Robins In The Hedgerows

Ian returned to Southbourne for work this morning. After lunch Jackie and I drove to Tesco for some shopping, and continued into the forest.

As we turned into Hordle Lane yellow-brown ochre clouds flung a hatful of

every kind of precipitation at our windscreen as photographed by Jackie. Sleet and snow were lashed by brisk gusts of north wind making the 6C degree dropped temperature feel much colder.

During an apparent cessation I left the car to photograph an eponymous sculpture on Woodcock Lane, and was soon beset by further soft white flakes and ice-hard pellets which spared the ubiquitous laurel blossoms.

I wandered around the rippling Wootton stream alongside which a pair of discarded wellies aroused speculation. Lengthy striate arboreal shadows criss-crossed water surfaces and cropped banks alike. The last picture in this gallery is by Jackie.

Fluffy cotton clouds soon replaced the earlier heavily laden ones as cerulean skies returned.

The widening of the A35 bridge at Holmsley, scheduled to be completed next week will not now be finished before June. The causeway leading to it is not normally a road on which it is sensible to stop. Now it is closed we were able to sneak along it and I could nip out and photograph the woodland and its denizens below.

The landscape of Longslade Heath was dotted with grazing and reclining ponies.

South Sway Lane’s verges were enhanced by robins and primroses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef pie meal and/or chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Raising Robin’s Interest

At lunchtime Martin showed us the completed raised bed he finished this morning. He has concreted in the galvanised pins, put additional brackets on the corners, sifted and replaced some of the removed soil, and saved the plants that have been dug up.

These primroses may go back in, with a number of bulbs.

The activity aroused the interest of a pair of robins.

We have now agreed that Martin will help us on a regular basis.

This afternoon I published https://derrickjknight.com/2022/02/03/a-knights-tale-98-1987-part-one/

On another decidedly dingy afternoon we visited Elizabeth who hasn’t been too well.

The sheep field opposite her home in Burnt House Lane, Pilley was well stocked.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Douro.

Slow For Ponies

Today the weather was sun-bright-clear-chilly-cold.

We began by purchasing vegetables at Ferndene Farm Shop, then drove into the forest by way of

Beckley Common Road where Jackie parked, a jogger passed, and I pictured

the surrounding woodland where the harsh squawking of disturbed pheasants interrupted the melodic birdsong.

The next parking spot was a lay-by off the A35 where gorse bushes balls emulated stationary tumbleweed.

My next disembarkation was beside Lyndhurst Road where no discordant notes clashed with the avian melodies.

A friendly gentleman led a rope-tacked pony past the resting Modus while I photographed

more woodland and its reflecting stream.

I was surprised to see several euphorbia plants accompanying the primroses, celandines, and violets dotted among last year’s leaves carpeting the forest floor.

Along a side track leading to several private properties a number of large trees had fallen recently, and someone had lit a fire between two smaller trees, burning off some of the bark.

Showing signs of shedding their winter coats, ponies on Mill Lawn and the verges of Mill Lane tucked into their all day breakfasts.

Others trooped across Bisterne Close to sample something more prickly. A pair of cyclists stopped to take photographs. New Forest drivers are encouraged to display stickers stating “I go slow for ponies”. The animals crossing here make their requests on the tarmac.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced some of her thick, wholesome, chicken stewp with fresh crusty bread and we enjoyed eating it with, in her case, Hoegaarden, and in mine, more of the Bordeaux.

Wild Flower Verges

Mum is recovering from a throat infection for which she has been treated with antibiotics.

On our visit this morning she demonstrated the site of her discomfort and explained that she had refused to stay in bed in favour of sitting in her chair to get herself moving.

This afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

The sight of ponies exercising their ancient pasturage privileges in view of Fawley Refinery from Exbury Road prompted reflection on past and present juxtaposition..

Nearby, different reflections remain temporarily possible in a rapidly drying rippling pool. Long shadows were cast across both expanding borders and diminishing water levels.

Most of our verges, like these alongside Lepe Road, carry swathes of bluebells, celandines, primroses, and daffodils.

Jackie parked overlooking Lepe while I photographed

yachts passing the Isle of Wight coastal buildings including a string of beach huts; a motorised dinghy on its way over there;

a window in the wall of The Watch House; bright blue grape hyacinths beside the road;

and a family walking with a dog.

