My Minimal Contribution

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A second brood of sparrows has hatched in our downstairs loo extractor fan.

 

In this corner of the patio this morning I made my minimal contribution to the massive daily watering operation;

Jackie, of course, did so much more, particularly ensuring that all the containers were filled, and that the more thirsty bedded plants did not dry out.

This afternoon Elizabeth, who is staying with us for as long as it takes for her to find a new house, moved in. We enjoyed a relaxing time together before decanting to the Rose Garden for pre-dinner drinks.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice. The Culinary Queen consumed Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Only The Crows

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I spent most of the day grappling with long-distance legal professionals over a small remortgage. I cannot summon the energy to detail this, but it has been going on for weeks and has only been necessary because I am too old to secure a mortgage from my bank. I have grown heartily sick of prevaricating, incompetent, and mendacious professionals who are happy to take your money while providing a useless service.

It is thirty years since I last negotiated such a loan. In those days you could walk to an office, speak to a person, and trust that  what you were promised would be done. I don’t think I need tell anyone how it is now, in our progressive, unprincipled, digital age.

ImpatiensDragon Bed

Jackie spent much of the day in the garden where she reshaped and added plants to the Dragon Bed section beside the greenhouse.

By 4.30 p.m., for the sake of my sanity, I was desperately in need of a ride in a motor car. Jackie happily obliged.

Group on beach 1

We began with a look at the sea at Barton. One member of a group on the beach seemed to have brought along a tent;

Man and dog on beach

another man played with his dog;

Couple on bench 1

a couple sat together on a bench;

Walkers 1

Walkers,

Man and dog

one with a golden retriever, kept to the path along the clifftop.

Meeting of dog walkers

Whenever a group of dog walkers meet, they swap engaging stories about their pets. Sometimes the animals are not so friendly. Lily was in trouble. She was admonished as being very naughty for nipping one of the others.

Crumbling cliff 1

Cliffs are still crumbling.

Crow 1Crow 2

Only the crows (if they are rooks forgive me – I don’t know the difference)

Crows on crumbling cliff 1

can truly feel safe on them.

As if to prove this statement, one of these took off, and clung precariously to the loose pebbles.

Jogger and beach

Down below a jogger on the beach path

Jogger checking watch

checked her watch without breaking her stride.

Ponies on road 1Ponies on road 2

As we travelled inland, ponies periodically exercised their right to ownership of the roads.

Sunset 1Sunset in wing mirrorSunset 2

Sunset smiled over Roger Penny Way on our return.

Later, The Raj in Old Milton provided our takeaway meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the malbec.

 

The White Garden

Hunting through our house purchase documents for some clarity about responsibility for the huge amount of fencing in various stages of health that borders our property, I was unsuccessful in that, but I did discover the names of the houses in our little hamlet. We are one of four on our side of Downton Lane. In order, progressing along Christchurch Road towards that lane there stand Mistletoe Cottage, Old Post House, North Breeze (the empty bungalow), and Smallacres (now residential care). I will use the correct nomenclature in future. The sum total of my morning’s work on the back drive was the scalping (see yesterday) of just one tree stump. The fencing between us and Smallacres is in not much better SmallacresStump and ivy stemscondition than that we share with North Breeze.  The hitherto unseen rear view of the residential establishment is now exposed. Much of our thick ivy stems and brambles grows through the flimsy wooden structure, so pulling and hoping for the best is out. Surgical skill is required to cut the growth from our side at the point of entry. This afternoon I made a bit more progress. Once I had cut off enough of the thick ivy branches cascading over the stumps, I pulled away the stems adhering to the dead wood. This would produce a shower of decidedly dry brown dust inducing a coughing fit that lingered over lunch. Ploughing 1When I had had enough, I wandered over to Roger’s fields, and was most impressed with the work of the ploughman who had now produced acres of fine cross-hatching on what had been full of forage maize barely a week ago. As I walked along admiring the precision I noticed four tussocks lying on the land. They spoiled the man’s artistry so much that I felt inclined to remove them, but didn’t like to put my footprints on the soil. As the tractor hove Picking up tussocksinto view, it was stopped alongside these blemishes. Out stepped Roger Cobb, who walked across and picked them up. This man is a perfectionist. We spoke for a while during which he told me of a forthcoming vintage ploughing match similar to the one I had photographed in Southwell twenty two years ago. I feel another set of pictures coming on. Ploughman 'getting on'‘I must get on’, said my informant, and took his tractor into the dusk, against the lowering Skyskies. I was slightly puzzled, on this short trip, to notice that my camera battery needed charging rather sooner than I had anticipated. All became clear when Jackie informed me that she had been so impressed with all the white flowers still blooming in the garden that she had borrowed the Canon S100. Here is a selection of the photographs she took earlier:Begonias

