The Best Cricket Of The Day

Jackie photographed nicotiana and petunias on her way to the Rose Garden, where

she attempted to don the Festive Jewel.

Nugget is beginning to fly into the trees and shout his warning message to what we think is a distant emerging territorial rival.

“Where’s Nugget?” (7a) in this picture, taken when he dropped down to join the Head Gardener in her weeding.

The rest of the photographs are Jackie’s. Swooping on every available prey he kept her close company,

as she cleared weeds from the beds

and the stepping stones.

Having given a clue above, Jackie offers her own “Where’s Nugget?” (7)

The Assistant Photographer achieved the impossible early this morning by watching the best cricket of the day. Can you join her?

I, on the other hand, listened to BBC’s broadcast of the second day of the third Ashes Test match.

Becky and Ian returned home to Southbourne this afternoon.

This evening Jackie and I dined on succulent pork chops in mustard, brown sugar, and toasted almonds; creamy mashed potatoes: tangy ratatouille; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender runner beans. I drank Saint-Chinian 2016. The Culinary Queen had finished her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Ice Cream Delivery

Jackie swept liberally scattered beech nuts from the Rose Garden this morning.

Scoobie kept her company. On the Back Drive he found a fossilised rat which I opted not to photograph.

We have a liberal supply of petunias,

begonias,

and Japanese anemones.

Bees busied themselves gathering pollen, ignoring the fact that some plants remained dog-eared;

and competing for occupation of others.

Some clematises,

fuchsias,

cosmoses, and sweet peas remain in bloom.

Rose Doris Tysteman thrives in the Back Drive border.

Rosa Glauca hips hang over the colourful patio beds.

The hibiscus beside the Brick Path is really flourishing this year.

This afternoon the four of us visited the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea.

Gulls hung on the thermals overhead;

crows on the clifftop blinked and pecked at tissues which were eventually shredded;

children wandered;

and a fisherman angled on a breakwater

in view of the Isle of Wight and Christchurch Bay.

This was a day for ice creams.

We had become a little concerned on noticing an elderly woman alone in a wheelchair. After some time a younger woman made her way across the garden with two ice creams. She presented one to the person we then assumed to be her mother, and they sat and enjoyed them together.

After we returned home Ian and I listened to the BBC sport broadcast of the Ashes Test match first day; and watched the second half of the highlights after dinner.

Our dinner consisted of thick pork chops with mustard, brown sugar, and toasted almonds; creamy mashed potato; crisp carrots and broccoli; tender runner beans; and roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms. I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah while the others drank Wairu Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017.

The Garden Wept

Hanging its head, the garden wept early this morning;

to brighten later;

albeit with less than entirely dry cheeks. Bees basked on sunlit blooms;

as did butterflies like this Red Admiral on the lobelia.

Jackie’s planting

of phlox in the West Bed

brought her little robin, Nugget, out in search of goodies. “Where’s Nugget?” (6)

Here we lost internet connection, so I am sending this from The Royal Oak.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.

Not For The Birds

This was a day of wind, rain, colder temperatures, coats, and central heating. A bit like Dunedin’s winter.

During a brief period of lessening rain Jackie continued her work on securing sweet peas and other climbing plants; rehanging baskets; and setting other planters back on their perches.

Here are some of the finished projects. The begonias in the penultimate image lost a few broken stems from which Jackie is attempting to produce roots. She is doing the same with a proliferation of pelargoniums.

These ginger lilies happily survived.

Most flowers were bejewelled with raindrops.

This was not a day for little birds to come out and play.

We dined this evening on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’ excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

“Turncoat”

The air this morning when we set about further post-storm garden recovery work hung humid and eerily still.

Concentrating on the patio area and the sweet peas corner of the kitchen wall, Jackie trimmed the Lathyrus odoratus and extricated the strangled tomato plant. From less than polite expressions of intense disappointment yesterday when discovering broken geranium stems, her exclamations have been the more optimistic “ah, another cutting”. The greenhouse is going to be pretty full this winter.

