Mud-caked

I have to acknowledge that I seem to be out of step with more regular reviewers of The Favourite which we watched on Prime after dinner yesterday.

I am not competent to comment on the historical accuracy of this story of the last years of Queen Anne, a very sad eighteenth century English monarch; nor for the depiction of Court life of the period. But maybe that is not the point of the film which focusses on the battle between two women for the position of Royal Favourite.

The three stars of Yorgos Lanthimos’s alleged tragicomedy offer undoubtedly excellent performances. Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz certainly deserved their awards. Emma Stone was also very good. Unfortunately, although one could sympathise with each of them in their own struggles I found it impossible to like any single character in the film.

It was an assault on the senses, not least for dirge-like banging music(?) and weird cinematography seemingly making use of a fish-eye lens and dizzying panning effects. Tragic, yes. Comic, not for me. Maybe I just don’t find it easy to laugh at people who are struggling.

Today was another of unceasing gloom.

This morning we each took our cameras into the garden at different times.

 

My pansies were photographed in the front garden, Jackie’s, somewhat nibbled, at the back;

Jackie photographed bright magenta cyclamen while I pictured the stone cherub reclining  against the tree trunk beside them;

the first two pelargonium images are Jackie’s;

two more are mine;

The Head Gardener produce her own photos of her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse;

she also photographed her stumpery, with watching owls and brown grasses;

vinca;

bergenia;

hebe;

viburnum;

mahonia;

cineraria;

 

euphorbias Silver edge and Rubra;

and primulas.

I contributed a range of camellias.

Soon after lunch we drove into the soggy forest, where the green at Bramshaw has been ploughed up by the hooves of

 

mucky sheep;

dismal donkeys;

and mud-caked cattle.

We each photographed a weather vane. Jackie’s bore Father Time,

mine a pair of geese.

A pair of riders road past.

Nearby a robin tweeted to one of a trio of

miniature be-rugged ponies.

Further on, approaching Newbridge we encountered

another herd of cattle. The second of these two photographs of Jackie’s includes a redwing and a crow, two of the avian entourage

accompanying the bovines.

Here is a redwing

and a wagtail.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken Jalfrezi, savoury rice, vegetable samosas, and parathas with which I finished the Garnacha Syrah while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

 

 

 

Surfing For Fish

Jackie has a row of shells lined up on a low stone wall. This morning as she stepped into the garden to photograph

a pot of pansies underneath which are planted tulips she noticed that these shells have been tossed all over the place. This set her thinking that either the wind had wreaked havoc or that Eric the Pheasant who last year specialised in this wanton distribution had returned.

Sure enough, Eric was back.

Today’s weather was much brighter, albeit somewhat cooler. We drove to The Beach Hut Café at Friars Cliff for a hearty brunch.

After our meal we each produced a set of photographs. As a gentleman I always allow the lady to go first, so there follows Jackie’s contribution:

She first pictured the bay, creating a panoramic view with the Isle of Wight in the distance.

Beach scenes with huts came next.

Unbeknown to me she lurked around the corner of the promenade and caught me snapping.

I was intrigued by the waves and spray breaking on the rocks and sliding along sand and shingle.

A lone fisherman, the sun glinting on his spectacles, kept a vigil throughout and after our meal. I am not aware that he caught anything,

which is more than can be said for a small surfing gull family.

Dogs are not permitted on the beach between May and October, but, at this time of the year their owners make hay. Some time after I took this set three loose alsatian-type dogs raced around the beach huts. They belonged to the gentleman in the red jacket – not me. At the end of a row of huts ascends a steepish slope still necessitating me holding the rail as I begin the climb back up to the car park. I was not best pleased when one of these creatures bounded round the bend and narrowly missed colliding with me. Unfortunately the owner was out of sight and I hadn’t the energy to seek him out.

Before I began that ascent I witnessed the progression of a stone-throwing apprenticeship. A little boy with a man I assumed to be his grandfather picked up quite a large missile which he

handed over to his companion who,

watched by the lad, chucked it into the waves.

The junior then gathered up smaller stones and, with unerring accuracy tossed them directly ahead into the spray.

He was well into his task as I departed.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza with plentiful fresh salad.

Survivors December 2019

Today was the third bright, sunny, and cold one in a row. Given that overnight temperatures are in the low minuses, I wandered around the garden to photograph some of the albeit somewhat poorly looking surviving flora.

Two that seem to bloom continuously are the yellow bidens

and the white solanums from last year.

