Category Archives: Random Jottings (not travel)

Leonardslee Gardens, Horsham, Sussex

I was promised a picture-perfect display of glorious colour, a sensual overload and a vibrant experience in one of the loveliest gardens in Sussex. And that is just what I had.

From March to June, the 100-year-old majestic rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and towering magnolias with which Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens are planted, offer a late spring experience like no other.

Jewel-coloured rhododendrons light up the woodland against a backdrop of red and green acers whose leaves re just beginning to take on their summer colouring. Many more are reflected in the waters of the 7 lakes that dot the woodland, doubling the colour and the display. I hadn’t realized how highly perfumed rhododendrons were, until my walk through the landscape of Leonardslee. One path that was lined with blowsy, yellow rhodos was a sheer delight and the scent almost overwhelmed.

You have to stop and smell the flowers when you walk through an avenue of yellow rhododendrons

It’s not only about flowers and trees though, hidden among the 240 acre woodland gardens is an exquisite Rock Garden with mini waterfall, ferns and the makings of a fairy-glen. And just off the main walkway is the enclosure for the resident wallabies whose interest in their visitors, charms everyone Not all the wallabies are in enclosures, only those needing protection – some of the younger joeys and the pregnant ones – so you may have a close-up encounter with a friendly wallaby as you amble round the park.

The sculptures, strategically placed to attract your attention, seem to be an organic part of the whole so easily do they sit among the flowers and trees. All of them demand time to look and ponder – and wonder at the quotations that accompany them. The current exhibition, The Walk of Life, is by South African Anton Smit and is a wonderful complement to the display of colour, the calmness of the lakes, and the birdlife.

Some of the plants at Leonardslee are extremely rare and the gardens are a living example of successful biodiversity. Nearly 200 rare and endangered plants are grown here by a dedicated team of gardeners.

The colour and vibrancy of the blossom is echoed in the birdsong that is a constant as you walk along the pathways or sit by the lakes and you’ll spot a vast variety of birds and animals even without trying, from green woodpeckers to electric blue kingfishers, yellow wagtails, peacocks, blue tits, Canada Geese and herons who congregate at the shallow lakeside where carp feed on the surface. You may also meet some of the shy fallow deer, a cheeky squirrel or two, and, of course, the wallabies, brown and white.

The Grade l listed gardens are at their vibrant best at the moment, and with plenty of seating dotted around the lakes and on the lawns, it is a perfect time to indulge in a day out.

A carpet of purple blossoms under a large rhododendron tree

Go earlier in the year for the daffodils and the bluebells and to walk through the camellia grove with its hundreds of varieties of camellias,or early April to see the magnificent magnolias bloom. Whatever time of the year you visit, you’ll find something to please and a restful area to commune with nature.

Water Irises on an island of flowers in the lake

And when it’s time for tea, you’ll find Leonardslee Tea Shop all you could hope for, with seasonal delights, home made biscuits, locally sourced food, cream teas with warm home-made scones. What more could you wish for.

Except maybe to spend the night in the fabulous Leonardslee House Hotel.




How long is a Week?

Last time I blogged I said I was taking a week off on my eye consultant’s advice but this has turned into many more weeks than originally thought.

Still no improvement on the eye front but having another series of eye injections. One eye has more or less given up on me, and the other is stable at the moment but has periods of behaving badly. Bright sunshine makes for difficult days when I have to keep the blinds drawn indoors and can’t venture outside and my reading, computer work and tv watching, are all drastically reduced.

However, I did manage to get away for a 3-day trip to Gothenburg for a 50th birthday party which was brilliant. No time for sight-seeing, as it was purely to visit family and talk but great to be able to hug and be hugged by family again.

And last week I was invited to lunch in the New Forest with a friend who was driving there, making it all possible. We had a glorious day and we drove through the wilder parts of the forest, avoiding the towns and villages, pretty though they are, and just enjoying the sight of the wild ponies and donkeys along the roadside.

Lymington Quay

We had a late lunch in the lovely old Ship Inn on the Quay at Lymington (high recommended by the way) and watched the swans in the water for a few minutes before catching the ferry back to the Isle of Wight. A few pictures here of my day out.

