The East End Arms

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Today was still humid, but cooler and overcast. We spent the morning dead-heading, weeding, cutting back shrubs and other plants, generally tidying up, and adding to the compost heap and orange bags for the dump.

IKEA Wardrobe bitsThis afternoon two trips to the dump were required to dispose of the contents of two orange bags and a collection of bits of IKEA wardrobes. This laminate-clad chipboard has served many a useful purpose in the three years we have occupied our Downton home. Much of it was now surplus to requirements and was broken into manageable pieces for recycling. Once more the trusty Modus was enlisted into transport service.

Afterwards we visited Everton Garden Centre to buy a birthday present, then on the WG Hibbs at New Milton to order stone, sand, and cement for Aaron to lay a base for the greenhouse.

We then drove on to Norley Wood where we hoped to find water lilies. There were none, but Jackie spotted

Straw horse on rooftop

one straw horse on top of a thatched roof,

Horses weather vane

and two metal ones on a weather vane decorating ridge tiles.

We back-tracked to The East End Arms for a cool drink of Amstel. The inn had a very warm and friendly atmosphere and unusually pleasant toilets for a hostelry.

Bee on blackberry blossom

Whilst waiting five minutes for opening time I watched bees swarming over blackberry blossom.

It is 25 years since the popular band Dire Straits finished performing together. The locals in this bar were keen to inform us that their pub was owned by John Illsley, that group’s bass player and vocalist. John is still performing with his own band.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYO6ihi7QuA&w=560&h=315]

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

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.

Spaghetti, And How To Eat It

Rubble bagsThere is quite a lot of rubble and other kinds of rubbish scattered about the garden. We have been bagging it up for transfer to the Efford Recycling Centre which is our municipal dump. We thought two trips would be sufficient. There was, however, a queue to enter the site, probably because it was Monday morning and people had been clearing their homes and gardens at the weekend. We will wait a day or two for the next visit. We have only visited this location once before, but have been, as we were today, impressed with the friendliness and dedication of the staff. This day it was ‘Andy Manager’, as his T-shirt informed us, who advised us where to put what. This is clearly not just any old job for these men. Andy demonstrated a passion for his work, as he explained what would happen to various items and why which material went where. There is apparently only one landfill site left locally at Ringwood and this would cause problems, ‘not in our lifetime, but for our children’s children’.
Naturally, Jackie just had to buy some more plant pots from the Sales Area.
Twenty four hours after I had been told by yesterday’s BT adviser that the problem with e-mail access would be resolved in that time, it wasn’t. I rang again. This time the robot on the other end of the line informed me that BT were well aware of the problem, so I didn’t need to wait in a queue to report it. Engineers were working to resolve it and the company was very sorry for the inconvenience caused.
We have a saying, relating to constant change, which is: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. (This, translated into correct English, would read: ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’.) I would say to BT: ‘I wish you hadn’t changed it. Now it is broke, do fix it’.Broken tilesIKEA wardrobe fenceShells
This afternoon we continued clearing up rubbish, and in the process found a pit of broken tiles that we began to bag up. Whilst I was away, Jackie had transported most of the remaining IKEA wardrobe sections to the path adjoining the deserted garden that I had cleared a couple of months ago. This is to reinforce the non-existent boundary. We carried the rest across, and I began to prop them in place, at the same time lopping stubbornly invasive brambles.
Along with liberal bits of plastic and chunks of polystyrene, we have been somewhat mystified by the number of sea and escargot shells scattered among the soil in the garden. Jackie thought they should have been crushed but wasn’t sure what the purpose was. We also wondered whether our predecessors had a penchant for seafood.
I went on line and sought the answer, which was provided by doityourself.com. These shells, when crushed, are regarded as a useful mulch. The website advises that most seafood restaurants are happy to provide them for punters. ‘The best time’, we are advised, ‘to add this organic mulch is later spring or early summer when the soil is warm. As the shells decay they ‘will provide the soil (with) the minerals and calcium’ it needs. You will ‘save money in the long run on soil additives and amendments’.
‘Yes. Same as getting a bit of lime’, our head gardener sniffed scathingly. She thought, especially in their uncrushed state, that these shells might take some time to do their job.
Six years ago, when I was going through my hip replacement period, my GP, Dr O’Connor, bless her, told me I would never have a blood pressure problem. I do hope she is right, for it was severely tested this afternoon. With BT still not having resolved the e-mail problem, I received a call on my mobile phone from O2 who wanted to check that I had the most suitable contract for my needs. We got as far as the initial identification stage. When asked for the first line of my address and the postcode, I was informed that the first line was correct, but the postcode wasn’t. Believing that I was the best judge of where I lived, I terminated the conversation, and checked the address O2 had put on my last bill. The first line was correct, as were most of the others, but the postcode was that of our previous abode. Goodness knows how it reached me. Possibly full marks to the Post Office. I prevailed upon the unfortunate young woman who answered my call to change the company’s records. Matthew, bonfire 9.83
Later, I ambled down to the Spar shop and back, to buy matches to light a bonfire soon afterwards. Matthew is quite good at bonfires. In September 1983, he helped Jessica’s, sadly late, cousin Anthony with one in Aunt Elspeth’s garden in Rugby. I haven’t been able to locate the negative of this photograph, but the print, after more than thirty years, is still serviceable.
At 7.49 this evening I received a text from BT apologising for the e-mail problems, saying they were trying hard to fix it, and pointing me to a web-site for updates. Well, I suppose that’s something.
For dinner we enjoyed Jackie’s scrumptious spaghetti arrabiata. I thought I would try the other half of a bottle of Via di Cavallo chianti 2013 that I had opened a couple of days before my recent French trip. I immediately decided it would be more suitable in a sausage casserole, and opened another. And drank some. Jackie drank Hoegaarden.
Spotted T-shirtDuring dinner, I received a lesson in the consumption of spaghetti. Jackie has patiently tolerated my efforts over the years, but today’s performance was too much for her. She guided me in the correct procedure. You take a spoon in your right hand (always assuming you are not left-handed), and a fork in your left. What you don’t do is twist as much spaghetti as possible around your fork, simply using the spoon as a guide, and try to suck up the slithering pasta before it slips back onto your plate. You don’t bite off the last bits and let them drop into the sauce, spotting your T-shirt with a tomato based preparation. What you do do, is take just two or three strands, twine them round your fork, and withdraw the tines, letting the coil perch on your spoon, from which you then consume it.

