Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.

 

All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.

 

 

Meet Muggle

Weather-wise this was a gloomy, but largely dry, day which Jackie began by photographing

her now completed work on preparing the New Bed for winter.

Her lens also produced images of the stumpery;

roses including Super Elfin still scaling the Gothic arch;

Mum in a million,

Absolutely Fabulous,

and Just Joey gracing the Rose Garden;

and Doris Tysterman embellishing the back drive,

the borders of which cheer us still.

 

The textures of ferns and grasses appeal to hot lips in Margery’s Bed, which displays autumn colour,

while hebes are blooming early – or is it another late flowering?

Camellias have produced buds already,

while the patio planting does not yet appear to be on the way out.

 

Dahlias still thrive,

as do numerous fuchsias, including Hawksmoor,

Army Nurse,

Chequerboard,

and others.

A blue salvia survives. It is hardy enough not to need a place on

the new shelving that has increased the number of cuttings that can be overwintered in the greenhouse.

One of Jackie’s first tasks was to fix up a nesting box for Nugget’s rival.

Although showing considerable interest in the proceedings this little fellow didn’t keep still long enough for many photographs. He can be seen in the centre of this picture. Our very good blogging friend, Uma, has named him Muggle, on the grounds that Nugget is certainly magical but he must be more earthbound. Therefore, meet Muggle.

Nugget, of course, takes a dim view of this. He made his feelings known when he cocked his head from the top of the Rose Garden fence, muttering “what do you think you are doing”.

“Where’s Nugget?” (40)

This evening we dined on flavoursome pork cutlets; breaded chicken;  crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.

A Touch Of Snow

Jackie needed to be as nippy as the air outside to photograph her aerial garden views in the rapidly melting snow this morning.

Her next subject was the snowcapped owl first captured in the patio through the sitting room window. Having wrapped herself up he became her first subject as she continued outside in the garden.

Yesterday’s frost-touched frogs were now also capped with snow.

Another view across the Kitchen Bed towards the Rose Garden reveals the protective shrouds placed as preservation over the more vulnerable plants.

The Rose Garden can be seen beyond Sculpture Florence, standing with dry feet on gravel. The Winter Season figure has collected an appropriate amount of precipitation.

From the Oval Bed beside the Rose Garden our eyes take us across the Weeping Birch Bed down the Back Drive.

Another snowy owl perched on the low wall surrounding the Palm Bed.

The owl could have been contemplating the wheels on the opposite side of the path.

This evening we dined on grilled gammon steaks; roasted butternut squash; potato and swede mash; sautéed peppers, onions, and red cabbage; tangy broccoli and cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans.

Soon I will be settling down to watch BBC’s coverage of the first match of this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament – that between France and Wales.

Jackie Frost

Although it wasn’t to last long, we awoke to our first proper frost of the season

Jackie photographed the panoramic views from the dressing room and from the garden bedroom upstairs.

She then toured the garden and brought back this gallery of images. As usual titles are given on accessing the gallery with a click on any of the pictures. The sun soon brought the temperature up and each one of the wilted plants on display had returned to its full glory by midday.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendidly matured succulent sausage casserole; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender curly kale; and red cabbage imbued with the piquancy of vinegar and soy sauce.

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.

Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.

Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.

Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

We Have A Working Sink

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Yesterday evening, at Elizabeth’s, Danni, assisted by Andy, produced a stunning curry for us all, also including friends Nicki and Andrew, with plenty to heat up for sister Jacqueline when she arrived later. After a starter of Jackie’s cooked poppadoms, we enjoyed chicken and egg curry; a chick peas dish; sag paneer; spicy cauliflower; onion bahjis; and hand made rotis. It really was a splendid tour de force. Jackie drank Kingfisher and the rest of us consumed various red wines.

We heard that Nicki and Andrew had recently visited the iconic Highgate cemetery, and Elizabeth had lent them her copy of The Magnificent Seven. They enjoyed that so much that they want to visit the other six landscaped London Victorian burial grounds.

Once my two sisters got together they couldn’t resist reminiscing about my driving stories. Elizabeth introduced the subject of the Death Of The Brown Velvet Suit, with the observation that I was the only person she knew who had been run over by his own car.

Jackie washing up

We arrived home to find that Richard had fitted a back to the sink unit and boxed in the piping against the wall. Although it still needs the worktop we were able to use it this morning.

We also admired the angles of the join at the box, over which will eventually be placed an oak window sill.

The temperature overnight was below freezing. This is expected to continue for the rest of the month. Our garden has not suffered any set-backs yet.

Now, late in the morning, we are setting off by car for Leatherhead for the annual Gilbert & Sullivan production directed by Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell. As usual, I will post on the proceedings tomorrow.

 

Giving It Some Welly

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Dawn

This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.