The Lady Of Shalott

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Cricket match 6 – Version 2

This morning I made this crop of a photograph taken at Burley in May, and Jackie turned it into a birthday card for Bill, whose party we were to attend later.

Aaron pruning Philadelphus 1Aaron pruning philadelphus 2

Among the various tasks carried out by Aaron was heavily pruning a spent philadelphus.

Aaron pruning philadelphus 4

Bending the branches took a bit of effort.

Fuchsia Delta Sarah

This fuchsia Delta’s Sarah is spreading along the west side of the patio.

Petunias

A stand of petunias,

Lilies

and these rather splendid potted lilies prepare for the arrival of the base for the greenhouse to be delivered during the week.

Dahlia

Dahlias continue to enliven the borders,

Japanese anemone

and the first Japanese anemones are springing up.

Agapanthus

The agapanthuses are coming along nicely,

Bee on New Zealand hebe

while the New Zealand hebe now attracts the bees, eager to fill their pollen sacs.

Gladiolus Priscilla

Priscilla, the frilly gladiolus is coming through in the New Bed;

Rose Peach Abundance

 roses like Peach Abundance are having another flush;

Echinaceas

and paler pink echinaceas have risen to join the darker red ones.

This afternoon we travelled by car to Poulner where we enjoyed Bill’s birthday party. We sat and conversed in the pleasant company of Helen and Bill’s children David, Rachel, and John; Rachel’s fiancé Gareth and John’s wife Stephanie and their children, Billy and Max; Gareth’s mother, Mo, and stepfather Fred; Shelly and Ron; and. of course the birthday boy and Jackie’s sister, Helen.

Gareth and Fred

Gareth got the barbecue going, taking us through the smoky stage.

John at barbecue

John took over to give him a chance to clear the vapours from his eyes.

Barbecue

Between them they produced a variety of roasted meats to go with the salads prepared by the ladies.

Guests reflected in window

Here is a group of the male guests reflected in a window.

Max and hands 1

Great aunts eagerly took it in turns to cuddle two and a half month old Max.

Shelly and Max

Jackie handed him to her younger sister

Max and hands 2Max and hands 3

Max and hands 4Max and hands 5Max and hands 5

who eventually handed him back to his mother whose hands he explored.

Bill 1Bill 2

Bill was his usual engaging self,

Billy in tub of balls 1Billy in tub of balls 2Billy in tub of balls 3

and, in a tub filled with plastic balls, his young namesake did a passable impression of Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott as painted by many Victorian artists.

I mostly drank a fine Argentine malbec, and sampled a splendid strawberry trifle and cream tea scone for dessert.

A Trio Of Flamenco Dresses

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Watering and dead heading were the orders of the garden today. For the first time, I availed myself of

Dead Heading kit

the Head Gardener’s dead heading trolley. This is basically an adapted IKEA sack barrow. The slot for secateurs has been obscured by the contents of the bucket of dead blooms. Scissors, weed- and slug-killers, stand in the top tray, so as to be readily available should the need arise.

Kniphofia

I have selected various shades of pink to feature today. First we have the antique hue of kniphofia

Kniphofia and candle holder

blending well with this latticed candle holder.

Japanese anemone

White Japanese anemones featured yesterday, but we also have many pink ones;

Gaura

similarly white gaura have featured before, but we also have other hues.

Phlox

Phlox also comes in other pigments. Here is a pink one.

Begonias

The spotlit trio of flamenco dresses are in fact begonias.

We finished our Chinese Takeaway this evening, and both drank sparkling water.

Sunset

Finally there was a fair amount of pink in the sky at sunset.

A Garden Of Delights

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Japanese anemone suspended petal 1Japanese anemone suspended petal 2Japanese anemone suspended petal 3

Watching the suspended petal of a Japanese anemone this morning set me musing. First I considered the strength of the thread that grasped it. As the flower part spun and twisted in the breeze, its captor clung on, just as it would with a fly’s frantically thrashing death throes.

On a more musical note, my head recalled the rhythmic tones of chirpy Chubby Checker from 1960:

This afternoon we went on an outing to Stratford Tony Manor House garden which was open under the National Gardens Scheme. It was my idea of a delightful garden.

Lakeside

There was space for large lawned areas, many trees, a stream, and a lake.

Shrubbery 1Shrubbery 2

The large borders, especially those planted against walls, were really rather splendid,

Couple admiring border

and admired by many,

Jackie admiring festooned wall

including Jackie.

Sculpture 1

There were a number of interesting sculptures.

Three girls sculptures

Three girls sculpture 2

The story behind those of three girls sheltering among cyclamen under a weeping willow is  rather endearing. Made some twenty years ago, they are the daughters of the family. The eldest, now brings her own child to visit the family home. This scene, reminiscent of Enid Blyton characters from an earlier time, has been brought into the 21st century with the subtle placement of a mobile phone. The standing child once had a tennis ball placed with  equal whimsy, but the dog kept taking it.

