An Ella Day

A lone Red Admiral joined the Small White butterflies fluttering round the garden as Jackie swept paths this morning while I picked up clippings and emptied trugs.

Nugget sang a song of greeting, paused in a shrub, and approached Jackie, enquiring what was for lunch.

We didn’t offer him any of what we shared with Matthew, Poppy, Becky, Elizabeth, Danni, Andy, and Ella who all came to our lunch consisting of Jackie’s usual array of cold meats, pies, cheeses, salads, cake, and cheesecake.

The afternoon began in the sitting room where

Becky entertained Ella with pictures of her parents;

Matthew got down to the infant’s level;

Danni gently changed her nappy;

Jackie cuddled and played with her great niece,

to the amusement of her grandmother.

We decanted onto the patio where Ella continued playing with Jackie,

and Andy joined in the conversation.

The song of a robin announced Nugget’s desire to contribute, which he soon did.

“Where’s Nugget?” (17).

Becky, Mat, and Poppy left early in the evening, after which the rest of us dined on Jackie’s soothing cottage pie; piquant cauliflower cheese; firm carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans with which I finished the Garnacha Syrah, Elizabeth and Danni drank Batturica Gran Reserva 2012, and Andy drank Diet Coke.

In A Flap

As I walked down to the Back gate to open it for Aaron early this morning I passed

the delicate pastel shades of Penny Lane which will have a powerful fragrance later in the day;

oriental poppies which have stubbornly clung to some petals despite the recent gales;

abundant Félicité Perpétue draped over a dead stump;

and rich red Ernest Morse.

A myriad of bees were already engaged in packing their pollen sacs.

Two masquerading as others were a striped hoverfly and a green shield bug.

A somewhat tattered Red Admiral fluttered by, occasionally pausing to rest.

The roses on the front trellis have been so weighty of late as to pull down their support. It was one of Aaron’s A.P. Maintenance tasks today to strengthen this section.

This afternoon we took a drive into the forest. First stop was Setley Ridge Garden Centre where Jackie bought some more trays of plants and I photographed

a bee on an ageratum.

We then took the Sandy Down route to the east.

There was a little delay on the road to Beaulieu as a foal was shepherded across the road.

At East Boldre several somnolent ponies occupied the road. Others, including a foal, snoozed on the grass. Unmoved, those on the road played havoc with the traffic of which they were oblivious for some time. One dappled grey seemed to have dislodged its reflective collar.

Suddenly, silently, the entire group took off for Masseys Road. The previously recumbent foal soon caught up.

Dangerously foraging on the verge of South Baddesley Road three ducks diced with death. The white one was sent out scouting. Eventually it got in a flap trying to convince its leading companion that crossing the road was not a good idea.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs marinaded in sweet barbecue sauce and Jackie’s vegetable rice, with which she drank Blue Moon Belgian style wheat ale, and I drank more of the Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon.

Back In The Garden

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Wandering down the garden paths today

provided very few corners without snowdrops. The Daphne odorata and camellias are blooming and budding. little blue irises, have and yellow crocuses are out. The white alliums easily confused with snowdrops are beginning to grace the beds. Pulmonaria, primulas, and pansies offer a little alliteration.

Red Admiral on bergenia

As so often at this time of year, a tattered Red Admiral basking on a bergenia revels in surviving the winter.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. The food, service, and atmosphere were as excellent as always. My main meal was davedush; Jackie’s was murgh noorijenani. We shared special fried rice, an egg paratha, and onion bahji, and both drank Kingfisher.

 

 

 

The Foxton Flight

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It rained all day today. Aaron, who could not work in such weather, came for a pleasant chat over a mug of tea.

I will not bore either my readers or myself with full details of today’s BT episode. But it does warrant a brief mention. Yesterday, as you know, I had been promised a phone call from a manager about the charge of £50 to change the name on my account. The young lady who telephoned me from India this morning was certainly no manager. When we came to an impasse she transferred me to someone in England. The best I could glean from her, after she had consulted with her manager, was that this could only be done free of charge was by changing the phone number then transferring it back. There was no guarantee that our existing number would be accurately returned. I told her, for the recording, precisely what I thought of her company, stated that it was only my reluctance to change our number and my e-mail address, that kept me with them; and that I wouldn’t bother to take her up on her kind offer.

Then I scanned another set of colour negatives from my longest walk.

I don’t usually tinker with the colours in my photographs, but I did have a play with these three landscape shots.

Sam in Pacific Pete 7.03

Beyond Oxford, Sam took to the Grand Union Canal

alongside which the footpaths were often completely overgrown, albeit

with pleasant wild flowers, such as meadowsweet and willow herb.

