I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat

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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.

 

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

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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.

Stream

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

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

Deer

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

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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

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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.

Duck

A paddle of ducks welcomes cool shade and a running stream

Goat

Goats

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

Goats and chicken

Chickens seem oblivious to this.

Rooster

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.

Silhouettes

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:

Pansies

We have pretty pansies,

Hellebores 1Hellebores 2Hellebore 1Hellebore 2Hellebore 3

a vast variety of head-hanging hellebores,

Viburnum

several flourishing viburnums,

Primulas

precocious primulas, some a little nibbled,

Camellia

different camellias,

Cyclamen

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

Incinerator

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.

Violas

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.