Dr Livingstone I Presume …

Well not exactly, nor did I run into Lord Lucan or any other missing individuals.

Of course not. After all, I’ve just spent the last few hours delving into the upper reaches of my garden, in sunny Hampshire.

To my knowledge, neither  Livingston or Lucan have ever ventured into my garden. Livingstone spent many years in Africa and Lucan could be anywhere having supposedly been seen everywhere.

After hacking back the brambles and Jasmine vines, and numerous other invasive plants I can state categorically that neither of the aforementioned gentlemen are to be found.

The Lost Gardens of ???

Unfortunately, this end of the garden has been neglected somewhat. Not helped by our seven month sojourn in Australia. The picture above was taken after I had made a valiant foray, boldly forging a path through the brambles and Jasmine with my electric hedge trimmer.

What’s triggered this sudden exertion ?

Well, the fence, that you can just catch glimpses of, is in a very dilapidated state. In fact I believe the plant life, that I have been cutting back, is all that is keeping it up.

The plan, much like a game of dominoes, is in several parts.

Step one, is to replace the fence. This I am going to do with the help of my daughters boyfriend. Actually, he is the expert, I will just be his bitch. So approximately twelve metres of featherboards mounted on arris rails.

Ancient Shed

Step two, is to replace this sorry broken shed. The plan is to replace it with a new one, approximately twice the size. This shed has performed admirably until late last year, when some guys I had hired to do some hedge work, chose to fall through the roof. Removing the shed will be a bit of a voyage of discovery as there are signs of subterranean habitation. That is to say there looks to be a tunnel going under the shed. You can just see the entrance to the right of the door. Potential inhabitants range from hedgehogs thru foxes to rats. Hopefully not the latter although, I believe, we would have seen more signs if there were any living that close to the house.


Step three, replace the cheap n cheerful greenhouse with a more robust version. Over the last couple of years this structure has suffered damage due to strong winds. So it’s time to get rid.

The latest storm blew off the door, breaking the plastic glazing. Blew off the skylight (now placed back on the roof). And, I have since discovered, the wind also dislodged some glazing at the back. So, no longer weatherproof. The greenhouse was used last year, to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes. Not this year though.

And finally, step four, build a new deck area to provide a base for a swing chair. Our current swing chair has suffered under the same rough weather that has damaged the greenhouse, bending and snapping the canopy frame.

So in preparation for Step One I have been clearing out the jungle. This has been more like an archaeological dig, rediscovering long lost areas. Who knew that the space behind the shed was the hiding place for our first ever patio table and chairs. Originally white, but now turned green by nature.

What is that, a snake ? Nope just a long section of garden hose, bright yellow.

Birds Skull ?

Then there are the bones. I’m guessing, judging by the size of the skull, that they are the remains of a pigeon. Question is, who did it ? Did the luckless bird fall prey to one of several neighbourhood cats, or perhaps one the kites or kestrels often seen soaring overhead.

Dinosaurus Plasticus

And what was that I spied, hiding under the coniferous canopy ? A baby dinosaur ? No, just a toy abandoned by one of our grandchildren. One brave enough to venture into our mini jungle.

The bulk of my discoveries, from behind the shed, have now found their way to the municipal tip. I didn’t have room for the old wheelbarrow or the old fridge, so another trip has to be planned. Perhaps some of the junk in the garage will find it’s way into that next load too.

As I post this, I have received notification that the fencing materials will be delivered on the 15th April. So I’d better start limbering up and get ready for some hard physical labour.

A Day On The Isle Of Wight

A couple of weeks ago it was decided that we, and our Ozzy rellies, would take a trip across to the Isle of Wight. The most flexible way is to take your own car across on the ferry, rather than rely on public transport on either side of the Solent.

Travelling into Pompey around morning peak traffic times is always a bit like a toss of the dice. Albeit late, we eventually made it to the Wightlink ferry port. Luckily, for us, our ferry was late arriving. Apparently this was due to the low tide meaning the ferry had to take a slightly longer route across the Solent. Once loaded aboard, we made our way up to the lounge, where we had hot chocolate and toasties for breakfast. I also took the opportunity for a couple of snaps.

The following pictures show the scene around the ferry.

In the background, above the fishing boats, you can see Viviers Fish Market. They are the suppliers of some truly scrumptious fresh fish. Proof is, as they say, in the tasting and we have recently had some superb Halibut, a couple of Bream and a couple of dressed crab.

Land Rover BAR Team home

The bland looking building is the Land Rover BAR building.  Having now seen it several times, I’m still not sure about the design. It looks like they are waiting for the wrapping to be fully removed, to expose its true shape.

The ferry was soon underway and after a short voyage, arrived at Fishbourne. We disembarked and made our way to our first destination, Osborne House.

Osborne House is a former royal residence, built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as a summer home and retreat. Now under the care of English Heritage, both the house and grounds are made available to the public. A few pictures are posted below.

Unfortunately, due to filming of a new drama about Victoria and her indian servant, the fabulous Durbar Room was not available for viewing. In addition, photography was prohibited in other rooms as they were dressed for filming. Apparently, any images would be copyright, because the film company had installed some of their own furniture.

