Officially Autumn

Although she does tidy up much of her refuse, when the Head Gardener has been about with the loppers and secateurs, it falls upon me, the Under Under Gardener, to clear the heaps of clippings; to transfer them to the compost and wood-burning piles; to sort them; and to cut them into manageable sections. This I did this morning after Jackie had driven off for one of her sorority lunches with Helen and Shelly.


Judging by the scent pervading this pile, the marauding cat that we hope keeps the rodents down, had liberally sprayed it with a peculiar pungency.

Rose Wedding Day clippings

The rambling rose, Wedding Day, having outgrown the Agriframes arch and dared to festoon the two Japanese maples and frolic over a hebe, was given a particularly severe haircut. I console myself in the knowledge that, like mine, it will grow again.

This is all part of the autumn clear-up. It is, after all, the first official day of autumn. We are, nevertheless, still treated to the sights of summer, like

Bee in poppy

bees burrowing into crinkly poppies;

Butterfly Small White on verbena bonarensis

Small White butterflies fluttering everywhere and perching on verbena bonarensis;

Petunias and geraniums

petunias, pink striped dahlias, and geraniums;

Raindrops on sweet pea

and raindrops on sweet peas.

Rose garden

The rose garden is flourishing. We have left two peep-holes in the fence so our neighbours can enjoy it too.

Rose Kent

Carpet roses, like the white Kent, are spreading nicely.

Red hot pokers

We have red hot pokers everywhere. Either they are proliferating at will, or there was too much undergrowth last year for us to notice. These are surveyed by the owl at home in the dead Snake Bark maple.

Table top

We moved the furniture and potted plants from the decking for Aaron to refurbish it. This colourful table top had held a floral display.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lively chilli con carne and tasty mixed vegetable rice. I finished the malbec, and The Cook drank Hoegaarden.

The Print Room


Aaron’s main task this morning was the freeing and repairing of a side gate. In order to set a new post in concrete, he needed a bag of postcrete, a quick-drying material produced for the purpose.Seeded grass patch When Jackie and I went off to buy it, he directed us to a marvellous outlet, now Moles Country Stores, that he still knows as Scats. I have written before about how long it takes – sometimes several generations – to change long-established names in the popular mind.

Our gardening treasure also dug out a dead stump from the grass patch, filled in the hole, and reseeded the area.

View from Heligan path to Fiveways

Today’s garden view is looking from the corner of the Heligan Path towards the Fiveways chimney pot.

Poppy framed

As I have managed to recover most of the iPhotos I lost last week, I was able to print, for Jackie to frame, a Poppy photo. We turned the image through 90%. Our granddaughter is not a vampire. Her fangs are reflections on the glass.

Warwinter 2 framed

It has taken me several months to find the right kind of frame for ease of changing the content in order to display the Warwinter set of prints Becky gave me in April. Today I hung the first of the series. The idea is to replace each image with the next one. The corner magnets hold the acrylic cover in place over the picture, and can easily be removed for the  replacement. This model is made by Adventa.

These works join others in the Print Room signwhich is the downstairs loo, so named because all the pictures in it are prints, from the obvious photographic ones, to book illustrations. There is an original lino-cut, and a couple of favourite greetings cards.

A Spice of India Takeaway provided our evening meal. We shared poppadoms, paratha, and onion and mushroom bhajis. My choice of main course was lamb naga and special fried rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cuvée St Jainé red table wine.

A Burst Of Summer

Mike, the Perfect Plastering and Plumbing man who came this morning to replace our leaking outside taps, not only did a very good job with them, but also turned out to be an Apple user, and gave me advice subsequently confirmed by the iMac adviser.

The news about the iPhoto disaster, like the curate’s egg, is good in parts. When the latest edition of the Yosemite operating system was installed, iPhoto was superseded by Photos. I didn’t use that because I was reluctant to change from the application with which I was familiar. However, without my realising it, all my photographic work had been automatically copied into Photos. Thereafter I had happily continued to use iPhoto, but there was no further entry to Photos. That, I should have been doing myself.

There is no way of recovering the deleted iPhoto files. The last images entered into Photos were therefore inserted on the updating day in May this year. All photographic work carried out between then and yesterday has been lost.

Thankfully, everything posted on WordPress remains on the blog, so it could have been worse.

Since the end of July I have been unable to use e-mail on the iMac. Whilst I had Apple Care on the phone, I asked Leonel, the excellent adviser, to sort that out for me. He did.

So, it wasn’t all bad.

As so often in September, we are experiencing a late burst of warm and sunny weather, called ‘an Indian summer’.

Rose garden

The benefits are seen in the rose garden,

rose New Dawn

where New Dawn is now blooming.

