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Diary 2010 September to December


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5 September 2010

Wrotham boot fair through trees   Wrotham boot fair with pylon
I love Wrotham boot fair. When it is hot and sunny with lots of people, we have to park in the second field, and I like the short walk through the shady woods to get to the main field. You can't miss the pylon which is a good place to meet up at the end of the morning.

Panoramic view from top of Wrotham Hill
At the far end of the field, there is a wonderful view of the countryside. This picture is made of three photos joined together.

18 September

Dino with porridge bag in dish  Yellow Teddy with digital photo frame
Dino approves of the new plates that will be going into the new kitchen cupboards. You won't be able to get all the porridge in one dish, Dino! Look at this wonderful digital picture frame, I can't wait to choose some pictures to go in it! I don't think much else will get done while we are playing with this!

19 September

Tripes Farm boot fair with stripy shadows  Tripes Farm boot fair cars
This is Tripes Farm boot sale in Orpington. I took the photo because I liked the stripy shadows on the grass. It's hard work going round and making sure you don't miss any tables, but it is very interesting, good exercise and fresh air! I never go without my water bottle.

Yellow Teddy with giant fuchsia  Yellow Teddy practising writing  Brown Teddy practising writing
We went to a second boot fair near Swanley and I bought two of these giant fuchsias. They are not giant yet, but I know they grow really big because I already have some and I forgot to take cuttings when the weather was warm in July! While we are waiting for the others to get back to the car, we practise our handwriting. I just love red ink pens!

20 September

River Cray playground, Orpington Xylophone, River Cray playground, Orpington
This is a new playground near the River Cray. It was a very quiet Monday morning and there was no-one there. I especially like the musical xylophone but I am wondering what can be used to strike the bars with. Maybe there are some sticks attached on the other side.

River Cray, Orpington  Waterfall River Cray, Orpington
Here is a quiet section of the River Cray with places where you can get right to the edge of the water. There were not many ducks here today. This is one of the large waterfalls along the manmade part, which was made to take any overflow of water during rainy times. The orange thing is a traffic cone, but I think it looks like a giant goldfish! It is very noisy as the waterfall is quite high and this is just the bottom bit.

Sunset Orpington
I always take a sunset picture if the sky looks interesting. This dark cloud looks like a big fluffy fleece blanket being pulled over the sky, so that we can get to sleep and rest in the dark!


21 September

geese Orpington Priory pond
The water in Orpington Priory pond is very clear, as it comes straight out of the ground into this pond. It is very interesting watching the birds' feet paddling along. This picture looks peaceful but it is next to a busy main road with lots of noisy lorries and buses. Further into the park it is more peaceful.

Yellow Teddy sunflowers  Yellow Teddy sunflower cut stem  Yellow Teddy sunflower bud
Time to inspect the garden now that summer is ending. The sunflowers have all grown big and healthy, and no snails got past the copper strips on the pots. When odd leaves are left lying on the grass, the slugs and snails always find them. When the flowers are finished and start to get heavy with seeds, we cut them down before the pots fall over with the weight. If there are more flower buds, we only cut the tops off so that the buds get a chance to come out.

Yellow Teddy Spartan apple   Dino Conference pear
What a lovely looking red apple! This Spartan is a really good tree. Dino is testing the Conference pear. You have to lift fruits and if they fall into your hand, they are ready to eat. If you have to pull them, they are not ready. I think Dino is getting into practice for eating them!

Yellow Teddy honeysuckle berries  Hawthorn berries  Skimmia berries
While we are eating our fruits, the birds in my garden will have plenty of berries - honeysuckle, hawthorn (blackbirds' favourite) and skimmia. I think mice like skimmia berries because I sometimes see some berries on the ground with little bites out of them. Or maybe it's the snails having a snack!

Yellow Teddy cotoneaster berries  Rosehips
Even more berries, this one is cotoneaster, another blackbirds' favourite, and the others are rosehips. Even when the rosehips are shrivelled and black, sometimes the greenfinches like to crunch the seeds that are still inside. Greenfinches have big beaks for breaking seeds, and little birds like robins have tiny thin beaks for eating soft insects and worms.

