Before And After: Through To The Front

Although much better than I had been a couple of days ago, I was pretty washed out today, and spent much of it on the sofa.

Having, in the interests of producing something half-way reasonable, deferred setting out on this post until 6.00 p.m., I was unable to Access WordPress. I am not normally asked for my password, but this time I was. It was rejected. I was invited to choose another. I needed to enter a code that would be sent to me. I patiently waited for one. I received an e-mail containing a blue box saying Reset Password. I clicked on it. I got no further until I realised that my mobile phone in another room was receiving texts. Sure enough they had sent me a text. There were now two messages, each with a different number. I tried one. It didn’t work. So I tried the other one. That did. I put my usual password in. I was told I couldn’t use it because I had done so recently. I invented a new one. That worked.

As if my head wasn’t muzzy enough already.

Anyway, here goes with the next section of The Downton Garden story.

Apart from the removal of much of the encroaching ivy and lonicera, the front garden had very much played second fiddle to the back until February 2015.

Front garden

This is what it looked like on the morning of 24th February;

Front garden

and later in the day.

Although there were edging stones lining the bed outside the front of the house, there was no defined path on the other side. Everything was mixture of gravel and soil.

Front path

By 11th March, I had marked out an acceptable curve;

Cuttings on path

and a couple of days later, after a bit more forestry on our left hand side,

lined path at front 1

foraged around the back garden for suitable stone with which to line it.

Lonicera by patio

This, however, did not lead anywhere accessible. To the right of this photograph, taken on 26th June 2014, is a trellis, one of three which had been used to block the side gate, that  appeared to be firmly fixed.

Side gateCold Frame

Gravel path front garden

By the time we decided to build a cold frame to place around the side of the house, The blockage had to go. Aaron, on 13th September 2015, freed the gate. The post, of course, was the usual ramshackle affair, and our friend had to set another one. The frame was in situ on 27th, and three days later I had widened the narrow gravel path.

Jackie has completed planting in this garden, but I haven’t been outside to photograph it. Perhaps I will do so tomorrow.

This evening we dined on fish and chips. Jackie also had gherkins. My portion was not very large.

Getting Heated

Knowing I was once more going to have to grapple with BT this morning, I cheered my Japanese anemone with insectLeycesteriaMyrtle and pink rosebudspirits by wandering round the garden and focussing on the cleared shrubbery alongside the dead-end path.
Japanese anemones, leycesteria, and a pink rose have come into view. Begonias etc over septic tank coverMyrtle shootsThe leycesteria had been choked by a hazelnut tree the nut of which a squirrel had probably buried in the wrong place and forgotten. Because of the proliferation of sports in the myrtle I had been forced to be quite merciless in the pruning. It is therefore gratifying to see the shrub in bloom, and new shoots burgeoning.Fuchsia and heuchera Jackie has planted a hardy fuchsia and a heuchera here, with a labelled vinca for eventual ground cover; and, a little further along, has covered the unsightly septic tank lid with various pots perched on a section of an IKEA wardrobe.
For the first two hours of the afternoon, my BT battle continued. The best report I can give is that, having satisfied the robot, I did not have to wait to speak to an adviser. I don’t think he is all that familiar with either Apple or Blackberry. However, the poor man did his best. When I had tried to access e-mails on the iMac I was shown a circular symbol with a wavy line inside it. This, I have learned, means e-mails cannot be accessed. I clicked on it and read that they were unobtainable because of the server being off-line. ‘Connection Doctor’ was one of the options I could select. I did, and was linked to a Yahoo site which wasn’t much use in providing a cure. That is why I had phoned BT. The auxiliary nurse to whom I was linked tried a number of avenues, but I don’t think he recognised the symbol I was describing. Eventually he guided me through opening a second account, which did, temporarily it transpired, receive e-mails.
He was even less successful with Blackberry, and I told him I would try to resolve that one myself. I had a bit of a rest, then felt brave enough to tackle the Blackberry. It was, after all, Blackberry whose message provided me on 11th of my first inkling that there was anything wrong. Instructions were given as to how to verify the account. The option of using the device was exactly the same as the BT adviser had tried. The other option was the on-line version. I tried that, but was told I was giving the wrong password. I tried the ‘forgotten password’ option, which meant they would send it to me by e-mail…………………… I think you know what comes next.
A call to O2 furnished me with the password, but I still couldn’t do anything with it. Never mind, I thought, Apple doesn’t really need anything with it, if it is suitably cooked. It was then that I found that the Apple had gone off the boil. I now had three accounts showing; two with the wavy lines, and one indicating that I had a new message. But when I clicked on that no message came up.
It was now time to telephone Apple Care. Paul, when he heard what was on my screen, and even more when he saw it, described it as a mess. Apple have an interesting way of helping whilst viewing your screen. Instead of taking your screen over, as do BT, they have a red arrow with which they indicate what they want you to click on.
‘What have they done?’ was what he needed to discover. But first he had to erase it all and start again. He then got me up and running, hopefully, this time, permanently.
The process employed by Apple’s Paul, puts me in mind of the tale of the unprepossessing pins, recounted by Bill Eales many years ago. As I recall, the unfortunate owner of these legs, on entering a classroom, was asked where he got them, and told to ‘rub ’em out and do ’em again’. Maybe it was apocryphal.
Jackie in bottom of gardenWhilst I was becoming gradually more heated in the cool of the sitting room, Jackie was attempting to keep cool in the heat of the bottom of the garden, the sun reflecting off the concrete, where she continued her transformation of that area.
We dined this evening at Daniels (sic) Fish and Chip restaurant in Highcliffe. The food was very fresh and crispy and the service excellent. We both had cod. Jackie supplemented hers with onion rings. My choice was calumari. She drank diet Pepsi and I drank tea.
One of the e-mails I did receive when we returned home was from BT, promising a month’s free broadband.

