Ecology 2

This morning we drove to Ringwood for Jackie to make some purchases with her M & Co vouchers, and then on into the forest.

Homeowners at Mockbeggar were happy for ponies to crop the lawns in front of their houses, but installed cattle grids to keep them from their inner sanctums and away from their washing lines.

Donkeys lazing outside Corn Store Cottage had no intention of emulating their equine cousins.

The residents of an extensive thatch cottage at North Gorley could look out on a gathering of ponies and cattle strewn about their green. Many of the ponies seem to have earned a rest. Most of the cattle continued chomping. One cow had indulged in a nether mudpack.

In the vicinity of Emery Down Jackie parked the car and I went off-piste across the forest floor. Alternately crunching on fallen twigs and last autumn’s leaves, or sinking into the now fairly dry mulch beneath my feet, occasionally reaching out to retain my balance with the help of still standing trees,

I wandered among fallen trunks and branches of varying girths making their own contribution to the ecology of our historic forestation.

As the arboreal remains returned to the soil from whence they originated, mosses, lichens, and fungi made their homes in trunks and branches while celandines, violets, and wood sorrel sprang from the mulch which will soon nurture ferns and bracken to replace those of last year.

Ponies provide additional fertilising nutriment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice served with vegetable samosa, onion bahjjis, and paratha. She drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Carménere.

“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.

 

 

Evil Little Weevils

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Jackdaw

Yesterday afternoon our peace was disturbed by a clattering and scratching emanating from the wall behind a radiator in the TV half of the sitting room. We used to hear that in the open fireplace. Until we lit a fire. Clearly the jackdaws were back, building their nest in a now boarded up chimney. Sure enough, one was perching sentinel on a chimney pot this morning.

Violets

Much of the day was spent attending to the garden, throughout which violets are popping up.

My contribution was generally tidying up and cutting the grass.

The Rose Garden is coming along quite well,

Front garden

as is the Front Garden.

 I was close enough to this wasp in the orange shed to be sure that we do have them.

Jackie’s efforts included relining the Waterboy’s pond which had sprung a leak;

Vine weevil

replenishing the soil in pots and hanging baskets, during which she discovered her first clutch of evil little vine weevils;

and poking holes with an aerator into the less healthy looking grass patches.

Hole in fence

While we took drinks in the Rose Garden before dinner, Jackie spotted that the Big Beast has shown us what it thinks of my pathetic round peg in the square hole. It has simply moved along a touch and ripped off a lot more fencing. We really do hope it is not a rat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and vegetable samosas. Jackie, having drunk Hoegaarden earlier, did not join me in my Bergerac 2015. Not that she would have done anyway. It is not her tipple.

Raising The Roof

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Threatened with an early disappearance of the sun that shone through the mist at dawn this morning, we took a drive soon afterwards. I have to confess that Jackie was the only person out of bed early enough to produce these two photographs.

Our first stop was at Norleywood where the land alongside a stream was very waterlogged;

and primroses and celandines sprawled over the slopes and beside the stream.

Blackthorn 1

Prolific blackthorn also bloomed.

Llamas, two of which reconstructed Doctor Dolittle’s Pushmepullyou, grazed in a field further along the road;

Cattle and blackthorn

cattle opposite had freedom to roam;

Chickens

while neighbouring chickens certainly enjoyed free range.

At East End, an interesting problem for motorists was presented by the unloading of a lorryload of thatcher’s reeds at the same time as two huge vehicles were parked outside the house next door where heavy landscaping seemed to be in progress. We watched the reeds lifted by crane, carried over the hedge, and lowered into position for the imminent task of re-thatching an impressively proportioned house.

Mimosa

A rather splendid mimosa grew in a garden on the opposite side of the road.

Low tide on flats

It was so misty beyond Tanners Lane beach that neither the Isle of Wight

Shore in mist

nor Lymington harbour was visible.

Photographer

After I had taken this very pleasant woman’s photograph we had an enjoyable conversation, beginning with our lack of complete understanding of the cameras we were using.

Primroses, violets, ditch

More pale yellow primroses shared the banks of the ditch along the lane with little violets.

