A Hanging Out Nest

Jackie spent a hot, sunny, cloudless morning continuing her planting while I dead-headed poppies and roses and pulled up a few weeds.

Flo joined us on a trip this afternoon beginning with a visit to Otter Nurseries for more plants, and continuing into the forest.

Foxgloves lined the verges along Warborne Lane where a burrow probably housed the rabbits which kept popping up along the way.

We visited the Hatchet Moor section of Hatchet Pond, where Flo and I both photographed each other photographing donkeys and foals. Individual authorship is, as usual, detailed in the galleries (mine don’t bear my name). This is also true of the next ones, including

cattle and calves;

water lilies, one bearing a damselfly;

mallards, swans and cygnets hanging out on a makeshift temporary nest.

Flo added foxgloves in the landscape;

also an oyster catcher while I pictured a black headed gull.

Finally, at East Boldre I focussed on a fly-tolerant pony with her sleeping offspring.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice, with prawn preparations – tempura and hot and spicy – and gyoza, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Attached To A Petal

Today dawned bright and sunny with a welcome breeze to lessen the gathering heat and humidity which made gardening too unpleasant after we returned home from an outing.

By courtesy of Danni’s voucher birthday present to Jackie we enjoyed a most enjoyable brunch at Rosie Lea Tea Room (ex The Hobler Inn) on Southampton Road. My already plentiful and well cooked Full English breakfast was supplemented by my wife’s donation of her hash browns and toast.

These were the garden views from the marquee which we occupied.

From there we drove to Pilley for an up to date record of the scene. The lake is fuller after the recent rains;

more of Quarry Cottage is mirrored in the additional little pool;

it is still possible to walk across to take in

the view from the opposite side, in the foreground of which foxgloves linger and blackberries develop.

Today the lake invited further reflective photographs.

When approaching East Boldre from opposite Hatchet Pond I glimpsed waterlilies through trees. Jackie parked beside the verge along which I walked until I came to the open view I knew would emerge.

On the way I took in the delights of grasses, heather, blackberry blossom, and bees, one of which had become attached to a petal from a previously plundered plant.

Many of the ponies we passed were sheltering from what developed into a much hotter period. An exception was this group including a growing colt grazing along the roadside.

White butterflies flitted over a field of flax further along the road.

Having seen what we had for brunch, readers will not be surprised to learn that no later sustenance was required.

The Sound Of Tearing Grass

Humid, leaden, weather continued today, although there was no threat of rain. After a dozy morning I attempted to join Jackie in the garden. I bagged up one set of refuse before realising that this was far too optimistic following the night that had just sapped my energy. The Head Gardener finished her planting, then metamorphosed into my Chauffeuse and drove me into the forest.

We began with our photo report on Pilley Lake which the recent rains have filled a little. The second image shows that foxgloves and brambles still fill the foreground;

sections of road barriers suggest recent works of some sort; and the little pool that had been bone dry a couple of weeks ago now reflects Quarry Cottage on the corner.

The Hatchet Moor section of Hatchet Pond was populated by a pair of swans and their cygnets who circled the surface, weaving through the prolific water lily beds. The last of the avian pictures with lilies was produced by Jackie. We were not the only photographers on an outing.

The only sound in evidence on such a still day was the ponies’ teeth tearing at the grass at East Boldre, in an operation so delicate as to refrain from uprooting the sward.

Like the lake at Pilley, many of the ditches are filling up with rainwater which reflects ponies crossing at East Boldre. Unfortunately I missed a shot of the foal leaping, but he did well.

Although not a football fan I did watch the Euro 2020 championship match between England and Germany. It is, after all, mandatory.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Red Chilli takeaway with which we both drank Kingfisher.

Disaster Averted

More light rain overnight ceased early this morning. The day remained overcast and dry.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse drove me into the forest where I wandered around Hatchet Moor for a while. From the car park I walked down to one of the arms of the lake

and photographed two ponies and a foal on the far side. Jackie photographed me doing so and also produced this shot of a gull photobombing the scene.

