“A Lot Of Work For One Man”

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This morning Jackie drove us out to MacPenny’s Garden Nursery at Bransgore, where we brunched at The Robin’s Nest. Jackie mooched around the

Plants for sale

sales area, where she learned how necessary were the signs asking people to keep their dogs on leads because they have chickens. Apparently more of their chickens are killed by customers’ dogs than by foxes.

I wandered along the garden paths and up and down the wooden steps.

A flowering cherry and several camellias were resplendent. Some of the latter soar amongst branches of trees, dropping their heavy blooms onto the beds of last autumn’s leaves.

Some spears of bulbous plants are piercing they way through the soil to join a few crocuses and hellebores.

I spoke first to a man collecting and delivering mulch to heaps beneath some trees.

These were for gardener, Rob, to spread around the beds. Rob himself told me that he was the only person who did all the plant care, maintenance, and weeding. “A lot of work for one man”, he proudly stated.

Urns with daffodils, primulas, and ivy

On our way home we stopped at Redcliffe Nurseries where Jackie bought two primulas and an ivy with which to supplement her planting in the iron urn and a new one just in front of it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous sausage casserole; her pulverised creamy mashed potato; and toothsome Brussels sprouts and broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Val de Salis Syrah 2014

 

‘You Wouldn’t Like To Do That Again, Would You?’

On another warm and sunny day that, once we had got going in the garden, felt like the height of summer, we continued soil preparation. In addition to all her other maintenance tasks

Palm Bed

Jackie dug in the compost she had laid on the Palm Bed yesterday,

Rose Garden

and I completed the mulching of the rose garden with three more 100 litre bags of Landscape Bark. I swear they are becoming heavier by the day.

View from Back Drive to Roase Garden

Looking from the Back Drive towards this section,

View across Heligan Path

or across the Helicon Path towards the house,

one can see the burgeoning new growth popping up everywhere.

Bluebells Spanish

We now have profusions of Spanish bluebells,

Forget me nots

and of forget-me-nots.

Pigeon 1

Permanently perched on the telephone cable over Christchurch Road is a male collared dove,

Pigeon 2

pretending he is nothing to do with the nest in our holly tree upon which his lady is incubating.

Even when paying a visit, he first lands on the flowering cherry photographed yesterday. Since he is quite a ponderous creature he shakes the boughs freeing many cherry petals,

Hannah, Ben and Sam 5.83 1

just as Matthew did to the delight of Hannah, Ben, and Sam in May 1983.

This evening we dined at Dynasty in Brockenhurst with Elizabeth, Danni and Andy. My choice was lamb shatkora, special fried rice an onion bhaji. Along with Jackie I drank Kingfisher. The others drank red wine, cobra, or coke. Service and food were excellent.

The restaurant is close to the ford which we could see was waterlogged. As we were ten minutes early, I sniffed a photo opportunity and wandered down the road.

Ford and car

This was the scene as I approached, directly into the sun.

I was a bit slow to catch two cyclists wheeling through their spray. As they passed me I cried: ‘You wouldn’t like to do that again, would you’. ‘Do it again?’ was the reply. ‘Yes’, I answered.

Cyclists at ford 1

They immediately turned tail, sped through the water,

Cyclists at ford 2

Cyclists at ford 3

and, returning quite happily, enjoyed another shower.

Spaghetti, And How To Eat It

Rubble bagsThere is quite a lot of rubble and other kinds of rubbish scattered about the garden. We have been bagging it up for transfer to the Efford Recycling Centre which is our municipal dump. We thought two trips would be sufficient. There was, however, a queue to enter the site, probably because it was Monday morning and people had been clearing their homes and gardens at the weekend. We will wait a day or two for the next visit. We have only visited this location once before, but have been, as we were today, impressed with the friendliness and dedication of the staff. This day it was ‘Andy Manager’, as his T-shirt informed us, who advised us where to put what. This is clearly not just any old job for these men. Andy demonstrated a passion for his work, as he explained what would happen to various items and why which material went where. There is apparently only one landfill site left locally at Ringwood and this would cause problems, ‘not in our lifetime, but for our children’s children’.

