Agnes Miller Parker

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for me to lunch with Norman at Tas, in The Cut, EC1.

Leycesteria

In the rather neglected station garden a Leycesteria is blooming rather early. Note the dumped supermarket trolley visible beyond the stems.

The Cut SE1

From Waterloo Station I approached The Cut, as congested as ever, via Lower Marsh

Food stall 2

with its cosmopolitan food stalls preparing for the lunchtime custom.

Food stall 1

I wasn’t the only photographer focussing on food.

Tas Special meal

Norman and I had our usual enjoyable discussion over the Anatolian cuisine. We both chose the Tas Special lamb meal, which was very tender and tasty. Before that we had each chosen soups. Mine was fish with coriander and ginger. For dessert we each enjoyed baklava, and shared a bottle of the house red. We finished with coffee before I made my way back to Waterloo for my return home. Further sustenance was not required this evening.

Two days ago, I featured the dust jacket of Eiluned Lewis’s ‘Honey Pots and Brandy Bottles’. This was to display the work of Agnes Miller Parker. I had bought this 1954 publication some forty years ago, essentially for the illustrations. Perhaps, I thought, it was time I got around to reading it. I finished it on the train today.

The book is a collection of essays and poems gathered to represent the four seasons of the year. Published by Country Life the writing is pleasant, if, for this reader, unexciting.

What lifts the publication well beyond the ordinary are the wood engravings of a woman I regard as one of the best illustrators of her day.

SpringSummerAutumnWinter

The clarity, perspective, and depth of field evident in these masterpieces would be impressive if they were simply pen and ink drawings. When one considers the technical skill required to bring light and life to images worked into blocks of wood, admiration can only be enhanced.

A Rude Awakening

Flowering cherryWe have packed the long life milk, so it fell to my lot, this bright morning, to walk down to the village shop to buy some more. I returned via the church path, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens.

Burgeoning spring has come to Castle Malwood Lodge garden, with its flowering cherries and its shrubs; to those in the village; and to the verges and hedgerows.

I stopped on the way to say goodbye to Alan. We discussed the ‘bedroom tax’, which in my view is far more complex than it seems to some. There is no doubt that many elderly people, often recipients of depleted and diminishing Social Services, are struggling alone to keep going in family houses when all their offspring have moved away, whilst younger people, faced with mounting rents, strive to bring up families in one-bedroomed flats. Whether penalising those Council tenants who cannot, or are reluctant to, move from their life-long homes is the answer, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, somehow a balancing of this problem needs to be achieved.

At the village green I met a couple seeking a walk before lunch in the Trusty. I now have plenty of experience with which to set them on their way.

Celandine & violasHawthorn

Celandine, violas, primroses, and hawthorn sparkled in the sunshine. Primrose & ChampionI find it almost impossible to photograph primroses in bright sunshine, so I settled for an equine one who, with Champion, her male escort, basked at the trough.

Moss on phonebox

Moss adorned the little-used public telephone box.

Berberis

Sawn trunkA flaming bright orange berberis blazed alongside the road leading up to the church.

A number of trees bordering the still soggy church footpath have been cut down. They leave fascinating forms reminiscent of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle.

At one end the signpost has been embellished by the addition of an outstretched gauntlet. Clearly someone thought the direction of the thoroughfare needed some clarification.Gauntlet

Less hardy than the New Forest ponies, many of the adult thoroughbreds in the fields still wear their winter warming coats. The youngsters seem to be deemed not to need them.Horses through hedge

Alex Schneideman, in a recent post, illustrated an enlightening article on the emotional impact of out of focus portraits against sharply drawn settings. I wonder what he would think of this shot of the horses seen through the hedgerow.

Toad

Whilst I was wandering this morning Jackie began the task of dismantling her portable garden. We continued it this afternoon. When she had installed it, she had disturbed a sleepy toad. The creature obviously survived the trauma, for today the horticulturist once again aroused it from its slumbers.

Jackie’s garden contained the deer-proof fencing, various assorted bricks, and a total of 84 pots of flowers, most of which were quite large. Some of the pots were in hanging baskets. There was the bird feeder with its squirrel baffle, and lots of both wooden and metal stakes. This was no mean achievement to put together, and quite a project to take apart. As I trudged backwards and forwards across the garden to return brick-loads to their previous resting place behind the garages, I wondered how she’d managed to carry them all across in the first place.

As I post this we are about to drive to the Curry Garden at Ringwood, where we will enjoy their usual excellent food and a pint and a half of Kingfisher.

 

Spring Is In The Air

PrimrosesMat, Oddie and I walked the ford loop via the churchyard path.  Primroses are now abounding in the hedgerows and daffodils mirror the lichen on the gravestones.

Churchyard daffodils

The Herdwick lambs were arousing the interest of a couple of neighbours.  One is quite black, the other pure white.  The farmer explained that Herdwicks normally ‘throw’ black lambs.  A white one is very unusual.

The Furzey Gardens alpacas normally pretty well ignore me when I pass. Alpacas Today they showed a great deal of attention.  It wasn’t until later that I realised they must have picked up Oddie’s scent, which is often not too savoury.

This afternoon there was a definite sense of spring in the air.  The sun shone and the garden birds flitted and swooped about.  I am beginning the recognise the languid loping line of the various tits aiming for the feeder.  I was able to stand very close without frightening them away.  It is amusing how they make for the shrubbery behind their food; perch there until they are sure it is safe to dive for the seeds, nuts, or fat balls; grab a morsel and flit away. Long tailed tit Indeed, one particular long tailed tit seemed less timid than a robin I startled.  Interestingly, there seem now to be three robins vying for territory.  We wonder which one will win out.

While Mat, Jackie and I played Scrabble this afternoon, we watched a number of large rabbits bounding and chasing each other across the lawns.

Later, Becky, Flo, and Ian joined us and we all dined on Jackie’s shepherd’s pie followed by Sainsbury’s sticky toffe pudding and custard.  Jackie drank Latitude 35 degrees S; Tess and I drank two different red wines; Ian had Peroni; and Mat, Becky and Flo abstained.