Cheers Laurie And Clif

My contribution to Jackie’s general garden maintenance this morning was

making a start on weeding the gravelled Gazebo path. I will need to consult with the Head Gardener about these forget-me-nots spilling under the iron wheels.

Brick Paths will need to wait their turn;

I am not looking forward to the Back Drive which I may resort to spraying with something unpleasant – the gravel, not the borders.

In the front garden the crab apple blossom is chasing the last of the remaining cherry flowers.

Accompanied by the magnolia Vulcan, several camellias continue to bloom,

as do numerous tulips.

Daffodils and honesty are keeping pace.

Bluebells are becoming prolific.

The rescued red maple in the Pond Bed is again brightening the views.

After lunch, Jackie cut my hair.

While we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks on the patio, Jackie photographed a pair of rooks on the copper beech, wondering whether Russell had found a mate; the now lonely preening collared dove who has lost hers to a predator; and the starling bringing food to his family in the eaves.

We then toasted Laurie and Clif, our blogging friends in Maine.

Jackie’s drink was Hoegaarden, mine more of the Malbec, continued with our dinner of fried chicken, mushrooms, onions and potatoes, served with boiled carrots, cabbage, runner beans, and tasty gravy.


I began the day with a brief amble down the lane.


In the bed beyond the kitchen window, the frilly pink poppies have multiplied.

Rose - white rambler

On our back drive, a pennant of white ramblers is now strung from stump to stump down the avenue of dead trees along the Northern side.


Hallmark Builders have finished their work on the entrance to The Spinney, revealing that the purpose of the wall is to contain a letterbox.

While Jackie continued in the garden, Sheila knitted duck puppets.

Sheila knitting 2The Shoebox Appeal, originating in 1992, operates a system of donating gifts, often hand-crafted to needy people in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Sheila contributes with her knitting. When our friend was struggling to thread her wool through the eye of a sewing needle, I was rash enough to mention that I had, as a child, habitually performed this task for my grandmother, I got the job of doing it for Sheila. It took me some time.


If we harvested all the potatoes that emerge among the flower beds, no doubt germinated from composted peelings, we would put the greengrocers out of business. Those that haven’t already succumbed to the supermarkets, that is. Jackie brought in one of the plants, to give our guest a preview of what she was having for dinner.

Salt marshesYoung woman walkingMother, child, dog

This very warm afternoon Jackie took us for a drive along the coast road. From Milford on Sea, where we did a little shopping, We proceeded to Keyhaven, continued along the inviting-looking salt marshes, from which a bridge crosses to Hurst Spit, along the top of which a young woman, her fair hair blowing in the wind, strode purposefully. Visible through the railings of the firm wooden bridge, a mother and child sheltered, with their dog on the sun-warmed shingle. It is to be hoped that enough of the rapidly melting ice-cream found its way into the little boy’s mouth before it welded the tissue wrapped around it to the cone.

Clifftop, crumbled gardens

At Barton on Sea I walked round the side of Sails Coffee Shop and looked out over the air-space that had once carried the ends of gardens in the terrace of which it forms part. Close by is the Beachcomber cafe where Sheila drank a cappuccino and Jackie a diet Coke. Jackie’s excuse for indulging in a slice of rainbow cake was that ‘it had to be seen to be believed’.Rainbow cake

She couldn’t eat it all, so, out of the goodness of my heart, I forced down a couple of colours.

Woman feeding starling

Before that, a young woman offered one of the marauding starlings a slice of cucumber. Had she asked, I could have offered the opinion that, judging by the squirming creatures our parent starlings had carried to the chicks in our roofs, these birds are carnivores. Whether or not that is true this one eschewed the cucumber. Like the ‘Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer’, on a visit to Earth, it took a little look at it, ‘didn’t like the sight of it, and quickly flew away’.

This evening we dined on flavoursome smoked cod, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato, and crisp carrots and green beans, followed by lemon cheesecake from the Co-op. I finished the merlot, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Sheila quaffed lemonade.

Stalking The Starling

Queuing to get on the blog this morning were:

Rose - pink climberThis pink rambler that has come through the recent rains somewhat scathed;

Clematis Marie Boisselot

the clematis Marie Boisselot;

Allium and spider

more alliums, one with a sentinel spider, less than usually reluctant to be noticed. Click to spot it.

