M took J to Canterbury on Saturday to check out the University of Kent, which was on her short list to study French next year, but after Saturday no longer is, so the visit did its job. They left early and got back late, so I was on my own with the boys. F went metal detecting at a friend's farm up the road where he found, within twenty minutes, this beautiful silver denarius lying not far beneath the surface. Its a coin of the Roman Emporer Antonius Pius (adopted son and successor of Hadrian- he of Wall Fame), and it dates from 138-161 AD. It was minted in Rome and F is utterly thrilled with it....The detail is quite extraordinary. I got tingles holding it- just consider, this has been in the earth for almost 2000 years, and it is quite likely that the last thing to touch it before F found it was the Roman hand that dropped it. If you look closely you can see his mustache and individual hairs in his beard.
|Silver denarius of Emperor Pius|
And here's the reverse side, showing the Goddess Salus (representing security and well-being) holding what's called a patera, or offering dish, whilst feeding a snake...
A denarius in Roman times would buy you 4lbs of grapes or half a hair cut....
Meanwhile, while all this field-and-ancient-history-excitement was going on a few miles away, back home L had his friend over for the day- you remember the one who never says thank you and always says 'I know' whenever you say anything?
I had given myself a Good Talking To about this lad, telling myself that L is a good judge of character, that he likes this boy, who is, after all, only a child, and that I am being Not Very Mature by allowing him to wind me up. All the same I gritted my teeth when he arrived at a little over 8am, and M's parting words as he left for Canterbury were something to do with what time I would be getting the G&T out. Ma texted me half-way through to ask how it was going (which translated meant: have you retreated to the top of the garden with a bottle of wine and some chocolate, and are you gibbering to yourself in silent fury?).
In the event, he only really wound me up once by bouncing a balloon on Teddy's upturned face, which made Ted blink a bit and me shriek that that was not the way we treated our animals. I pity his poor dog, but then perhaps he will now think twice before he does it again. I did feel sorry for him when the boys were in the garden digging holes and he said he'd never been allowed to dig a hole in his garden. Every boy needs to dig holes, its an essential part of boyhood.
After dropping him home I felt in need of some restorative activity in the form of taking pictures of flowers....
It was while I was doing this that there came a terrible screeching cry from the front near the lane, which I assumed was a dog walking past and taking exception to our hounds, who will insist on patrolling their front gate if they are out there. It was only when I heard F yelling hysterically for me that I realised something was wrong. He appeared, tearing up the path with Poppy in his arms. She had got her head stuck in a trellis and it was tight around her neck.
My heart stopped and I felt sick and cold, in that way you do when confronted with a shocking sight that nevertheless requires you to be calm and able to function.
Thank God it wasn't so tight that she couldn't breath, but it had obviously hurt her when it went on and it was stuck pretty tight. The boys were brilliant. F held Pops who had stopped struggling as soon as she saw me, evidently realising she was in safe hands; L gripped the trellis to stop it pulling on her windpipe, but not before he'd fetched me a chisel with which to prise the trellis apart.
It took ages and it was not an easy job- chisels are dead sharp and we were hampered by the close proximity of Pop's neck and face as well as F's naked arm which was a little too close for comfort. As it was I sliced my finger open when it slipped, but as I'd rather it was me than Pops or the boys that was OK..
Anyway, long story short, we eventually got her out OK unscathed. I'm relating this in case any of you have anything similar in your garden...
After that horrid bit of drama I needed to settle and good old nature cheered me up perfectly by showing me that we have a short-tailed vole living in the front veg patch. I watched him for ages scurrying between the wall and the long grasses through which he was burrowing. I didn't get a hugely clear view but you can just about see him in this shot...I'm glad he's there.
Sunday was a calmer day.
M and I were up with the larks (literally, judging from the way they were rising from our feet as we walked through the fields) and were out walking the dogs before 8. No one was around and it was bright sunlight and peace all the way. A song thrush was singing in a Scots Pine in the hedgerow when we set off and was still singing when we came back an hour later.
This sign at the back entrance to Mottisfont abbey, which we passed on our walk, made me smile. It says: 'these gates are closed'.
We took the grumpy teens to Winchester for a walk by the river before lunch, as well as a placatory visit to the bookshop for L and a hot chocolate at Ginger Too. When we got home M hacked out an enormous area of dead and gloomy looking shrubs (that have been there since we arrived and have had no attention at all for more than ten years) at the top of the garden, and now we suddenly have several feet of extra space and a stack more sunlight, and I am excited because it means more growing space for bee, butterfly and moth friendly plants, and potentially some wildlife-type homes as well, and I like having those sort of thoughts to think about. Any suggestions? For some reason the photo has come out squashed- the area is bigger than it looks and gets sunlight for most of the day, although in a shady kind of way, if that makes sense?
While he was busy doing that (and narrowly avoiding mattocking his bare ankle), I decided it was high time Teddy had a hair cut. He is BRILLIANT at this, just lies down on the table lead-and-collar-less for an hour while I trim him with the clippers....
|And after. So that's what your eyes look like!|
I'll leave you with some shots of Bumble, chipper as ever despite her poorly foot, and the Goldfinches, who are in and out of the garden like mad...
Hope you're all having a good start to the week? Not long till Easter now...