1 September 2011
Someone has made us a smart new beanbag bed out of velvety
material with bits of ribbon woven through it. It is bigger and better than our
old one, and we all decided to try it at the same time. Dino always goes on the
end, so that the rest of us don't fall off. It is a lot more comfortable because
the filling can spread out more.
We went on an outing to the seaside. We parked on the
seafront at Westgate and in the photo you can just see all the beach huts.
We walked along the seafront towards Margate. These big
rocks are to protect the wall and road from the winter waves. All the lamp posts
along the seafront have these dolphins on, in pairs with one looking each way.
This is how people thought dolphins looked long ago before photographs were
invented, when they only had descriptions and stories from sailors.
Margate beach is very big and flat with lots of soft sand. There are lots of
amusements and places to play.
This dolphin is on top of a signpost and he looks as if he is making his way
back to the sea. The purpose of this ice cream sign is to remind children that
it has been a whole ten minutes since they last had one to eat! There are lots
of amusement arcades and my favourite is the penny push. I have never seen the
whole lot fall off the edge so I don't put my money it because it is unlikely I
will get it back in winnings. If you look carefully, you can sometimes see the
pennies making their way into the side holes where they fall into storage boxes.
This waymarker is at the beginning of the pier. Dino was delighted that the
shapes on it were of fossils and he is wondering if there are any more real
fossils in Margate. The Shell Lady is at the end of the pier. The scallop shells
are made of metal and the sculpture is taller than a person.
This drainage hole is at the bottom of the wall at the end of the pier. I like
to see waves crashing, but I got someone else to take the photograph as I don't
like leaning over sea walls too much! I can watch the video of the waves at
home, in comfort and safety.
This part of the sea all is protected by a sloping rock surface, to slow down
the water and stop sudden crashes of the waves. This young seagull was doing it
best to get its parent to feed it but there was not much to eat on that part of
the beach. It would be better to fly out to sea and catch fish, or find some
dustbins that haven't got lids on!
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We went along the coast to Herne Bay. Blue Parrot is not allowed to fly off when
we are out and about, but he has very good eyes to see everything from ground
level. He found this writing on the back of a beach hut, and we were all very
interested to see that someone still likes to do neat handwriting. I think they
were practising it whilst contemplating the waves.
It was difficult to decide which beach hut was the best, but I think it has to
be that orange one in the middle with the rising sun painted on it.
There are huts all along the seafront and they are all kept
smart. I am glad they all chose different colours of paint.
You can't miss these waste bins all along the seafront.
These rides are near the pier. Teacup rides are my second favourite, my first
favourite are carousels with painted horses.
This is a good place to check that the seagull's feet are clean underneath!
This is a human sundial. You stand on the central part and your shadow falls on
the time of day. This shadow fell on 4 o'clock. There are two semi-circular rows
of markers, one for winter and one for summer. The central part has months
marked, so we stood on the September part.
This circle of pebbles has a flag mast in the middle and the 12 points of
compass marked in round plaques. Most of the plaques show sea creatures, but I
think they are made-up beasties, not real ones. The second one looks like an
aquatic miniature dragon, and I think he must be breathing sea foam and not
This is the Pier Pavilion containing a sports hall. Most of the pier has been
lost, and this short length is the only part that can be used. The old postcard
on the notice board shows how it looked a long time ago, much more decorative
Piers were made so that pleasure boats could moor there,
and as the bay is very flat at Margate, the pier had to be very long. This is
the end part out at sea and it is falling apart. I would really like to see it
rebuilt so that we can all walk to the end and see the whole coastline from out
at sea. Maybe they could rebuild the end bit first, before it falls into the
sea, and then have ferry boat rides to take us out there!
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We travelled along the coast to Whitstable. It is very
different from Herne Bay and Margate because it is a working fishing town.
The seagulls know how to get an easy dinner with so many fishing boats and
seafood restaurants around.
Whitstable is famous for its oysters. This huge pile of
shells on the beach is behind an oyster restaurant.
This is a traditional sweet shop, with sweets in jars and
not in packets. You can ask for the exact weight of the sweets you want. Seaside
shops windows are good entertainment and I think the owners spend the quiet
winter thinking of what to put in next year's displays.
This back wall of a building has wave patterns all along its length. The windows
look like ship's portholes.
This is the side wall of a bowling alley building. The red sun makes it look
like the end of a really hot day. On the right are the bowling pins and balls.
These are gabions, which are steel baskets full of pebbles, and sometimes rocks.
