Bracing

This morning we drove to the pharmacy in Milford on Sea for a repeat prescription and on to the coast to struggle against the wind of 50+ m.p.h.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the breakwaters held firm against the choppy cream and toffee seas.

The gales failed to uproot the clumps of purple thrift clinging to the clifftop edges.

Walkers with or without dogs battled against the violent gusts;

others perambulated along the shingle below.

A solitary black headed gull shivered on the car park tarmac.

Jackie photographed me bracing myself against the buffeting.

This evening we returned to Hurst Road, Milford on Sea where we dined at the splendid Faros Greek Restaurant, Jackie was careful to ensure that I was the only diner visible in her two internal photographs.

The sky had cleared since this morning, but the wind was as fierce and the sea as turbulent.

Waves were whipped into a creamy spray topping,

careering and swirling up over the sea wall and taking root on the other side of the road, were bunches of what the Japanese call sea flowers. The first example above is situated in the centre foreground of the second picture, two more scud along the wall behind.

The restaurant only opened in February and is already justifiably popular. The staff are welcoming; the service friendly and efficient; the food and wines are excellent and the prices very reasonable.

We had begun our starters before I decided to photograph the Faros fare. Mine was fresh whitebait with garlic mayonnaise; Jackie’s kolokithokeftes consisted of four battered balls before she began.

My kleftiko was tender enough to fall off the bone and remain firm to the bite; Jackie’s Chicken kebabs and perfect chunky chips were equally enjoyable.

Had we known how much delicious loukoumades we would receive for dessert we may have considered sharing one portion. Jackie drank Meantime Hella lager and I drank Heraldique red wine.

Back Drive Progress

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We spent the morning of another dull, overcast, day continuing the general tidying of the garden.

Many new aquilegias are fully or partially blooming.

Over the last few days Jackie has been fine-tuning my weeding of the back drive. In addition to digging up a few more invading brambles, most of my work this morning was transferring the Head Gardener’s piles of weeds to the compost heap. We just need to apply an herbicidal spray to the gravel and the job will be done.

More irises;

Geraniums Johnson's Blue

geraniums like these Johnson’s Blue from Gloucestershire’s Hidcote Gardens;

and hostas, heucheras, alliums and bluebells are some of the plants that line these borders. We thin out the profuse alliums every year.

This afternoon we voted at the local County Council elections where we were informed that the turnout was looking like 20-30%, which was about average. I ask you.

This took place at Milford on Sea church hall. Jackie then drove us to the clifftop where

we thought the pink thrift, despite the gloom of the day, was looking quite colourful against  the grey water reflecting the slate sky.

Pigeon on clifftop

A small pigeon had come to contemplate the calm sea,

Walkers on beach

and a few walkers wandered along the beach below.

The caged structure to our left of the pigeon is intended to keep the public away from the crumbling cliff edge.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. The welcome, the service, and the food, were as good as ever. My choice was lamb dansak with special fried rice; Jackie’s was prawn and mushroom biriani; we shared a plain naan, and both drank Kingfisher.

