During a brief lull in the wet and windy weather the forecasters tell us will worsen over the next two months, I met and spoke with Ralph, the owner of The Spinney, on my way to Hordle Cliff beach and back. He recounted the history of the once again closed Royal Oak pub on the corner of Downton Lane. Apparently a few years ago a family successfully ran it for nine years. They were always packed out. Having lost the country pub atmosphere under a series of successors, it has failed to survive since.
Chalet demolitionStatic caravanDespite the rain, men demolishing the older chalets in Shorefield Country Park were able to keep a bonfire going. The replacements, providing work for M. Doe, are being erected within a matter of days.
Jackie had bought a pomegranate for Flo, which enabled me to illustrate my post ‘The Bees’ of 29th May 2012 with a photograph. Our granddaughter eschewed the pin method favoured by Chris and me. She preferred to pick out the fleshy seeds with her fingers.
Some weeks ago, Jackie’s sister Helen had entrusted to her a tiny pair of ailing plants. Floppy little things, they seemed to be beyond being restored to health. Helen’s faith, however, has paid off. One was to be adopted by her sister, the other to be fostered in respite care.
Clematis SeiboldiiWhat I thought was a dwarf passionflower has now flowered in its pot, and has the strength to climb up its supports. This is a clematis Sieboldii, appropriately nicknamed the passionflower clematis. Clearly a certain amount of favouritism has been employed, for this is the adopted twin, which has benefited from diluted tomato feed, and regular caresses and sweet nothings.Clematis Sieboldii in incubatorThe other, the foster child, although beginning to show signs of viable life, remains in an incubator in the utility room.

Errol’s lilies still enliven our sitting room.

Our dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole (recipe); mashed potato and swede; carrots and runner beans followed by a variety of sweets, mine being scones and strawberry jam. I finished the malbec.

P.S. Jackie tells me I got the wrong end of the stick over the plants. It was only last week that Helen had handed over her clematis for resuscitation. As can be seen, it has already responded to her sister’s equally attentive tender loving care.

Canal Holidays

Lilies in Becky's vaseWhen Errol brought the children down for the weekend on 1st, he gave us a large bunch of lilies. Each day since, we have watched for the opening of the petals. We were rewarded today. They now have quite a heady scent. The treasured stoneware vase containing them, was made for Jessica and me by Becky when she was studying art at Newark College in the 1990s.
Jessica and ImogenAnother memento of a wonderful weekend has been placed on her Facebook page by Louisa, who took this amazing iPhone photograph. The perfectly framed image shows Jessica and Imogen finishing off the sparklers they took home with them. Hebe

Hebes are blooming again in our garden.

I spent most of the day scanning fifteen very poor prints from 1980 and ’81. These were of varying shapes and sizes, often out of focus, and many had been produced with the use of ageing chemicals. None was larger than 9 x 11 cm. You could probably say it was a labour of love.

Our nephew Mark, fondly remembering canal holidays shared by my sister Jacqueline’s family and Jackie, Matthew, Becky and Ian Stockley, had, at Chris’s funeral on 31st October, asked for copies of Jackie’s thirty plus year old collection. The two families had very happy times on narrow boats. Matthew, Becky, Little Jack, Mark, Alex, James 5.80 May of 1980 was the bobble hat month. Matthew, Becky, and their cousins James, Mark, Little Jack and Alex, all bought hand-knitted hats from the woman Becky, Matthew, Little Jack & Mark 5.80who had made them, then Becky, Mat, Little Jack, and Mark re-enacted the iconic Beatles 1969  ‘Abbey Road’ album cover along the canal bank.

Becky, Mark & Alex 5.80That same year Becky wasn’t too confident when the boat got up to the maximum 4 mph. Mark & Becky 5.81 001By May 1981, she must have been more so, but fell in the water and was fished out by Mark.

Jacqueline & Jack 5.81Jacqueline 5.81My sister Jacqueline was happier being photographed on entering the boat with her husband Jack, than when emerging from the public convenience.

Becky and Flo 1997Before producing the canal holiday print, I carried out a tester on an equally small but better preserved tender photograph of Becky and Flo who, albeit on tiptoe, had only been walking for about a month. This is quite heavily cropped. It was taken at the end of 1997 by Jackie, who, of course, had produced all the canal trip pictures.

