A Tale Of Two Houses

This morning’s chiropractic session with Eloise was pleasurably smooth, my next session again being in five day’s time.

We celebrated by lunching at Otter Nurseries https://www.ottergardencentres.com/our-centres/lymington/

This is a very popular local outlet and source of perfect plants and a good variety of gifts.

For lunch I enjoyed a steak and ale pie meal, while

Jackie was very pleased with her macaroni cheese.

The jug of thick meaty gravy glimpsed at the back of the first pie picture provided a welcome sauce, as this excellent quality meal, new to their menu, suffered somewhat from having been cooked earlier and rather dried when reheated. The chips, however, were perfectly fresh, and this might be considered a quibbling complaint in the circumstances, especially at a total cost for the two meals of £24.90.

There were no complaints from Jackie about her tasty macaroni cheese with garlic bread, fresh coleslaw and plentiful salad.

The service is well organised, friendly and efficient, with a long queue of customers enabled to wait at their chosen tables where they are brought their meals as soon as they are ready.

We would certainly visit again and perhaps select our courses with a mind to my points made above.

Afterwards, on this dry, overcast, and consequently rather warmer, day, we took a short forest drive, during which I focussed on two buildings in Pilley.

The first was the former village shop and post house which has been refurbished as a rather good looking dwelling house, appreciated by the pigeon on the roof.

The next is the apparently derelict relic which seems somehow holding itself up in order for an elderly gentleman to sell eggs from the plastic chair peeping round the corner. Could he be resident, we always wonder?

Afterwards I dozed through Lucy Worsley’s Romanov series, waking up to the Revolution.

Later, we all dined on Becky’s tuna pasta (the others) or sardines pickled in chilli (me) with plentiful fresh salad and a few prawns from yesterday. I drank more of the Shiraz and Jackie drank more of the Spanish rosado.

Completing West Bed Planting

On a very dull, overcast, afternoon we shopped at Otter Nurseries for tree bark with which to mulch Jackie’s further planting in the recently opened up West Bed, then continued for a brief drive into the forest where we found nothing to photograph in such poor light.

While Jackie completed the dressing of the soil,

I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/08/30/a-knights-tale-24-enter-gwen-to-the-rescue/

Later, I scanned the next six of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

‘Tradesmen’s books hunger, and tradesmen’s mouths water’

‘There was a deadly kind of repose on the place’

‘ ‘Oh-h-h!’ cried the person of the house’

The artist has used a double page spread to show ‘Boots and Brewer bolting off in cabs’ in opposite directions.

‘At times Mrs Lammle would lean forward to address Mr Lammle’ demonstrates Keeping’s mastery of expression.

‘An old Jewish man in an ancient coat’

This evening we dined on perfectly roasted pork with crisp crackling; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender runner beans, and tasty gravy, in the non-availabilty of pork stock cubes, made by adding those of chicken and ham to the juices from the meat. Neither of us imbibed..

I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat



Early this morning, Ross visited briefly to help Richard move the furniture back to the far end of the kitchen. Richard then set about building the bespoke cabinets and work surfaces. These had all been designed and cut to size in the craftman’s workshop. Clamps were applied to the sections; screws selected from the relevant boxes; the drill and spirit level employed;


and further refining cuts made with the chop saw, equipped with its own laser beam.

Ham, egg, and chips; macaroni cheese, salad, and garlic bread.

At lunchtime we left Richard to his work and visited Otter Nurseries café for lunch. My choice was ham, egg, and chips; Jackie’s was macaroni cheese, salad, and garlic bread.

Staplewood Lane

We then took a trip through the forest. At Staplewood Lane


we experienced what must have been rerun of a 1950s cartoon. A paddle of ducks swam in a full ditch.



A scout, leading them across the road to Little Staplewood Farm, spotted a black and white cat advancing from a distance, and alerted its discombobulated followers


to turn back to the safety of the water, and cross the road when the coast was clear.


