Where’s Martin? (3)

Jackie and I spent most of the morning in Boots Opticians in New Milton where we bought new specs for her and I was advised that a cataract operation would be in order.

Martin, in the meantime, battled the gales to make far more progress on tidying the garden, and in particular

weeding the Gazebo Path.

Where’s Martin? (3).

Wind swept

the Cordyline Australis

and the Weeping Birch, stripping the latter of the last of its leaves.

In the afternoon the washing machine we bought last week was swiftly and efficiently fitted and the old one taken away.

Later Elizabeth and Jacqueline dropped in for a chat in which we sorted out international and national politics. They didn’t stay for dinner because they had enjoyed a substantial late lunch at Rosie Lea Tea Rooms.

Jackie and I dined on Chicken Kiev, chips, peas, and sweetcorn with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

Cleaning And Weeding

Today’s weather reverted to the cool and dull variety.

This afternoon, after reading more of the book, I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.

‘Nothing was visible but a pair of legs, which were dangling above the grate’

‘And still the riot went on …’

‘ ‘The devil’s in this woman,’ muttered Arthur’

‘It was not exactly a hairdresser’s; people of a coarse and vulgar turn of mind have called it a barber’s’

‘Thieves! thieves!’ shrieked the usurer, starting up’

This afternoon, Elizabeth visited with Birthday Presents for Jackie and her gardening kit. While I listened to the Test Match between England and New Zealand, the ladies worked in the garden.

Elizabeth weeded the brick section of the Oval Path, while Jackie cleaned the decking and tidied some planters.

Elizabeth stayed for dinner which consisted on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

“Where’s Elizabeth?” (1)

This was a day of intermittent steady rain and occasional sunshine.

Jackie began, in the rain, by photographing her new planting in the Pond Bed. She plans to do this periodically to record its development.

Shortly before lunchtime, Elizabeth arrived with her gardening kit, brought the sun with her, and set about

weeding the Head Gardener’s Walk.

There were plenty of plants, like these sweet woodruffs, spilling over for her to transplant to her own garden.

In the first London Marathon of the modern era, this photograph by Mark Shearman shows the winners crossing the line hand in hand. Inevitably, fierce competition for kudos and for prizes has superseded this sporting gesture which Jackie and I were to emulate in our contest over reaching

the Ace Reclaim Bench in our weeding of the Shady Path.

Fork and trowel met to share the final removal. Jackie produced this selfie from beside the bench, which I photographed from beside the nearest

rhododendron in the Palm Bed opposite.

Serious rain set in after lunch, so my sister donned her hooded raincoat and continued her task. The third picture, “Where’s Elizabeth?” (1), contains the scented clematis Montana Mayleen making its way up the lopped cypress.

During a later sunshine break I was able to photograph Elizabeth’s work on both the Head Gardener’s Walk

and the Heligan Path. She gathered up her piles before departing.

Meanwhile Jackie photographed raindrops on

the rhododendron on the corner of the Lawn;

the red Japanese maple;

the grey Cinereria Angel’s Wings;

Pheasant’s Eye narcissi;

and aquilegia buds.

This evening we repeated yesterday’s dinner menu with roast parsnips replacing the green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Recital.

English Bluebell Woods

Late yesterday afternoon we were both too knackered to clear up and put our tools away. The good news about today’s weather forecast is that we will be enjoying steady rain; the bad is that this will come with 60 miles per hour wind by the evening. This meant that we had to be out early this morning making our usual preparations in addition to the said clearing up.

We emptied trugs (WP you’ve got drugs on the brain) containing compostable material and buckets of alliums for bagging separately.

The trugs were then overturned to prevent their being filled with water.

Chairs were laid down gently before the wind did it ferociously.

If you biggify this second image of the scene, and examine the owl’s head you should see Where’s Nugget Junior? (2). While he was interested in what was going on he was not inclined to come any closer.

Paths were swept and hoed.

Beautiful as they are, the Weeping Birch Bed is just one that reminds us we will need to be back on the case soon enough.

Although the wind increased in ferocity we received no rain until early this evening.

Later this afternoon we drove to Keyhaven in search of windsurfers. We found none and therefore turned inland.

The rape fields off Sowley Lane are coming along well, and the oaks beginning to come into leaf.

Ponies grazed on the road ro Burley.

Cattle, blending into the landscape, foraged at East Boldre,

where some of the stumps and fallen trees have been around long enough to host lichen and frame violets.

A number of the roads in the New Forest area have been resurfaced. One of these arrives at the green sited where South Baddesley Road begins. Clearly a troop of donkeys has been engaged to maintain the grass in keeping.

Many of our English bluebells have been replaced or hybridised by Spanish imports. We have all three in our garden, but a number of our woods still contain our home grown variety. The first image in this gallery is alongside Sowley Lane; the rest along South Baddesley Road.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, baked beans, pickled onions, and cornichons, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Weeding Continues

Today’s air was cool, dry, and largely dull.

