Six Trains

This post by Linda at shoreacres, https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/32382/posts/2281944455 took me back this morning to my 1940s childhood.

Linda has eloquently described steam railways in America.

From 1947 to 1954 the magical – to us children at least – The Devon Belle steamed past our kitchen window in Raynes Park on its way from Waterloo station to the West Country. Details of the train and its history can be found in http://railway.g3w1.com/The_Devon_Belle/devon_belle.htm

I was intrigued to read that the author of this piece lived in Raynes Park until he was three and a half, and has memories similar to mine, although I was 5 years old in the inaugural year.

My entire childhood from the age of two in1944 to 1960 was spent in the maisonette at 29a Stanton Road, alongside which ran the railway path. The family ate in the kitchen where we could watch the trains. Chris and I would collect the numbers of those driven by electricity at any time during the day. But our favourite was https://youtu.be/XPpqD3GUmSA

This was, of course, because of the steam engines, but also the Pullman carriages which gave us something else to collect. Each of these first class cars bore a different name, usually of a woman.

When eating we were not expected to wolf down our food, leave the table, and get on with whatever else in which we had been engrossed. No, we had to wait for six trains to go by before we were permitted to “get down”.

When I open the back gate for Aaron on a Sunday morning this involves a walk down the gravelled back drive.

Beyond the gate on the south side we have a range of wallflowers and valerian;

on the opposite side there is currently a heap of the redundant griselina stumps, and more yellow wallflowers.

The dark patch of soil a bit further along, beside another stump and a spray of libertia, consists of spent compost from Jackie’s pots. This is being used to fill the holes left by the removal of the overgrown hedging.

Further still, a clump of Johnson’s Blue geraniums is found beside erigeron and bronze fennel.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest for a brief journey before the rain set in.

Forest Road Burley was the venue for an equine mothers and babies group, only occasionally divided by the traffic with which they played havoc. Observant readers may spot the foal featured in ‘Aquatic Surface Cover’ of May 8th.

A young man with a video camera also stopped to film the scene. We enjoyed pleasant conversation.

For this evening’s dinner the Culinary Queen roasted duck breasts in plum sauce and served them with mushroom wild rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

P.S. Our friend Barrie Haynes has made this comment on my Facebook page:  ‘Unfortunately, the Devon Belle was not a commercial success. The Observation Cars had to be turned on the locomotive turntable at Ilfracombe and the station was badly sited for the town. I believe the Pullman observation cars were later used in Scotland and I think at least one of them is still with us. Because there were no water troughs on the Southern, engines were normally changed at Wilton.’

Fallen Arches

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This splendid, sunny, afternoon was squandered on a Gardman arch. The artefact came flat packed for self assembly. I’m sure I don’t need too say much more. I’m certainly not inclined to describe the full process. Perhaps I am obliged to mention that when eventually assembled the thing fell to bits before it could be moved from the concrete patio to the prospective site spanning the Brick Path as a replacement for the fallen maple and wooden beams that had recently held climbing plants and hanging baskets.

The day was as hot as it has been on recent days. So was the debate which ensued over reassembly. Eventually we heaved it into place in one piece. Four holes had to be pierced in the stubborn soil. Roots and rocks provided considerable obstacles. One side collapsed again. Eventually this was reconstructed. Except for the two missing pieces.

 

A search was undertaken. I then remembered that the section had fallen into the West Bed. Jackie found the two small bars in the undergrowth. One had found its way to the fence.

The construction was, because of the aforementioned impediments, very lopsided. The Head Gardener couldn’t live with that, so further bashing of poles ensued. In the process the guide rod got bent. But we managed and it wasn’t too much out of kilter when we decided that, once covered with foliage it wouldn’t be too apparent.

Jackie then trained the rescued clematis Montana and blue solanum, to the still rather wobbly frame.

After clearing the debris I thought the job was done.

No such luck. A string of solar lights provided the finishing touches. There are hundreds of these throughout the garden, giving the darker evenings their essential fairyland quality.

Danni joined us for dinner this evening when we all enjoyed Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice topped with almonds. The culinary Queen drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon; Danni, Elizabeth, and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.

 

Storm Damage

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Begonias and lobelia in hanging basket on dead snake bark maplePlanting on dead Snake Bark Maple -solanum, begonias, petunias

This scene has featured in a number of posts over the years. The snake bark maple died in 2015, and has since been home to hanging baskets and climbing plants watched over by a wicker owl.

Sadly the avian guardian could not protect the living monument from last night’s severe winds.

The tree, complete with adornments, lay across the Brick Path this morning. Crashing down along the West Bed have come beams bearing a clematis Montana now lying along the West Bed. Fortunately, the blue solanum has a stout stem which looks to be intact.

This pot containing a red hydrangea had stood on the ground beside the Oval Path across which it now lies.

The rose Summer Wine has been freed from its moorings at the entrance to the Rose Garden, and will need a new set of stays.

Although much calmer this morning, winds have picked up again during the day, preventing any possibility of sensible recovery work. No real harm appears to have been inflicted.

Elizabeth was out this evening, so Jackie and I finished her delicious Pilley Celebration Chicken dish with Jackie’s special savoury rice and tender green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Food For Blackbirds

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Having approached the end of my teens some time ago, I had come to a fork in my ‘A Knight’s Tale’, and couldn’t make up my mind as to which road to take. Today I set off again, taking material from posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘A Little White Lie’.

Jackie on Brick Path

Today was sunny but not much warmer than yesterday. However, Jackie was happily able to return to her work of tidying, weeding, and planting in the garden.

Most tulips are fully flouncing, but some are freshly flourishing;

Ajugas

ajugas are replacing cowslips in the Oval Bed.

 

 We now have campions and marigolds.

