All My Ducks In A Row

On a bright, fresh, and crisp morning we took a drive into the forest. Slanting sunshine set the thawing frost glistening and lengthened shadows.

We tried a visit to Tanner’s Lane. This meant driving between rows of parked vehicles with no turning space. I walked while Jackie turned back.

We had imagined this little hidden beach would be safe enough. No such luck.

This was the only group keeping some distance from others on the sand and shingle.

There were other dogs, one in the water with three hardy humans.

I was not inclined to linger.

We continued to Sowley Lane where I was next decanted.

Some oak leaves dallied on gnarled limbs; others, grounded, glistened with dew drops; holly prickles had broken one’s fall.

Two men in a boat discussed their best fishing spot.

We stopped for a look at Buckler’s Hard,

where a robin drew our attention to the parking restrictions.

As we passed Beaulieu Mill Pond I spotted a pair of long necked log peacocks on the far bank.

Jackie parked and I walked back past the border of reeds to photograph them.

On the way there I managed to get all my ducks in a row.

Down a bank along Lymington Road a solitary donkey enjoyed a breakfast of spiky thistles.

Ponies preferred grass

or languorous cogitation of the thawing frost in the hazy sunshine.

In her Modus Jackie aroused the attention of an inquisitive field horse which she photographed along with

golden silver birches and glistening white terrain.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s fine fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra which involved opening another bottle.

The Anguished Cockerel

How do you amuse yourself and gain relief of tension while listening to bank muzak while holding on for 75 minutes waiting for an “adviser” to sort out a problem?

You spend the time patiently reading and commenting on blogs you follow and, when you need a pee you ask your wife to put the phone to her ear while you take a break.

What do you do when you are sent a “smart” form to complete to get the bank to do what they should have done three months ago and failed, resulting in regular scam payments having been stolen from your account, and when you reach the end of what wasn’t exactly the straightforward process you were given to understand you are required to complete a puzzle to prove you are not a robot that does not make itself clear?

You blow a gasket, you scream with frustration, rave, swear, stamp, and chuck things about, until you try something that miraculously works.

Then you go out for a Chauffeuse-driven ride in the forest.

We began with a visit to Ferndene Farm Shop where Jackie enjoyed a smooth shopping trip without delay, and I watched a robin while wondering whether we would see ours again.

Our next stop was Elizabeth’s where we admired her recent tree work which has really opened up the front of her property affording a view across fields opposite.

On the verges of Pilley Street the constant clanging of a nearby cattle grid left a group of fly-ignoring, cud-chewing, cattle completely unperturbed.

Had the cockerel across the road been equipped with a tail, that appendage would surely have stretched between its legs as, after proudly strutting under a gate, it dashed squawking and clucking back out and off up the road.

I have photographed this building before, hoping to preserve its memory before it falls down. A very elderly gentleman is sometimes seen seated on the plastic chair or leaning on a gate. Did the anguished cockerel play any part in the egg production, I wonder?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef pie; boiled new potatoes; crisp cauliflower; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans; and meaty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Syrah.

The Same Sun

Early this morning Jackie found a robin flapping about in the utility room. She opened the window for him. Was it Nugget? Later she conversed in the garden with a juvenile.

While the Head Gardener completed the strengthening the compost bin that I had begun a few days ago, I carried out some dead heading before and after lunch.

Bees continued to work over the verbena bonariensis and other plants such as calendula.

Autumn crocuses are now standing proud.

In the Rose Garden Mum in a Million has reached maturity; Flower Power is as strong as ever; and Aloha greets us again;

and the Kent carpet is a wrap.

Casting a shadow was sunbathing Geranium Rozanne,

while the same sun in the early evening backlit the last hollyhock we passed on the way to taking our drinks in the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy cauliflower and broccoli; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Summer Holidays In The Woods

In an effort to avoid the holiday traffic and the intensely hot sapping humidity of the day we set off for a forest drive at 8 a.m.

Beside Ober Water which passes under Rhinefield Road ponies quietly grazed, cattle strode purposefully, cyclists and cars sped along;

sunshine dappled the woodland, reflecting trees and skies on the surface of shallow, bubbling, water

from which a splashing, excited, dog time and again retrieved a soggy tossed tennis ball.