Yellow Teddy clematis seed heads  Caterpillar 1  Caterpillar 2
These clematis seed heads look just like wigs of blond hair, combed into a ball shape. I have seen people with their hair like this but I think it had to be sprayed to keep it in shape. This caterpillar accidentally landed on the hand of someone with a camera. After a look round, the caterpillar decided the best way was down. He got some more help to go down when he was shaken off into the flowerbed!

22 September

Dawn pink sky with street lamps 
I got up really early and took this photo from my bedroom window. I wonder if anyone else was up taking photos? I don't like to miss anything, so I always have a quick look very early to see if the sky is looking interesting.

Bridge River Medway at Maidstone   Bridge and boat River Medway Maidstone
We went to Maidstone and after looking round the shops, we went for a walk by the River Medway. The suspension bridge has thick cables that hold up the giant posts, from which the walkway part of the bridge is suspended. While you are admiring the view up and down river, you can feel the vibration from the footsteps of people coming onto the bridge from each end. Not so good if you have the camcorder going!

Sculpture Morning Thoughts by Ekkehard Altenburger at Archbishops Palace Maidstone  Teddy at sculpture Morning Thoughts by Ekkehard Altenburger at Archbishops Palace Maidstone
This sculpture is in the Archbishop's Palace gardens by the riverside. It is made of marble. I think the orange bits are the sun coming up. It was made by Ekkehard Altenburger and is called Morning Thoughts.

Young swan  Chinese dragon statue outside takeaway, Maidstone
There are plenty of swans on the river. The young swans are browny coloured, and they have learned very quickly that people often have sandwiches to share with them. On the subject of eating, we saw two of these dragons outside a Chinese takeaway in Maidstone. I think they have eaten everything in the shop and are looking for more!


27 September

Tree root on surface
Dino noticed this tree root on the surface and he thinks it looks like a giant dinosaur leg and claw. The tree is a beautiful pink flowering almond and we will not forget to take some walks down this road during the spring.

30 September

Blackberries  Last red blackberry  Blackberry late flower
The leftover blackberries on the footpath to Orpington are all shrivelled now, but I know the greenfinches will eat these, because the seeds are still inside. The greenfinches are very shy birds and only come into town and gardens in the middle of winter when there is not so much food in the countryside. I noticed just one red one left, but it is not ripe until it turns black. Here is a very late flower and there is not enough time for any berries to grow.

Black and yellow post

Dino also sees food wherever he goes, and this post reminded him of a liquorice stick with some sweet yellow icing on the end. Don't try it, Dino!


2 October

Yellow Teddy with Spartan apples and Conference pears
What a lovely crop from the fruit trees in our garden, red Spartan apples and Conference pears. The trees are still quite small but have given a lot of fruit, and very few spoiled ones. It is worth waiting for all year.

6 October

Conkers in the grass  Pyracantha berries
A walk through Orpington Priory Gardens. I don't know if any animal eats conkers, there seem to be more around that the wildlife is making use of. This pyracantha bush was smothered in berries and they will feed the blackbirds for quite a few months.

8 October

Robin in treetop
This robin seen from my garden was singing very loudly from the tree top, to let everyone know that these gardens belong to him. You know there is a robin about because you hear their song coming from the bushes. It is best to look round very slowly so that they do not fly away in alarm. When we are digging, sometimes we stand back and let the robin come down to eat the worms, and it gives us a minute or two to go and get the camera.

12 October

Kitchen removed  Kitchen dumped outside  Kitchen socket drilled
After lots of planning, especially by me and Brown Teddy, the old kitchen has finally disappeared. It all ended up in the garden and a van eventually took it away. Dino was a bit alarmed at first, but he was glad when I told him that the food was still in the house! He was even happier when he realised that the containers from the high-up cupboards were now down at ground level where he could get to them. When the man drilled the big hole for this socket, I was in the bathroom next door and it sounded like an airplane taking off the toothbrushes were rattling in their cups!

