The Moscow Show Trials

There was not much sun breaking through the clouds today.

This is quite useful when photographing white flowers like clematis Marie Boisselot as I did on my way to open the back gate for Aaron.

Geranium Palmatums and their attendant red fuchsias caught a touch of it as I walked along the Shady Path.

Bees were out early. This one still visited the ageing Festive Jewel in the Rose Garden into which I had been enticed by the magical scents that permeated the air.

A spider preferred to walk on the Blue Moon.

White beauties enjoying their time out of the limelight included Margaret Merril and Madame Alfred Carriere, sharing the entrance arch with Summer Wine.

Special Anniversary, Zéphirini Drouin, Absolutely Fabulous, and Mum in a Million all contributed their intriguing essences to the perfumed blend.

Despite its name the Sicilian Honey Garlic makes no apparent contribution to the mix.

Oriental poppies; libertia welcoming visiting bees; yellow irises; and red peonies enliven the borders of the Back Drive.

From a gentle amble through the garden I turn to the terrifying Moscow Show trials of the 1930s.

According to Wikipedia ‘The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials held in the Soviet Union at the instigation of Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938 against so-called Trotskyists and members of Right Opposition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There were three Moscow Trials: the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center (ZinovievKamenev Trial, aka “Trial of the Sixteen,” 1936), the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center (PyatakovRadek Trial, 1937), and the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” (BukharinRykov Trial, aka “Trial of the Twenty-One,” 1938). 

The defendants of these were Old Bolshevik party leaders and top officials of the Soviet secret police. Most defendants were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code with conspiring with the western powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore capitalism

The Moscow Trials led to the execution of many of the defendants. They are generally seen as part of Stalin’s Great Purge, an attempt to rid the party of current or prior oppositionists, especially but not exclusively Trotskyists, and any leading Bolshevik cadre from the time of the Russian Revolution or earlier, who might even potentially become a figurehead for the growing discontent in the Soviet populace resulting from Stalin’s mismanagement of the economy.[citation needed] Stalin’s hasty industrialisation during the period of the First Five Year Plan and the brutality of the forced collectivisation of agriculture had led to an acute economic and political crisis in 1928-33, a part of the global problem known as the Great Depression, and to enormous suffering on the part of the Soviet workers and peasants. Stalin was acutely conscious of this fact and took steps to prevent it taking the form of an opposition inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to his increasingly autocratic rule.[1]

Several of the victims of these judicial farces were personally known to Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian born British novelist who penned ‘Darkness at Noon’ in their memory decades before Mikhail Gorbatchev, in the late 1980s, introduced Glasnost, thus beginning the democratisation of the Soviet Union.

I finished reading this important book for the second time today. Without naming either Stalin or the USSR the work describes the energy-sapping destruction of the will of previous leaders who were now out of favour and forced by torture to contribute to their own finding of guilt and subsequent execution. Koestler’s prose is simply elegant but he describes an atmosphere of destructive, erosive, terror in an incongruously readable manner. I don’t often knowingly read a book twice, but since Louis had been reading his copy on his recent stay with us, I was prompted to do so.

Daphne Hardy’s translation renders the book most accessible, and Vladimir Bukovsky’s introduction is eloquently informative.

George Buday’s belligerent, brooding, wood engravings brilliantly supplement the attritional ambience of Koestler’s work.

The boards are blocked with a suitably spare design by Sue Bradbury.

We are now driving over to Emsworth for a curry outing with Becky and Ian. I will report on that tomorrow.

Losing The Plot?

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The sun returned today. This set us up nicely for our trawl through local solicitors in order to find one acceptable to the Family Building Society and willing to witness our signatures on the Mortgage Deed and the Declaration of Understanding.

Dagless & Whitlock

Starting off at Milford on Sea we hit the jackpot with Dagless and Whitlock. Almost.

For these forays Jackie remained in the car while I tested the ground. This firm were willing, but they only had one Partner. The lenders insisted on two. I therefore decided to phone Garry, our mortgage advisor to see if he could find a way around this. There was no signal. When, a little later, there was one, Garry was on answerphone. I left a message.

Group on greenBicycle wheel and feetCouple on bench with dog

Returning to our car I had the opportunity to envy groups of carefree folk enjoying the sunshine on the green.

Spider in web

We drove round to the GP surgery to collect a prescription. A spider sunbathed in the car park. It was then that I remembered Anansi. Was this creature a good omen?

We decided to hedge our bets, and try more solicitors in New Milton.

Starlings

Outside Roger Cobb’s farmhouse on the coast road, a string of starlings seemed prepared to take off on a murmuration.

