it in Jackie’s car. I had the benefit this evening, for its contents went down quite well with my Isla Negra cabernet sauvignon 2013. The feast Jackie had bought at the Hordle Chinese Takeaway two days ago was still able to provide her and Flo with their dinner tonight. Jackie’s choice of beverage was Hoegaarden.

Spring

The gloriously sunny weather that has welcomed us to Downton continued today. Rape fieldI took a walk up Hordle Lane alongside the extensive rape fields that glowed beneath the cloudless blue skies.Path round rape field A footpath on the left led around one field and through another. At first the fields were on my left.Horses through hedge Horses lazed in a paddock on my right. Further footpaths put the rape on the right and woods on my left.Bluebells and tree rootsBluebells and fallen treePrimroses

Bluebells enlivened the forest floor through which they had penetrated as they sprung from their hibernating bulbs. Naturally I took a path through the woods where primroses were equally abundant. This wound around a bit, but I could hear the roar of what I hoped was Christchurch Road, distant on my left. Some of the time. Otherwise I heard the cawing of rooks, the humming of various insects, and cackling of hens and geese. A bleating and baaing  led me along another track in the hope I might see some lambs.

Sheep & lambsSheep & lambs 2 I was not disappointed. They littered wide open grassland to my left. Farmland to the right contained Shetland ponies and black sheep, one of which was a magnificent three-horned ram that took to its heels at the sight of my camera. Maybe I’ll catch it next time.

The wide track through Peter’s farm took me to Lower Ashley Lane, where I turned left to the junction with Lymington Road, a section of Christchurch Road. I returned home along this undulating, winding busy thoroughfare lacking a footpath. I had to be rather vigilant.

This afternoon we took delivery of Flo’s wardrobe from Oakhaven Hospice Trust. The men took it upstairs and our granddaughter manoeuvred it into its alcove.

Flo took some rather lovely photographs of the garden.Spring by Flo                                                    This one she entitled ‘Spring’.

My manly tasks today were helping Jackie to put up more curtain rails, then to add to the skip pile. Anyone from Globe Removals may wish to skip what follows. Their stalwart men moved four dismantled IKEA wardrobes, all carefully marked up by Michael, from his Wimbledon house to storage; out of storage; and into our garage ready for us to reassemble. They are too tall for our ceilings, which is why we bought another from Oakhaven Hospice Trust. We have been unable to give them away. This afternoon I began humping the extremely heavy sections from garage to garden heap. I didn’t finish the job. But there is a lot more room in the garage.

This evening Jackie drove to the Hordle Chinese Takeaway in Stopples Lane and returned with a plentiful feast on which we dined with Flo. I drank Spitfire ale.