I Didn’t Have The Energy

Once the overnight ice had melted on the pools, the day remained bright and sunny, albeit a bit chilly.


By late morning, perhaps drawn by the sunlight reflected off one of the white tiles left as markers by The Head Gardener when she planted crocuses in the cryptomeria Japonica bed last autumn, even a dozy fly had been tempted out of hibernation.

Prunus pissardi

The prunus pissardi is now in full bloom;

Weeping birch bed

and springing into life are such as the Weeping Birch Bed,

Wood anemone and shadow

from which wood anemones cast their shadows onto the Heligan Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to O2 in Christchurch to sort out the billing problem. Despite yawning every few minutes, the young man who attended to me was very helpful. He rang the relevant department and handed me his phone to speak to a young lady. Then the fun started. What eventually emerged was that the direct debit that I had signed on 27th February had expired three days later. Don’t ask. I didn’t. This meant there was none in existence. I could start one now, over the phone, but would have to ring them again on 12th to pay my first month’s account. I indicated my displeasure at having to make another call to do this. I was given the option of doing so there and then. Having received confirmation that I had been credited with £10 compensation, I settled the balance in advance. I didn’t have the energy to continue the argument.

After this, Jackie drove us into the forest beyond Brockenhurst, where we turned round and sped for home in time to be there for Aaron who had come in for a short time to put finishing touches to the hall painting before the stair carpet is laid on Wednesday.

Road across moor

On either side of the newly surfaced road through the moors. If they want to cross it they just do.


rounded, healthy, ponies gorged on green grass.

Pony and smoke

One was totally unconcerned by the clouds of smoke billowing behind it.

This evening we dined on Tesco’s chicken breast fillets with bacon, leeks, and cheese; and Jackie’s mashed potato, fried onions, and boiled cauliflower. I drank a very good Chilean merlot given to me by Ian last night. Jackie drank sparkling water.

A Good Arboreal Scratch

We enjoyed another bright and sunny day, albeit a little cooler. A light, short-lived frost had left strings of pearls around our early flowers including


hellebores I had overlooked yesterday,

Prunus pissardi 1Prunus pissardi 2

and prunus pissardi.

This afternoon I watched recorded highlights of last Sunday’s drawn rugby match between Ireland and Wales. This is a very rare result these days, and you have to go back 42 years to the last evenly scored game between these two teams.

After this, Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop where we bought three bags of compost; then meandered around the forest as far as Godshill and back along Roger Penny Way.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4

Ponies and magpie

The sun romped in and out of the clouds in the ever-changing skies spilling light and shade over the heathland where well-fattened ponies, with their magpie acolytes, chomped their way across the turf.

Ponies crossing road

When these free-creatures of The New Forest fancied the grass would be greener on the other side, they wandered across the road, exercising their inalienable right to hold up the traffic.

Shattered fallen tree

The recent storms have brought down numbers of trees such as this oak, its trunk shattered, on the approach to Burley,

Oak tree

where another, more dead than alive, still stood,

Pony scratching

and where one pony left its companions foraging whilst it had a good arboreal scratch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken curry; savoury rice; and vegetable samosas and pakoras; followed by Sicilian lemon tart and evap. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fortnum & Mason Saint-Emilio grand cru 2011, given to me by Luci and Wolf for Christmas.

Portraits From 1982 – 1986

In recent days, I have been nominated for two more awards, the Leibster;  and the Real Neat Blog by Alex Raphael. Unfortunately I was very tired when I received the first one, and cannot remember who awarded it. I acknowledged it and said I would follow it up the next day. I didn’t get around to it. This is really bad. Having spent ages scrolling down ‘Blogs I follow’, I haven’t been able to track it, so, kind nominator, if you are reading this please accept my apologies. My difficulty was nominating others for this newcomers’ honour, which would have meant checking how long my favourites had been blogging. The questions are also time consuming.

I have reluctantly decided that I am too involved in composing my daily Ramblings to manage this, and will continue to point up blogs I admire in the way I normally do, above, for Alex, and below, for Rob McShane.

On a wet morning, Jackie drove off to replenish our larder, and I, raincoat clad, ambled round the garden,where

raindrops on fuchsia Army Nurse

Raindrops on prunus pissardi

Raindrops on honeysuckle

the Lady in Black climbing fuchsia, the prunus pissardi leaves , and the honeysuckle enjoyed a cooling shower. Keen observers will notice that my camera lens did too.

