Decorating A Dingy Day

Intermittent sunshine sparkled on the drizzle of an increasingly rainy day. This was just as well for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance, one of whose tasks this morning was tidying the shed interior.

This involved removing all contents in order to lay a clutch of doormats bought from the Efford Recycling Centre a couple of years ago;

then replacing them in good order.

The hardy pink rose that has weathered the recent storms has now reached her full maturity.

Elizabeth had driven off to Pilley this morning for the next stage of unpacking in her new house. After lunch Jackie and I delivered more of her equipment. Friends Paul and Cathy were also in attendance.

On reaching the village green at neighbouring Portmore we noticed a group of residents decorating the tree.

Naturally I ambled over and investigated. Very friendly community members were continuing a tradition begun about six years ago. The idea was the creation of a focal point for meeting and getting to know each other over mulled wine which was to follow.

The young woman under this splendid hat was my informant.

The fact that four of the people present, including this gentleman and his companion perched on the ladder entering into the spirit of things, were recent incomers who hadn’t met their neighbours rather made the point.

The usual donkeys wandered along the gloom of Norleywood Road,

pausing to try their luck with attentive visitors.

Others preferred the certainty of prickly gorse.

Jacqueline being with Mum, Elizabeth joined us again this evening. Pannage Pork, we are told, especially the crackling, tastes particularly good, so, trying not to imagine I might have photographed our particular meal snuffling among the acorns, we bought some, and Jackie cooked it this evening. It was, indeed, particularly good; served as it was with potatoes au gratin; roast butternut squash; Yorkshire pudding; crisp carrots; tender runner beans; and tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I both drank Western Cape Malbec 2018.

Up And Down The Lane

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Late this afternoon, the dull skies cleared and we enjoyed a warm and sunny day. Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

Moorland, Holmsley Passage, young man and dog

A young man and his dog walking along Holmsley Passage,

Young man and dog

set off onto the moors;

Cyclists and young people

a couple of cyclists, passing a group relaxing on a gate crossed the junction of the road with the disused railway line that is now a footpath;

Walkers resting

and a group of hikers, relieved of their backpacks, took a rest on the grass.

I have featured Honey Lane in Burley a couple of times before, but had never covered the whole length until today. This is because the serpentine, steeply undulating, ancient road is so pitted with often water-filled holes that you really need a 4 x 4 to negotiate it.

Gate to field

Jackie parked the Modus beside this gateway to a field,

Honey Lane 1

and waited for me to wander down the lane and back.

Trees on hedgerow 1

The age of this thoroughfare is indicated by the high bank of hedgerows mounted by  gnarled old trees.

Ponies on lane 1

Todays photographs are reproduced in the order in which I made them, thus replicating the ramble. Soon a troop of ponies came into view.

Leaves and trunk 1

The tree to the right of the above picture is beginning to be carpeted by autumn leaves

Pony and autumn leaves 1

waiting for the leading grey to rest its hooves.

Pony on autumn leaves 2

Another wandered along behind.

Pony 1

This chestnut seemed rather scarred.

Ponies crossing cattle grid

Cattlegrids are meant to deter hoofed animals from crossing them. Not so these two ponies foraging in someone’s garden. They clattered across the bars as I passed.

Trees on hedgerow 2

Here are more gnarled roots atop the bank,

Steps 1

up which some home owners have set steps to reach their gardens.

Pony 2

Here comes another scarred pony,

Cyclist and trailer

soon to be passed by a happy cyclist towing a trailer.

Kissing gate

This wooden kissing gate was rather intriguing.

Pony 3

The ponies had other things on their minds.

Cyclists and pony

A couple of cyclists passed the next animal,

Pony 4

which continued on towards me.

Tree roots

This tree reminded me of Jabba the Hutt.

Banked hedgerow 1

Sunlight pierced the foliage in parts.

Tree trunk curled 1Tree trunk curled 2

How, I wondered, had this very tall tree taken this circuitous route before ascending to the light above.

Autumn leaves 1

A blaze of yellow leaves enlivened this garden.

