Come Along With Me

A north wind gusting at 25+ m.p.h. took the heat out of a gloriously sunny morning.Starling flurry Starling flurry and poppy Early on there was a distinct, or should I say, indistinct, flurry of activity around the bird table, particularly as the parent starlings were feeding themselves for a change. These shots were taken through the window because I didn’t want to startle them. Ring-necked dove and starling

The ring-necked dove had to wait its turn,

Ring-necked dove and poppy

and spent some time admiring the poppy.

Blackbird, poppy, frog

A blackbird preferred to contemplate the possibility of a frog for breakfast.

Now, it is all very well for me to introduce you to close-ups of our many garden plants, such as


this newly flowering rhododendron,


or this delicate iris

but that does not give much go an idea of what it is like to amble along our reclaimed paths. So, come along with me, down

Head gardener's path

The Head Gardener’s Path, which did not exist last year;

Shady path

The Shady Path, so named because it was then completely devoid of sunshine,

Five ways chimney pot

and which, round the bend, leads to the chimney pot at Fiveways, where five paths merge.

Side path

This side path links The Shady Path with

Pergola path

The Pergola Path.

Agriframes arch path

The other main thoroughfare is the Agriframes Arch Path.

Anyone who followed last year’s labours will know that there are more routes in the tour, which will be resumed in a day or two. The numerous solar lights in evidence illuminate a veritable fairyland at night.

After this I took a short walk up Hordle Lane where

Blackberry blossom

blackberry blossom blooms,

Buttercups and ragged robin

and buttercups ramble among ragged robins.

We had two brief shopping trips, either side of ‘Bargain Hunt’. The first was to the pharmacy in Milford to collect a prescription; the second to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of compost and, of course, while we were there, half a dozen verbena plants. I am assured that we needed them, and who am I to argue?

This evening’s dinner comprised a pork rib rack marinaded in barbecue sauce; roasted peppers and onions, boiled rice, and green beans.(I refuse to use the abbreviated abomination BBQ, but you can tell it is getting to me when you know I almost typed barbeque). I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

I Guess I Will Never Know

Becky has pointed out that Jackie’s hand is reflected in the eye of the donkey in ‘Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind’. I have added a postscript to this effect.


We are doing our best to learn the myriad of bird calls we hear in the garden. When they are all sounding at once it is difficult to separate them. So, when setting out this morning to walk to Roger’s field and back, and hearing a single note ‘chuff’ from a large black bird perched on North Breeze roof, I used my camera as an aid to identification. Zooming in on this distant creature revealed it to be a jackdaw. I have often noticed that this device has a keener eye than we do.

In our garden we now have:







Tulips 2

and more tulips,


yellow versions of which brighten the front garden.

The small front garden did not receive much attention last year, as we concentrated on the larger back one. Jackie did, however, train a rambling rose along the fence. This is now covered in new shoots.

Rose stem with greenflyRose stem with greenfly - Version 2

And greenfly. When I showed the head gardener this crop, she vowed immediate vengeance.


Jackie has also positioned for planting a jasmine, obviously forced into early blooming by the supplier.

Because Christchurch Road, once a gentle country thoroughfare, is now a busy link between Lymington and Christchurch, our refuse bags are collected from the front of the house early in the morning before the traffic builds up. Should we forget to put them out on Wednesday evening, we have the option of placing them on Downton Lane where they are picked up later in the morning.Bin bags

Today, wildlife had got to them before the refuse collectors.

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is beginning to festoon the lane,

Dandelions and primroses

where dandelions converse with primroses.

The preponderance of yellow in the hedgerows is now being challenged by the white of:

Blackthorn 3Blackthorn 1


Cow parsley

cow parsley,


and daisies.

This afternoon, from the end of the back drive, I noticed a woman, a mobile device in each hand, wandering, perplexed, around the pub car park. I asked if she needed any help. She said she was playing a game. Thanks to Louisa, I realised that this was geocaching, described by Wikipedia as:

an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-huntingletterboxing, and waymarking.’

I told the woman I couldn’t be much help with the technicality, but I was sure my granddaughters Jessica and Imogen would have been useful, because they love the pastime.

The Royal Oak telephone number provided one clue which led to the next, being a box marked 5. Now, the bin bags I had photographed earlier belonged to number 5 Downton Lane, almost opposite the car park, but my acquaintance saw no box. She had the option of turning left down the lane, or right in the direction of Hordle Lane. She chose the latter. Later, pondering, as you do, I remembered that my neighbours had twin drives and another set of gates.

Had I missed the opportunity of being a brilliant hero? I had to go and check, and, sure enough, the other, more concealed gates bore a letter box numbered 5. There was, however, no waterproof container to be seen. I guess I will never know.