19 October

Armchair with kitchen containers  Fridges
Dino was pleased to discover that our kitchen is now spread between the fridges in the living room and on the armchairs in the hallway . He can see all the food containers and is spending longer than usual deciding what he would like to have. When the adverts come on the television, Dino turns round to watch the fridge door instead!

Yellow Teddy looking in new cupboard  Yellow Teddy with worktop light  Dino looking in new cupboard
It's hard work remembering where everything has been put in the new cupboards. These lights underneath are like the Christmas lights that we bought last year, but all in one place. I would like to get the Christmas lights out, but it is slightly too early for that. Dino will have no difficulty remembering the contents behind this door, and as it is low down, he can read all the tins at his leisure. Dino is very active, especially turning over and over getting comfortable on his beanbag, so he needs lots of carbohydrates to provide the energy!


21 October

Bird identification noticeboard, Orpington Priory Gardens, Kent  Gulls in Orpington Priory Gardens, Kent
This noticeboard by the pond in Orpington Priory Gardens shows all the birds that come to the park. These gulls were very noisy and were probably clearing up a load of bread crumbs, but they flew away as we got nearer.

Rocks in Orpington Priory Gardens, Kent
These rocks in the gardens often have people sitting on them in the summer, but it is too cold and wet now. They must be very warm places to sit when the sun has heated the rocks.

24 October

Frosty leaves
We had the first frost this morning. These frosty leaves are in the boot sale field at Pedham where there is no shelter from the cold air. It soon warmed up and the day was quite warm and dry after a while.

31 October

Hawthorn with berries
These hawthorn trees on a footpath near the roundabout at Pedham are full of berries, or haws. I am going to check on these each time we pass, to see if the birds have eaten any. If they eat them gradually, this supply will last them all winter.

5 November

Yew branches with berries  Yew berries on the ground
These yew berries are in Orpington Priory Gardens near the car park. All parts of the tree are poisonous, and only birds can eat the berries. As the seeds are also poisonous, I don't think these fallen berries will be collected up by any mice for their winter food stores.

Coots in Orpington Priory Gardens, Kent  Ivy-covered house in Orpington Priory Gardens, Kent
These coots all came out of the water as we walked by, expecting food. I think they are a bit too tame, and should be finding their proper food of weeds in the pond water. Coots have white faces and beaks, whereas moorhens have red beaks. This very old timber-framed building next to Orpington Priory is covered in ivy at the end, right over the window. Maybe there is only a storeroom behind, because the window has disappeared behind the leaves. I suppose someone could cut a square hole in the foliage if they wanted to see out or open the window, but my guess is that the window is stuck shut. I wonder how many birds have nested in branches?


7 November

Fireworks  Yellow Teddy with Royal Gala apples
Here are last night's fireworks seen from my bedroom window, I knew when to grab the camera because of the whining sounds. There were not so many fireworks this year and I think people are saving them for the New Year midnight celebrations.

I found just a few more Royal Gala apples at the very end of the garden. It only has a few small branches, because the main big branch broke. I know it will grow again, but meanwhile we are still going to enjoy these miniature apples. There were some even smaller ones, but I left those for the blackbirds.

15 November

Aquarium handwash bottle dolphin  Aquarium handwash bottle fish  Aquarium handwash bottle turtle
What a find! These bottles of handwash come with pictures of an undersea scene. There are coral pictures on the front and back of the bottle, and there is another floating plastic sheet inside with the dolphin, fish and turtle picture on. I will be keeping them on my desk where I can see them all the time. Now that the weather is colder, I like to be reminded of warm days by the seaside. In England, when the weather on the beach is hot, the sea is still very cold!

21 November

Yellow Teddy with Christmas lights  Yellow Teddy with solar windup torch
The days are so grey and dark that we couldn't wait any longer for the Christmas lights, so we have put them all up. When we are snuggled in bed admiring the glow through the curtains, we wonder who will get up again to switch them off. When morning comes, we notice that someone has already done it for us!

This is a solar windup torch. If you leave it on the windowsill, you don't have to wear yourself out winding the handle round. I always leave it in the same place, so that I know exactly where it is, even if the lights went out suddenly.

