Poppy Does Watering

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As we sat on the patio chairs with Aaron and his partner Leah, discussing the morning’s gardening, Poppy appeared in the kitchen doorway. Matthew soon followed, completing the pleasant surprise.

Jackie and Poppy

Granny was soon enjoying a cuddle.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppy pottered around playing with pebbles and a car given to her by Akram at Lal Quilla on her last visit there.

Poppy 12Poppy 9

Poppy 3Poppy 6

Poppy 4

Displaying a rapid two-gun draw, she then began irrigating the paving

Poppy 5

and washing an owl

Poppy 11

Jackie employed a novel method of keeping the cans filled,

Poppy 7Poppy and JackiePoppy 8Poppy 10and Poppy trotted off to water the flowers in the Kitchen Bed.

Poppy 13

For our dinner this evening, Matthew and Poppy joined Jackie in a trip to Mr Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away, and returned with a scrumptious selection including our granddaughter’s favourite noodles.

Poppy 14

She sampled most other items, including spare ribs.

 

Waking Up To Leatherhead

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Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove us to

Travelodge

Leatherhead Travelodge where we joined Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron in order to watch the performance of

iolanthe brochure

directed by the sisters’ cousin Pat O’Connell.

First, we watched the second half of the Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and Wales.

Next, we dined with the addition of Pat, Christine,and their daughter Olivia, at Piazza Firenze. This was quite the best of the three such establishments we have tried in Leatherhead. Red and white house wines were quaffed, the drivers in the company taking advantage of the fact they they were not having to drive home. My main course was sea bass and prawns served with green beans and boiled potatoes. For dessert I chose crepe Vesuvio, while Jackie selected lava cake, which seemed appropriate. My enjoyable dish consisted of vanilla ice cream wrapped in a pancake with a raspberry sauce poured over it. What added to the fun was that this was served on a flat piece of slate. Perhaps the idea was to keep me on my toes in order to keep the melting ice cream from flowing off onto the table.

There followed a spirited, amusing, and entertaining production with some good jokes, skilful individual performance, and well directed choreography. After this, we spent a delightful time of conversation and reminiscence in the theatre bar, before repairing to our respective hotel rooms.

The was the view from our fourth floor room.

With the sun making sporadic efforts to put in an appearance I wandered about outside the hotel. Leatherhead has received considerable expansion since my childhood in the ’40s and ’50s. One result is the High Street paving that is shared by both vehicles and pedestrians. These two shots looking up the street were taken through parts of a sculpture  featuring aspects of the ancient town, such as the river and railway lines.

Like many of the more recent additions, the setting for this artwork is suffering. Slates are falling off, and graffiti has been applied.

Birdshit, chewing gum, and dog ends

The pavement at the base of the ornamental tree featured in the first two views of the sculpture is surrounded by a mixture of birdshit, chewing gum, and dog ends; people are meant to sit on the cylindrical structures arranged behind the tree and within the enclosure surrounding the elements of it.

Bicycle lock

A metre or so away a cycle rack bears evidence of a stolen machine.

We all breakfasted in the Edmund Tylney, a Wetherspoons pub opposite last evening’s restaurant. Edmund, a Leatherhead man, was Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth I, so he would probably be quite pleased to have a hostelry named after him.

Back at home, the Six Nations rugby match was between England and Italy.

This evening we dined on eggs, bacon, and toast followed by steamed syrup pudding nd ice cream.

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

Veritable Carpets Of Offspring

Aaron this morning cleared more brick paths of weeds and began painting the Ace Reclaim bench with white Hammerite in order to combat rust; Jackie continued planting, weeding, and general maintenance work;

Landscape Bark

and I finished off spreading the Landscape Bark around the rose garden beds, thus offering The Head Gardener, who had begun the job yesterday, a certain minimal assistance. We need a few more bags to complete the task.

Each day now, we have more emerging varieties of

Tulips

tulip,

Daffodils

daffodil,

Pansies

pansy,

Primulas

and primula.

Fritillaria

Speckled fritillaria Jackie planted in the autumn thrive in the cryptomeria bed.

For ground cover we have such as

Celandines

buttercup-yellow celandines

Periwinkle

and deep-blue vincas.

Many self-seeders need to be kept under control. Cropping up everywhere we have, for example,

Honesty

purple honesty,

Hellebore seedlings

and multi-hued hellebores which drop veritable carpets of offspring. Unmanaged, this dense  brood would choke the rusty heuchera to death and cover the brick path onto which it is already encroaching.

We are still marginally ahead of the game in the race to have the garden ready for spring, but nature is catching up by the day.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla. My choice was king prawn Ceylon, and Jackie’s, prawn bhuna. We shared egg fried rice, an egg paratha, and an onion bhaji; and both drank Kingfisher.

‘I’ll Show My Boss, To Prove I’ve Been Doing some Work’

Jackie drove me to New Milton Station, and Ian collected me there after I had travelled to Tas in The Cut for lunch with Carol.

On the train, I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s 1976 collection of stories entitled ‘The Bicentennial Man’. The author has almost expunged my antipathy towards science fiction. This is a largely fascinating set written by such a consummate teller of tales that I was prepared to forget my inability to understand some of the technical detail. The writing flows and keeps the reader engaged. The pieces are linked by a few short paragraphs describing how they came about.