Sylvester, however, had sneaked into the farmyard and hidden under a Range Rover. He was not unnoticed by the guinea fowl, the geese, and other ducks who set up a vociferous alarm. One of the geese, in particular, was bent on saving Rome.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Y-XlLcRMU&w=560&h=315]


Towards the end of the day, before Richard carried out his customary spotless clean and tidying, he paused with a coffee and discussed with Jackie this week’s progress and plans for the next. She looks quite pleased.

This evening we dined on tasty fresh chicken and egg salad. I also enjoyed an excellent ham and cheese sandwich.


Petrified By Ponies


This afternoon we visited Otter Nurseries in order to buy rambling roses to supplement the planting Jackie carried out this morning.

Jackie in discussion ablout companulas

The Head Gardener was soon into a discussion about campanulas with a another customer seeking information.

I wandered around the plentiful displays while Jackie selected Perennial Blush and Super Elfin ramblers. A bee flitted from lavender to lavender.

Walkers on road

As we parked for me to investigate the Heywood Mill stream, a family group wandered, chatting, down the road.


The stream itself was unhindered one side of the road bridge,

and bore the reflections of a fallen tree on the other.


As we drove away, I spotted a deer. This necessitated by driver screeching to a halt and , heart in mouth, reversing back along the narrow, winding, lane until I could poke my lens into the hedgerow. The creature did not hang around.

English bluebells lined the verges and

Bluebells in wood 1

carpeted woodlands.

Ponies - one pregnant

Tempted by the sight of two white ponies, one of which was very pregnant, we drove down an even narrower lane.

Horse and rider

Further on we encountered a horse and rider, requiring us to stop for them to edge on by.

Next came the penned-in horned sheep. One of these woolly animals was particularly inquisitive.

Ponies on road

There were so many ponies on the road near Pilley, that a young driver was unable to move on. Jackie had to drive round her. She apologies, saying that she was petrified by the ponies. It was only when the horses thinned out a bit that she was able to get back into gear.

One of this group was a foal, still very wobbly on its legs.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime cottage pie, served with carrots and Brussels sprouts. I finished the Vacqueyras. Jackie didn’t imbibe further as she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Boldre Bridge


At 16 degrees, our incredibly mild period continues. It was therefore strange today to begin the winter clearing whilst we continue to enjoy blooms from spring and summer. We did so in rather desultory fashion.

It is difficult to think of winter when you can admire

roses Margaret Merrill, Penny Lane, Mamma Mia, and especially Summer Time;

or fuchsias, geraniums, dahlias, gauras and poppies, one of which harbours a hoverfly; and many more.

With the sun shining, we set off for brunch at The Friars Cliff Cafe. Unfortunately this was in everyone else’s minds. The car park at Steamer Point was crammed full, and shoals of humanity floundered on the beach. There was no doubt the cafe would be full to bursting like me after the Olympics breakfast. We therefore turned back and aimed for Calshot. We hadn’t travelled very far before the sky clouded over. It didn’t look very conducive to photography, so we brunched at Otter Nurseries. Only when I had chosen a liver casserole did Jackie tell me that was what she had planned for this evening. She happily did a rethink.

The walls at Otter contain some rather well-executed paintings for sale. One of these was Boldre Bridge. We wondered why we hadn’t seen the bridge, and realised that would be because we had always driven over it. So we went to look for it. I passed through a five-barred gate and descended a bank to find something approximating the painter’s vantage point.

I was intrigued to notice that the architect had made it possible to feature the Christian fish symbol. The five-spanned bridge, which dates from at least the 18th century is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) 1990, as amended,  for its architectural or historic interest.

A tree had fallen across the river, on which autumn leaves floated over reflections of broken, reeds, and still grey sky.

Just before we drove on, the sun began to light up the foliage on Rodlease Lane.

En route to Sway, I wandered into the forest, taking advantage of the light streaming through the trees, and exchanging greetings with a family of riders.

Forest scene 3

As I ventured further in, attracted by pinpoints of light in the distance, I was rewarded by this dramatic view across the moorland featuring

House in moorland

  a single dwelling in an idyllic setting.