View along Pergola Path

Paths, such as the Pergola one, are still surrounded by lush plants.

Butterflies Small White on lobeliabutterfly Small White on lobelia

The air fluttered with Small White butterflies, seemingly auditioning for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, ‘The Birds’.

Insect on bidens

A small insect, possibly an ant, clung to tiny bidens.

Red hot poker

We have several clusters of light, almost chocolate-coloured red hot pokers.

When I had finished the lengthy phone call I helped Jackie finish bagging up the rubble left over from Aaron’s brickwork, and spreading the last bit of gravel. After lunch we transported the rubble to Efford recycling centre. As I prepared to enter the car, the Head Gardener politely sent me back inside for my wallet. Naturally, she had no wish to visit the municipal dump without investigating the sales area. We came away with two more mirrors, and two more garden chairs.

As usual yesterday’s set meal for three from Hordle Chinese Take Away provided plenty left over for our dinner tonight. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the shiraz.


The Caribbean Sea

Today was another rainswept blustery day, so I returned to my photographic archives and scanned a dozen slides from May 2004. This was the month in which Sam completed his Atlantic Row, which I have featured from time to time. During the few days waiting for him to arrive in Port St Charles, Barbados, and afterwards, I took the opportunity to roam the Island with my camera. There are many more in this set.

Jessica, Louisa, and I began our stay in an hotel some miles from the finishing point, but soon transferred to join Chris, Frances, and Fiona in one in the luxurious developing holiday playground.

This area presented a stark contrast to how the rest of the inhabitants of Barbados lived. Our hotel was surrounded by a compound patrolled by armed guards to keep out people like a coconut seller seated on the wall outside. His produce looked unappetising and he charged fairly optimistic prices.Coconut seller 5.04

Some distance away, a young woman, seated on a rugged outcrop gazing out to sea, was persuaded to rise to her feet.Young woman against spray  5.04 002Youn woman against spray 5.04 003Young woman against spray 5.04 001

map-barbados-360x270-cb1434489582Port St Charles (Speightstown on the map) lies on the Caribbean Sea to the north west of the Island. To the east storms the Atlantic ocean. The two bodies of water meet at the northern tip of the Island. Rowers need to navigate this point with precision. Too wide and the current would would carry them to Cuba, too near and they would be smashed on these rocks. The competitors rowed in pairs or solo. One of the pairs hit the rocks, and had to be rescued.

Caribbean Sea 5.04 002Caribbean Sea 5.04 005Caribbean 5.04 006Caribbean 5.04 009

These seascapes are of the more gentle Caribbean.

Much less inviting was the dark, violent, Atlantic that, on the last couple of days, swept my son so fast towards his final destination that he dropped his anchor to slow himself down in order to arrive in daylight. Not for him, Cuba or the rocks.

Late this afternoon the rain desisted and the sun put in a brief appearance.

Red hot pokers

The red hot pokers were not extinguished,

Day lilies

and raindrops glistened on day lilies,



Clematis Duchess of Albany

the clematis Duchess of Albany,

Gladiolus Priscilla

Priscilla, the gladiolus,

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

the Absolutely Fabulous rose,

and any others you care to imagine.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, and Jackie’s chicken in black bean sauce, stir fry vegetable noodles, and rice noodles, followed by rice pudding. I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon, and Jackie abstained.

A Deterrent


This morning, taking a diversion along the footpath through the maize fields to check out yesterday’s erroneous interpretation of the demise of the crow, I walked down to the spa shop and back. Family on footpathA family, having emerged from the shop, traversed the zebra crossing and continued down the steep footpath through the rookery to the holiday homes beyond.

Crow strung upCrow's feetThe crow had not, as I naively thought, ensnared itself. I now decided it had probably been shot and strung up as a deterrent to others who were probably sampling the maize crop.

In the garden, Jackie continued her autumn clear up, being scarily severe in her pruning. Realigned pathsalicifolia koromiko hebeShe also found time to realign some of the stone and brick borders to footpaths, whilst I made quite a bit of progress in digging up concrete and brick paving in the former kitchen garden, and adding to its growing pile.

Red hot poker variant in contextRed hot poker variantPaving pileIs this a variant of the red hot poker that we now see blooming?

This evening’s dinner consisted of plump, lean, Ferndene Farm pork sausages, boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and baked beans. I finished the Reserve des Tuguets, and Jackie abstained.

After this, I began reading ‘The Bhagavad Gita’.