215px-Bicentennial_man_film_posterThe title tale was developed into a novel, and then a film, which Wikipedia describes thus:

‘Bicentennial Man is a 1999 American science fiction comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz (in a dual role), Wendy Crewson, and Oliver Platt. Based on the novel The Positronic Man, co-written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, which is itself based on Asimov’s original novella titled The Bicentennial Man, the plot explores issues of humanity,slavery, prejudice, maturity, intellectual freedom, conformity, sex, love, and mortality. The film, a co-production between Touchstone Pictures and Columbia Pictures, was directed by Chris Columbus. The title comes from the main character existing to the age of two hundred years, and Asimov’s novella was published in the year that the U.S. had its bicentennial.’

Reflections in paving pool

The paving in Emma Cons Gardens, opposite The Old Vic, has sunk enough to retain a minor lake after the recent rainfall. I photographed it at the beginning of my walk down The Cut, and then again later.

Plane tree

A young London plane stands nearby. In the background is a ‘bendy’ bus, designed to concertina as it turns corners.

Paving cracked

In The Cut itself the concrete pavement squares are equally sunken and cracked.

Waste bin

This waste bin has come adrift of its moorings.

Windmill Walk

Alleys on our left, like Windmill Walk, lead through to the railway arches.

Cycle rack and traffic cone

This cycle rack is alongside The Young Vic. The traffic cone may or may not be meant to be there.

Costa

This picture of Costa Coffee bar compensates for my not having photographed New Milton’s one yesterday. Costa is all about the venue, where you can sit and play on your laptop to your heart’s content.

LESOCO 2LESOCO and cyclist

 A few yards beyond Tas lies the Waterloo Campus of LESOCO, the Lewisham and Southwark College. It is quite the custom now to create graffiti to tart up the screens around building works,

LESOCO 3

LESOCO 5LESOCO 6and to leave viewing panels for inquisitive passers by.

LESOCO 4

The figures depicted seem to represent students and their possible careers.

Carol and I had our usual entertaining conversation and good meal at Tas. The waitress couldn’t cope with the fact that Carol only wanted one meze, so, because the menu offered two each, I had to eat three, which was, of course, no problem. My choice of main course was a beautifully tangy prawn casserole, and my house wine, red.

Theodolite reflection

On my way back to Waterloo Station I noticed a young woman plying a theodolite reflected in the pool I had pictured earlier. She was quite happy to appear on the blog, commenting: ‘I’ll show my boss, to prove I have been doing some work.’

On my return journey I was already gripped by Gwen Wilson’s book ‘I Belong To No One’.

Normally the Tas meal would have done me for the day, but I was unable to resist joining in with Jackie’s meal of battered prawns, spring rolls, spare ribs, and savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank another glass of El Sotillo.

I Was Transfixed

Ace Reclamation delivered our rose garden furniture this morning, and Jackie and I set it up.

Rose Alan Titchmarsh

Rose Alan Titchmarsh has bloomed.

UnknownAlan Fred Titchmarsh, MBE, DL, (b. 2.5.49) , was the subject of quite a bit of banter on yesterday’s post, but, in all seriousness, if anyone deserves to have a rose named after him it is this well known garden expert. An English gardener, broadcaster, and novelist after working as a professional gardener and a gardening journalist, he has established himself as a media personality through appearances on TV gardening programmes, the current one being ‘Love Your Garden’. In this series, members of the public who have been nominated by others for his garden makeover are the recipients of an instant, themed, creation.

Elsewhere in the garden many scented roses, like Compassion are well into their second flowering.

Rose Compassion

Here is a view of the Shady Path across the Dragon’s Bed:

View across Dragon BedPG

Elizabeth visited briefly for lunch.

Paving completion

This afternoon Aaron finished his paving, by carefully inserting fiddly bits he had cut out with an angle grinder. Along the eastern fence lies old timber and spikes for him to build a support for climbers on that side.

Jackie in view from Rose Garden bench

The lighter wood just visible is our old stair rail. The view is from the bench.

Jackie in view from Rose Garden entrance

Others are from the entrance;

View from Rose Garden arch

from the rose arch;

View from Elizabeth's Bed corner

 from Elizabeth’s bed;

View across Rose Garden from second armchair

and from the second armchair.

Whilst digging a hole for a rose, quite some way down, Jackie unearthed another historic coin of the realm. What’s historic about a 1983 £1? If thirty two years doesn’t seem a particularly long time ago, you may well ask.£1 coin

When was the first £1 coin issued? You’ve guessed it. Jackie may well have dug up one of the very first minted. It bears a young head of the current Queen, Elizabeth II, and has clearly not benefited from perhaps more than three decades underground. When this piece was shiny and new in April 1983 it would have bought a packet of 20 cigarettes, five pints of milk or 30 minutes at a Manchester United match. Today you pay closer to £8 for the fags, £2.50 for the milk and see only three minutes of the football. But some things are cheaper: while £1 would only get you four minutes on a landline phone call at peak time in 1983, today it would give you at least 10 minutes.

