Pannage Has Begun

We began this hot and sunny late summer’s day with a trip to Ferndene Farm Shop. Normally, when we visit this splendidly stocked and very reasonably priced outlet we do so in order to buy compost and manage to come away with plants as well. Today the process was reversed.

We came for pansies and salad, to which we added

three bags of Violet Farm compost.

Afterwards we continued into the forest by way of Bickley Common Road.

We lunched at The Old Station Tea Rooms at Holmsley. The building is swathed in scaffolding at the moment, so we were served from the station kiosk and ate outside where wearing a jacket was being overdressed.

While waiting for our meals I focussed on some of the old advertising signs.

Jackie enjoyed the Station Master’s Rarebit, namely cheese on mustard toast, topped with bacon and a fried egg, garnished with liberal salad. My equally satisfying meal consisted of beef and mushroom pie, chips, carrots, peas, and leeks with a small jug of gravy. My Chauffeuse drank coffee while I drank sparkling water.

A not unusual, but rather incongruous, trio of ponies did their best to block Chapel Lane at the junction with Burley Lawn.

As so often, a visiting driver left her car and photographed the animals.

Further along the road, like me, she clicked on Tamworth pigs trotting along.

The other woman watching was a German visitor whose brother-in- law had brought her to see the spectacle that signalled that pannage had begun. As she petted a particularly muddied pig she seemed unperturbed by her increasingly clarty clothing.

Back home an only slightly tattered Painted Lady swayed with the verbena bonarensis,

and a bluebottle settled on an Erigeron.

The Yorkist Penny Lane shares its ascendancy with the Lancastrian Super Elfin.

Jackie wandered around, trowel in hand, wondering where to plant this new clematis.

Nugget was on hand with helpful suggestions. He becomes most excited at the sight of plant and trowel. In fact he can’t wait to beat the plant into the hole.

Now “Where’s Nugget?” (22)

This evening we dined on small portions of pepperoni pizza and salad with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Doom Bar.

Afterwards I watched the recorded highlights of the second day of the fifth Ashes Test match.

Raindrops

Unless you wanted to photograph

car wheels sending up spray from the puddle in the gutter to the front of the house,

or pools forming on the garden paths, this was not a day to venture outside. The alliums on the Brick Path are some uprooted by the Head Gardener who wages an annual war against these invasive bulbs.

Rain streamed down the windows, brightened only by Pauline’s welcome lightcatcher.

I was granted one brief easing of precipitation during which to nip out and catch raindrops on bedraggled pansies, shy tulips, damp hellebores, and glistening amanogawa buds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and mushroom pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts; and rich gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Blossom Hill Pale Rosé, I drank Des Maures Lalande de Pomerol 2016, and Ian drank Cobra.

Always A Drop To Drink

Today was milder and wetter. Last autumn, Jackie had planted up a pair of tubs for Mum’s garden. Now the intended recipient occupies a care home, one of these graces the garden of her empty bungalow. The other stands in front of the trellis adorning our garage door.

We took a short trip to the East of the forest, where, at East End the stunning golden mimosa tree is in full bloom;

a pigeon looks down on it from a nearby naked oak.

The corner of St Leonard’s Road and the road to East Boldre is as waterlogged as always once we have experienced considerable rainfall. Water overflows onto the road and vehicles spray as they pass.

At East Boldre a chestnut pony, ankle-deep in another pool, slakes its thirst. Today it can be said that there was water, water, everywhere, and always a drop to drink.

This evening we dined on tangy lemon chicken; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender peas.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

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.

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.

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.