Hidden Treasures

Apparently septic tanks need pumping out twice a year. For anyone fortunate enough to be ignorant of these sewage dispensing systems they are installed for houses which are not linked to water mains drainage. Without these you would have to dig your own hole as in primitive camping. Lorraine, next door, had advised us to open up the lid of ours to inspect the level. We did. It was frighteningly high. A phone call will be required in the morning.

After this Jackie went back to her curtains and I set about planting.Back drive

The biggest problem of location is for the maidenhair or ginkgo tree. Although it is currently contained in a pot it can grow to 40 metres, which is quite high. The only possible place for this is in the corner of our back drive. Site for GinkoWhen inspecting the site I found a daunting number of brambles, nettles, old bits of wood and iron, and a good wooden compost bin completely obscured by the aforementioned plants. ‘Nah’, I thought, ‘I’ll do that another day.

As it was, in clearing spaces for the other items I did manage to put to bed, I probably cleared as much bramble, ivy, catch weed, and detritus as I would have done in the drive. But I did manage to re-home a peony, a fern, two hellebores, a weigela, three different succulents, and a rose.

ThistleRose transplanted & mapleI began with the rose. I thought. In fact I had to remove an enormous, no doubt ornamental thistle in order to replace it with this plant. Because every single new home for whatever species needed a similar clearance and more, the rose was actually the last planting I made at the end of the day. You could hardly see the little rose in the bed, but the maple that had been swamped by the spiky plant looked mightily relieved to have its space back.

FlyI did have a break for lunch and sat in a chair by the window playing on-line Lexulous. A faint, intermittent, buzzing attracted my attention. This proved to be a fly attempting to do back somersaults. I had noticed the sound earlier in the morning, but not identified its source. The creature had therefore spent some hours at this manoeuvre.

I took advice from the head gardener on positioning of specimens and placed them in their pots at the requisite sites. Unfortunately, I forgot two, which I will need to take care of tomorrow. Also unfortunately, this meant she came into the shrubbery under a large evergreen tree that I was clearing of brambles, and spotted a second shattered branch that had to come off. I then proceeded to teeter on top of a stepladder she held firmly, whilst I amputated the stricken arboreal limb.

ClematisThe clearing of that particular area revealed some hidden treasures, such as a different camellia now in bloom, and another splendid blue clematis that we think is ‘Beauty of Worcester’.Rose Further along on that side of the garden lies a decking platform close to which a magnificent red rose is now in bloom.

Chilli con carne & vegetable riceThis evening Jackie provided a marvellous vegetable rice (recipe) to accompany her chilli con carne (recipe). She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.


The Dappled Trunk

This morning I could no longer put off changing the lightbulbs bought yesterday. The picture light which I can reach with the aid of our small stepladder was done then. Three more at ceiling height were a different proposition.

Derrick carrying stepladderDerrick with stepladder in hallA major task ensued, not the least for the photographer who had to get down on the floor whilst I was scaling the ladder. But first things first. The larger ladder, once discovered in the hall of the other side of the house where reside the unreachable electricity meters, had to be obtained, carried across the front of the building, and negotiated into our flat and through the hall corridor.

Derrick changing spotlight in bayDerrick changing kitchen spotlightThen came the scary bit. The spots in the bay and the kitchen are the highest, but the bayonet fitting bulb in the sitting room is actually the most daunting. This is because two hands are required. The first time I replaced this one the old article was very stiff and tended to throw me off balance when it yielded. Derrick changing sitting room lightbulbThat was managed from the platform of our smaller ladder. No way was I trying that again.

There is a lot of internal illumination in our flat, and it tends to fail with some regularity. So you see, if, to quote someone I once met, ‘all I ever [did] around here [was] change lightbulbs’, I’d be kept quite busy.

Before a salad lunch based on a Ferndene Farm shop pork pie, I walked through the underpass and along Malwood Farm and the stream. I had intended to cross the sandbagged ford, but this proved to be far too muddy, so I carried on along the watercourse, eventually returning the way I had come.

Blocked pathFallen tree blocking pathFallen treesFallen treeSun through shattered treeThe recent terrible arboreal toll necessitated searching out new footpaths not blocked by fallen trees.

It has been reported that three main areas of The New Forest have lost 300 memorable trees. If all we see around us have not been included the losses must be considerably greater.

Mossy rootsMalwood streamTradition has it that in England the  month of March ‘comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’. This March has come in like a lamb. The lion’s visit was in February.

This is why I ventured this way today. Apart from the ford mentioned above the terrain is less boggy and the stream not so full as often.

Sun and trees reflectedSunlight finds its way through the deciduous trees and sparkles in the tinkling water, dappling the surfaces around. My feet rustled the dried leaves. A helicopter chugged overhead. The farm dogs barked. A flapping in some bushes was followed by the splendid flash of a male pheasant as it flew off at my approach.

Pony track

Ponies, as always, have found their way past obstacles.

Dappled trunkOne particular trunk took me back to the early 1970s. Page 13 of Becky’s Book features a similar dappled effect on a tree and the fence beside it. I was inspired to make this drawing when gazing out of a children’s home window during a child care review. I was of course fully concentrating on the matter in hand, but took the memory home with me.

Later in the afternoon, idling on my laptop, I looked up Bing images for Castle Malwood Lodge. To my amazement, I discovered that 63, the vast majority of the photographs shown, were taken from my WordPress posts. They were of the house and garden; of Minstead and the forest around; of Elizabeth’s house in West End; even shots from the plane on the way back from Sigoules. Google’s tally was rather less, but it did include a photograph of Regent Street lights from fifty years ago, and Becky’s profile picture from her childhood. Jackie drew up a different Google set which also included my mug shot.

Yesterday’s liver and bacon casserole (recipe) provided our dinner this evening. A casserole surely does improve the next day. Even the Bergerac after three days was unblemished.