At the beginning of June we watched a cumbersome pigeon nest building. This morning, as I worked my way through blog comments I noticed the potential parent bird seemingly incubating. The first of these photographs was taken through my window; the second from the garden.
Because of this sighting I was quite hesitant to begin my planned project in the front garden this warm and humid morning, so began by starting the pruning of the Félicité Perpétue rose which is furthest away from the nest. After about 20 minutes I started weeding th gravel path which didn’t seem to upset the wood pigeon. After lunch I returned to the task. The bird was gone and, although we could see it, the nest seemed empty.
The third of these photographs taken by Jackie constitutes “Where’s Derrick?” (4). Despite the obvious clues, enlargement may be necessary. The fourth image is of the footpath through the bed.
This is how far I got before stopping for the afternoon. There is a compost bin beside the trug beneath the overturned chair, but I will clear the footpath to it before I empty the trug.
Jackie has spent much of the last few days weeding and planting the beds around it and manicuring the lawn. She proudly photographed the results of her efforts.
She also focussed on the Pond Bed and a garden view around the Shady Path.
Later, I watched the Women’s Wimbledon tennis matches between Angelique Kerber and Coco Gauff, and between Emma Raducanu and Ajla Tomljanovic.
Dinner, taken on a tray seated in front of the television consisted of two prawn preparations, namely tempura, and hot and spicy served on Jackie’s special fried rice, with which I drank more of the Rioja while the Culinary Queen abstained.
I began the day by reading three more of Anton Chekhov’s short stories and scanning one illustration.
In her introduction to ‘Kashtanka’ (1887) Elisaveta Fen quotes a letter from Chekhov’s friend, the poet Polonsky, who wrote ‘the ending is not only unexpected but also significant, and this is most important. The colour of the language fully corresponds to the place, time and character of your protagonists.’
I will say no more about this finely crafted tale except that it is told from the, especially olfactory, perspective of a mongrel dog; and that the significance of the unexpected ending is, to me, that early attachment, despite abuse, is often paramount – in humans as well.
The next two tales benefit from the author’s medical qualification and practice.
‘The Enemies’ (1887) features a scene in which someone has just died as described by one who, as a physician, knows just how it could be. Fen says ‘Its atmosphere is conveyed with economy of detail, the impact of which on the reader’s imagination is the greater for this.’ Chekhov conveys the immediate impact of grief, with an understanding of psychology, whilst allowing that this will subside over time. The mutual hatred of the enemies, each from a different class, is ultimately extended to all other members of their respective classes. Such divisions still hold good today.
‘Varka steals up to the cradle and bends over the baby’ illustrates ‘Sleep. . . sleep’ (1888), which Chekhov himself apparently did not rate too highly.
I have to agree with the translator that ‘the story is a remarkable example of ability to identify with a young peasant girl, driven half-insane by deprivation of sleep, and to describe the visions that drift through her mind – visions and memories which, in a few sentences, paint the whole of her background, making this story a minor masterpiece.’ The effects of mental exhaustion are conveyed with personal and professional insight giving the author a highly developed capacity for empathy. I imagine there will be many, confined by Covid lockdowns to high-rise flats with no gardens, who identify with this.
This afternoon, while Jackie watered thirsty plants, I, accompanied by the soothing burble of the water feature, weeded
the final arm of the Rose Garden Brick Paving,
leaving three sets of stepping stones still to be cleared. I left the broom propped on the wooden chair in the shady corner.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice, with which she drank more of the Salento Rosato and I finished the Fleurie.
We began our drinks on the patio where, while we watched a preening wood pigeon, we were joined by the lonely collared dove which lost its mate to a predator earlier in the year.
We could also see that three of our Antipodean Arboreal Delights are now blooming simultaneously. The cordyline Australis has a heady honeyed scent that pervades the garden; the yellow bottle brush plant attracts bees, one of which, with a filled sac, is homing in in the picture; and the eucalyptus flowers take on the guise of little furry creatures.
Today was even hotter than yesterday, so we began gardening early once more.
The sweet smelling rose Summer Wine shares the entrance arch to the Rose Garden with the white Madame Alfred Carriere.
One of the casualties of the recent gales was that a number of stems of the sturdy climber were ripped from their ties, and fell across the bed beneath it, seeming to form part of Festive Jewel. Although it then enhanced the bed, our task today was to prise it from its resting place and encourage it to rejoin its thornless French partner.
I was, of course, definitely the under-gardener in this project, essentially employed to hold the ladder and keep stems in place until secured. Not only that – someone had to record the event.
This is the final result. The Head Gardener assures me that all will soon fall into the proper place.
Naturally I took the opportunity to photograph other blooms such as Mum in a Million, gladioli Byzantium, feverfew, foxgloves, and Erigeron in the first of these images; bright red Love Knot and more muted Alan Titchmarsh in the second. The rose named for our popular gardening expert also appears in the final picture in the gallery.
Here is another foxglove for which species it has been a good year. Lidl name their plants quite simply – the second picture is called a white climber.