By popular request I have returned to the Streets of London Series. I scanned another dozen from April 2004, of which I offer:Streets of London 4. 04 022

Firstly Church Path, NW10, in the London Borough of Brent. St Mary’s Church, dating from 938, has featured in a number of posts, such as that of 15th February 2013, when I found its grounds ‘Surprisingly Picturesque’.

Streets of London 4. 04 027

A younger, rather more splendid, church is Saint Pancras Parish Church on Euston Road, NW1. Its website describes what I have photographed, thus:

‘The church is a prominent landmark. Built by public subscription in 1818-22, it replaced the derelict Old St Pancras as Parish Church. Old St Pancras was rebuilt in Victorian times as one of the 17 subdivisions of the Ancient Parish of St Pancras. St Pancras Euston Road is Grade 1listed as a fine example of the Greek Revival style. Its external features, based on temples in ancient Athens, include an octagonal spire and an impressive front portico with 6 huge columns. On either side at the rear are our famous caryatids – statues of Greek women supporting the porches over the two entrances to the crypt. Traditional iron railings enclose the churchyard, where the annual parish picnic and other celebrations are held on the lawns.’

Streets of London 4. 04 030

Midland Road NW1, was still closed at the time of the London bombings of 7th July 2005, my 63rd birthday. The whole of Euston Road, and many of the side streets around were cordoned off, and people were pouring out of the underground system, as I took my normal walk from Beauchamp Lodge in Little Venice to North Road, a mile or so behind Kings Cross station. Midland Road is now incorporated into the development area around that station. On the morning of the bombs, oblivious of what was happening, on a forced pedestrian diversion, I came across an assembled swarm of many hundreds of men in the yellow hard hats shown in this picture.

Streets of London 4. 04 023

The building against which the construction workers are leaning is the British Library, at 96 Euston Road. Opened in June 1998, its Brutalist architecture, designed by Colin St John Wilson, can be seen to better effect from Ossulston Street, NW1.

Streets of London 4. 04 026

The proprietors of M.S.Tyres on the corner of Roundwood Road NW10 find it necessary to batten down the hatches against the ubiquitous graffiti that decorates this area of North London. At least the windows are protected.

Streets of London 4. 04 033

It doesn’t matter where you are in our capital city, it is very risky to leave your bicycle unattended. Virtually outside Baker Street tube station leans an example of the skeletal remains that litter many of our streets.

Either from familiarity with my presence, or from a desperation to feed its brood, I was able this afternoon successfully to stalk the parent starling squatting behind our kitchen facia board.. The bird, carrying sustenance, now lands on our roof, a speculative distance from the hidden nest; gingerly makes its way along the eaves; stands on the corner fidgeting and uttering sharp cries, either of warning or encouragement; then drops down and makes a dash for safety.

Starling 1Starling 2Starling 3Starling 4Starling 5Starling 6

Watching the poor creature dithering, popping its head down, lifting it up for a quick shufti, and eventually taking the plunge, was fascinating.

The skies were overcast today, but, it seeming to be the season for awards, the sun popped into my e-mails. I have now been nominated for:


Thank you very much, rameshwarir at for nominating me.

You have asked me these rather profound questions, which I answer as follows:

  1. Do you believe that there is someone watching over you, someone you can just feel & not see? I do
  2. What is the purpose of life? As best I can to make other people as happy as I would hope to be
  3. What is the one thing that you would go to or do to relieve your heartaches? I have found it and have no more
  4. What makes you happy? Refer to my answer at 2 above
  5. What do dreams mean to you? Those we experience through sleep are a way of working through timeless issues. In another sense, dreams are what we wish for
  6. What about Nature do you adore? Its constant variety
  7. What is the one element, off the 5, that you would associate yourself with and why? Earth because I like to think I am pretty well grounded
  8. What is your take on birth & death? Birth is an opportunity to begin a good life. Death is a time of reckoning
  9. What have you learnt from Nature? That it is there to be admired; and that we can control none of it
  10. What part of the tree would you associate yourself with? The trunk

In no particular order, my nominees for the award are:

Weave a Web


Poesie visuelle

Slice of London Life

In Noir Velvet

Fox And Finch Antiques

The Contented Crafter

MaxReynolds: Sunrise, Sunset And Other Visions

I will not set you specific questions, but simply invite you to tell us something about yourself as you wish.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious chicken jalfrezi with pilau rice topped off by an omelette. Kingfisher was our chosen beverage.