A Fascinating Collage

This morning Jackie and I set about building a garage door screen  with parts of the IKEA wardrobes, supplemented by battens sawn from an old wooden pallet. We needed nails to  fix the laminated chipboard to the wood. This entailed a trip, on the recommendation of Giles and Jean, to Milford Supplies in New Milton. Being Jackie’s favourite kind of shop, she bought a few more things as well.
Now, when it comes to such practical tasks, when I say ‘we’, I really mean Jackie, with me standing around looking awkward and supplying the occasional bit of muscle, not, I must admit, always in the required direction. She, you see, is much more experienced with tools and has a far greater spatial awareness. The child’s teaching toy involving posting different shapes into a box with various openings would have come far more naturally to her than to me.
Garage door screenThe concept of fabricating a make-shift wall, against which to place the bookcases, from the materials at hand, was all Jackie’s. I did, however, under expert forepersonship, largely carry out the task, whilst she ironed and trimmed her curtains; fixed some toilet roll holders which were actually straight; and prepared an excellent fry-up for lunch.Face flannel collage
When we discovered a collage involving scraps of wood, a face flannel, and copies of the Daily Mail firmly gunged to the concrete floor, I was all for allowing it to stay put under the laminate that was to cover that bit of the ground. Jackie, however, much more of a perfectionist when it comes to such matters, set to with a hammer, chisel, and screwdriver, and at least gave us a flat surface.
During the lunchtime break I took another tour of the garden and photographed more plants for my readers, please, to identify.