When Jackie returned this evening from Mr Pink’s with his perfect fish and chips, to which we added pickled onions and mushy peas, she announced that she had pushed the boat out. This did not mean that she had made her own fishing trip, but that, by buying three pieces of cod and one portion of chips, she had spent slightly more than usual. She did this because we have never managed to consume two complete bags of the shop’s plentiful fried potatoes. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I abstained.

Our Christmas Fairy

Our fairy helper was very busy overnight, embellishing every corner of the house with Christmas decorations. Here is a selection:Christmas decorations on windowsillChristmas decorations on mantlepieceChristmas decorations on mirror
One string above the photograph of Flo on the sitting room wall is particularly pertinent to the season. Beginning with our granddaughter’s first conscious Christmas Jackie, for a number of years, produced an annual fairy dress for her. This, the second, was the first of a series Granny actually made from scratch. As the festive season progressed, her tiny tummy expanded, and the garment became gradually tighter, but the little fairy adamantly refused to take it off.
Christmas decorations on Flo's pictureChristmas decorations in kitchenChristmas decorations at bottom of stairsChristmas decorations in sitting room
Ragged robin straggled among fallen autumn leaves on Downton Lane when I took my Ragged robin and autumn leavesHordle Cliff top walk this morning. Apart from the presence of its avian namesake perched Robinon a clifftop post it was hard to believe that this was mid-December in Albion.
Mallards on streamTwo pairs of mallards scooted along the Shorefield stream, where I had to be quick to take this shot.
Feeling rather smug at having written half our Christmas cards in time for second class post this afternoon, I flourished my fountain pen, the top of which flew across the room and under the sofa. This meant, I thought, a painful grovel underneath for its retrieval. Our lithe Christmas fairy, however, was much more up (or down) to the task, and fished it out for me.
This evening Becky and Ian came to stay the night and take Flo home tomorrow. We all dined on Jackie’s superb roast lamb meal followed by rice pudding covered in raspberry jam and/or evap. I finished the Madiran, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian Leffe. Becky drank rose wine and Flo J2O.

I’ve Found A Young Man

I am now entertained by natural sounds throughout the day.  The swarm of little birds, far too quick for me to identify even if I knew how, spend the day chattering in the cascading clusters of ivy on the back garden wall.  The lower, urgent, mating calls of woodpigeons offer intermittent variation.  After nightfall, the incessant, slightly high-pitched, purring of a distant engine, emanates from mating frogs completely covering the pool behind the Carrefour petrol station.  Jackie, who watched this writhing pulsating mass of procreation a couple of years ago, when I was still unable to climb up there, provided the metaphor for me.

This morning I learned that if you do not straighten a duvet for a week, but just drag it over you as you climb into bed at night, it has the capacity completely to reorient itself.

Early on, slightly disconcerted by the albeit painless creaking of my left knee, I did some more sweeping and weeding of the garden.

Ragged robinRagged robin is the most prolific plant in the garden. Ragged robin curve and crop Although a weed, it provides attractive ground cover, provided you have a decent acreage with a wild section, which I don’t.  One fully grown potato had been reared in a flower bed.  It could therefore be expected to have been of the sweet variety, but it isn’t.

Villon’s ‘Ballade Des Pendus’ was this morning’s straightforward poem.  The collection’s earlier pieces must all be translations.  I don’t think I’d make much sense of a French Chaucer or a Shakespeare.

When shopping for bread, I met my arthritic old lady again.  This time she accepted my arm and allowed me to carry her extremely heavy bag.  It was uphill from the baker’s.  The sigh of relief as she gained my support, and was able to straighten up, was patent.  On my way to the shop I had greeted her as she was resting on the half-way bench.  She hadn’t got much further.  Coquettishly, as, arm in arm, we adapted our paces to each other, she told a passing male acquaintance that she had found a young man.  I suppose to her I must seem young.  I was still only allowed to help until we reached a parked car she pointed out about a hundred yards away, this clearly being a milestone in her journey.  When we reached it she remained adamant and pointed out her house which still seemed a long way for her.  Otherwise, I didn’t understand much of what she said.

After this it was time to get out the hoover – a Philips actually – and duster.  Thoroughly as the men had swept up after each day’s work, there was inevitably a fine coating of masonry dust covering numerous surfaces.

Half the aforementioned baguette; scrambled eggs and bacon, courtesy of Bill emptying his fridge; followed by an orange, provided a simple but adequate lunch.

For some reason best known to themselves, Don thinks I am always knocking over drinks, and Jackie thinks I am always about to.  They would have each felt justified and probably ‘more than somewhat’ amused when David, replacing a beer I had just overturned whilst posting this entry, made a point of positioning it as far away from me as possible.