Great Nephews

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Many of the blooms on the still quite small pink rhododendron, seen in this sculpture’s eye view from Five Ways, are now fully open.

Others recently flourishing include the yellow tree peony, various geraniums, and elegant libertias.

The flamboyant red and yellow tulips are changing their hues with age, while the euphorbias have reached full sculptural maturity.

A clematis Montana festoons the mauve lilac tree.

Orange poppies lead the eye to the marigolds alongside the greenhouse. Similarly the heuchera alongside the Dead End Path echos the recently flourishing copper beach leaves.

This latter path is visible from the patio where we sat with Helen, Shelly, Billy and Max who visited us this morning.

Although his usual cheerful self, poor little Max has chicken pox, so he was a bit thirsty and drowsy. Helen administered the bottle.

Billy was as active as ever, manoeuvring his vehicles, wandering about the garden, and munching chocolate bars. The two boys are Helen’s grandsons and Shelly, Jackie, and my great nephews.

This evening we dined on prawn toasts and Jackie’s superb egg fried rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce followed by Easter bread and butter pudding. Should anyone wonder what this is, I would ask what else would you do with weird hot cross buns purchased in error, not having realised that the currants were in fact chocolate chips, other than put them in the freezer in case they might come in useful. Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016

 

 

Spot The Partridge

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Jackie

While I lurked with a lens, Jackie continued, carefully, to cultivate the garden this morning.

Red tinges through garden

I had been struck by the trail of red from near tulips at the window to distant rhododendron.

Other touches of red are provided by the geraniums in the iron urn at the head of the Gazebo Path, rhododendrons, tulips, pieris, Vulcan magnolia, and heucheras;

Fly on poppy

little orange poppies have now opened out,

Forget-me-nots

Vinca

and forget-me-nots and vincas are ubiquitous.

Today there was no lull in the gloriously sunny weather when we went for a drive this afternoon.

We took a short walk round MacPenny’s garden at Bramsgore where rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to enliven the beds and the pathways.

Most fields of cattle, like these at Thorney Hill, contain cud-chewing cows and languorous calves. They seem to be able to ignore the flies that surround their eyes and noses.

Partridge

Elusive partridges seemed to be darting everywhere. Can you spot this one?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy lamb biriani with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the pinot noir.

 

 

Food For Blackbirds

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Having approached the end of my teens some time ago, I had come to a fork in my ‘A Knight’s Tale’, and couldn’t make up my mind as to which road to take. Today I set off again, taking material from posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘A Little White Lie’.

Jackie on Brick Path

Today was sunny but not much warmer than yesterday. However, Jackie was happily able to return to her work of tidying, weeding, and planting in the garden.

Most tulips are fully flouncing, but some are freshly flourishing;

Ajugas

ajugas are replacing cowslips in the Oval Bed.

 

 We now have campions and marigolds.

The red Japanese maple, having been pruned of dead branches first by me and then by Aaron, has miraculously survived in the Kitchen Bed.

At the front of the house we have enough crab apple blossom to suggest that the blackbirds will be well catered for in the winter. The collared dove in the now over winter flowering cherry has a nest in a holly out of the picture.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Paniza gran reserva 2009

 

 

The Skate Park

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Today was another featuring sunny intervals in cloudy skies. I began with a stroll round the garden where the latest opening rhododendron is progressing well.

Becky and Ian having stayed over, we all lunched at the Beachcomber in Barton on Sea.

The Solent’s waves were choppy; the Isle of Wight and The Needles were swathed in haze;

crows struggled against the blustery wind on the clifftop, and airborne alongside gulls.

This afternoon we took a trip to New Milton where Ian and I visited a solicitor for an executorship matter, while the ladies went shopping. Afterwards I sat on a bench in the Skate Park while Ian hunted for the shoppers.

Skate Park

Black- headed gulls scavenged on the grass against the backdrop of the distant mural;

a couple of young lads experimented with skateboards, until school was out when others joined them on bicycles.

This evening, before Becky and Ian returned home, we all dined on Jackie’s splendid beef pie, crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, and creamy mashed potato. Becky and I drank more of the Malbec, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Ian, Peroni.

 

Behind The Nottingham Castle Bench

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After a day in our mother’s garden, I wandered around ours.

Lamiums

Lamiums rise from the Dragon Bed, where

Rhododendron

the first of our rhododendrons is in full boom.

Margery's Bed grass-side

Another of these rich red shrubs, in Margery’s Bed,

Pieris, rhododendron and view across lawn

can be seen on the grass patch side,

Pieris

beyond the pieris

Pieris and view across grass patch

that stands behind the Nottingham Castle Bench,

Honesty

opposite which one of the ubiquitous honesty plants presages the hebe blooms with which it will soon blend.

Cyclamen

Cyclamens border the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Pansies

These particular pansies smile in the West Bed,

Hellebore, comfrey

where hellebores, like these among the comfrey and the tellimas, are adopting their maturer colouring,

Snakeshead fritillaries

and snakes head fritillaries hang their lanterns.

Japanese maple red and camellias

We thought we had lost the red Japanese maple from which I had removed dead material two years ago. Aaron cut some more away recently and fresh shoots are appearing.

Daffodils

Many later daffodils linger

Tulips

and our surprise collection of tulips has revealed yet another dramatic red striped variety.

Spirea

A white spirea cascades over the Palm Bed,

Prunus Amanogawa

and at the front of the house the prunus Amanogawa is now in full bloom. Should anyone wonder at the proliferation of piping on this side of our building, that is because this, we believe, was originally the back of the house.

This evening we dined on real fusion food – Jackie’s superb savoury egg rice, Mr Chan’s spring rolls and prawn toasts, Lidl’s pork rib rack in barbecue sauce; Belgium’s Hoegaarden beer and Argentina’s Trivento reserve Malbec 2017.

The Fifth Child

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A cooler temperature and continuous overcast skies returned today. This gave me a more satisfactory light for photographing pale flowers which I always find difficult in sunshine.

Our later daffodils tend to be more white than yellow;

defying all attempts at eradication white alliums thrust their way through the soil throughout the garden, iberis thrives on the edge of the New Bed, and;

similarly hued tulips, daffodils, and primulas contrast with brighter reds and yellows;

tulips continue fully to open;

as does prunus Amanogawa at the front of the house.

Blue flowers include the first bluebells and prolific forget-me-nots.

I didn’t like Doris Lessing’s ‘The Fifth Child’. But then perhaps I wasn’t meant to. Even the author stated that she hated writing it. Nevertheless this most unpleasant child demanded attention from start to finish, at which I arrived this afternoon. It is a short modern horror story, details of which I will, as usual, refrain from revealing. Save to say that it involves a nightmare birth and terrifying childhood that puts unbearable strain on a happy family. The essence of its success must be that it comes so close to credible and touches the deepest fears of any parent.

The Fifth Child

Published by Jonathan Cape in 1988, the selection of Mervyn Peake’s ‘Boy Reclining’ as the jacket cover is a masterstroke. The distant, unfocussed, eye in the portrait conjures up our current character and there are echos of the artist’s ‘Gormenghast’ Gothic fantasy series of novels in Ms Lessing’s work. It also reminded me of a cover I once drew for the Queens Park Family Service annual report.

This evening it was warm enough for us to have drinks on the patio before Jackie drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away to collect our evening meal. While she was out we experienced a heavy hailstorm. This developed into a spectacular electric storm. I drank more of the Fleurie with my dinner.

 

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”

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Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.