Lunchtime

Part of Mum’s deal at Woodpeckers Care home is that she can entertain guests to lunch once a week.

Elizabeth, Jackie, and I were her visitors today. My meal was Cajun chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, carrots, and curly kale; the others opted for gammon. Mum chose stewed apricots with ice cream for dessert; the rest of us enjoyed plum crumble. We were served in our own quiet room. Service was friendly and efficient. The food was very good.

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip around the forest.

It is not unusual to see requests for information about hit and run accidents involving ponies. This, featuring a Shetland on the road to Beaulieu, was one of two we passed today.

Although much of it has been cut back by now, blackthorn has proliferated in the hedgerows for several weeks now.

As we rounded a bend on approaching East End we were struck by this fortuitous juxtaposition of maple and photinia.

Nearby one of a group of basking cattle suckled her calf which was enjoying its own lunchtime.

Donkeys were hard at work trimming the village’s hedgerows.

More cattle were serving themselves to lunch from the verges of Tanners Lane.

Beside Sowley Lane a flamboyant cock pheasant flashed across the road and fled beneath barbed wire fencing.

Another merged into hay stalks among scavenging crows beside a field of rape, many of which

are beginning to slash the landscape with sunlight.

More of the more colourful birds foraged in

this historic field with its

views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined on spicy Diablo pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed Maipo Valley Carménere 2016 from the Majestic Definition range.

Before And After: The Patio

Once more, wet and warm described the day’s weather.

Although we have created a gravelled patio at the south end of the garden, there always was a designed one alongside the back of the house. This, in April 2014 was full of weeds and the surrounding areas were overgrown. Our project is a continuing one, so will no doubt evolve still further, but The Patio is the final section, prepared today, for the garden album.

Photinia

On 7th May 2014 the area was dominated by next door’s photinia and lonicera hedge; and our own ficus and poplar.

Patio

By 13th, we had weeded the cracks between the paving stones, but not yet disguised the blue painted Butler sink;

Rose, fig, and unidentified tree all trimmed

by 27th, our trees were trimmed;

Patio corner

and by 28th the sink was surrounded by rocks on shingle, and we had refurbished the boundary with our neighbours, using a length of ornamental wrought iron and a useless door from inside the house.

Scooby in patioScooby on the prowl

This corner was festooned with flowers on 14th August when Scooby had a look round, then went on the prowl.

Mum and Elizabeth with Derrick reflected

After an unusually cold August, it wasn’t until September 14th that we enjoyed afternoon tea there with Mum and Elizabeth. Note that the side gate is still fixed and covered with trellis.

Rat 8Rat 1

The rocks around the sink, on 1st January 2015, provided useful cover for a rat attracted by the bird food.

Ficus roots 18.9.15

We tried to maintain the ficus with heavy pruning, but eventually decided it had to go. I finally removed its roots on 18th September.

Jackie planting pansies 19.9.15Pansies in patio

The next day Jackie planted up the vacant space in which pansies were blooming on 12th October.

This afternoon I printed and pasted the Gazebo Path section into the album.

Chicken thighs baked in West Indian chili sauce; special fried rice; and mange touts, cob corn, and carrots were produced by Jackie for our dinner this evening. A selection of Tesco’s cream cakes was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Reserve des Tugets Madiran 2012.

Tony and Anne, Trevor and Jan

Clearance of the future rose garden continues apace. Yesterday Jackie uprooted several unproductive fruit bushes, and this morning I removed the last of the box hedges and a photinia that had been well rooted for a few years. This latter plant required the use of a grubber axe. It had to come out because it has the potential to grow into a huge tree. There is one in the jungle garden next door which is so high that we get the benefit of it.

After this, I took my now customary route on foot to Milford on Sea, taking a diversion through a nature reserve on the way back. Having passed through Shorefield, I met Mike, the postman, who confirmed that he was indeed more comfortable in the front garden next door, photographed yesterday. He was also very helpful about the problem I have been having with misdirected mail being delivered to The Old House, Lymington Road. This is yet another difficulty  with MyBarclays, who hold my French bank account. They will only accept proof of address from my New Forest Council Tax bill. This gives our address as Lymington Road, rather than Christchurch Road. I am engaged in a frustrating exchange of e-mails with the bank. Until this is resolved, Mike suggested I might explain the problem to the residents of The Old House, which is not on his round, so they may readdress my statements.Yacht on Solent

The Solent is now calm enough for leisure yachting. Dog walkersTony and AnnePeople were walking babies in buggies, and sometimes frisky dogs on foot. From the cliff top Tony pointed out the Isle of Wight to his wife Anne. We conversed about my photograph and the general state of the cliffs.Isle of Wight and The Needles through firs I have mentioned before, the superb view The Beach House has of the island and its lighthouse. Today I shot it through their mature conifers.

On the way back out of Milford on Sea there is a footpath on the right. I have speculated about where it might lead, but had not had the confidence to try it before. TrevorToday, however, Jan on footpathFootpath and streamI noticed Trevor enjoying a cigarette as he basked on a bench in the sunshine. Crossing a footbridge over a stream, I asked him where the path led. He directed me along it, telling me how I could pick up the coast road. As I walked back over the bridge, an attractive woman came into view. This was Jan, who looks after the administration of the Community Centre cafe. She is a blues fan and particularly likes The Blues Band, especially Paul Jones and Tom McGuiness. This discovery enlivened our conversation somewhat.

Crossing a road along the footpath I entered the Nature Reserve through which it ran, leaving it on a slope up to Woodland Way on the left. This led to Delaware Road, and thence the cliff top. CyclamenThe path, beside which cyclamen blooms among dandelions, does extend further, and one day I may explore it more.

Tonight we dined at our old haunt, The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton. We ate our favourite set meal, and both drank T’Sing Tao beer.The Family House proprietor Like many Asian restaurants they juggle, very successfully, with serving diners and taking down takeaway orders.

Finishing Touches

Chinese cabinet on chest of drawersWe have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.

I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.

The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.

LibraryThe legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.

The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.

Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

PhotiniaPhotinia bloomsA wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

Yellow flowered shrub - Version 2There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

Yellow flowered shrub

The copper beech is now in full leaf.Copper beech

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.StitchwortMay

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.Rook in flight

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

Kitesurfers descendingKite surfers setting upSeascapeSeascape with kite surferSeascape with kite surfersKite surfers & yachtKite surfer, shingle, Isle if Wight & The NeedlesKite surfer & The NeedlesAs I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene. Kite surfer in seaThe surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.