Magnolia Time

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

The gardens of Sway featured

a flowing stream beyond a lichen tattooed tree in Mead End Road;

a pink magnolia towering over a hedge in Adlam’s Lane;

a magnolia stellata competing with a variegated privet in Brighton Road;

and another pink one stating its ascendancy over a red camellia.

As we set out towards Burley we paused at the obligatory pony crossing.

At Thorney Hill our side of the road was clear, while an unconcerned grey made its leisurely way along the other.

On our return home I ventured into the garden to discover whether our flame red Vulcan magnolia was yet in bloom. It wasn’t, but we still have

camellias, some fallen blooms now adorning the gravel paths; daffodils

a variety of cyclamens

hellebores;

and hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans. The meal was taken from plates on trays in front of the television whilst we watched a recording of the earlier Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.

Sky

We did watch Bill Nighy in ‘Turks & Caicos’ last night. It was some kind of spy drama, neither thrilling nor intriguing. Nighy was convincing as a burnt-out civil servant doubling up as an MI5 agent in cahoots with Christopher Walken’s cunning and unscrupulous CIA man. A competent Helena Bonham-Carter wheedled incriminating information out of one of those BBC actors whose handsome face you know but can’t quite place the name. I don’t think I ever understood the plot enough to have lost it, but that didn’t matter because Bill explained it all in the end. He whose name I cannot remember was, I think, a mandarin of sorts in cahoots with the Prime Minister working to stash away a figurative pot of gold for his retirement. The idea was that they would con this out of a bunch of murderous American villains, one of whom was killed by Winona Ryder, scarily playing an emotionally damaged woman they were all abusing. She took a shine to our Bill, which was quite helpful to him, although he wouldn’t have dreamed of taking advantage of her. Ralph Fiennes was the PM. He made a brief, silently smiling, appearance ‘through a glass darkly’. In fairness to the anonymous actor, we looked him up. And naturally, when we discovered he was Rupert Graves, we said: ‘Of course’.

Nighy is capable of complex emotional portrayal. He has a most expressive face which was really the one watchable element that stopped me turning off the TV.

With that cast, directed by David Hare, in a film he had also written, we wondered whether we were the ones who were out of kilter. It is still on BBC iPlayer. Should you decide to see it for yourself perhaps you will let us know.

Minstead’s ever-changing cloudscapes¬†enthralled me, as always, this morning as I walked down to the village shop and back. The artist is the sun, now shrouded, now peeking from behind its scudding veils. The bones of the still unclad trees were silhouetted against the shifting skies of deep blue, white, and various shades of grey.

Landscape with cloudsCloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 7Cloudscape 2

Landscape with magnolia and cloudsMagnolia whiteMagnolias are coming into bloom in the village. Oz and Polly’s white one offers a fine display decorating the left fork from Seamans Lane. Pink is the colour of another in a cottage garden opposite The Trusty Servant Inn.Pink magnolia

Making up the last of the Safestore boxes for us to fill this afternoon, I reflected on my experiences of such containers. These particular items have already been used to move Jackie and me twice, and Becky and her family once. They are still sturdy enough for one more tour of service. I was amused to see that one still bore the tissue paper that served as the wrapping for Danni’s huge present¬†last year.

Jackie has done a grand job of scavenging cardboard fruit boxes from Morrison’s supermarket. So helpful were the staff that one man was eager to extract the last few melons from one carton so she could take it away. These containers reminded me of the far more robust Chinese Boxes of Soho.

Evening sky

Later, as the sun subsided in the west of our garden, the eastern sky became an indigo water-colour wash with just one cloud reflecting the fading glow from the other side.

We are expecting Elizabeth and Danni shortly. When they arrive we will all go to The Plough Inn at Tiptoe for an evening meal.