Becky’s Biology Lesson

Despite the dreary drizzle-day and thanks to Martin’s weeks of clearance work in the beds there is now no corner of the garden not

brightened by snowdrops and more.

As usual clicking on any image will access the gallery, each item of which can be enlarged and bears a title; some also bearing bumble bees which yesterday had sped freely around the garden. Today, motionless, they cling to a number of plants from which they had sought sustenance then. When I mentioned this to Becky she explained that these insects, not having skeletons, contain fluid beneath their flesh which in cold weather coagulates causing a state of somnolence until liquifying once more on warming up.

Ian returned from Southbourne last night, in time to shop with Becky today for our dinner this this evening. They returned with 6 rib eye steaks; chips, and peas, which Becky cooked to perfection, according to individual choices; with M & S rice and bread and butter puddings to follow. I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône Villages

Early February Flowers

Against the soundtrack of the nesting raucous jackdaws I took a short walk around the garden, photographing

some of the many clusters of snowdrops;

more recent hellebores, unusually holding up their heads;

a few more camellias;

trailing vinca, a survivor of last year’s primulas,

and a white cyclamen.

Jackie’s numerous pelargonium cuttings are happy in the greenhouse.

This evening we all dined on tasty pork and garlic sausages; creamy mashed potatoes; fried onions; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and its chopped leaves, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mayu, gran reserva Carménère 2020.

More Attractive Than Triffids

Bright sunshine casting shadows beneath a clear blue sky shortly before midday when I took a chilly walk around the garden belied the temperatures skirting freezing which, during a current further cold spell below 0 centigrade sending rivulets of condensation from our bedtime breath dripping down walls and misting tightly closed windows until we were able to fling them open and dash shivering downstairs to our electric portable radiators timed to ignite at their lowest heat level an hour before Jackie but perhaps a couple after I expected to emerge.

Snowdrops and hellebores share the limelight with, at a higher level, a

variety of camellias;

daffodils are following up fast;

fern filigrees and honesty seed bud traceries are picked out by the clear light, as are

new shoots from our recently pruned roses.

When we first arrived here the garden of the then abandoned next door house, North Breeze, rampaged through our land, as demonstrated by

Now we have the benefit of attractive, sweet scented, acacia,

currently in bloom, hanging over the Back Drive fence.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and France – probably the most impressive contest I have ever seen.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced her omelette-topped egg fried rice on which to bed hot and spicy, and tempura prawn preparations, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Dillon And Flo Finished The Job

The neat stack of bricks beside the Florence sculpture yesterday doesn’t look like two full wheelbarrow loads, but, having wheeled them from behind the old oil tank last week, and having wheeled them back again today, I can assure you it was.

Afterwards, I photographed a few garden views, demonstrating the proliferating snowdrops.

There was still clutter behind Florence.

Afterwards, Dillon and Flo finished the job.

Later, I continued my reminiscences through my older posts and found a photograph I could usefully add to the text of

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty beef pie in shortcrust pastry with roast potatoes, crunchy carrots and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished The Guv’nor.

Boiler Fuel Pump And Modus Brakes

Norman’s Heating men installed our new oil tank today, left it half full with clean fuel, and attempted to fire up the boiler which they found needed a new fuel pump.

I left a message for Elaine at Tom Sutton Heating asking her to ask Stuart to bring a new pump when he comes to service our system in a week’s time.

In the dying light of a dull day I photographed clematis Cirrhosa, snowdrops, camellia buds, verbena, and Daphne Odorata.

We are somewhat confined to barracks at the moment because an unpleasant acrid smell has indicated that the Modus brakes are binding and can’t be fixed until 1st March.

In keeping with the nature of the rest of this post, I published

This evening we all dined on oven fish, chips, and onion rings; pickled onions and cornichons; and mushy peas, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Zinfandel.

The Garden Awakes

Yesterday Martin made further progress on the completed patio.

His paving pattern is laid ready for grouting; sleepers are in place;

the step up to the Dead End Path is progressing;

and the steps into the house are ready to be boxed in.

Today I cleared the area between the oil tank and the garden shed in readiness for the new container due to be installed on Monday. The black bags in the foreground are two of three more destined for recycling at Otter Nurseries.

I am temporarily storing further materials on the Shady Path. In the bottom right hand corner of this picture can be seen a small crocus closed up because this was late in the day, and a few of the swathes

of snowdrops now blooming.