A Ring Of Truth

Early this morning Jackie, Don and I shopped in Acres Down Farm shop and went on to All Saints Church, first described on 24th December last year.  While Jackie diverted to Minstead Village Shop, Don and I wandered around the churchyard in bright sunshine, before we all three explored the inside.Blasted yew

Particularly interesting to our friend was the ‘blasted’ yew, a seven hundred year old tree that fell apart some years ago and regenerated itself.Clover and dandelions Daisies and other wild flowers The wild flowers now in evidence include clover , dandelions, daisies, and buttercups.

When we returned, I decided to tackle the problem of a rejected e-mail password.  This time I got BT’s representative on the telephone to reset a completely new code.  As usual, Jackie being the primary account holder, he needed to speak to her first.  Unfortunately he got the wrong end of the stick and changed her password.  This required putting right and involved a box filled with ‘funny writing I can’t read’.  All this took time and I had to interpret the ‘funny writing’, fortunately getting it right.  The man kept having to put us on hold and check with his supervisor.  Eventually he returned to me and reset the replacement password.  It worked.  For about an hour.  Then the new one was rejected.  I have now come to the conclusion that my BT Yahoo account has been well and truly hacked.  I can’t face it any more at the moment.  So don’t send me any e-mails.

My head still full of the computer problem, I sat in the garden watching the birds with Don, whilst Jackie prepared the evening’s barbecue.  The company and avian interest helped calm me.  Don is one of three friends I have who are pretty knowledgable about birds.  He helped me distinguish between the various tits who visit the feeder. Blackbird juvenile I observed that it was becoming possible to identify birds some distance away on the lawn by their outline shape, their posture, their gait, and how they hold their tail-feathers.  Apart from the pied wagtails, the blackbirds brought me to this conclusion.

Talking birds with Don, it was natural for me to mention my friend bo Beolens, who has written a number of bird books and who, as Fatbirder, runs an international birding website. This turns out to be one of Don’s favourites on his computer. Lesser Antilean Bullfinch I proudly brought the site up on screen and showed him the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch which illustrates bo’s Barbados page.  The photograph was taken by me in Barbados in 2004, when I was there to see Sam arrive at the end of his Atlantic row.

Late in the afternoon Becky, Ian, and Flo arrived with Scooby and Oddie.  We then enjoyed the various sausages, chicken tikka masala and array of salads Jackie had produced in the kitchen.  That seems to me to be the sensible way of preparing a barbecue.

Oddie in Derrick's garden chairOn 28th March I described how Matthew’s dog, Oddie, always dives into my chair whenever he has the chance.  Because Mat and Tess are on their way to visit Sam and Holly and their children in Croatia, Becky is looking after Oddie and therefore brought him with them today.  Would you believe it?  Even in the garden he nicks my seat.

It was natural that with Becky and Don together, we should tell some Lindum House stories.  One of today’s was of the intruder.  One balmy evening as we sat in the snug watching television, about twenty years ago, we heard someone coming down the stairs.  As usual in the summer, we had left open the double doors at the front of the house.  A young man was then seen to walk past the window, making his way to the bottom of the garden.  I set off in pursuit.  He started running.  So did I.  After him.  He began to climb the fence between us and the Parletts in Lindum Street.  I grabbed him, pulled him down, and frogmarched him into the house.  Calling out to Jessica to telephone the police, I sat on him at the foot of the stairs.

