Repurposed Bedstead

Quivering leaves of the Amanogawa cherry tree outside my window alerted me to the light rain that freshened my morning garden task as it dripped from the trees above the front garden, in which I completed the raking of green refuse covering the mounds of gravel on the path, bagging all up in two used compost bags.

All that remained were the finishing touches of levelling the mounds and shaving the edges, rather like a barber trimming the neck and eyebrows. I completed this after lunch. When the still fierce winds lessen I might get around to removing the few remaining leaves which just wouldn’t keep still. Alternatively I might simply allow them to dance on.

Meanwhile Jackie reminded herself of the first bedstead repurposed on the Weeping Birch Bed when she erected one to hold back a red carpet rose determined to cover the recently cleared footpath.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty fusilli pasta bake containing boiled eggs, bacon, and chicken; and succulent baked gammon, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Douro.

“Best Laid Plans….”

I had “best laid (gardening) plans” today.

First, in the interests of passing walkers in our unlit nights, I would prune the overhanging trees along the front pavement, so they are not forced to step into the road;

Secondly, I would weed the front garden gravel path which I had created about 8 years ago, and tidy the borders.

Having spent an hour on the pavement lopping, chopping, and bagging up the offending limbs whilst ensuring that no part of me ran the risk of being hit by any part of the steady stream of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, often exceeding the 40 m.p.h. speed limit thundering and clanking close to the kerb, I staggered down the Brick Path to add two more bags to the stack for the next dump run, sat with Jackie in the Rose Garden, where Becky bought us each a drink, for long enough to decide that the next task had “gang agley” and would wait until tomorrow.

Following sound advice from some of my blogging friends I have broken my “no more books” rule and allowed Jackie to complete my Avignon quintet with an Amazon order. In the meantime, Durrell’s Inquisition theme has encouraged me to return to Malcolm Barber’s history of The Trial of the Templars, which first read 20 years ago – long enough ago to have forgotten most of it.

For tonight’s dinner, Becky, in her own words, produced dry roast chickun, stodgy potatow salad, lack lustre carretts, and limp brockally, with which Jackie drank Zesty and I drank Entire Quintas Reserva Douro 2021.

Girls Also Need Sticks

This morning I almost completed my draft of tomorrow’s scheduled post.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Rans Wood where I walked for 35 minutes. The wood lies at the end of Furzey Lodge which is a continuation of Furzey Lane near Beaulieu.

First we needed to negotiate our way through the narrow lodge lane which was blocked by a group of self-appointed equine guardians including a foal.

Passing a landscape viewed from the entrance to the car park I reproduced a number of woodland scenes.

Watching cyclists struggling up the slope I descended gave me an idea of the effort I would require on the ascent, but in the event it wasn’t too arduous.

Some bicyclists paused to chat with walkers, as did

this mother forced to carry her daughter’s stick. I told her I had only yesterday been debating (with Jackie) whether or not it was only boys who needed sticks with which to bash and poke things. Apparently not.

Other pedestrians caught my eye along the way;

it was the gleeful sounds of children which led me to one friendly family group with whom I chatted before they set off back up the path.

A dry ditch runs alongside the slope. Without this diversion I would not have seen the dregs of the stream that it would no doubt feed in wetter periods.

In addition to those happy cries, subdued chirping of birds, the faint thuds of early acorns thumping the turf, and the gentle soughing of the wind in the trees produced a potential symphony requiring a more competent musician than I to compose.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Montepulciano.

Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe

I spent the whole morning foiling a suspected banking scam. This involved several phone calls, listening to long stretches of Muzak, and struggling with a Scots accent on a bad line.

Don’t ask. I couldn’t bear to go through it again.

This afternoon I reeled up the Gazebo Path to join Jackie who had spent the day so far eliminating fungus from the heuchera border in the Rose Garden.

The first picture shows the infested stems which I helped to bag up – the trug beside these contains the tiny rescued root stumps; the second shows Jackie applying liquid fungicide to the soil from which the plants have been removed; the third shows the rest of the border which will need to be similarly treated; and the last the planted stubs which should regenerate quite quickly.

It was truly the best part of a day for repelling pests.

While I sat by my desk with my mobile phone attached to my ear I had plenty of time to gaze at clematis Mrs N. Thompson through the window. The first of these pictures focusses on her. The other two are of what she looks like outside.

Later in the afternoon, when I was feeling less shell-shocked, we visited Otter Nurseries for some more fungicide and continued on a drive into the forest.

Just outside Brockenhurst a pair of foals trotted across the road and, ignoring another youngster, scampered across the heath. Where there are ponies you will usually find attendant crows.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge where Jackie parked the car and I wandered about around Ober Water with the camera.

