Where’s Mrs Nugget?

Jackie planted a clutch of primulas this morning.

While she was at it she kept tabs on the winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa Freckles,

and the mahonia that has grown into a tree.

She observed an encounter between a snail and an owl;

and admired the burgeoning Daphne Odorata Marginata and the

Chilean lantern tree.

By far the most exciting discovery, however, was that Nugget had become exceedingly frisky, as was his companion who followed him around.

Yes.

A Mrs Nugget has arrived.

“Where’s Mrs Nugget” in this picture? It is only fair to say that she is not on the feeder, and has her back to us. The Assistant Photographer worked very hard to capture them both in the same shot.

Today I finished reading

Because of the proliferation of pictures in this volume I could do no more that scan them before we set off to The Darbar restaurant in Emsworth where we were to dine with Becky and Ian. I will describe the book and feature the illustrations tomorrow.

We were given a pleasant surprise in that Miche also joined the party and the enjoyable conversation over the meal.

I chose a goat curry the name of which I cannot remember; Jackie’s pick was paneer shashlik. We all shared onion bhajis while Jackie and I shared mushroom rice and a plain paratha. We both drank Cobra, along with Ian and Miche. Becky enjoyed a pomegranate cocktail.. I’m not sure what the others ate.

On our return home we were sent off a closed section of the M27 and diverted into the centre of Portsmouth from which, so confusing were the diversion signs, it took us an hour to escape. The consequence is that it is now 11.15 p.m.

 

 

In The Rough

This morning we received an e-mail from our good blogging friend Lavinia Ross attaching a photograph of the cedar tree (Calocedrus decurrens) she has planted in remembrance of my son Michael. We are very touched by this.

Jackie nipped out to photograph the evidence of last night’s sub-zero temperature.

We have light frost on various leaves;

and thin ice on the Frond pond – well, cistern actually.

Plants like primulas

and wallflower Sugar Rush Purple Bicolour seem unscathed.

After lunch Jackie turned her lens on the front garden foragers. in the process discovering

a dunnock and

a second robin happily coexisting with Ron. Robins are notoriously territorial, the males fighting to the death to repel invaders. Two companionable examples must therefore be one male and one female. When Ron first came on the scene we did speculate that the bird could in fact be a Ronette. We now have a real identification problem.

Is this Ron or Ronette waiting for the sparrows to finish feeding;

and which is sharing pickings with the pigeon?

Later this afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

The sun was quite low over the Burley Golf Course where one couple were nicely silhouetted;

another apparently caught in the rough;

and ponies,

one of which lethargically turned to observe me, dozing or grazing.

On the opposite side of Burley Road trees, like Narcissus, admired themselves on the surface of a deepening pool.

Before we left home I had remembered that Elizabeth had given me a long walker’s stick for my birthday last year. This is intended to aid balance. I therefore decided to keep it in the car. I was tempted to leave the road at Bisterne Close and walk into the woods. As I set off Jackie reminded me of the stick. Well, at least I had got it into the car without prompting.

It was a great help in traversing the undulating forest floor with its soggy, shoe sucking, areas, yet lacking yesterday’s booby traps.

Moss-covered raised roots were easier to negotiate than yesterday’s bare snaking ones.

Winter’s long shadows stretched over the terrain

much of which was reasonably dry underfoot.

There were, of course, more reflective pools.

One long-limbed mighty oak needed only a wildcat steed to present a passing semblance of the Hindu goddess Durga.

Somehow she has retained her mighty arms whilst another lost one of hers some time ago.

Back in the car and further down the road, even at 3.30 p.m. ice shone on the waterlogged verge.

This evening we dined at The Smugglers Inn at Milford on Sea where Jackie enjoyed spinach and ricotta cannelloni followed by sticky toffee pudding and ice cream. I would have enjoyed my otherwise good sirloin steak, chips, onion rings, and fresh salad more had my steak knife been thrown away. My great and butter pudding and custard dessert was excellent. The service was friendly, speedy, and efficient. Mrs Knight drank Hop House Lager while I drank Doom Bar.