This evening we dined on Set Meal B at Imperial China in Lyndhurst, both drinking Tiger beer.

Kind Of Blue

Aaron sawing wood

Aaron brought a friend to help today so he could finish by lunchtime. They sawed up the wood pile, then replanted a clump of grass roots which had been removed from the back drive some weeks ago, and, despite attempts to burn it, had refused to die. I understand that the Australian eucalyptus needs the heat of a forest fire to germinate its seeds. Maybe our grass is related to that tree.Grass rootsLog store

I managed to clear a space by the side of the house for the logs to be stacked before wandering around the garden with my camera.

Focussing on our profusion of blue-hued flowers, and thinking of Giles who enjoys them, I photographed:

Forget-me-nots

forget-me-nots,

Periwinkle

periwinkles,

Grape hyacinths

grape hyacinths,

Violas

violets,

Celandines

celandines,

Pansies

and pansies.

Whilst preparing this post I listened to what is probably the finest recording of spontaneous jazz improvisation ever made. During two sessions in 1959 Miles Davis, the legendary trumpeter, led a group including Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly, in the production of the album ‘Kind of Blue’.Kind of Blue

Evans, in his original programme notes, writes: ‘Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without exception the first complete performance of each was a “take”.’

I you don’t have access to a copy, try it on YouTube.

This afternoon Flo continued her wildlife garden photography.

Bee on pulmonaria

Unaware of my blue theme, she featured a bee on pulmonaria.

White butterfly

She also captured a white butterfly on the wing,

Long-tailed tit

a tightrope-walking long-tailed tit,

Greenfinch

a greenfinch on a feeding tray,

Hoverfly

and a resting hoverfly.

Norman's parrot

She even threw in a shot of Norman’s parrot, which now hangs in our kitchen.

Eric

Finally, she persuaded Eric to pose for his portrait.

This evening we dined out on Ian.

Not literally. He just paid for it. He took us on a visit to La Viña in Lymington. It was a most enjoyable tapas bar. The food was excellent and the service extremely friendly if a little tardy. I can’t really detail the dishes because they were in Spanish, but they included a mixed paella, calamari, sardines, chorizo, asparagus, fried potatoes, meat balls and tortilla. Jackie and Ian drank Estrella beer; Becky and I shared a bottle of tempranillo; and Flo drank apple juice.

A Fatal Error

Whilst Jackie drove the well used route to Shelly and Ron’s this morning, I, like Wordsworth’s Lucy ‘dwelt among the untrodden ways’. Well, untrodden for a very long time. And, apart from lunch, I trod them all day. Cleared areaCamelliaYesterday’s clearances had revealed the presence of another hidden gravel path, which I determined to open up and refurbish. The camellia mentioned yesterday is now fully visible through the cleared area.

I began by planting the two forgotten items from yesterday – a lilac and a fern. The lilac was to be placed alongside this path, and required the usual clearance of weeds, brambles, and ivy. Sneaking up behind and to the right beneath Allium and galliumthe allium in this next photograph can be seen the tentacles of the ubiquitous grasping gallium aperine.

Poppy orangePoppy yellow and aquilegiaPoppies of various hues are cropping up all over the place.

I have not featured the deutzia before because I could not identify it, but, happily, Jackie has done so:Deutzia

RoseAlthough its leaves bear the dreaded black spot, that curse of pirates and rose-growers, the pink climbing rose at the front of the house is beautiful and abundant.

Well, that’s enough of wandering around the garden. I’ve done the planting and had a look at the flowers. Now I must get down to business.

A few yards into the rediscovered path, some quarry tiles had been laid as a point of interest. A few were broken. A little further on, and to the right of these, is a smaller, linking, and also overgrown stretch of lined gravel. This has a similar feature of four tiles. I therefore diverted from my main objective, cleared that route, and took up the tiles and used them to repair the other set on the longer, meandering pathway.Path revealed In this photograph of the first opened thoroughfare the rake at the far end lies on this arrangement. I have left a few little violets in situ.

Jackie had not, of course, been idle on her return. She continued with curtains, and has now made and hung curtains for the whole house, often fixing the rails as well.