After touring the house, we had a pleasant lunch in the Terrace Restaurant and Orangery. Suitably refueled we headed down to the Swiss Cottage

Set For High Tea – Swiss Cottage, Osborne House

and on to the sea-shore via the Rhododendron Walk, dotted along which there are a variety of carved animals and birds.

Queen Victoria had her own “Bathing Machine” in which she would get changed. The “machine” would be run into the sea and she would descend the steps into the bracing waters of the Solent. Also on the beach at Osborne is a decorated “alcove” which during our visit gave shelter from the brisk breeze blowing in off the sea.

Returning to the house we spent some time, and of course money, in the gift shop.

From Osborne House we headed off to view  The Needles, a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight. They are also home to The Needles Lighthouse built on the western most stack.

The Needles – Isle of Wight

An unusual sight was this, apparently tame, fox being enticed to feed.

Tame Fox ? – Isle of Wight

Not sure about the fashion statement this guy is making.

It was soon time for us to think about a spot of dinner before travelling back to the mainland. We had already decided to head to a regular haunt of ours, The Folly Inn.

The Folly is a rustic pub perched on the banks of the River Medina, just up the river from Cowes in Whippingham. They serve good food, good beer, are friendly and provide a great location to chill and watch the yachty world go by.


Suitably replete, we headed back to Fishbourne for our ferry ride back to Portsmouth. With the autumnal evenings drawing in we were welcomed back to harbour by the Spinnaker Tower.

Spinnaker Tower – Portsmouth

Driving out of Pompey was a lot easier than our rush hour entry. We were soon home and relaxing with a nice cup of tea.

View From The Conservatory

What Am I ?
What Am I ?

Well it’s been a while since I posted one of these.

I’ve been up and down healthwise, flu or something similar, and the weather has been dire to say the least. Now we have had a few sunny days and all the plants seem to be exploding into growth and the colours  are fabulous.

Our remaining cherry blossom is looking beautiful and the lawn in our back garden is totally out of control. I’ve taken a few minutes out from work to make a quick perimeter patrol and fire off a few snaps.

Up above is a shot of a butterfly. I don’t believe I have seen one of these before, certainly never in my garden.

Does anyone out there know what it is ?

Here are a few more pictures, some with titles where I know what they are. Some remain anonymous. However, I hope you enjoy these facsimiles as much as I am enjoying the real thing.


Grape Hyacinth

Pansy – Always happy to see you

A Shrub ?

Another Shrub ?

Tulip – with Primrose back-up

My perimeter walk has also highlighted the amount of work that needs to be done around the “estate”.

This weekend has been earmarked for  “slash and burn”. Perhaps not much of the burning but certainly there will be much slashing.

We have also decided to replace the fence which marks the back border for our property. fencing

As you can see the fence has a somewhat laidback attitude. Something it took on early the year after the “Great Storm” of 1987. Slowly but surely the post has rotated in the ground and many of the other posts have rotted out so the whole fence has to go. Thats not bad considering it has had no treatment during the last 30 years. So, 25-30 meters of wooden fencing, a task which is a little to big for my DIY skills, will be replaced by a local firm. They have done work on two of my neighbours properties so I have been able to see the quality of their work.

Once that is done we will have a blank canvas against which to plan the transformation.

Here are couple of general shots showing the desperate state of my garden.

Over grown
Over grown

Primroses and Daisys

Some significant trimming needed here.

It would seem that something has taken up residence under our shed. A large hole and signs of escavation. Maybe that tatty fox, I spotted a couple of weeks ago, has decided to move in.

Foxhole ?
Foxhole ?

Foxhole ?

And finally I submit this image. It is pretty much indicative of the general state of my garden which is in dire need of a make over.

Even my spade is over grown.
Even my spade is over grown.

View From The Conservatory

So I was just heading out to the freezer in the utility room, thinking about what we should have for dinner tonight. I was a little cautious stepping out of the kitchen as always, because I like to peek and see what birds are in the garden. I stood watching a Dunnock for a minute or so as it darted around the bare branches of some shrubs. Then a movement from the other side of the garden caught my eye.

And this is what I saw…

Skanky Fox in my garden. Apart from the lack of fur he seems quite healthy and alert.

The amazing thing is he clambered up on top of our fence and plodded along the top in the same way as cats do. The feet on one side on the top of the fence and the other feet on the arris rail.

As I said, Alert. He was aware of every noise be it traffic or bird calls.

I had watched him for a while before I thought to go get my camera. These pictures are all captured through double glazing which is less than clean at the moment.

I don’t think he had a best side.

This is the second fox that we have had in the garden with skin/fur problems. Although the previous one looked like he had suffered a kind of de-gloving of the hind leg, perhaps as a result of conflict with a car. Maybe this one has had a similar encounter although I am tempted to contact the RSPCA and see if this is indicative of something that local dog owners might need to be aware of.

View From The Conservatory

Fox In The Garden – July 2007

My lucky day today.

I had just gone to look out the window when I spotted a movement behind the Buddleia. Out strolled an adult fox.

Not your usual reddish brown this one. No, he was more your builders sand in colour with a dark. almost black, stripe saddling his nose.

So he took a quick look around then, deciding the coast was clear, he ambled across the lawn looking from side to side until he disappeared past the apple tree.

I am glad that they are still around. I hadn’t seen the foxes about for sometime. The picture above was taken five years ago.