Three different shoes and a rather useful looking pan had all been abandoned on the banks;

as they swooped from tree to tree and hunted among the roots I witnessed ample evidence that robins spend their summer holidays in the woods.

Cattle drank from the stream.

Early bracket fungus stepped up trunks further along Rhinefield Road;

bracken pierced the shadows along Mill Lane

where walkers and dogs were beginning to wander.

On Bisterne Close an inquisitive foal left its mother’s flanks in order to investigate the warm bonnet of our Modus. It took a loud application of a certain amount of vroom to shift the mohican-coiffed youngster.

Purple heather, such as this beside Holmsley Passage among which a lone walker tramps is brightening daily.

As usual, clicking on any image will access its gallery, individual members of which can be viewed full size and further enlarged if required.

Even when entering the garden for a watering session we were hit by a blast furnace, and the library dehumidifier required emptying twice today, when normally once every two days may suffice.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots; and tender green beans with which I drank Carles Priorat 2016, and the Culinary Queen abstained.


We spent the hot summer’s cloudless day gardening; well, Jackie spent the day at it while I chipped in intermittently.

Jackie took advantage of what shade she could.

In addition to dead bloom decapitation and carting clippings to compost bins I produced some photographs.

The blooms and garden views in this gallery can be identified and enlarged in the usual manner.

The same applies to these images of bees clambering on verbena bonariensis and delving into a hosta; and to the comma butterfly.

In the first picture above Jackie is conversing with the moulting Nugget, looking every inch the butterball that Jill Weatherholt dubbed him on his last appearance. Our concern at the scraggy condition of our little avian familiar has diminished now the we have learned he is undergoing a normal summer process. The last, smallest, of these images is “Where’s Nugget?” (92). Bigification may be required.

This evening we dined on the Culinary Queen’s wholesome watercress soup with bread and butter, followed by tempura prawns and fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I opened another bottle of the Rioja and consumed some of it.

Traffic Calming

Today’s weather was hot and humid with intermittent sunshine.

We gardened in the morning.

I am delighted to report that Nugget is alive and well and was in his customary attendance. Those readers who suggested that he might be moulting were clearly correct.

Jackie concentrated largely on the Rose Garden where, among other tasks, she planted some tall lavenders. Among my usual tasks I had not included digging since the first knee surgery. Our soil remains bone hard and I decided to attempt to relieve her of some of it.

I found this surprisingly easy. It may look as if this is my left foot; in fact it is the right one reflected in the mirror against the east fence. This was particularly pleasing since that leg was the subject of the most recent replacement.

Hydrangea Lanarth White sets off fuchsia Mrs Popple in the Orange Shed corner of the Rose Garden; yellow black eyed Susan and orange marigolds are planted in a chimney pot beside the West Bed; a red pelargonium fronted by an ornamental grass stands at the base of the gazebo which bears a blue clematis.

This afternoon, after shopping at Milford Supplies for a pair of hinges, we took a drive into the forest where graced with the presence of a plethora of ponies.

A family of three cropped the verge at the entrance to Bisterne Close, while, further along

a mare did her best ignore her colt persistently attempting to suckle.

As often on such a sultry day somnolent ponies clustered together beneath the shade of their favourite trees, spilling across Forest Road carrying out their own traffic calming project. Cyclists managed to weave in and out, while car drivers were required to demonstrate good natured patience.

Other equines rolled among dried droppings on the cropped grass, or undertook assiduous mutual grooming.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s aromatic variation on shepherd’s pie topped, instead of mashed potato, with sliced, sautéed ones flavoured with rosemary; toothsome carrots, cauliflower, and green beans; and meaty gravy, with which the Culinary Queen drank Becks and I drank Flores de Soligamar Rioja 2018.

A Damselfly In The Kitchen Sink

Today the temperature was warm with intermittent sunshine.

Up early soon after dawn this morning, Jackie discovered an azure damselfly, no longer than one inch, in the kitchen sink. Delicately, she transported the creature to the frog pond which she felt may be more its natural element. Having produced this moving photograph, she proceeded to walk around the garden creating a few more.

Here is her collection. As usual, each garden view is labelled in the gallery which may be accessed by clicking on any image, each of which may be viewed full size by clicking the box beneath it, and further enlarged with another click.