Special Anniversary appears in the background behind Absolutely Fabulous and a few aquilegias.
Other white roses include Jacqueline du Pré and Winchester Cathedral.
We inherited this pink climber towering above the Rose Garden Arbour, and Paul’s Scarlet which shares the Wisteria Arbour. Jackie planted the blue solanum.
Peach Abundance is in the Oval Bed just outside the Rose Garden.
A wood pigeon silently lurked in the shadows,
while the buzzing bee’s activities somewhat impeded the pruning operation.
The healthy buds of stems either broken or sacrificed to the secateurs found their way to the accident pot.
I had intended to continue weeding the brick paving later, but decided it was too hot and watch England’s football match against Croatia instead.
This evening we dined on oven fish and chips with onion rings and peas, to which Jackie added a pickled onion and I, cornichons with chillis. We both drank Salento Rosato 2019.
Albeit originally dry, today’s bright start, beset by grey sheep’s wool skies and drizzling rain, descended into cooler dankness.
My morning session devoted to WordPress comments was extended by the distraction from shaking branches of a crab apple tree in which the cumbersome barrage balloon of a nest-building wood pigeon thumped into the boughs clutching a selection of tightrope walkers’ balancing poles before diving into the foliage, emerging empty beaked and blundering off for a refill.
You may care to bigify these images by clicking on any one to access the gallery in order to discern the size of the nest twigs.
Jackie, meanwhile, having inadvertently discovered a robin’s nest while tidying up some boxes a couple of days ago
took a chance on quickly snapping the babies today. Since the earlier discovery, the parents have continued to carry in food through the gap beside the rusty iron bar.
This afternoon I read a little more of Nicholas Nickleby, enabling me to scan four more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s novel.
‘Mr Snawley tucked the poor fellow’s head under his arm in a most uncouth and awkward embrace’
‘Within ‘the rules’ ‘ illustrates life in the Liberties of The King’s Bench Prison – an area covering three square miles around the prison where those inmates who could afford it could purchase the liberty to live there. (Wikipedia)
‘Arthur Gride sat in a low chair looking up into the face of Ralph Nickleby’ reminds me of a tax inspector I once knew who always sat his interviewees in a lower chair to establish his power. I explained that I did the opposite for the opposite reason.
‘Nicholas found himself poring with the utmost interest over a large play-bill’
This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken and tasty parsnips; creamy mashed potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; tender greens, and flavoursome gravy with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I started on the Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017.
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.
On a dull and frosty morning Jackie photographed some aspects of the garden.
A perky dragon was garlanded in frosted ivy; the ‘Autumn’ sculpture vied with winter;
euphorbia, cordyline Australis, and rose leaves bore fringes of frost and lingering water drops;
some potted pansies were rather limp, while iris reticulata and tulips broke the soil in defiance.
By the time we drove over to Pilley to present Elizabeth (in our bubble) with a tub of Jackie’s substantial chicken and vegetable stoup, the skies had brightened.
In the woodland alongside Undershore a soft toy had successfully scaled the wall that is the undercarriage of a fallen tree.
The decorated postbox in Pilley Street now bears the year date 2021;
the icy old quarry lake bears branches and reflections.
At Walhampton I photographed a pheasant on the verge and Jackie focussed on a silhouetted wood pigeon;
on Monument Lane while I caught the lowering sun behind trees Jackie picked out its tipping the monument railings.
Finally the Assistant Photographer caught me
focussed on the dying sunset and twilight haze shrouding the Isle of Wight and The Needles at Milford on Sea.
This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks; crisp oven chips; moist mushrooms; nicely charred onions; cherry vine tomatoes; and a colourful melange of peas and sweetcorn, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.
Early this morning we shopped in two different garden centres for presents for Danni’s birthday today. I then made her a card featuring
a garden view containing a cockerel equipped with still functioning solar lights that our niece and nephew in law had given Jackie about three years ago.
The Head Gardener discovered a pile of telltale sticks on her newly swept garden furniture under the wisteria. There could only be one culprit. Sure enough a wood pigeon was nest building above her head. These clumsy birds mate all year round. Jackie had already cleaned guano from the bench, so the nest had to go.
This afternoon we met Danni, Andy, and Ella, at Elizabeth’s where we enjoyed an enjoyable couple of hours in hot sunshine imbibing Prosecco and a good dry white wine. Some also drank tea, and we all relished Elizabeth’s excellent carrot cake.
Ella is seen drinking from an empty cup. Further games involved clapping with a ribbon representing one of her parents’ road running medals round her neck, and pretend-watering plants.
My sister had arranged the tables and chairs by taking a tape measure to each group to enable social distancing.
The Popsicle kniphofia has been included for Ribana.
As usual, clicking on any image will access the gallery; the boxes under the right hand side of these enable viewing full size which can be further enlarged.
This evening we dined on spicy meat pizza with halloumi and plentiful fresh salad. No further alcohol was required.
Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.
Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a
considerable amount of spillage
cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,
and larger birds like blackbirds
The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.
It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.
This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.