By Request


Pauline, The Contented Crafter, recently expressed an interest in seeing a photograph showing the whole length of the garden and the house. Well, this may have been possible were it not for the foliage in between. Nevertheless, I did my best to comply.

Old Post House

I managed to cross the road at the front of the house without either dying in a road accident or falling in the ditch on the other side.

Front garden corner

There was no room for the corner facing the trellis in that view of the building.

Weeping Birch bed to house

I aimed in the direction of the house from as far south as was possible, beginning with the Weeping Birch Bed;

Brick Path to house

the Brick Path was next;

Back Drive barrier to house

then the Back Drive barrier;

Oval Path to house

the Oval Path;

Rose Garden to house

and the Rose Garden.

Well, at least they show glimpses of the back of the house.

House roof from Back Drive

Here are a couple of sightings of the roof, one from the Back Drive,

House roof from compost heaps

and another from the compost heaps.

Garden view from Garden Room windowGarden view from Bathroom windowGarden view from Dressing Room window 2Garden view from Dressing Room window 1

Here are some aerial views from the bedroom and bathroom windows.

Jackie watering

This one features Jackie watering, on which she spent much time. To the right of the fence is the North Breeze jungle.


Here are today’s dahlia

Sweet peas

and some white sweet peas.

Clippings on Back Drive

Normally Aaron takes his clippings to the dump at no extra charge. Yesterday Jackie insisted that he left them for us to deal with. The orange bags in this picture were already destined for the Effort Recycling Centre. The heaps in the foreground filled them up again after we had completed our first trip. We needed to chop them up a bit more to fit them in. We then made a second journey.

Tables in car

I was only a couple of days ago that Jackie was announcing that she had come away empty handed from our last few trips to Efford. That run was to be interrupted today with these two tables. The metal, glass-topped, one was for the greenhouse to be delivered tomorrow, so she may be forgiven.

We had then earned a break, so we took a trip into the forest.

Horse and donkey in fly masks

Seeking shade under trees in Sandy Down a little donkey was given similar masked protection from the pesky flies to that afforded to its larger equine cousin.

Ponies and foals on road

Our chosen approach to Brockenhurst was somewhat congested with ponies and their foals. Can you count how many?

Eventually we found ourselves at Patrick’s Patch in Beaulieu.

Wildflower meadowWildflower meadow 2Wildflower meadow 3

This community garden has its own wildflower meadow;

Marigolds and nasturtiums

colour coordinated marigolds and nasturtiums;


echinaceas in the form of shuttlecocks;

Swiss Chard

splendid Swiss chard;

Sweet peas 1Sweet peas 2Sweet peas 3

a variety of sweet peas;


russet sunflowers;

Rabbit carving

and a carved rabbit.

Scarecrow balloon

An admirably creative collection of scarecrows are distributed throughout. This one is a revolving balloon;

Scarecrow gourd

and this one, having a rest from watering, has a gourd for his head.

This evening we dined at The Monkey House just outside  Lymington. The service was excellent, friendly, and unobtrusive; the food excellent. We both enjoyed gammon steaks for main courses. My starter was whitebait, Jackie’s brie in breadcrumbs; my dessert Eton mess, Jackie’s crème brûlée. I drank a very good pinot noir and Jackie drank Amstel.



Fish ‘n’ Chips


Wind chimes

Alison visited today and brought us a wonderful set of wind chimes. Given the amount of wind we usually experience, it is sod’s law that the air was now perfectly still.

On display during her walk around the garden were

Japanese anemones and dahlias

Japanese anemones


and dahlias;

Clematis and petunias

clematises and petunias;



Bees approaching kniphofia

and bees approaching kniphofias

Bees on sunflower

or stocking up on sunflowers.

