Commandeering Cattle Go Unchallenged

Who cares whether we have followed the meteorologists into autumn or await the equinox on 21st of this month? This morning was bright, sunny, and warm. We took an early trip into the forest where I walked for half an hour along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

There was still enough water to carry reflections in the now very shallow stream that is spanned by Rhinefield Road.

Shadows dappled the forest floor strewn with pine cones and gnarled roots of the giant Douglas firs morphed into stumbling stones along the footpath;

and leaving imprints on the trunks.

Bracken, mossy stumps, fallen trees, and fungus abound. Notice how the spears of grass pierce these Danish pastry lookalikes.

So silent was the air that voices of walkers on the other side of the road could be heard.

Most schoolchildren have now returned home, leaving the forest to me; to the above mentioned walkers; to couples with or without dogs; and of course,

to the returning ponies.

Highland cattle have now commandeered the almost dried-up paddling pond at Whitemoor. Here ponies adopt sensible discretion and leave the big horned beasties unchallenged.

Later I was due to have Peter cut my hair. I wondered whether my barber would fancy having a go at these creatures, flies and all.

Before keeping my appointment I printed this picture Jackie had taken on 19th July when I had my last one, and presented it to Peter.

When we arrived there was another Derrick sitting waiting. Apparently he and I sound the same on the phone. This gentleman’s appointment had been an hour earlier than mine anyway. To settle the confusion I stepped aside and rebooked for a couple of hours later. Jackie had visited the charity shop seeking another choice of teapot home for Nugget. I joined her there and explained what had happened. The shop volunteer joined in the conversation with the observation “what if you had been waiting for results and they had been given to him?”. “I only want him to cut my hair”, said I. The woman had, of course, thought we were talking about a medical appointment. And here was I thinking I look quite healthy now.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sumptuous sausages in red wine; new potatoes sliced and roasted in their skins; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans from the garden. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

“Are The Ponies Fat?”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENHANCE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

This morning Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where the affable Peter cut my hair as well as usual. We then continued into the forest.

Woodland 1

 

Woodland 2

Strong overhead sunlight dappled the autumn leaves carpet of the forest floor,

Woodland 3fallen tree 1Fallen tree 3Fallen tree 2

giving a spectral air to fallen trees

Tree root

and their ripped out roots.

Woodland with can

Even here, on the outskirts of Brockenhurst, cans can be casually discarded.

Pony and foal 1

On the crossroads in the village itself two ponies and a foal deliberated which way to turn.

Pony and foal 2

I walked around them to obtain better light, and the little one sought comfort and succour from its mother.

Ponies and foal

A young North American visitor stopped to ask me the way to The New Forest. I informed him that he was in it. He wondered where he could go for a day’s hike. I gave him some suggestions, one of which was that he should buy a map in the main street to which I directed him. He then asked “Are the ponies fat? Or perhaps pregnant?”. I suggested that the one he was looking at was probably pregnant, but also explained that because we had experienced such a mild winter they had found plenty of forage and were not as thin as they often were when the weather had been severe.

Ponies, foals, and cattle 1Ponies and foals 2Ponies and foal 1

As we emerged from the village we saw a large group of ponies, foals,

Cattle 1Cattle 2

and cattle grazing, flopping, and vying for shelter under the spreading branches of a mature oak.

Pony and flies

Possibly in an effort to shake off the persistent flies

Ponies 1

some of the horses shook themselves and strode frantically across the grass.

Ponies on road

Other ponies disrupted the traffic as they sought shade by the roadside.

Concrete mixers

On Hordle Lane as we made our way home we had the pleasure of watching two concrete mixers negotiating a safe passage before we could continue on our own. I expect the drivers knew there was a ditch on the left-hand side.

Elizabeth came to lunch and Jackie plied us with a plentiful array of cold meats, cheeses, and salads, with which I drank more of the malbec and the ladies drank sparkling water.

Cake counterCream tea 1

After this, we visited Braxton Gardens and scoffed scone cream teas.

It should come as no surprise that further sustenance later on was surplus to requirements.