The red Japanese maple, having been pruned of dead branches first by me and then by Aaron, has miraculously survived in the Kitchen Bed.

At the front of the house we have enough crab apple blossom to suggest that the blackbirds will be well catered for in the winter. The collared dove in the now over winter flowering cherry has a nest in a holly out of the picture.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Paniza gran reserva 2009

 

 

Knickerbocker Glory

I did a little bit of dead-heading in the Rose Garden this morning, and watched the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals this afternoon.

Agapanthuses 1Agapanthuses 2Agapanthuses 3

Between matches, I took a break and wandered around the garden, particularly to see how the agapanthuses are coming along. The first image shows them against the backcloth of the Palm Bed, on the edge of which they are situated; the second looks out from that bed; and the third down the Gazebo Path.

Palm bed

Here is another view of the Palm Bed,

Garden view from corner of Margery's Bed

opposite which we have this scene from the corner of Margery’s Bed.

St John's Wort

Saint John’s wort glows at the entrance to the Rose Garden.

Fly on sweet peas

A fly also took a break on a white sweet pea.

Continuing with ‘A Knight’s Tale’ I added some new material and edited extracts from ‘Mugging’

and from ‘Tom’

The picture of Tom has been extracted from this school photograph featured in ‘Did You Mean The Off Break?’ 

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and onion pie in proper short crust pastry, with new potatoes, crisp carrots and spring greens. I drank more of the Fronton, then  became  rather excited when I thought dessert was to be knickerbocker glory, but it turned out to be

Hydgrangea in vase

hydrangea in a vase, so we settled for a Magnum each.

 

The Sledge Run

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I am beginning to find myself reminded by readers, of earlier posts that may have something to contribute to ‘A Knight’s Tale’. One of these was ‘Early Entertainment’, which provided quite rich material that I used in today’s update. Please keep the ideas flowing – I really can’t remember everything I’ve written.

Our general garden maintenance continued today on both sides of a trip to Efford Recycling Centre where we dumped more rotting IKEA wardrobe sections that have served a useful purpose up to now. we went on for a drive.

Stag-headed sculptures 2

Stag-headed sculptures 3

Standing beside a roundabout on the A337 out of Lymington we have often noticed three stag-headed figures standing either side of a five-barred gate. We knew that these heralded the entrance to

Buckland Rings welcome sign

the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort.

Parking on a roundabout on a main road is not a good idea, so we had never stopped before. This time Jackie drove on a little way and parked in a side street from whence we walked back to investigate.

Stag-headed sculptures and dog walker

A gentleman with a dog was passing the sculptures

Dog walker on mound

and walked on around a gentle incline.

Having read how far the walk to the top would be, Jackie opted to return to the car and let me check the lie of the land.

Rabbits on hillside

Or maybe the reason was the sight of a colony of descendants of Iron Age rabbits romping on the hillside.

Buckland Hill Fort pathBuckland Hill Fort path 2

In the event, the steeply undulating nature of the paths riddled with tree roots suggested that this had been a good idea.

Sledge run 1Sledge run 3

Sledge run 4

On the way up, a sign informed us that young people had transformed a disused sand quarry into a sledge run. The area is apparently packed with tobogganists whenever there is sufficient snow.

Buckland Wood roof

What was once farmland around the fort is now densely wooded. Through the trees I glimpsed the roof of what I later discovered to be

Buckland WoodSteps to Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

Not far from there lay a shallow set of steps leading to 
Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

a broad open plateau that had been the centre of the fort.

Cow and calfCow and calf 2

This was grazed by a cow and her calf.

The logs just visible in the steps picture are designed to prevent people parking on the hallowed ground. There is a car park alongside.

Man, dog, cow, calf

I was informed how to reach that from the road by another gentleman walking his dog.

Crow

 Taking an easy route down the hill I watched a crow sweep across the grass tops,

Branch hanging low

and banged my head on a low branch.

Quite sensibly, Jackie declined to investigate the car park, and we went home.

Wikipedia has an informative entry on this historic site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckland_Rings

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy penne pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

The Woman In White

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Early this morning our septic tank was cleared. This happens every eighteen months, and Jackie always feels better when it is done.

Knowing we were in for a hot spell, Jackie undertook extensive watering. My tasks involved the eradication, cutting up, and bagging of niggling nettles, invasive ivy, bothersome brambles, and thrusting thistles.

This afternoon we spent much of the time seated on the patio with guests. First Margery and Paul came to lunch, then Helen came bearing birthday presents for Jackie for tomorrow.

Naturally the garden was a focal point.

Gazebo Path 1Gazebo Path 2

Here are two views of the Gazebo Path.

Rose Just Joey

In the Rose Garden, Just Joey

Rose Winchester Cathedral

and Winchester Cathedral have joined the other attractions;

Foxgloves in Rose GardenMargery, however, registered a protest at the number of foxgloves permitted therein.

Poppy in Margery's Bed

She was, however, pleased to find a poppy in her Bed.

Rose Compassion

Compassion rose now proliferates above the Dead End Path.

Sweet Williams

Here is a smaller version of Sweet William that the one previously featured.

Poplar leaves

The leaves of this variety of poplar are delightful at this time of the year.

Bee on viper's bugloss

As promised, viper’s bugloss does attract bees,

Bee on geranium palmatum

as do geranium palmatums

Bee on yellow Bottle Brush plant

and the still burgeoning bottle brush plant.

Florence sculpture

The strong sunlight gives the Florence sculpture the air of The Woman in White, Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel’s musical based on the novel by Wilkie Collins, that was playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre when I photographed it in September 2004.

Alpaca Poo

Among the selection of presents Helen brought was a bag of Alpaca Poo, a garden fertiliser apparently unpleasant to rats.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome beef in red wine with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and carrots, served with swede and potato mash. Jackie drank Peroni and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2014.