24 November

Street lamp just at dawn  Dawn sun
I got up really early to see what the weather would be like and took this picture of the street lamp before dawn. The sun coming up looks the same as the lamp, but only for a very short while! Sometimes when the sun is just over the roof of the house, it looks as if it is rising out of the chimney stack!


16 November

frosty leaves  Frost on fuchsia
The first frost has come at last. This is Dino's favourite plant, because it is trimmed into a ball shape and looks like a big pudding, and with icing on at the moment. I am having to look very hard for the last few flowers. I prefer to do my looking from the warmth of the kitchen window.

Dino with winter cape  Brown Teddy with winter hats
Time to get the winter coats out. Dino likes his cape but he doesn't really get cold because he is on the go all the time and eats a lot as well. Brown Teddy has cleaned and pressed our fleecy hats ready for any snow that comes our way. We love snow, as long as we stay warm.

19 November

Pylon near Green Street Green
Well, no chance of snow at the moment. We walked down a road near Green Street Green and it was just like summer. This is the view from the beginning of a footpath that goes over the fields.

21 November

Wayside fallen apples at Pedham Place
On our way back from the boot sale at Pedham Place, I was very glad to see this supply of apples by the wayside, that the birds will eat. Some already had peck holes in them. If the holes are big and round it is slugs and snails, and if there are teeth marks it is country mice. I wonder if squirrels eat apples?

28 November

Frost and pylons at Hewitts Farm Kent  Frosty boot sale at Hewitts Farm Kent
There has been more and more frost every morning. I stayed indoors today but someone took pictures of the frost at the boot sale at Hewitts Farm. Everyone was wrapped in lots of layers of clothes. The sun did come out eventually but it soon disappeared behind clouds again. The good thing about these pylons is that they bring the electricity to heat the house!

Yellow Teddy with gel hand warmers
Someone got painful cold fingertips at the boot sale, and it is pity that these gel hand warmers were not ready. When they have been used, they go hard and have to be boiled for 15 minutes to get them back to liquid again. The little yellow ones can go inside the palms of gloves, and the red ones just about fit inside mittens.

30 November

Yellow Teddy watching the snow fall  Yellow Teddy looking at snowy garden
There was just a tiny dusting of snow granules this morning but it has snowed all day. I think I would be up to my neck if I went out now. The netting round the pond is sagging but the layer of snow on it makes a roof over the water, so the edges don't freeze. There are some places underneath the bushes where the snow doesn't settle, making a good place to leave some breadcrumbs for the birds.

Fuchsia in the snow  Snow on cotoneaster bush
This really is the very last flower of summer. I think when the ice melts the flower will go soggy and fall off. This cotoneaster bush always starts off full of berries but they disappear throughout the winter, although I never see the blackbird eating them. I think some fall off and get eaten by mice.

1 December

Snow in Orpington Priory pond
Plenty more snow has fallen and it is now deeper than I am tall! This is the smaller overflow pond in Priory Gardens.

Seagulls on ice on Orpington Priory Pond  Orpington Priory berries
These gulls must think they are standing on a cold beach! I don't think their feet can have much feeling for cold in them. These berries are definitely a blackbird's dinner because we could hear him making clucking noises in the bush. He was waiting for us to go.

Orpington Priory seat covered in deep snow  Priory Buildings icicles
No chance to sit down and have a rest here! These icicles in Priory Buildings were hanging along the whole of the guttering. They are very old timber-framed buildings and I think they don't keep the heat in like modern houses. I am glad our bedroom is a lot warmer and keeps our Ted Bed Beanbag cosy.

2 December

Back door step disappeared under snow  Garden under snow
My back door step has disappeared. Fortunately I have no intention of going out onto it. The birdbath in the second photo is about 18 inches high, so the snow is obviously too deep for Teds. We are doing our best to keep some water in it for the birds, but sometimes the snow falls too quickly. The area on the left of the picture is underneath the rose arches where the snow does not pile up so much, so that is where we sweep a clearing and put some crumbs. Actually someone did do some "gardening" but it was only to tip the soil out of the defrosted pots, so that they can go back outside without cracking!

