Nothing For It


I spent a considerable number of frustrating hours attempting to secure internet access today. I will not bore anyone with the details. Looking on the bright side, I decided to tackle the paperwork for my annual tax return. This went quite well until I tackled my bank statements, which I receive on a quarterly basis. The most recent batch has not arrived. “No problem.” I thought. “Now I bank on line I can take the necessary details from there”. …………… “Ah……..”.

There was now nothing for it but to wander round the garden with my camera in hand and a mobile phone in my pocket. There are, of course, less pleasant ways of spending my time.

The clematis Montana now drapes the front wall upon which a trough of blue pansies smile; the potentilla now dances with the vinca.

The sweet scent of the wisteria pervades the area beneath its arbour.

Buds of blue irises and red poppies are simply biding their time.

While I wandered and emptied a trug or two into the compost, Jackie continued replenishing soil and planting in beds and containers.

These verbascum look down on similarly hued Erigeron,

Cow parsley in Dragon Bed

just as the cow parsley soars above everything else in the Dragon Bed.

pansies and clematis Marie Boisselot buds

In the Kitchen Bed’s stone urn white pansies bridge the season of faded white daffodils and that of clematis Marie Boisselot, whose buds can be observed in the obelisk behind.

Geranium Palmatum

The first of the geranium Palmatums, which will soon arrive in abundance, has lined up along the Shady Path in line with heucheras,

Shadow on heuchera

on the leaves of which a hebe casts its shadow.

Erigeron, aquilegia, vinca, alliums, silenes

Erigeron, aquilegias, vinca, alliums, and silenes crowd each other in the Weeping Birch Bed,

aubretia and wild strawberries

as do aubretia and wild strawberries in the Oval Bed opposite.

Butterfly Small White, honesty

Small White butterflies flitted about.

Rosariae de L'Hay corner of Rose Garden

Rosariae de L’Hay enlivens its corner of the Rose Garden.

This afternoon, until I was back on line, I continued reading John Le Carré’s The Night Manager.

Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s excellent pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I consumed A Dark Apothic 2015 Californian red.





Spot The Difference


In today’s gardening division of labour my contribution was weeding the back drive, while Jackie continued planting, weeding, and watering.

My main focus was on the bed alongside the new fence.

This involved clambering between dead stumps and the fencing and digging out stubborn brambles and sticky Willies. I had not anticipated needing to use a fork on all this, but, most unusually for April, there has been so little rain that the ground is rock hard. Consequently I didn’t get very far. For those readers interested in the scale of things this drive is 75 yards long and the width of a terraced house plot.

Jackie filled the Rose Garden urns – one on the brick pillar we have just rebuilt – with compost

in readiness for these lilies bought from the Hordle Post Office a couple of days ago.

Other plantings in the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds and the Rose Garden are mostly represented by labels.

Corner of Palm Bed at Fiveways

In this corner of the Palm Bed we have tulips; a yellow Japanese maple that clearly needs the pruning treatment;

Rhododendron 1

and a pink rhododendron just coming into bud.

Tree peony

A yellow tree peony competes with the latter over which will be the first in full bloom.

Daffodils, honesty, and hellebores continue to thrive.

This cream verbascum stands on the Back Drive bed,

Clematis Montana

and this clematis Montana spills over the front garden wall,

behind which a yellow potentilla is flowering. Can you guess what, when I put the first of these pictures of it up on the screen, got me rushing out there?

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins. I drank Doom Bar beer.

School Photos

PotentillaPansies in window box

The potentilla in the front garden is fully in bloom, as are the pansies in Jackie’s window boxes on the wall.


This morning a woodpecker took advantage of its long, sharp, beak to penetrate the suet balls suspended from the crab apple tree.

Oak apples

I took a walk as far as Roger’s field footpath and photographed oak apples nestling in the hedgerow. I had noticed these on a day too dull to produce a picture. It took me some time to find them again.

Aaron concreting

A.P. Maintenance completed their work on the back drive when Aaron and Robin concreted the entrance.

Today I began replacing the photographic prints Elizabeth had returned to me yesterday. The first album starts in about 1923 and runs to 1978. Before I set them back in their vacant pages I scanned them and put them into iPhoto. One theme running through was that of school photographs. The style and quality of these has changed over the years, but all bear one general characteristic. That is that if they reach home uncreased they are bound to eventually become rather gunged, and many are so badly treated that they never reach adulthood.