It is a cheap way of building a retaining wall at the seaside. Some thoughtful
person has included a layer of fake fossils at eye-level.
Here's a good answer to the difficulties of growing plants in a seafront garden.
This sculpture is just over a wooden seat, so that you can sit and put your head
in the diving helmet and look out to sea.
If I had waited a bit longer before taking the picture, that seagull standing on
the concrete part might have made his way onto the end post. But then the others
might have flown away. It is always best to take a picture immediately!
We got to Whitstable rather late, so we did not have time to see everything. On
the way home I like to make notes of what to come back and see another day. Next
time we will come here first, before going on to the other places. This bus is
very colourful but it seems to blend into the background, so I hope his brake
lights are good and bright!
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Today we are going to Hastings in the church minibus with
some of the Fellowship Ladies. I got up really early and checked the weather
forecast on the Met Office website – heavy rain and gales!
I sat in the front seat but it was very difficult to see
some of the road signs. The wipers were going really fast and all the cars had
their headlights on. This bridge is just by Wrotham Hill.
The ladies got off at the seafront and we drove up the hill to the cliff top to
park the minibus. The wind was very strong, gusty and loud, blowing the sea into
huge waves. I took my old camera as well, so that I could take pictures in the
rain. These seagulls were huddling down and facing into the wind. Their slim
shape means they don't get blown away.
The boating pond was very choppy and the swan boats were covered up. On the
seafront the wind was roaring, we could hardly hear ourselves speak, and the
rain was blowing horizontally. There was nobody else around. I took a movie but
it took two people to keep the camera still, one to stand still as a windbreak
and the other to point the camera just peeking round the side of his coat!
We all had a lovely dinner in The Mermaid Restaurant – fish and chips, and apple
pie with ice cream. The rain stopped for a bit, but by the time we came out of
the restaurant, it had started again. These sea creature sculptures were
obviously enjoying the rain.
Here is a display of old-fashioned sweet packets from many years ago, and
everyone could remember eating the Love Heart sweets that each had little
messages on. I could play with this dolls house for hours, if not days!
There are a lot of artists in Hastings and these are paintings of the net sheds.
This artist had done them really well, keeping the drawing simple and not too
fussy. These fish are a good reminder of Hastings and on this rainy day they
would be right at home outside in the wet.
In this shop window I saw some solar butterflies that fly in circles around the
pot plant. There were some water tank ornaments that look like undersea scenes,
and bubbles that escape and make the figures move. Everyone decided they had had
enough of the weather, and eventually we went back up the cliff steps to get the
minibus. Near the top of the steps was this mosaic fish.
I was glad to get into the minibus out of the rain and gales, but we wanted to
get back down to the town really quickly to pick up the ladies who were huddling
in one of the seafront shelters. The rain eased off on the way home, but the
wind was still strong.
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This was a lovely surprise – someone bought me this solar butterfly from
Hastings. It flutters as it goes round, because the central spindle goes faster
than the wire with the butterfly.
These flowers by the road sign in Chislehurst look very
lovely but they are in danger of getting in the way of the traffic lights. They
match the lights in red yellow and green, very thoughtful of Bromley gardening
Whenever I see birds crowding on the aerials, I think what
a wonderful view they have of all the gardens. These starlings and crows are
having a look around for places where
there might be food. If they see other birds eating, I think they fly off and
join in before all the scraps get eaten. I would like to see the view from the chimney pot but I
don't think that is likely to happen!
We are having a very good late summer with lots of hot
days. Here are the fish in my garden, enjoying a lazy day in the sunshine. This
end of the pond has a shallow part with lots of weed and it warms up very
quickly. The weeds are a good source of fish snacks.
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We visited Hall Place in Bexley, to see the historic house and gardens.
Here is the entrance and gardens. There is a big greenhouse full of tropical
plants so we went in there first.
There are lots of banana trees, some even growing outside,
but this one inside has been kept hot enough to produce flowers and fruits. I
think it will be quite a while before these green ones turn yellow. The last
photo is of coleus plants, which I am definitely going to grow more of next
year. I will make sure I get a packet of the brightest mixture.
In the greenhouse is a long pond with goldfish and Koi,
and a little waterfall at one end to keep the water aerated. Unlike my fish,
these goldfish will have warm water through the year and so stay more active. My
fish slow down and almost go to sleep when it is freezing. These cactus plants
are very interesting, but of course not to be touched. They have put the more
prickly ones at the back. This shelf is at the south end of the greenhouse,
where they will get baked in the sun.
