The Holly And The Ivy

 

Our white sofa, being a sofa bed, is extremely heavy. In order to avoid damaging the new flooring, this morning Connor called upon

Mark to help him lift it into place.

Jackie ventured into the garden on this much brighter day than yesterday, announcing “I am going into the garden to photograph some loveliness.”  Her results included

raindrops on oak leaf pelargoniums,

on nasturtiums – only the red ones -,

on roses including Hot Chocolate,

Winchester Cathedral,

and pink carpet variety,

on vinca,

 

on cyclamen,

 

on camellia,

and on branches of Japanese maple,

weeping birch,

and the stems of Félicité Perpétue.

She also pictured primroses,

bidens,

solanum,

marguerites,

cyclamen leaves,

weeping birch bark,

viburnum,

 winter flowering cherry,

and generous pansies sharing their trough with next spring’s burgeoning tete-a-tetes.

Finally she thought her collection would not have been truly seasonal – not that much of it actually is – without

the holly

and the ivy.

The blackbirds have eaten all our berries.

Apart from working on this draft, I wrote out a batch of Christmas cards which Jackie posted later.

By the end of the afternoon, Connor was working on the final corner, which he soon finished.

One of the benefits of not being able to get into your kitchen for three days is that you can eat out in one of your favourite restaurants each day. This evening it was the turn of The Family House Chinese at Totton where we enjoyed our usual M3 set meal with Tsing Tao beer.

Redundant Water Points

Today was the day for this year’s annual trip to Jackie’s mother’s plot at the Walkford Woodland Burial Ground taken by Jackie, her two sisters, and sometimes the three spouses.

Normally, Shelly, who lives nearby, buys a wreath which the sisters place on the site of their mother’s ashes. This year Jackie volunteered to make one.

She was rather amused at my insistence that she posed with this fully degradable work of art. The ribbon has Veronica Rivett’s initials embroidered on it and samples from each of Helen and Shelly’s gardens are woven into the circular structure.

We met at Shelly and Ron’s home; listened to the rain hammering down for a while, and, when this adopted a slightly lighter touch, the women and I decided to go for it.

Naturally the rain persisted. Stepping from our cars we negotiated the mud bath that led to

the pool laden winding gravel path leading to Pine Close where my late mother in law’s remains lie. Raindrops rippled the surfaces of the puddles.

Passing windfall apples I managed to resist scrumping any.

Jackie, Helen, and Shelly honoured their mother’s memory as they laid the wreath on the muddy ground.

The strategically placed watering stations complete with watering cans were rather redundant.

Back at Grenville Road Shelly produced what she called a light lunch consisting of plentiful cold meats and cheese salads followed by mince pies, fruit jelly and ice cream with which we drank red or white wine according to taste. Coffee and mints completed the meal after which we watched Ron’s video of Jane’s graduation ceremony, narrowly escaped another quiz, and enjoyed stimulating conversation until well into the afternoon.

As we left, Jackie photographed the house and front garden Christmas lights.

No further nourishment was required this evening.

Somewhat Disconcerting

Excessive rain interspersed with splendid sunlight spells was the order of the day.

In the early gloom gluttonous sparrows from across the road commandeered the seed feeder.

A later downpour dropped puddles on our paths.

Bright sunshine left sparkling garden views

sporting long shadows.

After lunch we took a drive into the forest via Lyndurst Road,

still displaying autumnal burnished gold,

and mushroom omelettes on the verges.

Blending well with their environment a pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs snorted, snuffled, and slurped their sodden way

about the soggy terrain on which floated leaves fallen from reflected trees above.

I have to say that having my knees butted by snotty snouts smearing mucus on contact was somewhat disconcerting.

Pools like this one are spreading across the forest.

A wide one flanks the entrance to Honey Lane, Burley. Even in dry weather our Modus would not survive a trip slaloming the potholes in the lane itself.

A solitary rook stood sentinel at its usual post along the Burley Road.

Constantly changing light produced dramatic skies and landscapes.

A rainbow outside Burley suggested that arboreal gold does lie at its end.