Meantime, I’m still rationing my time online, time spent reading and time watching TV but I’m now managing to read some of the blogs from those I follow. I don’t comment yet, but I’ll be back soon!

Another fine mess I’ve got me Into

Intrigued by the recent email from WP I thought I’d have a look at the new themes they are offering. I shouldn’t have!

I seem to remember that in earlier days I could activate a theme to see how it would look on my current site but this didn’t happen. Instead clicking ‘Activate’ meant that I accepted the site – and of course, I didn’t like it – but I couldn’t remember the name of my old site, nor could I find it again.

Many changes of site and I’m still befuddled, left with a site that has caused me to swear and shout at the screen. It actually transported a page from the site I’d tried earlier (but with that page’s wording etc. not fitting with my content) and I had to delete the pictures and text block by block and then save the blank page!

For tonight I’ll leave it and I maybe able to get back to it tomorrow but if not, you’ll know why my site looks odder than usual.

It’s probably all my fault. I should leave well alone, but it’s like touching the surface when it says Wet Paint – Do Not Touch, I just can’t resist clicking to see what is hiding behind the italics!

Spring – Official

It’s official – Spring has finally sprung. The proof is all around, from primula to mimosa as they struggle for space among last year’s summer bedding that refused to die down this winter.

PROBLEMS WITH A ROUTER

I must apologise to the bloggers who follow me and those I follow: my computer has been out of action now for nearly two weeks, during which time I had no option but to delete all the emails that poured in daily. I find it impossible to work on a phone (I gave up on the IPad last trip when it insisted on me signing in every time I opened it up) not just because my eyesight is bad, but because I find it such an inconvenience, enough to take all pleasure away from reading and writing.

Image by Юрий Коврижных from Pixabay 

It all started when my WiFi went down and after hours trying to get online and waiting for more hours on the ‘phone (COVID is a great excuse for companies these days not to answer the phones) I was informed by my server, BT, that it was the router that was at fault but that they would send me a new – and better – one immediately. I believed them, fool that I am.

Three days later I tried phoning them without success. After nearly 3 hours I decided that life was too short to hand around like this and that I would just await the router’s arrival in a state of reasonable calmness. A week later I got a ‘phone call from a charming young man at BT who was querying what sort of SIM card I had ordered. Moi? SIM card? Sorry, Madam, it must have been a mix-up. So I explained at length what had happened, he promised to get a router off to me asap but, as the weekend was upon us it wouldn’t now be sent until Monday.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

It arrived late on Tuesday. After unpacking it from its box I nearly lost hope and called for an engineer but I had come so far so decided to just get on with it and install it myself. I managed it, WiFi on, computer up-and-running again, me unbearably smug at my technical prowess, but then … no TV. I had done something wrong. I re-read all the instructions, then decided to give it up and read a book instead.

Yesterday dawned fair and I started the next stage late afternoon as I had appointments in the morning. I managed to get the TV working again but although I could get all the paying channels and Catch-UP, I couldn’t get live TV. I should mention that at the same time I was disengaging my You View box for return to BT as I’m giving this up. After a telephone consultation with my tech-savvy friend, he decided I had detached the aerial from the You View Box – which I had – and after I’d put all the wires back in their right places, by 10 pm last night I had a fully functioning WiFi, Computer and TV.

It’s still working today.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

As I said above, I had to just delete everyone’s blogs as they came through but I’ll have a quick shuftie at recent postings and catch up eventually but I won’t add any comments. For anyone wondering why I haven’t been commenting, you now know why.

One surprisingly good outcome is that without any prompting from me, BT has offered a substantial credit which should take care of my bill for the next two months. I’m quite mollified now.

I look forward to re-joining the blogosphere at the weekend. Right now I have to attend to the emails!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

Wish You Were Here

Lock down helps remind us of old friends. It also reminds me of when I used to send and receive a lot of postcards, and I remembered also the blog I wrote some years ago. Maybe now is the time to re-blog (and as it’s such a lovely day I can relax outdoors without feeling I should get on with sorting out my photographs for a new blog)!

MARI'S TRAVELS WITH HER CAMERA

Today I got a postcard from abroad! So what? you may think.

So absolutely fantastic that I did an impromptu jig in the hallway when I picked it up before reverently placing it in a prominent position so that I could look at it and admire it for a few more days.