3 December

Sunflower kneeling pad under snow 
I think mine is the only garden round here with a huge sunflower still surviving this is our sunflower foam kneeling pad that Auntie Freda gave us! Everyone seems to have icicles on their gutters. These ones are outside the kitchen window. Some of the ice has encased the wires as well.

5 December

Ice on pond
It's dripping everywhere so we don't have to get the ice off the pond any more, as there is now a big area of open water. The fish are swimming around slowly now and then, but they are mostly resting on the bottom of the pond.

Erysimum flower  Rose bud flower  Winter jasmine flower
I managed to find three flowers in the snow, an erysimum (which is a little wallflower), a rose bud and a winter jasmine flower. The last two were rather soggy and look much better in the photos.

Robin on fence
This robin was watching the path being cleared and swept of snow and leaves, and he kept up a very low warbling song which usually means he is interested in what the gardener is turning up in the way of bird snacks.


11 December

Piles of dirty snow
The snow has mostly melted, but these big heaps remain. They were made by the tractors that cleared the streets.

Yellow Teddy opening Christmas decoration boxes  Yellow Teddy's favourite Christmas decoration
Time to get the decorations out. There is always something in the boxes that I had forgotten we had. This drum decoration is my favourite and was bought in the 1970's.

Blue Parrot at the top of the Christmas tree
Blue Parrot has the job of decorating the top of the tree as he can fly up there. The tree-top angel always goes on last, when the rest of the tree is finished.

13 December

Old snow looking like an island
I like the shape of this last piece of snow melting, because it looks like a big island with steep cliffs sloping down to the grey sea, surrounded by some little islands. I think the cliff faces were made by the bus tyres!


18 December

Smooth new snow in Priory Gardens Orpington
Some fresh snow has fallen. This is my very favourite type of snow, absolutely flat and clean, with no footprints or marks in it. This is the sunken garden in Priory Gardens, Orpington.

Canada goose in frozen pond  Canada goose walking on pond slush
These Canada geese had to wade through the slush on their frozen pond to get to the open water.

Goose footprints in slushy pond ice  Ducks in snowy Priory Gardens Orpington
The ducks and geese have left their footprints in the slush on top of Priory Gardens pond. I don't think they have much feeling in their feet for cold . We did not stop too long just here, as the birds were walking towards us in case we had bread, and we did not want them to waste their energy. Lots of people feed the birds and squirrels here.

20 December

Gravel melting snow 1  Gravel melting snow 2
These handfuls of gravel were thrown down before the snow fell, but were warm enough to prevent the snow settling on them. It's more interesting when the iron drain covers make square holes in the snow.

Snow on pyracantha berries  Snowy footpath Orpington
Blackbird's larder well stocked in Priory Gardens. This is the foothpath home from Orpington, which was very slippery there are enough people walking here to flatten the snow into ice, but not enough to wear the snow down to slush, which might have melted it a bit more. We had to walk very very slowly and try to find the crunchy bits at the side that were not so slippery.


23 December

Cotoneaster berries  Iron sunflower ornament
We have had a blackcap bird eating these cotoneaster berries, but he disappears very quickly, so there is no chance to get a photograph of him. He is bigger than a bluetit but smaller than a sparrow, and he is grey with a black top to his head. This is the only flower left in the garden, a metal sunflower dish on a spike!

Squirrel prints in snow  Pigeon prints in snow  Fox prints in snow
Time to inspect the snowy garden. I think these must be squirrel prints as they are in pairs, which is how a squirrel jumps when he is leaping along quickly. Next are pigeon prints, but the middles have melted so they look like duck prints. The last are the fox. We normally spray the garden with the anti-fox scent, but no-one wanted to go out much in this weather to renew it!

Yellow Teddy checking ice on fish pond  Yellow Teddy and snowy pots
I am glad to see a big patch of clear water on the pond. We have to take as much ice as we can off the pond, so that the water stays fresh. The moving water from the filter normally keeps this patch clear. The summer flowers may be gone, but the pots are looking very decorative with their snowy hats. It looks like a village of pots and the villagers are a lot of woodlice hiding under the pots!

