Backing Notes

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“You are very brave coming out on a morning like this”, was a greeting given to Jackie when we arrived at

Setley Farm Shop.

The rhythm of the windscreen wipers; the whoosh of wheels throwing up spray; the torrential tattoo beaten on the car roof as we peered into approaching headlights became backing notes as we sped along our route. The radiating starlights approaching in the third picture was the driver’s warning signal of the cyclist standing beside the left bridge support.

Once arrived at Setley Jackie had to rush through the rain leaving its marks on the Modus windows.

Rivulets ran, and raindrops splashed puddles, down lanes, like Sandy Down, where lies a somewhat

battered tree trunk barrier intended to deter verge parking.

A string of damp equestrians trekked up Church Lane,

while hardy ponies stood on the far side of the swollen lake at Pilley.

Jacqueline visited this afternoon and a wide-ranging conversation ensued until she returned to Elizabeth later.

Ian rejoined us and we dined on battered fish, chips, onion rings, and mushy peas from Ashley’s, with which I drank more of the Kruger Elements.

The Breadline


This warm and wet afternoon Jackie and I went shopping at Setley Ridge Farm Shop for tomorrow’s provisions.

The amount of rain that has fallen in the last few days was reflected in the pitted car park surfaces. Bedraggled remnants of Christmas decorations partly filled trays left outside.

Inside the attractively laid out shelves displayed bread, biscuits, fruit, vegetables, nuts, drinks, preserves, free range eggs, dates, and much more. Lines of cups fronting pickle jars contained taster samples of the enticing varieties. Even the shoppers’ baskets in the  doorway invited filling with the wholesome provender.

On our return through Brockenhurst we noticed a string of donkeys on the breadline in the garden of Greatham House. A coating of bracken indicated that they had trooped in from the forest for their tea, which, clearly a regular event, was soon provided by the lady of the house.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s splendid steak and mushroom pie, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots. I drank more of the shiraz cabernet and Becky and Ian drank Encostats de Caiz vinho verde 2016.

Isle Of Wight Tomatoes

Early this morning the crow, having adopted the back of the bench as its new taking off strip, flew directly onto the top of the bird feeder, but didn’t stay. It can only scavenge from a tray in the construction, not the closed containers. Jackie is wise to that, so isn’t filling it at the moment. The blackbird, with her partner perching guard on the snake bark tree,  continues to sit on her eggs.

It is now possible to see through the entrance to the kitchen garden from some distance away. Pictured here are two sides of a path surrounding an oval flower bed at the far end of the garden, as they appeared at the beginning of the day. They are in there somewhere. It was my task to begin restoring them to their former glory, whilst Jackie continued transforming the central gravelled walkway. Here, the brambles were rampant and well established. A certain amount of eradication of them from the beds was required.

This revealed more hidden plants, like the day lilies, the colour of one of which seems to have confused a bloodsucking insect into thinking it was clamped on to my forearm. With some painstaking sifting of

earth and gravel Jackie completed the central path today. I, on the other hand, although making a good impact on the left hand side and far end of the ovoid ring, came to an abrupt halt when I encountered the bamboo. A number of strong stems had penetrated the path and defied my fork.

That was a battle I was prepared to fight another day. It had taken three months completely to eradicate a clump of the insidious roots of this grass at The Firs, so I wanted to be fresh for the job. MaƱana.
On a sunny day such as this, the light streaming through the kitchen windows at lunchtime is stunning.

Placed at random at the end of the table when preparing it for the food were a vase of tulips Shelly had given Jackie, an accident pot containing alliums and a petunia,   and a bowl of tomatoes.  These tomatoes were a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. And they were delicious. Jackie had purchased them at Setley Ridge Farm Shop, to which a couple from the Isle of Wight travel weekly to supply them. Apparently supermarkets cannot sell them because they are not uniform in size, redness, and rotundity.
We received a very warm welcome from the family at The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where we dined this evening on the usual good food and Tsing Tao beer.

The streaks in the sky on our way home were of the equally warmest hues.