Half Term Antics

It’s half term and we have four young visitors.  Nick and I have them to ourselves until Barns arrives in the middle of the day on Friday.

We are on new territory when it comes to lining up outings for the young.  Fortunately we have several facilities on our door-step, the Tank Museum at Bovington, for example.

The tank was a British invention that changed warfare for ever when it was introduced in World War One – and Bovington has been the home of the tank ever since. From the Somme to Tiananmen Square or D-Day to Desert Storm the tank has played a part in shaping history – and it continues to do so today.

The Tank Museum is the only place where many of these rare and historic vehicles can be seen. It has recently undergone a substantial refurbishment and now has 200 vehicles on display in 6 large halls, where you will come face-to-face with tanks that have seen action in all the major wars of the 20th century.

The sprawling concourse is a great area for children to roam around.  They can run up and down the wide passages which connect the various galleries without fear of damaging the exhibits.  We all spent an enjoyable couple of hours exploring and wrapped our afternoon up with a session on the zip-line in the children’s play area.

I took lots of photos and here they are:

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Garden Tasks and What was Lost is Found

A heavy frost a few mornings ago shocked me into action.  A large number of pots containing plants brought from 88 have been waiting in the wings, sitting on the shingle area at the side of the house.  Some of these plants came with the main consignment of all our worldly goods on this side of the Channel.  Others had been cared for by my sister Liz in Gillingham.  Most are perennials, divisions from the principal rootstock, some of that planted by Andy ten years ago.

I had earmarked Thursday and Friday as possible days to resume the Dorset coastal walk which Rollo and I embarked on two years ago.  A tumble and broken wrist put the brakes on this enterprise and 2010 has been a year filled with activities which have impeded resumption of our walk.  On Thursday I took a phonecall from Rollo who was proposing a day working in my garden.  Yes please………..

We cut back spent growth and worked our way along the hedge which forms our southern boundary.  By the end of the afternoon the garden appeared far more controlled with empty spaces in the border very much in evidence.

Friday morning dawned and first on my list was to put a call through to Matthew, boss of the removals firm who moved us from 88 to TOW.  I needed to talk to him about the missing black cabin bag which I had packed with jewellery and underwear, in order to carry it with me as I travelled to Sunbury, and then to Maiden Newton, before taking possession of TOW.  It was mistakenly loaded onto the van on the first day and I have been ever since regretting that I did not insist that it be restored to my keeping during the move.

As it happened there was a voice message on my mobile, it was Matthew asking me to call him.  It is over a month since we moved, so I was expecting the worst, and you could have knocked me sideways with a feather when Matthew told me that the cabin bag had turned up, in one of his warehouses, having been mistakenly placed with a whole lot of other bags and cases being stored for a well-known luggage manufacturer.  What a Revelation!

Feeling very buoyant, I spent a good part of the day in the garden emptying pots and planting out.  In go the Eucomis, Penstemon, Geranium, Iris unguicularis, Schizostylus, Papaver, Gladiolus, Centaurea, Lamnium, Campanula.  My small flight of fancy is to plant a mixed row of Hemerocallis and Agapanthus along the northern end of the strip that will function as a potagerie – a much nicer expression than kitchen garden.  This is much against the better judgement of Nick and Rollo who think a veg. patch is just that!!  But it will be visible to visitors as they come to our front (side) door.  And I got the idea from the exotic garden at the Chateau de Vauville …… at least, the companion planting of these two in a border.

The best bit of the afternoon is to round up all the empty pots and stack them up, like a huge set of kiddy nesting beakers, ready to tuck away for another time.  There are at least 30 – that is 30 pots that I won’t have to worry about watering when they are in danger of drying out.

Autumnal F-words

I’ve just spent a few days at 88, taking in a meeting at the Natural History Museum, gardening and book group.  During the lunch hour at the museum I spent a good while browsing the shop.  They have a great selection of books, especially for children, on natural history, earth science, and, spectacularly, dinosaurs.  And lots of sticker books too.  I also found a delightful volume on FUNGI to put aside for my favourite mycologist, a quirky book on Personality and a book on countryside lore, an ideal present for another relly.

I was on the point of making a note of the titles of all my finds so that I could buy them on Amazon, no doubt at a reduced price, when I had a flash of conscience.  Do I want retail outlets such as the Museum shop to survive?  Should they be more than outlets for my window-shopping activities?  Do I want the Musuem staff, employed to service the retailing activities of the seething general public, to keep their jobs?  Yes to all of the above, so I made my purchases there and then.