Bee and raindrops on rhododendron

Hardy, bedraggled, workers crept into this rhododendron.


 The dragon’s armour plating affords him suitable protection.

This photograph is for The Wayward Warrior, an excellent poet.

In Lidl, Jackie found, a superb new Dosset Box that is unlikely to lose its lettering. On account of a slight tear it its packaging, this was sold for 89p.Dosset Box 1Dosset Box 2

Since I can’t read braille I was having to guess the different containers in the old one.

This afternoon I returned to the task of sorting, scanning, and returning to photograph albums the prints Elizabeth had borrowed.

Louisa 1982 6

Let’s begin with a laughing Louisa in Gracedale Road sometime in 1982. She has never stopped spreading delight.

The summer of 1985 comes next.

Sam 1985 02

Sam appears to be wondering where the contents of his ice cream cone have gone. Looking at his cheeks and chin we would be able to tell him where some was to be found.

Sam on donkey 1985

A little further on in the year he rides a donkey down the steep steps of the cobbled street in Mousehole, Cornwall’s famous tourist venue.

Jessica and Sam 1985

In the autumn Jessica and I rented a French gite. Here she is in its garden with our son.

Joseph 12.85 2

I have featured that year’s Christmas at my parents’ home in Morden before. Here is a shot of my youngest brother, Joseph.

Louisa 5.86 2

This picture of Louisa was taken in the garden of our Gracedale Road house on her fourth birthday in May 1986. Never content with her thumb, she always added her first finger to her mouth when tired.

Matthew, Sam & Louisa 12.86Matthew and Sam 12.86

London experienced  a pleasing amount of snow for children that December. Mind you, judging by the expressions on Sam and Louisa’s faces as Matthew pushed or dragged them over the snow, on Gracedale Road, or Tooting Bec Common, it was pretty cold.

Later this afternoon the rain stopped. Jackie continued pruning and weeding, and I did my best to cart the contents of one of the large bins, into which she chucked the cuttings, to the compost heap before she had filled the next one.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla.Jackie’s main dish was lamb dopiaza; mine was prawn vindaloo. It is many years since I ate a vindaloo I had not cooked myself. That is because, so often, it lacks complexity and seems mostly to consist of curry powder. I thought I would be safe here. I most certainly was. The meal was perfect.  We both drank Kingfisher.

Diverted From The Task In Hand

A stiff breeze set our flaming foliage flickering in the strong morning sunlight casting shifting shadows. As I gently ambled around, I pulled the calf of my dodgy leg. Following the last two stormy days, I now have another excuse for avoiding weeding. Beech leaves 1Beech leaves 2

The beech is now fully plumed;

Maple 1Japanes maple 2

as are the Japanese maples;

Prunus pissardi 1Prunus pissardi 2

and the prunus pissardi

Prunus pissardi 3

to which a few stubborn cherries cling, reflecting glints of light.


Only a few minutes after I discovered that my shot of a hot heuchera was out of focus, the sun had moved on to a slightly cooler one. (please Mr. WordPress, you should know by now that when I type ‘heuchera’ I don’t mean ‘heaters’).


Later there were more clouds and less sun. I sat outside for a while, which was rather disappointing for the starlings who would fly towards their nest behind our kitchen fascia board, and, noticing my presence, do a mid-air about-turn and wait patiently on one tree or another wondering what to do next.

Here are three of the prints from 1985 that I scanned today:

Louisa 1985

Lousia’s attention wandered a bit in this one.

Jessica and I and our children spent several holidays at Instow with her brother Henry, sister-in-law Judith and their two children Lucy and Nick. On an early one of these, that same year, we drove somewhere in Devon, where Jessica’s cousin was a vet. I don’t remember the name of the village where we enjoyed a summer fete, but I did record the event at which

Sam 1985

Sam was so transfixed by a Punch and Judy show, that his attention was also diverted, from his apple.

Matthew 5.85

At Louisa’s third birthday party at Gracedale Road, Matthew enjoyed amusing the children.

This evening I tucked into the scrumptious cottage pie that Jackie had left me, adding green beans and cauliflower.

Where Is My Poncho?

After lunch on another bitterly cold day, I walked through London Minstead to the Cadnam roundabout where Jackie picked me up and drove us to The Firs to visit Elizabeth.