Much of the time was spent weeding.

Jackie’s distaste for our invasive alliums is patent as she drops one into her bucket. The red railing behind her has been removed from the edge of the Pond Bed in the foreground in order to gain greater access.

My progression along the Oval Path was delayed by the number of these invaders congregating around the entrance to the Rose Garden. By lunchtime I had not achieved my target of reaching the bend at the far end.

I was, however, able to enjoy the bluebells beside me; the triumphant mating cries of wood pigeons, one of which, preening in the weeping birch, may have shed the feather photographed yesterday; the gentle trilling of the songbirds pierced by the repetitive irritating greenfinch; and the buzzing of the occasional bee.

This afternoon I dragged myself out to complete my task.

I was rewarded by the grating of my final rake attracting a visit from two robins who, nevertheless, kept their distance.

Later, I scanned six more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ by Charles Dickens.

The tail of the horse stretching past the text in ‘Jonas fought and contended with the horses like a man possessed’ does appear in the book, but is too wide for me to scan it.

‘Mr Pecksniff interposed himself between them’ is another set of accurate portraits.

‘The good man patted Mrs Lupin’s hand between his own’. We know who he is by now.

‘Jonas set upon him like a savage’ has a great sense of movement.

‘The body of a murdered man’

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and garnished with almonds; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and moist fried leeks, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

A Layered Rose


Jackie, Elizabeth, and I worked in the garden for much of the morning, and after lunch until the temperature rose too much for us.

Elizabeth began by weeding the front garden

which houses this fuchsia Delta’s Sarah.

Later, she mowed the grass and cut the edges.

Jackie gave the lavender border in the Rose Garden a severe hair cut,

during the process of which she discovered a rooted layered rose, and rushed off to plant it in a pot. Layering, I have just learned, is a method of propagation resulting from the formation of roots whilst the infant is still attached to the parent plant. Gardeners, to achieve this, will bend a suitable stem to ground level. Our carpet rose in question had done this naturally.

My task was dead-heading roses, including For Your Eyes Only and Creme de la Creme in the Rose Garden, where a hoverfly fossicked through fallen petals.

Did I miss any?

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s smoked haddock; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cabbage; and shrunken spinach. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank Squinzano reserva Rosso 2014






Giving A Hand


Just before lunch today, Jackie and I arrived at Mum’s home in West End where we joined Mum and Elizabeth. Jackie had packed a plentiful picnic lunch of sandwiches, tomatoes, cakes and jam tarts; Elizabeth brought salad. These were enjoyed when Danni and Andy joined us a little later. We were a gardening party to spend the afternoon working on our mother’s garden.

Elizabeth began by assembling the new lawn mower and cutting the grass;

while Jackie pruned the shrubbery on the drive to the

front garden with, among others, its magnolia, heathers, and muscari. Perched on Mum’s raised garden chair, I helped to fill the bags with the cuttings

I offered similar assistance in cutting up the photinus that the Head Gardener pruned in the back garden. By cutting out the lower branches she gave the tree shape, and, in the process, revealed the hiding place of a blue cockerel.

Danni and Andy concentrated on weeding and redefining the edges of the flower beds.

In truth, I spent most of my time watching the others work. Well, someone had to take the photographs.

The penultimate photograph in the lawn mowing sequence contains an ailing rose with muscari at its feet. Jackie dug out the rose and set the smaller, healthy, plants aside for replanting while Elizabeth raked out and bagged up photinus leaves.

Until she began to feel cold and wish to go back indoors, Mum kept an eye on proceedings. She had been helped out without her walking frame. Elizabeth gave her a hand as far as the door, after which she made her own way inside.

Back home this evening Jackie and I consumed some of the lunch that had been surplus to requirements.


An Owl Hunt


Back Drive

This morning I made a little more progress on weeding the back drive.

The new lilies have begun to flower.

Matthew arrived with Poppy just before lunch. Our granddaughter was quickly into all the familiar toys, playing with her Dad and Grannie,

Poppy 4

but a little more sceptical about Grandpas face extension.

Poppy studying photographs

She certainly recognises pictures of herself, but whether or not she links them with the camera is a moot point.

Poppy, Mat & parrot

Norman’s parrot had to be released from his perch suspended from the ceiling.

This afternoon Becky took her niece on an owl hunt in the garden. This involved lots of pointing and exclamations from Poppy and expressions of amazement from Becky.

Poppy was particularly enamoured of the blue-bespectacled bird alongside the Heligan Path.

This evening we all dined at Lal Quilla, where the food and service was as excellent as ever, and Poppy was a delight, My main choice was lamb Ceylon, with which I enjoyed a share of  special fried rice, onion bhaji, and paratha.  The ladies drank diet Coke, the gentlemen, Kingfisher, and Poppy. water.

