Gracing The Back Drive

The weather today was overcast and cold, but mostly dry. A wander round the garden seemed to be in order.

The upstairs windows gave me a new perspective in which the rescued red Japanese maple gapes in awe across and above to the majestic copper beech; I could look down on the gazebo clematis; and in the Palm Bed the cordeline Australis bears buds.

The close-up of the maple began my lower level selection.

The red climbing rose, Paul’s scarlet, will soon be joining the wisteria beneath our bathroom window.

This hawthorn graces the back drive,

as do blue-tipped irises.

Ferns are unfurling as I write.

Enlarging this image of the Brick Path will enhance the West Bed with its lamiums, dicentras, and much more.

More aquilegias and a pieris on the grass patch are bursting into life; while an oak-leaved pelargonium with its scented foliage has survived the winter beneath the gazebo.

I have refrained from mentioning that last Friday evening we ran out of fuel oil. This was not a good week to be without heating. Today a new supply was delivered. This evening the excellent Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, reset the boiler.

We dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

A Diner And A Restaurant


Ronan and Mark, our heating engineers from Tom Sutton Heating have almost completed their installation of our new system.

Jackie and I decided to leave them to it and to visit the splendid

Walkford Diner for brunch.

My choice was the Mega (£8.80). I couldn’t wait to photograph the Ferndean Farm Shop sausages and large free range eggs; the Black and White puddings and haggis flown down from Stornaway; lean bacon; baked beans, fresh tomatoes; and a potato scone.

When my toast arrived I needed to do it again.

Jackie had wanted something light, so she chose broccoli and stilton soup and a cheese and onion sandwich (£5.50).

The soup was served in a massive mug and the sandwich was quite a mouthful.

Ian and JoJo are a very friendly couple dedicated to producing carefully sourced fine quality food at most reasonable prices. Although they haven’t been here very long they clearly have a loyal group of regular customers.

We went on to visit an apartment in Farringford Court, Lymington, as part of our reconnoitring a prospective assisted living home for Mum, with a view to moving next Spring.

The back cover of the brochure for No. 8 shows a shot of the small communal garden, the walk-in shower room, and two of the bedroom;

inside are displayed a second external view, the kitchen, the lounge, and the entrance hall.

The apartment is ideally appointed and spacious enough for a single person. There is a good range of services, both included in the standard charge, and capable of being bought in. Communal services include a laundry room,

a lounge,

and a drinks station

in a restaurant available to residents and guests.

There is also bedroom suite for guests.

All in all this could be an ideal prospect, but the cost will probably be prohibitive.

Jackie, having eaten less than I did for lunch, tucked into a bowl of her excellent lamb curry and rice. I ate no more.



Ronan and Mark of Tom Sutton Heating arrived promptly this morning and began work on installing our new central heating system.

This being Mum’s birthday, Elizabeth drove off to collect her from her home in West End. Jackie and I met them for lunch at the Fleur de Lys at Pilley where we enjoyed the usual superb cuisine. Mum’s choice of main course was chicken and ham pie, mashed potato and greens; mine was halibut, crab, vegetables and French fries; Jackie’s, ham and cheese toastie with salad and posh chips; Elizabeth’s a fish platter. My sister’s meal like the desserts were all on the slate, by which I don’t mean we didn’t have to pay for them today. Mum waived a sweet; Jackie chose an ice cream selection; I favoured treacle tart and ice cream with an ice floe perched on top; Elizabeth’s pick was creme brûlée, ice cream and chocolate brownies. I drank merlot; Elizabeth, Amstel; Mum apple juice; and Jackie, coffee.

We then drove past Elizabeth’s new house in order for Mum to take a peek at it.

The next stop was at Pyrford Gardens, Lymington to view a prospective new home for Mum. This is a bungalow in a quiet development in a cul-de-sac built in the grounds of a rather grander house. By the time we arrived there our mother was very tired and found it difficult to engage with the exercise. The rest of us were impressed, but more thought must be given to what is in fact Mum’s idea. The house is leasehold. There is a reasonable service charge which covers well kept communal gardens and limited on call support from a manager who lives within the complex. Her independent living could be maintained as long as necessary.

Elizabeth returned Mum to West End and rejoined us later.

A slice of pizza with a little salad sufficed for our evening meal.


Well Worth The Effort


Regular readers may have noticed that it is some months since we enjoyed a brunch at The Beach Hut Café on the promenade at Friars Cliff. That is because I have been unable to make the trip down from the clifftop car park.

The first stage, from the car park, is reasonably level, but far enough for me at the moment.

Military communication satellite station plaque

The concrete rings have featured before. This plate explaining their purpose

is screwed to the rock to the right of this path bypassing the rings. The cyclist will slalom round the barriers down

the sloping footpath leading to the beach huts,

and the beach with its clear view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

The most difficult part of the descent for me was this very steep incline.

When I ran the fells in Cumbria I would much rather run up than down the slopes. And that was when my knees worked.

Having reached the promenade there is a straight, flat, section between the huts and the benches sited for those who wish to watch the waves;

taking us to the café, which was, as usual, full to bursting both inside and out, although the demography of the patrons is somewhat different from that in the school holidays. In fact, while Jackie joined the lengthy queue for service and I investigated the seating options, the only available possibility was sharing a picnic table with a friendly woman and her unobtrusive dog. Noticing my rather hopeless efforts at jackknifing myself into position, the kind lady offered to seek out a chair for me. She did so. I thanked her and sat down. Jackie then arrived to tell me that there was a free table inside. I thanked my new friend once more and took up a place inside. Shame, really.

The food was definitely well worth the effort. I couldn’t fit my plate containing two rounds of toast and marmalade into the shot.

After this, we had to retrace our steps. The rather bent elderly woman towing her shorn dulux dog kept up a pace neither of us had any hope of emulating.

Jackie had no trouble with the steep slope

but avoided the steps which were my preferred return route.

Our central heating has never really worked upstairs. Knowing weather was about to cool down, we asked Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating to sort out the radiators. He fixed a pressure problem and bled the radiators. A date was arranged for him to fit a new vent to one of them. The next dat the boiler stopped working. Fortunately our shower is electric and we have an open fire and a kettle. We limped through until today when Ronan made an emergency visit. I won’t bore people with the technicalities, but we need a whole new system, which is what I expected in the first place. This will take 3/4 days, need bedroom floors taken up, and be expensive.

This evening we dined variously. Jackie chose Tesco’s pulled ham with mashed potato and carrots accompanied by Hoegaarden; my Tesco’s prepared dish was chicken jalfrezi; Elizabeth enjoyed the last of Jackie’s beef pie. My sister and I both drank more of the Pinot Noir.