As will be seen by the peaty water and the shallow bed this stream, albeit a bit fuller now, must have been quite dry during our absence. Reflections of trees and skies merged with the colours of the pebbles beneath. Dog roses abounded. The conversation with the very friendly young couple really cheered me up.

The last three pictures feature a group who put us in mind of Edouard Manet’s “Déjeurner sur l’herbe, except that all the women were appropriately clad and there were no fully dressed gentlemen in the scene.

While waiting in the car park Jackie watched the light moving to where she wanted it for this picture.

This evening we dined on meaty, spicy, pizza with Jackie’s mixed pasta cheese, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

A Sad Sign Of The Times

Jackie had a reasonably smooth shop this morning, after which she worked in the garden until the temperature became too hot. The Co-op was selling bedding plants, some of which she naturally bought, although she will have need of

all her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse.

After lunch I took a tour with my camera and deposited some debris into the compost bin.

Even these white daffodils turned their backs on the bright sunlight.

The younger tulips in the patio pots are in hot pursuit of their elders,

more of which are fully opened;

others continue to grace the Rose Garden

and the foreground of this view from the concrete patio leading towards that area.

The species Lilac Wonder attracted a rather small bee,

This is time of year when, before coronavirus, we would have visited local bluebell woods, however we do have

plenty of our own.

Lavinia Ross spotted pot marigold calendulas in yesterday’s post. Here is another variety of the genus for her.

Our Magnolia Vulcan is now coming into bloom.

Camellias brighten many views like this one of the Brick Path;

they form a sympathetic backdrop to the red Japanese maple;

and come in a variety of hues.

Spirea sprays spread across the Palm Bed;

pieris leaves flame over the lawn;

self-seeded Erigeron has leaped to cascade from the Kitchen Bed obelisk;

and spring daffodils nod to summer snowflakes across the Cryptomeria Bed.

Caterpillar-like catkins wriggle on the tips of Weeping Birch branches.

Tiny epimedium blooms cast their shadows on the West Bed.

The borders of the back drive contain unusual daffodils, sympathetic snapdragons, and vinca colour-coordinated with honesty.

The far end of this drive stands opposite the car park of The Royal Oak which bears a sad

sign of the times, advertising their spring menu for which no-one is able to stop and enjoy until the pandemic rules are relaxed.

This evening we dined on tempera prawns with sweet chilli sauce, diet garlic bread, and fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mezquiriz. We had planned a houseful for Easter so stocked up on items such as these before panic buying had cleared the shop shelves.

Water Under The Bridge

Today’s weather pattern was again that of sunshine and showers.

This morning Margery and Paul visited to return my copy of “Framley Parsonage’ and to borrow “Can He Forgive Her?” and “The Last Chronicle of Barset”. At this rate our nonagenarian friend will finish reading my Trollopes before I do.

It will come as no surprise to readers of yesterday’s post that I needed a trip to the dry cleaners in New Milton, albeit only for my jacket. After this we took a drive into the forest via Ashley Road where

a rainbow shone its light on a grateful magnolia.

A verge-grazing Shetland pony looked up at Boundary when Jackie clapped her hands to alert her to our presence.

Around the corner lay one more fallen tree.

We were again treated to a rich variety of cloudscapes in watercolour, with or without


Ponies dotted the landscape outside Brockenhurst where I stopped to photograph

a still active railway bridge, when

a pair of cyclists obligingly approached, happy to have enhanced my photograph.

Not so obliging to Jackie’s mind was the driver of the car that added interest to my next one.

That is because she had readied herself to take a silhouette of me under the bridge and he insisted on ruining the shot. She produced this one instead.

Before that she had settled for one including the cyclists, the car, and me

through the rain.

When she photographed me aiming my lens she had thought I was focussed on her. In fact I was making the second of the rainbow pictures above.

Beside the bridge lurch these mossy trees marked with reddle. Many trees are so painted, sometimes with other pigments. I am not sure of the significance of the hues but imagine they must be a foresters’ code for a planned procedure. (Andrew Petcher’s comment below provides a link which answers this point)

They are on the edge of reflecting waterlogged terrain partially fed by

a swollen weed-bearing ditch.

Part of the path to the bridge is now covered by clear water

replenished by raindrops, the descent of which Jackie was photographing.

While returning home via Lymington the cawing of numerous rooks alerted us to the

growing occupation of a rookery. Some of the birds flew back and forth;

others remained on watch.

At times sunlight spilt across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I started a bottle of Chateau Berdillot Cotes de Bourg 2018



Six Trains

This post by Linda at shoreacres, 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

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

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

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

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


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 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