The Holly And The Ivy

 

Our white sofa, being a sofa bed, is extremely heavy. In order to avoid damaging the new flooring, this morning Connor called upon

Mark to help him lift it into place.

Jackie ventured into the garden on this much brighter day than yesterday, announcing “I am going into the garden to photograph some loveliness.”  Her results included

raindrops on oak leaf pelargoniums,

on nasturtiums – only the red ones -,

on roses including Hot Chocolate,

Winchester Cathedral,

and pink carpet variety,

on vinca,

 

on cyclamen,

 

on camellia,

and on branches of Japanese maple,

weeping birch,

and the stems of Félicité Perpétue.

She also pictured primroses,

bidens,

solanum,

marguerites,

cyclamen leaves,

weeping birch bark,

viburnum,

 winter flowering cherry,

and generous pansies sharing their trough with next spring’s burgeoning tete-a-tetes.

Finally she thought her collection would not have been truly seasonal – not that much of it actually is – without

the holly

and the ivy.

The blackbirds have eaten all our berries.

Apart from working on this draft, I wrote out a batch of Christmas cards which Jackie posted later.

By the end of the afternoon, Connor was working on the final corner, which he soon finished.

One of the benefits of not being able to get into your kitchen for three days is that you can eat out in one of your favourite restaurants each day. This evening it was the turn of The Family House Chinese at Totton where we enjoyed our usual M3 set meal with Tsing Tao beer.

Under The Weather

Not having yet experienced frost, the nasturtiums still climb the garage door trellis.

The crab apple trees are losing their leaves, revealing their fruit, still eschewed by blackbirds not yet hungry enough to eat them.

The sun was so weak this morning as to be imperceptible in these photographs of the garden views in which autumn colours, especially of Japanese maples, attempted to brighten the gloom.

I, and the garden, felt somewhat under the weather today. As limp and lacklustre as these leaves lying on the gravel, I alternated between reading and dozing on the sofa.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.

Protective Custody

Between watching recordings of the Rugby World Cup quarter final matches featuring Wales and France then Japan and South Africa, I wandered round the garden.

When we arrived here five years ago a variegated myrtle bush that had grown to a tree was in the process of reverting, This meant that the two-toned cultivated leaves had become dark green. Jackie and I have twice removed all those of the pristine hue, but we have been fighting a losing battle.

This morning Aaron stripped the lower trunk to reveal its colourful bark. Thus we admitted defeat.

Nasturtiums, continuing to scale the trellis in front of the garage door, are  hoping they will get away without a frost this winter.

Some of the more established pelargoniums

remain outside in their pots, whereas

 

others, with begonias

and fuchsias have already been taken into protective custody in the greenhouse.

 

Dahlias are still in season,

and the Rose Garden features carpet roses,

Absolutely Fabulous,

Special Anniversary,

and Lady Emma Hamilton.

Self-seeded bidens, like these floral cuckoos among heliotrope and petunias remain ubiquitous.

This recently planted panicum Warrior grass has taken well to the Weeping Birch Bed.

The solanum swaddling the dead tree will probably be blooming long after the birch has shed its leaves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome cottage pie; tasty carrots and Brussels sprouts; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

Flying Gulls

Last night I watched the recorded rugby World Cup match between Japan and Samoa; this morning those between New Zealand and Namibia, and between France and Tonga.

I then photographed some examples of our

nasturtiums, blooming until the first frost;

our generous begonias;

our varied dahlias;

our honesty seed pod medallions;

our hardier clematises such as this Polish Spirit;

and our roving Japanese anemones.

Nugget busied himself with his war cries up aloft

Early this evening we drove to Mudeford to catch the sunset.

While the sun was still well above the horizon, the meeting of the two currents between the quay and the Isle of Wight through up violent spray;

gulls glided overhead,

or perched on gravel.

A trio of elegant swans slaked their thirst in the

rippling water of the harbour.

A silhouetted couple left their bench and paused to study their photographs.

Another gentleman stood alongside another seat as the skies glowed gold

then dipped into a pastel palette when a bank of low cloud screened the sun

 

 

from silhouetted flying seabirds.

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice topped with an omelette. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Brouilly.

The Evolution Of A Room

Today was hot enough for us to open doors and windows.

One of these was the stable door. It is my fond imagining that a horse was once kept in what became the garage, which we converted to

a utility room leading to a library, fronted by

a boarded trellis bearing clematises, solanum, nasturtiums, petunias, geraniums, etc.

I do hope this accurately describes the evolution of a room.

A few days ago I had taken my copy of J.L. Carr’s short novel, ‘A Month in the Country’ from my library, and I finished reading it this afternoon. Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize for 1980, the book is a many faceted gem. Two men are linked by the fact of having survived Passchendaele and each having accepted commissions to uncover secrets of a medieval church. I will try not to reveal too much, but can say that in economical, well-placed, prose encompassing just 121 pages of my Folio Society copy of 1999 the author speaks of heaven and hell; of judgement, redemption, and damnation; of joy and pain; of culture and spirituality; of time and eternity; all with a slowly seething undercurrent of suppressed sexuality. It wasn’t heterosexual love to which Lord Alfred Douglas referred as ‘the love that dare not speak its name’, yet there are other reasons for fear of revealing feelings.

Ronald Blythe’s perceptive and informative introduction reflects the author’s style.

Ian Stephen’s detailed illustrations are true to the text.

The front and back boards are each printed with a copy of the artist’s engraving for the frontispiece.

Here are the rest.

Early this evening we took a brief trip into the forest.

From Pound Lane near Thorney Hill we watched ponies paddling in Whitten Pond, alongside which a young woman played ball with a pair of dogs.

On our return we dined on a second helping of Mr Chan’s excellent Chinese Take Away with which we both drank Tsing Tao beer.

First Donkey Foals

Jackie has not neglected the front garden in her clearing and planting of the last few days. This morning I gathered and bagged up her cuttings from the gravel path.

Erigerons, day lilies, Hot Chocolate rose and fuchsia feature here.

Clematises, nasturtiums, petunias, lobelias, and solanum currently bloom in front of the garage door.

This afternoon we left the sunshine behind at home as steady rain tracked us to the North of the forest.

Coats glistening, a trio of ponies took shelter among trees at Ibsley;

further on, at Frogham, more shaggy yet bedraggled donkeys, including our first foals of the season found their own shelter.

This evening we dined on minted lamb burgers; potatoes pulverised into a creamy mash; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

A Virtual Tour

There follows the missing post from

15th January 2019

We will be without internet until the faulty router is repaired. This is because the loaned device does not work. Now that I know that EE was bought by BT in 2016, I understand why their customer care is on a par with that of their new owner. Their equipment failed. They would repair it free of charge but not replace it without payment. Yet they still take my monthly subscription. I am stuck with them because they are the only feasible service to our location. And I don’t have the energy to waste on battling with them.

Elizabeth visited bearing flowers and chocolates. She stayed for lunch before setting off to West End to accompany Mum to an eye appointment at Southampton Hospital.

Whilst I slumped comfortably in my customary corner

Jackie took a trip round the garden

and brought me back a photographic record. Titles of the pictures in the gallery, which can be accessed by clicking on any image, will identify the plants on display. Many of these would not be expected in mid-January.

We dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken curry with brown savoury rice and vegetable samosas.