Here is Hall Place house which was built in 1537 for the
Lord Mayor of London, although there was a building here in about the 12th
century. The grey part looks the oldest, and the front part looks like a later
addition in a different building style. You can read its history here:
In front are the rose gardens, so I am
definitely going to come back here next June to see them in flower.
Here is the oldest part, with really old rough timbers
everywhere. Anyone interested in carpentry or timber framed buildings would probably want to spend a whole
day here. This very old door has light coming through the nail holes!
This big hall is a bit smarter, with wood panelling, an electric chandelier and
a minstrels gallery. The two big windows make it a very bright room but it must
have been very cold in winter without modern heating. Everyone wore a lot more
clothes in those days, but I think they would still have been standing around
the big fireplace. The servants would get warm running around doing their jobs!
Here is the kitchen just off the hall pictured above. This
would have been full of servants and tables, preparing the meals for the master
of the house and his guests. I think this would have been the warmest room in
Here is the information board showing what the kitchen
looked like. These servants look rushed off their feet!
There a lots of carved chairs and it is very interesting to
look more closely at the patterns, swirls and flowers in the wood. The detail
above is either a fish, a sea serpent or a dolphin, carved at a time when people
thought the sea was full of strange monster creatures.
One of the rooms has lots of things for children to play
with. Here is a brass-rubbing corner, with brasses on a little desk, squares of paper and a box
of crayons, and you can take your rubbing home with you. There are historical
clothes and hats to dress up in, and lots of displays that you can play with.
You can open all the drawers and see what's inside.
The globe on this staircase newel post has been repaired with a wooden segment,
and that was long before the days of Chocolate Oranges. You can
see lots of other splits in the wood, as it is very old. How many hands have grabbed
these globes over the years as they went up and down the stairs?
This is a Berlin wool-work tapestry of "The Hawking Party" about to leave Haddon
Hall in Derbyshire, made by Susannah Monday in the early 1900's. The hawks are
sitting with their hoods on (to keep them calm and quiet). The hawks are at the
bottom left of the tapestry. This type of wool work was very popular in
Victorian times. It is very difficult to take a photo of a picture that is
behind glass, especially when there are big windows opposite, you have to stand well to the side!
Many of the rooms are set out with exhibits on different
subjects. The first photo is an Edison Home Phonograph, which was the first
sound recording machine using cylinders covered in tin foil, on which a needle made
indentations. The middle photo shows the next stage, when a similar method was
used to indent the sound pattern onto flat disks.
The third photo is one of the first sewing machines, which
made making clothes a lot faster than hand-sewing.
Some of these exhibits are on loan, so when we go back,
there may be an entirely different collection on show. It's best to take photos
straight away while you are there and not wait until your next visit!
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In the Tudor period people loved patterns and this tower
part of the house is very smart, looking like a Fair Isle or Jacquard jumper.
This closeup shows that the pattern is made up of squares of normal stone and
squares with flint chips embedded. This intricate work would have taken a lot longer than
a plain wall and would have been more expensive to commission, so it would have
been obvious to visitors how rich the house owner was.
At the far end of the house is a secret garden through this
gate. I like to think of it as a secret garden, but really it is probably just a
private garden, and not much different from all the other garden areas round the
house! This piece of topiary is of a peacock, with the rounded part on the right
being his tail.
There are many more topiary shrubs in this part of the
garden, in round and square shapes. When I saw this from the
upstairs windows, I thought it was a row of toys, but when I read the labels I
found out that they are heraldic animals – the real ones are greyhound, bull,
eagle, horse and lion, and the mythical ones are dragon, griffin, unicorn, and yale. A yale was thought to look like a deer or a goat with big horns.
Just beyond the topiary is a grass maze, sometimes called a
turf maze. These mazes were
meant to be walked round, so that the person walking could contemplate their
walk through life. They were not mazes that you have to find your way out of,
because there is only one route round it.
The River Cray runs through the grounds, and here it passes
the cafe and gift shop. These geese are on the
upper part of the river. They stay close to the cafe where bits of bread might
occasionally be thrown to them by the people sitting on the terrace.
The gardens are quite big and there are a lot of trees and
open spaces. I looked very hard but could not find a name or description of this
sculpture. But I did find some information which says this big stone is going to have a
grass maze around it. Can't wait!
This very long dip in the ground is a channel to take
overflow water and the stripes are where the grass has been mown. The channel
goes all round another big field and eventually joins the River Cray further
downstream. The second photo shows the water with duckweed on top, looking like
a smooth bowling green, but you definitely can't walk on it.