Fossilised stump

Two apparent sculptures were in fact fossilised stumps with polished tops.

Photographer photographed 1

A more modern garden ornament features in this photograph of a photographer and her subjects. We had a delightful conversation about this, and I gave them details of this blog.

Photographer photographed 2

The next picture I made of them will be a surprise to them. (I hope you like it, folks).

Visitors to garden 1

Some quite large groups of visitors wandered around, negotiating the sometimes steep slopes,

Tea Terrace

leading to the tea terrace where a very busy team of helpers kept us all supplied.

Flower arrangement

On each table was placed one or two very tastefully arranged vases of flowers.

Bridge

There were suitably placed bridges over the still lake;

Crossing the bridge

visitors enjoyed crossing them,

Lake 1

or just contemplating the tranquil scene,

Reflection

the tempting water,

Swan 1Swans 1

and the swans.

Gate

The nicely rusting iron gate to the kitchen garden contrasted with the green grass behind it, revealed by suitable excised symbols.

Field 1

At a short distance from Stratford Tony, an army helicopter chugged over crows in a recently harvested field

Field 2

now draped with striped curtains.

Back at home, Mr Chatty Man Chan of Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our evening meal with which Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank more of the Kekfrankos.

Fair Comment

Becky is producing a power-point training presentation for Mitcham’s Commonside Trust. Trawling through the web for suitable images she found one that was ideal for the point she wished to make. She was unaware of the picture’s provenance. Upon attempting to use it, she found it too large for her purposes. She returned to find out whether she could make it smaller. This time she discovered the credit. The photograph was from one of my posts.11831282_10153233541113999_1646686465_o

Wondering what were the odds, she has sent me the relevant page from the presentation. The image of the little church fete was my picture. The quality of Becky’s production is clear from her captions.

I have been unable to access the internet on my PC for a couple of days. This is because the icon came up in my taskbar, but I couldn’t move it to the screen. I rang Hewlett Packard this morning and discovered that I had managed to press two keys, so far apart as to make that a very difficult achievement, simultaneously. This informed my computer that it was possessed of two screens, so the internet page wandered off to a non-existent one. With the problem solved, I had 325 e-mails to deal with. Needless to say, that task was not fully completed.

Before phoning technical support, I had hoed, raked, and trimmed encroaching ground cover plants from three gravel paths. I then walked to the post box. The farmer has now harvested his rape crop, so I was able to walk across the field and down to the stream, which was now looking rather dried up, and back.Stream

Recently, Jackie heavily pruned a lilac that was growing over the pergola path. This afternoon, with my usual kit of fork, spade, and axe, I eradicated the residue, sometimes tracking trailing roots some way across the bed.

Japanese anemone and clematis Campaniflora

In the front garden the minute flowers of the prolific rambling clematis, Campaniflora dances among the Japanese anemones and everything else within reach of its tentacles.

Rose Special Anniversary

Special Anniversary is being celebrated in the rose garden,

Rose Compassion

and Compassion soars above the giant thistle and over the Dead End Path.

This evening we dined on gammon steak, lamb’s liver, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, all done to perfection. Equally perfectly, I microwaved the Tesco’s syrup sponge puddings, onto which we spooned thick double cream. I drank more of the Teroldego Rotaliano, and Jackie enjoyed her Hoegaarden.

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.

Flo’s Frog

Soon after midday Jackie and I drove to New Milton to collect our friend Sheila who has joined the family group. After lunch, Jackie, Flo, Sheila, and I went on a hunt for Becky, Ian, and Scooby, who had gone ‘to the beach’. They were not at Milford on Sea. They were not at Barton on Sea. We left them various mobile messages which they eventually picked up when they got home, and we were at Barton on Sea. Inevitable, I suppose. We joined them at home, where they told us the story of the Scotch egg. Whilst on the beach they watched a family having a picnic. A seagull swooped on the food and made off with a whole Scotch egg. This was clearly too heavy for it. It dropped it. Right under their dog, Scooby’s, nose. Manna from Heaven. He didn’t stop to question his luck. He devoured it immediately.

Our conversations ranged through cricket, crosswords, community projects like Commonside in Mitcham, and local politics. Commonside, where Becky worked for ten years, is in the London Borough of Merton; Jackie worked for Merton Social Services Department for more that thirty years; Sheila, Director of Merton Mind until the funding ran out earlier in the year, and a Merton Councillor for more than fifty years, had trained as a Social Worker with me at Croydon in the class of 1969/70. We had not known it before, but in our teens Sheila and I both frequented the Oval, Surrey County Cricket ground, and Sheila had worked opposite Mitcham Cricket Club’s ground which prompted the story of ‘Six Leg Byes’ told on 17th June 2012. The main cricket focus today came from this the third day of the Old Trafford Test match between England and India. England won the game in very quick time, two days early.Jackie and Sheila 2

I accompanied Jackie giving Sheila a tour of the garden. Japanese anemonePenstemonWe have an even darker pink variety of Japanese anemone now in bloom, and the penstemons are flourishing.