These clear and clement autumn days have been a gift to gardeners, amongst others.  The morning chill yields to the bright sunshine and a stream of mild weather has encouraged yet another flowering of such shrubs as the Crinodendron, the bushy Salvias, and the Japanese anemones.  The wild strawberries continue to FLOWER and the Morning Glory plants have yet to wilt.  On Sunday, Ted and I spent quality time in the garden and whilst I cut back dead flowerheads, and hoiked out bamboo, and yellow Flag from the pond, Ted played with some Giant Pond Snails and a few stripy landsnails.  He very quickly grasped the characteristics of aquatic and terrestrial snail shells and was able to tell the difference.

The following day I took several sacks of green waste to the tip and later that afternoon a final sack of debris to the heap in the woods.  The crab apple tree next to the heap has had a bumper year, the ground covered in fallen FRUITS, golden in dappled sunlight.

Back in Winterborne K I notice a large mushroom on the kitchen windowsill.  It is one of the Parasol mushroom species.  Nick tells me he noticed several on his drive into Poole.  Based on my favourable reaction he goes to gather the remainder, and the FUNGI then form the basis of a mushroom/nut loaf. Parasol mushrooms are fairly distinctive, nevertheless there are cautionary notes to the effect that one must be wholly confident of the identity.  Taking a leaf out of Alice in Wonderland’s book, Nick nibbles a sliver off one end…….. I wonder if it came off the ‘shorter’ or ‘taller’ end 🙂


A Stilish Walk

It is over a year since I last walked in Dorset.  At that time I hiked a stretch of coast between Kimmeridge and Lulworth Cove with Rollo – I was recovering from a stomach upset; at the end I crawled into the cove on my knees!

Our village has a walking group and I joined them on Saturday for a circular walk starting from a car park close to Hardy’s Cottage (SY725921).  Our way took us through woodland, across heath, farmland, along footpaths and bridleways.  The going was fairly even and easy but the walk will be memorable for the number and diversity of stiles we scrambled over.  I think we may have crossed about 15.

After a succession of unusually warm and sunny days the weather had become misty so the far-reaching views we might have expected from certain vantage points did not materialise.   But a walk is much more than a sequence of views and opportunites to observe wildlife and to gather blackberries and sloes at this time of year.  Not to mention the fungi, notably the showy Russula I noticed as we walked.  And we stopped by the gate at Kingston Dairy House for a group photo.

During the walk, and especially over lunch at the Pine Lodge Farm Tearoom after, I got to know the Winterborne Walkers all of whom I discover are pretty much neighbours, in that we live within easy walking distance within the village.

A couple of days later I was filing my OS maps and related booklets into a box for storage in the cupboard under the stairs.  I found the earlier photos and stuff I wrote down after the first two walks Rollo and I did.  Before I started my blog.  I was just about to send her an email when the phone rang and it was the lady herself.  We now have our next walk in view.

Beginnings of Village Life

I have spent my first proper day in our new home.  I call it proper because I have properly unpacked my overnights’ bag and have not left a holding assemblage of versatile clobber and a skeleton set of toiletries ready to be thrown into the car.

Today has seen the arrival of the water bed about which there hangs a tale too tedious to recount.  I hope it will be in service by the time we have guests over half term.  Being rather less methodical than Nick, I have unpacked boxes with contents for various rooms and the end of the day sees most of those items in their rightful place to a first approximation.

Over lunch I read the parish magazine, a proper villagey thing to do, and in it discovered a Winterborne Reading Group notice.  Turns out it is organised by the neighbour of ‘Old Wisterias’, which house we viewed the same day as we looked at The Old Workshop.  Phonecalls later I have arranged to go to the next meeting, a few doors down the road, and have accepted an invitation to join the Winterborne Walkers on Saturday next when we will start at Thomas Hardy’s cottage and hike for 4.5 miles before tipping up for a pub lunch.

When my travellers return from France, Nick brings inter alia 10 packs of ground coffee and 10 slabs of Brittany butter for the Palmers and 6 pots of grainy mustard for my sister, not to mention a good supply of our house Muscadet, our main preoccupation is to see how the feline takes to his new abode.  He takes it all in his weighty stride and it is with a small puff of satisfaction that I see him eventually settle into the new, strategically placed, basket with sheepskin liner.  He knows his place then.