Mat and Poppy returned home to Upper Dicker and the rest of us came back to Downton.

Stalked By A Dalmatian?


This morning I continued work on the rose garden, Jackie cut back plants in other beds, and

Aaron made considerable headway on weeding the gravel paths.

After lunch, Jackie and I drove into the forest. The terrain around Fritham seems to be the home of miniature ponies. I tend to call them all Shetlands, because I don’t know any better. As we drove past a car park we noticed one vehicle surrounded by these little creatures. Naturally we turned round to investigate.

Brian, who is concerned that I don’t feed carrots to the ponies, should be very pleased that a little girl was doing just that.

Child saying goodbye to Shetland ponies 1

When the time came for our little friend to wave goodbye

Shetland ponies by Modus

the fickle animals moved on to see what they could scrounge from the next vehicle.

A few larger ponies did mingle with the smaller ones,

one of which had me wondering whether there was such a thing as a Dalmatian pony. Later research revealed that it is probably a miniature British spotted pony,

which, when a young woman on the other side of the car park opened her car boot to change her footwear, trotted over and stood patiently, silently, behind her.

Shetland pony and woman changing shoes 3

Perhaps she felt its breath, for, with a joyful exclamation, she turned and patted it, just as she was in the process of prising off a footwear boot.


Our return home was via Bramshaw, where black-faced sheep spilled into the road.

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 1

Upon investigation I discovered that the Newbridge Telephone Kiosk is now a repository for local social history. Among the photographs inside is one of the phone box when it was in use as such, with information about the iconic design and its creator;

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 2

Images of St Mary’s Church and an early wedding can be seen through a broken window;

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 3

two more weddings, seen here through murky glass, are also remembered.

This evening we dined on tasty pork chops with apple sauce, flavoursome sage and onion stuffing; creamy swede and potato mash; crisp carrots, broccoli and green beans; and piquant cauliflower cheese. I finished the merlot, and Jackie abstained.


Agnes and Gert

Door jambRoughly at dog snot level throughout the ground floor of our house was a dado frieze painted by nose with pigment it is best not to enquire about. There was a concentration on door jambs. Jackie and Elizabeth between them did excellent work cleaning this off. This morning Jackie found one she had missed and gave it her best attention later on.
PatioPatio 2One of the piles of rubbish for eventual removal, photographed previously, lay on an imaginatively textured set of patio paving fronting the French windows to the sitting room. This rather ruined the view, so today I decided to move the detritus to join that on the larger heap at the side of the house. Next, I weeded the cracks between the stones, returned the overspills of earth to the surrounding flower beds, and gave everything a good sweep. I also tidied up the numerous tubs and window boxes our predecessors had filled with delightful spring bulbs to welcome us. Each time I carried weeds to the compost heap, I pulled up lots of sticky Willies on the way. One set of these tentacles was entwined around stinging nettles, the welcome of which continues to throb as I type. Between showers this took most of the day, apart from a shopping trip to B & Q, to Stewart’s Garden Centre, and finally to The Ferndene Farm Shop.
Close observers of what our daughter Becky calls the hobo on the bench in yesterday’s photograph, will have noticed that the grass needs cutting. We went to B & Q for a strimmer and a few other things, one of which was a garden kneeler. They didn’t have the latter piece of equipment there so we bought one in Stewart’s.Garden kneeler
Those same close observers may have noticed the dirty knees of my trousers, indicating a certain amount of genuflection. Should they be under sixty they will probably have no idea of the difficulty that this movement can present. I know I certainly didn’t when I was.
I remember my Dad saying to me: ‘You know you are getting old when you have to  use your hands to get out of a chair’. The same is true of rising from a penitent pose. As can be seen from the photograph above, this kneeler provides supports for that very movement.
This bring me to AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) and GERT (the GERontolic Test suit). These are the usually tortuously contrived acronyms, but never mind, what they represent are age simulation suits. Originally introduced in the motor car industry they are now used for training in the caring and health professions to give younger people, who are after all those working with the aged, an idea of the restrictions that come with advancing years.Age simulation suitAge simulation suit
So-called ageing suits are made of materials that restrict movement of the knees, elbows, back and neck, and use gloves to reduce the sense of touch, goggles to simulate blurry vision, and ear muffs to reduce hearing.
One aspect of the arthritis which causes most of the problems of flexibility, that the suits cannot reproduce, is the associated pain, but maybe experiencing the restricted movement and apparent deterioration of other faculties will enable the need for pain relief to be better understood.
We dined this evening on Jackie’s superb chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice, followed by Post House Pud which consists, like The Firs Mess, of merangues filled with whatever fruit, cream, ice cream and suchlike is available. I finished the Marques de Carano.