In addition to the jewellery Flo is spending her time making, she has started to produce wire animals, bringing all her natural skill in reproducing a wide range of creatures, perfectly proportioned and with life-like stances, in a variety of art forms. Flo's frog 2She used my camera to photograph a frog and e-mail it to a friend. She was very patient as I stumbled my way through explaining the the process on my iMac.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole (recipe), mashed potato, and crisp vegetables, followed by jelly and ice cream. Lambrusco, Marquis de St.Vincent Medoc 2012, and Hoegaarden were the drinks on offer.

 

 

Getting Heated

Knowing I was once more going to have to grapple with BT this morning, I cheered my Japanese anemone with insectLeycesteriaMyrtle and pink rosebudspirits by wandering round the garden and focussing on the cleared shrubbery alongside the dead-end path.

Japanese anemones, leycesteria, and a pink rose have come into view. Begonias etc over septic tank coverMyrtle shootsThe leycesteria had been choked by a hazelnut tree the nut of which a squirrel had probably buried in the wrong place and forgotten. Because of the proliferation of sports in the myrtle I had been forced to be quite merciless in the pruning. It is therefore gratifying to see the shrub in bloom, and new shoots burgeoning.Fuchsia and heuchera Jackie has planted a hardy fuchsia and a heuchera here, with a labelled vinca for eventual ground cover; and, a little further along, has covered the unsightly septic tank lid with various pots perched on a section of an IKEA wardrobe.

For the first two hours of the afternoon, my BT battle continued. The best report I can give is that, having satisfied the robot, I did not have to wait to speak to an adviser. I don’t think he is all that familiar with either Apple or Blackberry. However, the poor man did his best. When I had tried to access e-mails on the iMac I was shown a circular symbol with a wavy line inside it. This, I have learned, means e-mails cannot be accessed. I clicked on it and read that they were unobtainable because of the server being off-line. ‘Connection Doctor’ was one of the options I could select. I did, and was linked to a Yahoo site which wasn’t much use in providing a cure. That is why I had phoned BT. The auxiliary nurse to whom I was linked tried a number of avenues, but I don’t think he recognised the symbol I was describing. Eventually he guided me through opening a second account, which did, temporarily it transpired, receive e-mails.

He was even less successful with Blackberry, and I told him I would try to resolve that one myself. I had a bit of a rest, then felt brave enough to tackle the Blackberry. It was, after all, Blackberry whose message provided me on 11th of my first inkling that there was anything wrong. Instructions were given as to how to verify the account. The option of using the device was exactly the same as the BT adviser had tried. The other option was the on-line version. I tried that, but was told I was giving the wrong password. I tried the ‘forgotten password’ option, which meant they would send it to me by e-mail…………………… I think you know what comes next.

A call to O2 furnished me with the password, but I still couldn’t do anything with it. Never mind, I thought, Apple doesn’t really need anything with it, if it is suitably cooked. It was then that I found that the Apple had gone off the boil. I now had three accounts showing; two with the wavy lines, and one indicating that I had a new message. But when I clicked on that no message came up.

It was now time to telephone Apple Care. Paul, when he heard what was on my screen, and even more when he saw it, described it as a mess. Apple have an interesting way of helping whilst viewing your screen. Instead of taking your screen over, as do BT, they have a red arrow with which they indicate what they want you to click on.

‘What have they done?’ was what he needed to discover. But first he had to erase it all and start again. He then got me up and running, hopefully, this time, permanently.

The process employed by Apple’s Paul, puts me in mind of the tale of the unprepossessing pins, recounted by Bill Eales many years ago. As I recall, the unfortunate owner of these legs, on entering a classroom, was asked where he got them, and told to ‘rub ’em out and do ’em again’. Maybe it was apocryphal.

Jackie in bottom of gardenWhilst I was becoming gradually more heated in the cool of the sitting room, Jackie was attempting to keep cool in the heat of the bottom of the garden, the sun reflecting off the concrete, where she continued her transformation of that area.

We dined this evening at Daniels (sic) Fish and Chip restaurant in Highcliffe. The food was very fresh and crispy and the service excellent. We both had cod. Jackie supplemented hers with onion rings. My choice was calumari. She drank diet Pepsi and I drank tea.

One of the e-mails I did receive when we returned home was from BT, promising a month’s free broadband.