Whilst we were sitting in the garden we received a telephone call from Matthew to say that he, Tess, and Poppy would be arriving later tonight so that they can be with us on my 75th birthday tomorrow.

Before And After: The Patio

Once more, wet and warm described the day’s weather.

Although we have created a gravelled patio at the south end of the garden, there always was a designed one alongside the back of the house. This, in April 2014 was full of weeds and the surrounding areas were overgrown. Our project is a continuing one, so will no doubt evolve still further, but The Patio is the final section, prepared today, for the garden album.

Photinia

On 7th May 2014 the area was dominated by next door’s photinia and lonicera hedge; and our own ficus and poplar.

Patio

By 13th, we had weeded the cracks between the paving stones, but not yet disguised the blue painted Butler sink;

Rose, fig, and unidentified tree all trimmed

by 27th, our trees were trimmed;

Patio corner

and by 28th the sink was surrounded by rocks on shingle, and we had refurbished the boundary with our neighbours, using a length of ornamental wrought iron and a useless door from inside the house.

Scooby in patioScooby on the prowl

This corner was festooned with flowers on 14th August when Scooby had a look round, then went on the prowl.

Mum and Elizabeth with Derrick reflected

After an unusually cold August, it wasn’t until September 14th that we enjoyed afternoon tea there with Mum and Elizabeth. Note that the side gate is still fixed and covered with trellis.

Rat 8Rat 1

The rocks around the sink, on 1st January 2015, provided useful cover for a rat attracted by the bird food.

Ficus roots 18.9.15

We tried to maintain the ficus with heavy pruning, but eventually decided it had to go. I finally removed its roots on 18th September.

Jackie planting pansies 19.9.15Pansies in patio

The next day Jackie planted up the vacant space in which pansies were blooming on 12th October.

This afternoon I printed and pasted the Gazebo Path section into the album.

Chicken thighs baked in West Indian chili sauce; special fried rice; and mange touts, cob corn, and carrots were produced by Jackie for our dinner this evening. A selection of Tesco’s cream cakes was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Reserve des Tugets Madiran 2012.

70 Years On

Jackie planting pansies

Jackie spent the morning planting the pansies and spring bulbs in place of the ficus.

Bamboo roots

The bamboo in the Oval Bed tends to send tentacles under the rock border and into the gravel path. At the first sign of a sucker piercing the shingle, excavation has to be carried out. This was my task.

This afternoon, Jackie drove us to Walkford for Daphne and Ray Salinger’s Platinum Anniversary party. Apart from one picture, I recorded the event in Black and White, which seemed appropriate.

Ray looking at album

Here, Ray examines the album Ron had made up largely from the prints I had produced.

Daphne and Ray 1

He then posed with his wife.

Daphne, Ray and Donna

Over lunch They both looked again at the historic photos, the album here held by Donna.

Lunch

The best way of approaching the splendidly plentiful buffet was to heap your plate with those selections you could fit onto it, then return for seconds of the other dishes.Seated group1

Ben guitarist

The day was warm and sunny enough for many guests, entertained by Ben, a professional guitarist, to sit outside.

Group with Great great niece

The couple’s great niece, her husband, her father-in-law and a great great niece enjoyed the sunshine,

Great granddaughter

whilst Helen enjoyed great granddaughter Imogen.

Ron speech

Ron made a speech in honour of his parents,

Ray speech

and Ray gave a witty reply.

Daphne and Ray cutting cake

He and Daphne then cut the cake made by Shelly,

Daphne and Shelly slicing cake

who helped her mother-in-law slice it.

Group 4Group 1Group 2Group 3

Finally, all assembled for group photographs.

And the one colour picture?

Queen's greeting

Here it is.

This evening I watched the second half of the South Africa v. Japan World Cup rugby match, and the whole of France v. Italy. In deference to anyone yet to watch a recorded version, I will not give the results, but I will say that the last five minutes of the first of these games was as thrilling as any finish I have seen.

After The Rain 1

SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read to the end if you are watching the rugby recorded.