BegoniasBegonia small

Smaller begoniasAlyssum

AlyssumErigeron - Version 2

ErigeronCyclamen

CyclamenDiasca

DiascaPansy

PansyCamomile

CamomileGladiolus

GladiolusLobelia

LobeliaImpatiens

ImpatiensJapanese anemone

Japanese anemoneSweet peas

Sweet pea.

Given how incensed some people become when supermarkets begin stacking their shelves for Christmas in August, I hesitate to repeat Jackie’s quip; when she served up a roast chicken dinner tonight, complete with homemade sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and gravy, followed by profiteroles; that she was practising for that festive occasion. But she was only joking, and it was delicious. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I consumed more of the rioja.

The Water Spire

This morning I walked along Hordle Lane, turning left into Stopples Lane. I had hoped to walk across the fields and woods to Peter’s Farm, but could not find my way through. In the spring, I must have traversed a gap in the hedge which is now overgrown. Today, I followed the fenced off wood until I reached the houses, then retraced my steps.

Water spireBurst valveJust before the paddock I heard, then saw, a spire of water, casting a rainbow, shooting straight up into the tree above. Upon investigation, during which I was liberally sprinkled, I noticed that a valve had, perhaps deliberately, become disconnected. Yeatton cottageI knocked at the door of Yeatton Cottage and alerted a resident who undertook to contact the water board. This young woman told me that the large horses did not belong to her and her husband, Horse camouflagedalthough the field and a Shetland pony did. One of the horses, sheltering under an oak, was well camouflaged.

I twice met a jogger, and gave her a running tip, for which she was grateful.

Food to go debrisKFC boxThe verges on both sides of Hordle Lane are littered with debris from food to go. Why, I often wonder, do people come to such a beautiful spot and chuck their rubbish out of their car windows?

Impatiens in forestTree sectionImpatiens grew in the wood. Perhaps someone had dumped their garden refuse into this area, with a much more pleasing result. A natural insect hotel created by the section of a dead tree was open for guests.

Concrete slabSoon after this I began the last push in preparing the rose garden. This involved the two of us transplanting a straggly rosemary bush and a cluster of crocosmia. Digging over the soil is likely to take some considerable time. The small area I worked on today, especially that which had been covered by paving for so many years, had the consistency of iron, and contained copious amounts of couch grass and its sinuous trailing roots. I unearthed another slab of concrete and a few more bricks. Just as I was thinking that I would probably find more before the job was done, I discovered another row of the concrete embedded on its side. Having been unable to shift even the first slab, in the absence of my  Jack Russell substitute, and as Jackie was calling me in to share a six-egg omelette, stuffed with onions and mushrooms, for a late lunch, I decided to call it a day. She said there was no rush to complete this task which could be done ‘at [my] leisure – if that’s the right word to use’.

This afternoon we were visited by Sam, The Lady Plumber, who came to look at the work needed on our guest bathroom before Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen come for the weekend. Sam(antha) was friendly, quick, and efficient. Maybe she could have fixed this morning’s valve. She will do our work on Thursday.

This evening I lit and tended a bonfire. Many more will be required before the produce of four months of sawing, pruning and clipping has been burnt.

Jackie’s luscious chicken curry and savoury rice was what we enjoyed for dinner. It was followed by lemon and lime merangue pie and evap in her case, and lemon drizzle cake and custard in mine. I finished the chianti, and she drank some Hoegaarden.