Driving through Hordle on our return, Jackie spotted a cautionary notice for any witches inclined to take to the skies tomorrow night, and a cry for help from an underground prison.

Jackie’s rethink for tonight’s meal involved lemon-flavoured chicken Kiev, French fries, and baked beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.

A Cock-Fight


On another hot day with a glorious cloudless blue sky, Jackie and I spent the morning shopping for birthday presents for Shelly and for Poppy.

First stop was Otter Nurseries where we bought a couple of skimmias for Jackie’s sister,

Rudbeckia 1Rudbeckia 2

and two interesting new bronzed rudbeckias for ourselves. There are plenty of buds on these latter plants for the Head Gardener to bring to perfection in a very short time.

Otter Nurseries 1Otter Nurseries 2

We felt rather sad at the emptiness of such a large, splendidly stocked, outlet on such a day. This was a clear indication that the seasons are changing.

Sammy Miller’s Motorcycle Museum in Bashley Common Road was the next venue. This, we thought, was a suitable establishment at which to find girlie items for Shelly and for our granddaughter.

You may well be surprised at this, if you don’t know that the outbuildings of the museum contain a number of shops attractive to tourists. Whilst I wandered around outside, Jackie bought a pastel blue quartz necklace for her sister, and another item suitable for a one-year old.

Motorcycle Park and petrol pump

There were many motorcycles parked in their dedicated area. This one is alongside one of the antique petrol pumps that line the walls.

Milk cart and urn

Snacks and drinks were being enjoyed in the shopping precinct which was generously supplied with garden ornaments including this milk cart;

Farm cart

a farm cart;

Farm machinery 2

and various items of farm machinery;

Farm machinery 1

more of which was distributed among the animals on the borders of the site.


A paddle of ducks welcomes cool shade and a running stream



There are basking goats, two of which really stink like their cheese.

Goats and chicken

Chickens seem oblivious to this.


A vociferous rooster crows continuously.

Turkey 1

Leaving his lady-love in the shade of his shed,

Turkey 2

a plumage plumped turkey

Turkey 3

made his sedate and purposeful way along the front of the pen.

Turkeys 1

Coming to a halt at a wire window he silently confronted the occupant.

Rooster, chicken and turkey

‘Fight. Fight. Fight’, cried the rooster, summoning the chicken audience

Turkeys 2Turkeys 3

as the confrontation continued.

A farmhand explained the situation. Earlier this morning, there had, indeed, been a cock-fight over the hen. That is why the unfortunate challenger was penned up. These creatures are capable of inflicting serious damage in their duels.

This evening we dined at The Raj in Old Milton. My main course was Chingri Bullet with giant prawns that must surely have been indulged with Jackie’s plant food. Jackie’s was chicken sag. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and an onion bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.


It is not that unusual for readers seeking contacts or history to stumble across this blog and, through comments, to ask me for information. Yesterday there were two. One man sought a contact with Trinity (Battersea) now Trinity (Oxley) Cricket Club. I, and two others responded. A second person, a woman, wondered whether Jackie’s sister, Helen, was someone she had trained with in the 1960s. I put them in touch with each other. Such is the power of WordPress.

Today, definitely presaging Spring, was even sunnier, and warmer, than yesterday.

Here are some of the garden flowers I did not pick yesterday:


We have pretty pansies,

Hellebores 1Hellebores 2Hellebore 1Hellebore 2Hellebore 3

a vast variety of head-hanging hellebores,


several flourishing viburnums,


precocious primulas, some a little nibbled,


different camellias,


and cerise cyclamens among others.

At midday we drove to Efford Recycling Centre to dump some of our rubbish, and

Charger and toysMats

as usual departed with purchases from the Sales Area, namely a charger, some toddler toys and rolls of mats for the garden shed.

We then came back to Otter Nurseries where we enjoyed mushroom soup and rolls with the discount vouchers. After this we went driveabout.

