Sunday, 1 August 2010

Mish Mash

It has been a 'mish mash' week. All sorts of things going on and happening, and so I am going to hit you all with an array of pictures, and describe as best I can some of the events of the past few days.

Monday morning, having woken up and had breakfast etc, it was out to the van to start the days work....hmmm.......and one of those frustrating things that get thrown at us from time to time.....a flat tyre! You can see my brand new compact tyre inflator above, one end plugged into the electrical socket on the dashboard, and the other to the tyre. This is indeed very compact, and as such can pump a tyre up from flat in an impressive 30 minutes, maybe not such a good buy after all.

I had planned to take quite a lot of pictures to show you how the gardens everywhere are progressing, but the working week was so busy that I kept coming away from each place having forgotten. I blame it on being busy, but I have a slight feeling that old age may be setting in and the brain is getting a bit addled! The one photo that I did take, which is above, was of the rear of one of the smallest places that I look after, not really very impressive but there are shrubs in it at least. Thursday came along, and I had to get the van taxed, and so going online, I entered the required information only to be told that there was no current MOT certificate on it.....WHAT?
I had been under the impression that most vehicles that are purchased from a dealer come with a new one, but apparently this one ran out ten days earlier than expected and so the work schedule for the end of the week became somewhat out of kilter as I now had to get the MOT done before the tax ran out a day and a half later....don't you just love these surprise escapades?
Having pleaded, begged, and finally offered a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine as a smoother, my local garage said that they would do the MOT the following morning. It failed of course, due to a faulty brake light and dodgy windscreen wiper, why oh why didn't I check these basics beforehand, like I always usually do?? And so by the end of the day the faults were fixed, the MOT was obtained, and the tax disc applied for. Exciting stuff eh?.....just another week!

Friday, 4pm, and along with A, I went to meet the director of a very large property in Branksome as I had been head hunted to quote for a very large scale renovation of the grounds.
You can see an aerial picture of the place above with all of it's surrounding vegetation.
The present gardener has managed over the last few months to bring the general garden maintenance up together, but everything is very tired and overgrown generally.
Let me show you just a few areas that work is needed quoting for, as it would take too much time and send you to sleep if I went through the whole thing in one go. There is so much to do that the quote will have to be broken into ten stages, if that gives an idea.

One of the driveways, very bare, needing soil improvement and planting up.

Part of one of the entrance borders, where shrub removal and replanting is required. This border alone, runs for about two hundred yards.

An overgrown Escallonia and Choisya, just a simple hard prune should bring these babies back, with a couple of shrubs planting to fill the gaps.

Existing conifers and ivy to be taken out, and two specimen conifers to be planted in their place.

Most of this stuff to come out and new specimen shrubs planted to add texture and form.
Just out of sight to the left are three massive Rhododendrons that need removing, and two new hybrids putting in to replace them as the existing ones are totally tired and have been neglected for years and years.

The fallen Rhododendron to the rear to remove, along with twenty eight Laurel, Rhododendrons and other shrubs just to the right of the tree, the site cleared and levelled and a pyracantha hedge planting along the fence.

All of the large Rhododendrons and Laurel in the background to reduce to four feet high, and in the foreground, dodgy shrubs removed and new planting to add fullness.
I have only just scratched the surface to give you a taster and will hopefully give a day to day tale of the job as it gets done in the winter. Definitely one of the largest renovations that I have had to do as a single job so far.

Saturday, and it was off to my father-in-laws. We have been on the waiting list for an allotment for about four years now, and I don't know how he did it, (he is a popular man with many professional connections, which I think may have swayed it..grr!), but he has managed to obtain a plot in a matter of weeks, and not only that, but in an incredibly picturesque setting near the harbour! I have to say that I'm very jealous indeed.
Having said all of that, as you can see from the first photo above, it is a plot of weeds, and when I say weeds, I am talking serious weed population. I am a professional contract gardener and this plot made me scratch my head and gasp. There are a few potatoes in there, if you look really hard you can just see them through the knee deep bindweed.

He had attempted to hand weed and dig the plot as you can see from the small patch of sifted soil, but the job required a heavier hand, and apparently I was the man with the hand. And so, in picture two the weeds have been strimmed down to a level two feet deep, and a very careful application of systemic weed killer has been put to work. With the damp weather and humidity that we have had, it should look much browner in a fortnight. At that point it should be possible to just hoe the whole lot up like a brown rug, and then put a rotavator through the ground to break up the soil ready for planting in a couple of months. I do hope that our plot, when we get it, has been kept a bit more weed free!

I was of course rewarded for my efforts with a delicious meal prepared by A.
Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a thick, fresh tomato sauce made with various fresh herbs from the garden and a glass.....or two....of chilled Pinot Grigio.

That afternoon, having had a quick nap after my lovely lunch, we headed to Wareham for the cinema, but going via Swanage first to have a coffee. This is a place that I remember first coming to as a young nine year old boy with my not so much older brother and my friend. We walked from our home in Bournemouth, which is across the bay to the right of the headland in the photo, tent and sleeping bags in hand, and carried on around the coast to Durlston lighthouse, where we set up camp for the week. Of course it was much less crowded then and barely a soul could be seen on the lighthouse stretch of coast path....

A local artist specialises in this sort of painting, very disorientating I can tell you.