The nursery area at Hall Place is full of flowers, fruit
trees and greenhouses. You can buy plants in one
of the greenhouses. I think that possibly this type of flower border is for
providing cut flowers for the house, as there are a lot of the same type
together, instead of being all mixed in with each other.
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I have just about got time to plant all these bulbs before
the weather gets cold. I am going to put them all in large tubs so that I get a
good show. When I plant bulbs in the ground, they do not seem to last very many years,
because the soil is so dry. I cleared out the straggly petunias from the pot
tower, but I couldn't throw the good flowers away. I brought them indoors and
they should last another week. And of course the photos of them will last even
We went to Sevenoaks today. This shop window display is one
of the best I have seen, all colours of the rainbow and full of chocolates. What
more could you want!
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A day out to Maidstone. This is the entrance to Mote Park,
where we park the car and have our sandwiches. Mote Park is one of my
favourite places, as it is big with lots of trees and open spaces.
This lovely view of the lake has been achieved by removing
quite a few big trees, and now as you come down the slope you can see the whole
lake and the rest of the park. It is a big improvement, and there are still
hundreds of other trees to enjoy.
Some people were throwing in whole slices of bread and you
can imagine the noise and squawking that was going on, mainly from the seagulls.
They tend to stay away from the people at the waterside but are happy to swoop
in quickly to grab the bread if they can. If you are a seagull, grabbing bread
is not enough, you have to actually eat it as fast as you can, in case it gets
taken from your beak!
There were plenty of acorns on the trees and lying around on the grass. They
were crunching under our feet. The squirrels were busy burying them but I think there were too many
even for them. A long time ago I used to wonder how oak tree seedlings came to
be growing in my garden, until I found out all about the habits of squirrels.
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Brown Teddy was a bit concerned when he saw that the park had lost a tree. I
think if a tree is dying or rotten, the sooner it comes down the better, and
preferably taken down safely when there are no people about. But not to worry,
there are plenty of new ones going in. This one still had its plant label on "Quercus
Robur" which means Oak.
The park was full of crows walking about. Crows are usually timid birds, but
they were so busy eating all the berries and worms that they did not mind when
people were walking past. The park notice board lists all the birds you might
Blue Parrot was delighted to find this sandpit to play in, as he likes to dig in
sand and fling it around with his beak. It is a mini-golf sand hole and its
looks well trodden. As it was a bit damp, he decided not to roll around but just
walk over it for a bit.
The moles have been busy tidying their tunnels and leaving
these mounds on the surface. I am sure they can hear us walking about and they
would never come out while we are there. In private gardens, people used to
sweep up the mole hills and use the soil in their plant pots, as it is fine and
crumbly, thanks to the moles.
This is the bridge at the top end of the park. The water
runs over the bit in the foreground when the level is high. They are going to
improve this bridge and I suspect that tiptoeing through the shallow water will
be a thing of the past. At least any new bridge is bound to be a lot safer and
drier, if not such fun.
A bit further on there is a choice of paths. As this is the
halfway point, we decided to go straight on and get back to the starting point
in the car park.
Dino was very excited about this water inlet at the top end of the park.
However, as the weather was not a heatwave, he did not feel inclined to have a
splash. When he got nearer and saw all the thick sticky mud, he decided that
even in a heatwave he will probably prefer to just watch and listen. At least
it's nice to know there is a good supply of fresh water coming into the lake.
Back at the car, Dino thought he saw a giant dinosaur
eating up the car park, so after eating his sandwiches plus one or two extra, he
went to have a look.
Here is the Digger Dinosaur, scraping up the car park and making it all level.
It even has some spare teeth to use for different jobs. The Digger Dinosaur's
owner was sitting in the cab and supervising all the work.
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We like to go to Polhill Garden Centre to see all the fish.
This is the big Koi tank and I am glad that they have plenty of room to swim
around. Many of them are a metre or more long. You can get good photos from the
steps that go up to the upper sales level. The staff provide bags of pellets so that
children can feed the fishes.
There are lots of tanks of tropical fishes for sale. They are very decorative
and worthy of a photo, but when you take a picture, it is often blurred because
they never seem to stop moving and darting around. These two were taking a rest.
I saw this "money" amongst the autumn leaves whilst out walking. It says Two
Pence but as 2p coins are brown, I knew that this was the wrapper from a
chocolate coin. Once you have eaten your chocolate coins, I wonder if it is
possible to refill the foil with melted chocolate and make another one? I will
try this over Christmas – if I can find any chocolate coins hanging from the
tree that is!