A few primulas,

penstemons,

pelargoniums,

and pansies linger.

The yellow antirrhinums refuse to die.

Mrs Popple

and Delta’s Sarah are two of the still flowering fuchsias.

Fatsia,

vibernum bodnantense Dawn,

and clematis Cirrhosa Freckles we may expect to enjoy at this time of year;

but not the hebes.

Carpets,

Paul’s Scarlet,

Just Joey,

 

Winchester Cathedral,

and Festive Jewel carry the baton for team roses.

Hoards of Hunnish sparrows occupy the hawthorn, swooping on

sad little Muggle’s

feeder for which he has to wait his moment,

while more of Attila’s marauders concentrate on the front garden robin’s seeds.

We didn’t see Nugget today.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

 

 

The Boundary Fence

I have never installed a new Apple Operating System without experiencing a consequent problem. Overnight I let Catalina in. It is not compatible with my scanner. I followed the directions to resolve the issue, but hit a brick wall. This will mean another call to Peacock Computers.

This morning Elizabeth came for coffee and stayed for lunch.

Jackie planted more bulbs in the New Bed

while Aaron reinforced the back of this with breeze blocks. At one corner Jackie had planted pansies and a fern in a pot with no back wedged against a larger one with no front.

Aaron reported that while he had been working on the wall Nugget had put in an appearance and breakfasted on disturbed worms.  On the back drive our robin’s rival perched on our friend’s container of cuttings. By the time I had returned with my camera the newcomer had repaired to the

larch which forms the avian boundary fence as agreed by the two rivals. The interloper sang from this tree, but I couldn’t spot him.

The bright morning sunshine streaked shadows along the various paths including the

Heligan, where Jackie admired a campanula in the Cryptomeria Bed.

but uprooted one of the invasive white alliums from the gravel.

After lunch I rather snoozed over the Rugby World Cup quarter final match between Wales and South Africa, then wandered around the garden again.

Antirrhinums surprisingly still thrive beyond the avian boundary fence;

Less surprisingly, mushrooms emerge from a log left to encourage insect life;

and the bank of chrysanthemums glows gloriously.

Autumn leaves still linger on the Weeping Birch,

and those of the Parthenocissus brighten the shadows on the south fence.

The winter flowering clematis has announced the coming season,

While an earlier variety rests on a bed of Erigeron.

Mum in a million lets her hair down in the Rose Garden.

Nugget worked at making eye contact with his favourite perching owl.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy piri-piri chicken; flavoursome savoury rice; and succulent lava beans and sweet potato ratatouille, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

Estate Agency

Today I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between Georgia and Uruguay, and between Wales and Australia. Taking breaks from these matches I made crops of Jackie’s photographs, and took the nesting box one myself. It is so good to employ a most competent Assistant Photographer.

Jackie carried out planting, mostly in the Weeping Birch Bed – such as White Ladies asters, and grass panicum Warrior – hindered of course by  Nugget who at one point nipped neatly onto her chair when she left it.Those readers who have missed Nugget in the last couple of posts have nothing to fear, our little robin is here. The scale of this picture showing a flash of Jackie’s jeans and a glimpse of her arm, the trowel beside the tufa on which he stands, and the pair of gardening gloves demonstrates just how little he is.

The tufa on which he stands is, according to Wikipedia,  ‘ a variety of limestone formed when carbonate minerals precipitate out of ambient temperature water.’ Plants grow on it.

He doesn’t take up much room on a trowel, but he can delay the Head Gardener using it.When Jackie was sitting in the chair mentioned above, Nugget would dart from this stone under her seat in search of fodder.

The finely woven wicker-work of his plumage is most intricate.

Whilst at the south end of the garden Jackie also photographed the Back Drive;

its Japanese anemones against the white wall of No. 5 Downton Lane;

raindrops on its out of season poppy

and convolvulus:

clumps of chrysanthemum buds;

sprigs of bright hawthorn berries;

a wood pigeon basking on the warm gravel;

a volunteer nicotiana sylvestris;

and a further clump of chrysanthemums against hot lips.

She photographed the garden as seen from the Heligan Path;

her stumpery;

and one of two pots of pansies in the Rose Garden.

Not satisfied with the third teapot she has offered Nugget through her estate agency,

when she popped out for more plants at Otter Nurseries she bought a purpose built robin nesting box to increase his choice.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (31)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s minced beef topped with Lyonnaise potatoes, crunchy carrots and broccoli with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

 

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.