Down To The Lakes At Iris Time

After an uneventful forest drive when no-one was about,

Jackie and I brunched at the Lakeview Café beside Orchard Lakes.

Before we ate, I walked around the pair of manmade lakes circled by banks of buttercups, daisies, and dandelions, bordered by hedges hosting may blossom; with scattered lifebelts placed in case someone fell in, the water was the fixed focus of attention of carefully socially distanced silently reflecting elderly gentlemen gazing into the depths in hopes of a tug at their periodically adjusted line or a tell-tale surface ripple signalling a flailing finny catch.

It may be lilac time at Kew, but here it is the time for yellow flag irises.

With the rest of the family all out for the day, and having seen our brunch, no-one will be surprised that Jackie and I enjoyed small amounts of left-overs this evening – mine our takeaway curry, and Jackie oven fish and chips – with which she drank more of the Zesty and I drank Moerbei Testarosso Sangiovese 2020

Comparative Fly-Whisks

Jackie and I took an early forest drive this morning on which

may blossom, like this on Beaulieu Hill, has now followed blackthorn onto the hedgerows.

Opposite this sample we spotted a foal on the verge with a group of ponies.

Ruefully comparing her stubby little tail with her mother’s extensive fly-whisk she clung to the Dam’s flanks, frequently attempted to suckle, scratched with her hoof, and eventually settled seated on the daisy sprinkled sward,

which they kept at manageable length.

A young robin made use of the shadows for camouflage until taking to flight when I approached too near.

Yesterday I had not placed titles correctly on the flower gallery, but did so this afternoon when I also posted

these photographs of sections of the garden, photographed from upstairs windows, at the request of prolific blogger friend Judy Dykstra-Brown.

This evening we all dined on oven cod, chips, and onion rings; fried red tomatoes; green garden peas; pickled onions and gherkins, with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank Vineyards Zesty white wine.


I suppose it is fair to say that “we” shopped at Tesco this morning. Our usual division of labour on such trips applied. Jackie dons a mask and spends up to an hour dodging other customers to reach the aisles; I sit in the car reading – today more chapters of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’; Jackie brings a loaded trolley to the Modus; I load the purchases into the boot, and unload them into the kitchen.

On this occasion we enjoyed a brief sojourn in the forest on the way.

We visited the lake at Pilley which reflected the surrounding woodland and cloudy skies above, and still bore water crowfoots.

More leaves were on the trees, shown in our two regularly monitored views, although the water levels haven’t really changed. May blossom, more of which could be seen in the surrounding woodland, is finally out in the first view.

Our sometimes visiting grey pony did not come down for a drink, but can be seen in the distance having a lengthy scratch on a gate. Bigifying will make this manoeuvre apparent.

A small group of ponies strode purposefully across the moorland beside Bull Hill.

This afternoon I scanned another seven of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to the above-mentioned novel by Charles Dickens.

‘Lord Verisoft enjoyed unmolested the full flavour of the gold knob at the top of his cane’.

‘ ‘Closed!’ cried Mrs Crummles, raising her hands in astonishment’

‘Miss Snevellicci’s papa, rising deliberately from his chair, kissed the ladies all round’. Mr Keeping has used his drawing to support the text of two pages.

‘The door was opened by a strange servant, on whom the odd figure of the visitor did not appear to make the most favourite impression possible’

‘Sir Mulberry applied his whip furiously to the head and shoulders of Nicholas’ is a 3D image if ever there was one.

‘To the City they went, with all the speed the hackney-coach could make’

‘ ‘My son, sir, little Wackford’

Later this afternoon I all but finished my work on clearing the Heligan Path.

This was to give Jackie the surprise of the day.

Unbeknown to me she came along to see how I was doing.

Just in time to see my chair topple and tip me headfirst into a flower bed.

I was face down in a shrub, elbows on I don’t know what, and knees wedged on brick and gravel. Somehow I managed to manoeuvre my hands in a position to perform a press-up of sorts. But my knees wouldn’t budge. I really felt stuck and in excruciating pain from a combination of joints both forced where they didn’t want to be and resting on sharp objects.

Jackie tried to place the chair in a position from which I could heave myself from the kneeling posture. This could only be done if I could get at least one foot on the ground. With a screwed up face and agonising cries I managed to plant my right foot on the path. The left knee was not going to move. Jackie then found another chair which she placed behind me. Somehow I sat on it and then heaved myself up from the other.

This process took close to 30 minutes. Neither of us had a camera.

Once on my feet I was virtually pain-free and, albeit somewhat wobbly, could walk back to my desk and produce this post.

