Picnicking

Even at 8.30 this morning garden watering was shirt-soaking weather without having gone anywhere near the sprinkler.

I also produced a few photographs. Jackie said I made life difficult for myself with the camera slung round my neck. As usual, the gallery can be accessed by clicking on any image, each of which may be enlarged. This may be useful to find the camouflaged bee in the last picture.

Later, we set off for a picnic lunch. I should have known that the cattle drinking from the stream crossed by Holmsley Passage would have been inquisitive enough to

leave by the time I extricated myself from the car, and proceed to block the road.

The usual string of ponies did the same with considerably more effect than the bovines. Jackie considered that the traffic problem had been exacerbated by “old man in the road”. Well, it was a little difficult for me to round the obstacles to meet up with my Chauffeuse who had moved on ahead.

Outside Hyde CE Primary School a donkey foal stopped during feeding time for a scratch while waiting to be enrolled into ‘The Family in the Forest’.

Eventually we found a shady car park in Godshill Wood. We hadn’t bought chairs and there were no benches, so we could not emulate other, better prepared, picnickers and stayed in the open-windowed car watching

a trio of ponies clustered together for protection against the myriad of flies they had diverted from our lunch.

Another equine pair took direct shelter beneath the trees.

Occasionally a combination of the carelessly parked grey car and the cluster of ponies presented drivers with difficulty. One young lady left her car and proceeded to push a pony in an attempt to shift the group. She was pushed in turn, declared that the pony was either too hot or too grumpy, and returned her transport which threw up dust as it sped off into the distance.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Ali Baba

When I walked down the garden to open the back gate for Aaron this morning the early sun peeped over the eastern fence, its light licking

the jeweling of last night’s rain still glittering on the plants. The bees were working away. Wedding Day festooning the Agriframes Arch approved of the Penny Lane bouquet adorning another. As usual galleries can be accessed by clicking on any image each of which may be viewed full size with a click in its box at bottom right; further enlargement will then also be possible.

Readers may remember that the territorial arrangement arrived at last year between Nugget and his rival, Muggle, was that the mutual boundary was the first hawthorn tree along the back drive. I therefore think that it was

Muggle I met along the back drive, providing me with “Where’s Muggle?” (1) and (2).

Among his other tasks this morning Aaron added more paving to his path linking Dead End to the patio.

One of the presents we had given Danni for her birthday was a large Ali Baba planter. These were being sold at Redcliffe Garden Centre. They were half price with a further reduction if you bought two. This had the Head Gardener thinking that she also needed one. We bought two.

This afternoon she potted up hers. Rocks and bricks covered in fleece provided the necessary drainage; the contents of two grow bags came next, and were followed by those of two and a half 50 litre compost bags. Then came the main permanent feature of the gaura with its small delicate pink and white blooms surrounded by pelargoniums, petunias, and other trailing plants which will extend to where the Head Gardener is indicating. Finally watering was required. The final picture gives the view of the pot enjoyed by anyone sitting on the white seat cleared yesterday in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Later, taking a bundle of black refuse bags and a letter delivered to our house, we visited Elizabeth and enjoyed a pleasant hour or so of socially distanced conversation in her garden.

On Bull Hill, donkeys and ponies favoured differing fodder. The smaller animals, of course, prefer prickly provender.

Our dining fare this evening consisted of piquant two varieties of pasta cheese; crispy bacon; roast potatoes, and mixed vegetables, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Track The Butterfly

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY ANY MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

We took a mid-morning break in the patio where I admired the plantings, and Jackie watered a few she spotted looking a little thirsty. For a while I watched what I think was a Meadow Brown butterfly flitting from cosmos to bidens. This creature, and a bee that took its place on the cosmos when it wandered off, may be tracked by accessing the gallery as above.

Elsewhere, a smaller bee weighed down the tiny lobelias it preferred, while one sustained by the white everlasting sweet pea looked a little inebriated.

It was not until page 218 that I found a train ticket from London to Haddenham dated 8th March 2008 in my copy of David Lodge’s ‘Deaf Sentence’. Regular readers will realise that this signifies I have read the book before. I have absolutely no recollection of doing so. I finished it for the second time this afternoon. Will I remember it in another ten years? I rather doubt it.

Lodge has written much fiction, literary criticism, and a number of essays on the art of writing. He is skilled and this novel is well crafted. The blurb on the inside of the jacket tells us that ‘Deaf Sentence’ is ‘funny and moving by turns, being a brilliant account of one man’s effort to come to terms with deafness and death, ageing and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life’.

Many contemporary issues are introduced into the melting pot. There are what feels like obligatory sexual passages. The writing appears effortless; even slick. Tragic the story is. I did not find it funny, but then, I am not a fan of sick humour. It seems at times as if the reader is being lectured on, for example, the effects of hearing loss; vocabulary; and linguistics. Apart from some rather boring sections the book does hold the attention. Others may like it enough to retain memories of it.

 

 

Water

Sausage casseroleThis morning Jackie cooked a superb sausage casserole (recipe) lunchtime meal for our friend Norman. Crisp vegetables and amazingly smooth mashed potato supplemented the dish. Dessert was an excellent plum, greengage, and apple crumble. Jackie drank sparkling water while our visitor and I shared a bottle of La Croix des Papes Chateuneuf du Pape 2012. Norman had travelled in reverse my usual fortnightly journey from his home in Preston Road, to visit us. We collected him from New Milton Station in the car.
After coffee Jackie drove us to have a look at the sea and the Isle of Wight before taking him back to the station for his return. Our octogenarian friend of more than thirty years, dating from when he had been my Deputy in Westminster Social Services Department, had, in his youth, lived in Southampton and had circumnavigated the Romans’ Vectis on many an occasion. As I have mentioned before, he is writing a book about passenger ships plying the Bay of Naples. He loves travelling on the water. Trellis and potsFront gardenFront garden 2
The problem with having potted plants and hanging baskets wherever Jackie can find to place them, even perched on the walls at the front, is that, especially on this, the hottest day of the year so far, they need constant watering. My task this evening, was to irrigate those at the front of the house. There are water butts all around the building, collecting the life-giving liquid from the guttering. It was just my luck that the one in the front garden should be empty. That meant I had to traipse round the side of the house to fill my can from one at the back. Still, Jackie had already watered far more at the back.
Afterwards, as we sat on the patio, with our books, and drinking sparkling water, we were visited by the timid pigeon that comes nightly to drink from the minuscule lily pond that began life as a household water tank. Water on lily leavesSo shy is the bird that as I reached for my camera it flew away, but had left its mark on one of the convex leaves as it sucked up the water cupped in a concave one.
The novel I finished reading this evening was ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop. Once I got over my irritation at the continual use of the historical present used by the writer, I was gripped by this book. Winthrop has a keen eye for detail and an insightful approach to her characters. The story concerns Isabelle, locked into a self-imposed silence, and her parents’ struggles to encourage her to speak. The eleven year old child is, herself, unable to break out of the prison in which she is trapped. Her parents feel guilty and helpless, and their nerves are stretched to the limit. Psychotherapists cannot help. Eventually the girl is freed by a shock. The author’s understanding of the condition is sound and plausibly represented.