Directions From The Window

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On a dull day with intermittent light rain Jackie drove Elizabeth and me over to Mum’s to carry out a few tasks.

The major object of the trip was the rescue of a wayward wisteria, flattened, and stretching across the grass. Jackie provided the expertise

and a metal stake with which to reinforce the old rotted wooden one snapped at the base.

She took a heavy mallet to the new stake in order to hammer it into the still rock hard ground.

I lent a hand or two.

Elizabeth offered support, guidance, and assistance in positioning the plant.

Mum offered directions from the sitting room window,

Wisteria twined round post

and Jackie pruned to the level her mother-in-law required and wired the old post to the new one.

My wife and sister then went shopping while I cut up all the pruned branches and fed them to a green garden rescue sack. When they returned we enjoyed a lunch of salad, ham, cheeses, bread, quiche and strawberries, all fresh from Sainsbury’s.

Elizabeth then mowed the lawn and she and Jackie carried out more tidying and weeding while I kept my mother company.

After this we returned some inappropriate equipment to a local health centre, and made our leisurely way home.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s succulent roast lamb; roast sweet and normal potatoes; Yorkshire pudding, cabbage, our own runner beans, and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and, Elizabeth and I, more of the Merlot.

 

Giving A Hand

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Just before lunch today, Jackie and I arrived at Mum’s home in West End where we joined Mum and Elizabeth. Jackie had packed a plentiful picnic lunch of sandwiches, tomatoes, cakes and jam tarts; Elizabeth brought salad. These were enjoyed when Danni and Andy joined us a little later. We were a gardening party to spend the afternoon working on our mother’s garden.

Elizabeth began by assembling the new lawn mower and cutting the grass;

while Jackie pruned the shrubbery on the drive to the

front garden with, among others, its magnolia, heathers, and muscari. Perched on Mum’s raised garden chair, I helped to fill the bags with the cuttings

I offered similar assistance in cutting up the photinus that the Head Gardener pruned in the back garden. By cutting out the lower branches she gave the tree shape, and, in the process, revealed the hiding place of a blue cockerel.

Danni and Andy concentrated on weeding and redefining the edges of the flower beds.

In truth, I spent most of my time watching the others work. Well, someone had to take the photographs.

The penultimate photograph in the lawn mowing sequence contains an ailing rose with muscari at its feet. Jackie dug out the rose and set the smaller, healthy, plants aside for replanting while Elizabeth raked out and bagged up photinus leaves.

Until she began to feel cold and wish to go back indoors, Mum kept an eye on proceedings. She had been helped out without her walking frame. Elizabeth gave her a hand as far as the door, after which she made her own way inside.

Back home this evening Jackie and I consumed some of the lunch that had been surplus to requirements.

 

The Kitchen Garden

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Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.

A.P. Maintenance

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In the garden this morning, envious of the attention given to the daffodils yesterday, many other plants clamoured to be photographed.

Readers may have noticed a hyacinth lurking among the daffodils. Here are a couple more, one seeking camouflage from the as yet uncleared autumn leaves.

Cowslips soar from the soil at the bottom of the back drive.

Along the beds there we have perennial wallflowers and primroses. That lady’s bedstraw will have to come out.

Alliums

Alliums are beginning to proliferate,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths are popping up.

Some bulbs, like these forcing their way through geraniums

Bulb unknown 3

or these from between patio stones, we cannot identify. The second, thanks to Rusty duck’s comment below, I can now say is Ipheion uniflorum. Geoff, thebikinggardener.com has added this information: ‘The first one – the pinkish one, is Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ and the next one is Ipheion uniflorum as you say – although it has just had its name changed to Tristagma. (not just a minute ago)’

Aubretia

Some aubretia seem almost fluorescent.

The tiny clematis Cirrhosa now festoons the gazebo.

Jackie spent the morning clearing the garden beds, while I transferred the residue to the compost heaps.

Anyone who has followed this blog for the last two and a half years will know how invaluable Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance has been. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work on his regular Sunday morning visits. Today, for example, not only did he finish weeding the back drive, but he also

fixed the House sign into position at the front of the house

and pruned the crab apple trees in order to promote fruit for next winter’s blackbirds.

Old Old Post House sign

Jackie’s sign has now been switched to the other side of the entrance.

Ponies in the New Forest are normally to be seen fending for themselves. They are naked but for their own hair which generally lengthens during the winter; and they have to find their own food. Late in the afternoon, we drove out into the forest where, close to Linford, I spotted an equine group who appeared to be enjoying hotel facilities. They were all chomping away at a large hay bin, and one wore a rug. Like young children at the trough, more of the fodder landed on the floor than reached their stomachs.