This evening we dined on our customary second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese fare which is still good. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Trivento Reserve Malbec 2019.

Water Feature In Situ

This morning I scanned the next half dozen of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’.

In ‘Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him’ her dress flows like her tears.

Dickens’s description of the attendant, complete with whiskers, is faithfully depicted by Keeping in ‘Mrs Prig began to rasp his unhappy head with a hair-brush’

‘ ‘Pray, pray, release me, Mr Pecksniff’ ‘

The identifiable Mr Pecksniff, ‘Looking like the small end of a guillotined man, he listened’, as the artist runs with the writer’s image of the eavesdropper’s head above a pew.

In ‘ ‘He comes and sits alone with me’ ‘ Keeping demonstrates the unfortunate desperation of the couple skirting around engagement.

As hollow-cheeked as the writer describes the man, the artist captures him as ‘He sat down on the chest with his hat on’

This morning I transported the larger water feature from the patio to its permanent place in the Rose Garden, then photographed a few of our current blooms.

We still have a range of daffodils; numerous tulips; various wallflowers; forget-me-nots, primroses, lamium, wood anemones, honesty, and euphorbia.

This afternoon I watched the funeral service for the Duke of Edinburgh.

(Yvonne, you may skip the next paragraph.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome liver, bacon, and onion casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the red blend.

Surviving The Cold Weather

Having progressed comfortably past the halfway point in Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, this morning I scanned the next six of Charles Keeping’s imaginative and skilful illustrations.

In ‘Mrs Hominy stalked in again; very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood’ the artist perfectly displays her haughtiness.

‘Three or four meagre dogs; some long-legged pigs; some children, nearly naked; were all the living things he saw’ sprawls across a splendid two page spread.

Two more leaves are partially occupied by ‘In a moment the stick was spinning harmlessly in the air, and Jonas himself lay sprawled in the ditch’, thus depicting a sense of distance.

Mrs Gamp, being ‘Only a little screwed’, i.e. somewhat inebriated as usual, clearly afforded her young witnesses a sneaky source of amusement.

‘He stood at his shop-door in even-tide’ is one of Keeping’s authentic period street scenes.

‘That fiery animal confined himself almost entirely to his hind legs in displaying his paces’ bursting out of the text shows the horse’s stubbornly combative nature. The artist faithfully demonstrates the driver’s diminutive stature.

The day remained cold with occasional sunny periods, one of which lasted for only the first of the photographs I produced on a walk around the garden this afternoon.

This was a fanning euphorbia providing shadows; we have a plethora of primroses and pansies, some of which are now planted in an owl flown in from Mum’s garden. The other ornamental raptor pictured is the Head Gardener’s latest purchase. Later daffodils continue to bloom, as do tulips and camellias. Honesty is widespread; spirea sprays forth; fritillaries flourish. I think it is safe to say that the garden is surviving the cold weather.

This evening we dined alfresco at The Lamb Inn, Nomansland. I will report on. that tomorrow.

Anyone For Croquet?

A drowsy morning was necessary for me after yesterday’s exertions, although the Head Gardener did plant a number of seeds in the greenhouse.

This afternoon – cold with sunny intervals – we took a drive into the forest.

A game of croquet was in progress on the green at Nomansland. The players were unfazed by my attention, although one woman claimed in jest that I had put her off her stroke. I suggested to the others that they let her play again. They responded with a good laugh.

Our next stop was at Hale, a village surrounded by trees bearing mistletoe.

The verges of the high-banked lane running from Hale to Woodgreen bear many wild flowers including primroses, violets, bluebells; and plenty of mossy roots.