Dixon & Stewart

Neither Dixon & Stewart

Heppenstalls

nor Heppenstalls were prepared to witness the signatures, because this would suggest that they had advised us, which they hadn’t.

I was about to enter a third legal establishment when Garry rang me back with the news that a firm with only one Partner was acceptable to the lender. Monogamy rules. Back we went to Milford on Sea where we made an appointment for the witnessing, to take place on 18th.

We had definitely earned a brunch at the Beach Hut Café at Friars Cliff.

Yacht on sunlit sea

Sunlight slashed the ocean,

Waves

and was borne by the waves

Group with dog on beachDog on beach

onto the beach where people walked their lolloping dogs and the red seaweed has almost disappeared.

Man and dog on beach

One canine was keener to get to the water than was its owner.

On leaving the car, I had carried my camera, lenses, and the mortgage paperwork in a hessian supermarket bag. When I had finished taking the beach shots I didn’t have the bag. Thinking I must have put it down somewhere, I retraced my steps up to the carpark. The bag was nowhere to be seen. Back down the slopes and the steps towards the café I trudged.

Jackie 1 Then I noticed Jackie, clearly wondering where I had got to.

Jackie 2

Then I noticed what she was clutching. Having removed the camera I had handed her the bag. I was definitely losing the plot.

Suddenly I recovered my appetite. Now we could enjoy our brunch.

Man and boy on beach 1Man and boy on beach 2Man and boy on beach 3

As we left the café I watched a young man allowing a little boy to be adventurous on a rocky breakwater while keeping a safe closeness.

Group with ice creams

It was definitely a day for ice creams. Despite his expression in this photograph the concerned gentleman shared his companions’ pleasure at the picture.

Couple with ice creams

Another couple struggled a bit with the breeze.

Only a couple of days ago I had been told that I needed to send the report of the mortgage valuation of the house to the solicitors. The final task of the day was to return home, place this, with a covering letter, in an envelope and post it to the manager of the solicitors in Stockport, by recorded delivery. This involved a second trip to New Milton. At least it means I will know when they have received it, and they won’t get away with pretending it had arrived later.

This evening we dined on a spicy stuffed crust pizza and fresh salad, with which I drank Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2016.

My New Haircut

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Today the temperature was unseasonably warm, and the skies overcast. Although we have a great number of flowers still blooming beyond their normal time, I chose this morning figuratively to pick

Dahlia 1Dahlia 2Dahlias 1Dahlias 2Dahlias 6Dahlias 4Dahlias 2Dahlias 3Dahlias 5

a bunch of dahlias from the garden.

Spider and leaf

On my way round my attention was drawn to a fallen leaf, twisting frantically in an attempt to free itself from the spider’s web from which it was suspended. This brought the arachnid scampering down its central line, only to be disappointed in what it had trapped.

Bench in West Bed

I have recently featured developments in the West Bed, cleared of shrubs and an old rose by Aaron, and having two new roses set to climb the arch by Jackie. There is now a new bench ready for positioning on reconstituted stone paving.

Elizabeth came for lunch and dinner. This afternoon we all travelled to Friar’s Cliff Beach and visited the Beach Hut Café for refreshments.

Yacht and couple on beach

A heavy haze restricted rendered the Isle of Wight invisible beyond a passing yacht.

Couple and dog on beach

From Steamer Point nature reserve I watched the couple seen in the above picture  continuing along the beach in the direction of Mudeford.

Man and dog on beach 1Man and dog on beach 2

Other dogs were frolicking on the beach;

Retriever on beach 1Couple and retriever on beachMan and retriever on beach 1Man and retriever on beach 2

one retriever in particular swimming like a seal,

Woman filming man and retrieverWoman filming man and retriever 2

its antics being filmed from the breakwater.

Red seaweed and group of peopleRed seaweed on beach 1Red seaweed en masse

Red seaweed on beach Friar's Cliff Beach

Even as far away as the clifftop car park we could smell the red seaweed that coated the sand

Gull and red seaweed 1

where a solitary gull wandered.

Gulls

This bird was joined by another and quickly took off,

Gull flying

flying out to sea,

Gull on beach

leaving the visitor all forlorn.

Seawater

Bubbling eddies swirled around

Rocks and seaweedFriar's Cliff BeachFriar's Cliff Beach

the rocks swathed in green and red weed.

Seaweed tinged wavesSeaweed on beach and tinging waves

As the waves rolled in they were tinged with red.

Gull leaping waves

The gull bobbing on the wave above leapt to avoid the next one,

Wader flying

and a wader flew off as I approached in an attempt to identify it.