I was able to walk over steeply undulating dry terrain, much of which would normally be filled with water. This gave me access to shrubbery festooned with

dog roses, and facilitated a closer look at

water lilies and swans.

Two foals were among an assorted group of ponies in a field at East End. One couldn’t be bothered to rise to its feet when I arrived. The other, recumbent in the grass beside its mother, did stir its stumps, nuzzled the mare, and made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire more nourishment before eventually settling for a good scratch.

The fact that Jackie was parked on the other side of the narrow adjacent lane probably averted a disaster. These two friendly boys, one carrying a small terrier, had been accompanied by a Labrador cross which shot past me, from beneath the stile beside which I stood, across the road. Another vehicle, coming down the hill, slowed in preparation for passing our Modus, otherwise it is difficult to see how the driver could have avoided a canine collision.

Back at home Jackie tidied the Wisteria Arbour and I emptied the refuse into the compost bin.

She also photographed the new obelisk she had inserted into the Dragon Bed to support the rampant Polish Spirit clematis.

Nugget, of course, put in an immediate appearance. The second picture presents “Where’s Nugget?” (80)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty mixed grill casserole, creamy mashed potato; and carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli al dente, with which she drank Becks and I started on another bottle of the Carles.

On Eyeworth Pond

Much of this very hot day was taken up with dead heading and watering.

Soon after 4 p.m. Jackie drove us to Eyeworth Pond and back.

At this time, ponies and cattle, although they did emerge later, made use of what shade they could find. These were spotted en route to Fritham,

where other cattle lay down in their field.

Foals are growing up fast. On a green above the pond this one manages its own grooming.

Water lilies are now beginning to bloom on the pond,

where a few ducks paddled.

Most of these birds, however,

occupied a dormitory on the bank.

Bright sunlight produces abstract reflections on the surface.

Motley cattle grazed on the hillside as we drove back up to Fritham and, via Hordle Chinese Take Away, to home.

With our usual excellent fare from Mr Chan, we both drank Tsing Tao beer this evening.

Approaching Leicester

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Here are further images of the journey through England’s midland waterways taken by me walking alongside Sam and James in Pacific Pete in July 2003.

This stone stork beside the Cherwell section of the Oxford Canal seemed amused by the attempts of their mother to draw her offspring away from him.

Small bridges, narrow locks  and a few narrowboats on this section required careful negotiation by the rower. Navigator James looked quite thoughtful in the third picture.

The River Soar for part of the Oxford Union Canal stretch. The towpaths here were better tended than some. Willowherb thrived in the brickwork of this bridge.

Dragonflies mated; waterlilies bloomed; and a stone wall provided a backdrop for wild flowers.

An art group concentrated hard on a lock as we approached Leicester.

Nearing the city of my birth, we passed a derelict graffiti-bedaubed factory,

Leaf on waterweed

outside which a leaf lay on a bed of water weed.

Soon Pacific Pete was gliding through the city.

Supermoon

Fast forward to today, and we have a supermoon,

heralding in Jackie’s classic cottage pie served with perfect cabbage, broccoli, and carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank more of the Chateauneuf.

 

 

Donkeys and Ice Cream

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When we arrived home from Elizabeth’s late yesterday afternoon, the house was very smoky, and the garden full of ash, all emanating from a bonfire in the North Breeze garden, which had been almost razed to the ground. The jungle is no more.

Much rain in the night freshened up our garden,

Bonfire in North Breeze garden 2Bonfire in North Breeze garden 1Bonfire in North Breeze garden 4Smoky garden 1

but had not put out the fire which was added to today.

Dahlias

Some parts of our plot and its contents, like these dahlias, still saw the sun,

Smoky garden 2Smoky garden 3Smoky garden 4Smoky garden 5Smoky garden 6Smoky garden 7

but mostly it remained befogged.

By Hatchet Pond

Elizabeth, Danni, and my great nephew Jasper, came to lunch, after which we drove in convoy to Hatchet Pond.

Jasper and Elizabeth 1Jasper and Elizabeth 2Elizabeth and Jasper 1Jasper 1

Jasper and his Gee-ma investigated the lapping wavelets at the edge of the water.

