The Swan Of Avon

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When a knee surgeon, having laid you out, stretched, twisted, and probed, opens his diagnostic announcement with a deadpan “Your chances are good”, that could be considered disconcerting. So it was this morning at my assessment at Old Hall Hospital. Chances, er, chances? What followed, still deadpan, was perhaps a reassuring explanation. “One in hundred have complications, usually because of surgeon error. Unfortunately one in ten thousand don’t make it.” Apart from my abused knees I am apparently in good enough nick to take a punt. It is of course my choice.

I took it. I need total knee replacements; the left one as soon as possible, the right after six months. Normally the first operation would be carried out within two months. Would I be available for any possible cancellation? You bet.

Clock House

My appointment took place in the Clock Tower of this listed building. It is good to be worked over in a location that satisfies my soul.

Jackie, who, of course had driven me to the hospital, took us back through the forest.

We revisited the mill house, its outbuildings, and the race beside the bridges over the River Avon where I had photographed Richard’s ‘Casting Practice’ three days ago. A solitary swan demonstrated the the two wings of the river link up in the distance. Braemore Great Bridge is the one on which I stood to focus on the angler.

I have featured the parasitic mistletoe before, mentioning how prolific it can be. These avenues leading to and from Hale House appear to wear their summer foliage. This is not so. All we see is mistletoe. Daffodils and primroses still line the verges.

At Brook we lunched on excellent fish and chips in The Green Dragon. The view from the window would perhaps have adorned any chocolate box.

This evening we dined on a scrumptious, thick, mushroom omelette.

 

 

The More Hardy

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After a night of heavy rain of which, I am happy to say, I was oblivious, Jackie drove us around the lanes of Sway and Tiptoe.

Wild golden daffodils and pale yellow primroses proliferate on the verges and the banks of ditches.

When I disembarked to photograph some of these in Flexford Lane, a whinny from the field beyond them, and the thud of hoofs alerted me to the arrival of a hopeful horse which was brought to a reluctant standstill at an inner fence. Like most of the more domesticated animals this one still wore a rug to protect it from the cold, especially as the temperature drops to around freezing overnight.

The recent snow and ice has increased the number of potholes and crumbling edges of the tarmac. Many of the lanes are awash with water, some of which runs off the fields. It is the job of the ditches to absorb this, but their capacity is not always sufficient to contain it all. Barrows Lane was particularly damaged. Imagine driving along there in the dark without a depth gauge. The traffic cones are a necessary warning.

Field-kept horses are far more inquisitive than the more nonchalant New Forest ponies. One be-rugged example, as eager as its cousin in Flexford Lane, rushed silently over to the five-barred gate before I had been able to photograph it in the process of grazing. The creature had competition from its smaller, bridled, companion.

Both fixed me with a persuasive, pleading, gaze until the larger animal tossed its head in disgust. I wonder whether the smaller creature could be a forest pony in the process of being backed, which is the term for breaking in for riders. This might make sense of both the bridle, the application of which it would resist, and the lack of a rug. New Forest ponies are definitely the more hardy.

This evening we dined on a plentiful second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Azinhaga Portuguese red.

Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.

We Have Survived

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Saucepans

This morning we unpacked a set of complimentary pans that came with the hob.

The garden has perked up after the snow. Sap is rising in no longer flaccid daffodils, hellebores, irises, and primulas; the first sunshine warms the beds, casting striking shadows.

A couple of days ago we thought it would be impossible for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance to work today, yet, here he was, pruning roses.

Meanwhile, Richard completed the kitchen. The cupboard doors were finished;

one he had made for the under stairs cupboard that had only had a curtain before;

having smoothed over yesterday’s plastering, new power points were fitted everywhere. Notice how Pauline’s light catcher bestows her blessings on the proceedings,

Smiley saucepan face

and a saucepan’s seal of approval is presented in a smiley face.

After a long day’s work, Richard carefully and patiently gave us tutorials on how to operate the scarily complex equipment. Tomorrow I will feature the total tour de force.

This evening, in our new dining area, we enjoyed a takeaway meal provided by Mr Chan at Hordle. I drank Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo reserva 2016.

 

 

 

Refreshment

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Jackie carried out much knowledgeable weeding and planting this morning, whilst I cleared up the discards and conveyed them to the compost pile.

Garden view along Heligan Path

The early sun lit libertias standing in the Weeping Birch Bed,

Rose Garden 1Rose Garden 4Rose Garden 5Rose Garden 3Rose Garden 2Rose Garden 6

and enlivened the burgeoning Rose Garden.