The five-barred gate on which I leant to photograph the diners bore the sign for Newlands Farm. On our return home I Googled the farm. It was indeed a horse hotel of sorts. This is what their website has to say:

“Newlands offers you over 75 acres of well-managed grassland. We offer two types of grass livery care packages,with amazing riding from the farm gate directly onto the open New Forest , with no roadwork at all.

The farm is superbly located being less than 3 minutes from the market town of Ringwood yet set right within the New Forest National Park. The farm is run and situated alongside New Forest Livery and Training. Newlands is a professionally-managed farm providing superb grazing and care packages for your horse combined with access to superb outriding.

Grass Livery – Horses at grass are either :

– Visited regularly by their owners, or

– Retired/resting, ‘Owner-Away Option’, where owners visit less often, so we maintain the care.”

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare. I finished the Fleurie while Jackie drank sparkling water.

More Than It Could Chew?

It was yet another unseasonably hot day.

Incinerator and old wheelbarrows

I cleared up after last night’s fire. It had become dark before I was able to finish the exercise. I gathered up the unburnt branches, chopped them up small, and piled them beside the incinerator which has taken the place of the two old wheelbarrows. The rusty metal one suffered enormously from being the pyre container until recently. The green one had been a pond in the Weeping Birch Bed, to which Jackie applied the finishing touches this morning.

Jackie finishing Weeping Birch Bed

Wedding Day pruned

She also completed her work on training the Wedding Day rose on the Agriframes Gothic Arch.

Rose Love Knot

The rose garden, where most roses, like Love Knot, are blooming,

Rose garden in mirror

 encourages a reflective mood.

Bee and ?spider on Cosmos

We continue to enjoy an entomologist’s delight. Actually, I could do with a student of insects to identify what I think might be a baby spider contemplating wrapping up a bumble bee which might be a bit more than it could chew.

?spider on cosmos

The cosmos gives an idea of scale.

This evening we drove over to Emsworth to visit Becky and Ian. Becky had some items for sale in the monthly Emsworth auction, which was very crowded. Our daughter sold an old wind-up gramophone and some Beatles records, among other things, but the prices were disappointing. Afterwards we dined on excellent fish, chips, and gherkins from a shop across the road, with Tesco’s mushy peas. Becky drank chianti and the rest of us enjoyed the Italian Birra Moretti.

Colemanballs

Petunias 1Petunias 2Sawn branchSeeking to provide The Head Gardener with a pleasant surprise when she returned from an early morning trip to Ferndene Farm shop, allegedly to buy more compost, I decided to take down more of the tree which, in our gusting winds, is wrecking the red rose on the pergola outside the stable door. Jackie has been mentioning the need for this for a while now. Evidence of how windy it was today is provided by these two photographs of the same basket of petunias, taken from the same spot in rapid succession.

When we arrived in Downton last April the main trunk of the offending tree had been so torn and twisted that I had been obliged to cut off the dangling remainder. After a further year of frequent whirling winds we have noticed that this particular corner always bears the brunt, with stricken branches bending and crashing against the wisteria pergola. That is why further pruning was necessary. Still in my dressing gown, I proudly displayed my work. The Head Gardener observed that I had ‘made a start’. Unless dealing with BT, I’m not normally one for invective. I must admit to having muttered one at that. The question is often asked, ‘is there any pleasing a woman?’ It is actually very easy to please Jackie, but The Head Gardener, bless her, tends towards the exacting. She is never demanding, but, if you volunteer, you have to reckon with her desire for perfection. Two more branches had to come off. Branches to be prunedFurther pruningSpace cleared over pergola

Trudging back and forth to the pile awaiting combustion, I was able to view the rest of the garden, where

Fuchsia Paula Jane, colibrachoas, petuniaspretty pink fuchsia, Paula Jane, atop the urn, is flanked by calibrachoas and petunias;

Diascas Apple Blossom, geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt

Apple Blossom diascas, magenta geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt embellish the entrance to the back drive;

Pansies, succulent and cineraria

and, turning from that point, looking towards the rose garden, a yellow theme is provided by pansies, succulents; and the flowers of lanky cineraria, otherwise known as Dusty Miller.

Hoverfly over clematis

Hoverflies, like this one casting its shadow on an unidentified clematis, give the photographer a fighting chance to catch them in flight;

Bee landing on poppy

Not so bees, which make you really work for it.

