Gasping

Having spent far too long last night grappling with the WordPress theme issue, and, waking up this morning to find my e-mail password rejected although I was still receiving them, I had not the heart to continue my interrupted chat with yesterday’s Happiness Engineer, so I carried on regardless.

Much of the morning was spent on the BT problem. I began by trying to reset my password on line. I won’t go into the glitches that occurred. I don’t receive paper bills any more and of course phone numbers are not given on the website, so I dug out an old invoice to find one. I was informed that there was a 20 minute queue, I therefore settled down to the usual concert of thrilling muzak. Eventually I spoke to a person. In Halifax. In England.

She was very helpful and patient but met exactly the same glitches as I had done. Finally she fed me more musical mush while she disappeared to consult a senior colleague. The advice was that the problem was at their end and would be resolved within 72 hours. Seven hours later I am now not even receiving mails.

Have I mentioned the irritating pop-up which keeps appearing and stops me closing down the computer until I kick it into touch?

Jackie, meanwhile, kept to her gardening where it was comparatively safe. Before lunch I joined her, swept the Brick Path, transported some garden refuse to the compost, and dead-headed swathes of diurnal Welsh poppies.

Later this afternoon, via Undershore,

where the majestic dogwood on the corner of Hundred Lane is at its prime,

we dropped in on Elizabeth and disturbed her washing her car. Keeping a rather generous two metres distance we yelled at each other for a while.

The heat was too much for a young thrush which sank into a neighbours cypress and sat coolly gasping.

Moon daisies line the verges of Pilley Street

where the village sign bears pendant hearts in tribute to carers,

and graffiti on a barrier fence promotes gratitude to the N.H.S.

Back home Jackie undertook more gardening and garnered photographs of pleasing views from beside the greenhouse and along the Brick Path, with a close-up of a pale blue iris.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s succulent ratatouille moistening roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; caramelised sweet potato; firm carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

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.

Not Passing The Time Of Day

Holmsley Passage cuts through stretch of moorland on the way to Burley. There is a sweep down to a  deep valley which rises as a little bridge takes us up the other side.

Late this afternoon, as we drove along it, the sunshine and showers offered enticing landscape lighting

bringing a glint to a the eye of a trotting thrush.

Bright yellow gorse blended with burnished bracken,

among which bronzed browsing ponies nibbled


and cloven-hoofed cattle chomped.

A black cow ambled across the junction with the main road into Burley,

pausing to admire its reflection in a gutter pool.

Crossing the road at this point, and turning right takes us up to a popular dog walking spot.

Halfway up the slope lies a small pond also harbouring reflections

admired by a distant robin, its breast russet as an autumn leaf, standing out against the shadow of a lichen covered tree,

Back towards Burley the lowering sun still burnished the trees  and the bracken among which

walkers wandered

with their straining dogs,

while ponies cropped the grass.

One canine creature, its tail aloft, passed a busy grey pony. They did not pass the time of day.


Heading towards Lyndhurst the skies grew more dramatic,

in preparation for impending sunset which would soon be visible from the approach to Holmsley Road.

Elizabeth returned this evening after her next stint of moving in to her Pilley House. We dined on bacon chops; sautéed potatoes; spicy ratatouille; and piquant cauliflower cheese Jackie drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank Terre de Galets Cotes du Rhone 2016.
 
 
 

A Crossword Solving Session

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This morning, a larger thrush commandeered the crab apples. A game of hide and seek was required to photograph it.

This afternoon we watched a TV production of Agatha Christie’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution’. Without giving anything away I can say that Toby Jones, as a romantic, consumptive, solicitor, did a magnificent job of leading an excellent cast in a superb period drama faithfully portrayed, complete with London smog.

I have the misfortune to have a family branch addicted to the Daily Mail crossword. This meant that yesterday, when I found one discarded in Hythe Marina Village, I felt duty bound to bring home the newspaper. Added to the puzzle that Matthew and Becky had purloined from the Beachcomber cafe ‘paper, there were two copies. This was still one short, so I scanned and printed two copies from today’s Mail’s original.

Jackie, Becky, and Matthew solving Daily Mail Crossword

Jackie, Matthew, and Becky were then able to relax into friendly competition with their clipboards.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef in red wine, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrot and swede mash, Yorkshire puddings, Brussels sprouts, and breaded mushrooms. None of us imbibed.

Ready For Bed

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It is almost a truism that when I aim my camera at a bird, it flies away. I therefore focussed on this thrush through the window. This time it gave me a chance. Not until it turned and looked at me did it flee from its shrubbery hide.

This afternoon I printed the last set of Poppy pictures to be entered in the album that Jackie is keeping.

I then scanned the last few of the 1985 black and white negatives.

Here are two scenes of the countryside, in the form of fence and woodland;

two of Sam with the children’s adopted dog, and one Louisa showing all the signs of being ready for bed.