After lunch, I allowed myself a little diversion to pull out two thistles like those of yesterday, and to plant a little round tree/bush in place of one of them. Jackie had unsuccessfully tried to persuade me to take it easy this afternoon. Whilst I was engaged in removing the second of the thistles she came out and asked, in that mock accusative tone that indicates that the speaker thinks you are overdoing it: ‘What are you doing now?’. When she saw what I was engaged in, she gasped, and her expression turned to horror. ‘You’ve pulled up the acanthus!’ she exclaimed.

The head gardener was very forgiving, and most encouraging. She estimated that what was left of it would reach maturity in about seven years. The fatality, in this case, was therefore not the plant, but the tool that I had broken in trying to uproot the very stubborn sections of the acanthus. The plant should revive. Not so the fork handle. I wonder if Ronnie Corbett has any in stock? (Anyone who doesn’t know this reference is highly recommended to look up the Fork Handles sketch on Youtube. It is The Two Ronnies at their very best).

To return to the main path. I will need a heavy duty axe to remove a holly stump from the far end of it. Holly stumpSomeone has cut it down in the past, and it had bushed up. I trimmed off the shoots but otherwise cannot shift it, even with the aforementioned fork when it was still intact.

Path to decking 2Path to decking 1Two photographs will not suffice for the finished article, so here are two:

We are promised rain this evening, to continue into tomorrow. This will be a welcome relief because I will be forced to take a break.

I do ache a bit.

Two of the delights of Indian food are the aromas and the colours. Roast pork & red cabbageJackie adheres to these in her presentation, which is why she produced a special variety of red cabbage as a suitable compliment to her succulent roast pork, crackling, and vegetable rice (recipe).

For cabbage with a suitable gentle piquancy for this meat:

Take 1/2 small red cabbage, 1 large red onion, 1/2 a cooking apple (this one was Bramley`) cored, but not peeled.

Thinly slice all ingredients. Stir fry with big nob of butter and splash of olive oil. When part cooked add a splash of white vinegar and a good glug of red wine.

Stir it all up, turn the heat down, whack the lid on and let it cook a little while longer until soft but not soggy.

Try it. It was perfect.

With it I drank Dino shiraz Terre Siciliane 2012 and Jackie didn’t. I would have given her some but she doesn’t like red wine, except in cooking.

 

Sold By Spencers Of The New Forest

On a glorious spring morning Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop in Bashley Cross Road. The ground is drying up and many pools on the roads and heathland receding.

I have before photographed the shelves inside this shop which has the best produce of its kind I have sampled. The produce outside would grace any good garden centre. Like everything else they sell, all the merchandise is in tip-top condition.

A good range of garden plants and wonderfully colourful cut flowers glowed in the sunshine.

Primulasprimulas close-up

Brightly hued primulas were much in evidence.

Daffodils & hyacinthsHyacinths & violets

Daffodils, violets, and hyacinths were arrayed in trays.HeathersShrubs & heathers

Grasses etc

Less flamboyant shrubs, heathers, and grasses displayed pastel hues.

Cut flowersCut flowers 2

The most vibrant palettes had provided pigments for the roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums in the various bouquets. There were also bunches of tulips and narcissi.

Compost

Even the compost bags are attractively packaged.

From the farm shop we drove to Milford on Sea and wandered around there for a bit, then checked out Everton Nurseries. You see, Spencers’ sign in the garden of the house on which we have recently exchanged contracts to purchase, confirms that Ferndene Farm Shop, Milford on Sea, and Everton Nurseries will soon be our local resources.

 It announces:Sold sign

The farm shop’s superb smoked ham provided the meat for our salad lunch.

This afternoon I watched two Six Nations rugby matches on television. Ireland beat Italy by a lot and France beat Scotland by a little. Neither game was very inspiring, although Brian O’Driscoll enlivened the Irish performance by profitable flashes of brilliance, and Yoann Huget scored a ninety metre interception try for the French.

This evening we dined on battered cod and chips, gherkins, pickled onions and mushy peas, with which I drank a glass of Bergerac Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2012.