This bird nestbox is for a robin, because the front is open. We will have to put
it low down in a thick shrub where it cannot be seen. You know when it is in use
because the robin will keep flying in and out of that bush all day, and
eventually you see the speckled baby robins sitting around the garden waiting to
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This is Firework Night and every time I hear the firework
noises, I look out of the window to see if I can take photos of any of them.
There were a lot more this year than in other years. I didn't hear any
"screamers" which I am glad about, but there were lots of my favourite
starbursts in all colours.
These mossy tree trunks by the pond in Priory Park remind me of maps. I haven't
decided what countries they are but the top left one looks a bit like India. The
one on the right seems to have lots of little clouds floating about, and I am
sure they are producing a lot of rain because the countries are completely
green and watered! I think they are lichens rather than moss and on some of them
you can see how they have grown out from the centre.
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This robin has been singing from the telephone wire outside my window every
morning for some time now. Once he has sung his song, he stops to listen for
rivals who might be singing from their favourite perches. He won't let any
rivals get on his territory.
This interesting path leads to Poverest Recreation Ground and Covet Wood. It is
near the top right on the map, where the path starts between the houses. Covet Wood is on the left and the allotments are
on the right. We used to have a half-size allotment here many years ago and made sure
that we chose one right near one of the water tanks! We grew tomatoes, beetroot
and strawberries, and some flowers for cutting.
This stile is at Hewitts Farm, where we sometimes go for the boot fair. They
were originally designed to allow people over but not sheep or cows. Nowadays I
think they are there because it is cheaper than a gate and to stop bikes going
Being a gardener, whenever I see messy brambles I want to
tidy them up. I would not let it grow like this in my garden, but out in the
countryside it is the ideal place for birds and small animals, full of berries
and food, and safe because of the thick mass of thorny branches, and it also
makes a good thick boundary hedge out of a simple wire fence.
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Here is the green area by the River Cray near the small boating pond (seen in
the distance). The gardeners have used their blowers to get the leaves into
stripy lines. If the day had been wet, I don't think the leaves would have
budged much from the muddy grass. There must be another interesting machine to
pick up the stripes of leaves, which I hope I will see in action another day.
When I looked out of my kitchen window, I noticed what I thought was a very late
flower. I found six of these
mushrooms growing under a bush. If I drew a head and beak on each one, they
would look like fluffy mother hens. Whenever I get mushrooms or fungi growing in
my garden, it is always because there is an old dead root or large bits of twigs
buried in the soil.
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This is Coolings Garden Centre. They have twiggy reindeer
everywhere, and I especially liked this display of them pulling a very smart
looking antique car. Sitting in the driving seat was a well-known character with
a red coat.
These robins look very happy and cheerful. The ones in the
second photo would be much better kept indoors or in a porch or greenhouse. If
you have a resident robin, he will attack these lookalikes as intruders on his
territory and he will wear himself out unnecessarily. You will then end up with
only toy robins, but no real robins! We once made a pretending bird out of a bit
of foam with two toy eyes, to keep birds off some young plants, but the robin in
residence got really upset, thinking it was a predator, jumping on it and
pecking bits off it. We had to remove the offending foam lump.
These friendly looking owls look just like the troublesome
foam lump described above, so robins beware!
This spade is a good 4 metres tall. It could do a lot of
useful work in the garden in a short space of time, but only if there is someone
big and tall
who can lift it!
I really like this Easigrass display, the grass looks very
real and is soft to the touch. Only the absence of weeds gives you a clue that
it's made of plastic.
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These geese in a school playing field are doing a good job of being feathered
lawnmowers, but I think it can get a bit messy if they stay in residence too
long. Hopefully they have a long list of school playing fields to visit, so that
they move on after a short while.
More reindeer made of woven twigs in a garden centre
Many of the Christmas trees have been netted but they do look like a lot
of spiders have been at work. Here is the netting apparatus and I wonder if it
was invented by the person who also designed the device that helps people who
have difficulty getting their socks on.
It was a lot warmer inside the shop. I suppose one could buy all the little snow
villages and snowmen, but where would one put them all after Christmas is over?
I think making your own would be a lot more fun, with cotton wool, twigs and
glitter, and you can get very tiny sets of battery-operated lights to drape over
your twiggy trees.
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We always go to Polhill Garden Centre at Christmas because
their displays are so interesting. These polar bears welcomed us in. Two of them
are looking towards the section of the shop that has all the decorations, maybe
they would like a few more colourful baubles on their stand!