A woman handed the little lad a bag of prawn crackers with which to feed the water birds. As I said, you always receive too many of this freebies with a Chinese takeaway meal. Jasper wasn’t all that interested, so Danni decided to feed them to

Donkeys 1Donkey foalDonkey shadow

the hastily arriving donkeys, one of which was really very young.

Danni feeding donkey 1

She began with a medium-sized one,

Danni feeding donkey 2

which was head-butted away by the largest creature.

Donkey 1

This animal was so aggressive that the crackers were soon chucked on the ground.

Water liliesBall and water lily

Leaving Jackie on a bench, the rest of us walked to the far end of the pond, past the water lilies,

Women on bench

and others seated in the sun,

Jackie, Jasper, Danni, Elizabeth, ice creams, and donkey

in search of ice cream.

Jasper and Elizabeth 3

Elizabeth clutched wipes for protection against her grandson’s drips,

Jasper and Elizabeth 4

occasionally licking her lips in anticipation.

Ice cream melting

Eventually she was handed the melting cone.

Donkey close-up 1Donkey close-up 2Donkey close-up 3

After this, the aggressive donkey rested its muzzle on my lap.

We dined on Mr Pinks’s fish and chips, gherkins, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, while Elizabeth and I finished the Douro.

Jasper, Elizabeth and Danni

Danni has just e-mailed me our selfie on the bench.

 

Letting The Toddler Win The Race

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This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.

Ferns

This area was well supplied with ferns,

Buttercups

and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,

Sheep

sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.

Cyclists

When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;

Malllard

and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.

Coot

A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,

Chaffinches

and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.

From Germicide To Insecticide

I was able to chuck my sling this morning and have a shower. As it is imperative to keep the dressing dry, this required the ingenuity and expertise of my resident former professional carer of elderly people. Yes, my head gardener, chauffeuse, and cordon bleu cook, also has that string to her bow. Women are, of course, the experts in multi-tasking.

I scratched my head over plastic bags which had holes in them, as I tried to find suitable waterproofing material. Jackie suggested cling film. It wouldn’t stick to the crepe bandage. Refraining from even the slightest of withering looks, my carer explained that ‘It doesn’t need to. I sticks to itself’, as she unrolled a new length and fitted it. No wonder the tangled mass I had been trying to apply had repulsed my efforts to smooth it out.

Hand in cling film

As can be seen from the photograph, I had two fairly free fingers and a thumb. The other two digits are incased in what I assume to be plaster. It’s rigid enough. I wondered whether the term ‘pinkies’ for fingers had come from the colour of the germicide with which my hand and forearm have been pigmented.

There are many tasks, I have discovered over the last few days, which really do require the use of two hands. Grappling with the application of shampoo from a tube will provide one example. Normally, I would use the right hand to squeeze out the solution onto my open left palm, then rub my hands together and massage it into my hair. At least, I imagine that’s what I do. We take these things so much for granted that we don’t even think about them. My left thumb, still aching, and forefinger were not quite up to the job, and required some right-handed assistance. The creamy substance emerged very slowly, and my receiving palm was not exactly horizontal. Applying enough for the hair wash before it slid off my almost vertical mitt, and splatting it onto my head required a nifty manoeuvre.

Laurel

This afternoon I wandered around the garden inspecting Jackie’s work. I’ve never really studied laurels before, but one app§ears to be flowering. I shall watch it with interest. I was getting on quite well typing with one hand, but now I am attempting to use one and a half, that symbol that appears in the middle of appears crops up all over the place. I suspect the outstretched plaster keeps hitting the key.

We have two mosquito larvae incubating tanks, one at each end of the garden. Well, they are small cisterns, but rather meant for their beautiful wat§e§r (I think I’ll leave in a few of these §s so you can s§ee the size of the problem – numerals 1 and 2 also keep intruding but I’ll spare you those or this will get silly) lilies. Since the nasty bloodsucking adults home in on Jackie she has spent much of the day cleaning out the pools and unclogging the lily roots. This has involved treating the water with insecticide. Before she had finished she received her first bite of the year.

