“Where’s Derrick?”

Knowing that the temperature would drop and the leaden canopy overhead become a leaky colander throughout the day, we held back Jackie’s sunlit images from yesterday afternoon.

She had transformed this second footpath across the Rose Garden from a few days ago

to this, having also re-fixed the windblown mirror to the back fence. The poppies in the first picture have all been relocated.

Elsewhere backlit borage;

sunlit azalea;

and shadowy lily of the valley also caught her eye.

After lunch today I took advantage of a minor lull in the precipitation from above and photographed raindrops

pendant from solanum;

pearling  libertia;

pooling pelargoniums;

douching heuchera leaves;

bejewelling rosebuds;

caressing Queen of the Night;

refreshing rhododendrons;

purifying pale pink pieris;

cleansing clematis;

and slithering down Viulcan magnolia.

Some flowers, such as hellebores,


and diurnal poppies, bowed their heads against the weight of the crown jewels.

While I was wandering around the garden Jackie, from the dry warmth of the kitchen,

photographed me in action.

She even managed “Where’s Derrick?” (1)

and (2)

This evening we dined on prawns: tempura prawns; prawns in hot, spicy batter; seeded prawn toasts; and Jackie’s savoury prawn, egg, and vegetable rice, followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard, with which she drank Heineken and I drank Piemonte Barbera 2016.








It Has To Go

As she toured the garden this morning Jackie was struck by the contrast between the number of survivors from spring and summer still blooming –

including clematis Niobe;

fuchsias Delta’s Sarah

and Mrs. Popple;


hot lips;





and roses in the Rose Garden –

and the harbingers of spring to come, such as the budding rhododendrons;

the new shoots of Michaelmas daisies;

and the burgeoning mimuluses.

One of Aaron’s tasks was to clear dragons, hanging baskets, and other vulnerable artefacts from beneath the

rather brittle cypress that continually sheds dead branches and therefore has to go. It will be removed later in the week.

As we were planning to venture into the forest this afternoon the skies darkened, the previously still air produced gusts of more than fifty miles an hour, torrential rains fell, and the birds left the front garden feeders. Within half an hour tranquility returned.

Blue tits returned to the suet balls.This bird tried to masquerade as one;

and Ron, as we have named the front garden robin, was able to head for his seed feeder before the sparrows returned to dispossess him. It is almost impossible to distinguish between male and female robins. Should Ron turn out to be a female I guess she will be a Ronette. https://youtu.be/FXlsWB1UMcE

We then did drive into to forest.

Ponies at Norleywood had calmly weathered the storm that had added to

the pool at the corner of St. Leonards Road,

along which, like cannon-shot, clouds sped across the sky,

against which oak tree branches groped gnarled fingers.

It was not yet sunset when we passed St Leonards Grange and the ruins of its ancient grain barn.

Another winterbourne pool on which oak leaves floated reflected  the tree limbs and trunks;

a cheerful young girl running down the road was overtaken by a passing car;

and a pheasant was framed by a Star of David.

We drove on past Bucklers Hard, then retuned along St Leonards Road to catch

sunset both at the Grange

and a little further along the road.

This evening we dined on fish pie with Jackie’s succulent ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with which we both drank Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2016.



The Kitchen Garden


Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.



My very good blogging friend G.P. Cox had a good laugh yesterday at my statement that ‘surely nothing could go wrong’, concerning my dental teeth cleaning appointment today. Well, GP, I do hope you are ready for another. I received a telephone call at lunchtime today cancelling the visit because the hygienist is ill. I guess I’ll just have to carry on doing it myself.

In complete contrast to yesterday, we enjoyed fine weather today.

Jackie in greenhouse

Jackie continued taking tender plants and cuttings into protective custody in the greenhouse.

I tidied up a bit and photographed more survivors of the recent light frost.


Some, like this pansy, bore blisters of precipitation.

Fuchsia 1

I am not sure which

Fuchsia 2

of our many

Fuchsia 3


Fuchsia 4

is hardy

Fuchsia Lady in Black

but at the moment they all seem to be.


Heucheras continue to flower,

Clematis Polish Spirit

as do clematises such as Polish Spirit.

Clematis Duchess of Albany

Even The Duchess of Albany, long past her best, is capable of creating excitement.

Rose Compassion

Roses like Compassion,

Rose Penny Lane

Penny Lane,

Rose Little Rambler

Little Rambler,

Rose Alan Titchmarsh

and the ever ebullient Alan Titchmarsh remain in full bloom;

Carpet rose red

we have thick piles of carpet roses.


Pelargoniums glow with colour.

Solanum on dead tree

Some may be seen in the stone urns at the end of the brick path where solanum swathes the dead tree;

Pelargoniums in stone urn

and more in the stone urns in the Rose Garden.

Red maple windburnt

The red maple at one end of

Shady path 1

the Shady Path will recover from its wind burns.

Shady Path 2

Here is a view from the end nearest the house.

Verbena bonarensis and red climber

Outside the utility room are just a few of the ubiquitous verbena bonarensis paying homage to the regal red climber on the wisteria arbour.

