“I’m Sure I Can’t Allow That”

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I dozed through the early parts of the day. At 4. p.m. Jackie set me up on Mum’s perching stool at a vantage point beside the bricked-in well, and I emerged, blinking, into strong sunlight to the sweet, sonorous, symphonies of vibrant birdsong.

While she continued to labour away in the sweltering heat, I perched and photographed what met my eye. When she caught me standing unaided and shifting the stool to give me a better angle down the Brick Path, she exclaimed: “I’m sure I can’t allow that.”

My choice of this evening’s ready prepared meals was suitably bland cod mornay with mashed potato and peas.

“A Lot Of Work For One Man”

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This morning Jackie drove us out to MacPenny’s Garden Nursery at Bransgore, where we brunched at The Robin’s Nest. Jackie mooched around the

Plants for sale

sales area, where she learned how necessary were the signs asking people to keep their dogs on leads because they have chickens. Apparently more of their chickens are killed by customers’ dogs than by foxes.

I wandered along the garden paths and up and down the wooden steps.

A flowering cherry and several camellias were resplendent. Some of the latter soar amongst branches of trees, dropping their heavy blooms onto the beds of last autumn’s leaves.

Some spears of bulbous plants are piercing they way through the soil to join a few crocuses and hellebores.

I spoke first to a man collecting and delivering mulch to heaps beneath some trees.

These were for gardener, Rob, to spread around the beds. Rob himself told me that he was the only person who did all the plant care, maintenance, and weeding. “A lot of work for one man”, he proudly stated.

Urns with daffodils, primulas, and ivy

On our way home we stopped at Redcliffe Nurseries where Jackie bought two primulas and an ivy with which to supplement her planting in the iron urn and a new one just in front of it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous sausage casserole; her pulverised creamy mashed potato; and toothsome Brussels sprouts and broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Val de Salis Syrah 2014

 

The Latest Project

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This morning Aaron removed another shrub superfluous to requirements in order to make room for a larger than planned base for the West Bed bench. Jackie and I drove off to B & Q at Christchurch for six more bags of sand.

Aaron laying bench base 1Aaron laying bench base 2Aaron laying bench base 3Aaron laying bench base 4

Aaron spent the rest of his time laying the base.

Aaron on bench

When he had finished he sat on the bench and surveyed the scene. As usual, I made him a set of A4 prints.

Phantom Path viewEucalyptus fro West Bed bench

These are the views AP Maintenance’s finest could contemplate.

Fuchsia 5
Fuchsia 6Fuchsia 3Fuchsia 7Fuchsia 8

I enjoyed a fuchsia foray.

Fuchsia 2

Delta’s Sarah defied the neighbouring geraniums to steal the limelight.

Ginger lily

Red berries are forming on the ginger lilies;

Clematis

a blue clematis drapes itself over the Phantom Path arch;

Rose Festive Jewel

and roses such as Festive Jewel enliven the Rose Garden.

Jackie on West Bed bench

This evening we enjoyed a drink on the latest project.

Phantom Path from West Bed benchEucalyptus from West Bed bench

Jackie had been rather dismayed that I should have photographed Aaron’s view of the Phantom Path before she had had a chance to remove the wheelbarrow and wash down the dry cement. It therefore seemed only fair that I should show what we were looking at then.

Diascias

Beyond the chimney pot in the second picture, these diascias decorate a hanging basket.

Garden view from Stable Door

This is our current view from beside the greenhouse.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s special special fried rice, chicken sag, prawn jalfrezi, and roast duck breasts. I drank Concha y Toro Cassilero di Diablo 2016.

 

The Beast Is Back

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An early morning inspection revealed that The Beast is back.

Beast hole 1

It has burrowed under the log and presumably wormed its way through the gap between metal stakes, having also chewed more of the fencing.

Beast hole 2

I filled the gap with a spare stake.

Beast hole 3

During this process I spotted another burrow at the far end of the concrete block, with distinct teeth marks on the bottom of the plank. It is as if our nocturnal visitor, having limboed under the fence, has decided to raise the entrance for easier access.

Later, Jackie bought some more stakes and added another piece of stone to the battlements. The rose stems are a bit optimistic.

Back Drive

I made more encouraging progress in weeding the Back Drive.

Robin with worm

A bustling robin was too busy feeding his family, to take any interest in my activities.

This afternoon Becky helped me customise this blog. I wonder if anyone will notice anything.

This evening we dined on pork rib rack in barbecue sauce, with omelette-topped savoury rice and runner beans, followed by profiteroles, followed by lemon tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and the rest of us shared Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2014.

A Competition

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Although the wind lessened somewhat first thing this morning, it soon picked up again and was not conducive to repair work in the garden. Our sole venture in that direction was to buy some more canes from Everton Nursery. Aaron and Robin began building a log shelter in the garden, after I had travelled to Mole Country Supplies with Aaron to buy materials.

Jackie and I watched the final stages of the Olympic men’s marathon.