Splendid avenues of varied daffodils line the approach to Hale Park House. ‘Hale was recorded, although not by name, as a manor in Domesday Book. It passed through the hands of a number of owners, with a manor house being built by the C14, until in the C16 it was leased and then purchased by the Penruddock family. Sir John Penruddock died c 1600-01, leaving Hale to his son Thomas whose own son, John, commissioned a new house in 1637 from the architect John Webb (1611-72). A deer park is also recorded as established at Hale by 1638 (Debois 1990). In 1715, Hale was sold by the Penruddocks to Thomas Archer (1668-1743), Groom Porter to Queen Anne and architect, amongst whose works were the banqueting house at Wrest Park (qv) in Bedfordshire and the Cascade House at Chatsworth (qv), Derbyshire. Archer began the present house in 1715, most probably planted the avenues through the park (ibid), and is most likely to have been responsible for laying out the surrounding formal gardens and wooded pleasure grounds to the south-west and north-west of the house, as shown on a survey of Hale made by Thomas Richardson in 1789. He also largely rebuilt the church. Hale remained with the Archer family until the 1780s, the house being remodelled in the 1770s by Henry Holland (1745-1806) and then purchased by Joseph May for whom it was further remodelled by Popes of Poole (Booth-Jones 1953). In 1837, the estate was bought by Joseph Goff and during the C19 and early C20, the pleasure grounds were simplified and new formal features added to the gardens. The Goff family remained at Hale until the early C20 after which the ownership passed to Major Wright and then to the Booth-Jones family before being purchased in 1973 by Mr and Mrs Hickman. Hale remains (1998) in private ownership.’ This information comes from https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000298 which contains much more.

Beside Wootton Common I stopped to photograph a heron blending nicely with a birch tree among the gorse. Needless to say, when I approached for a closer viewpoint the bird flapped up and away.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; herby sausages, firm carrots and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Peroni and I drank S├ęguret Cotes du Rhone 2019.

Eternal Spring

After lunch I progressed enough with ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ to feature another handful of Charles Keeping’s splendid illustrations to Charles Dickens’s novel.

In ‘The sky was black and cloudy, and it rained hard’, Dickens has used the weather as a symbol of the mood he wishes to create. The artist has reflected this in the vertical slashes across the scene involving horses hanging their dripping heads. There is neither steam emanating from their droppings, nor smoke from the driver’s pipe.

‘Martin drew back involuntarily, for he knew the voice at once’

‘He not only looked at her lips, but kissed them into the bargain’

‘Onward she comes, in gallant combat with the elements’

In ‘They walked along a busy street, bounded by a long row of staring red-brick storehouses’, Keeping displays his skill at depicting a packed street scene with gradually diminishing perspective.

On this warm and sunny afternoon we found ourselves on a drive outside

St Mary the Virgin Church at South Baddesley, photographed by Jackie, who from

her vantage point on the carved oak bench, also focussed on

mares’ tails, Celandine, and cows crunching hay opposite.

I wandered around the graveyard reflecting that the scenes reflected an eternal spring for those buried here.

Most poignant was this angel and child sculpture.

The crochet-embellished post box on Pilley Hill now sports an Easter Bunny. Nearby a sunflower embraces a post, and bluebells sweep down a bank.

For dinner we enjoyed more of Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp, accompanied by bacon butties, with which she drank sparkling water and I finished the Red Blend.

The Garden As April Begins

On a warm day with sunny intervals it was time to record the garden as it comes alive.

The Brick Path and the Back Drive borders each hold some of the plants I am about to show, like the euphorbia fronting one of the dead stumps on the Back Drive.

We have many tulips in pots and in the beds.

Varieties of daffodils proliferate.

Camellias have been blooming since last November, and are now accompanied by magnolia Vulcan.

Hellebores hang about everywhere.

Japanese maples are coming into leaf.

Spring snowflakes are spreading nicely; forget-me-nots; primroses; pulmonaria; white fritillary; epimedium, wood anemones; cowslips; chionodoxa; and mahonia are further delights.

Unfortunately, on my rounds I found the body of the ailing dove, which had suffered no further damage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh crusty bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Red Blend.

4 P. M. Watershed

On a very dull and wet morning we visited Mum at Woodpeckers. As usual, we had to be separated by a screen in which Jackie is reflected. In the second picture here my mother indicates where she recently had her second, painless, Covid vaccination.

It was not until 4 p.m. that the rain desisted and the sun put in an appearance.

Then I put down my book and took up my camera to look round the garden where sparkling precipitation prevailed, mostly on hellebores, and additionally on the amanogawa cherry blossom, camellia and others. Euphorbia, daffodils, primroses and the lichen flower on the Nottingham Castle bench are also pictured.

This evening we dined on Hunter’s Chicken Kiev; oven chips; and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Dao.