I soon realised he was drunk.  He kept going on about a fishing contest with the Working Men’s Club.  After the event, he and his friends from Grimsby had gone off drinking in Newark.  He was making his way back to the Club.  His team coach was parked outside in the road.  It dawned on me that all this had a ring of truth.  It would be easy enough for me to take him out to check on the coach.  I asked Jessica to cancel the emergency call.  She attempted to do so, but it was not possible.  It stands to reason, really.  The uninvited guest could have been standing with a gun to my head.  Actually he was lying between the bottom step and my embrace.  For the whole forty five minutes it took for the officers to arrive.

As, after satisfactory explanations, I took him up the drive to the open gates, down the path towards us walked about five of his mates.  They had made the same mistake.  And sure enough, there, on the road between us and the Club, was a coach. Lindum House, you see, was a Victorian reproduction of the former grand Georgian house next door that now hosted social activities of the town’s working men.

Have I Simply Gone Mad?

Robin and bluetitA robin and a blue tit saw off a nuthatch from the bird station.  Really it was the robin who did the business, the tit being like the little kid who eggs on the bully to snatch some of the glory.  The robin then stood guard, looking threatening, while the tit, knowing he didn’t belong in the same space as the toughie, head deferentially bowed,  waited his turn. Modern technology found a wonderful new way to send me ballistic this morning.  We received a phone call from the handyman who is to fix a few things in the flat.  One item was not on his list.  Since, without the agent’s say so he could not fix it, unless we contacted them we would need to continue flushing the lavatory with a piece of string which gets soggy if you drop it in the water. Rob, the handyman, asked us to call the agent.  That was when the fun started.  After dialling the number I was asked by a machine to enter my password.  Well, how do you do that on a mobile phone?  I also had an e-mail telling me the device would not receive messages because the password was incorrect. Thinking this may have been to do with my having reset my e-mail password on the BT account, I followed the directions given to do that.  I was not allowed to do it that way, so I tried another.  The new password was rejected, and the phone locked. Now, my mobile phone is on an O2 account, as my regular readers will already know.  The home phone, in Jackie’s name, is a BT account.  So you will be able to imagine my surprise, and mild expletives, when I got the same password request on the home phone.  My expletives became even milder when Jackie got the same response on her pay as you go T-mobile. Eventually, I received a call from the home phone on my mobile.  Jackie had now discovered that that had begun to work without the machine’s interference, as had her mobile.  I could now receive calls, but access nothing else on my locked phone. There are seventeen apartments in this building.  During this fiasco our entry buzzer was activated.  Hoping it was our Rob, Jackie answered the door to a deliveryman who was trying to access number 15.  Ours was one of only two buzzers he had managed to get to work. Rob arrived in good time.  He was unable to access the loo until I got out of the bath.  My ablutions had been delayed by the shenanigans.  Whilst soaking comfortably I contemplated ‘Murder In The Lounge’, posted on 25th August last year.  That story was about a cat fight.  What I didn’t mention then was that the people next door were out when I returned the perpetrator’s collar, so I put that through the letterbox and left an answer phone message.  My neighbours did not receive the message, and what is more, their entry phone did not take messages.  Nevertheless, as I pressed the buzzer, a machine from inside the hall asked me to leave a message.  So I did, and when I heard nothing more from my neighbours whose cat, after all, had left my sitting room looking like a pile of feathers after a predator had made a kill, I thought that rather churlish of them. So, did that buzzer short circuit with the telephone, or was the timing pure coincidence?  And, if that was possible, could the deliveryman, trying all the buzzers in turn, have managed the same thing?  It was, after all, only after he left that Jackie managed to use the phone.  Or have I simply gone mad? Birch on lawnDerrick's shadowNever mind, I thought, the birch on the lawn now sports fresh green leaves, and the sun casts its rays through our huge mullioned windows. There was, however, nothing remotely amusing or cheerful about the way the rest of the morning was spent.  I was rash enough to telephone O2 about the locked phone.  First of all the advisor suggested the earlier problem must have been related to the number we were trying to ring.  That made sense to me.  She then took me through the very lengthy process of unlocking my mobile.  I had to enter, ten times, the password that kept showing up as incorrect.  She could then reset it for me, but all the information carried by my phone would be wiped.  I did this, and watched all my contact information; e-mails; saved messages; texts; and anything else I haven’t thought of, represented by a black line progressing across the screen.  Twice.  When she reset it, the password I had been using all along worked.  Perhaps I have gone mad. This is exactly why I have always been reluctant to keep all information in my mobile phone’s memory.  But I’ve often been a bit lazy in this respect.  So, if you ever want to hear from me again, please send me an e-mail with your contact details.  If I don’t receive any of these, I will know where I stand, and I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself. After lunch, with all this buzzing in my head, Jackie drove us to Elizabeth’s, where she continued planting bulbs and seeds and I cut the grass.  This was slightly problematic in that I couldn’t get the mower going again.  I was just about to throw in the towel, when, realising that would only clog up the works even more, I remembered Elizabeth’s technique, displayed on 20th, of pushing the machine along, jerking it up and down.  A few yards of shoving what looked like a giant snail with hiccups did the trick. Rhododendrons We were pleased to see the early, red, rhododendron has benefited from the bracken compost and the removal of diseased buds last summer.  Before I could put my mind to this, I gleaned some family phone numbers from my sister and inserted them into my mobile.  If you are a family member do not assume I now have all your details. Danni cooked a superb roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings for the four of us.  Pudding was apple and blackcurrant pie.  Danni and I drank McGuigan Estate shiraz 2012; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; and Elizabeth drank water.