Mr Pink's Fish & Chips

A response to yesterday’s post from Pauline, The Contented Crafter, prompted me to look into the fire at Mr Pink’s Fish And Chips shop. It was on the evening of Wednesday 24th August that the oil in one of the chip pan vats caught fire. Three firefighting  crews were rapidly in attendance to extinguish the fire, and no-one was hurt. The best fish and chip shop for miles around will, however, be closed for some weeks.

We had been considering for some time visiting The Cliff House at Barton on Sea, an hotel with a restaurant serving, among other things, fish and chips, so when Pauline asked us what we were going to do on fish ‘n’ chips nights, this seemed a good reason to try it.

We did that this evening. We both enjoyed excellent hake in sourdough batter, served with chips in a tin mug and peas in a pottery dish. My delicious dessert was summer berry Eton mess which came in a jam jar. Jackie’s trio of ice creams was enjoyable, but she wasn’t sure about the flavour of one, and asked for my opinion. I suggested Plasticine, on the grounds that it was the same colour of that modelling material after children had been at it. The waitress informed us that it was blueberry. Jackie drank Erdinger wheat beer and I drank an Italian pinot grigio. The service was friendly and efficient. We will return.

The Eyes Have It

Elizabeth's bed

This morning, when she had finished her work, including planting of spring bulbs, in Elizabeth’s Bed, Jackie joined me in clearing up after yesterday’s installation of the Monet arch. This involved removing more clippings to the burning pile; a slight repositioning of the path edgings; and hoeing and raking the gravel. She had, yesterday evening, retrained selected stems from the two roses.

Open Reach engineer

Open Reach engineer and Monet arch

I had enjoyed a certain amount of banter with a pair of Open Reach engineers who spent most of the day working on a pole outside our house. I suggested that, because of their frequent attendance, they may like to buy a season ticket.

Temporary traffic lights

At least their temporary traffic lights slowed the traffic. We could do with them all the time.

Rose magenta climber

Miraculously, this magenta rose still blooms at the end of the stem shown on the arch.

I understand that certain Australians are under the impression that we have stolen their sunshine. They may appreciate the benefits of what they are missing by seeing that

Bee on dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

our bees still plunder flowers such as the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff;


that sunflowers, impersonating Catherine Wheels, still tower aloft;


and that this honeysuckle, very poorly earlier in the year, has recovered after liberal doses of systemic fungicide and insecticide.

Later, I made a couple of prints for Frances, and posted them. She had asked me for a copy of one taken by Jenny on 17th.

Frances 1950sFrances 17.9.15

I was struck by the same pair of sparkling eyes that had smiled at her father’s lens in the 1950s, so I made an additional crop of our sister-in-law herself.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with pickled onions and cornichons. Jackie drank Festbier, ‘brewed according to German purity law’, and I drank Doom Bar.

The Eye Patch

Caterpillars on nasturtium leavesJackie’s nasturtium leaves are being eaten by minute caterpillars hatched from little yellow butterfly eggs.  The sneaky parents laying the eggs on the underside reckon without our eagle-eyed head gardener.

Bee on sunflowerYesterday’s bee was harvesting a marigold.  Today’s perched on a sunflower, confirming my suspicion that these creatures are more attracted to yellow flowers than to anything else.

Jackie drove us to The Firs for a gardening session.  On an absolutely sweltering day this was a difficult task. Madonna lily and dried up pansies and tulip stalks The garden has suffered from months of cold rain, delaying everything; followed by several weeks heatwave making it rather too hot to work and forcing all the tardy growth at once.  A Madonna lily that has just about survived these extremes appeared alongside a dried out pot the contents of which, pansies and tulips, haven’t.

Jackie managed a decent amount of potting up whilst I concentrated on weeding, which at times meant grappling with brambles which had a tendency to get their own back. Compost The compost heaps created last year are beginning to look rather inadequate, as the newest one, despite its walls having been raised a bit a week or so ago, is now looking rather mountainous. Bramble clippings The pruned brambles are piled up separately for burning.

Sweet peasI have already recorded that Jackie planted more than 100 sweet pea plants.  Elizabeth was able to cut a rather good scented display purely for the pleasure of Maureen Allen.