Nugget Junior 2nd was in attendance the whole morning while Jackie worked on Elizabeth’s Bed.

When I joined her for clearing up duties the robin provided me with opportunities for

“Where’s Nugget Junior 2nd?” (2) which may need bigification,

and “Where’s Nugget Junior 2nd?” (3) from which he almost disappeared. Nugget senior was still absent.

Late this afternoon Elizabeth, Danni, Andy, and Ella joined us in the garden where eventually the weather dulled and a cool breeze blew, suggesting it might be a good idea to take our Forest Tandoori Take Away meal indoors to eat from bowls on our knees.

Ella, like the rest of us, studied the menu before putting in an order to Jackie who rang it through. Andy collected it a short while afterwards.

Good Gardening Weather

Today, still cool, featured intermittent sunshine while cotton clouds pierced by cerulean patches sailed sedately overhead.

We carried out the usual garden maintenance including watering, planting, pruning, and dead-heading.

Jackie smiled when she first spied that I had come out to join her, but she didn’t see the camera hanging round my neck. I have taken to wearing it in order not to miss such photographic opportunities.

Here we have the peach rose, a couple of hemerocallis, sweet peas, white dahlias, sidalcea, yucca, and fuchsia Shrimp Cocktail. As usual each individual image is labelled in the gallery which can be viewed full size by clicking the box underneath it. Further enlargement is possible by additional clicks.

Mauve gladioli stand beneath the clematis covering the Agriframes Arch.

Shropshire Lad and linaria purpurea checked themselves out in the mirror placed to extend the Rose Garden views.

Here Jackie carried out pruning, the results of which I would clear up later.

The marguerites alongside the hydrangea in the corner of the front garden will unfortunately need to be cut down soon because they obscure the view of the Chauffeuse when driving out.

Bees enjoyed flitting from one verbena bonariensis to another.

We now have more robins than we can identify. This is not Nugget.

It was a good gardening day.

For a while now, it has not been pleasant enough for us to enjoy our evening drinks in the Rose Garden. This changed today.

From my seat in the north east corner I could see the hemerocallis in the Cryptomeria Bed and the lilies above Mamma Mia catching the evening sun.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty lamb curry; savoury rice; salt and pepper prawns; and vegetable samosas. I also enjoyed the chilli bhaji. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Corte Aurelia Squinzano Riserva 2015.

“No Finger Food, Thanks”

On a largely overcast morning Nugget kept us company in the Rose Garden as Jackie dug up spent poppies and other weeds, while I dead-headed.

Although he did carry off a squirming earwig beneath a carpet rose bush in order to dissect, devour, and digest it in peace, he was mostly happy darting like a bullseye-bound bolt to trap tiny insects on the wing. The last picture in this gallery is “Where’s Nugget?” (91).

We continued our work after lunch. As always, when Jackie sits down our little robin stops catching flies and pops over to see what the Head Gardener is up to. On this occasion she stretched out her hand. “No finger food, thanks”, he tweeted, and neatly nipped aside, pretending he had spied a tasty insect beside the low brick begonia-bearing plinth.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy Chilli Con Carne and colourful savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Colle Marrone

Clamouring For His Close-up

When I began my perambulation round the garden this morning Jackie observed that I was photographing similar subjects to her. She had taken her walk even earlier.

We therefore each produced a gallery in changing light.

This is Jackie’s set. The galleried images each bear identifying titles, some with further descriptions. Click on any image to access them. Each may be viewed full size by clicking on the boxes beneath them. Further enlargement may then be achieved.

Here are my offerings. Please don’t miss what I think is a meadow brown butterfly – see Tootlepedal’s comment below – it’s a Small Heath.

Our HSL chairs were delivered today. We are both more comfortable and, for the first time in my life I have a high enough seat, enabling me once more, post surgery, to rise without the use of my arms.

Afterwards, Jackie carried out more weeding and planting; I cleared refuse to the compost,

and Nugget clamoured for his close-up.

This evening we dined on Tesco finest Pesto & Parmigiano reggiano breaded chicken perfectly heated by the Culinary Queen who served it with buttered Jersey Royal potatoes; roasted chestnut mushrooms; firm flavoursome carrots; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.