Junk From George Osborne


This morning I finished ‘Wordsworth, A Life’ by Juliet Barker.  That was essential because otherwise I would have had to weigh down my hand luggage with it on the plane to France tomorrow.  The book comprises 971 pages of very small print for this modern age.  Maybe the font size was chosen in order to restrict it to one volume.  Even skipping the notes, index, etc,, that take up the last section, I had to get through 810 pages.  This required the stubborn determination of a Cancerian marathon runner.  Full of dense detail about the man and his extended family the tome is a tribute to the research skills of the author, and the fact that I did want to complete the task of reading it is thanks to her powers of writing.  Being fairly familiar with the Lake District and having read much of the subject’s poetry also helped.  Maybe I should have been more fascinated by some of the more peripheral characters.

My readers will know I enjoy illustrated books.  I prefer my pictures to appear interspersed with the relevant text, so that every now and again I get a pleasant surprise.  What I don’t like are sections of photographic reproductions in two or three chunks, which usually means you are treated to portraits or views that you have not yet read about.  There were two of the latter clusters in this volume.  Of course this is also a matter of cost, so I shouldn’t be mealy-mouthed about it.  I enjoyed the book.

The rest of the morning was spent sorting out technology.  I have realised that for some weeks now I have not been receiving e-mails on my Blackberry.  Since I am off to Sigoules tomorrow where the Blackberry is my only e-mail source, this has become quite important.  The BT Yahoo icon has also appeared on the mobile device.  This made me think that the problem had arisen as a result of sorting out the password problem with BT which involved linking to a Yahoo account.

Given a choice between O2 and BT help lines I decided to try my luck with the former.  This was definitely the better option.  Dean, of O2, established that my Yahoo account had not been activated by Blackberry.  As I never use it I wanted to get rid of it.  This wasn’t possible without the password.  Now which one would that be?  I gave the young man the most likely key with a couple of alternatives.  None of them worked.  He tried the most likely one again.  No joy.  He said I would need to ring BT to check the password and he would call me back in fifteen minutes.

Well, after the last time I wasn’t going to go through the palaver with BT again, and anyway it would take much more than fifteen minutes.  So I had one last go with the most likely password.  This time it worked.  The most amazing part of all this was that Dean did actually ring me back on time.  He tried the password again.  It worked.

Now all I had to do was take the battery and SIM card out of the phone after we’d finished speaking and put them straight back in again, then wait twenty minutes to start to receive new messages.  The back of a Blackberry is like the inner sanctum of Fort Knox.  I couldn’t take it off without reference to the instruction manual.  Even then, it was tough.  The battery then slipped out easily enough.  But the SIM card was firmly locked in a strong box.  I managed to prise it out a bit but a metal band held it in place.  Imagining that I must have broken whatever was the crucial circuit, which would have been tantamount to taking the card out altogether, I reassembled the device.  76 messages came rushing in.  These were the old unread ones.  I had lunch, after which a new message came in.  It was junk from George Osborne, but it was a message.

I then accompanied Jackie to Sainsbury’s in Ringwood to replenish provisions devastated by the Easter family influx.  On the verges of the A road and roundabout approach to the car park are planted ‘a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils’.  I wasn’t exactly wandering ‘lonely as a cloud’.  In fact I had to dance between cars on their way to the West Country to approach them.  It has been a happy coincidence to finish the Victorian Poet Laureate’s biography in April, thus giving me the opportunity for a cheesy personal link with another, better known, rambler.

This evening Ali and Steve drove from their home in Clutton to the Aroma Bangladeshi restaurant in Shaftesbury.  Jackie and I drove to the same venue where we all met and spent a very enjoyable evening over an excellent meal, Cobra, and Bangla beer.