Pushmi – Pullyu

Topsoil

Yesterday, Jackie made an unfortunate discovery in the Weeping Birch Bed. Roughly half this plot has been raised on top of the concreted area that we think must have been laid for Post Office vans in the past. It was therefore only a few inches deep. This also explains why water escapes from the un-cemented brick retaining wall. This meant that the border of the back drive had to be further plundered to lift the level. The Head Gardener began the task yesterday and I finished it this morning. The toad that I disturbed hopped away at the speed of an Olympic athlete. The warm weather must have kept it awake.

Jackie planting chrysanthemums

This afternoon I supported Jackie in replenishing this bed. She made a support for the honeysuckle, plonked a fuchsia, and planted various smaller plants, such as yellow chrysanthemums. I helped spread the new topsoil, dead-headed some roses, and divided the libertia.

Libertia division

UnknownThis latter task required the application of two forks in  emulation of Dr Dolittle’s Pushmi – pullyu; the insertion of a fairly useless sharp knife; and strenuous manual prising and tugging.

For those unfamiliar with this creature, Wikipedia informs us  that ‘the pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push-me—pull-you”) is a “gazelle-unicorn cross” which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. In The Story of Doctor Dolittle, the grateful monkeys in Africa persuade it to accompany Dr. Dolittle to England to earn money for him (in Doctor Dolittle’s Circus and Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan.) The pushmi-pullyu usually only uses one of its heads to talk, reserving the other for eating (thus allowing it to eat while speaking without being rude) and claims that its great-grandfather was the last unicorn.

In the 1967 film, the pushmi-pullyu was instead portrayed as a double-headed llama. The doctor can immediately speak to the pushmi-pullyu, knowing that llamas speak a dialect of camel language.’

I did my best to persuade the garden’s insect life that we are now into October, but they just carried on regardless. Perhaps the talking llama could have interpreted for me.

Honey bee drinking from verbena bonarensis

This honey bee simply continued siphoning nectar from a verbena bonarensis.

This evening I burnt much of the recent clippings in the incinerator.

Sunset and bonfire

The rays of the setting sun frolicked with the smoke from the fire.

As is often so, Jackie made enough sausage casserole yesterday for several meals. I was more than happy to sample it again today, with crisp carrots and cabbage, and creamy mashed potato. We had both enjoyed a beer whilst watching the incinerator, so we abstained from drinking with the meal.

Now I am going to watch a recording which will let me know how Wales got on against Fiji in the Rugby World Cup.

A Rude Awakening

Flowering cherryWe have packed the long life milk, so it fell to my lot, this bright morning, to walk down to the village shop to buy some more. I returned via the church path, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens.

Burgeoning spring has come to Castle Malwood Lodge garden, with its flowering cherries and its shrubs; to those in the village; and to the verges and hedgerows.

I stopped on the way to say goodbye to Alan. We discussed the ‘bedroom tax’, which in my view is far more complex than it seems to some. There is no doubt that many elderly people, often recipients of depleted and diminishing Social Services, are struggling alone to keep going in family houses when all their offspring have moved away, whilst younger people, faced with mounting rents, strive to bring up families in one-bedroomed flats. Whether penalising those Council tenants who cannot, or are reluctant to, move from their life-long homes is the answer, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, somehow a balancing of this problem needs to be achieved.

At the village green I met a couple seeking a walk before lunch in the Trusty. I now have plenty of experience with which to set them on their way.

Celandine & violasHawthorn

Celandine, violas, primroses, and hawthorn sparkled in the sunshine. Primrose & ChampionI find it almost impossible to photograph primroses in bright sunshine, so I settled for an equine one who, with Champion, her male escort, basked at the trough.

Moss on phonebox

Moss adorned the little-used public telephone box.

Berberis

Sawn trunkA flaming bright orange berberis blazed alongside the road leading up to the church.

A number of trees bordering the still soggy church footpath have been cut down. They leave fascinating forms reminiscent of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle.

At one end the signpost has been embellished by the addition of an outstretched gauntlet. Clearly someone thought the direction of the thoroughfare needed some clarification.Gauntlet

Less hardy than the New Forest ponies, many of the adult thoroughbreds in the fields still wear their winter warming coats. The youngsters seem to be deemed not to need them.Horses through hedge

Alex Schneideman, in a recent post, illustrated an enlightening article on the emotional impact of out of focus portraits against sharply drawn settings. I wonder what he would think of this shot of the horses seen through the hedgerow.

