More Than She Could Chew

Aaron works in all weathers. This morning, however warm enough, was even too wet for him. He visited anyway and we enjoyed a pleasant conversation over tea, coffee, and biscuits.

Afterwards I watched England’s World Cup Rugby match against Tonga.

Although this afternoon the skies remained overcast, the steady rain let up; Jackie worked on cuttings in the greenhouse; and I tried to photograph

Nugget without his getting too much under my feet as he darted back and forth after prey.

“Where’s Nugget?” (28)

Rosa Glauca hips and pelargoniums are just two examples of wearers of glistening pearls;

Virginia creeper perspired precipitation,

which weighed down one solitary bedraggled wasp’s antennae.

We have never before had so many nuts dropping from our copper beech. They have to be swept up daily, the husks making good mulch.

Later, with the sun made fairly regular appearances, we drove out into the forest.

One flock of sheep occupied the green at Bramshaw

while another streamed out onto a side lane.

A lone pony was carrying out lawn mowing duties at Nomansland.

Pigs, such as these at Landford, sought out mast;

we wondered what this one at Fritham had caught. soon we realised that

she had trapped a rat

and that she had bitten off more than she could chew. Jackie exclaimed that this sight had permanently put her off pannage pork.

We took the lane leading from Fritham down to Eyeworth Pond where

small birds flitted to and from the trees and the peanuts birders had left on the posts.

An inquisitive cow raised its head in the woodland,

and ponies enhanced the moorland landscape.

This evening we dined on fish pie and a medley of carrots, cauliflower, greens, and runner beans, all perfectly cooked al dente. We both drank Albarino 2017.

The Early Evening Light

This morning I completed my mega filing task while Jackie carried out more planting under the watchful eye of Nugget

with whom she happily conversed. “Where’s Nugget?” (25).

Beside the Weeping Birch Bed with its kniphofias, petunias, heleniums, and pelargoniums.

The yellow kniphofia is Popsicle Mango; the terracotta one has attracted a wasp.

Small White butterflies and bees still cluster around the verbena bonariensises.

continue to thrive.

Autumn crocuses have arrived.

The Rose Garden, the Palm Bed, and the Oval Bed glow with aureate colour;

spiders have spun fine chains for golden seeds;

Virginia creeper is beginning to take on a ruby hue,

with which penstemons are trimmed.

Early this warm and sunny evening we took a drive into the forest.

I disembarked from the car on the road between Brockenhurst and Beaulieu.

I walked along a gravelled path and over the dry terrain,

the sweeping sounds of my sandals answering those of the jaws of the ponies cropping the grass they shared with a few cattle joining them on their way in from the verges.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s usual fine fare with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank sparkling water.

A Tattooed Jet-skier

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Yesterday, Jackie, having set a border with transplanted heucheras some weeks ago, thinned out the other plants in the small bed to the left of the rose garden entrance. As Aaron said, this increased the sense of space.

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to prune the plants over the arch to the front garden;

another was to fix spikes to the top of the Westbrook Arbour to prevent perching pigeons pooing onto the bench beneath.

Late this morning Jackie drove me out with the intention of photographing the New Forest Marathon. Unfortunately, because of road closures, and my inability to walk far enough along the paths that would lead to the runners, we abandoned the idea and went home to lunch, after which an amble round the garden was possible.

We still have a number of lively clematises, like this Polish Spirit in the Dragon Bed alongside the Shady Path,

and this Hagley Hybrid in the Rose Garden,

where is also to be found glorious Gloriana,

pink-cheeked Mum in a Million,

and Rhapsody in Blue harmonising with verbena bonariensis.

Peach Delight still stretches over the Oval Bed,

where nasturtiums echo rudbeckia,

itself found in the Palm Bed,

also home to helenium

and echinacea.

Bees swarmed blushing sedums

and Japanese anemones;

a wasp sought saxifrage.

Perhaps a spider’s spinning a modest veil for Florence sculpture.

Gauras have proved difficult to grow here. An exception is this one swaying in the Weeping Birch Bed.

This fuchsia curtains Elizabeth’s Bed from the Rose Garden.

In the late afternoon we visited Mudeford Quay which thronged with visitors, Many of whom were enjoying themselves catching crabs, although they snared more seaweed. The secret, which enabled one group to fill buckets with the unfortunate creatures before tossing them back into the water, seemed to be the bacon bait, which, to my mind, would have been better served flavouring a sausage casserole.

Taking advantage of the low tide, one dog walker wandered along the sandbank, passing the Isle of Wight, and retracing his steps.

Just as I was about to leave, a tattooed jet skier sprayed into sight and navigated his way between the port and starboard buoys.

heuchera

Early this evening, Jackie rushed in for the camera, rushed out with it, and returned with a backlit image of the heuchera I had photographed this morning.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; wild rice; crunchy carrots, and our own runner beans, followed by her sublime bread and butter pudding. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Sometimes I Couldn’t Keep Up

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Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy is a series of novelettes, originally published in sequence as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986); and combined into a single volume the following year. The author, born February 3, 1947, ‘is’, according to Wikipedia, ‘an American writer and director whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning.’

Last night I finished reading the first story which I soon realised was describing a descent into madness. Whose, I wasn’t sure; because of the several identities, realities, and time-frames.

There is also an intertextual relationship with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It is so long since I struggled to make sense of this great Spanish classic that the significance of the link escaped me.

Chapter 2 almost had me abandoning Auster’s tale. However, I saw it to the end and came to appreciate what the author was presenting. I thought it worth persevering with, and was left happy to tackle the next one.