The comfrey we know:ComfreyBottle brush tree and unknown shrubBottle brush tree and unknown shrub 2Unknown shrub

The shrub to the left and behind the two pictures of a bottle brush tree, however, defeats us (update: Jackie has identified it as Crinodendron Hookerianum, otherwise known as Chinese Lantern Tree).

Further behind, and to the left of these shrubs, is a cherry tree that has suffered in the winter storms. When I get around to the garden I will need to cut off the broken section. The bright green leaves surrounding this, has been identified by Tess, a New Zealander, as belonging to a hebe with a name beginning with K which I can’t remember.

This evening Jackie fed us on prawn and lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice, paratas, and vegetable samosas. She drank her usual Hoegaarden, whilst I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2012.

For the preparation of this jalfrezi follow that for lamb given on 22nd January, and when it is cooked, add frozen prawns and simmer for about five minutes; and if using fresh prawns, until they turn pink.Thrift & beach hutsCliff top, beach huts, fisherfolkjpg

After our meal we drove to Hordle Cliff to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon. From the thrift-covered cliff top we could look down on beach huts and on fisherfolk settling down for the evening on the shingle.SunsetGulls at sunsetcropped-gull-at-sunset-29-4-14.jpg
Couple at sunset

Crows and gulls fought over scraps tossed from cars whose occupants had brought their meals on wheels. One couple left their car and became silhouetted against the reddening sea.Crow on bench

A sated crow took a rest on a bench set to view the Isle of Wight, in which the bird appeared rather disinterested.

Identification Required

Last night Jackie came up with an excellent idea for recycling some of the IKEA wardrobe sections in the creation of the garage library/laundry room. This was going to need the use of a saw, and we only possessed the hacking kind
A further trip to B & Q in Christchurch was therefore required, especially as we needed some more of their curtains and dowelling for the rails. We bought all these and stopped of at Fergusson’s in Highcliffe to collect a mirror that came with one of the chests of drawers we had bought.Fergusson's House Clearance While she was at it, Jackie added the hand-painted screen seen on the left of the photograph, to our purchases.
There were long mounting brackets attached to the mirror. I had travelled from B & Q in comparative comfort, with two eight foot dowelling poles over my left shoulder. The journey from the House Clearance shop was a little more complicated. The dowelling was now being kept company by one of the mounting brackets, whilst I held the screen close to my right cheek.
We also wanted to go to New Milton to visit the bank and buy some mounting card and Glu Dots for the photographs I featured yesterday, but thought it sensible to go home and unload first. Glu Dots are a Blu Tack product which hold the pictures in place and are removable when required. We found them in New Forest Stationers which is very well stocked with all art and writing materials.
Now, the IKEA sections have spent a week in the rain on the skip pile. IKEA wardrobe sectionsThey are also spiked with various bolts, screws, and fastenings. I therefore took a screwdriver to them, and undid what I could before we trundled the requisite number back into the garage where they had come from.
We have a number of containers packed with domestic items surplus to our requirements that may be useful for younger home makers. Before we could get the IKEA kit back in the garage we had to make room for it. This involved carting those other boxes to the shed at the bottom of the garden.
After this exercise Jackie put up two more pairs of curtains in the kitchen, and I flopped for a while before wandering around the garden realising exactly how little we know about its plants, many of which are clearly unusual specimens. Of those we think we have identified, we would welcome readers’ confirmation. Of those we can’t, all offers will be gratefully received.

There are many decorative trees, almost none of which we know. For example, this one in the front garden:Fir tree in front garden

or this in the back:

Tree in back gardenAquilegia Dianthus

The aquilegias and dianthus  we are confident of,

but this flower, on long tall stems, has us beaten:IMG_8472

as do both the pink and white ones here:IMG_8481

The very prolific white plants we think are scillas. Could the pink flowers be tierellas or heucherellas?Cactus

Perched on a table near a water butt is a potted cactus.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi (recipe) with savoury rice. I drank sparkling water.

P.S. 31st July 2014

Jackie has now identified the white flower that had us beaten. It is libertia, like so many of our plants, a native of New Zealand.