In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Driving The Buggy

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This morning I spent wrestling with BT over Broadband. Just before this I received a scam call purporting to come from BT Accounts. I gave the caller short shrift. I can’t be bothered to write about the Broadband – any more than anyone would like to read about it.

Later, I made more progress on weeding the Back Drive.

Tulip

A new tulip has emerged in the front garden.

We brunched with Becky and Ian in the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea. Today’s weather was not conducive to customers eating in the garden. Had it been warmer and brighter, myriads of marauding starlings would have been swarming around the tables. As it was, they foraged in the grass and made do with worms.

This afternoon I scanned the next dozen colour slides in the Streets of London series, from September 2004.

Milner Square N1 9.04

I would have taken this shot of Milner Square, N1 on one of my visits to Parents for Children in Islington. Note the drink can and the graffito. Perhaps the lace curtain adds  a little gentility.

Islington Park Street N1 9.04

Graffito also adorns the Islington Park Street sign on a building whose residents hang their washing in the windows.

Laycock Street N1

I don’t think the Lush Cocktail Bar on Upper Street at the corner of Laycock Street is still there. The young lady passing by preferred her beverage from MacDonald’s.

Highworth Street NW1

The Phoenix is an award-winning hostel at the corner of Harrow and Highworth Streets, NW1. It surely must have started life as a public house.

Devonshire Villas N 9.04

Devonshire Villas, N. has me at a loss for identification. It does not appear in the London A-Z. Could this location be Devonia Street which was once called Devonshire Street?

Albion Mews N1 9.04 1Albion Mews N1 9.04 2

The Barnsbury Gallery stands on Thornhill Road near the corner with Albion Mews, on which a young lady settled a toddler on the buggy footplate, presumably so he could take over the driving. The gentleman following was well ahead by the the time the little boy took charge.

Brayfield Terrace N1 9.04

This attractive mural in Brayfield Terrace N1 is perforce cheek by jowl with ugly graffiti.

Gray's Inn Road WC1 9.04

Gray’s Inn Road, WC1 is always clogged up with traffic.

Albany Terrace, NW1 9.04

Here a cyclist leads the race for a dash into Albany Terrace, close to Regent’s Park, NW1.

Marylebone Road NW1 9.04

Not far away, Spiderman still perched on the dome of the planetarium in Marylebone Road.

Ripplevale Grove/Hemingford Road 9.04

Hampton’s, who claimed a sale agreed for the house on the corner of Hemingford Road and Ripplevale Grove, N1, are rather an upmarket estate agent.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri chicken with savoury rice topped by an omelette, followed by profiteroles. I finished the Corbieres, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian, peroni, and Becky sparkling water.

“That’s What Having A Horrible Daughter is Like”

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We spent the morning on garden maintenance tasks.

Jackie tidying Wedding Day roseDerrick tidying Wedding Day rose

Jackie, with minimal assistance from me, retrained the Wedding Day rose

Wedding Day rose on Agriframes Arch

on the Agriframes arch.

Japanese maple 1Japanese maple 2

We then reversed the process in that The Head Gardener weeded a route through to the red Japanese maple that was looking very poorly, if not somewhat wizened. She then stood ready for me to pass bits lopped or sawn off.

Japanese maple 3Japanese maple 4Japanese maple 5Japanese maple 6

The final result didn’t look too bad.

Urn on brick pillar

We then finished rebuilding the pillar for the urn in the Rose Garden.

View across grass from red tulips

Here is a view across the grass patch between tulips and the eucalyptus.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Ford

A stream kept one of the Brockenhurst fords under water. That is probably one SLOW notice that is unlikely to be ignored.

Father, daughter, dog at ford 1Father, daughter, dog at ford 2

As I stood on the footbridge to take this shot, a family descended into view. Mother and son joined me on the bridge while father and daughter, dog in tow, entered into a coercive conversation. The dog appeared to want to go in the opposite direction.

Father, daughter, dog running through ford

It was not long before the reason for this became clear. These three dashed across the water filled ford. When I quipped “I didn’t get that. Could you do it again?”, Dad declined. However he did add “That’s what having a horrible daughter is like”. In the ensuing conversation I was given permission to post both the photographs and this statement.

Car driven through ford

An obliging motorist, without being asked, then drove his car through the water.

Child's shoe and socks

Further on, at Boundway, we spotted evidence that a child had left the woods sans socks and at least one shoe.

Woodland Shadows 1Tree shadows 2Tree shadows 3

The high sun cast shadows of the trees onto the undulating leafy terrain.

Brimstone butterfly in flight

A brimstone butterfly fluttered about. Can you spot it here?

Logs, gorse, trees 1LogsGorse

Loggers had been at work above the gorse laden hills overlooking Wilverly.

Cattle among gorse

I think the white figure here was one of a couple of cattle. They were a bit far away for me to be certain.

Wasps' nest 1Wasps' nest 2

Soon after we left this area, Jackie alerted me to a wasps’ nest on an outbuilding.

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man’s Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden while I drank more of the madiran.

Mountain Sheep, Mountain Bikes, And Archery

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On a dank and dismal day, Jackie cleaned out the Wisteria Arbour. This involved swabbing down the furniture, clearing dead plants and sweeping a multitude of leaves.