Horses in blankets 2.13I was envious of horses in their jackets.  One even wore a scarf.  In fact I contemplated the illicit acquisition of equine accoutrements, then thought better of it, surmising that a heavy horse’s hoof probably carried more clout than the long arm of the law.  In the 1990s I must have watched ‘Doctor Zhivago’, or some other long coat epic, for I bought a made to measure Burberry with a warm lining insert.  It was so long I probably looked ridiculous, especially when we didn’t have Russian snow for it to flap away, and as my regular readers will know, I didn’t wear wellies.  The flapping around the ankles was likely to unbalance me, especially when going down stairs.  I left it on a train.  By mistake.  I went back a few minutes later.  It was at Kings Cross, a terminal station.  In that short space of time the coat had disappeared, and never turned up at the lost property office.  I hope the thief was continually tripping himself up.

After delivering me to my sister, Jackie went off for a Sainsbury’s shop.  We had coffee on her return.  In the interim Elizabeth and I had discussed the prospective art exhibition she will be holding in August on the theme of drums.  Danni’s boyfriend Andy (not quite an anagram, but at least an onomatopaeic one), as am drums (worth a look – www.amdrums.co.uk) as well as being an excellent drummer, makes beautiful instruments.  His drums will be there, as will work by a variety of artists and photographers, one of which will be me.  I took a series of photographs in 1976 of Ondekoza, an absolutely stunning Japanese drumming group, then only seven years old (the group, not the members), performing at the Soho festival.  I am to make some prints for the exhibition.  My colour slides are still at The Firs.  My scanner and printer are now at Castle Malwood Lodge.  So I unearthed those 37 year old slides which are still vibrant, and will be reproduced in various sizes.

8What I also found was a 1976 slide of me in my poncho.  This was how I kept warm then, and could have done with it today.  I have no doubt no-one who has never fancied themselves as Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns would think I looked ridiculous, but if I knew what  had happened to it I would retrieve it and wear it tramping around the freezing forest.   When I got back home I tried to scan the slide and attach it to this post.  On 20th of this month I  explained how the computer can do my head in.  Well, I have not used the professional scanner for three years.  I scanned the picture very well, but I couldn’t save it in Jpg format which is what it required for the blog.  So I sat and cursed the first person I had engaged to teach me how to use Photoshop.  Not only was he one of those people who has to do it for you at a rate of knots, so it is impossible to take it in, but he attempted to arrange things so I could scan direct from Photoshop.  The result has been I cannot scan unless I go through Photoshop.  Whenever I turn the computer on I am told there is a ‘shared library error’.  I have never found a way since then of saving to jpg.  After a couple of hours at this, I was in a foul mood and hadn’t written a word of this current masterpiece.  So I reverted to the memory stick Elizabeth had given me of the photos she had collected and reproduced to project on a screen for my ‘Surprise’ party on 1st July 2012.  And I couldn’t get up any pictures.  What appeared seemed to be a game.  In duplicate.  I really lost it then.  And phoned Elizabeth.  I got her voicemail.  Deep breaths.  Glass of wine.  Start again.  Exit the first game.  Exit the second.  Eureka.  Pictures.  One of which you see today.  You may not think it was worth it.  But if anyone recognises the garment, I would be grateful for its return.

Prunus Pissardi 2.13At least in the garden of The Firs the Prunus pissardi has not been deterred by the weather, and is beginning to bloom.  Jackie couldn’t resist pointing out to me that this flowering cherry had a Turdus turdus (blackbird)  perched upon one of the branches.  Poor Matthew.  With parents like us he didn’t stand a chance to be other than an inveterate punster.

Our evening meal was an excellent roast chicken with all the trimmings followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard.  I drank Carta Roja gran reserva 2005 and Jackie had Hoegaarden.  Having been grateful for the glass of red wine which helped me write this, I managed to knock it over onto the pale green carpet.  Fortunately I knew how to deal with this.  I learned soon after we moved to Newark.  I had had a very large area of dining and drawing rooms fitted with a green carpet.  The very first guests to sample this extravagance were Ann and Don.  Poor Ann managed to overturn a full bottle of red wine onto our glorious purchase.  Jessica steamed into action.  Salt was applied in bucketfuls.  Bottles of liberally spilled white wine were added,.  The next morning the carpet was as good as new.  So was Ann.  We’ll have to wait until morning to discover whether I will be equally relieved.  In the meantime I am having a refill.