Then it was to Wareham, and The Rex cinema. But firstly a coffee simply had to be sampled at 'The Five & Dime' coffee house adjoining the cinema. This consists of one small but fascinating room, still with all of the original 1920's details, and the walls covered in photographs of all the famous actors and actresses. Lauren Bacall, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Steve McQueen and Audrey Hepburn were just some of the many faces watching whilst we sipped our coffee, prepared in a tiny room out the back.

Then it was into the wonderful world of The Rex. A fully restored 1920's cinema that during the war saw itself filled with troops enjoying the greats of the moment. Now, a dedicated team of volunteers, and the generous donations from various sources enable it to stay open in just the same way that it was then. The tiny bar to the rear serves various drinks such as Gin & Tonic, Vodka & tonic and Scotch & dry etc, and local bottled beers, one of them being called 'Piddle', which accompanied me into the cinema itself, along with A and her coffee. Nowadays it is such a rare treat to be looked upon as adult enough to cope with taking an alcoholic drink into the theatre!
The film was entitled 'The Girl on the Train', a french film with subtitles. Not what one would call an epic, but captivating from start to finish nonetheless

This is the inside the auditorium and you can see the back of my head just to the left of the lady in the white. Ice creams were served in the traditional way, from a lady just to the left of the screen. Absolutely an amazing place that is a must to visit should you be in the area!

When we came out from seeing the film, it was too beautiful an evening to simply drive home, and so we went for a warm drink at The Granary, a very welcoming bar/bistro at the edge of town next to the river Frome. There are many areas of cosy seating, but the one that took our liking at this point was a small outside area, where we joined a small group around the fire pit above, and relaxed in reclining easy chairs whilst we drank and chatted with our feet warming by the flames.

Sunday morning and Ashley Heath Car Boot Sale. A huge conglomeration of various people and vehicles, all trying to sell or buy various items from home at seriously reduced rates. Throw into this a dozen or so caravans selling anything you like to eat, as long as it comes in a bap with tea or coffee, gypsies, pikeys, koreans, russians, nepalese, scousers, brummies common people and posh people both rich and poor, and it makes for quite an interesting time. I went to try and find a good used garden hoe, a glass water decanter for my bedside, old silver jewellery for my treasure chest or an antique you do, whilst A wanted some good quality clothes.
Suffice to say that after three hours of wandering, holding hands, hugging and proggling, I came away having only had two cups of coffee and finding nothing that exactly 'lit my candle', whilst A managed two carrier bags of really nice tops to wear.
We returned home, both rather tired from our escapade, and so we collapsed in a sleepy heap with Hobie for a couple of hours before later spending some time at our favourite rest spot The Haven Hotel.
Not a very organised week, but an interesting I think that it's time for bed......Good night!


  1. Gary, Was sorry to read that your week got started on such a "flat" note. But it seems the tempo of the rest of the week really picked up. It looks as though if your quote is taken you will have your hands full with the revitalization of the ground/gardens.

    The outing to the cinema looked to be a grand time. I could not get over the fact that strong drink was still served. It is nice to know that there are still places that expect patrons to be responsiable and the fact that there are still places where the patrons "are" responsiable.

    And I must say that I like it called a car boot sale. Here in the US they are called Flea Markets which is one of those terms I really hate. Well I could ramble on so I had best close off this comment. Gald you guys had such a great end of the week. Take care. - G

  2. Hi Gary
    Thanks for the comment. I can only wonder as to what the coming week has in store! Part of lifes rich tapestry I guess. We get flea markets over here but they are generally stalls that are fixed permanently nowadays. The name car boot comes from the fact that people literally drive up, park and open their boot. Great fun to buy and sell at!

  3. Dear Gary, What a week! Oh dear, all the problems related to owning a vehicle, a necessity, I realise for you, made me so thankful that I gave up the car some time ago. They are such a responsibility.

    Then, the new project for which you are quoting. Such work to be done for it is, as you say, in a fairly dire state and I am sure that the owners have no idea what really is required to bring it to an acceptable standard, let alone something which could be loved and admired. I do so wish you well with it.

    Now, Gary, that allotment belonging to your father-in-law simply spells WORK! I think that it is more than generous of you to help but you have, I feel, very little in the way of spare time and I should not like to think of you spending it tackling bindweed. And I know that you would like your own allotment but, is that a wise move? There are, after all, shops!!

    Your trip to Swanage, and the view of the Old Harry Rocks, took me back to the 1950s when each year, as I may have remarked, my parents took an old coastguard cottage at Peveril Point for the summer - I have not, alas, been back since. And, strangely, all those years ago we broke our journey for coffee at The Old Granary in Wareham - somethings do not change, rather like the cinema experience!

    Have a more restful week!

  4. Nice post, hard work, then you get spoiled by your wife ( as mentioned in previous posts with all the cooking ), then you both have adventure and romance. I do not know if you realize how blessed you are. take care, Gina

  5. Hi Edith,
    Thanks for your comment. Alas, one cannot always rely on the methods used in growing shop bought fruit and vegetables. Having said that, I don't think that my growth has been stunted by pesticides yet, although Amanda would perhaps question my behaviour at times.

  6. Hi Gina,
    Thanks, I count my blessings often. Life has, and still does throw some really bad stuff, but there are usually more good things to counter them.

  7. Not sure where you get your energy from - what a busy post of ups and downs, round and abouts. Your new Branscombe project looks like a good earner so that will put more lovely dinners on the table along with the vino. And what a kind son-in-law you are :)


  8. Hi Laura,
    I'm not sure where all the energy comes from at times quite frankly. I guess it's all the coffee and tea I drink :-)