Someone has had the good idea of setting the lights display
against a mirrored wall. It is very difficult to choose the best lights, but luckily I did not
have that problem as I already have too many sets of lights at home! The
reason being that they were all at half and quarter price in the
January sales and we went a bit overboard in stocking up for the future.
There is a big glass case with lots of village scenes on all sides, some moving
and with lights and others just decorative. This was a lot of hard work for someone,
but I am sure they enjoyed every minute, especially as the Manager has obviously
told them to use lots of everything and cram it all in.
I am glad these are not actually made of gingerbread,
because I think people would try to take a piece off them and there
would be nothing left to see. I think these Christmas puddings were probably
candles, as they were with the other decorations.
In the food hall, these are definitely edible. And here is
the chocolate money that I am going to do my experiment with – melting some
chocolate and refilling the the foils. And who will help me eat up the leftover
chocolate that will probably drip everywhere? There will be no shortage of
volunteers for that cleanup job.
Dino stayed at home today, but he would have liked to see
this jigsaw puzzle picture. These velour stockings are just the right size for
our presents, not too big and not too small. This little teddy was on top of a
larger toy, which is a shame as I might have bought one if he had been for sale
on his own. Maybe I ought to go back and have another look in case I missed
seeing tiny teddies for sale.
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The weather has been quite warm for a while, but now it is
getting cold, with overnight frost. We went for a walk by Covet Wood on our way to the shops. This is
my favourite part where the long path goes into the wood, because you can see a
long way in. These planks go over a small ditch which sometimes get quite wet
and muddy. You are not really in the wood until you have crossed this bridge.
This old fence is being buried by the autumn leaves, but
when the leaves rot down, the fence posts will all be visible again. I like
this swing in the children's playground, because you can lie in the middle and
look at the sky as you swing.
We went on to Priory Park. I was a bit concerned that the water level has gone
right down, but it has done this before and I know that it will all come back.
This goose is standing with his legs showing in a part where he would normally
be swimming free.
This pavilion looks out over the ornamental gardens and is a good place to hurry
to if it rains. The park is looking bare but there are lots of primulas in the
beds, waiting for some sunny days to bring them out. One of the trees has been
taken down and cut up, and I make it about 30 rings, which is 30 years of
Here is the Christmas Tree in The Walnuts Shopping Centre. It is a big hollow
cone with leaves wrapped round. On the way home these magpies were cleaning the
worms off the damp path but they soon flew away when they saw us coming in the
distance. Fortunately the camera has a very good zoom on it.
Here is the Walnuts Christmas Robin zooming about on roller skates
with a very happy face, and keeping all the children amused and open-mouthed. I
looked for a robin hat to wear, but I did find these chicken and animal hats.
You would certainly not get lost in the crowds wearing one of these!
The carol singers in the Walnuts were doing a wonderful
job, singing all the traditional carols and songs, and collecting for a
children's charity. They had obviously done a lot of practising, as they were
well prepared with song sheets and everyone knew all the words and tunes
perfectly. I am glad they were in the warm, so that their singing voices would
last a bit longer. When they get home, they deserve to have someone fluff up the
cushions and bring them some warm slippers, and a hot lemon drink for their throats.
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I always put out my collection of miniature Christmas trees
on the alcove shelf. This year I have decided it is easier to have them all on a
narrow tray. The start off straight but then they start leaning when the sticky
blobs get warm. Time to get out the teddy decorations that I bought at the boot
fair during the summer.
Now there are three types of teddy on my Christmas tree,
the first has sandy-coloured glitter to make the teddy look fluffy. The one in
the middle looks as if his cheeks are full of chocolate. The white
one is polystyrene with flock on the outside. He normally goes on the little
white tree up on the shelf, but this year I thought he would like to be with all
the other teddies on the main tree.
This was a lovely surprise, some chocolate money inside a
Christmas card. I will stick on some loops of wool and hang them on the
Christmas tree but they will have to go right at the back where Dino cannot find
them. He likes to check the tree over every day, but he is too big to get round
On my shopping trip today I saw the first snow of winter.
Well, it is a fridge shop! This snowman is a much better
type of snow, white chocolate!
Now that the days are shorter and colder, the fish spend
more time on the bottom of the pond. I think the water is slightly warmer down
there. They still come up when it is sunny, but they are definitely slowing
down. Further down the garden, I have planted some pyracantha bushes which will
have red, orange and yellow berries, and two small holly trees. Although
pyracanthas are very prickly, it is worth putting up with because of the huge
amount of berries that they have. If any branches start getting in the way, I
will bend them back against the trellis. I don't want to cut off branches that
might have lots of berries on!
