Michael Watts has identified the allium photographed two days ago as ‘Purple Sensation’. Now it is in full bloom, and lives up to its name. Thank you Michael.

We also have a new rhododendron in flower.
This morning we took another trip to IKEA where we bought four more book cases, some book ends, clocks, and a couple of rugs. The sets of shelves are half the height of the tall ones; three are the same width as those, and one half the width. This was our solution to the problem of having run out of shelf space. They had to be shorter so that they did not obscure the light source from the window to the garden.
Possibly because it was the day after a bank holiday weekend, this was a more pleasant than usual IKEA experience. There were far less customers milling around than usual; we knew exactly what we wanted, and could go straight to the items; and the queues were shorter.

On our return through the forest there were many ponies enjoying munching grass in the sunshine. By the side of the road between Beaulieu and Lymington two mares were suckling their foals as we drove by. Jackie stopped the car for me to walk back and photograph them. Each was by then teaching the art of cropping the sward. I imagine ponies need weaning quite early in life. One mother and child trotted off into the bushes. The others remained unperturbed. I was fascinated at how wobbly on their pins were each of the youngsters, especially when negotiating slopes.
After lunch Jackie made up the shelving whilst I prepared the books for insertion. It was touch and go whether we would be able to make room for the Dictionary of National Biography, MacMillan’s Dictionary of Art, and the Oxford English Dictionary, but I am pleased to say we managed it. There are just three more miscellaneous boxes to be emptied tomorrow.
This evening we dined in Bombay Night in New Milton, where we enjoyed the usual excellent meal with friendly and efficient service. Kingfisher was our drink.

The Ladybird

It was all go at Castle Malwood Lodge this morning.  Virtually simultaneously we were descended upon by Autoglass to replace the windscreen; by someone else to fix the intercom system, including ours and Steve’s at number eight who had left his keys with us; and by a surveyor to inspect what I think is imperceptible damage to the ceiling as a result of the leak from upstairs.

Dave and GladysDerrickEver chivalrous, I left Jackie to it and went for a walk.  I had decided to investigate a footpath I had noticed behind the cottages at the foot of the hill into Minstead.  It now seemed dry enough to see where it led.  I thought London Minstead likely.  As I reached the turn-off I met Gladys and Dave who confirmed my speculation and said they were going that way to Hazel Hill Farm to buy eggs.  They led the way.

Dave told me that if I walked on further there was a path that led through the forest and came out near our gate.  At the far end of London Minstead a right angled bend takes you to the Cadnam/Lyndhurst road.  To the left of this is a gravel path marked ‘No access. Suter’s Cottage only’.  This was the road to take.  I took it.  It stops at Suter’s Cottage, beyond which is a field containing a mare with her foal. Mare and foal There are many such little families around at the moment.

I walked straight past the idyllic home in its sylvan setting and into the forest.  There was no more footpath.  However, I am now quite good at clambering over fallen trees into the unknown, and avoiding twisting my ankles on the hardened lips of pitted clay cups stamped out by ponies’ hooves.

Fallen tree

Having a pretty good idea of the direction in which I wanted to go, I nevertheless zigzagged all over the place, surmounting the above-mentioned obstacles and living branches, especially of hollies.  My ears told me that somewhere ahead lay the A31, and that there was at least one horse or pony over to my left.  I decided to go as straight as possible.  Then I saw the flash of pink through the trees on the left.  That might be a guide of some sort.  So I diverted left.  The colour came from a plastic bucket in a field.  Two parallel fences and a few trees separated me from the field and the rows of houses beyond that.

Running HillI should probably have ignored the bucket.  Instead, I kept as close to the fences as I could.  A considerable amount of zigzagging was required.  Eventually I espied the back of a cottage that I thought might be Hungerford, and decided to make my way round to that.  It was the very same, and I soon found myself on the shaded tarmac of Running Hill.  Had I not been diverted by the bucket, and had I held my nerve, I would no doubt have left the forest just where Dave had said I would.