A fast flowing stream bubbled across the ford on Holmsley Passage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy paprika pork, boiled potatoes and carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Franc.

 

 

 

Only So Much Rain

We have now realised that the birds partaking of the front garden feeders are field residents from across the road.

Their numbers now include gymnastic blue tits

and patient sparrows here waiting their turn at the trough.

Our young visitors bear only so much rain before disappearing, following further leakage from the clouds, leaving the winter flowering cherry to carry the torch for signs of life

 

amid dripped drops clinging to glistening branches,

 

dotting netting; slicking crab apples; offering sparkle to the dank morning.

before a further temporary lull lured the great

and blue tits back for a brief breakfast refill.

The grey day gathered relentless gloom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, special savoury rice, and stringless runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Lathyrus Latifolius Jewels

Such minimal bright light as we enjoyed today graced us early this morning. Thereafter our vision became more and more dingy.

In order to provide me with as clear a view of the bird feeders as possible our friend from AP Maintenance cleaned our sand blasted windows. This is not the usual use of the phrase sand blasted. It is what happens when the gravel pit vehicles make their daily trips past the front of our house.

 

I did manage shots of a great tit partaking of peanuts

and suet balls a little earlier. Such is their timidity that these birds swivel around clinging to their perch after each peck in order to ensure their security.

Before the heavier rain descended Jackie alerted me to the bejewelled nature of our garden plants, such as

the outstretched Japanese maple

and drooping Weeping Birch branches;

the fuchsias like Delta’s Sarah;

the spiky New Zealand phormium;

rose bush petals;

fallen leaves;

and the calligraphic curlicues of the lathyrus latifolius (everlasting sweet pea).

When not eyeing his own robin feeder, Nugget, “Where’s Nugget?” (48),

foraged on a bed of crocosmia stubble cleared earlier by Aaron.

For this evening’s dinner, which I relished, Jackie produced succulent roast pork; crisp Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.

 

Light-headed

I was wondering round the garden with a camera when Shelly arrived for a morning coffee visit with congenial conversation.

Raindrops bejewelled various pelargoniums,

keeping fuchsias like Mrs Popple, and

 

salvias Amistad

and Hot Lips glistening.

Honesty seed pods sparkled,

 

Penstemons and marigolds are either early or late,

 

while the viburnums Bodnantense Dawn are definitely early,

and rose New Dawn displays a new bud over the Rose Garden pergola.

Like the garden I felt brighter today, although, like Schoolgirl rose, a bit light-headed.

This evening we dined on more of Hordle Chinese Take Away fine fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank another glass of the Fleurie.

Wet, Wet, Wet

The wind had dropped today. Unfortunately it was not available to send the leaden clouds on their way. They hung overhead, shedding rain all day. Initially not much more than drizzle fell, so Jackie continued her autumn clearance and I joined her for a while. I brought the heavy precipitation with me, but stayed out until I feared for my camera lens.

Hoping that it was Nugget who had made inroads into it, Jackie gleefully pointed to another dish of sampled robin food.

She is heavily pruning a hebe alongside the Dead End Path.

I had intended to transport the clippings to the end of the back drive and bag them up for Aaron to take away. When the deluge began I thought better of it.

Raindrops had cleansed and bejewelled such as bronze fennel seed heads;

rhododendron leaves and buds that think it is spring;

maple leaves;

spiders’ webs;

rose hips;

rose buds;

fuchsias;

begonias;

petunias;

and phormiums.

After lunch I accompanied Jackie to Tesco Supermarket where she she shopped and I sat in the car photographing, through the rain-dripping windscreen,

 

other shoppers as they passed by.

We then drove to Woodpeckers to visit Mum who was on very good form.

Just along Sway Road a duo of decidedly damp donkeys sought what shelter they could beneath the trees of Brackendale.

Back at home I watched a recording of the Rugby World Cup match between Ireland and Samoa.

We dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika liberally peppered with cayenne; boiled potatoes; carrots al dente; and tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Grand Conseiller Pinot Noir 2017.