Jackie in Wisteria Arbour

As I came out to report on a FaceTime conversation with Malachi in Western Australia’s Fremantle I could smell the apple mint in the pot at the bottom right of the picture. The tulip is one brought back from Amsterdam by Danni and Andy a couple of years ago.

Malachi, occasionally punctuated by his sister Orlaith and his parents, read me an excellent story he had written and illustrated, and took me on a virtual tour of their new house.

Such an unspringlike day gave me the opportunity to remind ourselves of the season by following our friend, Barrie Haynes’s, prompt and featuring:

I spent the afternoon scanning the next batch of our 1992 Cumbrian holiday spent at Towcett with Ali, Steve, and James.

On 18th August we climbed the fells from Haweswater where we made the acquaintance of mountain sheep who looked rather more comfortable than I felt.

The youngsters, Louisa, naturally taking the lead, ascended with the help of mountain bikes and the rest of us hiked.

Louisa tackling daunting banana split 19.8.92 1As we know, Louisa is game for anything, but it looks as if she found this banana split, consumed at Tudor Restaurant, Penrith, rather daunting.

We stayed at Teal Cottage, one of the holiday homes in the grounds of Towcett House, the home of Jessica’s cousin Angie, and her then husband Viscount Hugh Lowther. There, Sam manufactured a bow and arrow and an archery contest soon got under way.

Louisa was first at the butts;

Sam followed;

and James brought up the rear.

I am grateful to Mary Tang for explaining how to remove the date stamp from these photographs.

Mr Pink’s fish and chips in Milford on Sea re-opened a few days ago, nine months after a fat fryer fire requiring thorough refurbishment. We were pleased to welcome them back and take cod and chips home to eat with gherkins and pickled onions. I drank more of the Bordeaux with mine.

Before The Thunderstorm

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For the best part of the day there were two consistencies in the weather: it was very warm and it was dry. This meant the overnight rain soon evaporated. The sun, however, vied for dominance with the clouds.

Sack barrow

Stopping on the way to buy a necessary sack barrow from Milford Supplies, we drove to Molly’s Den in search of two more stone urns for the rose garden. We were successful and installed them into position.

Planter in wrought iron

We also bought a red-painted wrought iron planter.

Front garden

Early on, in the front garden,

Tulip and raindrops

tulips’ in-built umbrellas protected their stamens.

Clematis Montana with bee

Bees preferred the pollen from the clematis Montana. If you can’t spot this insect filling its thigh sacs, you may choose to enlarge the image,

Bee on clematis Montana

or opt for this one instead.

Aquilegia

Pearly drops slipped from aquilegias.

Viburnum plicatum 2Viburnum plicatum 1

The viburnum plicatum had benefited from the warmth and the rain.

Wisteria

Two years ago, outside the utility room door, stood the stump of a wisteria that had clearly been heavily pruned, we imagine to make way for the plumbing for the en-suite bathroom above. It has responded to nurturing the first year, and training the next, to produce a fine drapery which should increase even more next year.

Pieris

Another stump, this time on the grass patch, has recovered to produce a pieris that now shows signs of feeling crowded by the Castle Bench.

Erigeron

Offspring of the erigeron, outside the French windows to the sitting room, have been adopted by various other parts of the garden.

Urn 1

Urn 2 (Jackie reflected)

Just before the thunderstorm hit at 4.30, after Jackie had planted up the urns, I joined her for cold drinks and a rest in the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s prize chicken jalfrezi, now nicely maturing; meat samosas, egg fried rice, onion bhajis, and parathas. I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone, while The Cook abstained.

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

More Printing

This morning I filled two more cuttings bags, and this afternoon we took them to the dump. This time, the Head Gardener only liberated a trio of terra cotta containers from a wine rack.

I spent much of the day printing and exchanging e-mails with Paul about the exhibition. The final batch of 50 completed my tally of 250 flyers.

Paul Clarke has put as much meticulous effort and skill into the hanging and display of the exhibition at The First Gallery as he did with the design of the flyers. He has made quite specific size suggestions for prints with which to adorn the walls, ranging from A2 to A6. As I Can only go to A3+ on my printer, I will need to investigate the cost of commercial printing for the one A2.

Here are some of the offerings I have sent:

Poppy and maple

This was the view through the red Japanese maple on 21st April 2014.

Fly in gladiolus

I made a very small crop of this gladiolus in order to position the burrowing fly;

Fly in colchicum

on 14th September 2014, just a week before that one, another alighted on a colchicum.

bee on eryngium planum

Two days later this bee settled on an eryngium planum;

Bee on libertia

another made for this libertia on 18th May last year.

Snowdrops and hellebores in garden

On 25th February 2015 snowdrops were in abundance.

Peacock butterfly & shadow

This Red Admiral butterfly cast an intriguing shadow on 21st November 2013.

Tulip

Finally, here is a tulip from 14th April 2015.

For this evening’s dinner Jackie produced perfectly baked ham, moist ratatouille, creamy mashed potato, and crisp brussels sprouts; followed by sticky toffee and ginger pudding and custard. I drank Louis Virion Costiers de Nimes 2014, and the Cook drank lemon squash.