Orchard Farm shed

Sunlight dappled the shed of Orchard Farm,

Honey Lane 2

and pierced a deep stygian bank.

Gate to field 2

Here is another gate to a field.

Squirrel

Can you spot the squirrel?

Honey Lane 4

Nearing the Burley Street end of the lane

Honey Lane rise 1Honey Lane rise 2

I mounted the next rise, turned, and

Honey lane with cyclists

retraced my steps, catching sight of cyclists in the distance.

Cyclists 1

They soon sped down towards me, the first two, with cheery greetings, too fast for my lens;

Cyclists 2

their companions paused for a pleasant chat.

Autumn leaves 2

I spotted a few more colourful leaves.

Woman walking dog

A friendly woman walking her dog commented on what a pleasant evening it was,

Sunlight across leaves 1

and, with sunlight spanning a nearby tree,  I was soon beside the Modus once more, and we set off for home.

Stag on road 1

On Holmsley Road  a splendid stag seemed confused about crossing.

Stag on road 2

It had seen the approaching vehicle, turned,

Stag on road 3

and was soon back on the verge and disappearing into the forest.

Those of a tender disposition may wish to skip what we had for dinner.

This was Jackie’s superb liver and bacon casserole, leek and cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, new potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. I finished the malbec.

 

 

 

To Brighten A Dull Day

On this dull, overcast, day, Aaron and Robin made considerable headway on weeding the gravel paths. Certain alliums that self seed everywhere, when wrenched from the paths, fill the air with the smell of onions, nowhere near as appetising as when they are being fried.

Jackie did some planting in the front garden.

This afternoon we drove out to Pilley Cottage Garden on Pilley Hill near Lymington.

Pilley Hill

Jackie parked the car in the School Car Park and we walked down the daffodil-lined hill to the cottage.

We were warmly welcomed by Stephanie who opens her garden, featuring its own swathes of narcissi, as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

Pilley Cottage Garden 1

In the left foreground of this picture stems of willow, pressed into the soil, have sprouted. Others, equally apparently rooted, provide arches such as that further back on the left, through which a visitor has walked.

Pilley Cottage Garden 2

Pilley Cottage Garden 4

We were pleased to note so many people viewing on what was quite a cold day.

Pilley Cottage Garden 3

The couple in the centre of this shot have just crossed a bridge conveniently laid over a potentially boggy area. The lines seen in the foreground are placed to deter visitors from venturing onto other muddy patches.

On the right of the next photograph can be seen a pergola made of live willow.

Pilley Cottage Garden 5Pilley Cottage Garden 6Pilley Cottage Garden 7Pilley Cottage Garden 8Pilley Cottage Garden 9

The hilly nature of the plot offered intriguing views on different, terraced, levels.

Logs

Strategically placed sawn logs weathered beautifully in the beds, providing homes for flora such as ferns, and no doubt fauna.

Shed

Even the shed was an attraction.

Mirror feature

A gate at the top of the slope opened onto a deceptive arch. Can you see the trick? This photograph contains one of the many examples of fascinating pottery,

Chess set

such as this abandoned game of chess,

Elephant succulents

or this ring of elephants bearing succulents,

Pilley Cottage Garden 10

bounded by little globed boxes,

Jackie in Pilley Cottage Garden

within the circumference of which Jackie contemplated the layout,

Pilley Cottage and garden

before we wandered up to the house for tea, and, of course, the purchase of two plants.

We considered this trip an excellent way to brighten a dull day.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole, crisp potato wedges, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. I finished the Costieres de Nimes.

Colemanballs

Petunias 1Petunias 2Sawn branchSeeking to provide The Head Gardener with a pleasant surprise when she returned from an early morning trip to Ferndene Farm shop, allegedly to buy more compost, I decided to take down more of the tree which, in our gusting winds, is wrecking the red rose on the pergola outside the stable door. Jackie has been mentioning the need for this for a while now. Evidence of how windy it was today is provided by these two photographs of the same basket of petunias, taken from the same spot in rapid succession.