Naturally Nugget kept her company.

Where’s Nugget? An easier puzzle today.

Elsewhere pelargoniums, petunias, rudbeckias, and hoverflies sharing a poppy enjoyed the early sunshine.

My task was dead-heading roses in the Rose Garden where

heavy bees clambered over the tiny blooms of the verbena bonarensis;

Lady Emma Hamilton laid her head on the block;

Jacqueline du Pré played on;

a hoverfly flew to the Blue Moon;

Crown Princess Margareta bustled voluminously;

Summer Wine was drunk with joy;

and Absolutely Fabulous certainly was.

Eventually leaden skies and heavy rain brought us inside. When Jackie heard that Nugget, whom she had missed, had come to join me, she uttered “turncoat”.

By mid-afternoon the skies had cleared and the weather brightened. We drove to Ringwood for Jackie to buy some new garments from M & Co. and returned home via the forest.

At first we progressed north along Avon Way and turned right into sun-dappled Sky Lane.

A severed string of ponies spanning the road at Ibsley left space for one passing vehicle or a young neophyte equestrian to thread a way through.

Several donkey families were stationed outside Hyde School. One couple seemed to be waiting to register their foal in advance of its reaching the age of admission;

another little one enjoyed a scratch on the road junction. An alarming driver turning the corner blasted his horn at the unperturbed animal which took no notice. I might have heard it borrowing Catherine Tate’s line: “Do I look bothered?” as, peeking over its flanks, it nonchalantly nibbled its hide.

The loud blast of a foghorn behind me alerted me to an agitated mother ushering her infant across the road at quite a rate.

As we returned through Ibsley the ponies, now on the move, tails twitching, like sensible walkers faced the oncoming traffic.

This evening Elizabeth visited because her phones weren’t working and she needed to phone Mum, which she did from my mobile which was coincidentally being charged up. Naturally, beginning with drinks on the patio, she stayed for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s tasty tender beef and mushroom pie; crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; and new potatoes. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserva Shiraz 2017.

Better Than Expected

Today’s winds have dropped to 20 m.p.h.

When opening the gate for Aaron this morning I checked on the storm damage.

There really wasn’t much more than I had noticed yesterday. The downpipe to the water butt on the corner of the kitchen wall had become unstuck; a few extra pots had fallen; the sweet peas had been further loosened; quite a few smaller branches had been ripped off the beech and birch trees; some of the ornamental poplar branches were broken; just one rose stem had been torn; many plants have lost stems; and there was a certain amount of wind burn on one side of the winter flowering cherry and elsewhere, such as various fuchsias.

Aaron began the work of tidying up.

He gathered and bagged up many of the fallen branches and leaves;

trimmed the ornamental poplar, removing the broken branches;

and righted the fallen containers ready for Jackie to replace at her leisure. He observed that the morning had gone very quickly. He likes to be busy.

Bob of Lovewillbringustogether’s Weblog has recently suggested a regular feature of “Where’s Nugget” inviting readers to find our little robin. That, of course, depended on his surviving the storm and returning unscathed. I am happy to report that I heard his gentle chirp as he followed Aaron around.

He nipped up onto a chair for a chat, then flitted off into the Rose Garden.

I admit that the first “Where’s Nugget” puzzle is a little difficult.

The red scented sweet peas may have been blown awry, but there are plenty of clinging seed pods which benefited from an early shower,

and its desiccated leaves provide perfect camouflage for our Meadow Brown butterflies.

These dahlias

and the agapanthuses may have bowed to the elements, but, like the rest of the garden, they have fared far better than expected.

Bees, flies, and crickets have come out to play and to work again,

The Rose Garden has remained virtually unscathed,

and one lily kept its head in the front.

Other flowers, like these cosmoses, dahlias, and rudbeckia are wondering what all the fuss was about.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie in short crust pastry; new potatoes; roasted sweet potato and parsnip; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage; with piquant cauliflower cheese, with which she finished the Austrian white wine and I drank Doom Bar.