Diverted From The Task In Hand

A stiff breeze set our flaming foliage flickering in the strong morning sunlight casting shifting shadows. As I gently ambled around, I pulled the calf of my dodgy leg. Following the last two stormy days, I now have another excuse for avoiding weeding. Beech leaves 1Beech leaves 2

The beech is now fully plumed;

Maple 1Japanes maple 2

as are the Japanese maples;

Prunus pissardi 1Prunus pissardi 2

and the prunus pissardi

Prunus pissardi 3

to which a few stubborn cherries cling, reflecting glints of light.


Only a few minutes after I discovered that my shot of a hot heuchera was out of focus, the sun had moved on to a slightly cooler one. (please Mr. WordPress, you should know by now that when I type ‘heuchera’ I don’t mean ‘heaters’).


Later there were more clouds and less sun. I sat outside for a while, which was rather disappointing for the starlings who would fly towards their nest behind our kitchen fascia board, and, noticing my presence, do a mid-air about-turn and wait patiently on one tree or another wondering what to do next.

Here are three of the prints from 1985 that I scanned today:

Louisa 1985

Lousia’s attention wandered a bit in this one.

Jessica and I and our children spent several holidays at Instow with her brother Henry, sister-in-law Judith and their two children Lucy and Nick. On an early one of these, that same year, we drove somewhere in Devon, where Jessica’s cousin was a vet. I don’t remember the name of the village where we enjoyed a summer fete, but I did record the event at which

Sam 1985

Sam was so transfixed by a Punch and Judy show, that his attention was also diverted, from his apple.

Matthew 5.85

At Louisa’s third birthday party at Gracedale Road, Matthew enjoyed amusing the children.

This evening I tucked into the scrumptious cottage pie that Jackie had left me, adding green beans and cauliflower.

Fag Ends

Benjamin Renouf and Tony of Abre Electrical arrived on time this morning to fit a new fusebox, run a power cable to the kitchen from the upstairs circuit, and generally check over our supply. They were quiet, efficient, and wasted no time, although they were here all day. I would certainly use them again.
I spent the morning further clearing the front garden. This involved the usual uprooting and pulling out bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning of overgrown shrubs.

By noon I had a large pile to be added to the vast, constantly growing heap at the far end of the garden.
Before lunch I trudged down to the postbox and back. A trudge was all I could manage.

After lunch I took a break and watched the birds. The avian activity was fascinating. Some were prepared to share the feeding station with others. The robin and the great tit seemed unfazed by the other’s presence. A young blackbird, however, was most disgruntled at the invasion of its territory by a starling. After it had seen off the rival, it turned around and began to scoff.
It was fascinating to follow a blue tit’s progression from the netting to the seeds.
The crow has desisted from trying to clamber onto the feeder. Other birds, like this female blackbird, a little larger that those others depicted, flap around somewhat, as they have trouble landing.
The strong sunlight revealed the inner nature of honesty:
and lit attractive patterns on the geranium palmatum, such that it was tempting to play around with the image:

or perhaps not. One can’t really improve on nature.
Throughout the day, Jackie continued with her creative planting, weeding and watering. This involved the removal of some heavy stones with her Time Team trowel.
While we sat on the patio before dinner, Jackie mentioned how some visitors had ground their cigarette ends into her grass and patio paving whilst sitting in her garden. This took me back to one summer in the late 1980s in Newark, and to Lincolnshire N.S.P.C.C. I was facilitating some team-building days for this staff team in Lindum House. Before the ban on smoking in the workplace, I ensured that there was a plentiful supply of ash trays in the rooms being used. No-one smoked. Yet after each break period the trays were filled with dog ends. When I asked why this was, I was informed that the smokers had all enjoyed their cigarettes in the garden, but had brought the stumps inside so as not to spoil the garden.
After this chat, Jackie collected fish and chips from Ashleigh’s, and we ate them at home. I finished the Bordeaux with mine.

The Good Samaritans

Jackie and I set off bright and early this morning to collect Sheila from her hotel in Sway and take her back to Castle Malwood Lodge for lunch.