This evening we dined at The Crown in Everton. I enjoyed my customary steak and kidney pudding, ball of winter vegetables encased in a skin of cabbage, chips and gravy; as did Jackie her scampi, chips and salad. We both chose steamed syrup sponge pudding and custard, and certainly didn’t regret it. Jackie’s drink was Peroni and mine was Doom Bar.


Pruned fig treeThis morning we completed a task Jackie had begun yesterday. We had a very leggy fig tree that practised the can-can through the foliage of surrounding trees. We have now reduced it to a much more modest level, trusting that it will soon be wearing a billowing skirt of suitable leaves.
Galvanised buckets hangingNear this plot, suspended from one of the arms of a tree that now has no fig’s legs wrapped around it, hang two galvanised buckets filled with potted begonias. Wherever there is a hook or a place to put one, Jackie is inclined to attach a hanging basket, or anything else that might serve the purpose, containing an array of different flowers. One of her favourites is the fuchsia. A selection of these comprises of:

La Campanella:Fuchsia La campanella 2Fuchsia La campanella

Harry Gray:Fuchsia Harry Gray

Pink unknown:Fuchsia

and Jennifer Anne:Fuchsia Jennifer Anne

There are many more that are either past their first flush, or have not yet reached it.

Another plant that is also manifested in numerous forms in our garden, is the day lily.Lily 2 LilyWe have two more new ones today. One is a deep mauve/red, the other, the most delicate pale yellow.

But, I couldn’t dwell among the flowers all day. This morning I finished cutting down the brambles and clematis from the kitchen garden fence whilst evading the dodgy wire network. This afternoon Jackie and I worked together to move the last of the cuttings pile nearer to the defunct wheelbarrow in which they shall be burnt.

Early this evening we did a big Tesco’s shop in preparation for our guests tomorrow.

As is usual, Jackie made enough chicken jalfrezi yesterday for us to enjoy it once or twice more. Tonight’s dinner was the once. It was accompanied by Cobra beer.

Aviemore Revisited

Bees on sunflowersJackie was thrilled this morning to see that the third of her sunflowers donated by the birds has bloomed.  She tried very hard to coach one bee simultaneously into each of her trio.  Two out of three can’t be bad.

For as long as I can remember Louisa has been disgusted at me for ‘wasting paper’ when I use A4 paper to print smaller photographs.  She has always said it is very easy either to use smaller paper or place two or more alongside each other, and I have always been reluctant to attempt to get my head round it.  When Elizabeth suggested I produced a series of greetings cards for sale at the Open Studio I knew the time had come to grasp the nettle.  By sending me a link on ‘how to print multiple images on a single page’ Chris ensured that I didn’t cop out of it.  I had a little trouble working out how to print the resultant document so that I could have it in front of me when I tackled my phobia.  I was doing this on my small Epson printer which chose that moment to require head cleaning.

Eventually I was as ready as I was ever going to be to try multiple prints.  I couldn’t produce more than one picture, although I thought I was following the directions reasonably well.  That meant I needed to ring my brother Chris for further elucidation. He realised that I couldn’t do it because I had only highlighted one picture on the screen.  I explained that I wanted multiple copies of one picture; not one copy each of multiple pictures.

Ah.  That was different.  By this time I couldn’t be doing with exploring this any further.  As I needed more than one copy of each picture I thought I’d settle for placing two different images side by side.  I did, of course, have to be instructed in the art of holding down the command key in order to keep more than one picture highlighted for the purpose.  Prints for cardsWell, it worked.

I suspect the final paragraph in the aforementioned article does explain how to do exactly what I want, but I think I’ll just rest on my laurels for the moment.  I’m a fairly old dog after all, and one new trick is enough for one day.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Hobbycraft in Hedge End where we bought enough blank cards with envelopes and Pritt stick to produce a decent stock for the studio.Shrubbery

LiliesThe main event of the day was the eagerly awaited second open day of Aviemore in Bartley. Lily House leeksToday I will let the photographs utter their thousand words, for I wrote at some length about this marvellous village garden when we first visited on 2nd. June.

