Down The Back Drive

By e-mail this morning I received from my Australian friend, Gwen Wilson, a copy of a 1939 register of the residents of Shaftesbury Rd, Carshalton. This was the location of the VE Day Street Party featured in my post, “Holly”. I have added it to the post.

Later, Malachi initiated a FaceTime conversation.

Schools in Fremantle are open again. Attendance is voluntary. Other children may continue on line. My grandson had spent the day on virtual classroom worksheets .

This is his effects cartoon of his feelings about it;

and this at the end of the day.

Mal wanted to send some other pictures to my mobile phone. I was forced to explain why I couldn’t access these because I do not use the internet on my phone – this because I am old and can’t manage it. I had to resort to telling him how limited technology was when I was his age. At each stage he registered his amazement with a suitable effect.

Ordinary people did not have telephones, and those who did often had party lines shared with neighbours who could pick up their phones and listen in. We had no telephone throughout my childhood.

We didn’t have a television until I was 15 and that was a small black and white second hand one given to my father.

We didn’t have a car. We could play cricket in the London street because there were no cars there. (I do hope that is a dollop of chocolate, Mal.)

So, you see, I like to keep things simple.

For most of the day the skies darkened; a fierce wind threw garden furniture to the ground and smashed a pot; heavy rain lashed the windows, also battered briefly by sharp hailstones.


During a brief lull I stepped out to gather up North Breeze’s soggy rubbish scattered around our front garden. I got no further than photographing a little of it before hailstones clattered down. Was the litter the badger’s revenge?

Jacki had taken advantage of the precipitation cessation by wandering round the back drive with her camera.

She focussed on the blooming borders

with their healthy hostas,

happy hawthorns

and euphoric euphorbias. (I couldn’t help myself).

White libertia and Erigeron;

lemon antirrhinums;

and pink pelargoniums also thrive there.

The Head Gardener is particularly pleased with how the stumpery on the corner of the Weeping Birch Bed is developing.

Nearby, daffodils continue to bloom.

Just as I was photographing the gravel at the front, Jackie had reached the Star of India clematis beneath the wisteria.. Like me, she was driven inside by the piercing sleet.

This evening we dined on The Culinary Queen’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and tender green beans with which she drank Heineken and I drank Cellier des Dauphines Cotes du Rhone Cuvée Spéciale 2016.


Out Of Its Element

I began the day with a dead-heading session in the garden.

The mystery of yesterday’s lost clematis was solved on this less sunny morning. Today there was no bright backlighting fooling us with the strong red hues, and even giving a green hue to the Gothic arch. The plant is in fact Star of India. And yesterday we had been both perfectly sober.

This afternoon we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three more bags of compost and, naturally a few plants. We continued on into the forest.

The Highland cattle were back alongside Rhinefield Road outside Brockenhurst.

Jackie parked in Blackwater car park at the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and left me to walk along a footpath through the

Douglas firs which have their own explanatory carved wooden plaque and sculpted pine cone.

Apart from a couple at the picnic table; the occasional cyclist or car on Rhinefield Road; and the couple for whom I stepped aside as I returned to the car,

it was just me with the thrushes for company,

as I walked along the sanded footpath with its ferns, felled and fallen trees, and pine cones carpeting the floor.

I did imagine I had seen a deep sea fish somewhat out of it element, but it turned out to be the shallow roots of a once upright young forest giant.

I had managed 27 minutes unchaperoned walk, my speed rapidly decreasing towards the end.

We could easily forgive the pony fondly watching over her sleeping foal for blocking our path at Bashley.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; Jackie’s savoury rice; crisp cauliflower and baby sweetcorn; and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon while I finished the Shiraz.


Clematis Star of IndiaWe are currently basking in an Indian summer, so it is quite appropriate that Jackie is so proud of her Star of India clematis that, at a cost of £1.99 she rescued from Morrison’s shelves.  Baby Bio, regular watering, and plentiful sunshine have done the trick.

Late this morning, I walked down to the village shop and back, for New Forest ice cream.  In tubs for the freezer, of course.  I wouldn’t have got very far with cones, in a temperature in the high twenties.

Blackberries in various stages of ripening now festoon the late summer hedgerows grasped by their thorny stems. Blackberries We’ll probably have to pick some sometime.

Ponies cropping

Against the background thrum of the ride-on lawn mower shaving the grass of a house labelled Yew Tree, those not to be ridden-on taking care of the frontage of Bay Tree Cottage opposite, were positively silent as they cropped away.

Carthage- A HistoryThis afternoon I finished reading Serge Lancel’s tome, ‘Carthage: A History’.  The writer himself, I understand, simply called the book ‘Carthage’.  To my mind it really represents a search for the great pre-Christian African city state.  An endeavour to find the meeting points between archaelogical research and the classic authors’ annals.  The difficulties beset by the historian working with early texts and largely vanished remains are as painstakingly confronted by Lancel, as if he himself were digging in the sand.Pages from Carthage

Carthage was completely destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC.  The victors used the stones of the original city to build their new one.  There wasn’t much left for the early archaeologists, who, in a less carefully regulated age, plundered the tombs.  There was even less for the modern ones.  Nevertheless the story is slowly being pieced together.

Although the book’s later writing demonstrates that Lancel, no doubt assisted by Antonia Nevill’s translation from the French, can write elegant prose, I found the bulk of the earlier chapters somewhat difficult to absorb.  I am never entranced by figures and careful measurements which were used to explain conclusions.  There were lots of these.  The author is also committed to examining in detail other possible alternatives.  I struggle not to skip these sections.

Glass pendant from CarthageMy Folio Society edition contains many detailed drawings and informative photographs.  These aided my understanding of what is known about a place that was just a name to me before reading this work.

CahorsElizabeth came to visit and share our evening meal.  Jackie placed the bottle of La Patrie Cahors 2011 malbec in the sunshine.  After a very short time the bottle became very hot with the wine erupting through the cork.  A lengthy period in the fridge was then required.  Readers who feel inclined to read ‘The Village Shop Revisited’ of 20th October last year, will discover that I am quite practiced in this method of acquiring the correct temperature.

Whilst we enjoyed Jackie’s wonderful beef stew, with a smattering of carrots, we got talking about a trip to The Hampshire Bowman.  This was because they served feather blade steak, which is often used for beef stew.  None of us could remember what we had eaten on our visit there.  The solution was simple.  Across the room on my Apple, was all the information required.  Should you be interested, you can do what we did, which is look up the Renovations post.  The malbec was the drink for Elizabeth and me, whilst Jackie’s was Blue Moon.  Dessert was the New Forest Dairy Oriental Ginger ice cream I had bought this morning.