My copy is The Folio Society’s 2008 edition which benefits from the powerfully atmospheric illustrations of Tom Burns, which won the V & A  2009 Overall book illustration Winner for this work. The museum’s website states that ‘the judges commented that these illustrations make great use of colour, capturing the city in a very fresh and original way. They felt the images integrate perfectly with the text and manage to evoke a variety of sensations such as loneliness, complicated relationships and a sense of speed.’ I’d say he was a worthy winner.

This morning, I scanned another batch of colour negatives from my long walk of July 2003. Regular readers will know that this was executed as an exercise in support of Sam’s epic row of the following year; those who followed the link to ‘Nettle Rash’ will also know that this was not without its obstacles.

There were a certain number of occasions when I lost sight of the rower, either because of these or because there were not enough locks holding him up and giving me a chance to keep pace.

Some of the more pleasant stumbling blocks were created by the flora covering the absent footpaths. Although I can recognise a thistle and a wasp, I lack the knowledge to identify the wild flowers or the white butterfly.

There was ample opportunity to focus on the landscape alongside what I think is the Warwickshire stretch of the Oxford canal. Sometimes there was a benefit in being unable to keep up.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, and red cabbage. I drank more of the Shiraz and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

The Great Escape

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With the return of the sunshine I carried out a little more tidying in the garden, especially dead-heading of roses, including

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous,

Rose Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta,

Rose pink climber

and a pink climber recovered by Elizabeth.

Wisteria in Kitchen Bed

This wisteria occupied the Kitchen Bed when we arrived three years ago. Despite the Head Gardener’s best efforts it has never flowered.

Chilean lantern bush

The Chilean lantern bush, on the other hand, is once more producing blooms;

Pieris

and new shoots are emerging on the pieris on the grass patch.

Gazebo Path

Although the agapanthuses took such a battering from the recent storms that they wound up in a vase indoors, some still line the Gazebo Path.

Snapdragons, geraniums, lobelia

Little blue lobelias peep out from beneath rich red snapdragons and geraniums the Back Drive barrier,

Lobelia Queen Victoria

while their taller relatives named Queen Victoria tower in the Oval Bed.

Ginger lily

We have a number of ginger lilies.

Hummingbird moth

The warmth of the sun brought out numerous insects. Hummingbird moths hovered among the pink phlox. I needed many unsuccessful attempts to acquire this less than wonderful image of a constantly flapping creature I think is new to our country.

Red Admiral on verbena bonarensis

Verbena bonarensis blooms attracted both stable, lightweight, Red Admirals

Bee on verbena bonarensis 1Bee on verbena bonarensis 2

and bees that teetered somewhat.

Bee on salvia farinacea

Bees also plundered salvias,

Bee on bidens

bidens,

Bee on geranium palmatum

and geranium palmatums.

Insect on cosmos

I could not identify some tiny creatures like this one on a cosmos,

Insect on bronze fennel

or this one cleverly camouflaged by bronze fennel.

Sweet peas and gladioli whiteFly on sweet pea, gladioli

A fly was attracted by the ensemble of white sweet peas and gladioli.

Rudbeckia distributed

Rudbeckia snaked from bed to bed in this picture for which I must apologise to the Head Gardener because I did not remove the fallen branch before making it.

Spider 1

This spider was in for a disappointment.

Wasp on web line 1Wasp on web line 2

I could almost hear it licking its chops as it prepared its larder for the wasp that seemed ensnared by its web line.

Wasp and spider 1Wasp and spider 2Wasp and spider 3Wasp and spider 4Wasp and spider 5Wasp and spider 6

The tiny spider perfected the trap as its larger prey frantically twisted, turned, and span in its efforts to escape being drawn in.

Wasp and spider 7

Eventually the prospective dinner hauled itself to safety, and sped off, leaving the hungry spider to creep into hiding and lurk in wait for another victim.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent dinner of chicken Kiev, savoury rice, tasty ratatouille, and crisp runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

A Sparrow in Swallow Drive

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Jackie continued with the weeding of the rose garden today, whilst I wandered with the camera.

Tulips are now in bloom.

Tulip 2

This one really did come from Amsterdam, courtesy of Danni and Andy who brought it back for us.

A bank of yellow primroses fronts this striated group at the entrance to the back drive,

Wallflowers

along which golden wallflowers are massing.

Rhododendron

Our first rhododendron is beginning to flower;

Japanese maple

 Japanese maples are coming into leaf,

Cherry blossom

and a deep pink cherry blossom is blooming.

Saxifrages

Saxifrages planted last year are thriving.

Wasp

Clearly confused as to the season. a sleepy wasp staggered about.

This afternoon we went for a drive.

The tide was high at Keyhaven, where the wreck was now submerged,

Boats and Hurst lighthouse 2

and the Hurst lighthouse clear beyond the line of moored boats.

Mallards (purple headf)

A purple-headed mallard and mate basked on a lichen covered wall;

Coot and white bird

and a white-headed coot paddled past a white bird hiding in the reeds.

In view of Hurst spit swans waded, foraged, and drank. One bore a tide-mark causing speculation about what it had been swimming in.

Among those silhouetted on the spit were a woman and two children,

and two young women. In each group there was one person engaged in a mobile phone conversation.

Sparrow

We took a diversion around a housing development in Milford on Sea. Given that these streets all bore the name of a different bird, I wondered what a sparrow was doing on Swallow Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef cobbler, sautéed potatoes and mushrooms, with crisp carrots, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank sparkling water while my drink was San Andres Chilean merlot.