Destruction Of Tulips

When I was ill earlier in the year, our friends Margery and Paul gave me a copy of ‘Winespeak’, Ronald Searle’s illustrated ‘Wicked World of Winetasting’. The author, a highly original artist, claims that ‘All the phrases in this little book have been plucked from unacknowledged but absolutely authentic sources’. Souvenir Press’s 1983 edition presents Searle’s ( until I insisted, WordPress changed this to Seattle) grotesque caricatures alongside his chosen phrases. Here is one example:Winespeak illustration This is an excellent coffee table book. I dipped into it again last night. This morning Jackie drove me to our G.P.’s surgery in Milford on Sea, where the practice nurse removed my stitches. As, razor sharp unpicker poised, she approached my hand, she said, ‘I think I’ll get my glasses’. ‘Please do’, I laughingly replied. She explained that she didn’t really need them, but found that the off-the-counter pair beautifully magnified the knotted spiky strands of stiff line sticking out of my hand as if it were a pin-cushion. The wavy course of the blue material looked like a design for my Mum’s cross-stitching. This filled me with confidence, and she carried out a perfect operation, slipping the tiny knife under the tight knots, slicing through the thread, and drawing out any hidden residue with her gentle fingers. As my palm is rather scenic, and thinking that a description of the procedure presents the picture, I will spare my readers a photograph. Sea and thrift Today’s gale force winds were running at about 40 m.p.h. when we made this trip. On the way back we stopped and parked by the cliff top. In order to photograph the violent seas below, I braced myself, attempting to remain upright against the gusts tearing across The Solent. The thrift clung to the ground far more securely than I did. I wasn’t about to stand too close to the edge. Actually, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. By mid afternoon the gusts reached more than 50 m.p.h., Japanese maple  setting the Japanese maples aflame, foliage flickering in the sunlight.

Aquilegias and bluebells

Some flowers, such as aquilegias partnering bluebells in enforced fandango, survived the gales.

Sheltered

Mimulus

mimulus

Libertia

and libertia simply basked in warmth.

Clematis Natcha

The clematis Natcha, gyrating wildly, nevertheless kept its head.

Not so those tulips that, yesterday, had stood proud atop their chimney pot.

Tulips 1

When we left at 9.30 this morning, they had begun to shed petals,

Tulips 3

by lunchtime revealing their stamens,

Tulips 4

becoming even more exposed as the afternoon progressed.

By 6.30 p.m., when we left with Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy to dine at Spice of India, this is what was left of them:Tulips 5

On the left of this picture stands a crinodendron hookerianum, otherwise known as the Chilean lantern tree. It will soon be in bloom. (Last year I erroneously termed this the Chinese lantern tree.)

The food and service at the restaurant, owned by Andy’s friend Sid, was excellent. My starter was succulent prawn puri, and my main course Naga chicken with special rice. I drank Cobra. I didn’t really take in what the others had.

One For Barrie

Hose 1Sometimes underground, sometimes stuck among the branches of shrubs, a hosepipe trail snakes across the garden. It began coiled up behind a water butt outside the back door. Today Jackie tried attaching it to the outside tap, and followed its path. This was not an easy process, and would have been impossible without the amount of undergrowth clearance we have carried out.

Beside the butt, the yellow pipe disappears under paving stones.Hose 2 Between two of these we catch a glimpse of what appears to be white piping. Only a sixth sense prevented Jackie from hacking this out when she was weeding between the stones. This was just as well, because, almost certainly, this is part of the first piece of plastic hose that emerges in a shrubbery some way across the garden. Hose 3Hose 4From the now exposed earth, continuing by attachment to a green hosepipe, it climbs into a now much reduced vibernum. Until I cleared that area, the lengthy irrigation system was entwined among weighty brambles whence it dropped down to weave between plants and shrubs flowing overHose 5 the brick path that it now runs alongside. The compost heap lies beside a dead tree at the end of this path.Hose 6 The green hose was looped around a branch perhaps seven feet above the soil, and had been flattened before vanishing into the heap. Jackie unhooked the pipe and puffed it out. With the aid of a fork and gardening gloves we extricated it from the pile, the tap was turned on, and, hey presto:Jackie with hose

the far end of the garden has a water supply.

Maybe when the compost heap heats up a bit, we could trail the hose back through it and I could have a bath in the kitchen garden after all.

Bath emptiedActually, I jest. I emptied the bath today. First I had rather a shock because I couldn’t move Bath upendedit. This was because a thick root of something or other had grown through the plug hole and was clinging on. When, on the 28th June, I had begun to clear out the soil, first Jackie, then Paul, on our visit to The First Gallery, quipped: ‘Just pull out the plug’. How right they turned out to be. Having done so, it was reasonably easy to lift the bath over the box hedge and carry it down the garden. Jackie and I then sorted out a temporary resting place for it on the ever diminishing skip pile. This involved beginning to transport the IKEA wardrobe sections across to the boundary between us and the empty property, so I can use them to make a more substantial cobbled up fence. Isle of Wight through thrift and sandalIsle of Wight through thrift 1Isle of Wight through thrift 2Motorboat passing Isle of WightThat will probably be a winter job.