Back home we spent Christmas Day at my parents’ home in Rougemont Avenue, Morden. Here are Dad and my brother Joseph;

Auntie Gwen Christmas 1985

Auntie Gwen;

and Louisa and Sam with Jessica in the background.

The rest of that Christmas visit was filmed in colour.

This evening Jackie collected our usual delicious meal for two from Mister Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away, and, as is the norm, we consumed half of it. I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

En Route To Cornwall

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Fence

A.P. Maintenance, in the form of Aaron and Robin, this morning, almost finished the fence they have built  between our garden and that of North Breeze.

Hanging basket

On the way through to the gate to the back drive, I enjoyed the early morning sunlight blazing through this hanging basket,

Thrush

and managed to spot a well-camouflaged dunnock before it took off from the back of a chair.

I took a trip with Aaron to Mole Country supplies to buy more timber. We always have a convivial chat on these occasions, and I am transported in time to my father’s removal van, which contained such familiar clutter and carried the similar evocative odour of petrol and tobacco.

Rose Sawfly larvae

Jackie made a great sacrifice until this afternoon. She refrained from delivering death to a cluster of rose sawfly larvae until I had managed to capture a reasonable shot of these squirming creatures busily engaged in reducing the leaves of Crême de la crême to projecting spikes.

Rose Garden entrance

Entering The Rose Garden I reflected that it bears just one example of Jackie’s signage.

Just as the sun was setting this evening, Mat, Tess, and Poppy arrived for an overnight stay en route to Cornwall.

Tess and Poppy 1Tess and Poppy 2Tess and Poppy 3

Tess lost no time in introducing her daughter to the garden.

Jackie then fed us on gammon steak, mashed potato and swede, sweet potato, roasted vegetables, carrots, runner beans, and piquant cauliflower cheese. Needless to say, this was all cooked perfection. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Tess and I finished the merlot.

Up Close And Personal

On a largely overcast and humid morning I took an amble down to Roger’s footpath and back.

Parsley and fennel

Parsley and fennel are now flowering in the bed opposite the kitchen window.

Nicotiana

White nicotiana spreads its scent across the patio.

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

The Absolutely Fabulous rose now bears numerous fresh flowers.

Violas

Violas suspended from the entrance arch to the back drive soak up the sun’s fleeting rays.

Owl and petunias

I found that a snowy owl has been sneaked in.

Convolvulus

Small, ground-hugging, convolvulus now straggles the verges of Downton Lane.

For the purposes of rearranging the furniture I was permitted to enter the shed this morning. If truth be told, I was probably more hindrance than help, although the Head Gardener was too kind to say so. I was taken back, however, to my very early childhood when, asking my mother if I could help with the housework, I would receive the response: ‘Yes. Sit on a chair and keep out of my way’.

We now have a reasonably tame thrush. Whether this is the result of imprinting during its fearless infancy, or because, when she discovers a nest of snails or slugs she lays them out on the path for the grateful bird, is not clear.

Thrush

However, once our little friend has had its fill, it will often stand, looking hopeful, awaiting a further feed.

On TV, I watched the first, thrilling, women’s Wimbledon semi-final, in which Garbine Muguruza defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 2-1. Afterwards, Jackie drove us to Pocock’s Rose Centre in Romsey, where we bought six more scented roses. These were the white climber, Madame Alfred Carrière, shrubs purple Roseraie de l’Haye, and white Jacqueline du Pré. Two in bloom were:

Rose Creme de la Creme

pale yellow Creme de la Creme

Rose Chris Beardshaw

and delicately muted pink Chris Beardshaw.

Along Romsey Road at Copythorne stands the only building to have been granted the honour of membership of the P.G. Wodehouse Society. This is the Empress of Blandings public house named after the great comic author’s porcine character.

Empress of Blandings pub signEmpress of Blandings mural

It seemed only right and proper to photograph the pub sign and the mural quotation for Ashokbhatia, an erudite and amusing blogger who is a great Wodehouse fan. His writing on the master’s oeuvre alone are insightful and enlightening. And he has more to say besides.

We chose a different route home, and dawdled through the forest around Bolderwood. There the late afternoon sun filtered through the trees, dappling some scenes and throwing the spotlight on others.

Woodland 4Woodland 6Woodland 7

Woodland 5Woodland 8PoniesPonies up closeNew Forest ponies are not known for speed. In fact they often hardly move at all, preferring to stand and sleep or graze. When half a dozen of them rushed towards me at a trot, I was a little perturbed, and retreated to the car. So near came these creatures that I didn’t have room to open the door. This was a bit close and personal for my liking. Eventually they got the message that I wasn’t going to feed them, and cantered off along the road to find someone else to molest.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided our evening meal, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden Belgian beer, and I drank English Master Brewers IPA

A Game Of Peep-Bo

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2

As I put out the bin bags at dawn this morning, the smoking fire further East down Christchurch Road revealed itself to be a blazing sun emerging to presage the splendid day we were to enjoy.