Kitchen Bed

reds, pinks, and greens predominate in the Kitchen Bed.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled onions, and gherkins. I finished the toro, which was a bit  strong for fish and chips, but never mind.


Behind A Vinca


Jackie spent the morning working on the garden beds. I finished aerating the scrawny grass patch and did a little clearing up.

At the house end of the Gazebo Path weeded by Aaron last week, Jackie worked on tidying the Triangular Bed;

and, alongside the Dead End Path, the West Bed.


Viewed from our back drive, the splendid magnolia still soars above the vacant North Breeze jungle.


Runaway pansies from last year’s hanging baskets have seeded at will.

Head Gardener's Walk

The Head Gardener’s Walk, laid down two years ago, threads through the then non-existent Dragon Bed.

Almost by the hour, tulips are opening out everywhere.

Shield bug on Vinca

This shield bug vainly hoped to hide behind a vinca.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole, creamy mashed potato and swede, fresh spring greens and runner beans. Neither of us imbibed.

How Ridiculous Is That?


On a dry, but much duller, day we spent the morning on largely abortive outings. First we drove to New Milton for a visit to the bank, to seek a lavatory seat, and to investigate wardrobes. The bank was satisfactory, but boring. We couldn’t find a throne (slang for a lavatory seat). We thought Bradbeers might stock wardrobes, but its outlet in Station Road didn’t have furniture.

OK, we thought we would put the wardrobes on the back burner, turned round, and drove in the opposite direction to Lymington where that wonderful hardware emporium, Knights, was bound to have a range of the required seating. Unfortunately Knights was closed. Permanently.

Back we travelled to Old Milton where there was a street I thought might have a suitable furniture shop. And blow me, there was Bradbeers furniture outlet with a wide range of wardrobes. We will be able to find something there once we have measured up.

Milford Supplies did have a limited range of toilet seats, none of which, we thought, suited our requirements.

By this time we needed to stock up on petrol, which, in the event, was all that we bought. How ridiculous is that?

Pansy and autumn leaf

Jackie has begun to transfer her hanging baskets to cold frames for the winter. In offering most minimal assistance, I noticed a self-seeded pansy pushing through the patio paving. It is a winter one of course, but there it sat beside an autumn leaf.


Outside the back door stands an orange poppy, normally long gone by autumn.

Hydrangea and geraniums

Still thriving geraniums merge with autumn-hued hydrangeas;

Clematis Star of India

clematis Star of India is one of several blooming again;


foxgloves refuse to die back;


and flowering nasturtiums trail tendrils everywhere.

Approaching the middle of November, how ridiculous is that?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb curry, onion rice, and cauliflower bahji. The Culinary Queen drank diet Pepsi, and I finished the malbec.

The Infant Crocodile

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today, for me to take an uneventful journey to Waterloo and back, to lunch with Norman at Tas in The Cut.

Raindrops on Pansy

Fresh pansies in the station platform planter bore remnants of last night’s rain.

Alaska Street/Cornwall Road

I approached The Cut by walking across Waterloo Road and down Alaska Street to Cornwall Road where I turned right. The gentleman using his mobile phone was quite happy to appear in shot.

Infant Crocodile

Further along Cornwall Road a multi-ethnic infant crocodile was led under a railway arch,

Railway Arch

beneath which a pair of gentlemen in hard hats subsequently made their way, as the children filed through yellow cased scaffolding supports further up Cornwall Road.

Bus Station exitBus Station entrance

The bright red buses in their station, like Shakespeare’s players, have their exits and their entrances.

Conversation in uniform

A uniformed conversation took place in The Cut,

Young Vic restaurant

where the Young Vic restaurant encouraged alfresco custom,

Bill Posters

and Bill Stickers changed the posters advertising the new programme.

Norman and I both chose tender lamb casserole followed by perfect baklava for our meal, and shared a very good bottle of the Anatolian house red wine.

Waterloo Road

My return to the terminal railway station was taken along Waterloo Road where the foundations of the building alongside the old fire station appear to have been completed.

Drinking Water

Chair, table, camellia, euphorbia

Today I completed the last of the exhibition prints, whilst Jackie continued a commendable amount of garden maintenance, including cleaning up the decking and placing the newly refurbished table between the cane chair and one of the camellias. The prolific euphorbia in the background has been heavily pruned, and one of the recently planted clematises trained along the trellis installed in the autumn is just visible when the image is enlarged.

Pansy We now have a considerable range of blooming pansies that Jackie planted earlier.

This afternoon, we collected the A2 image from Lymington Print and went driveabout.

Leaving the town via Undershore Road we explored the forest and its villages in a fairly small circular route.

Running alongside Lymington River, Undershore is narrow enough to require double yellow lines on both sides. Normally parking close enough to the water is impossible, but we benefited from the gradual decline of the British Pub industry.

The Waggon & Horses

The Waggon & Horses, like so many, is up for sale. This meant we could happily block the entrance to their closed up car park,

Lymington River

and I could photograph the river at low tide

Boats, Lymington River

with its grounded rowing boats.