Of the many butterflies flitting about, I only recognised the red admirals. (See John Knifton’s comment below)

Oak leaves 7.03

The shade from trees like this oak was often welcome in the heat of the day.

About the Foxton Flight of Locks, built between 1810 and 1814, Wikipedia informs us:

‘Foxton Locks (grid reference SP691895) are ten canal locks consisting of two “staircases” each of five locks, located on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal about 5 km west of the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough and are named after the nearby village of Foxton.

They form the northern terminus of a 20-mile summit level that passes Husbands Bosworth, Crick and ends with the Watford flight

Staircase locks are used where a canal needs to climb a steep hill, and consist of a group of locks where each lock opens directly into the next, that is, where the bottom gates of one lock form the top gates of the next. Foxton Locks are the largest flight of such staircase locks on the English canal system.

The Grade II* listed locks are a popular tourist attraction and the county council has created a country park at the top. At the bottom, where the junction with the arm to Market Harborough is located, there are two public houses, a shop, trip boat and other facilities.’

On the day Sam guided Pacific Pete down this staircase, family visitors were out in force. For once I was ahead of my son, and reached the locks in time to learn that the canal-side telegraph was buzzing with the news that a large rowing boat was on its way through.

The audience gathered to watch Sam use his giant oar to steer and propel the boat through the locks because there was no room to row.

Asian family leaving Foxton Flight 7.03

Did you notice the Asian man gesturing to his family in the first picture, and shepherding them over the bridge in the last, in order to lead them down the slope to see the rower on his way?

Child helping at the locks 7.03

There had been no shortage of helpers to push the long balance beams operating the gates.

There were plenty of narrow boats on the waters, but no other ocean-going rowing boats.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s glorious sausage casserole; crisp carrots, cauliflower and red cabbage, and creamy mashed potatoes. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished Helen and Bill’s Malbec.

The Rush Hour

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We had a very enjoyable time yesterday evening at Vicki and Barrie’s Golden Wedding Celebrations, organised by their children and grandchildren.

Pop records and TV adverts from 1967 were played on a monitor. Son, Steve, conducted a spoof ‘Mr and Mrs’ programme that his parents entered into with gusto.Oral tributes were made. The septuagenarians nimbly led the dancing.

A plentiful, varied, and fresh, cold buffet was supplied and we were invited to bring anything stronger than the soft cold drinks, or tea and coffee. We shared the bottle of Prosecco we had won at Ron’s party quiz.

The couple’s daughter, Angie took photographs on her mobile phone, and will e-mail me the results so I can add them to this post.

Late this morning, I watched yesterday’s recorded rugby matches between Scotland and New Zealand, and between England and Australia.

Jackie in greenhouse

While I watched telly, Jackie tended plants in the greenhouse.

Pelargonium 3

She is nurturing pelargoniums

Pelargonium 2

of the more tender variety,

Begonia

and begonias.

 

Hardy pelargoniums

Pelargonium1

survive outside,

Antirrhinum

as still do antirrhinums,

Nasturtium

nasturtiums,

Honeysuckle

honeysuckle,

Red Admiral

and somewhat battered Red Admirals.

Jackie has given the Kitchen Bed’s urn its winter planting.

Clematis Duchess of Albany

In addition to roses we have, in the Rose Garden, clematis Duchess of Albany, her skin taking on the quality of parchment,

Fuchsia 1

various fuchsias,

Salvia

and penstemons.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas take on autumnal hues.

When I sat down to upload the above pictures, my Apple invited me to upload the latest operating system. I attempted to do this. An error occurred in this. The system is locked and I can’t do anything more with the computer. I had to give up, and eventually used the Microsoft laptop. Windows 10 has changed everything about importing pictures since I last used it, and it wasn’t easy to get my head round.

Off we then drove to Hatchet Pond in an effort to calm me down.

Silhouettes by pond

Not long before sunset

Silhouetted photographer

photographers

Tree and man reflected

gathered;

Hatchet Pond and waterfowl 1

waterfowl

Sunset and waterfowl

paddled along;

Swans with wake

swans trailed their wake.

Sunset 4

The pond reflected

Sunset 2

gold

Sunset 3

 tinged clouds,

Sunset 5

rapidly turning red.

Sunset and jettrail

A jet plane streaked into the foaming flames.

Sunset with silhouettes

So many photographers were now lined up that this seemed like rush hour on the railways.

The treatment worked. I retained my equanimity.

This evening Jackie produced succulent roast pork served on a bed of peppers and onions, accompnied by roast potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Concha y Toro cabernet sauvignon 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Splendid Morning

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The weather this morning was splendid. The morning was to become more so, with a visit from good friends.