Isle of WightIsle of Wight 2

The Needles and Lighthouse

The light was so clear over the Solent that we had the sharpest view of the flanks of the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse, a mile and a quarter away.

Walkers silhouette 1Walkers silhouette 2

Walkers were silhouetted on Hordle West Cliff Top.

Pheasant hens Pheasant hens 2

Driving along Angel Lane we gatecrashed a pheasant hen party.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape and silhouettes

Back at home, shortly before sunset, sand-clouds gathered over Christchurch Road. This time buildings, shrubs, and trees provided the silhouettes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken tikka biriani; vegetable pakoras and samosas; salad; and delicious cauliflower bhaji that would have graced any Indian kitchen. The cook drank Hoegaarden and the satisfied customer drank Kingfisher.

The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street

By late morning today, the recent storm that has left the population of America’s eastern states digging out heaped piles of snow, having warmed itself on the way across the Atlantic, petered out to heavy rain that lasted all day and is expected to continue for a few more.

The Head Gardener is a regular customer of Otter Nurseries. Like all garden centres, this one, especially in the winter months, must diversify to survive. Like all regular customers, Jackie receives a collection of bargain tokens. One of these was a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer for lunch in the cafe. Like all bargain tokens this had a limited life span – the end of this month to be precise. It had to be done.

Otter Nurseries

Leaving the soggy, scantily clad, sylphs and cute, damp, cherubs beneath the falling rain and among the flickering plant labels; and passing through the main showroom with its staccato overhead pattering precipitation; we entered the warm cafe, its rooftop raindrops silenced by effective double glazing. It was clear from the other token-clutching silver-haired diners, that one had to belong to the third age to be there at this time.

Otter Nurseries meals

My choice was steak and Stilton pie; Jackie’s was scampi, chips, and peas. Not at all bad.

Later, I finished reading a Christmas present from Tess, Mat, and Poppy. This was ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ by Natasha Pulley.

Who made the bomb? is the essential mystery forming the theme of Ms Pulley’s fantastical novel. The lives of English and Japanese protagonists are interwoven into the fabric of Victorian England and Japan in an intriguing tale which holds the interest throughout. The writer is an imaginative storyteller, the elements of whose plot are indicated on the front board. There is no great character building in this tale which would probably make quite a thrilling film, especially given that the key theme could easily be translated to today’s world.

The Watchmaker001The Watchmaker002

The said cover, designed by David Mann demonstrates similar imaginative skill of the artist. A circular panel cut out from the board represents the glass of a fob watch, the chain of which stretches down Parliament Street in the frontispiece. Filigree Street does not exist in this part of London.

This evening we dined on Tesco’s Finest Mixed Meats pizza, and Jackie’s fin salads, including the tomatoes and basil in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, to which I am rather partial. We shared Fortnum & Mason’s Chablis 2014 – a Christmas present from Luci and Wolf.


Make Love, Not War


Now that our garden possesses better flooring than that inside the house, we cannot light bonfires in overflowing, legless, rusty, wheelbarrows any more. On another gloriously sunny morning we therefore went on a galvanised garden incinerator search. Beginning with Otter nurseries we performed a local tour, ending up where we had started. The bin we had been shown earlier had just been sold. The only alternative one was being used to display other goods because it had no lid. The assistant had obviously forgiven us for spurning her earlier offer, because she went hunting and found a lid. This evening, we tried out the pyre, which produced an intense, contained, heat.

Bee on dahlia

Furry bees are stocking up for winter.

Owl, and bess on sedums

Behind Jackie’s new owl they scour the sedums,

View alongside northern border of Phantom Path

Eucalyptus and wheels

as the sun casts its light across the garden.


Weeding of the paths has to be done with a certain amount of circumspection if one wishes to preserve self-seeded violas.