Drinks breaks were welcome.  On one, Paul Clarke joined us and, among other things we discussed the open studio planned for later this month, to which his mother will be contributing some items.  In discussing the widening of the theme from drums to music in general, and the fact that nostalgia is quite popular at the moment, I suddenly remembered a slide I had taken of Chris about fifty years ago.  Complete with Hank Marvin specs, my brother is playing a guitar.  That has to be printed for the exhibition.

Chris 2.66.001Fortunately my slide library has assisted my memory.  On our return to Minstead I couldn’t wait to retrieve the picture.  Under the specs Chris is wearing an eye patch.  I cannot remember why this was necessary.  It is unlikely he fancied himself as a pirate.  The photograph was taken in February 1966, on the day of Jacqueline’s marriage to John Clancy, whose cigarette lights up the background of our parents’ living room at 18 Bernard Gardens, Wimbledon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, with trifle to follow.  She drank Hoegaarden whilst  I began a bottle of Maipo reserva Merlot 2012.

NITS (2)

Jessica and ImogenJessica and Imogen 2Jessica and Imogen 3Father’s Day was celebrated in style in the Thompson household.  I was given a decorated pebble inscribed ‘My Dad Rocks’.  Errol was presented with breakfast in bed delivered by his daughters.  I would have received that too had I not got up very early to post yesterday’s blog entry.

Reflecting on yesterday’s performance Jessica and Imogen treated us to a rendering of Gangnam Style dancing to accompany Psy’s recording.  This was hilarious and exciting, for the entertainers especially.

Louisa, Imogen and I then began the planned gardening project.  This was the creation of a bed along the right hand fence in which to grow flowers and shrubs.  Imogen quietly beavered away the whole time.  She had a bit of a dig; took on the task of throwing the weeds into the brown wheely waste bin; fed worms to the chickens; and later, did some wateringDerrick, Imogen and Louisa

Sunflower plantingDerrick, Louisa, Jessica and ImogenJessica had to be prised from the laptop to come into the garden, but soon she and her Dad joined in the fun.  She planted out a sunflower she had been nurturing in a pot from seed.

We had made very good progress before Louisa provided us with a brunch of egg and bacon muffins, after which we completed the preparation.  Jackie had not been able to find her gardening gloves so was unable to do the graft, although she served two very useful purposes in giving advice on planting and fulfilling the role of project photographer.

Louisa and Jessica transplanting hydrangeaLouisa, Jessica and ImogenAn hydrangea that had not been doing too well, having lost most of its access to the sun to larger foliage, was transplanted to the opposite side of the garden by Louisa and her daughters after Errol had carefully dug it up.

The soil having been prepared to our satisfaction, Jackie, Louisa, and I repaired to Brookfields Garden Centre to buy some plants to fill in some of the gaps.  A fuchsia, a choisya, three heuchera, and a cotinus were our choices, and Louisa and Jessica plantingLouisa and the girls lost no time in planting them on our return.Errol, Derrick, Jessica, Imogen and Louisa

Errol, Louisa, Jessica and Imogen

Nearly instant gardenThis had been another successful performance by NITS, or Nearly Instant Transformation Services.

Early in the afternoon Jackie and I made tracks for home, giving Kate, the satnav, one more chance.  The route chosen after Errol’s reset was a better one and didn’t involve a diversion to central London.  The coming and going of the route on screen continued, and I twice had to divert a demo.  So, it looks as if a new one will be required.  As we left the car in our parking slot I poked Kate into the glove compartment, saying ‘we’ll leave her there for now in case of emergencies, and if anyone chooses to nick her it serves them right’.  Lying on the floor of the boot were Jackie’s gardening gloves.  They had obviously fallen out of her bag when we had arrived at Mapperley Top.

Jackie knocked up a tasty Spanish omelette, chips and baked beans for our evening meal.