Presentable For The Camera

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This morning I wandered round the garden with camera and crutch, but no perch. I began with the patio, and its hanging baskets and planters. The bed and breakfast sign was a Christmas present from Becky and Ian; the basket at its base, Jacqueline’s birthday present to Jackie.

From there I walked along the Kitchen Path,

 

taking the Brick Path to the far end of the garden,

 

and round to the Rose Garden,

where Jackie, who spent the whole day on general maintenance, including much weeding, sweeping, and raking, went to great pains to make this area, on which she had been working, presentable for the camera.

The football World Cup has nudged Bargain Hunt off the TV schedules. This meant that I could not take my usual fix for a post-prandial snooze. So I opted for the match between Egypt and Uruguay. This fitted the bill perfectly.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops, tasty gravy, new potatoes, runner beans, and crunchy carrots.

Waiting For The Dilation

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A wander round the garden this morning yielded

 

spears of crocosmia, tulips, and daffodils piercing the soil;

Crocuses

crocuses opened further;

Primulas and snowdrops

and varieties of primula.

Daphne odorata

Daphne Odorata remains wary of the possibility of a cold spell.

 

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa now cascades down the gazebo,

 

while, in the Rose Garden, Winchester Cathedral has bloomed for several months; Mum in a Million and Festive Jewel are in bud;

Spring sculpture

and the sun shines on “Spring”

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital and back, for my eye appointment. I received efficient treatment, the nurse being rather more friendly than the consultant, but it is not his bedside manner that I suppose one looks to. After the nurse’s checks, she administered drops intended to dilate my eyes. They were effective, and, according to Jackie, gave me a sexy air. On hearing this, the gentleman sitting next to me asked her to look at his.

The consultant advised me that the laser treatment to my left eye was, as I thought, required. Apparently another cataract is forming in the right eye. I was asked if I wanted it done. No advice was given. I declined. I now await a date for the operation to the left eye.

Further administrative confusion occurred, in that a handwritten notice on the wall advised that, as stated in the appointment letter, we may have further checks carried out after the examination in order to save repeated visits. These could take three hours. Neither my nor anyone else’s letter carried such information. However this didn’t happen.

Waiting for the dilation to take effect gave me sufficient time to finish ‘The Locked Room’, being the third short novel in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. In the penultimate chapter the author suggests that all three of these works are the same story. He also uses the word ‘absurd’ on a number of occasions. It is. We are lulled, in this final episode, into thinking we might be reading something that makes sense. The writing flows with excellent descriptions and presents a plausible situation involving apparently real people and their relationships. A childhood friendship, for example, is beautifully told. There is, as usual, no ultimate clarity as nonsense finally prevails. Not that I could follow, anyway.

Tom Burns’s illustrations were, however, a delight, true to the text to the end.

           For our dinner The Culinary Queen produced succulent pigs in blankets; sublime sage and onion stuffed roast chicken; firm Yorkshire pudding; creamy mashed potato; toothsome manges touts; and tender runner beans. Good gravy, too.  With this, I drank Wolf’s Leap merlot 2016.

The Kitchen Garden

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Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.

Dicing With Death

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What does Aaron have in common with a bee? You might be forgiven for imagining that it is that they both have very high work rates. That would be a good answer, but incorrect.

Aaron lopping cypress 1Aaron lopping cypress 2Aaron lopping cypress 3Aaron lopping cypress 3Watching our friend, unlit ciggy between lips, firing one-handed from the hip with his petrol-operated chain saw as he tackles the reshaping of our cypress tree, may provide a clue,

Aaron lopping cypress 5Aaron lopping cypress 6

especially when you see the height of his tripodal ladder.

Aaron tidying upAaron tidying up 2

Aaron always clears up along the way. Today he dragged branches to the Back Drive where he cut up a few logs for his client, Susan, leaving the rest for the ‘burn site’ of the dump.

Lopped branch on cypress

This branch demonstrates his clean cuts,

View from patio showing Aaron's completed work on cypress

while this view from the patio displays the finished shape.

Persicaria Red Dragon

The persicaria red dragon baring its bloody fangs in the Dragon Bed,

Crocosmia solfaterre

and the crocosmia solfaterre are among the plants that will now receive more light and air.

Fly on Winchester Cathedral 1Fly on Winchester Cathedral 2

In the Rose Garden, an intrepid fly scales the walls of Winchester Cathedral,

Geraniums and Summer Wine

and geraniums in the stone urn beside the potting shed enjoy a glimpse of Summer Wine.

Japanese anemones

 Japanese anemones appear to grow a foot each day.

Bee and spider's web 1Bee and spider's web 2Bee and spider's web 3

The bee skirting a hopeful spider’s web, in order to work on a verbena bonarensis, provides the answer to my opening  conundrum. Each in his own way is successfully dicing with death.

Later this afternoon we pulled up some brambles. As I walked along the Back Drive to deposit them in a bag for the dump, I almost stepped on twin juvenile collared doves sunning themselves on the gravel. Naturally I hurried indoors for my camera. When I returned they seemed to have disappeared. They were, however, simply playing hide and seek, foraging among the pebbles.

Collared doves juvenile 1Collared dove juvenile 2Collared doves juvenile 3Collared doves juvenile 4

Not yet old enough for timidity, almost in tandem, they carried on about their business and left me to mine.