This evening we dined on a second helping of Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, fried potatoes, carrots and runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Even The Dog Knows……


Helen and Shelly visited this morning for coffee, scones, and a trip round the garden.

Unfortunately the sun disappeared during their visit. My later photographs saw better light.

Red campion

This red campion is allegedly a weed, but we like it.

Roseriae de l’Hay now flaunts her flounced skirts in the Rose Garden;


larger deep orange

Yellow poppy and allium

and small yellow poppies are flowering;


mauve lamium lines the Brick Path;

and a blue clematis climbs the gazebo.

The tour along the Back Drive reveals clusters of creamy May blossom; two varieties of iris; this year’s honesty; white libertia, red and yellow wallflowers; sculptural euphorbia; differently hued heucheras; roses rambling and bushed; daisy-like erigeron; geraniums, including Johnson’s blue; wispy bronze fennel; deep red valerian; and no doubt much that I have missed.

After lunch we transported the two large orange bags of clippings to the Dump, now known as the Efford Recycling Centre. Making up for having left empty-handed last time, we came back with two tables and a mirror for the garden. As we turned into Christchurch Road a dog on a lead was taking its own dump on the corner of the verge. While its back legs still frantically tossed up various items of herbaceous vegetation, the desperate creature was dragged away by its owner. I observed that even the dog had more idea about cleanliness than she did. My comment was made inside the car, as Jackie, who hadn’t seen the event, drove us away.

Later, while the Head Gardener continued tidying, weeding, and planting, I gave the buddleia in the Palm Bed such a severe trim as to refill one of the orange bags with the cuttings.

There was plenty left over from yesterday’s Indian takeaway for us to have second helpings this evening. I finished the Fleurie. Jackie had consumed her Hoegaarden on the patio earlier.

Back Onto The Cliff Top

The Beach House 1The Beach House 2 On an overcast morning Jackie drove us to New Forest Army & Navy Surplus store in New Milton to buy some weatherproof clothing for her projected sororal camping trip; thence to the bank; thence to Milford on Sea where she dropped me on the green. I rose to my feet and hobbled up Park Lane to The Beach House, through the adjacent shingled footpath to the sea, a short way along the tarmacked track leading back to the village, returning to the hotel where I caught the X1 bus to the bottom of Downton Lane, up which I walked home. Benches on green Opposite the village bus shelter lies an attractive grassed area containing shrubberies, a couple of benches, and a waste bin. Triangular-shaped, on one side it is abutted by houses; on another by a wall alongside a sometimes fast-flowing stream; and on the third by the pedestrian pavement. Forget-me-nots peering through the slats of the benches signified that no-one had sat there for a while.Forget-me-nots and £1 coin So intent was I on photographing the flowers, that I almost missed the miniature bas-relief of Queen Elizabeth II that someone had left there.Trees reflected in stream

Today the stream was so still that trees were reflected in it.

Maintenance work being undertaken in the Catholic church of St Francis of Assisi meant that, for my first time in passing, the front door was unlocked.St Francis of Assisi doorway

May blossom

May blossom now proliferates in the hedgerows;


and mushrooms and mallows alongside the path to the sea.

As I approached the Solent, with the backdrop of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, a group of ramblers strode along the new tarmac footpath recently repositioned and replacing its concrete predecessor which fell into sea last autumn.Ramblers 1

Ramblers 2 Footpath resitedKeep to the footpath Boulders The path now runs parallel to the site of the old one, further inland. It is possible to see the angular join, and to picture where the concrete fell. The area has been landscaped, and we are enjoined to keep to the footpath until the grass has grown. Huge granite boulders have reinforced the side of the cliff open to the wind and waves. The rubberised membrane placed under a fresh application of shingle overlaps the larger stones. Hooded crow 2 Hooded crow 1Lichen on stump On the other side jackdaws still pick their way amongst the grass, taking to the air when one comes too near, and attractive lichen enlivens a dead tree stump. My nagging knee insistently intimated that this hadn’t been a particularly splendid idea, but at least I had got back onto the cliff top. Fishcakes meal This evening we dined on haddock fish cakes with a cheddar cheese centre; fried potatoes; steamed cauliflower; and a tomato, mushroom, peppers, and onion coulis. You have to try the coulis. Her method is the nearest I can get to a recipe from Jackie. Here it is: Chop up peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Stir fry them until soft. Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer until done. The cook drank Hoegaarden, whilst the Lord of the Manor finished the Marques de Carano.

Finishing Touches

We have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.
I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.
The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.
The legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.
The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.
Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

A wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

The copper beech is now in full leaf.

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

As I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene.

The surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.