Sandy and Alex Robinson welcomed us most warmly, demonstrating their appreciation of my post of that day.

Blog (2.6.13) on displayDahliasClematisClematis (1)Indeed, a printout of the relevant pages was on display on the tables in the tea room, as well as an article from a gardening magazine.  I was very pleased, as  they had been with my piece.

Theda Bara?

Clematis shrubbery

Jackie thought that Mata Hari, reported lurking in the bushes last time, was probably being played by Theda Bara.

Bee on InulaDahliaPelargoniumMeadow Brown butterfly on InulaSpiky grass?The garden attracted a range of butterflies, including Meadow Brown and Cabbage White, bees busying themselves replenishing the hives, and other smaller insects such as flies, to which the eyes of my camera were more alert than those in my head.

The ‘meaty, stewy, veggy thing’ that Jackie served up this evening was deliciously tasty.  Among those ingredients that were identifiable were slices of pigs’ hearts, pork sausages, various vegetables and herbs.  Various different well-reduced stocks formed the base.  I am told that it is like ‘the lost chord’ and therefore cannot be repeated, which is a shame.  I drank Roc des Chevaliers Bordeaux superieur with mine.

A Severed Thread

Ants farming blackflyI learned something new this morning.  Some of Jackie’s marigolds are covered in blackfly.  Underneath the next pot is an ants’ nest.  She tells me the ants plant the flies onto the flowers.  The farmed slaves then produce a sugary substance for the industrious insects’ sustenance.

Scented liliesBeautiful scented lilies are now in bloom, blending their aroma with others such as nicotiana and petunias.  I always wondered why we had the phrase ‘smelling like a petunia’ until I was educated by my lady.  Most petunias we see have had the scent bred out of them.  Older varieties have not, and well deserve the description.

NicotianaThe nicotiana, being particularly fragrant at night, are greatly appreciated by our neighbour Vanessa as she walks her dog around our corner before retiring to bed.

Three sunflowers are forcing their way to the top of the pots.  They were not planted by us, so we assume we have the birds to thank.

I have previously mentioned on-line Scrabble, during the playing of which I have found a number of good corresponding friends in all parts of the globe.  One of the most delightful of these is Heather.  The added bonus of this relationship is that she lives near enough for us to meet.  Today Jackie and I joined her and her husband Brian for lunch in The Plough Inn at Tiptoe, where we spent all afternoon without noticing the time.  We all had plentiful Sunday roast meals after excellent starters.  The ladies and I followed this with cremes brûlées.  Various beers and pear cider were drunk.

I have been worrying at something for several weeks now.  It was during my roast lamb dinner that I was at last relieved of my burden.  On 19th June I wrote of my loose wisdom tooth ‘hanging by a thread’.  Today, almost painlessly, it cast off its moorings.  It was easy enough to extract this from my masticated mouthful.

About thirty years ago in my Social Services Area Office in Westminster, I was completely unaware of another extraneous object in a mouthful of food.  In those days I wore hard contact lenses.  Sometimes if I’d got a bit of grit under one I would take it out and put it somewhere safe until I could get to the solution I needed to apply when reinserting it.  The safest place, it seemed to me, was between my bottom lip and the gum of one of my front teeth.  It was a perfect fit.  Like Queen Elizabeth I, I was wont to go on a progress around the building, so that the staff could bask in my presence.  On one of these occasions, I believe it was Tom who gave me a cheese roll.

There was once an old joke that went the rounds.  Maybe it still does.  It went like this: ‘What’s worse than finding a maggot in an apple you are eating?’  The answer was: ‘Finding half a maggot’.  My own personal version could appropriately begin with the question: ‘What’s worse than finding a contact lens in a cheese roll you are eating?’.  I believe my readers will be able to provide the punchline.  I never did find the other half.

After leaving our friends we chose to drive home through Burley.  Passing Clough Lane Jackie remembered she had seen a house there for sale on the internet.  We had a peek through the roses climbing over the front gate and looked it up when we returned to the Lodge. Cherry Tree Cottage Unfortunately it is too small for us.