Raindrops on clematis CarnabyRaindrops on clematisClematis Marie BoisselotClematis

Various clematises,

Clematis Montana

including this wonderfully scented Montana festooned over the front wall;

Weigela

the weigela winding down the south fence;

Aquilegias

ubiquitous aquilegias;

Rambling rose pink

the pink rambler on the front garden trellis;

Libertia, geraniums Ingwersen's Variety, campanulas

borders everywhere, like this corner sporting campanulas, libertia, and geraniums Ingwersen’s Variety,

Raindrops on irises

and the long Back Drive hosting splendid golden irises, relished their welcome refreshment.

Fly on primula

A fly alighted on one of the front tub’s primroses.

This afternoon I added a little more to my biography of an era including me. I now have a working title: ‘A Knight’s Tale’. I took more text, and

this photograph from ‘A Sneaky Weekend’

I then made some prints from recent posts for Louisa.

After this I joined Jackie in the weeding, concentrating my efforts on uprooting the more obvious infiltrators, namely the smelly white alliums, clinging ladies’ bedstraw, and golden buttercups occupying the wrong beds.

This evening, there being no table available at the Crown in Everton, we dined at the Smugglers’ Inn at Milford on Sea. Having starters was a mistake. The platefuls were excellent. Mine contained battered whitebait, plentiful fresh salad, and thick wedges of equally fresh bread. Jackie received a huge plateful of bread and olives. Each serving was a meal in itself. An even bigger mistake was, in my case,  ordering succulent sirloin steak, still more fresh salad, a mountain of perfect chips, onion rings, and fried onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. Jackie was treated to a huge bowl of cannelloni. more salad, and an equal number of chips to mine. Neither of us could finish our food, and we did not require a look at the dessert menu. The food was, I hasten to add, all extremely good, and the service impeccable. We both reminisced that, in our prime, we would have managed all this. Jackie drank Amstel, and I drank Doom Bar..

An English Country Churchyard

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After dinner yesterday evening we popped down to Barton on Sea to view the sunset.

This morning we drove around the forest.

The thatcher I spoke to at East End, where the albeit somnolent donkeys were having fun with the traffic,

replied that the project was “beginning to take shape”.

Jackie on tree seat

Our next stop was at St Mary’s Church at South Baddesley, outside which Jackie sat on a seat cut into a very large tree stump.

Ken Allen gateposts

Gateway and church

Alongside the church stretches a patch of uncultivated land accessed from an open gateway dedicated to Ken Allen 1918 – 2005.

Path from church to playground 1

From here a  path leads down

Playground

to a playground beyond a locked five-barred gate. I was unable to gain any information about Mr Allen or the leisure area that I speculated must be related to him.

It was quite refreshing to discover that the Victorian church itself was unlocked and welcoming. I found the stained glass windows particularly attractive.

Cap on pew

Hanging on the edge of a pew was a gentleman’s cloth cap. If it is yours it awaits your collection.

Primroses, English bluebells, and other wild flowers wandered, as did I, among the gravestones in this English country churchyard.

Angel gravestone sculpture

Most of the stones were quite simple, but there was one angel and child,

and the amazing resting place of Admiral of the Fleet George Rose Sartorius, GCB, Count de Penhafirme who died on 13th April 1885 in his 95th year. This was 70 years after he had served with Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

Admiral Sartorius's grave 2 – Version 2

What is particularly astonishing is the knowledge that the credible articulated linked anchor chain winding around the cross was carved from stone.

After lunch Jackie continued working her magic in the garden where I did a bit of clearing up and repelled some invading brambles along the back drive.

This evening we enjoyed our second serving of Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Chinese Take Away with which I finished the madiran. Jackie didn’t imbibe because she had drunk her Hoegaarden in the Rose Garden where we had a drink first.

P.S. Bruce Goodman, in his comment below, has provided a link to Ken Allen, which, incidentally explains that the playground I noticed is attached to a school. This is no doubt why the entrance would be locked during the Easter holidays.

Progress Of The Thatchers

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Jackie tying up roses

During the morning and part of the afternoon work continued in the garden, mostly in the Rose Garden, although I did also partly composite the Oval Bed.

In the front, the Prunus Amanogawa,

and the crab apples are blossoming.

Hoverfly on euphorbia

Hoverflies

Poppy

and our crinkly little orange poppies are appearing everywhere.

This afternoon we drove to Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley to buy some metal stakes for holding the log in place in Jackie’s most recent attempt to keep out the big beast. We continued on into the forest, and on our return bought some stone from Otter Nurseries.

Bluebells

The bank leading up to the Church of St John the Baptist at Boldre now wears a blanket of bluebells and dandelions,

Primroses

alongside those of primroses.

Thatching progress 1

The thatching at East End, on an L-shaped building much more extensive than the front elevation shows,

continues apace; nevertheless I am informed that, weather permitting, this very large job is expected to take five weeks.

This evening we dined on Mr. Pink’s fish, chips, and pea fritters, with pickled onions and gherkins. I drank more of the Bordeaux.

P.S. In a comment below, Quercus Community has provided this informative link on thatching: http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/longstraw/longstraw.htm