From Lane Verges To Garden Makeover

Although it was to return after lunch,

the perky sun enlivening the verges of South Baddesley lanes I photographed this morning was soon seen off by colourless cloud cover.

The ferns and other plants bursting from the verges provide veritable rope ladders for sticky willy weeds like those with which we currently grapple daily in our garden.

The borders of Brook Hill are lined with white meadowsweet and hedgerows of various hues,

interspersed with golden buttercups, prehistoric mares’ tails, and decorative grasses;

a persistently pendant broken branch clings to life beside upright horse chestnut candelabra.

Passing ponies on the moorland of Norleywood, we visited Elizabeth at Burnt House Lane

to inspect her garden makeover which has provided a new purpose for a certain amount of the paving removed from our patio

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with tempura, hot and spicy, and salt and pepper prawn preparations, and duck spring rolls, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Giulio Pasotti Bardolino Classico 2021.

Clicking And Cleaning

Today I added recovered photographs to these posts:

All, of course, with help and encouragement from SueW.

In the meantime, Martin was able to work on the patio paving all day,

making considerable progress. The third image contains his colour coded print of the pattern he worked out on his computer.

Shortly before dusk we enjoyed a pleasant conversation while I clicked and he cleaned up.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed breaded cod, new potatoes, ratatouille, and peas, with which we both drank Montes Reserva Chardonnay 2020.

At Least Something Is Working

Now. We. Have. No. Hot. Water – Again.

Elaine from Tom Sutton Heating rang to tell me they have found a supplier for the new oil tank that is required. There will be a month’s delay before work can start, but I am to receive a phone call to arrange for a quotation visit.

While I was speaking to Elaine Jackie shoved a note under my nose stating “No Hot again”. The water was cold again, The upshot is that we now need a new immersion heater.

The Assistant Photographer produced a batch of images of the heater for reference and I sent them to Elaine.

In the meantime I continued bringing logs into the sitting room from outside, and

Martin was able to continue with the paving project.

As can be seen, his pattern is shaping up nicely,

and he does things that men do according to his mug.

I warned him of the likely title of this post, because he was all that was working here.

This evening we dined at The Hare and Hounds at Sway with Elizabeth. Both the ladies enjoyed prawn cocktail starters; mine was excellent whitebait with salad; Jackie chose a plentiful pulled pork and beef burger with chips and onion rings for her main meal; Elizabeth’s was very tasty liver and bacon tower; mine Admiral’s (fish) pie with vegetables – all were well cooked and splendid helpings. No-one could manage a dessert. My sister and I both drank Los Pico Reserva Merlot 2021, and Jackie drank Amstel.

To Catch A Worm

I spent much of the morning recovering pictures for

Immediately after lunch we took drive into the forest where

a weak sun photographed over Charles’s Lane

and through trees at Ogden North feebly attempted to pierce cold cloud cover.

Earlier, Martin had been stymied in his work on the patio by the frozen cementing material. He left after

cutting and carrying from the Back Drive the paving slabs he had oped to fix in place.

The knitted robin decorating the Tiptoe post-box on Wootton Road, knowing where he would land, having risen early enough to catch a juicy worm, donned a breast bib to compete with the Royal Mail red,

A string of ponies gathered outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

Looking across the valley beneath the aforementioned Ogdens North frost still lay on the roofs, while a pillar of bonfire smoke made its way to merge with the clouds.

A pair of field horses sported rugs to put their unfashionable companion to shame,

while others simply blended with their golden hay.

This evening we all dined on oven fish and chips, sliced pickled gherkins, pickled onions, onion rings, and mushy peas, with which Jackie and I both drank Trentino Pinot Grigio 2021.

In Need Of Milking

Martin’s cementing material was frozen in the bags this morning which he consequently spent

cutting out the shapes he would not be able to firmly set in place until Sunday.

Note the ice chips on the covered paving.

Ellie, who has now mastered the art of hand to mouth coordination,

was mesmerised by the open fire.

Martin told me that the roadsides were festooned with icicles formed by the showers of spray thrown up by vehicles during Monday’s deluge. Jackie and I therefore took a trip to investigate.

Some years ago now, a teenage girl was killed in a car crash along Hordle Lane.

Some soft toys still linger in the trees in her memory. One had fallen among the icicles by the roadside.

Further icicles and ice patterns decorated the corner of Woodcock Lane and Silver Street

along which these wintry decorations dangled from trees, draped verges along which they were reflected in the gutters, and rose from grasses on stumps.

We drove along Bashley Cross Road to Ferndene Farm shop to buy some eggs. A fallen branch bore dripping icicles.

