Having returned for Mark’s party we planned to stay on until the end of the first week in July. Much of this time would be filled by gardening, I have the bit between the teeth with planting schemes and Nick has found the oomph to build the pergola. During our stay he does this single-handed; no small feat given the weight of the solid oak uprights. The finished article is fabulous and before we cross back to France he gets in behind the dark-leaved Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ Black lace which has put on so much growth this year and cuts back virtually all of the vine we planted a few years ago to await the pergola construction. Paul gave us this plant, it is a white grape and it will be interesting to see if it is similar to our French vine. We know the name of neither. Nick finishes with two strong, woody lengths which he feeds along wire to make contact with the pergola. Our next task will be to choose some suitable fruit cordons to plant along the uprights and train along wires.
I have come to terms with the idea that my idea of a wild flower patch along the far wall, between the two flowerbeds isn’t going to work. We have had a good crop of nettles whose early growth provided leaves for soup but the nicer wild flower seeds I scattered have come to nought. So I dig up and pot all the cowslips and primroses which had established themselves there and Nick digs over the rest and sieves the soil. When Paul and Viv call in to see us Paul observes that their father was always a siever, Paul is not.
I work hard with my pots and buy a few extra plants. I love the Tibetan cowslip, the bright red Lychnis and the Harebell plants I buy from the lady who has a stall outside her cottage in Martinstown. We are on our way to Abbotsbury where I top up with a lovely dark-leaved Geranium, a fabulous orangey yellow Canna, some so-called ‘Dwarf’ Gladiolus, an Alstroemeria with more reddish colouring to the flowers than the variety I already have, and an interesting plant with a spreading habit and white flowers like Periwinkle but with different leaves, and whose name escapes me.
On the Sunday before we leave for France we drive to Codford to have lunch with the Allens. Mike and I have collaborated over a chapter in his book Molluscs in Archaeology and I have two other chapters in the volume. Getting all the chapters submitted, refereed and polished for publication was at times a rollercoaster ride for Mike and Julie. I don’t know how Mike kept his nerve. The finished article is something to be very pleased with and I am delighted to have contributed material based on my work as an environmental specialist.
We sit in their garden of many rooms, and enjoy quiche and salads and bubbly. We have promised ourselves this small celebration for some weeks, when the going got tough over one of the chapters which gave us grief. All’s well that ends well, more or less.
Before we board the ferry at the end of the week I have a Splinter lunch with my breakaway reading friends in the village. We discuss our communal reads and it is my turn to suggest a book. I offer several titles and we settle around The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent. I have already read this novel and enjoyed the fact that, having been written in French and is in translation, the style nevertheless retained that ‘je ne sais quoi’ subtlety which French writing often has.
I play some bridge before we leave and enjoy it………..