This, probably the warmest day of the year, clearly encouraged ponies to paddle in potable pools in which they left both reflections and shadows.

Pony in waterPony drinking 1

A grey did so at Boldre

Pony drinking 3Pony drinking 4Pony drinking 2

and a russet-coloured one at East Boldre,

Ponies outside Masseys

where ponies lined the street,


and a cock pheasant, oblivious of the surrounding big beasts, strutted about the turf.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice. We both drank Kingfisher.

An Ecological Balance

We had some overnight rain; the first for about three weeks. To write that in April, the month identified in UK with spring rain, has been hitherto unimaginable. The French term for our ‘April showers’ is ‘giboulées (showers) de mars (March)’. Could we be going that way?

Refreshing drops were retained by the garden plants such as:

Raindrops on tulips


Raindrops on prunus amanogawa

prunus amanogawa,

Raindrops on pansy


Raindrops on euphorbia


Raindrops on heuchera

and heuchera.

Yesterday’s dove feathers, clearly discarded by a larger, ravenous, avian predator, provided an example of nature’s food chain in action. Further evidence of the process was to be found this morning.

Pond linerHole left by pond liner

Last evening, unaided after all, Jackie had emptied the second small pond, dragging out it’s container and turning it over on the concreted area. We have decided to fill in the hole.

The underside of this small lining bath sheltered a couple of dozen snails. As she overturned their refuge, applying her own philosophy, she invited the thrushes to feast. Snail shell shardsThis morning the concrete was strewn with scattered shards.

Particularly in London, where slug and snail pellets containing poison such as metaldehyde, are widely used to kill the very unpopular molluscs, thrushes that feed on them, so ingesting the toxic substance, are a vanishing species. In the natural course of events snails eat plants; thrushes eat snails and thrive. The ecological balance is upset when snails are tempted by humans into.eating poisoned pellets. They die; thrushes eat snails; poison passes into thrushes; and thrushes die.

Gardeners care more for their birds than they do their snails. And even more for their vulnerable plants. Perhaps they should eschew poison and allow themselves once more to hear the tapping created by thrushes bashing open the shells on stone. Non-toxic snail bait contains iron phosphates. I don’t know how effective they are.

This evening we dined on oven fish.and chips, and pickled onions. I did the cooking, such as it was; the timer failed to sound; the fish and chips were a little crisper than ideal.

Teenage Creativity

One aspect of Matthew Lewis’s ‘The Monk’ that I did not mention yesterday is that this youthful writer loses no opportunity to insert one of his poems or ballads into the text. Mostly using rhyming iambic pentameter these are all rather good. The only one that isn’t is presented as written by a young boy in need of advice about his work. ‘Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogine’, for example, can be found on Google.
This had me reflecting overnight on my own teenage versifications, in which I was encouraged by the gentle Jesuit, Fr. John Harriott S.J., who was the teacher for my A level year of 1960. I still possess the exercise book into which I transferred all these works in my best handwriting. The ink is a little faded now, but I see I hadn’t then lost my copperplate r.The Examination011 Here is one of the shortest with which I also experimented with some kind of rather doubtful free verse. I must have spent some exam time daydreaming. Hopefully I had finished the paper.
It was Father Harriott who wanted to enter me for S(cholarship) level G(eneral) C(ertificate) (of) E(education). Because I was not applying to any University the headmaster would not allow it. In those days you were not told your marks – just pass or fail. My mentor took the trouble of applying to the examination board for my marks and telling me that I had achieved S level standard. Which was rather nice.
PansyFor today’s black and white photo challenge I posted on Facebook a bejewelled pansy. It seemed to me that the markings on these playful plants lent themselves perfectly to representation in monochrome.
This morning Jackie drove us to Wroughton to visit Frances who fed us on sausage and bacon butties (cobs or baps if you prefer) and then drove us to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to visit an exhibition based on the work of the teenaged J.M.W. Turner.
In a cabinet in one of the museum rooms sat a typewriter from 1914 which was very like Typewriterthe one on which I, after a fashion, taught myself to type at my Aunt Stella’s home. The font on the letter in the museum is similar to that in the typed versions of my poem mentioned above, that I have tucked into the notebook. Using this ancient device was a laborious process in which pressure on the keys stamped ink from a ribbon onto the page, and the shift key was a lever you pulled across at the end of each line.
In a case in the corridor leading to the art gallery stood an easel containing what for me Winter in Pendlebury - L.S.Lowrywas actually the highlight of the trip, L.S. Lowry’s ‘Winter in Pendlebury’, labelled their Pick of the Month.
turnertalk460Seven of the eight Turner paintings were executed in 1791-92, when he was 16-17. His teenage skill was incredible, yet it perhaps needs a certain amount of imagination to recognise the style he was to develop that was so far ahead of his time.
On our return home Jackie and I dined at The Plough Inn at Tiptoe. We both had the enormous rack of pork ribs and could eat no sweet. Jackie drank Beck’s and I drank Doom Bar.