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I just managed to grab the camera and get into the rainbow,
before the sun moved and it disappeared. It's a continuation of my rainbow
ribbon! This bow has nothing to do with rain and everything to do with the
bevelled edge of the wardrobe mirrors. The weather is getting colder and this
picture will make me feel warm every time I look at it.
Yesterday we had a very brief shower of slushy snowflakes.
Here is some more pretending snow in a shop window to keep us happy until we get
a good amount of the real thing. We were amused by this second shop window where
a huge easel and big wide canvas were labelled as an "ideal stocking filler".
Some big stocking!
Well done to the brass band playing carols in Orpington
High Street. I've got some trumpets like those on my Christmas tree but I like
the band's ones much better.
It was a very promising golden sunrise today, although it
was quite frosty. The clouds soon came over and it turned into a dark grey day,
with the rain starting at midday. It was dark enough for the Christmas lights in
the middle of the afternoon. We stayed in and read books, and Dino played with
his dinosaur colouring book. I finished wrapping the Christmas presents and
checking all the gift tags were stuck on really well.
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Some Christmas trees are just decorated cones. This ice
cream cone has been decorated like a Christmas tree!
We went to Ruxley Manor Garden Centre to see the reindeer.
This is Bolt and Lightning, who were very happily eating the hay while families
and children took photos from all sides. The reindeer eventually settled down to
sleep, and I think they are probably looking forward to being back in their
field after Christmas.
Inside I saw this life-size toy reindeer with a very
stroked-looking nose. These big plastic cows have had a paint job for Christmas,
and you can just see the smaller one has antler woggles on his head. They are
just right for the party season, and I hope it all comes off in the shower,
ready for their next makeover!
I always like to see the aquarium fishes in garden centres.
This one can be seen from both sides. The fish are a lot more colourful and
interesting than all the Christmas decorations and lights.
These little rabbits were surrounded by children who all
wanted one. I hope they remember that they are not toys and that they need lots
of looking after. This lizard did not move at all as people went past. I
don't think anyone noticed he was there at all, because he is so well
camouflaged on the log.
Behind the reindeer enclosure were some fierce-looking
small dinosaurs. Our Dino is much more loving and friendly, and I am sure he
would soon teach this lot how to behave better and not growl so much. Lots of
parents and children were queuing to go into this grotto, but we could not
see who or what was inside. Maybe we should have asked the reindeer if they
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We took a walk along the River Cray. The ducks were making
a lot of noise and when we got to their part of the river, we saw that some
parents and small children were throwing bread to them. They have got used to
people, and know that food is often going to come their way. By the time we got
to the river bank, the people had moved on, and so the ducks came streaming
towards us. But unfortunately all they got was their pictures taken!
This big tree has been cut down and looking at the hollow
rotten middle, it was obviously a danger and had to be felled. The good thing is
that trunks are left on the ground so that lots of insects and beetles have
somewhere to live and the wood eventually turns back into soil. The tree was
covered in ivy and sometimes the weight of the ivy brings branches down,
especially in the gales we have had recently. These trees further along have had
the ivy cut from the root to prevent that happening, but it is growing again. No
doubt Bromley Council gardening department have a folder called Ivy Covered
Trees that they consult now and again.
I waited ages to see if this piece of branch would go over
the edge of the weir but the water was not strong enough. Here is Brown Teddy
further upstream, finding out the reason why – not much water flow coming along.
The river is usually very clear but this time there was a layer of silty mud
that had settled on the stones.
The ponds at Orpington have lost their water again, but
they have done this before and they will be full again soon. But it does look
very sad to see it empty. The lower pond has just enough for the ducks to swim
but it is a lot shallower than normal. We were delighted to see a gardener
putting in some spring pansies and I am sure he just loves to drive this buggy
around, to carry the tools and boxes of plants. If it is raining, he can sit in
it and have his lunch listening to his Ipod, or maybe he likes to read his
I finished my Christmas shopping this morning, with a few
extra snacks for Dino, as he is a big eater, as all dinosaurs are of course. As
it's Christmas, I think this statue in the Chinese restaurant just has to be the
Archangel Michael, dressed in his armour, and towering over the traditional
Christmas characters. He is making sure that Christmas in Orpington goes
smoothly and I am sure he is enjoying these heavenly trees sparkling and glowing
on the gloomy afternoon.
