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.


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


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



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.

Half Term


Storm Doris had blown about the bag of twigs gathered up a couple of days ago, and dumped more on the beds and paths in the garden.

The Shady Path, with its Camellia shrubs didn’t look too bad, except for the chair blown over on the decking.

We picked up a few more bits of tree and went for a drive in the forest.

Beautifully situated among daffodils on the village green at Portmore is another Telephone Box book exchange.


I exchanged greetings with a friendly jogger running along the verge of the road between Beaulieu and Dibden Purlieu,

as I was walking back a short way into the forest, to the opposite side of the road, where numerous temporary pools reflected the trees they surrounded.

Friars Cliff Café was full to bursting as children, taking advantage of half-term in Hampshire’s schools, had fun on the beach before taking refreshments. We enjoyed a brunch there.

This evening I made prints of Sam and Louisa in the skip from Ratty, the post of two days ago; and two little girls doing handstands and running on the sand. Louisa’s picture was by request. The others were for the mother of the other children who preferred not to have the pictures posted here.

Later we dined on pizza and salad with which I finished the merlot opened three days ago.

Seating Arrangements


Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will know that we are prone to buying almost as many benches and chairs as plants. This is because we like to provide points at which to sit and contemplate the views, or simply to take a rest in the shade.

Today I followed the cloud-diffused sun around the garden, photographing a selection of the seating arrangements.

Garden Seats 1

Many, like this pair of chairs in the front garden, were bought very cheaply from Efford Recycling Centre.

Garden Seats 2

This bench, recently moved from the grass patch to the Dead End Path, was from the same source. It is, in truth, a bit rickety, and therefore rests against the butler sinks.

Garden Seats 3

Our four large wooden chairs made by a local carpenter, cast interesting shadows on the patio.

Garden Seats 4

Looking a bit battered after its journey from Newark to two London addresses before being extensively repaired by me two years ago, this bench is a replica of those at Nottingham Castle. It is perfectly sturdy.

Garden Seats 5

Jackie found the cast iron ends of this seat, now resting on the Heligan Path, in the shrubberies. I bought the wood and fitted it together.

Garden Seats 6

A cluster of metal chairs is loosely arranged on the gravelled south end patio;

Garden Seats 10

this one has strayed a bit, presenting a view into the Rose Garden,

Garden Seats 8

where this elegantly ornate chair is one of the features.

Garden Seats 7

Our most recent dump acquisition has replaced the earlier mentioned bench on the grass patch. It is made of light and strong aluminium, but could do with a paint job.

Garden Seats 11

A variety of wooden seats, like this one outside the stable door,

Garden Seats 13

this beside Elizabeth’s Bed,

Garden Seats 14

 these along the back drive,

Garden Seats 15

and this beside the Brick Path facing the Phantom Path, were obtained from the same source.

Garden Seats 16

Others, like this one alongside the Head Gardener’s Walk, came from IKEA.

Garden Seats 17

Beside the same path, in the arched Gardener’s Rest was furnished by the recycling centre.

Garden Seats 12

Aaron recently added touches of paint to this iron bench bought from Ace Reclaim architectural salvage outlet. Beside the Shady Path it looks across the Palm Bed.

This evening we dined on juicy chicken Kiev; sauteed leeks, peppers, and mushrooms; crisp carrots, broccoli and new potatoes; followed by Bakewell plait and vanilla ice cream. I drank more of the syrah, and Jackie drank a blend of Bavaria and Hoegaarden.