Camellias continue to do so,

as do hellebores and irises..

Later, I recovered images and set header pictures for the following two posts:

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza and plentiful fresh salad, with which I drank more of the Shiraz and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

A Breakaway Group

This morning Jackie and I transported three blag bags of plastic plant pots to the Otter Nurseries recycling point, after which we continued on a forest drive.

Daffodils like these on a bank outside a fence on Church Lane are piercing the soil,

while pendulously arched snowdrops ascend another bank outside a garden at Pilley, alongside which

string of determined Shetland ponies make their way to their favourite foraging spot. We had not seen these four here before, which is why, when we reached Bull Hill, Jackie observed that they were a breakaway group from

the more usual occupants of the moorlands at the top.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby matches between France and Ireland, and between Scotland and Wales.

For dinner this evening Jackie provided moist cheese centred fish cakes; creamy mashed potatoes; a tasty melange of tomatoes, leeks, onions, and garlic; firm broccoli, carrots, and peas; with a piquant cheese sauce. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Frappato-Syrah.

The Head Gardener Was On Hand

Apparently yesterday’s weather was simply a precursor of Storm Dudley, due today. As the wind began to pick up this morning, we took a walk round the garden.

I had begun with four views from overhead, the last two of which featured camellias,

now quite abundant, and

beginning to drop blooms to soften the gravel paths.

Both bergenia and snowdrops are becoming widespread.

Pale blue irises reticulata; golden daffodils including têtes-à-têtes; white osteospermum; sprawling blue vinca; pale yellow primroses; and rich red cyclamen add their splashes of colour.

The strong sweet scents of Daphnes Odorata and Jacqueline Postill pervade the air.

The Head Gardener was on hand helping hanging hellebores hold heads high.

Dudley is tipped to be less fierce than Storm Eunice, due to arrive in UK on Friday, bringing us gusts of 85 mph.

This evening we dined on baked gammon; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans; and a mélange of fresh vegetables in a piquant cheese sauce, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.


Martin spent the morning tidying the back drive beds. He applied his painstaking effort to cutting back excessive growth and cleaning the brick edging. He chopped the refuse and added it to the compost.

Two robins who we think are a grandson of Nugget and his female partner have been attracted by the work. Longer term readers will be familiar with our late tame robin and the occasional challenges to find him. Hopefully we are starting a new “Where’s Nugget’s grandson?” with these two, the first being No. 1 and the other No. 2. You may need to enlarge the images.

While all this activity was going on a big bumble bee slept away the morning on a blooming bergenia.

Hellebores and violas are also in bloom.

Owls and burnished Lanarth White hydrangea basked in the warm sunlight.

Snowdrops are now in flower throughout the garden

and on the kitchen table.

Another flower arrangement of Jackie’s consisted of a clutch of hard boiled eggs which took us back to our youth when most eggshells were white. Even in our early adulthood it was the brown shell that was unusual. Until someone decided that brown ones were considered more healthy. It seems that Tesco is in the vanguard of reversing the trend.

At mid afternoon we purchased a few items at Ferndene Farm Shop then took a short forest drive.

Sunlight picked out distant slopes beyond Burley Road and its moorland. The ponies in these landscapes showed interest when I disembarked from the Modus, but turned their backs when they realised I was not carrying food for them.

On the approach to Bisterne Close a field horse looked wistfully across the lane at a pair of

pony cousins enjoying their freedom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro Reserva 2019.

Along The Lanes

The third Test Match between India and England finished very early on this, the second, day, giving me the opportunity to stop watching Channel 4 and for Jackie to take me on a forest drive after purchasing primulas and violas from Ferndene Farm Shop.

She parked on an un-waterlogged section of the verges while I walked olong photographing

still naked oak branches against the sky;

swathes of snowdrops in the woodland, wet enough to harbour

reflective pools; as did the

soggy verges.

Fallen trees among the snowdrops bore moss, holly, and ivy leaves.

I returned to the car and we continued to Anna Lane,

on one side of which two New Forest ponies were penned in a field, perhaps for someone to train for riding;

and on the other side sprawled a lengthy pig farm.

Finally, a splendidly sculptural oak stump stands at a bend on Bennet’s Lane.

This evening we dined on well roasted chicken thighs, crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, and sage and onion stuffing; flavoursome Brussels sprouts and carrots, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz. Bakewell tart and vanilla ice cream was to follow,