THE AZORES

Do you remember how exciting it was to receive a postcard in the days when people sent you postcards? Those mountain views, seascapes, hotels with the X placed just where the sender’s room was? The whiff of abroad that unsettled you as you sweltered in a stuffy office or maybe dreamed in your kitchen or garage as the evenings grew shorter and the winter light faded? You remember it now?

Japan
Mount Fuji, Japan

Next time you’re away from home, put away your smartphone, pack up the tablet, venture out and into the touristy gift shops and…

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The Christmas Pudding

On the principal that anything banned by a puritan like Oliver Cromwell has to be good, I should like Christmas Pudding: however, I find today’s offerings a bit too sweet and rich.  When my mother was alive and cooked one for each member of the family (starting it in February and giving it time to mature instead of following tradition and making it on the Sunday before Advent) I used to love it, especially fried in butter on Christmas morning.  I’m a lazy cook however and as I don’t like the store-bought versions, I usually serve something like a Pavlova for Christmas dessert.

Image by Linda Tacey from Pixabay

I once had the idea of cooking a Christmas pudding by usng the original receipe but I gave up on that as a) finding the origins of the pudding wasn’t easy and b) when I delved deeper it sounded revolting.   It seems that at the end of the winter solstice (or towards the time of the pagan festival which had been co-opted into the Christian festival of Christmas) all the good things from the recent harvest were poured into a huge cauldron and boiled up, things like hulled wheat, milk, apples, spices, honey and whatever was left in the barns and the larders.   The resulting concoction was called a porridge. 

Image by Karen from Pixabay

The story has it that every member of the household had to stir the pudding to ensure good health in the coming year but I like to think that as stirring this enormous cauldron wasn’t easy for the cook of the house (always the woman) the ritual of everyone in the household from the youngest to the oldest, including servants, being required to stir the pot, was devised by her to reduce the work.  This tradition is still adhered to in families where the pudding is still made – it certainly was in mine.

Image from OpenClipartVectors from Pixabay

Over the centuries the mixture was improved by the addition of dried fruits, meat and alcoholic spirits, although I would argue that meat may not necessarily have improved it.  When the Elizabethans added prunes (dried plums) it became plum porridge but no one can say for certain when plum porridge became plum pudding.  It may well have been when meat was dropped from the recipe in the late 18th/early 19th century.

Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay

In its early incarnation it was boiled in a cloth dusted with flour which gave the pudding the traditional round ball shape, so familiar from Christmas card illustrations and Dickensian prints.  Although my mother never baked one in a floured cloth, she always wrapped the pudding basin in a cloth which was loosely tied at the top to allow the pudding to rise and for the top to take on a round shape.  Silver sixpences were always included in the pudding as a symbol of future wealth for the family, but we children were delighted with the ones we got in the here and now.

Charles Dickens immortalised it in A Christmas Carol the performance of which is now an essential part of Christmas: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are said to have loved it: and along with Christmas cards, Christmas trees, tinsel and turkey, I think we can say that the Christmas pudding as part of the Christmas festivities, is here to stay.

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

From Trash to Cash

Image by Francoise Gisbert for Pixabay

Sunday Photo Fiction

Summer’s over, the chairs are wrecked, I’ll pile ‘em up, see if I can balance them and maybe make a bridge for the cats to walk over before I trash them (the chairs, not the cats).  Hmm.  Looks quite good against the sky.  O-M-G, I’ve created an art installation!  Look at that.  Could I sell it?  Could I invite people to my garden to look at it?  Could I call myself an artist?  Pity the Council has no spare money due to the cuts, otherwise, I could ask them to buy it as a piece of civic furniture. Would be perfect in the current zeitgeist.

The Future is Now

(Sunday Photo Fiction)

Photo courtesy of Sue-Z

You don’t know about CCTV yet, you think I’m just an image on a computer. But moggie, I’m watching you! Things have moved along since you first pawed a laptop and back here I have your number! I see how your eyes narrow and your tail twitches when I do my twirly thing, how you salivate when I come closer to the screen and when I pussyfoot (pussyfoot, how’s that?) along the wire fence. In your dreams, Clarence, in your dreams. The future is here and it’s mine.