Elizabeth photographing

I photographed my sister focussing on the water,

Derrick Photographing

and she got her own back.

Derrick photographing 2Derrick photographing 3Derrick photographing 4Derrick photographing 5

This served a dual purpose in that we could satisfy the request of LordBeariofBow to feature my new haircut so that he could pass judgement on it.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s superb sausages in red wine, creamy mashed potatoes, and crunchy carrots and cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Parra Alta malbec 2016.

 

 

The Great Escape

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With the return of the sunshine I carried out a little more tidying in the garden, especially dead-heading of roses, including

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous,

Rose Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta,

Rose pink climber

and a pink climber recovered by Elizabeth.

Wisteria in Kitchen Bed

This wisteria occupied the Kitchen Bed when we arrived three years ago. Despite the Head Gardener’s best efforts it has never flowered.

Chilean lantern bush

The Chilean lantern bush, on the other hand, is once more producing blooms;

Pieris

and new shoots are emerging on the pieris on the grass patch.

Gazebo Path

Although the agapanthuses took such a battering from the recent storms that they wound up in a vase indoors, some still line the Gazebo Path.

Snapdragons, geraniums, lobelia

Little blue lobelias peep out from beneath rich red snapdragons and geraniums the Back Drive barrier,

Lobelia Queen Victoria

while their taller relatives named Queen Victoria tower in the Oval Bed.

Ginger lily

We have a number of ginger lilies.

Hummingbird moth

The warmth of the sun brought out numerous insects. Hummingbird moths hovered among the pink phlox. I needed many unsuccessful attempts to acquire this less than wonderful image of a constantly flapping creature I think is new to our country.

Red Admiral on verbena bonarensis

Verbena bonarensis blooms attracted both stable, lightweight, Red Admirals

Bee on verbena bonarensis 1Bee on verbena bonarensis 2

and bees that teetered somewhat.

Bee on salvia farinacea

Bees also plundered salvias,

Bee on bidens

bidens,

Bee on geranium palmatum

and geranium palmatums.

Insect on cosmos

I could not identify some tiny creatures like this one on a cosmos,

Insect on bronze fennel

or this one cleverly camouflaged by bronze fennel.

Sweet peas and gladioli whiteFly on sweet pea, gladioli

A fly was attracted by the ensemble of white sweet peas and gladioli.

Rudbeckia distributed

Rudbeckia snaked from bed to bed in this picture for which I must apologise to the Head Gardener because I did not remove the fallen branch before making it.

Spider 1

This spider was in for a disappointment.

Wasp on web line 1Wasp on web line 2

I could almost hear it licking its chops as it prepared its larder for the wasp that seemed ensnared by its web line.

Wasp and spider 1Wasp and spider 2Wasp and spider 3Wasp and spider 4Wasp and spider 5Wasp and spider 6

The tiny spider perfected the trap as its larger prey frantically twisted, turned, and span in its efforts to escape being drawn in.

Wasp and spider 7

Eventually the prospective dinner hauled itself to safety, and sped off, leaving the hungry spider to creep into hiding and lurk in wait for another victim.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent dinner of chicken Kiev, savoury rice, tasty ratatouille, and crisp runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberrying Donkeys

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I had an interesting conversation at my bank this morning. For some months now there have been placed several bowls of sweets on the counters, for customers to consume. I commented that they still had these on offer. ‘We do look after you’, was the response. ‘Hmm’, I observed. ‘Do you know what letter I received this morning?’ ‘No’, was the reply, ‘I left home before the postal delivery’.’The bank is no longer paying interest on current accounts’, I informed the teller. I was transferring money to France. I doubled the amount. My money might as well be under the mattress.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Lyndhurst to buy birthday presents, after which we went on a driveabout.

Spider

As we left three spiders were waiting in the centre of their webs in the front garden. When we returned, almost three hours later, none had moved.

Lyndhurst High Street 1Lyndhurst Hight Street 2

It is still hot and humid in our environment. With children back at school, the family holiday season is over, but Lyndhurst High Street was still teeming with older visitors,

Ice cream eaters on bench

many of whom were enjoying ice creams

Ice Cream Cone

purchased from one or other of the thriving purveyors.

Goose Green window

The street is well stocked with gift shops, of which Goose Green is a fine example.

At the top of the High Street, on the corner opposite the church of St Michael and all Angels, stands the Lyndhurst Antiques Centre in which Elizabeth holds a cabinet. We took the opportunity to view this and were very impressed with the quality of her stock. We did buy one of the birthday presents from another dealer. It would be too much information on this post to reveal the details.