In eager anticipation of the arrival Jackie was out early sweeping the corridors, manicuring the green carpet, refreshing the flowers, and generally tidying up the reception room that is the garden. It seemed only right that I should get out there and help.

Right on time at 11 a.m. Geoff Le Pard arrived with the Textiliste, the Vet, and Dog.

View across Kitchen Bed

We all sat on the patio with coffee and sparkling water. This is one view across the Kitchen bed.

The Textiliste 1The Textiliste 2

Everyone then wandered around the garden. Here are a couple of views featuring the Textiliste, a skilled gardener herself.

Geoff and Milo

This was the first bench tried out by Geoff.

Derrick, Geoff, and Milo 1Derrick, Geoff, and Milo 2

Partly for the benefit of our mutual friend, Pauline, the Vet reprised a photo of Geoff and me taken a year ago. Dog wasn’t in the last one. He didn’t get the joke his master and I shared.

The Vet 1The Vet and Milo 1The Vet and Milo 2

The Vet, of course, was, herself, far more worthy of the camera’s attention. Was Dog feigning an ailment in order to obtain a scratch?

Bidens

The large chimney pots, one of which holds this bidens, were much admired.

Jackie

Jackie, amused by the photo session,

Jackie, Geoff, and Milo

was soon to be joined by Geoff and Dog on the Nottingham Castle Bench. In the right foreground of this shot is another of the chimney pots.

Heuchera and day lilies

The opposite corner of the Dead End Path contains this heuchera and these day lilies.

Bee in Summer Wine

On a final visit to the Rose Garden before we set off for lunch, I spotted a bee slaking its thirst on Summer Wine.

Ogre sculpture

Watched over by an Ogre we all lunched at The Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea. He seemed to be having as much fun as we were.

Afterwards, Jackie drove me to the Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton for a clean and check up. All was well.

We arrived back home in time for the televised Wimbledon tennis semi-final between Johanna Konta and Venus Williams.

Head Gardener's Walk/Shady Path

I then wandered around the garden again, along the Head Gardener’s Walk to the Shady Path

Dragon Bed

beside the Dragon Bed,

Begonia

where a glowing begonia shines like a beacon.

Comma butterfly

A rather tatty Comma butterfly took a rest,

Red Admiral and Comma butterflies

then flitted across to join a Red Admiral in the sunshine.

Gazebo Path

To the left along the Gazebo Path,

Agapanthus 1Agapanthus 2Agapanthus 3

a large cluster of agapanthuses, in different stages of emergence, are bursting from their cases.

Dead tree trunk

This is the trunk of the dead tree that supports solanums and clematises.

Fuschia Mrs Popple and hydrangea Lanarth White

In the corner of the Rose Garden beside the orange shed, fuchsia Mrs Popple provides a strong contrast to Lanarth White hydrangea.

Sweet peas 1Sweet peas 2

Finally, I thought Bruce would like to see how the sweet peas are coming along.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled gherkins and onions. I drank Arborescence Fronton 2016.

From Autumn Leaves to Snowdrops

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Bill Edney had the unenviable task of getting those of us schoolboys at Wimbledon College who could not manage Latin through ‘O’ Level Geography after several terms without a teacher. Today I remembered a different anecdote from that told in the link highlighted above.

Sheep, I know do not like long, lush, grass. How do I know? Because Mr Edney, a bluff countryman, publicly humiliated a classmate by ridiculing him for writing in an essay that sheep “like long, lush, grass”. According to the master they most definitely do not. How were we townies to know that? This lasting intelligence prevented me from seeking ovine assistance on our patch of overgrown grass. Having no sheep, I sheared it myself.

Grass cut

It still looks manky at the moment, but should perk up now the air can get to it.

Gazebo Path

This exercise exposed the tortoise, removing its hibernation cover.

Heligan Path

Close examination of this view along the Heligan Path reveals that

Crocus

purple crocuses are now emerging.

Crocuses and snowdrops

These paler ones share with snowdrops the shade of hellebores in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Bee on Hellebore

During the morning the warm sunshine brought out insects such as bees on hellebores

Bee on snowdrop

and on snowdrops;

Red Admiral on laurel

and a Red Admiral butterfly basking on laurel leaves,

Red Admiral on autumn leaves

seeking camouflage in autumn leaves,

Red Admiral on snowdrops

and slaking its thirst on snowdrops.

Palm Bed

This view across the Palm Bed leads to the grass patch.

Erigeron thinning

Jackie spent the morning clearing and thinning areas such as the erigeron clumps by the windows to the living room. This will soon be carpeted once more with daisy-like flowers.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Jackie’s sage and onion stuffing, sautéed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, cauliflower, and greens. I finished the Cote du Rhone.