Sweet pea

Here is a sweet pea for Bruce.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

 

 

Fishy Business

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This morning, Jackie went hunting for pond liner to mend a leak in the Waterboy fountain

Brick Path through Agriframes Arch

whilst Aaron cleared wind-battered plants and cut back others encroaching on the paths,

Love Knot and Alan Titchmarsh

Little Rambler

and I dead-headed in the rose garden and beyond. In the first of the above two pictures, the paler Alan Titchmarsh stands beside Love Knot; in the second, Little Rambler’s label stands out.

Rosa Gallica

The bright pink Rosa Gallica is beautifully striated;

rose Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral bears new buds ready to take over from the mature bloom;

Bee on Absolutely Fabulous 1Bee on Absolutely Fabulous 2

and a bee lingered on Absolutely Fabulous long enough for me to get two shots in.

Bee entering foxglove

In fact bees busy themselves everywhere. This one takes itself into a pink foxglove;

Bee on aquilegia

another boards an aquilegia;

Bee on heuchera

another a heuchera;

Bee and shield bug in Bottle Brush plant

and, is that a shield bug sharing a berth with one in a Bottle Brush plant?

Petunias

Elsewhere we have suspended petunias;

Clematis Star of India

ascending clematises like this Star of India;

rosa Glauca

soaring Rosa Glauca;

Campanulas

white campanulas;

Rose Campion

delicate rose campion;

Sisyrinchium striatum

tiny sisyrinchium striatum;

Lilies 1Day lily 1

luscious lilies;

Fuchsia

hardy fuchsias;

Philadelphus 1Philadelphus 2

two different philadelphuses;

rose Dearest

another pink rose Dearest;

rose Wedding Day 1

and Wedding Day

Clematis and Wedding Day

joining the clematis on the Agriframes Arch.

After lunch we motored to Stewart’s Garden Centre just outside Christchurch where, at Maidenhead Aquatics, we found the liner.

Koi Carp 10Koi Carp 11Koi Carp 12Koi Carp 4Koi Carp 6Koi Carp 7Koi Carp 8Koi Carp 9

Koi Carp 5Koi Carp 1Koi Carp 2Koi Carp 3

Outside this outlet there is a large pool around which koi carp, some looking prehistoric, glide, fins flapping, or swoop, tails flipping, fins tucked into their sides, whirling interminably.

We also noticed that Broomhill Garden Buildings had a Spring Sale, where a rather good greenhouse was available at half price. Back home we sped to take measurements of the place where it would go. It fitted. Back we sped and ordered it.

This evening we dined on haddock fishcakes topped with Cheddar cheese; spinach (for the forearms); boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans.with which I drank Louis Chamandiet Cairanne 2015.

 

 

Playing With Dad’s Toys

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Today may have been exceedingly dull, but it was also incredibly mild for mid-December.

The orange poppy bud in this cluster is from our patio. Normally we expect these to flourish in Spring and Summer. This year they have never stopped. The pink rose, For Your Eyes Only, has clusters of buds and small shoots that are more evident in the deep red Love Knot. Winchester Cathedral is having a further flush, and this white clematis, although somewhat bedraggled, still performs.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Margery and Paul’s home in Bitterne for their annual Christmas sing-song. Here the friendly little group sang a mixture of traditional carols like ‘Silent Night’, folk songs such as ‘Waltzing Matilda’, and fun numbers like ‘I’m ‘Enery The Eighth, I Am’. Lynne ably led the singing, Mary played piano beautifully, and the rest of us did our enthusiastic best. Margery had been the pianist for the first number.

Afterwards Jackie and I went on to Elizabeth’s where she fed us on authentic spaghetti Bolognese  followed by tasty apricot tart and cream. Jackie drank Peroni and I can’t remember which Australian red wine Elizabeth and I enjoyed.

Elizabeth was on grandparent duties, so we had the added bonus of a short time with Adam and Thea, before Jackie drove them to a party and returned to join my sister and me and my delightful great-nephew Jasper.

Jasper

Adam’s childhood toys have remained at his mother’s home, so Jasper, three in January, was happy to wave his parents goodbye, wishing them “a lovely time” and remain with his GeeMa to play with them.

Jasper

Jasper is a dab hand at spearing chips and sausage with a fork and dipping them into ‘red sauce’, which Elizabeth had to keep topped up.

Our next stop was a short visit to Mum during which we made her comfortable for the night.

The Never Ending Summer

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This morning, Aaron and Sean finished their tree work. Our friend, of AP Maintenance, demonstrated that he has entered into the spirit of photography when he suggested I might make an action image of him felling a branch. I took two pictures which I cannot yet produce here. The reason for this inability is that six of the exposures I made today have been uploaded in CR2 format, which is not one of those accepted by WordPress. This is a mystery, because they were taken with the same camera in the same session as all the rest I here publish.

I had imagined that I would simply focus on clematises,

but there were so many other blooms, like roses pink Compassion, white Winchester Cathedral, golden Crown Princess Margareta, and another pink unidentified one.

Views like these across the Phantom Path and of the Dragon Bed still contain blooms. High up, left off centre in the first can be seen the Compassion rose; petunias and geraniums are included in both images.

Other flowers, such as white solanums, red snapdragons, yellow and red nasturtiums, pink geraniums, purple fuchsias, and pink phlox, are surprisingly long-lived occupants.

Dahlia

Some of the earlier dahlias have bloomed for months.

It really seems a never ending summer.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious pork paprika and wild rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.