It Couldn’t Wait For My Return

On this bright and sunny afternoon, Jackie leapfrogged Mum’s perching stool down the garden, giving me three observation posts for a brief sojourn listening to the birds and pointing my lens.

Brick Path

I was able to look along the Brick Path

Clematis Doctor Ruppel

past the prolific clematis Doctor Ruppel

Rose Penny Lane

and the slightly scented rose Penny Lane, both intended to climb the Gothic Arch,

Ferns

to clusters of ferns in the West Bed.

Rhododendron

My favourite rhododendron could not wait until my return to burst into bloom in the Cryptomeria Bed,

Geranium palmatums

which has its share of geranium palmatums

Heuchera

opposite heucheras in Margery’s Bed.

Day lilies

Across the Grass Patch can be seen a clump of Day Lilies

Gazebo Path

also on view along the Gazebo Path, the foreground of which is illuminated by the Chilean Lantern tree.

Foxglove

Foxgloves, like this one in the Palm Bed stand proud throughout the garden.

Marigolds

The rich orange marigolds are rampant in the Dragon Bed.

Roses and poppy heads

The slender poppy heads shown alongside these roses are those of the yellow and orange species that crop up everywhere. Ii is normally my job to cut them down to encourage new growth. It may be some time before I am fit to return to duties.

My choice of Tesco’s prepared meals this evening was chicken jalfrezi; Jackie’s was a pasta bake.

 

Ruby

Misty morning

Slowly, mist dispersed from the garden as we drank our morning coffee.

Jackie drove us to The First gallery for midday where we joined the party celebrating the fortieth year of the artwork exhibitions at the home of Margery and Paul. This was a very happy occasion with friends gathered by this mother and son over a lifetime. We are pleased to be counted members of this honoured group.

In keeping with the theme there was a ruby coloured beetroot soup with a number of other ingredients. The ingenious Paul had devised a method of topping the soup with a creamy Ruby soupSoup with female symbol40. This was done with sterilised garden wire dipped into the mixture and laid on rather like the shamrock sprayed onto the head of a pint of Guinness by dextrous bar staff. I was fortunate enough to be presented with a perfect specimen, but they didn’t all come out like that. One young woman decided that hers, also including a lentil version looked like the female symbol which she invited me to photograph.

We had all been invited to bring an inflated red balloon. On arrival we were informed that there would be a prize for the last person to hold an unburst one. The secret was to keep yours out of the way of broach pins and forks, toasting or otherwise. Leo, the youngest member of the group clung to his two until the very end.Leo and his Mum

Margery had made a splendid selection of small snacks and a superb chocolate sponge The First cakecake which formed the centrepiece of the desserts table which was soon emptied.  She made the first half cut Cake cuttingacross and directed Paul to complete it. He was, after all, part of the partnership and moreover had decorated it. We toasted the pair with Champagne heavily laced with cranberry juice. One guest was keen to help our hostess protect her balloon. MargeryElizabeth, in the foreground of this picture, didn’t have a red balloon, so she painted the legend: ‘I AM RED HONEST’ on  hers.

Leo was very quiet throughout, but the conversation at one point did turn to methods of preventing small babies from disturbing parents’ slumber. When Jackie told us a story about one of the elderly ladies she had cared for thirty years ago, a tongue twister competition ensued. This client’s childhood would have gone back to the end of the nineteenth century when her mother had the perfect antidote to nighttime tears. She would make a ‘tea’ with a ‘penn’orth of poppy heads from the apothecary’. Quite a lot of spluttering accompanied somewhat inebriated efforts to repeat this.

It was quite close to sunset as the party broke up and we all went home. Driving due West into a magnificent sunset Jackie turned off the M27 taking the Fawley road, in an effort to get me into the forest before the sun disappeared. She didn’t quite manage that, but, as Sunsey BeaulieuSunset Dibden PurlieuSunset Beaulieu RiverSunset Hatchet Pondso often, the shots were more attractive with clouds lit from below. The pools on the heathland near Debden Purlieu, the Beaulieu River, and Hatchet Pond all added their reflective charm to the views. This was perhaps the perfect close to a ruby day.

By the time Jackie dropped me at Milford on Sea so that I could walk home via the cliff top and Shorefield, darkness had set in, but there was just enough light reflecting off The Sunset with cow parsleySunset over The SolentSolent for me to catch a bit more of sundown along the coast. As I walked up the dimly lit Downton Lane I removed my black waterproof coat and carried it so that the headlights of oncoming traffic could gleam on my buff sports jacket.

After the spread laid on at The First, a small bowl of Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi and egg fried rice accompanied by the last of the Cotes du Rhone Villages (red, of course) wine sufficed for our evening sustenance.

Lunch Time

 

Poppies by Jackie 3Poppies by Jackie 2Poppies by Jackie 1

Yesterday evening Jackie borrowed the camera to photograph poppy heads. This morning we worked on cropping the images.

Jackie then drove us to Kilmington, near Axminster in Devon, and back. Our friends Luci and Wolf are spending a week in a holiday cottage there. This is The Linhay off Whitford Road. It is a beautifully restored and tastefully presented former milking shed, and the owners, who live next door at Oxenlears, are most considerate.Valley

The house is perched on a hillside overlooking an idyllic, sheep-dotted, valley, the pastoral quiet of which is broken only, it seems, at certain regular times.

On 17th December 2012 I described how, as I retired person, I sometimes don’t know what day it is. The same thing applies to the time of day. Such is the freedom of release from work commitments. Our friends would probably find the same uncertainty in their Devon hillside cottage, were it not for these timely clarion calls.

Train running through valleyThe most frequent is the clatter of the train crossing the valley from Lyme Regis on the hour every hour, followed by another coming from the opposite direction five minutes later. We may not have known which hour it was, but at least we knew it was something o’clock or five minutes past.

It was the sheep’s alarm that was the most insistent. Just as Luci announced that she was about to produce lunch, a clamorous bleating was set up. Sheep and cattle 7The black-faced creatures had, until then, spent the day huddled around a tree. Sheep and cattle 1Sheep and cattle 2Sheep and cattle 3Sheep and cattle 4Sheep and cattle 5Sheep and cattle 6They clambered or sprang to their feet and trooped eagerly, two by two, across to another field where they were being joined by cattle. Then we noticed the little white van and trailer that they were vying with their bovine companions to reach first. Whatever they were being fed was deposited on the ground without the driver having to leave his vehicle.

Presumably after the animals had had their fill, the sheep trotted back to their tree, and the cattle off to another field. Whatever they had been fed could not have matched the huge succulent chunks of juicy chicken that Luci had ‘thrown in a pot’ with mushrooms, new potatoes, carrots, and a tasty sauce for us. Jackie wondered whether she might be at risk of overdosing on carrots when we had carrot cake with strawberries to follow. Both were delicious so she took a chance. Luci and I drank a 2013 Wolf Blass red wine, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden. Wolf’s choice was fruit juice.

As usual, we all enjoyed each other’s company. Cheese and onion sandwiches were quite sufficient for Jackie and me when we returned home.

P.S. I am indebted to Barrie Haynes for pointing out that trains do not run from Lyme Regis any more