Manchester Road houseOn the way we had a look at the outside of a little semi in Manchester Road that had seemed interesting on the website.  Sheila came with us to Ferndene Farm Shop to gather supplies.  She discovered three pigs kept in a clean and comfortable pen beside the shop, making her question, very fleetingly, whether she should ever eat pork again.

I wandered across to have another recce of the house that had brought us here in the first place (see post of 2nd of this month).Bashley Cross Road house

It still looks good.

Everything had gone smoothly.  We had found our way to Sway via Brockenhurst and were confident of the route from Ferndene.  The A35 was flowing freely.  So was the car.  Until it went berserk.  Two sudden beeps, repeated, seemed to be requiring attention.  A red light came on, illuminating the legend STOP.  So Jackie did.  The engine was reported to be overheating.

Then it was jacket off, sleeves rolled up, search for the lever to open the bonnet, stare at the contents.  There was a semi-transparent container that  looked significant, especially as it bore a warning icon indicating that scalding was a possibility.  Tentatively, very gingerly, I unscrewed the cap and stood back as if I had just lit the blue touch-paper on Guy Fawkes night.  There was no steam, which wasn’t surprising because there was no fluid inside. Engine cooling system Jackie then found the instruction manual which confirmed we were looking at the engine cooling system.  Okay.  We needed to ring the RAC, membership of which came with her Barclays Bank account.  Check that out.

Ah!  No signal.  Well,that meant we had to find one.

Before that, it seemed it would be helpful to know where we were.  Which we didn’t.  At that moment, a group of very hot girl hikers complete with backpacks appeared bearing an Ordnance Survey map. Blackwater Bridge They were able to tell me they had just passed Blackwater Bridge.  I was unable to reciprocate by showing them how to enter the underpass on their chart.  The water looked brown, but I dare say it is sometimes darker in hue.

Clearly, as I was the one most likely to be able to walk back to the car, I had to go in search of the signal.  Then, suddenly, a small black car swooped past and skidded to a halt in front of us.  Out stepped Chris Hunt.  He had been driving in the opposite direction and noticed our plight.  Carrie Smith, his delightful companion, had lost the signal on her mobile phone and realised we wouldn’t have one either.  They turned around and sped back to us.

Carrie SmithChris drove me back up the road to find a signal.  When he found one, I didn’t, so he began to use his own device.  I think this was an i-Pod, but it was hard to tell because it had a shattered windscreen.  They decided Carrie’s was the best bet.  She entered  the number and handed it to me.  The call was successful and they drove me back to Jackie’s car.  Carrie even proffered their water bottle because we were going to have to wait an hour and a half or so.

The RAC had asked for a phone number, so I had to walk back to a signal anyway.  When I reported back Jackie brought the now somewhat cooler car up to that spot and I phoned again to report the new position.  Soon afterwards an RAC van sped past us.  Another call was made.  The man turned around and came back.  He had been told the silver Modus was red.  Anyway, he fixed it, and followed us home to ensure we got there without further mishap.

Hanggliding soloLunch was a little late but we all enjoyed the Ferndene provisions and after a bit of a break set off again for a tour across country to the coastline, there to take in Milford and Barton on Sea and Highcliffe before returning to the Sway Manor Hotel where Sheila had booked a table for our evening meal. At Barton we were entertained by a group of people hang gliding.  So engrossed was I in photographing the adventures that I only just avoided walking off the cliff.  Which would have been somewhat messy.


We had ice cream and coffee in the garden of the Beachcomber cafe, where the low tone of a black labrador’s complaint startled a starling that had the temerity to drink from one of the dog bowls so considerately kept filled by the staff.Starling

The cooling system in the hotel dining room was also rather problematic.  It took some time for the staff to work out how to turn off the fan which kept us in a draft.  Even after they managed this we had to ask for a French door to be closed.  Sheila then enjoyed a large dinner of excellent chicken and a variety of vegetables and potatoes; Jackie’s ravioli was good; my lasagna was of adequate quality with plentiful well cooked chips and a reasonable salad.  Jackie drank Beck’s, I appreciated a very good merlot, and Sheila consumed sparkling water.  We soon found the room rather too hot and dared each other to ask for the fan to be set going again.  No-one took up the challenge.  Good coffee was taken in the lounge.  After a chat we left Sheila there and returned home where I got down to writing this.