The Day Of The Triffids

Lords and LadiesRed hot pokerYesterday evening, the head gardener put me right on red hot pokers. As she read my post for that day she pointed out that the plants I had erroneously given this term are actually Lords and Ladies, which are the berries of an insignificant variety of arum lily. We have both emerging in the garden. I think I can now tell the difference.
We both spent much of the day gardening. It is a truism that whatever we plan to do on our never ending project is subject to delay through diversion. Thus, when intending to plant out seedlings of sunflowers from seeds my sister in law, Frances, had, along with a magnificent hoe, sent us for a housewarming present, she found herself embarking upon what she termed heavy landscaping. Sunflower seedlingsOval bed brick pathIn building up the soil in front of the pruned prunus, she had discovered that the brick path we had excavated some while back was wider than we had thought. Sunflowers planted, path finishedThe bordering row of bricks had been covered with stone. She moved the tablets back and set them in an upright position; filled the earth triangles with gravel; and planted and watered the sunflowers.
Lonicera hedge far cornerMy task was continuing to do battle with the invasive plants along the path by the neighbouring empty house, in preparation for extending the IKEA wardrobe fence. UnknownAs I did so, carefully avoiding brambles desirous of poking me in the eye, I was grateful that these and the lonicera, privet, and ivy, were neither, like triffids, ambulant, nor, as far as I know, capable of communicating with each other in order to assist in tracking down their prey. I had no wish to emulate Bill Masen, blinded by triffid-juice. Our neighbours’ invading plants certainly stretched out their tendrils and forced them through windows in the ramshackle fence which is our only rampart.Compost cornerBack driveBack drive boundary
Now I have reached the corner occupied by the compost heap, I only have to turn right down the back drive and tackle the even less defined boundary between that and the back of the untended jungle. I am not sure I have the stomach for that this year.
According to Wikipedia, ”The Day of the Triffids’ is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness which befalls the entire world, allowing the rise of an aggressive species of plant. It was written by the English science fiction author John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, under the pen name John Wyndham. Although Wyndham had already published other novels using other pen-name combinations drawn from his real name, this was the first novel that was published as John Wyndham. It established him as an important writer, and remains his best known novel. The story has been made into the 1962 feature film of the same name, three radio drama series in 1957, 1968 and 2008, and two TV series in 1981 and 2009. In 2003 the novel was listed on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. The protagonist is Bill Masen, a biologist who has made his living working with triffids – tall, venomous carnivorous plants capable of locomotion and communication”.
Early this evening Barrie called in to return my copy of Kilvert’s Diaries, and the three of us had a pleasant chat for a while. Afterwards Jackie and I dined at The Plough Inn, Tiptoe. With my pint of Doom Bar and Jackie’s Becks we enjoyed, as usual, the best pub food we have found since arriving in The New Forest. I managed to finish the mixed grill as Jackie did her half rack of pork ribs. No mean feats. Creme brulee was Jackie’s choice of dessert, mine being lemon meringue pie and ice cream.

Orlaigh’s Dad

One of the consequences of each member of a couple working flat out for almost three months on house and garden, is that ironing tends to fall off. In fact ours has been piled so high that it was in danger of falling to the floor. It is possible to dispense with putting a crease into sheets or T-shirts, but I like my handkerchiefs pressed and folded, and although we have such a stock of cotton and linen napkins as to last a month or so, something really hand to be done. Leaving the head gardener to much more pressing and creative garden maintenance tasks, I spent the morning ‘dashing away with a smoothing iron’, as the 19th century traditional English folk song would have it.

White gladioli have emerged recently in the flower beds. A pineapple plant has forced its way through a crevice in the brickwork against the back wall of the house, up which a clematis Niobe, planted by Jackie, is making its ascent.

This afternoon I ambled down to The Spar shop. The hedgerows of Downton lane are now enlivened by red hot pokers, and by a very pretty little variety of convolvulus which is decorated by a ring of purple dots.

Early this evening I amused myself by scanning and trying to identify a batch of colour negatives from 1982. Louisa unwittingly helped me identify the year, which was that of her birth.

This was an interesting and varied set. There were some rather abstract pictures, like those of lichen and rust stains on a wall,

sheep in a misty landscape, and the mass of shaggy hair in one picture of Orlaigh – sorry, I mean Sam’s cousin, Tim Draper.

It was Paul Herbert who noticed the similarity between yesterday’s picture of Sam on Michael’s Yamaha bike, and my granddaughter.

Two more photographs from this set reinforce the impression. It is the one of Sam leaning comfortably against his mother and his sister, yet to be born, that establishes that it was taken, at the Drapers’ home in Meldreth, shortly before his second birthday, pretty much the same age as his daughter is now.

Unfortunately, after this evening’s dinner, there is no more sausage casserole left, because we finished it. There was still rather a lot, so we dispensed with pudding. Jackie drank her customary Hoegaarden and I had some more of the pinot noir.