Kept in a soil, gravel, and clay safe, its value has not really been enhanced.

Throughout my first 41 years £1 sterling was paper money. It wasn’t even the lowest denomination note. Until decimalisation in 1971, that was ten shillings or 50% of £1. These notes both feature in ‘Then The Tableau Spoke’. I found two at different times before about 1952. It was then worth taking one to the police station and handing them in as found property. If such items were unclaimed after one month, they were yours. I recovered each one.

Nowadays, I doubt whether anyone would consider £5 to be worth going to that trouble. Volume193Our current £5 note is a pathetic little scrap in comparison with the “White Fiver” of my first fifteen years. The 1793 design, with black printing on white paper, remained in circulation essentially unchanged until 21 February 1957, when the multicoloured notes were first introduced. You could still use the old note until it was withdrawn on 13 March 1961.

When I was about seven, I found myself in a shop, probably queueing.  I really don’t know what the establishment was, or who was with me.  But I can still see the large, thin, sheet of printed paper measuring, I now know, 211mm x 133mm, brandished by a gentleman. ‘Know what that is, boy?’ he asked. The question was rhetorical. He quickly followed up with the answer. ‘A £5 note’. So transfixed was I by that object that I have no idea what the man looked like.  I’d never heard of such a sum, and never saw another “White Fiver”.

This evening I watched the highlights of the second day of the Edgbaston Ashes Test. England completed their first innings with a lead of 145. Australia followed this with 168 for 7. In other words, a five day match was virtually over in two days.

Our dinner consisted of chicken Kiev, chips, and baked beans. I know, It sounds dicey, but it was delicious, especially with the Georges du Beuf beujolais 3 villages 2013 Danni and Andy gave me for my birthday. Jackie, of course, drank Hoegaarden.

P.S. After posting this, we watched a TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Secret Adversary’, starring Jessica Raine and David Walliams. Very early on, Jessica Raine’s character had her mouth stuffed with screwed up flimsy paper I instantly recognised as a “White Fiver”.

The Butterfly Net

Paving 1Paving 2

Jackie and I spent the morning weeding whilst Aaron and Robin continued refining their paving. This involves finishing of the ends with brick cut to shape with an angle iron. There are only the central joins left to be completed. We are so fortunate that the proprietor of A.P. Maintenance is such a perfectionist.

We now have several crocosmia blooming.

According to my research, this one is Xcrocosmiiflora. Jackie says it’s ‘common or garden monbretia’;

Crocosmia Xcrocosmiiflora

Crocosmia Lucifer

about Lucifer, there is no doubt.

Marigolds

Jackie grew these marigolds from seed.

‘When did you take that?’ bemoaned The Head Gardener. ‘I dead-headed those this morning’.

The air was positively aflutter with butterflies this afternoon.

Butterfly Comma on echinacea

Commas abound. Here one seeks camouflage on an echinacea;

Butterfly Peacock on stump

as did this Peacock on a dead stump. It kept me waiting, back bent, lens poised, before opening its wings. With these closed, the creature looked just like a crack in the bark.

Butterfly Green veined white on verbena bonarensis

I think this, on a verbena bonarensis, is a Green-veined White.

Butterfly Red Admiral on hebe

Is this poor, battered, Red Admiral a reincarnation of February’s Battle-Scarred example?

I have written before of the penchant of Chris and I, when we were very little boys, for collecting various insects. Between us, my brother and I did not possess a camera, but we did have a butterfly net. Many happy hours were spent, mostly unsuccessfully, dashing around what were, to us, head-high fields, gleefully waving this weapon in the vague direction of the adult versions of the caterpillars that had so horrified our grandmother. What we actually did with the unfortunates we did manage to snare was not meant to be unkind. After all, when we stuffed them into jam jars, we did insert a few leaves and bits of grass, and punctured the lids so that they could breathe. I don’t imagine that these imagos lived out their, albeit brief, natural span. My current collecting is done with a camera.

Anyone driving to us for the first time, is likely to miss the existing sign on the front wall facing directly out onto the road. Jackie has therefore made another that she has fixed to the angled wall so that at least people coming from the direction of Christchurch, can’t miss Old Post House sign

If you aren’t interested in cricket, you may prefer to skip the next paragraph. If you are an English cricket fan, you may prefer to skip the next paragraph. If you are an Australian, whether interested in cricket or not, you probably wouldn’t want to skip the next paragraph.

I made the mistake of watching the TV highlights of the second Test match at Lords. Australia had, in their first innings, scored 566 runs for eight wickets. They then bowled England out for 312. Before lunch today, the visitors had taken their overnight second innings score to 254 for 2, at which point they declared their innings closed, leaving England 509 to make in more than a day and a half. Less than five hours later, England were all out for 103. It was nothing short of slaughter.

This evening, Jackie and I shared our hob in producing fried egg, bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms, baked beans, and toast. We enjoyed the rest of Shelly’s apple pie and cream, with half each of a chocolate mint brought back from the Veranda last night. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and, despite it not being the most suitable accompaniment for a fry-up, I drank Louis de Camponac merlot 2014.