My paternal grandparents’ ‘Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen’ was small enough not to suffer the fate of other, earlier panned shots of the entire staff and pupils, where some clown would always start out on one edge of the group, and dash round the back to plant him or her self on the other side before the lens reached them, thus appearing twice for posterity.

When I was at school, the photos we proudly carried home were still group images, but now in individual classes or forms as we called them. They were still in black and white.Wimbledon College school photo c1956

Wimbledon College school photo c1957

The form master in the first of these, taken, I think, in 1956, was Richard Milward, who features in ‘No-one Forgets A Good Teacher’; the second, in 1957, Fr Hamer S.J., on whom I focus in ‘Look At That Book’.Wimbledon College school photo signatures c1957

That 1957 class can’t be the only bunch of boys who thought it would be cool (‘though we didn’t have that use of the word then) to sign the back of the photo.

These pics, despite having spent most of their life in an album, are somewhat wrinkled.

By 1974, school photograph production was rather more sophisticated. They were now portraits in colour and came in a variety of sizes according to the parental purse. Those of Matthew and Becky have clearly been cut from sheets, probably of four copies which would be distributed among Mums and Dads and grandparents. These bear the stains of an early life partly spent clutched by sticky fingers; partly subjected to spillages one can only speculate at; and possibly twelve months beneath a fridge magnet. I took out as much muck as I could in iPhoto, but cropping was all I could do to rescue this one of Matthew, taken at Holly Mount school in Raynes Park:Matthew 1974Matthew 1974 1 - Version 2

Attending that same school was Becky, photographed in 1974 and 1976, when she, too, signed the back of the copy she brought to me.Becky 1974Becky 1976Becky signature1976

Michael is also pictured in 1974, wearing the uniform of his Raynes Park school of The Sacred Heart,Michael 1974Michael 1977

and in 1977 at Islington Green school, where uniform was not required.

This evening Jackie drove us to Lymington, where we dined at Lal Quilla. We both drank Kingfisher, and shared an egg paratha. My main course was King prawn Ceylon with special fried rice. Jackie’s was an interesting new chicken dish with pilau rice.

P.S. Here is a Facebook observation from Jackie:

‘What do you mean the school pictures stay under magnets on the fridge for 12 months ?! I still have my school photo’s of Mat and Becky on the fridge here! They have travelled with me for over 30 years! Love ’em.’
and a very acute one from Becky: ‘Interesting that Paul George John Murphy has signed his name in a ring(o).’

The Castle Bench

Yesterday I began preparation for reassembling the garden bench based on those in Nottingham Castle grounds.

The first task today was the purchase of nuts for the bolts that would attach the wooden slats to the cast iron sides. These could have been obtained at a nearer establishment, but Knights in Lymington is fast becoming Jackie’s favourite emporium. In any case she needed some curtain rings and whatever else might take her fancy. We did buy a few more things, and, in fairness, it was me who chose socket spanners so I could get at the underside of the bench with a little more ease.Potentilla fruticosa

When we drive out of our front entrance we pass our potentilla which is in full bloom at the moment.

Before lunch, I carried the various components of the seat to the chosen spot in the garden. This sounds a rather routine task. In fact each one of the cast iron sides is quite an awkward proposition. It is six years since I last manhandled them and I now find them much more daunting.The previous owners kindly left us a home made wheelbarrow, the container of which is a large blue plastic basket. I thought it might save my body if I used that to transport one of the pieces of iron. I just about managed to raise it to the required level to dump it on the barrow. It cracked the container.

There was nothing for it but to carry each piece the few required yards. It helped to yell and groan a bit. Jackie helped me try all the slats, before we were driven in by heavy rain. But not before we realised that they wouldn’t all fit.

After lunch we had another go, with no more success, and, since we were getting very wet, gave up. Jackie continued her cleaning and scraping tasks.

Eventually the rain eased up and I decided not to let the problem defeat me, even if it meant cutting some lengths to size. I managed securely to fit eight out of twelve slats. By this time, I had run out of bolts, because some of the originals were missing and two others were bent when the construction collapsed at one point. These are thick bolts that have stayed attached for a good twenty years.

This time we drove to Milford Supplies for the bolts, because that is sensibly nearer. I then finished the task. This involved sawing ends off, drilling new holes, and hoping for the best.Derrick

We now have a garden bench.RhododendronAquilegias

The rhododendron behind me is now in full bloom, and we have a rich variety of aquilegias.

Our dinner this evening was Jackie’s choice chilli con carne (recipe) followed by chocolate cake and ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden. I drank marques de Carano reserva 2007.