Down to the Wood 1Down to the Wood 2

Next to this centre there is the double-fronted Down to the Wood, stocked with well-made wooden items. We have shopped there in the past.

Antique car

On the road in the vicinity of Beaulieu, a number of elderly, stately, open-topped motor vehicles were taking the warm air. Some were going at quite a lick, but not as fast as this dodgy photograph suggests.

Donkeys

Also pictured through our car windscreen were some of the many donkeys blackberrying in the hedgerows. You or I might carefully select our berries, pick them off one by one, and drop them into a container brought along for the purpose. Not so these equine creatures. They just chew the whole branch. We had to stop and wait, so I didn’t need to rush the shot.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious Lamb jalfrezi, parathas, and onion rice with an omelette on top. I drank Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2016.

A Topsy-Turvy Season

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A wander round the garden in this balmy morning’s light diffused by wandering clouds above raised questions about what season we are enjoying.

Spider

An industrious web constructing spider, seeking camouflage in the spent marigold seedpods

Marigolds

must have been confused by the plants’ fresh blooms.

Spider 2

By early evening the predator had moved house and wrapped its dinner.

Bidens

Like many of our bidens, these have self seeded from hanging baskets and tubs.

Small white butterfly on bidens

The Small White butterflies still light on them and many other plants.

Lace Cap Hydrangea

Some of the clusters on this lace cap hydrangea have turned blue.

Hibiscus

Several hibiscuses are filled with flowers.

Petunias

Petunias,
Phlox

phlox,

Fuchsia

fuchsias,

Begonia

and begonias go on forever.

Weeping Birch Bed 2

Others, like these antirrhinums in the Weeping Birch Bed

Antirrhinum

and alongside the Brick Path, are having a new growth surge.

Autumn crocuses and geraniums

Pansies and geraniums refuse to cede ground to the autumn crocuses,

Poppy

and the little orange poppies and persistent lobelias really do think it is spring.

Digitalis

Digitalis cavorts with gaura,

RobinRosa Glauca hips and robin

and robins and other little birds swing along with rosa glauca’s hips.

Weeping Birch Bed 2

It is difficult at this time to find a view that does not include Japanese anemones. Even here, one glows like a coal in the background shadows beyond the Weeping Birch.

Most of the roses are budding again.

Ballerina rose

Ballerinas are back on stage,

Rose Mum in a Million

as are Mum in a Million,

Rose Gloriana

Gloriana,

Rose Flower Power Flower Power, and many more.

Urn at southern end of Brick Path

When admiring the view through the urn at the southern end of the Brick Path

Grizelinia branches

I did my best to ignore the fresh pile of cut branches produced yesterday by Aaron, Sean, and Rory while cutting down the grizelinias.

Later this afternoon, Jackie drove us to Steamer Point, between Highcliffe and Mudeford. I will publish photographs tomorrow, because I think I have enough on this post today, and because, for reasons that will become apparent, we plan to return in the morning.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi, and omelette-topped onion rice, with samosas and onion bhajis. I drank more of the Fleurie and Jackie drank Le Héron Gros Manseng 2015.

More Than It Could Chew?

It was yet another unseasonably hot day.

Incinerator and old wheelbarrows

I cleared up after last night’s fire. It had become dark before I was able to finish the exercise. I gathered up the unburnt branches, chopped them up small, and piled them beside the incinerator which has taken the place of the two old wheelbarrows. The rusty metal one suffered enormously from being the pyre container until recently. The green one had been a pond in the Weeping Birch Bed, to which Jackie applied the finishing touches this morning.

Jackie finishing Weeping Birch Bed

Wedding Day pruned

She also completed her work on training the Wedding Day rose on the Agriframes Gothic Arch.

Rose Love Knot

The rose garden, where most roses, like Love Knot, are blooming,

Rose garden in mirror

 encourages a reflective mood.

Bee and ?spider on Cosmos

We continue to enjoy an entomologist’s delight. Actually, I could do with a student of insects to identify what I think might be a baby spider contemplating wrapping up a bumble bee which might be a bit more than it could chew.

?spider on cosmos

The cosmos gives an idea of scale.

This evening we drove over to Emsworth to visit Becky and Ian. Becky had some items for sale in the monthly Emsworth auction, which was very crowded. Our daughter sold an old wind-up gramophone and some Beatles records, among other things, but the prices were disappointing. Afterwards we dined on excellent fish, chips, and gherkins from a shop across the road, with Tesco’s mushy peas. Becky drank chianti and the rest of us enjoyed the Italian Birra Moretti.