Chrysanthemums

This morning Jackie weeded and planted chrysanthemums in the front garden, whilst I dug out the remaining roots of the ficus in preparation for planting the pansies.

Roots of ficus

In the event, a heavy thunderstorm ruled out putting the pansies to bed. They were therefore plonked in their trays. Even though the rain ceased, enabling us to finalise the preparation and wander round the garden, the soil was far too muddy.

The sun emerged for a while. The rain ceased, but continued to drip from the trees and the shrubbery. Battered blooms bore watery blisters.

Raindrops on geraniums 1Raindrops on geraniums 2

These included geraniums;

Raindrops on Ginger lily

Ginger lilies;

Raindrops on rose peach

roses unknown,

Raindrops on rose Altissimo

 Altissimo,

Raindrops on leaves of rose Deep Secret

and the leaves of Deep Secret;

Raindrops on dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

dahlia Bishop of Llandaff;

Raindrops on sweet peas

sweet peas;

Raindrops on Verbena

and verbena to name a few.

Echinaceas and chrysanthemums

Echinaceas and chrysanthemums, and others in Elizabeth’s Bed have been well watered.

View along dead end path

Here are views down the Dead End Path;

View along Brick Path

across the New Bed to the Brick Path;

View across Heligan path

and across the Heligan Path.

Our dinner this evening, consisting of Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice, was taken on trays on our knees, as we watched the opening match in the rugby World Cup, in which England beat Fiji by 35 points to 11. I drank more of the malbec while Jackie drank Hoegaarden. I didn’t spill too much curry down my sweatshirt.

The Green Man

Sam 1982 - Version 2Tree 1982Tree-lined lane1982Tree roots 1982Today’s weather pattern was similar to yesterday’s. I therefore delved into the archives again and came up with another black and white picture of Sam looking remarkably like his daughter Orlaith, among a collection of shots of still naked trees that must have Tree roots 1982 - Version 2been taken early in 1982 somewhere in Surrey. I love the contorted shapes and the images they sometimes reveal. Study, for example, the last picture above. Can you see the Green Man of legend? He is a mythological figure representing rebirth, and, reproduced in every art form, whether drawing, painting or sculpture, is frequently seen as an architectural symbol or a pub sign. Very often he is painted as if formed from foliage. I have never seen him depicted in bark, which is my excuse for breaking my normal rule and altering an image.Tree like deer 1982 2

Perhaps the fossilised Picasso-like deer in this shot is easier to spot.

As the day brightened up, I wandered along Hordle Lane as far as the path by the side of Apple Court Garden, and along this until my way was barred by a locked five-barred gate. I then retraced my steps. HorsesTwo of the horses in the paddock still wore their protective Clematis campanifloramasks, although the day was less fly-blown.

Water lilySmall white butterfly on bidensWe now have a delicate little clematis Campaniflora rambling across the plants in the front garden.

Water lilies are still forcing their way to the light in the tiny pond created in an old water tank.

Among the most fidgety of the butterflies we have is the small white, which, like Tigger, never seems to be able to settle. They are constantly, restlessly, flitting around the garden. I managed, fleetingly, to catch one on a bidens. It didn’t stay long enough to disturb the other two basking insects.

Having noticed that Apple Court were advertising rare and unusual plants, I returned this afternoon with the head gardener to make some purchases. We bought a Persicaria microcephalus Red Dragon; a Hydrangea paniculata Phantom; two Athyriums, one Metallicum, the other dictum Red Beauty; and a Dryopteris erythrosora Brilliance.Butterfly Meadow Brown and bee on cone flower

CatalpaDappling of catalpa flowersPrimrose having her photograph takenIn the sales area Meadow Brown butterflies and bees flocked to the cone flowers. In the garden itself, a magnificent catalpa shed its shaded blooms, vying with the sunlight in  dappling the lawn beneath, and Primrose was having her photograph taken.Apple Court Garden water lily

Water lilies in the capacious carp ponds had no need to force their way into the sunlight.