I really like this Google Maps animation of the Christmas sleigh
travelling around the world and I wish I could have a ride in it. Here is a
picture of the sky outside my home and it looks just like the part of the
animation where presents are being delivered at the speed of light around the
We all settled down to watch The Lion The Witch and The
Wardrobe, where the children helped win back the country of Narnia from the bad
Queen and brought the hundred-year winter to an end. The Lion was as nice and
friendly as our Dino. After the film we were ready for bed.
Blue Parrot checked under the Christmas tree again. We
thought that an extra blanket would make our bed much cosier so that we would
all get off to sleep more quickly. Shopping and watching long films made sure we
fell asleep straight away.
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When I came down some extra bags of presents had appeared
under the tree. Brown Teddy had the job of setting out the tablecloth, napkins
and decorations. Blue Parrot's job was to arrange the cutlery and crackers
neatly round the table.
Dino's was on oven duty, and he really enjoyed watching the
progress through the glass door. When he wasn't looking at the food cooking, he
was looking at the clock to see how much longer it would be. He was really glad
when cutting up time came and made sure that all the pieces were cut good and
Brown Teddy does not like lumpy custard so he volunteered
to keep stirring it. Here he has just put the milk in before heating it up. Blue
Parrot wanted the ice cream cut in neat squares so that all the pieces had a
stripe of yellow, pink and chocolate. I like the chocolate part of the ice cream
best. The Christmas pudding was very nutty, so there was a lot of crunching
going on, especially from a certain beak. The custard turned out really smooth
and thick, so well done Brown Teddy.
At 3 o'clock we watched the Queen's message, all about how
important families are, and I liked it when she said that even friends can be
like families. After that we opened the presents, and a lot of them were
chocolates and new clothes.
We then went out to visit Auntie Billy and on the way we
saw this lovely angel light on a house. We we got back, Brown Teddy and Dino
settled down by the radiator to read the new Rupert Bear book. Stories are so
much better if you are sucking a toffee, of course!
I cleared away in the kitchen. I wondered whether it was
worth struggling to get the tight lids on these leftover mince pies. I think
Dino will soon find them, they are probably already on his list for tomorrow.
Blue Parrot is looking forward to tomorrow when he will have room to eat some of
these delicious Belgian biscuits. He likes the crunchy ones with nuts or hard
bits. I like the chocolate wafer ones.
Blue Parrot was delighted that we now have another nest box
and this will go in one of the thicker bushes. If we leave the front on, it will
be for bluetits, and if we take the hole part off, it will be for robins who
like an open front. We are wondering where to put this new bird bath, as we
already have three!
This snowy house is my favourite ornament, because the
lights are very bright. Dino was delighted with his new present of some glowing
egg lights. They change colour quite slowly, but Dino has found out that if you
look away, and then look back, they seem to have changed more quickly. I know
that Dino will want to go to bed quite early tonight, so that he can play with
them under the blankets when the big light is switched off.
Boxing Day is always Christmas cake day. Dino is admiring
this lovely chocolate cake made by Auntie Sally. The sleigh has made skid marks
in the chocolate, and there is a tree covered in snow and a very tiny Robin.
Dino kept wondering what the inside looked like, so I just had to cut it open to
see. Dino also kept wondering what the white stripe tasted of, so again I just
had to cut off a piece for him. We all enjoyed our pieces and some of it I made
into little foil-wrapped parcels to keep for later.
We went for a walk to Orpington to get some fresh air.
These are the tree-shaped Christmas lights by the War Memorial at the end of the
High Street. It must look lovely at night, although I am never there in the
dark, but during the day I would have preferred to see a real tree. Dino was
delighted with this picture of the lions on the memorial, which we had not
We really enjoyed the box of Belgian biscuits and these are the last few being
shared out. Everyone had some of everything. It seems the last few always take
longer to eat, because no-one wants to get to the last crumb too quickly. The
white chocolate covered ones are Dino's favourite. Brown Teddy liked the snappy
crumbly ones best and I am glad to say that he put these on a saucer before he
We went for a walk past Covet Wood where we heard a squirrel rustling the dry
leaves. He was moving too quickly to get a whole picture of him. The second tail
belongs to a fast jumping squirrel near the park. I think they should both be
hibernating by now, but maybe they are eating up or burying the last of the
acorns before the really cold weather comes in January. The puddle in Priory
Pond is much smaller now, although there were lots of gulls and coots
paddling about, wondering where it all went. They should go down to the bottom
pond where there is just enough for them to swim.
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