When we arrived in Downton last April the main trunk of the offending tree had been so torn and twisted that I had been obliged to cut off the dangling remainder. After a further year of frequent whirling winds we have noticed that this particular corner always bears the brunt, with stricken branches bending and crashing against the wisteria pergola. That is why further pruning was necessary. Still in my dressing gown, I proudly displayed my work. The Head Gardener observed that I had ‘made a start’. Unless dealing with BT, I’m not normally one for invective. I must admit to having muttered one at that. The question is often asked, ‘is there any pleasing a woman?’ It is actually very easy to please Jackie, but The Head Gardener, bless her, tends towards the exacting. She is never demanding, but, if you volunteer, you have to reckon with her desire for perfection. Two more branches had to come off. Branches to be prunedFurther pruningSpace cleared over pergola

Trudging back and forth to the pile awaiting combustion, I was able to view the rest of the garden, where

Fuchsia Paula Jane, colibrachoas, petuniaspretty pink fuchsia, Paula Jane, atop the urn, is flanked by calibrachoas and petunias;

Diascas Apple Blossom, geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt

Apple Blossom diascas, magenta geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt embellish the entrance to the back drive;

Pansies, succulent and cineraria

and, turning from that point, looking towards the rose garden, a yellow theme is provided by pansies, succulents; and the flowers of lanky cineraria, otherwise known as Dusty Miller.

Hoverfly over clematis

Hoverflies, like this one casting its shadow on an unidentified clematis, give the photographer a fighting chance to catch them in flight;

Bee landing on poppy

Not so bees, which make you really work for it.

Whisky barrel

The generous Dave Fergusson, yesterday, gave Jackie a cut glass whisky barrel for just £5. It hasn’t taken her long to position it.

Wimbledon’s weather smiled on me today. Accompanying Jackie on a three hour trip to Nuffield Hospital and back, including her physiotherapy, could have meant that I didn’t see much of Andy Murray’s three set victory over Vasek Pospisil. However. Rain had disrupted the first set; I watched the rest of that and the second in the reception area; and rain caused further stoppage just as we left for home. I, therefore, was able to see the end of the match, and, far more importantly, witness a wonderful example of Colemanballs.

1634747-34692779-310-310Derived from the surname of BBC sports presenter David Coleman, Colemanballs is a term coined by the satirical magazine, Private Eye, to describe verbal gaffes by sports commentators. Today’s was an ace, admirably returned by the tennis player.

‘Is there any more pressure because of Royal spectators? David Beckham was here today,’ without the slightest pause, asked Garry Richardson, who must have forgotten the names of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. ‘He isn’t a royal, is he?’ replied Murray, with a twinkle in his eye and a wide smile. Richardson responded with: ‘I’ll let you decide.’ ‘It’s great that they came along to support,’ observed Murray with immaculate diplomacy.

The next Centre Court match was between Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic. The former won in straight sets.

Lavender

For some reason best known to herself and Bruce Goodman, Jackie wishes it to go on record that some of the flowers she bought this morning, including the lavenders that she planted in the rose garden, were blue.

Shed

It will be no surprise to anyone that Jackie has also somewhat embellished the outside of her shed.

This evening we dined on flavoursome mushroom and onion omelette, and bubble and squeak topped with fried bacon. This was followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Teroldego Rotaliano.

 

 

Furnishing The Shed

Becky put this on my Facebook page early this morning:

11411850_10153170361428999_594653639751612138_oClever, isn’t she?

We began with a trip to the municipal dump, now upgraded to Efford Recycling Centre. Included in the rubbish we took there was a green plastic table we had bought from there in the first place. The Head Gardener, now she has a shed, has no further use for it. I got quite excited when I thought this might be the first time we would leave the tip without making a purchase. This was not to be, for Jackie spotted a hanging window box and just had to buy it.

