Prehistoric Monsters From The Deep

This post was written yesterday, and I forgot to send it.

This morning we visited Maidenhead Aquatics where Jackie purchased

a replacement pump for the Waterboy feature which she fitted this afternoon.

Stewarts Garden Centre is nearby, so she was compelled to forage for plants in there while I watched

the Koi carp in their pool outside the aquatics supplier. They really do look like prehistoric monsters from the deep.

We took a pretty route back home.

I disembarked at the top of Burley Road in order to take in the gorse laden landscape dotted with ponies.

Just one pony had the energy to graze the woodland beside Bisterne Close;

Others lolled about in the unaccustomed warm sunshine.

White wood anemones accompanied vivid violets, dried autumn leaves, golden celandines, and half buried fallen branches on the forest floor.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.

Water Feature In Situ

This morning I scanned the next half dozen of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’.

In ‘Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him’ her dress flows like her tears.

Dickens’s description of the attendant, complete with whiskers, is faithfully depicted by Keeping in ‘Mrs Prig began to rasp his unhappy head with a hair-brush’

‘ ‘Pray, pray, release me, Mr Pecksniff’ ‘

The identifiable Mr Pecksniff, ‘Looking like the small end of a guillotined man, he listened’, as the artist runs with the writer’s image of the eavesdropper’s head above a pew.

In ‘ ‘He comes and sits alone with me’ ‘ Keeping demonstrates the unfortunate desperation of the couple skirting around engagement.

As hollow-cheeked as the writer describes the man, the artist captures him as ‘He sat down on the chest with his hat on’

This morning I transported the larger water feature from the patio to its permanent place in the Rose Garden, then photographed a few of our current blooms.

We still have a range of daffodils; numerous tulips; various wallflowers; forget-me-nots, primroses, lamium, wood anemones, honesty, and euphorbia.

This afternoon I watched the funeral service for the Duke of Edinburgh.

(Yvonne, you may skip the next paragraph.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome liver, bacon, and onion casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the red blend.

Walkers In The Field

On a gloriously warm and sunny Good Friday, being the start of a four day holiday weekend, the government was still urging the public to adhere to the coronavirus lockdown  regulations; the UK reported death toll was now approaching 1,000 in the last 24 hours; and a small but significant minority of people were transgressing and being variously dealt with by the police.

The diurnal poppies that, if regularly deadheaded, will last for another six months have appeared in the back garden.

In the front we have pink cherry,

two different crab apples,

and Amanogawa blossoms;

while clematis Montana and vinca vie for purchase on the low wall.

After lunch I walked along Christchurch Road to the fallow field, down into Honeylake Wood, and back.

My chosen entrance to the field, avoiding the kissing gate was now becoming quite well trodden.

The arable land is fronted by blackthorn hedgerows

with wild flowers such as daisies and dandelions at their base.

Tractor tracks bend round the opening to the wood,

while through the hedge to the far left the screeching of groupie gulls alerted me to ploughing in Roger Cobb’s top field.

Stretching shadows striated sylvan footpaths and attendant celandines.

I stepped into the trees to keep my distance from two male neighbours I had never met before who lived at the corner of Hordle Lane opposite The Royal Oak.

Among the ubiquitous yellow flowers, in various stages of disintegration in their return to the soil

lay broken branches of birch and other arboreal debris.

Velvet moss coated trunks and roots of trees entwined by meandering ivy.

A very shallow trickle was all that remained of a small stream that usually joins

the greater watercourse which would normally cover

this fallen limb against which it now laps and ripples.

This time I crossed the bridge, continued a short distance up the mounting slope. and backtracked past

a clump of starry wood anemones.

A walking couple crossing the field in my direction on my way back thought better of it and turned round to cross the path of

the two gentlemen I had seen earlier as, keeping their distance, they crossed to my chosen hole in the hedge and presumably returned home before I did.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; roasted new potatoes in their skins; crisp sage and onion stuffing and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts; red cabbage cooked with onions and garlic in red wine with a touch of balsamic vinegar; and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquiriz.

 

 

 

Sunshine And Shirtsleeves

Today was one of sunshine and shirtsleeves.

While Jackie worked on the Oval Bed I carried a few trugs of refuse to the compost bin, and a few cans of water to the Head Gardener. It may seem hard to believe that the plants need watering at the moment, but we have not received rain for a while.

We have bright magenta aubretia.

Bees are very much in evidence. Interestingly they seem to prefer yellow flowers, selecting that hue from this pot of tulips, particularly ignoring this

pale pastel specimen nearby.

Celandines have nestled beside one of the

two pots of tulips

brightening the Rose Garden.

We have a number of creamy yellow primroses

and golden cowslips.

Hoping that some would successfully germinate Jackie had buried clusters of wood anemone corms around the beds. We now have numerous clumps.

She is even more delighted to find the first blooms of her new camellia Jury Yellow.

Various euphorbias are also flowering.

Overhead, the copper beech still bears bare branches

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa Freckles continues to adorn the iron gazebo;

while summer snowflakes defy the season.

Jackie also photographed snowflakes with daffodils;

honesty which promises to be prolific;

new shoots on a pink carpet rose;

backlit honeysuckle leaves;

and her own perspective on the Rose Garden.

