First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

Behind The Nottingham Castle Bench

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After a day in our mother’s garden, I wandered around ours.

Lamiums

Lamiums rise from the Dragon Bed, where

Rhododendron

the first of our rhododendrons is in full boom.

Margery's Bed grass-side

Another of these rich red shrubs, in Margery’s Bed,

Pieris, rhododendron and view across lawn

can be seen on the grass patch side,

Pieris

beyond the pieris

Pieris and view across grass patch

that stands behind the Nottingham Castle Bench,

Honesty

opposite which one of the ubiquitous honesty plants presages the hebe blooms with which it will soon blend.

Cyclamen

Cyclamens border the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Pansies

These particular pansies smile in the West Bed,

Hellebore, comfrey

where hellebores, like these among the comfrey and the tellimas, are adopting their maturer colouring,

Snakeshead fritillaries

and snakes head fritillaries hang their lanterns.

Japanese maple red and camellias

We thought we had lost the red Japanese maple from which I had removed dead material two years ago. Aaron cut some more away recently and fresh shoots are appearing.

Daffodils

Many later daffodils linger

Tulips

and our surprise collection of tulips has revealed yet another dramatic red striped variety.

Spirea

A white spirea cascades over the Palm Bed,

Prunus Amanogawa

and at the front of the house the prunus Amanogawa is now in full bloom. Should anyone wonder at the proliferation of piping on this side of our building, that is because this, we believe, was originally the back of the house.

This evening we dined on real fusion food – Jackie’s superb savoury egg rice, Mr Chan’s spring rolls and prawn toasts, Lidl’s pork rib rack in barbecue sauce; Belgium’s Hoegaarden beer and Argentina’s Trivento reserve Malbec 2017.

The Fifth Child

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A cooler temperature and continuous overcast skies returned today. This gave me a more satisfactory light for photographing pale flowers which I always find difficult in sunshine.

Our later daffodils tend to be more white than yellow;

defying all attempts at eradication white alliums thrust their way through the soil throughout the garden, iberis thrives on the edge of the New Bed, and;

similarly hued tulips, daffodils, and primulas contrast with brighter reds and yellows;

tulips continue fully to open;

as does prunus Amanogawa at the front of the house.

Blue flowers include the first bluebells and prolific forget-me-nots.

I didn’t like Doris Lessing’s ‘The Fifth Child’. But then perhaps I wasn’t meant to. Even the author stated that she hated writing it. Nevertheless this most unpleasant child demanded attention from start to finish, at which I arrived this afternoon. It is a short modern horror story, details of which I will, as usual, refrain from revealing. Save to say that it involves a nightmare birth and terrifying childhood that puts unbearable strain on a happy family. The essence of its success must be that it comes so close to credible and touches the deepest fears of any parent.

The Fifth Child

Published by Jonathan Cape in 1988, the selection of Mervyn Peake’s ‘Boy Reclining’ as the jacket cover is a masterstroke. The distant, unfocussed, eye in the portrait conjures up our current character and there are echos of the artist’s ‘Gormenghast’ Gothic fantasy series of novels in Ms Lessing’s work. It also reminded me of a cover I once drew for the Queens Park Family Service annual report.

This evening it was warm enough for us to have drinks on the patio before Jackie drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away to collect our evening meal. While she was out we experienced a heavy hailstorm. This developed into a spectacular electric storm. I drank more of the Fleurie with my dinner.

 

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

Clearly The Day For It

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The meteorologists having informed us that the bright, albeit nippy, early morning sunshine would be covered by cumulus soon after mid-day sent us off into the forest, after a brief wander round the garden where

Pansies and climbing pink rosePansies in hanging baskets

hanging baskets are now mostly filled with plants, like these pansies at the front,

Front garden

which catches the dawn rays,

Prunus Amanogawa

particularly lighting blossom such as that of the prunus Amanogawa;

Sparrow

and a sparrow surveyed the terrain from the safety of a holly tree.

Back drive

The back drive,with its own share of hanging baskets, was also looking bright and sprightly.

Cattle 1

On the road out of Lymington towards Beaulieu, a collection of cattle lounged along the curving verge. Only after she had finished using this to have a good scratch under her outstretched jaw,

Cattle 2

did the first one find the energy to lift her head and satisfy her curiosity.

Cyclist and cattle

Further on down the road, a passing cyclist, when informed that she was in the shot, quipped that had she known she would have smiled.

Donkeys, bus stop, phone box

Donkeys, joining the queue for the bus at East Boldre, preferring to stay on their feet, made use of bus stop, phone box, and wooden bollard to shift their ticks. Note that the telephone box has been saved and dedicated to the memory of John Kitcher.

Pony scratching 1Pony scratching 2Pony scratching 3

Across the green behind the bus stop stands a hawthorn tree very handy for the ponies. This one, risking possible entanglement, vigorously rubbed its rear against a broken branch. This was clearly the day for relieving an itch.

Fawley Refinery and Power station 1

Fawley refinery and power station

Beyond Beaulieu, the approach to Fawley refinery and power station varied the vista.

Calshot beach 2Calshot beach 3

When we last visited Calshot beach the Hoegh Osaka was stranded on Bramble Bank. The strand that today we had to ourselves had then been packed with reporters, photographers, and sightseers; and the empty lanes choked with parked cars.