Fergusson's van

Off we then drove to Highcliffe, and our old favourite, Fergusson’s, in search of a suitable chest of drawers to double as a work surface and storage for packets of seeds, tools, ties, plant labels, and almost anything else you can think of. Elsa and Boyce produced the very thing, that would probably have got the Bargain Hunt experts very excited. This addictive televised antiques programme involves two pairs of punters shopping in normal retail outlets in the hope of making a profit at auction. We have learned that G-plan, the iconic furniture of the ’50s and ’60s, is in at the moment. The Ercol piece that we found would definitely have been in the money. But we weren’t going to auction, and Dad, Dave Fergusson, accompanied by Elsa, delivered it for us and helped me place it in the shed.

This friendly family firm is to be recommended.

Dave Fergusson delivering chest of drawersErcol chest of drawersShed furnishings

Shed

Jackie had already begun to make herself at home.

Dave had first delivered furniture to us last May, when the garden was still a jungle. He and Elsa went on an amazed and delighted tour. He asked for a notification when we open to the public. Here is a selection from what he saw today:

Rose pink

From the bed by the wisteria, this small pink rose has a good view of the new acquisition.

View along kitchen window path

This is the view along the outside of the kitchen window. The rose above lies in the bed at the end.

Dragon's view

Obscured by the planting in the centre background, the dragon stands on a concrete plinth. This is his view through to the urn and beyond.

geraniums and maple

Near the start of the brick path, geraniums and Japanese maple form a pleasing swirl;

Geraniums and grasses

and a different variety of geranium hangs at one end of the Phantom Path.

Petunias on edge of brick path

A concrete building block lifts a pot of pink petunias taking us across another section of the Brick Path.

Pergola path view

We also walked along the Pergola Path. Like any of the others, this view changes daily.

Rose Kent

In the new rose garden, Kent is now in bloom.

Passion FlowerClematis Margaret Hunt

At the far south end of the garden, passion flowers cling to the support arches we erected last year, and clematis Margaret Hunt ascends those Jackie fixed in her new boxes at the start of the back drive.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla, where we enjoyed the usual ambiance, service, food, and Kingfisher. I chose Purple Tiger and Jackie chose Navrattan Korma. We shared lemon rice and a naan, and both drank Kingfisher.

The Watchers Watched

Path to orange shedIncluding strimming the grass, Jackie continued with general gardening this morning whilst I scanned the last ten of the photographs for Norman’s book, retouched the images, and made a dozen prints. The quality of these large-format negatives dating back to 1957 is very good.

One could hardly call the creative task Jackie finished this evening ‘general gardening’. She completed a completely new path to the orange shed, obviating the need to deviate through the kitchen garden arch.

This afternoon and evening I burnt more of the heap of cuttings. Having aimed to complete the task, I had to concede defeat.

Fires have a profound fascination for most people. This is why it is a shame that city living in particular militates against the open hearths of my childhood. Watching flames and seeing pictures in them was almost better than the television that, in modern homes, has taken the place of the grate as a focal point.

A bonfire holds a similar amount of interest as the flames lick, the smoke curls, the foliage sizzles, and the branches snap and fall, changing the framework of the image in a flash.Bonfire smoke striated My evening bonfire’s thin clouds of smoke were striated by the rays of the lowering sun.

Fire 3.68As we experienced during our Ockley holiday in March 1968, what really draws the crowds is an unexpected fire that spells potential disaster for someone. While we were exploring the deserted house featured on the 18th of this month, we noticed crowds gathering around what looked like a rather attractive house on fire. Naturally, there was a certain amount of disappointment when the conflagration was discovered to be a burning shed. Nevertheless, I was there with my camera. After taking a few shots I returned to the upper floor of the empty property, where I could discreetly watch the watchers. Spectators at fireJackie and other fire spectators 3.68Jackie stands a little aside from the others, bounded by an attractive window frame. The fire brigade eventually arrived and the spectators were able to watch them smartly move into action and dowse the flames.

Our dinner this evening was Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice, followed by gooseberry and apple crumble with custard in my case, and cream in hers. We both drank lambrusco Emilia reservato 2012.