Only So Much Rain

We have now realised that the birds partaking of the front garden feeders are field residents from across the road.

Their numbers now include gymnastic blue tits

and patient sparrows here waiting their turn at the trough.

Our young visitors bear only so much rain before disappearing, following further leakage from the clouds, leaving the winter flowering cherry to carry the torch for signs of life

 

amid dripped drops clinging to glistening branches,

 

dotting netting; slicking crab apples; offering sparkle to the dank morning.

before a further temporary lull lured the great

and blue tits back for a brief breakfast refill.

The grey day gathered relentless gloom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, special savoury rice, and stringless runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.

What Has Been Happening

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Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,

daffodils,

 hellebores,

and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016

 

Rearing Hellebores

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The first clear sky at dawn for some time promised a sunny day which was appreciated by the garden, especially the winter flowering cherry that has been blooming for seven months now.

Sunshine, shadows, and birdsong returned to the garden paths.

Cryptomeria and eucalyptus trees from the antipodes brightened considerably.

Some of the hellebores even reared their heads.

Bright yellow mahonia blended with paler daffodils.

Although those nearer the soil were a little mud-spattered, primulas that had drooped a little now stood proud.

This afternoon Margery and Paul paid a visit as congenial as ever.

Afterwards Jackie drove me to catch the last post at Everton Post Office and on into the forest. Much of the terrain was still waterlogged, but the ford at Brockenhurst was dry.

Beef pie meal

This evening we dined on the second half of the smaller of Jackie’s splendid beef pies; served with crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts; and sautéed potatoes, peppers, and onions. I drank Serabel Lirac 2015.

 

 

 

Colour Coordinated

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We are in the midst of a fortnight of predicted rainy days.

Puddle

at 8.35 this morning it was necessary to employ flash to photograph the weather gauge puddle in the gutter outside our front garden,

Winter flowering cherry

and the delightfully resilient winter flowering cherry that, at this rate will bloom until September, when it first blossomed last year.

I thought, “blow this. With all this un-desisting rain descending, I’m pissing off to London” – figuratively speaking, you’ll understand, through the medium of scanning another dozen colour slides from the Streets of London series. The weather there in July 2005 was rather better than it has been here today.

Harrow Road W2/Warwick Crescent 7.05

From 1974 to 2007, I was a frequent visitor to Beauchamp Lodge, the tall, nineteenth century building on the corner of Harrow Road and Warwick Crescent. Having joined the Committee in 1974, I soon found myself in the Chair which I occupied for 15 years. Afterwards I rented rooms for my Counselling Practice. This establishment has periodically featured in my posts, but I have not previously mentioned the Katherine Mansfield connection. One of the many incarnations of the building was as a hostel for young women music students, one of which, in 1908-9 was the famed New Zealand writer, the subject of an April 2013 newspaper article in the Ham & High, subtitled ‘The turbulent love life of a very serious writer’.  Who knows? On one of my overnight stays I may have slept in what had been her bedroom.

Radnor Place/Somers Crescent W2 7.05

Last year the lease of a small (approx.15 square metres) lock up garage to the rear of Somers Crescent W2 was sold at auction for £30,000. There was just 23 years to run, with a ground rent of £25 per annum.

Southwick Place/Hyde Park Crescent W2 7.05

Hyde Park Crescent W2 7.05

According to its website ‘St John’s Hyde Park is a Church of England Parish Church in the Hyde Park Estate in W2, Paddington, Westminster, Central London. It is a Modern, inclusive, liberal catholic Anglican church in the Diocese of London.’ I have a, now faint, jagged scar on my forehead incurred on entering the car park of this church. The story is told in ‘The London Marathon’.

Archery Close W2 7.05

Archery Close W2, is another frighteningly expensive street in Bayswater.

Connaught Street/Portsea Place W2 7.05

Connaught Street runs from Hyde Park Square to Edgware Road,

Connaught Street W2 7.05

where the Maroush Deli is actually located, and where many Lebanese establishments are to be found.

Hampden Gurney Street W1 7.05

On the opposite side of Edgware Road lies Hampden Gurney Street. Are these smokers still puffing?; has the gentleman scratching his head discovered where he’s going?; is one of the three women seeking accommodation?; is the driver of the linen van parked on a red route making a delivery?; did he get a ticket?

Quebec Mews W1 7.05

Gustavian, on the corner of Quebec Mews and New Quebec Street was clearly having a facelift. Is this the Swedish interior design company? Re the name of this Mews, see elmediat’s comment below

James Street W1 7.05

The Café Appennino at 38 James Street W1is currently listed as inactive. I do hope they did not fall foul of dodgy drains.

Barrett Street/James Street 7.05

The Greene King Local Pubs website tells us that ‘The Lamb and Flag in Marylebone is located on the forefront of the renowned restaurant area, St. Christopher’s Place. This Georgian listed building does not hide its beautiful heritage, as wood panelled walls line the interior, dating back to 1813.’ The young man with the shoulder bag will do well to avoid a collision with either of the two preoccupied persons approaching him, and end up in the lap of the barmaid cleaning the table.

Berkeley Mews W1 7.05

I was so grateful to the young lady approaching me with rather obvious trepidation along Berkeley Mews, for being so well coordinated with the contents of the truck and the traffic cones. She relaxed when I pointed out why I found her so attractive a subject.

Jackie had made enough pasta arrabbiata yesterday for two meals. Served with the addition of green beans, we enjoyed the second this evening. The Culinary Queen presents her apologies to those who asked how she makes it, because it’s always different and she can’t remember this one. That may, of course, have something to do with the Hoegaarden she had just imbibed. I drank more of the Paniza, but then, I’m not the chef. We will make sure the next one is fully described.

 

Playing Gooseberry

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This morning we continued Spring clearing in the garden. My task was dead heading the hydrangeas.

One of Jackie’s was to clean out the Waterboy’s pond. He nodded his approval.

The Head Gardener was extremely excited about her corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’ which is apparently hard to grow.

Another euphorbia is flowering in the front garden,

where the winter flowering cherry has blushed continuously since September.

Sitting on the Castle Bench when I had finished my gardening I engaged in a game of peep-bo with a collared dove in a shrub that has become a tree. This creature kept lowering its head out of sight, then popping up briefly.

Collared doves 3

At least, that is what I thought I was playing. But, hang on a minute. What was this?

Collared doves 2

Do you see?

Yes. There were two. I had been playing gooseberry.

Collared dove 2

Sussed.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Pool, gorse, reflection

The Shirley Holms corner beyond Sway is still pretty waterlogged.

Ponies

These young ponies found a dry patch to have a lie down;

Pony rising to its feet

although my attention prompted the larger one, looking almost as awkward as I would, to rise to its feet.

Pigeons in flight

As I returned to the car, two pigeons took off into the skies.

Primroses decorated the bank of a stream by the roadside at Sandy Down,

Horse eating hay

where horses in a field chewed hay,

and snake’s head fritillaries shared berths with daffodils and more primrose.

Magnolia stellata

Steff’s Kitchen is attached to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu. We took coffee and water there, where a magnificent magnolia stellata shed confetti over the tables and the grounds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with new potatoes, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. I drank more of the shiraz.