Whisky barrel

The generous Dave Fergusson, yesterday, gave Jackie a cut glass whisky barrel for just £5. It hasn’t taken her long to position it.

Wimbledon’s weather smiled on me today. Accompanying Jackie on a three hour trip to Nuffield Hospital and back, including her physiotherapy, could have meant that I didn’t see much of Andy Murray’s three set victory over Vasek Pospisil. However. Rain had disrupted the first set; I watched the rest of that and the second in the reception area; and rain caused further stoppage just as we left for home. I, therefore, was able to see the end of the match, and, far more importantly, witness a wonderful example of Colemanballs.

1634747-34692779-310-310Derived from the surname of BBC sports presenter David Coleman, Colemanballs is a term coined by the satirical magazine, Private Eye, to describe verbal gaffes by sports commentators. Today’s was an ace, admirably returned by the tennis player.

‘Is there any more pressure because of Royal spectators? David Beckham was here today,’ without the slightest pause, asked Garry Richardson, who must have forgotten the names of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. ‘He isn’t a royal, is he?’ replied Murray, with a twinkle in his eye and a wide smile. Richardson responded with: ‘I’ll let you decide.’ ‘It’s great that they came along to support,’ observed Murray with immaculate diplomacy.

The next Centre Court match was between Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic. The former won in straight sets.

Lavender

For some reason best known to herself and Bruce Goodman, Jackie wishes it to go on record that some of the flowers she bought this morning, including the lavenders that she planted in the rose garden, were blue.

Shed

It will be no surprise to anyone that Jackie has also somewhat embellished the outside of her shed.

This evening we dined on flavoursome mushroom and onion omelette, and bubble and squeak topped with fried bacon. This was followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Teroldego Rotaliano.

 

 

Camera Settings

Jackie and I spent the best part of the daylight hours on an increasingly gloomy day pruning a crab apple tree. There are two in the front garden. She had worked on the smaller one last week. Today we tackled the biggie together. The tree had many branches crossing and rubbing against each other, which, especially in a fruit trees, is a no-no. Others stretched skywards endangering telephone wires in the street outside. There was only so much that could be done with loppers, and extensive sawing was required. Afterwards the debris had to be cut up for burning, and carted to the far end of the back garden, whilst the poor abandoned fruit was swept up.

Oh dear! I shouldn’t have mentioned back, for mine was again giving me gyp. That is why, when I took my walk in fading light I only travelled to Shorefield and back. Dammit! I’ve said it again. (A wonderful language, English. I’ve just used ‘back’ for three different meanings – and now I’ve iterated it).

I sat by the stream, had a rest, and explored my camera settings. I am of the generation who never can utilise all the facilities on modern electronic devices. I only use my Samsung Galaxy 4 mobile phone to make and receive calls. This despite the fact that my friend Luci, and my daughters Louisa and Becky produce admirable photographs with theirs.

So it is with my Canon SX700 HS camera. All I have currently managed to adjust is switching from automatic to manual focussing and, more recently, to shoot in monochrome. There are, however, numerous settings that provide different effects. Having nothing better to do, I sat on a bench and explored various new possibilities.

Having been a lifelong devotee of analog film, I turned to digital for the immediacy needed for this blog. The hilarious first purchase is recorded in the post ‘Choosing A Camera’. There are many advantages in digital photography, one of which is its ability to cope with the poor light available late this afternoon, but I still find film more natural. Imagine, then, my delight at finding a setting that reproduces the colours found with positive film, that which produces colour slides, always my favourite. I only hope I can remember how to do it again.

Stream with roseHolly by stream 1Holly by stream 2After the first two pictures reproduced here, I experimented with it. The second image of the holly by the stream demonstrates the difference. These were taken perhaps ten Leaves on groundminutes apart. I had first experimented with a leaf at my feet. I deleted the original version. RoseThe close- up of a rose that still blooms on the bank shown above, was photographed with Hydrangeathe film setting, as was the second blooming of the hydrangea on the approach to the Streamfootbridge, and the stream itself. This final picture demonstrates digital’s ability to read poor light.

I often enhance my photographs to a greater or lesser extent in iPhoto, but chose not to do that today, the better to illustrate my points. I would be interested in other views, especially those of Ginene, who has expressed a preference for the products of film. And please remember I am an amateur.

We both chose Cimarosa Pedro Jimenez 2013 to accompany Jackie’s meal this evening of  haddock on a bed of spinach with mashed potato, crisp carrots, and runner beans. It was delicious.