Granny Gets The Giggles

Despite the forecast of more brisk winds and heavy rain, Martin was able to carry out the bulk of the work involved in taking down the old and building a replacement entrance arch to the Rose Garden.

With his usual meticulous measurement and thoughtful design he managed much of the task in sunshine, although in a chill wind.

Ellie’s – and Granny’s – new favourite dancing music is

The Dancing Frog sent by Becky.

They both enjoyed it – repeatedly – before lunch. Even when not watching the video, Jackie gets the giggles just thinking about it.

Early this afternoon hailstones bounced off the patio and its windows. The Assistant Photographer was on hand with her camera.

This evening we dined on leftovers from last night’s Red Chilli meal and additional vegetable samosas with which I finished the Shiraz and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

“Dad’s Best Morning Of The Week”

Knowing that we would have both Nick working on the house, and Martin in the garden, and thinking of the photo opportunities this would provide, Becky offered the opinion that has provided today’s title.

Martin began by mowing the lawn, which involved temporarily moving the pebbles from around the chimney pot, and carrying the clippings to the compost bins.

Meanwhile Nick began applying the first coat of paint to the west end gable wall. The pressure he needed to exert proved too much for his roller so he had to go and fetch another.

A Red Admiral butterfly alighted on a dust sheet.

Martin continued working on the Palm Bed clearance;

Nick finished applying

the first coat of paint to the wall;

and Martin brought the Palm Bed clearance alongside Jackie’s earlier footpath.

When Nick asked if he could wash his roller in our kitchen sink, Becky said “only if Dad can photograph you while you do it.” “I’ll lock the door”, was our friend’s reply.

This evening we dined on meaty and spicy pizzas, corn on the cob and fresh salad with Becky’s dressing. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot.

Trees Toppled

It was all go at Old Post House this morning. At 7 a.m. Ian and a companion from CSG cleaning services pumped out our septic tank; between 9 and 10 Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating had another attempt to stir our last radiator on the system into life; at 9.30 Martin arrived for whole day’s shift in the garden.

Despite, or maybe because of the bright sunshine, finger-tingling-chill crisped the air.

More tulips are blooming.

Varieties of daffodil keep on coming. The up-market cat, perhaps Persian of some sort, from No. 5 Downton Lane remains persistent in dislodging the fence planks along the Back Drive intended to deter marauders. We hope it reduces rodent infiltrators.

Mahonia thrives on the more sunlit side of our rear entrance. Hellebores are ubiquitous.

Wandering along the paths I noticed several of Camellia’s pink carpets, and that the Weeping Birch will soon be in leaf.

Soon after we arrived here some of our small trees gave up the ghost and we shrouded them with climbing plants, such as clematis and roses.

Recent storms have finally toppled two of them.

Here, Martin concentrates on a prunus pissardii, first clearing it, then strengthening supports for the plants that had festooned it. The last picture in this gallery is “Where’s Martin? (4)”.

This evening we dined on another of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots, and firm cauliflower and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Puglia Nero di Troia 2020.

The Patio Is Done

Resetting the pressure on the heating system has not worked. The process only lasts for two hours.

This morning I spoke to Elaine at Tom Sutton Heating, leaving a twofold message for Ronan: First, would it help to turn off some radiators?, second, was it safe to keep repeating the adjustment with that frequency?

Later, she rang me back, to say that it would destroy the system if we continued at that rate. She did, nevertheless, have some good news. Having earlier told me that the pipework could not be carried out until 29th March, she was now able to inform me that she had managed to swap our date with another client, so ours would now be 13th.

Trusting that the new appointment day is not auspicious – after all, the Ides are not until 15th, – there now does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Martin stayed a bit longer than expected today, because he was determined to finish the project on this visit without skimping on any of his legendary thoroughness.

The final grouting and cleaning of the paving, the sleeper step up to the Dead End Path, the low rock wall at the corner of the Pond Bed were finally finished to the craftsman’s satisfaction.

Before he left, he power washed the ageing patio furniture and settled them back on board. We will need them to suffice for another summer.

I enjoyed reading through my August 2012 posts up to the 12th, all of which contained their photographs and headers. Although I would be unable to move them without putting them into the WP gallery, this is not something yet necessary.

This evening we all dined on succulent rolled breast of lamb; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; crisp Yorkshire pudding; and tasty gravy. with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Valle Central reserva privada Syrah 2021.

A Deterrent

I have come to the end of my Keeping/Dickens series, but I do have more of the artist’s works. For those who would like to see some I will begin with

This is the cover of a large format book.

My scanner cannot manage a double page spread so I will have to do my best to match up the pages, as in these front endpapers.

Here is the title page,

and the first two pages of text.

Alfred Noyes’s romantic ballad, first published in the August 1906 issue of Blackwood’s Magazine is, according to Iona and Peter Opie writing in 1983, reputed to be “the best ballad poem in existence for oral delivery”.

As is his wont, Charles Keeping, in his own inimitable style, releases the grisly reality of this ghostly tale.

Adding no further analysis as I present segments in forthcoming posts, I will allow the pages to speak for themselves.

There is a triangular section of land at the bottom of our drive which borders onto the care home next door. Vehicles are constantly driven over the beds we plant there. Because of the nature of the establishment neither we nor the residents can know whether the culprits are staff members or any of a range of visiting tradespeople, suppliers, friends, or relatives. Having decided that the time has come for a deterrent, we engaged Martin Bowers to build us a raised bed.

Having prepared the area for its placement Martin cut the heavy timbers with a handsaw.

Holes were then dug for the galvanised pins which will hold the frame steady against buffeting from visitors. Note the solid clay that our craftsman needed to penetrate and remove.

The end grain of the sawn timbers were smoothed

and sealed with a protective coat.

The last stage today was to cut and fit the second level beams.

This afternoon Joe and Angela visited and my brother and I corrected the Probate application forms for resubmission which I will carry out tomorrow. The ladies visited Mr Chan and brought back an excellent range of food from Hordle Chinese Take Away with which they both drank Bucks Fizz and I drank Hardy’s Crest 2020.

A New Wisteria Arbour

This afternoon I published

and printed pictures of Poppy taken on Boxing Day, but not posted on my blog, for Jackie and Tess.

Martin Bowers completed his work on the replacement Wisteria Arbour today.

He meticulously measured and positioned posts; fixed them temporarily first, and permanently once he was happy with the alignment. Finally he applied a finishing layer of cement to smooth the level of the prop pits.

My choice from the Boxing Day leftovers for dinner this evening was tender beef in red wine with creamy mashed potatoes. We each helped ourselves individually over a period of time.

An Essay In Concentration

On what has been the coldest morning of the year so far, Martin Bowers from Fordingbridge arrived promptly to start work on replacing our Wisteria arbour.

The first stumbling block was literally one of concrete – a thick layer from which he had to prise the sheathed bottom of a post needing replacement. It was very hard work – even to watch him.

The same was true of the next one which Martin drilled before breaking up to make room for the second post, which would be

cemented in like the first.

Great concentration, employing the obligatory pencil behind the ear, measuring tape, string, and spirit level, was demonstrated in lining up the second post.

Unfortunately Martin then discovered that some of the older posts he had thought could be utilised were rather too like the curate’s egg, and only good in parts. He will therefore need to return with more new timber to complete the job a day or two after Christmas.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s thick chicken and vegetable stew with crusty bread. The accompaniment to the Culinary Queen’s portion was Hoegaarden, and mine, Chateau Chante Mistral Lirac 2020