The Spinnaker

Today the Southampton Spinnaker was a focus of my attention. Someone appears to have set up cricket stumps for Jesus. I cannot think of anyone else who could play on this surface. (But see the Quercus Community comment below!!)

Yacht and speedboat

The paths of a yacht and a motor boat passed at speed.

Private beach sign

Calshot beach 1

Having recently watched the BBC’s magnificent adaptation of Bleak House, in which the long running Court of Chancery case of Jardyce v. Jardyce is pivotal, I was intrigued to read the basis for privacy of this section of beach (should you be equally intrigued you will need to enlarge the image of the notice.

We drove on to King Henry VIII’s Calshot Castle in time, once more, to watch a tanker passing.

OystercatcherOystercatcher and sandpiper?

Also passing each other, emulating the two boats above, were an oystercatcher and, I think, a sandpiper, each striding along ignoring the other.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pork chops in redcurrant jelly; fried potatoes; crisp cabbage and carrots; and the peppers, onions, leeks and garlic melange. This was followed by Bread and Butter pudding, with cream for her, and custard for me. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the madiran.

Bread & Butter Pud recipe

In response to popular request, the Culinary Queen has penned her method for making Bread and Butter Pudding.

 

An Ecological Balance

We had some overnight rain; the first for about three weeks. To write that in April, the month identified in UK with spring rain, has been hitherto unimaginable. The French term for our ‘April showers’ is ‘giboulées (showers) de mars (March)’. Could we be going that way?

Refreshing drops were retained by the garden plants such as:

Raindrops on tulips

tulips,

Raindrops on prunus amanogawa

prunus amanogawa,

Raindrops on pansy

pansies,

Raindrops on euphorbia

euphorbia,

Raindrops on heuchera

and heuchera.

Yesterday’s dove feathers, clearly discarded by a larger, ravenous, avian predator, provided an example of nature’s food chain in action. Further evidence of the process was to be found this morning.

Pond linerHole left by pond liner

Last evening, unaided after all, Jackie had emptied the second small pond, dragging out it’s container and turning it over on the concreted area. We have decided to fill in the hole.

The underside of this small lining bath sheltered a couple of dozen snails. As she overturned their refuge, applying her own philosophy, she invited the thrushes to feast. Snail shell shardsThis morning the concrete was strewn with scattered shards.

Particularly in London, where slug and snail pellets containing poison such as metaldehyde, are widely used to kill the very unpopular molluscs, thrushes that feed on them, so ingesting the toxic substance, are a vanishing species. In the natural course of events snails eat plants; thrushes eat snails and thrive. The ecological balance is upset when snails are tempted by humans into.eating poisoned pellets. They die; thrushes eat snails; poison passes into thrushes; and thrushes die.

Gardeners care more for their birds than they do their snails. And even more for their vulnerable plants. Perhaps they should eschew poison and allow themselves once more to hear the tapping created by thrushes bashing open the shells on stone. Non-toxic snail bait contains iron phosphates. I don’t know how effective they are.

This evening we dined on oven fish.and chips, and pickled onions. I did the cooking, such as it was; the timer failed to sound; the fish and chips were a little crisper than ideal.

Steadying The Camera

I was in bed soon after eight last night. I am not comfortable sleeping on my back, and never normally start off that way. However, at least until I remove the sling from my arm during the daytime, I am advised to place a pillow on my chest and keep my unslung hand on that. On no account am I to allow it to fall out of bed and, snoozing, leave it dangling. No, you are not be treated to a photograph of a dormant me.

As the morning drew on my headache and sore throat subsided I was surprised to find that the greatest source of pain was my left thumb. This particular digit has been arthritic for years. It has a hard lump on the main joint, but doesn’t hurt much. It hasn’t been possible for me to spread it out wide, but I imagine that was required by the surgeon yesterday, and with me non compus mentis he could pull it about at will. Hitherto, I have been rather ignorant about the process of anaesthesia, but Jackie kindly advises me that  assistance with breathing is required, and to that end tubes are stuffed down your unprotesting gullet. That explains post-operative soreness.

Having learned yesterday that the results of the x-rays to my right knee would have been sent to the GP surgery, the staff of which would probably expect me to phone them, Jackie drove me there. I saw the helpful and efficient Dr Jensen who, incidentally, had arranged for my hand operation. She read out the knee report which ‘told us what we already knew’, that the problem was osteoarthritis. She referred me to an orthopaedics consultant, gave me a further month’s supply of medication, and put me on ‘repeat prescriptions’, which means I can just order them without making an appointment.

Prunus amanogawaFlowering cherry

My brain was rather clearer this evening, and I could steady the camera with my two free-ish fingers and photograph a couple of our flowering cherries. We have quite a lot of different ones, most of which we believe to be Japanese. Of these two we have only identified the white Prunus Amanogawa. Any suggestions as to the name of the pink one wold be appreciated. Rie, if you are reading this, I am counting on you.

It may come as no surprise that I hardly touched last night’s Hordle Chinese Take Away meal. We therefore had bags left over for this evening. There were of course no bags, because this food comes in foil-topped cardboard containers. For those who may not be familiar with the expression, ‘bags’, in this context means ‘a great deal’. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the bordeaux.