Sway Road hosted various ice sculptures reflected in the gutters,

some dripping from a fence post like the udders of a cow in need of milking.

Further along this road autumn red-gold merged with winter’s snow-white.

This evening we dined on bangers and mash; fried bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms; boiled carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Shiraz 2020.

Jigsaw Pieces

No doubt because of the lack of cloud cover, albeit much colder, Martin was able once more to tackle the patio paving project in bright sunshine this morning.

Having mixed his cement on the back drive he wheeled each load

down to the patio, smoothed it, and laid the slabs on it.

His pattern was soon beginning to shape up.

In the meantime Jackie and I took a short forest drive after shopping at Tesco.

Ponies were once more in evidence on the moorland at East Boldre.

This one was practicing their technique of flattening unwanted bracken in order to reach the grass beneath.

A sharp shower put a temporary stop to Martin’s work this afternoon, but at least we were able to see its colour when wet.

Contrary to appearances, our friend does not spend time texting friends. His pattern is worked out on his home computer.

He has transferred it to his phone to which he refers while placing the jigsaw parts because his printer doesn’t work. If he sends me an e-mail of the pattern I will be able to print it – mine currently produces incorrect colours, but for his purposes that won’t matter.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock cheese-centred fish cakes, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Valle Central Reserva Privado Syrah 2021.

Rippling, Reflecting, Pools

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The ground may still be wet, but at least the rain had ceased today.

Martin was able to make progress on widening the step in front of the French windows, and

planning the layout of the paving, some of which he will cut to shape and size.

Jackie and I took a short drive into the forest where there was little sign of wild life.

Field horses were mostly sporting muddy rugs as

they sloshed around like these two at their gate.

Trees rooted in scooped out basins beside Beaulieu Road stand in rippling, reflecting, pools as is customary for them in rainy seasons.

This evening we dined on a choice of tasty penne Bolognese or beef casserole, with firm broccoli and tender green beans. Jackie and I chose the Bolognese, Becky enjoyed a bit of both, Flo and Dillon will take theirs later. The Culinary Queen and our daughter drank Buck’s Fizz while I drank Calvet Prestige Côtes du Rhône Villages 2021, given to me for Christmas by Martin.

Fashions Change

The sun greeted Martin this morning as he was able to make a start on preparing the patio for repaving.

Anyone familiar with this area will know that the current sections of squared blocks, intermittently separated by such as the red tiles and troughs of slate chips and a gravel, unevenly balanced, because, as Martin discovered there is only a thin layer of sandy aggregate lying on top of soil beneath them.

First our helpful gardener dug out the loose material, with which he filled a wheelbarrow,

then, with several trips, wheeled it to a temporary location behind the shed.

Next, he tackled the pond in an old cistern, perhaps an example of our predecessors’ repurposing. Until we first cleaned it out it had been a thriving kindergarten for mosquitos. Having removed the surrounding concrete blocks ready for another trip with the wheelbarrow,

he transferred the murky water to a bucket from which he could tip it away. This enabled him to manhandle the heavy container and transport it out of the way.

No doubt probably 50 years ago someone thought the layout we inherited was a work of art. Tastes and fashions change.

I made good headway during the afternoon on John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”.

This afternoon we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc.

A Clean Sweep

It seems that we can be reasonably confident that the weather will improve from today, which has remained hot and sunny.

On the strength of that, yesterday evening Jackie righted the garden furniture and swept the patio and the path between the kitchen wall and the Pond Bed.

Today I carried out the same operation on other paving and brick paths. Perhaps I will rake the gravel tomorrow.

Later this afternoon I posted

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken and pork chipolatas; sage and onion stuffing; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender mange touts and runner beans, with which Jackie drank more of the rosé and I finished the Comté Tolosan rouge.

A Dreich Dundee Day

Cowering trees swayed before the breath of the Big Bad Wolf raging overhead huffing and puffing in his attempts to blow down little pigs’ houses; pattering trotters tripped across the roof; bejewelled yet disconsolate blooms bent their weeping heads; precipitate rivulets raced down the window panes, as we awoke to a pleasantly cooler bedroom breeze succeeding last night’s heavy humidity.

Jackie braved an early supermarket shop in this weather, which did not desist throughout the day, so

apart from those photographs produced during a brief period while I was unloading the shopping and soaking my shower-proof coat anyway,

the rest of these rain-spattered images were gained through panes of glass. As usual, individual titles may be gleaned by clicking on any image to access either of the galleries.

Elizabeth joined us for tonight’s dinner which consisted of Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, and meaty gravy, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020.