Dare To Dream

Chimney pot and bird feeder Deer and Rabbits were anathema to Jackie at Castle Malwood Lodge. We had to place a protective screen around her temporary garden there – the one we are gradually transporting from Walkford. She is, however, rather partial to crows, which is why one of ours, normally occupying the rooftop chimney pot, is giving her a problem. This huge creature has, daily, clambered all over the planter pot that stands in front of her bird feeders. The hungry bird sits on the petunias, which it has crushed, pondering how to avail itself of the breakfast positioned for smaller relatives. Each day it has attempted to settle its outsize talons around the slender arched summit of the feeder. Each day, until today, it has slipped and flown off unsatisfied. Despite the rain it managed to empty the tray of berry-flavoured suet pellets beneath. In an unsuccessful attempt to keep it off the petunias Jackie had placed some small wooden stakes among flowers. Today it sent the feeding station lop-sided.
Like all predatory scavengers, this creature flies off as soon as one of us appears at the window.
Before Jackie drove me to New Milton for a visit to Norman’s via Waterloo, I prepared figures and documentation for posting to Philip Friede, my excellent accountant. Philip Fried & Co., of Hatton Garden is to be highly recommended.
On the up train (actually all trains to London, even if from the North, are labelled ‘up’), I finished reading ‘Victoria’s Park’ by B.J.Haynes. This is a very entertaining novel. Haynes is a natural story-teller whose writing flows. Full of humour, the book is about the potential fulfilment of an impossible dream. The characterisation is credible and simply expressed, with an interesting slant on contemporary local politics, and more technical knowledge about landfill than I possess. Published by Matador at £6.99 in a paperback that is properly bound with good quality paper that will not turn brown in a hurry, this is a snip. (ISBN 978 184875-511)
On the Jubilee Line train from Waterloo to Finchley Road, beginning with a question about Cicero’s Orations which I was reading, I enjoyed a conversation with a young (by my standards) gentleman. We both changed onto the Metropolitan Line and continued our talk for two more stops. Tom, originally from Liberia, had spent twenty years in England, and was now working towards setting up a prefabricated housing project to improve conditions in his home country. He had, incidentally, met a young woman who read with the aid of the light on her mobile phone. How beneficial, he thought, it would be to provide people with no electricity with such a facility. He is an intelligent and sensitive man who had been reading ‘Dare to Dream’, and he certainly does. May his dream become a possibility.
Norman provided a lunch of peppered steak, roast potatoes, and vegetables followed by a red fruits pie and custard. We shared a bottle of Languedoc reserve 2012.
Clematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalJackie collected me as usual at New Milton and showed me what she had been doing in the garden. This was a lot of planting and weeding. Although they are slightly droopy at the moment she has trained two clematises up the vacant side of the new arch. They are ‘Star of India’ and ‘Rouge Cardinal’. Hydrangea macrophyllaShe has also bought and planted a Japanese hydrangea termed macrophylla.
The blackbird is incubating the eggs photographed yesterday.

I Found The Lady

Jackie drove me to New Milton to catch the London train this morning. Although I arrived about 25 minutes early, it was touch and go whether I boarded the conveyance in possession of a ticket.
There was a traffic diversion in the town because it was market day. This delayed us a little. The ticket office was unmanned for twenty minutes. Quite a queue built up. I bought my ticket after the train had pulled into the station and leaped through the closing doors clutching wallet, tickets, railcard and change as well as my bag. A woman struggling with a wheeled container that wouldn’t fit the narrow aisles somewhat delayed my passage to a seat.
But, no matter, it was a warm and sunny day.
No matter, that is, until it was revealed that the other train that should have been attached to our four coach one at Southampton Central was not ready. We continued with our limited number of carriages. It became rather crowded, and rather warmer.
From Waterloo I travelled by the normal route to Norman’s new abode, and back.
FootpathIt was quite clear that the concreted strip traversing the John Billam sports ground off Preston Road was a footpath.
There is a notorious scam or confidence trick I once saw performed in Central London. It remains amazing to me that this game still draws in punters, usually in crowded city streets, who believe they can outwit the shyster with his sleight of hand. He will stand by the side of the thoroughfare with playing cards in his hands, using some light, portable platform and encourage passers-by to ‘Find the Lady’. The lady in question is a queen, often of diamonds. Victims are enjoined to pick her out from between two aces. They will already have seen a stooge managing to pull this off and consider themselves capable of doing the same. They part with their stake money, and lose it. Sometimes time and again. Besides the trickster and his accomplice, the team is supplemented by others, strategically placed at convenient corners keeping an eye out for the police. When the law arrives a signal is given, the platform is lifted, and the players disperse.
Queen of diamondsNot believing I could discover the secret, I kept my money in my pocket on that occasion. However, today, there on the sports field, many years later, I found the lady.
Norman provided a lunch of succulent roast chicken, splendid savoury rice, runner beans, and piquant red cabbage, followed by apple strudel and cream. We shared an excellent 2011 bottle of unpronounceable Greek wine.
When we moved into our new house we stored a number of boxes of our most fragile or precious glassware and crockery in Helen and Bill’s garden shed. Jackie collected it today and I helped her unpack them after she collected me from the station and brought me home.Victoria's Park
I have had little time for reading in the last month, but on the train made decent headway into Desmond Seward’s ‘The Wars of The Roses’. When I have finished it I will begin a welcome present that was awaiting me this evening. Barrie Haynes has sent me a copy of one of his novels, ‘Victoria’s Park’, as a gift for my ‘splendid new library’. He tells me he ‘painted the cover picture using household paint, a plastic knife and half a pasting table’.

Finally, here is another aquilegia from the garden, and two of the myriad varieties of cranesbill geraniums:AquilegiasGeranium 1Geranium 2