Salinger Wedding 15.9.45 001

On 15th September 1945, one month after VJ day, the date that signalled the final conclusion of the Second World War, escorts of uniformed Wrens and soldiers lined up at the wedding of Miss Daphne V. Mitchell, Wren, with Captain Raymond J. Salinger, R.E.M.E. This took place at St Mark’s Church, Highcliffe, after which guests were invited to a reception at The Walkford Hotel. Throughout the globe, brides and grooms at that time must truly have felt they had been given a licence to make love, not war.

Salinger Wedding 15.9.45 002

Seventy years on, Daphne and Ray, who still live in Walkford, are about to celebrate their platinum anniversary.

This was the event celebrated in the album from which their son Ron has asked me to produce a selection of 10″ x 8″ prints. Because most of the photographs are small, and all need quite a lot of retouching in the scanning, I began with just two today.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev, boiled new potatoes and cauliflower, and a melange of peppers, mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes fried in olive oil. Custard tarts were to follow. I drank Louis de Companac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

A Result

Today being Jackie’s birthday, her choice of activity was to work in the garden. Oh joy.
We managed to postpone finishing off yesterday’s task by going on an arch hunt. Otter Nurseries in Everton didn’t have metal ones; Everton Nurseries had some but they were too small; so we went off in the opposite direction to Stewart’s in Christchurch where we had seen the very thing when we bought the tower/obelisk. Albeit more expensive than the Gardman product, this was much more robust and exactly the right size.
They only had the model on display. We could have it with a 25% discount because it was the last one, and a bit dusty. The very helpful young man dismantled it for us and helped us into the car with it. I commented that it was a pity we didn’t have a bigger car then he wouldn’t have had to dismantle it and we wouldn’t have to reassemble it. Jackie commented that her drive was much easier than had been the one with Elizabeth’s rose arch occupying all three passenger seats and part of hers. We had bought that at the Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair in May 2012. It did not come flat-packed, as it had been handmade by a local craftsman. There was no room for passengers in the car, so Jackie had to drive alone with the lanky rustic creation attempting to cuddle her all the way to The Firs.
The trip to Otter Nurseries wasn’t exactly wasted because they had a special offer on four bags of gravel, so we bought some.
Straight after lunch I attacked the lonicera, brambles, and ivy once more. Yesterday I showed you what the view over the fence looks like.

This is what the lonicera looks like through the remnants of fence after I have hacked it back:
Again, a sister and brother in law provided an opportunity to take a break, by making a visit. This was Shelly and Ron who also brought more of the plants they have been fostering.

All the flowers, including these geraniums, have thrived through a comparatively mild winter under Shelly’s attention.
Ron, having broken his heel, was somewhat restricted, but I was able to take Shelly round the garden. Among all the other interesting

specimens we have, the Chinese lantern tree is now in full bloom, and a red climbing rose enhances the back of the house.. While Jackie joined Shelly on her tour, I sat and chatted to Ron.

The bird feeders have now been erected and he and I watched a young robin trying them out.
Before and after enjoying our visitors’ company I tackled the undergrowth behind the broken arch,and Jackie cleared the front, and fully exposed the edge of the path. The Virginia creeper and all the brambles mentioned yesterday had choked and obscured a very leggy climbing rose which possesses one red bud.
Before attempting to reassemble the new gothic arch, we needed to untangle, and free from the surrounding vegetation, the creeper and the rose. We decided to give the Virginia climber a most severe skinhead haircut in order to allow the rose to toss out its tresses. Jackie climbed the stepladder to tie up the limbs. The arch was fairly  straightforward to put together, a little less so to set astride the path. But we managed it and are very pleased with the result. In fact, in football parlance, to obtain the last one the store was ever going to stock, at such a discount, was in itself a result.

This photograph was taken from the Heligan Path, which would not have been possible much more than a week ago. Yesterday, the large tree to the left of and behind the climbers on the arch, was obscured by undergrowth, as was the metal rail and knotted jumble behind that, which is the subject of the first picture above. Incidentally, this clearance seems to be adding about four feet to the width of our shrubbery.
Dinner this evening was delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) with mushroom rice and vegetable samosas accompanied by Cobra beer.