In the still hot and humid early evening, I ambled through Shorefield, passing the now silent rookery and Alice’s rabbits which have grown a bit, to Hordle Cliff top and back. I stretched out on my back among the grasses and thrift to take some shots of the Isle of Wight and The Needles for Barrie who missed them during his and Vicki’s years in Lincolnshire. I know our friend will appreciate the effort required to get down for the angle of these images, and even more so to turn over and clamber back onto my feet.

Sparkling water was the perfect accompaniment for Jackie’s chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas that we enjoyed for our dinner.

A Fascinating Collage

This morning Jackie and I set about building a garage door screen  with parts of the IKEA wardrobes, supplemented by battens sawn from an old wooden pallet. We needed nails to  fix the laminated chipboard to the wood. This entailed a trip, on the recommendation of Giles and Jean, to Milford Supplies in New Milton. Being Jackie’s favourite kind of shop, she bought a few more things as well.

Now, when it comes to such practical tasks, when I say ‘we’, I really mean Jackie, with me standing around looking awkward and supplying the occasional bit of muscle, not, I must admit, always in the required direction. She, you see, is much more experienced with tools and has a far greater spatial awareness. The child’s teaching toy involving posting different shapes into a box with various openings would have come far more naturally to her than to me.

Garage door screenThe concept of fabricating a make-shift wall, against which to place the bookcases, from the materials at hand, was all Jackie’s. I did, however, under expert forepersonship, largely carry out the task, whilst she ironed and trimmed her curtains; fixed some toilet roll holders which were actually straight; and prepared an excellent fry-up for lunch.Face flannel collage

When we discovered a collage involving scraps of wood, a face flannel, and copies of the Daily Mail firmly gunged to the concrete floor, I was all for allowing it to stay put under the laminate that was to cover that bit of the ground. Jackie, however, much more of a perfectionist when it comes to such matters, set to with a hammer, chisel, and screwdriver, and at least gave us a flat surface.

During the lunchtime break I took another tour of the garden and photographed more plants for my readers, please, to identify.

The comfrey we know:ComfreyBottle brush tree and unknown shrubBottle brush tree and unknown shrub 2Unknown shrub

The shrub to the left and behind the two pictures of a bottle brush tree, however, defeats us (update: Jackie has identified it as Crinodendron Hookerianum, otherwise known as Chinese Lantern Tree).

Further behind, and to the left of these shrubs, is a cherry tree that has suffered in the winter storms. When I get around to the garden I will need to cut off the broken section. The bright green leaves surrounding this, has been identified by Tess, a New Zealander, as belonging to a hebe with a name beginning with K which I can’t remember.

This evening Jackie fed us on prawn and lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice, paratas, and vegetable samosas. She drank her usual Hoegaarden, whilst I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2012.

For the preparation of this jalfrezi follow that for lamb given on 22nd January, and when it is cooked, add frozen prawns and simmer for about five minutes; and if using fresh prawns, until they turn pink.Thrift & beach hutsCliff top, beach huts, fisherfolkjpg

After our meal we drove to Hordle Cliff to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon. From the thrift-covered cliff top we could look down on beach huts and on fisherfolk settling down for the evening on the shingle.SunsetGulls at sunsetcropped-gull-at-sunset-29-4-14.jpg
Couple at sunset

Crows and gulls fought over scraps tossed from cars whose occupants had brought their meals on wheels. One couple left their car and became silhouetted against the reddening sea.Crow on bench

A sated crow took a rest on a bench set to view the Isle of Wight, in which the bird appeared rather disinterested.