Water lily clumpInsecticide in pool

Clean pool

The first picture shows the first tank’s clump of lilies, the second the treated clean water, and the third the§ completed job.

Pool by Heligan path

She needs a bit of help to extract the lilies she has dragged to the edge of the second container. Perhaps I will be able to oblige tomorrow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chilli con carne (recipe) and tasty savoury rice (recipe), with which she drank Hoegaarden and I relished Via Cavallo chianti 2013.

The Green Man

Sam 1982 - Version 2Tree 1982Tree-lined lane1982Tree roots 1982Today’s weather pattern was similar to yesterday’s. I therefore delved into the archives again and came up with another black and white picture of Sam looking remarkably like his daughter Orlaith, among a collection of shots of still naked trees that must have Tree roots 1982 - Version 2been taken early in 1982 somewhere in Surrey. I love the contorted shapes and the images they sometimes reveal. Study, for example, the last picture above. Can you see the Green Man of legend? He is a mythological figure representing rebirth, and, reproduced in every art form, whether drawing, painting or sculpture, is frequently seen as an architectural symbol or a pub sign. Very often he is painted as if formed from foliage. I have never seen him depicted in bark, which is my excuse for breaking my normal rule and altering an image.Tree like deer 1982 2

Perhaps the fossilised Picasso-like deer in this shot is easier to spot.

As the day brightened up, I wandered along Hordle Lane as far as the path by the side of Apple Court Garden, and along this until my way was barred by a locked five-barred gate. I then retraced my steps. HorsesTwo of the horses in the paddock still wore their protective Clematis campanifloramasks, although the day was less fly-blown.

Water lilySmall white butterfly on bidensWe now have a delicate little clematis Campaniflora rambling across the plants in the front garden.

Water lilies are still forcing their way to the light in the tiny pond created in an old water tank.

Among the most fidgety of the butterflies we have is the small white, which, like Tigger, never seems to be able to settle. They are constantly, restlessly, flitting around the garden. I managed, fleetingly, to catch one on a bidens. It didn’t stay long enough to disturb the other two basking insects.

Having noticed that Apple Court were advertising rare and unusual plants, I returned this afternoon with the head gardener to make some purchases. We bought a Persicaria microcephalus Red Dragon; a Hydrangea paniculata Phantom; two Athyriums, one Metallicum, the other dictum Red Beauty; and a Dryopteris erythrosora Brilliance.Butterfly Meadow Brown and bee on cone flower

CatalpaDappling of catalpa flowersPrimrose having her photograph takenIn the sales area Meadow Brown butterflies and bees flocked to the cone flowers. In the garden itself, a magnificent catalpa shed its shaded blooms, vying with the sunlight in  dappling the lawn beneath, and Primrose was having her photograph taken.Apple Court Garden water lily

Water lilies in the capacious carp ponds had no need to force their way into the sunlight.

When we returned with our spoils, seizing upon the opportunity to contribute to the planting, and, more significantly, to take a break from digging up concrete slabs, I volunteered to dig the holes for the new residents. This turned out to be somewhat unwise. I began with the ferns, which were destined for a comparatively fallow spot where only weeds seemed to be growing. Almost immediately I hit upon large lumps of tufa. Tufa is a porous rock, formed near mineral springs, upon which some hardy plants will grow. It is popular for rockeries and alpines. Maybe a rockery was once intended for this bed. TufaThe large piece on the left of the pile in the picture demonstrates that it is useful on which to grow certain plants. Not ideally those it was harbouring. FernsHaving dug all this out, the craters left had to be filled with soil scrounged from other parts of the garden. Then we planted our ferns.

Persicaria microcephalaThe lair allocated for the Red Dragon involved piercing a mixture of clay and gravel. Fortunately for me Jackie did most of it.

Hydrangea paniculata PhantomFinally, I only had to negotiate a tree root before setting the Phantom hydrangea standing proud.

This evening we again dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi with boiled rice, followed by evap on strawberries on raspberry twirl cheesecake. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Chataigniere Bordeaux 2012.