It is now so hot that Jackie’s garden pots need to be watered twice a day.Jackie's garden I was to feel great relief that I had taken an early walk as we set off in the car to Totton in the afternoon for a shop at Lidl and Asda.  The chillers in Asda were most welcome.

Some days ago Jackie told me the story of the ladybird.  When Flo was about three years old, Becky had taken her to a garden centre to buy her grannie a present.  She bought one, wrapped it, and full of expectation, handed it over.  ‘Oh, that’s beautiful’, exclaimed Jackie as she opened it.  With her arms thrust behind her, as was her wont, little Flo asked: ‘Is it very, very  beautiful?’.  Of course it was.  The present was a stick to plant among the garden flowers with a plastic ladybird attached to the top.  Jackie told me the story with regret, for the gift was now rather disintegrated, and had been lost in her move.

Yesterday, my birthday, was not long after Jackie’s.  She was given her presents before I had mine.  Flo presented a small parcel.  ‘Is it very, very beautiful?’, asked Jackie.  This delighted our granddaughter, because Jackie then unwrapped a small ladybird on a little stick.


The new creature now has a special place in the garden.

This evening we took Elizabeth to The Plough Inn at Tiptoe.  I ate a wonderful fish pie; Jackie’s choice was cajun chicken; and Elizabeth chose liver and bacon.  All lived up to expectations, as did the crumble and creme brûlée to follow.  Doom Bar and Becks were the draft beers we drank.

Platinum Shine

I had a bit of a lazy day today.  The morning was spent getting back into Henri Troyat’s ‘Grandeur Nature’, which translates as ‘life size’.

Mare and foalJackie then drove us to Totton to buy a second garden chair.  She hadn’t quite had enough money with her to buy two yesterday when she acquired the first.

As we emerged from the garden onto Upper Drive, we disturbed a mare and her foal.  The adult pony was keen to shield her infant from our gaze, whilst the baby metaphorically clung to its mother’s skirts, anxiously tripping over itself to keep pace. The mare led the way into the bracken in an attempt to steer clear of me.

56 Frys Lane

Then it was next stop Frys (no apostrophe) Lane in Everton for the first of two external observations of potential eventual purchases. Hare Lane house Number 56 looked to me the better option, although the semi-detatched house in Hare Lane, New Milton that was the second, was also acceptable.  The baying of a hound next door in Frys Lane was a little disconcerting.

Jackie's garden

Back at home we sat in the garden marvelling at how mature Jackie’s planting now looks. Hanging baskets It is as if she has transported the hanging baskets and pots from The Firs to Castle Malwood Lodge.

Petunias and others

As tenants we are allowed neither pets nor children in residence although either are welcome to visit.  That suits us fine.  However, many of the flats in the house are owned by their occupiers.  A number have dogs.  Some of these bark.  Some a lot.

As we sit in our corner of the garden, we see the owners walking their pets, and they often come and have a chat with us.  A frequent visitor is Jean who has until quite recently been subject to considerable embarrassment because her dog barked a great deal.  It was impossible for her to have a comfortable discourse because Nevis, her Coton du Tulear, would bark all the way through.  She has, however, been working very hard on this, and today we  enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Nevis looking his usual happy, friendly self, and not barking once.  Congratulations were in order, and we gave them.

Platinum shine car washOn 31st May I wrote about Eleanor and Henry, our resourceful young neighbours.  This evening they buzzed our entryphone to gain access to our side of the building in order to distribute leaflets for their ‘Platinum Shine Car Wash’.  I happily granted them admission.

Soon afterwards Jackie, resisting the temptation to produce roast pork, served up her smoked haddock dish with cauliflower cheese (recipe) and sautéed potatoes.  Delicious.  The cheese produces a lovely tangy flavour, which meant the last glass of the Berberana was not an inappropriate accompaniment.