Yellow Teddy and bluetit nest box  Yellow Teddy with apple tree stump
This is the bluetit box, with some artificial Christmas-tree type garland over it to disguise it. I think some bluetits used it during the summer. This is the sawn stump of the old apple tree. The hole is where the robin nested last spring. We thought we might put it under a bush to make a nesting place again.

Yellow Teddy with compost bins
This bin is where a lot of worms are spending the winter. Worms don't like being hot, so a coolish compost bin is just right for them. When we dig it out, the birds will have a great time feeding, but that is a long way off just now.


24 December

Christmas decoration church and trees  Christmas decoration trees
We have had these little trees for a very long time, and the ones that have lost their tubs have to be held up with Blutack. They used to be sold as Christmas cake decorations, but nowadays cake trees are mostly plastic.

Christmas Cactus flowers  Yellow Teddy checking presents under Christmas tree
The Christmas Cactus was a present from Auntie Freda and has lots of buds. it is definitely living up to its name. We are keeping it in the porch where it is not too hot. I can't work out what is in these parcels. There is a big round one but it is too hard to be a Christmas pudding!

Yellow Teddy looking at window Christmas lights  Blue Parrot getting to sleep
One last look at the window lights before going to bed. Here is Blue Parrot snuggled under my red snow cape on our Ted Bed Beanbag. The room is warm but he feels cosier with a blanket over him! We go to bed quite early because we don't want to be tired tomorrow. Dino is already asleep.

25 December

Yellow Teddy with Christmas cards  Yellow Teddy with Yorkshire puddings
I always take a photo of all the cards together as a reminder, it would be too much to keep them all every year. After Christmas we might keep a few colourful or snowy ones to decorate the wall through the grey days of January. I was well pleased with my Yorkshire puddings, they all rose high and did not get burnt! Their lovely colour makes me feel warm on a snowy Christmas Day.

Yellow Teddy with Christmas pudding and custard  Dino with Christmas pudding
I will need some help to manage all this lovely pudding and minty ice cream. Fortunately Dino is always nearby to lend a hand, or should I say teeth. The pudding had nuts in, which always pleases Dino, as he likes anything that crunches.

Brown Teddy with scented drawer cushion  Dino with Bluetooth headset
Brown Teddy spent a long time closely inspecting this beautiful embroidered little cushion from Auntie Freda. Then I found out that it was scented! We are going to put it in the clothes drawer, but we will have to get it out now and then to admire it. Dino was delighted with this Bluetooth headset, he said it makes him look like a different dinosaur with horns.

Dino with Christmas wrapping paper  Blue Parrot with hat made of Christmas wrapping paper
Dino never fails to inspect the wrapping in case anything has been forgotten. I think he just likes to make all the rustling noises and throw it around. Blue Parrot has made a good hat out of the wrapper that was round the Christmas Cactus plant pot.

Dino counting chocolate money  Colourful Christmas sweets
Dino likes counting games before he eats the chocolate, he is always hoping that there may be one or two more coins when he counts them again. He also likes to count the sweets so he knows how quickly people are eating them. He does not like counting the wrappers! Best get in quick, Dino, and choose your favourite before it disappears!

Dino guarding his favourite chocolate toffee sweets
Time for a quick nap, carefully guarding the favourites hard toffee covered in chocolate, just right for someone with strong teeth.


28 December

Blackened snow remains  Bromley Millennium Rock, Priory Gardens, Orpington
Here is an interesting pair of similar looking lumps. The first is a pile of old snow, blackened by the dirt from the road. The second is the Bromley Millennium Rock in Orpington Priory Gardens donated from Lochinver in Scotland. The plaque says it is over 2,000 million years old. I wonder how they know that?

31 December

Yellow Teddy looking at Christmas tree decorations  Yellow Teddy looking at Christmas lights
One last look at the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve, as tomorrow we will start to pack some of it away. But these lights will be staying up for quite a lot longer, to see us through the gloomy days in January.




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