When we returned with our spoils, seizing upon the opportunity to contribute to the planting, and, more significantly, to take a break from digging up concrete slabs, I volunteered to dig the holes for the new residents. This turned out to be somewhat unwise. I began with the ferns, which were destined for a comparatively fallow spot where only weeds seemed to be growing. Almost immediately I hit upon large lumps of tufa. Tufa is a porous rock, formed near mineral springs, upon which some hardy plants will grow. It is popular for rockeries and alpines. Maybe a rockery was once intended for this bed. TufaThe large piece on the left of the pile in the picture demonstrates that it is useful on which to grow certain plants. Not ideally those it was harbouring. FernsHaving dug all this out, the craters left had to be filled with soil scrounged from other parts of the garden. Then we planted our ferns.

Persicaria microcephalaThe lair allocated for the Red Dragon involved piercing a mixture of clay and gravel. Fortunately for me Jackie did most of it.

Hydrangea paniculata PhantomFinally, I only had to negotiate a tree root before setting the Phantom hydrangea standing proud.

This evening we again dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi with boiled rice, followed by evap on strawberries on raspberry twirl cheesecake. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Chataigniere Bordeaux 2012.

Roundup Not Required

This morning we both worked at the front of the house. I remained safely within our walls. Jackie, however, diced with death by sweeping the whole length of the narrow pavement. Jackie sweeping pavementThe speed limit on this road is 60 m.p.h., and is often exceeded. Stepping back to admire your work out there does not bear thinking about.

Jackie also tidied up the front of the trellis. This was rather bad luck on me, because it involved the removal of a couple of euphorbias. A good hour of my morning had already been spent hacking out the roots of one penetrating the gravel path inside the garden. I hadn’t really contemplated tackling any more. Not previously being familiar with the plant, I had thought that this was just a large flower. Not so. It was secured by roots as thick as those of small trees.

The front garden is on a higher level than the small drive and the road outside. This has meant earth has slid under the trellis. Some attempt has, in the distant past, been made to hold back the flow with piles of stone. Euphorbia rootsThis last euphorbia had grown through the stone. Sometimes it was only the clink of the rock on fork or spade that distinguished it from the apparently equally steely roots. They were also esconced on both sides of the trellis. After an hour, I gave up. Definitely a job for that powerful weedkiller, Roundup, I thought. Superwoman had other ideas. She knelt down with a trowel and, feeling like a member of The Time Team, chipped away at the earth between and beneath the stone, exposing the two large roots straddling it that were eventually all that was holding the tangled mass. Euphorbia root extractedProudly, after a cut with the loppers, she drew it out.

As part of her clean-up of the pavement, Jackie had cleared a blocked drain in the gutter and hosed down the footpath. Gutter outside houseThis is a picture of the gutter opposite our driveway, at about the position of the red car in the first picture. Fast-moving vehicles come so close to the kerb that they sprayed us with muddy water.

This afternoon we worked in tandem. Jackie cleared out the earth fall from under the trellis, I toddled off and brought back some concrete slabs from elsewhere in the garden, and together we put them in place against the bottom of the latticework. Trellis clearedWe left a little of the euphorbia in place near the entrance arch, and tied up rose, clematis, and honeysuckle. A few more climbers should obscure the ugliness of the concrete.

Front gardenWeeding, eradication of bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning, resulted in us  at least having some idea of the shape of our front garden. As I scratch my head, determining what to write next, I am reminded of the vicious thorns on the old pink rose that seemed to make their mark each time I stood up straight.

On the inside of the wall at bottom right of the last two pictures, can be seen traces of pink and turquoise paint. Underneath the nondescript brown wash along the front, remain vestiges of these two colours. Much of the inside of the house has similar traces beneath a weak white daub. There had clearly been an overall attempt to produce a more anodyne decor than the house had once enjoyed.

After a Hoegaarden and a glass of Chateau les Gauries bordeaux 2011 on the decking situated to catch the evening sun, we dined on a repeat of yesterday’s delicious dinner. I drank another glass of wine with it, and Jackie didn’t.