Nugget put in a few fleeting appearances, showed no interest in the worms the Head Gardener was unearthing, and declined to spare the time to pose.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken soup with crusty bread from the freezer. The soup consisted of the compost base made yesterday with plump chopped chicken breasts, crispy bacon, peas and sweetcorn. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mezquirez reserva Navarra 2013.

“I’ll Have A Copy Of That”

Despite yesterday’s rain the Head Gardener drove to Otter Nurseries clutching vouchers for special offers of seven different items. One of these was for 10 fifty litre bags of compost. The helpful staff had stuffed these all into the Modus. Unfortunately they did not offer to unload them at this end. That was my task this morning. I piled them up beside the shed, then staggered inside for a sit down.

Today had dawned as dry, bright, and sunny as yesterday was wet and dreary.

Jackie entered the garden in order to photograph Eric the pheasant. He immediately scarpered, so she cast her camera lens onto the plants.

These cranesbill geranium leaves bear a slight dusting of last night’s light frost.

 

One of Eric’s little games is to decapitate daffodils. He missed those in these three pictures.

Fallen camellia blooms enhance the third composition. Others remain on the shrubs.

 

 

New clematis shoots cling to the weathered iron gazebo, preparing to supersede

winter-flowering Cirrhosa Freckles;

These blue pansies will soon be supplanted by their pot-sharing tulips.

Pink hyacinths,

magenta cyclamens.

two-tone comfrey,

and cream hellebores brighten beds.

Spring is the season for nest-building and incubating eggs. It is prime poaching period for predatory magpies.

On the lookout for potential prey one of these plumed pests perches atop a blighted oak on the other side of Christchurch Road.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

On Shirley Holms Shetland ponies grazed in the soggy landscape

which was waterlogged in parts, a number of reflective pools having been recently created

on the wooded side, the drier sections of which were littered by fallen branches,

beech nuts,

and their leaves.

On my way back to the car I photographed an equestrienne approaching us.

As she drew near she smilingly exclaimed “I’ll have a copy of that”.

“What’s your address?” I enquired.

“I’ll take it off your blog” she replied. It was only then that I realised that the beaming face beneath the unfamiliar helmet was that of Anne of Kitchen Makers.

So I felt the need to produce a close-up of her astride her splendid steed.

Beside Church Lane at Boldre lay a recently uprooted tree in a field occupied by

horses wearing rugs to protect them from the overnight temperatures currently slipping below freezing.

Daffodils surrounded the Church of St John the Baptist, in the graveyard of which

a photographer shepherded his subjects.

A gaggle of geese now occupied Pilley lake;

Hatchet Heath harbours more than its normal quota of ponds;

and swans smoothly glide on the slopes of East Boldre.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice with plain parathas accompanied by Hoegaarden in the case of the Culinary Queen and the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon in mine.

 

 

 

 

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”

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Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.

 

 

Downton

We are running out of storage space, so Jackie and I visited David Fergusson’s House Clearance shop in Highcliffe, where we bought three chests of drawers which will be delivered next week. There we met the fascinating proprietor who has an impressive knowledge of art. He is still waiting for that miraculous find, but clearly appreciates and values some of the items he collects. They do not all find their way into his shop. His home must be a treasure trove.
It is not now quite so scary a prospect to accommodate the belongings we then collected from Shelly and Ron’s afterwards. At their home we also met Anthony, their son, Jane their daughter, and her boyfriend Chris. Ron is recovering from his operation on his broken heel. We had an enjoyable chat with welcome mugs of coffee.Garden
CamelliaBee in tree peonyWeeping birchOur garden becomes more resplendent as the month proceeds. Another Camellia is in bloom, as is a tree peony offering shelter to a bee. The elegant weeping birch flickers with dangling new leaves.
DowntonThe SolentBonfire & Isle of WightRook & seagullAfter lunch I walked down Downton Lane, taking the footpath off to the right. From the stubbled field alongside, I could see the original hamlet of Downton stretched out along Christchurch Road. Enlarging the picture offers a glimpse of our pale blue washed house centre right. To the left The Solent sparkled in the distance, and the cloudy smoke from a bonfire blended well with the bulky form of the Isle of Wight.
A solitary rook vied with the seagulls for pickings from a recently ploughed field.
BluebellsWood anemoneGorseBluebell bankLandscapeLandscape 2Landscape 3I took the left turn alongside the bluebell wood which also contained wood anemones among many other wild flowers. After crossing the stream I optimistically diverged from the marked path, turned left through an opening in the barbed wire fence and circumperabulated a steep grassy field with clumps of gorse at its summit, looking down on a splendid bluebell bank beside the road.
It soon became apparent that there was no other egress, so I retraced my steps and returned home.
This evening Jackie fed Flo and me (and herself) on Pizza and penne bolognese sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Strawberry jelly and Kelly’s Cornish clotted cream ice cream. I finished the Isla Negra and Jackie drank a little more of her Hoegaarden.
As I post this, I am listening to the ticking of two clocks. One, keeping perfect time, is a battery operated modern one bought by Jackie in one of Morden’s ‘cheapie places’. The other, a splendid reproduction station waiting room clock was given to Jessica and me by Michael when he was seventeen. It still needs a little adjustment to its new environment as it loses a few minutes a day. This is the clock that survived being stolen with the rosewood wine table that stands beneath it.