A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

Waiting Their Turn

We have now watched half the episodes of The Crown Series 2. My general impression is unchanged.

Much of the morning today was spent getting us back on line. The details are boring.

On another dull day the birds made full use of the feeders.

Sparrows tend to dominate in the front garden,

although they do occasionally allow the tits a look in.

The heavier wood pigeons and sparrows who cannot find room above find easy peckings from what has been tossed aside by the messy feeders.

Eventually Ron was able to take a turn on his own special feeder usually commandeered by voracious sparrows;

while the long tailed tits left a little for Nugget.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with which she drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Valréas.

Khaleesi And Karen’s Hair Dryer

On this bright, sunny, day Barry of

was able to complete the work on the Velux window roof.

He tapped down the lead using a tool that had once belonged to Owen’s great grandfather;

tested the result for smoothness in his usual careful manner;

and employed Karen’s hair dryer to avoid the possibility of his normal heater cracking the glass.

This afforded him time for contemplation.

A walk round the garden revealed a somewhat nibbled mushroom sprouting in the stumpery.

Muggle was at home in his larch.

Nugget still looked him up now and then. Otherwise he foraged for himself.

“Where’s Nugget” (46).

Barry sent me the first two pictures on this post, with a set

depicting the completed project.

Note the spirit levels in this one.

Keeping her very discreetly out of our way, Barry brought his delightful spaniel Khaleesi with him, and included some pictures of her.

Apart from a spell on the Westbrook Arbour bench,

she remained in the van.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy sausages in red wine; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots and firm broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleuri 2018.

 

 

A Little Autumn Colour

For the last couple of days marauding rooks have raided Nugget’s robin feeder, ripped it off the Japanese maple, and robbed him of his food.

Jackie has baffled the thieves with a pair of hanging basket frames.

In contrast to yesterday’s dismal weather, today was clear, bright, and cold, taking every opportunity to display a little autumn colour.

Here is Margery’s Bed seen from the Cryptomeria Bed,

and sculpture Florence’s view of the house.

Weeping Birch leaves still linger

and the white solanum goes on forever.

 

Some Japanese maples have retained their leaves,

others have carpeted the lawn and paths with them.

The last scene above can be seen from the Fiveways end of the Phantom Path.

Jackie focussed on the grasses in the Palm Bed named for

the Cordeline Australis which is in fact evergreen.

Mrs Popple is one of the hardier fuchsias,

another of which, Delta’s Sarah, still attracts no doubt confused bees.

A number of pelargoniums still look down from hanging baskets, like this overlooking the Dragon bed in which

Ivy twines herself around one of the eponymous mythological figures.

Jackie spent much of the morning trying not to tread on Nugget while they were cobbling together a winter cold frame.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44a and 44b)

Wherever she moved to another location he was there first. Fortunately she took her camera.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44c and 44d)

Jackie also focussed on a sparrow with,

a pied wagtail,

and a white wagtail on the rooftop. I trust one of our birder readers will correct any errors in identification.

Late this afternoon Elizabeth visited to gather up bags of files that had remained in our single spare room since she moved out last year. She stayed for dinner which consisted of chicken marinaded in mango and chilli sauce; savoury rice topped with an omelette; and tender runner beans. My sister finished the Cotes du Rhone and I drank Chateau Berdillot Cotes de  Bourg 2018, while Jackie abstained.

 

 

 

 

Where’s It All Gone?

Apart from a brief spell of red-gold sunshine enlivening the last of the Weeping Birch leaves we worked in drizzling rain on the final heavy pruning in the Rose Garden. It is very sad to cut off healthy buds in an effort to ensure the plants’ winter security.

This does, however, bring the bonus of cut flowers such as

Absolutely Fabulous rose of a couple of days ago

and today’s For Your Eyes Only roses and Mrs Popple fuchsia . Otherwise Jackie doesn’t pick her own flowers.

Despite the fact that I filled the bird feeders, Nugget, paying us a visit demonstrated his preference for live worms. Watching the rapid disappearance of this one I wondered “Where’s it all gone?”.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (43).

Flitting from larch

to hawthorn, Muggle kept to his own quarters.