Toad

Whilst I was wandering this morning Jackie began the task of dismantling her portable garden. We continued it this afternoon. When she had installed it, she had disturbed a sleepy toad. The creature obviously survived the trauma, for today the horticulturist once again aroused it from its slumbers.

Jackie’s garden contained the deer-proof fencing, various assorted bricks, and a total of 84 pots of flowers, most of which were quite large. Some of the pots were in hanging baskets. There was the bird feeder with its squirrel baffle, and lots of both wooden and metal stakes. This was no mean achievement to put together, and quite a project to take apart. As I trudged backwards and forwards across the garden to return brick-loads to their previous resting place behind the garages, I wondered how she’d managed to carry them all across in the first place.

As I post this we are about to drive to the Curry Garden at Ringwood, where we will enjoy their usual excellent food and a pint and a half of Kingfisher.

 

Toytown

Frosty lawn

Glittering white frost coated the lawn this beautiful, cold, blue-sky morning as Jackie drove us to West Totton’s Tesco Express to buy a few essentials, like bread and potatoes.  I had intended to walk back from the Minstead turn off on the A337. However, where the sun had not reached the road surfaces they were so slippery that I thought better of it.

Leaving Flo and Scooby behind, Jackie drove Becky, Ian and me to Downton to gaze at the outside of The Old Post House and have a drink in The Royal Oak.  Then leaving the rest of us in the pub car park to ‘get a round in’ she went off to New Milton to make a purchase.  As I didn’t expect to be outside for too long on this still rather cold, albeit glorious, day I hadn’t worn a coat.  It was then I realised that this was an error.  The pub was closed.  And Jackie had left before we realised it.  Oh well, she had resisted the temptation to investigate all the half-price meats in Tesco’s and therefore wasn’t gone too long.  Ian was particularly pleased because we had driven past his mother’s old home, just a few hundred yards from the house we hope to buy.  It had brought back many fond memories for him.

We didn’t search out another pub, and returned via Bolderwood, a magnificent forest route that looked splendid this early sunny Sunday afternoon.  What we noticed was that here again many large trees that seemed to have incongruously shallow roots had fallen recently.

We had a late, filling, lunch of turkey and vegetable stoup, before Becky and Ian returned to Emsworth in the early evening.  Flo and Scooby stayed with Jackie and me.

During the late 1950s, as I have mentioned before, I used to sit and draw and paint alongside Kenneth Lovell an artist who, among other works, illustrated Hulme Beaman’s Toytown series of children’s books. Derrick & KennethIt is Ken who, having been perfectly happy to patronise a man with an impressive camera and two equally striking parrots, stands beside me outside Hampton Court in about 1958 in ‘through the ages’ photograph number 39.  My drawing with the artist was a weekly event that had come into being as a result of Mum, through a mutual friend, having been introduced to Ken and showing him my nascent cartoon work ‘Toad in the Wild West’.  I never did progress beyond my first display board of this tale, but I spent many happy and fruitful hours with my friend from whom I learned all I ever did directly from anyone about drawing.

For several years we would spend Sunday afternoons working and then have tea consisting of delicious sandwiches and a fruit salad.  We were occasionally joined for the meal by Ken’s live-in friend George Edwards, an opera singer.

The assistance I gave Ken on one of the Toytown books was a tracing exercise.  Nothing to do with ancestry, this was a method of transferring draft drawings onto display boards for the production of the finished work for publication.  Ken would illustrate the stories of Larry the Lamb, Mr Grouser, and many others in bold colour with firm outlines in pen.  The final drafts of those in which I had a hand were handed to me drawn on good quality fashion plate board.  I would trace these onto fresh tracing paper.  Taking a soft pencil, I would cover the backs of these sheets with graphite, then place the paper face up on the finishing board fixing it firmly in position with a tape something like Sellotape.  I then took a sharp, harder, pencil and traced over my  work, leaving a print on the board.  The artist would ink over the prints and then apply the colour.  I felt very proud to have been entrusted with this task.

When Helen and Bill unearthed my 1965 drawing of Jackie, I decided that the very small frame consisting of a piece of board fixed to glass by passe-partout could do with being replaced.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I found, on the ‘smooth surface’ of a George Rowney & Co. Ltd “Diana” Fashion Plate Board behind the drawing, 

Toytown drawings c1958some of my own efforts at reproducing Ken’s characters.  I had done these to satisfy us both that I was up to making adequate tracings.

Sandwiches were all we desired for our evening meal.  Mine were one of delicious ham and mustard and another of tasty pate.