A little later, a crouching figure was seen to dart across to my desk and scamper back again. This was Flo, having risen surprisingly early to commandeer my camera for the next hour or so. Ladybird

She must have got the bug yesterday for she was to produce some even more successful pictures of our garden birds.

Here is a selection of her work:Thrush

A thrush on the rooftop projected its shadow into the ether. How this shot was achieved will be revealed tomorrow, for the benefit of those who haven’t worked it out.Female house sparrow

She captured house sparrows, both female

Male house sparrow 1Male house sparrow 3

and male.

Collared dove

The collared dove had found a new perch.

Jay 1Jay 2Jay 3Jay 4

Flo interrupted a jay’s breakfast, but it carried on regardless.

Female greenfinch 1Female greenfinch 2

A female greenfinch continued with hers

Male greenfinch

while her consort launched himself from the feeder.

Blackbird

A blackbird ignored the spider’s web beneath it.

Starling

Starlings are notoriously greedy beasts. Alone they must wait their turn at the trough.

Robin 1Robin 2Robin 3Robin 4Robin 5

An inquisitive robin removed its head from the feeder, straightened up, and engaged in a game of peep-bo.

Jackdaw

Finally a jackdaw snaffled two peanuts

Jackdaw's tail

and, of course, flew off at the sight of the camera.

When the Canon SX700 HS was returned to me I took a hobble down the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane.

Honesty

Our honesty is now in flower,

Epimedium

as is the epimedium

Skimmia

and the skimmia at the entrance to the back drive.

The lane itself has a profusion of

Primroses

primroses,

Celandine

celandines,

Cowslips

cowslips,

Daisies

daisies,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), boiled egg curry, egg fried rice (recipe), and paratas. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher; Becky drank rose; and Flo, J2O.

Hanging By A Thread

The following were the human beings I saw when walking The Splash ampersand this sultry morning:  a few isolated car drivers on the road; a postman getting into his van outside the study centre; a woman in a nurse’s uniform leaving a house and walking to her car; one man crossing a road to another house; a psychotherapist walking from her home to post a letter in the box on the green opposite; two woman chatting in a cottage doorway; and a teacher with a group of schoolchildren having a lesson in a shady spot by The Splash.  That’s it.  Contrast the peace with yesterday’s heaving pavements.  By mid-day, even the birds were mostly quiet.  The rhythm of my sandals slapping the tarmac was at one point interrupted by the sound of a squealing gate that emanated from a donkey in need of lubrication.

Sheep and lambA very small lamb was silhouetted against the sky visible through a hole in the Furzey Gardens road hedge.

KP horses

KP horses - Version 2A bunch of horses in a Fleetwater field had me wondering whether Kevin Pietersen had branched out into equestrian breeding.

Beside The Splash it was the eager voices of the schoolchildren I heard first.  Peering through the foliage I spied the sun-dappled group seated around the stream.  For them it was a quite different experience than that of the children I had heard yesterday in Shrewsbury Road.

On my return to the flat, the painters were, in a most relaxed fashion, availing themselves of the facilities offered by Jackie. Broad Brothers John Broad expressed the idea that they should cancel next week’s job and come back here instead.  Dean was exchanging texts with a friend to whom he had just sent photographs of the setting in which they were working.

I am experiencing a niggling discomfort very similar to one I suffered when I was a child in about 1949.  It is strange to feel the same annoyance from a nagging gnasher at seventy as I did at seven.  I have a wisdom tooth the root of which was partly exposed many years ago when its next door neighbour was extracted.  It is now gradually attempting to prise itself loose from its moorings.  If only I could get a good grip on it I feel certain I would be able to help it on its way, just as Mum did with one of my milk teeth.  I whinged all day because it was sore, but couldn’t pluck up the courage for the final lift off.  Neither would I let my mother near it.  I had seen a cartoon in either the Dandy or the Beano where a parent tied a string round a bad tooth and the other end to a door knob, slammed the door shut, and had the tooth literally hanging from a thread.  When I eventually allowed my mother to wrap her fingers around my molar it came off in her hand with no tugging at all.  It had been metaphorically hanging by a thread.  Jessica missing teethThis enables me to imagine what it was like for six year old Jessica just before her front teeth fell out.

ThrushThis evening, sitting in the garden before dinner, we watched a thrush competing with a blackbird and various tits for theirs.  The thrush actually seems to be more alarmed by other birds now than by us.

Dinner was Jackie’s slow roasted pork with superb crackling (tip) and crisp vegetables, followed by sticky toffee pudding.  My accompaniement was Berberana rioja 2012; hers was Hoegaarden.