Naturally, Jackie just had to buy some more plant pots from the Sales Area.

Twenty four hours after I had been told by yesterday’s BT adviser that the problem with e-mail access would be resolved in that time, it wasn’t. I rang again. This time the robot on the other end of the line informed me that BT were well aware of the problem, so I didn’t need to wait in a queue to report it. Engineers were working to resolve it and the company was very sorry for the inconvenience caused.

We have a saying, relating to constant change, which is: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. (This, translated into correct English, would read: ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’.) I would say to BT: ‘I wish you hadn’t changed it. Now it is broke, do fix it’.Broken tilesIKEA wardrobe fenceShells

This afternoon we continued clearing up rubbish, and in the process found a pit of broken tiles that we began to bag up. Whilst I was away, Jackie had transported most of the remaining IKEA wardrobe sections to the path adjoining the deserted garden that I had cleared a couple of months ago. This is to reinforce the non-existent boundary. We carried the rest across, and I began to prop them in place, at the same time lopping stubbornly invasive brambles.

Along with liberal bits of plastic and chunks of polystyrene, we have been somewhat mystified by the number of sea and escargot shells scattered among the soil in the garden. Jackie thought they should have been crushed but wasn’t sure what the purpose was. We also wondered whether our predecessors had a penchant for seafood.

I went on line and sought the answer, which was provided by doityourself.com. These shells, when crushed, are regarded as a useful mulch. The website advises that most seafood restaurants are happy to provide them for punters. ‘The best time’, we are advised, ‘to add this organic mulch is later spring or early summer when the soil is warm. As the shells decay they ‘will provide the soil (with) the minerals and calcium’ it needs. You will ‘save money in the long run on soil additives and amendments’.

‘Yes. Same as getting a bit of lime’, our head gardener sniffed scathingly. She thought, especially in their uncrushed state, that these shells might take some time to do their job.

Six years ago, when I was going through my hip replacement period, my GP, Dr O’Connor, bless her, told me I would never have a blood pressure problem. I do hope she is right, for it was severely tested this afternoon. With BT still not having resolved the e-mail problem, I received a call on my mobile phone from O2 who wanted to check that I had the most suitable contract for my needs. We got as far as the initial identification stage. When asked for the first line of my address and the postcode, I was informed that the first line was correct, but the postcode wasn’t. Believing that I was the best judge of where I lived, I terminated the conversation, and checked the address O2 had put on my last bill. The first line was correct, as were most of the others, but the postcode was that of our previous abode. Goodness knows how it reached me. Possibly full marks to the Post Office. I prevailed upon the unfortunate young woman who answered my call to change the company’s records. Matthew, bonfire 9.83

Later, I ambled down to the Spar shop and back, to buy matches to light a bonfire soon afterwards. Matthew is quite good at bonfires. In September 1983, he helped Jessica’s, sadly late, cousin Anthony with one in Aunt Elspeth’s garden in Rugby. I haven’t been able to locate the negative of this photograph, but the print, after more than thirty years, is still serviceable.

At 7.49 this evening I received a text from BT apologising for the e-mail problems, saying they were trying hard to fix it, and pointing me to a web-site for updates. Well, I suppose that’s something.

For dinner we enjoyed Jackie’s scrumptious spaghetti arrabiata. I thought I would try the other half of a bottle of Via di Cavallo chianti 2013 that I had opened a couple of days before my recent French trip. I immediately decided it would be more suitable in a sausage casserole, and opened another. And drank some. Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Spotted T-shirtDuring dinner, I received a lesson in the consumption of spaghetti. Jackie has patiently tolerated my efforts over the years, but today’s performance was too much for her. She guided me in the correct procedure. You take a spoon in your right hand (always assuming you are not left-handed), and a fork in your left. What you don’t do is twist as much spaghetti as possible around your fork, simply using the spoon as a guide, and try to suck up the slithering pasta before it slips back onto your plate. You don’t bite off the last bits and let them drop into the sauce, spotting your T-shirt with a tomato based preparation. What you do do, is take just two or three strands, twine them round your fork, and withdraw the tines, letting the coil perch on your spoon, from which you then consume it.