It was sometime in 1984 that I entered my one and only photographic competition. This was held by Westminster City Council on the subject of London Transport. I can’t now remember which images I submitted, but this afternoon I scanned a batch of the colour negatives from which I made my selection.

Outside the cafe 1 1984

I began with a scene outside a back door to Victoria Station, alongside a sandwich bar. One gentleman sits on a food crate while another studies the menu.

Outside the cafe 2 1984

The seated man smokes a cigarette,

Outside the cafe 3 1984

then engages in conversation. Is the debate about the plated sandwich, I wonder?

Victoria Sandwich Bar couple 2 1984

A middle-aged couple wait outside the Victoria Sandwich Bar for a bus. In those days the gentleman could have boarded with the cigarette, but would have had to ride upstairs.

Bus to Cricklewood 1984

(Barrie Haynes has provided the following information about this bus: ‘The ‘L’ in RML 891 stood for Long as these buses had an extra bit inserted in the middle, a bit like a stretched 747! She was already around 20 years old and about half way through her life although probably not much remained of the original 891 after a visit to Aldenham.’)

This bus sets off for Cricklewood Garage; the young man in the foreground rides a bike,

Taxi 1984

whilst the passenger in this taxi reads one of the still published broadsheet newspapers, unperturbed by the cabbie’s expression suggesting he knows it will be some time before he manages to clear the environs of Victoria.

Victoria Station 1984

Across the road, beyond the bus station, a younger group lounge outside one of the entrances to the Underground.

Asphalt wheelbarrow 1984

In the terminal station itself platform surfacing was being undertaken. This young man wheeled steaming asphalt across the railway line by means of a temporary bridge.

Street scene 1 1984

Venturing into Tooting High Street, thinking to depict traffic on the congested A24,

Street scene 4Street scene 5

I diverted myself with a street scene involving gleeful children and the multi-ethnic nature of the area in which we lived during that decade.

Street scene 3

In those days, I was unaware of what a difficult manoeuvre it would have been for the elderly gent negotiating his way between such boisterous little people, even though they respectfully stepped aside.

Lambeth Salt

Further along the A24 the box containing Lambeth Salt is in readiness for snow and ice that may cover the streets in winter. This is to thaw the precipitation and give tyres a grip.

Women at Bus stop 1

These two women at a bus-stop are classics of a type, complete with hats, handbags and ladylike gloves. The price of a weekly bus pass in those days would take you just one stop on a single journey today.

Outside dress shop

I certainly didn’t include this shot in my competition entries, but the shop and its prospective customers – a different generation from those above – were there, so they appear on my strip of film.

I didn’t actually win anything. Perhaps my take on transport was considered a little off-piste. There are more images to follow, when I get around to scanning them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious sausage casserole; mashed and new potatoes; crisp carrots and cauliflower; and green greens. Jackie drank fruit juice and I finished the Alentejano.

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

Before And After: The South End

Were the barometer on our garden wall in good working order it would no doubt indicate ‘wet and warm’. Perhaps, at 18 degrees centigrade it had the temperature right. Full sunshine, however, we definitely did not experience.

The leucanthemums in the front garden are some of the plants cut back for the winter by the Head Gardener.

Leucanthemum

This one was having none of it.

It may come as no surprise that one album is insufficient for the garden record. Late yesterday afternoon I therefore ordered two more from Harrison Cameras in Chesterfield. They were delivered just after noon today. I call that an incredibly good service. I then stuck the Shady Path section of the story into the first album, and prepared the next set, The South End this afternoon.

The essential surface in this area is of concrete, we think laid down for Post Office vans in the 1930s. Stretching from the Oval Path to the Back Drive, a number of raised beds border and cross it.

Wall of raised bed - a glimpse

We reached this project on 6th June 2014. It was somewhat daunting,

Pile for burning and hose

especially as the burning pile, seen here on 23rd, restricted access.

Jackie in SW corner 3Jackie in SWcorner 4

By 4th July the pile had been cleared and we had made enough progress for a little table and chairs to take its place. The little brick pillar covers a protruding metal spike that we think was part of a washing line post. I eventually hacksawed it off.

Washing line

A washing line is coiled around the makeshift fence that was the original barrier to the back drive.

Jackie in bottom of garden

By 16th, the bed just inside the garden had been cleared.

Aaron shifting rubble

On 22nd March, the barrier down, Aaron assisted in clearing rubble,

planting-barrier 1.6.15

and by 1st June Jackie had begun building a row of planters to replace the fence.

Shingled concrete 6.9.15

The concrete surface, now merging into the drive was shingled by Aaron on 6th September,

Virginia creeper, calibrachoa (Million bells) and fuchsia 30.9.15

at the end of which month the setting was able to burnish the heavily pruned Virginia creeper, the calibrachoa in the hanging baskets, and the fuchsia beneath.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish, chips, and pea fritters, followed by Jackie’s deep, flavoursome, apple pie and custard. I drank Doom Bar.