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Diary 2012 January to April


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1 January 2012

Yellow Teddy looking for New Year fireworks  New Year fireworks 1  New Year fireworks 2
At midnight I looked out to see when the fireworks would start. There were a lot more fireworks going off this year than in other years, and there were people shouting and cheering the New Year in. It took about 20 minutes for it all to go quiet and we all got off to sleep quite quickly after that.

Yellow Teddy putting Christmas tree in box  Dino playing nestts with tinsel
Today I put the Christmas tree back in its box. It takes a bit of pressing in while someone tapes round the box, but Dino was very pleased to help. He spent some time playing nests with the tinsel before we put it into zipper bags.

Orpington long footpath  Winter apples on tree
We went out for a long walk. The weather was very mild and damp. We found a path that we had not walked down before. In Orpington there are lots of footpaths that go between the houses and I think this must be the longest. It dips down and up again, so from the top you can't see how long it is. On the way we noticed an apple tree that still has fruit on. Some of the ones at the top have been half pecked away by birds, and I am glad they have a good supply of food for some time to come.

Priory Park squirrel in pond mud  Priory Park squirrel on stump  Priory Park geese in puddle 
We came back through Priory Park. The main pond is now completely dried out, and this squirrel was poking about in the mud. If he buries his acorns here, he will get a big surprise when he comes back and finds the pond full again. These geese are making the most of the puddles at the edge of the path. I think they feel safer when their feet are wet!

Yellow Teddy with robin Christmas cards  Yellow Teddy with snowy Christmas card
When I got home I took down the Christmas cards from the wall but I left up all the ones with robins or snow on them. This snowy card is my favourite and I will enjoy looking at it whilst warming myself by the radiator.

2 January

Yellow Teddy with railway sleeper fence in Priory Park  Side gate in Priory Park
After lots of gloomy weather, we had a lovely day of warm sunshine, just right for a walk round Priory park. This fence is made of old railway sleepers. You can see the nail holes and marks where the railway lines were attached. The park side gates are made to look the same, using wide planks. I was wondering why there are four window holes in the gate. I think it is so that the wind can get through, so the gates don't get blown off their hinges. We went out of the gate and turned right to go down a footpath at the side of the park.

Footpath between Priory Park and church grounds  Mahonia bush
I am finding lots of footpaths that I have not walked down before. Priory park is on the left, and the church grounds are on the right. This is about halfway, when we turned round to look back. It is straight all the way. It was very leafy and muddy, although there is an asphalt path underneath it all. Some of the path has trees both sides, making it like a tunnel, so the wind cannot blow the leaves away. When we got back into the park, I looked around for any winter flowers. The bedding primulas had blue flowers but not very big. The most colourful thing was this mahonia bush with the sun shining through the leaves.

3 January

Priory Park pond filling up 1  Priory pond filling up 2
Today was a very wet stormy day, with strong gusty winds. I am very glad to see that Priory ponds are filling up again quickly. The grass is covered in puddles and it is all flowing down into the ponds. The rain water from the surrounding countryside will end up here as well, because this is where the River Cray starts.

Puddle with circles
Here is one of the puddles doing its best to become a river. I could watch the rain drops making circles all day, but the best place to do that is through the kitchen window, not in a stormy wet park! I like to see the water drops jump back out after they have made their circles. When in heavy rain hits a path and the jumping bits are quite big, we have always called them "soldiers" as they look as if they are marching all over the place!

Priory Park broken branches  Storm blowing over
These fallen branches in Priory overflow pond were all splintered and it looks as though they were old anyway. At least they came down safely into the pond mud and not where people are walking. I hope the park gardeners trim them back a bit, because when the pond is full again, I would like the island to be safe for the birds, and not with pathways of branches for other animals to get to the island. The park was full of broken twigs blowing about, so the birds will have lots of nesting material.

I was very glad to get home to my warm dry bedroom and comfortable bean bag! Here is the stormy weather finally blowing over and the sun coming out, although we did get a bit more rain after that.

4 January

Yellow Teddy Priory pond  Goose and rock in Priory pond
We got up really early and went as soon as we could back to the park to inspect the pond after all the heavy rain. There were gulls swimming on this growing puddle, but they flew away while we were getting the camera out. I am really happy about the water coming back. In the lower pond there is a rock sticking out of the water, and when that disappears I will know the water is a lot deeper and that the birds' feet are not touching the mud at the bottom.

Golden oak leaves Christmas decorations
The park was full of colourful but soggy leaves everywhere, but I prefer these sparkly golden oak leaf decorations which were in a curtain shop window. Next Christmas I will be looking out for some like this to put round my big mirror at home. If I don't find any I will make some of my own with gold paper and glitter. I think a piece of twist-tie wire will make a good vein down the middle.

7 January

Stormy dawn sky
I got up really early to see what the weather was doing. I thought this stormy sky would mean a day indoors, but it cleared up quite quickly.

Sevenoaks - George and Dragon pub sign 
We went to Sevenoaks. Dino was delighted when I showed him this photo of the George and Dragon pub sign. The dragon does not look very well behaved and after being chased by Saint George, maybe he will think twice before he roars and frightens people next time. No wonder there is a strong safe castle in the background. I think I would stay in the very top room of the tower, at least until the dragon had learned some manners!

Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club thatched hut  Sevenoaks - goldfish
This thatched hut belongs to Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club and I am sure there must be biscuit tins, a kettle and mugs inside. I checked up on the Cricket Club fishpond. There are still some fish in it, and a lot of them are black so you can't see them. Maybe in summer the water will be clearer.

Sevenoaks - Royal Wedding bench  Sevenoaks - Royal Wedding bench - crown
This smart-looking seat nearby is engraved to commemorate the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. I like the carved crown best.

Sevenoaks - shop display with hawk and squirrel  Sevenoaks - shop display with moles
This shop window snowy display has a fluffy hawk and squirrel, and two moles peeping through the tissue paper. The moles remind me of Mote Park in Maidstone, where we are always finding molehills.

Sevenoaks - War Memorial poppies  Leopard patterned car
The poppies on the War Memorial were very brilliant with the sun shining through them and the paper petals blowing in the breeze. I was amazed to see this car with leopard patterns all over it. I hope it does not distract the other motorists on the road from driving safely!

9 January

Magpie near slide 1  Magpie near slide 2  Priory Park - pigeons eating pizza
This magpie looks as if he can't decide whether he wants to have a go on the slide. The second magpie seems to be waiting for his friend to come down. Or maybe they were just looking for worms. These pigeons in Priory park have found a pizza that was thrown into the dried-up pond. I went back the next day and of course the pizza was nowhere to be seen.

Priory Park - geese feet prints in mud  Priory Park - seagulls
This puddle by the path through the Park has dried up but you can still see where the geese have been walking about looking for interesting visitors with bread bags. These gulls were on the bridge between the upper and lower ponds. Normally they are waiting for bread, but this time I think they were digesting bread. Sometimes people keep throwing bread into the water, even though the ducks and geese are full.

11 January

Singing robin
This robin's favourite singing perch is in my hawthorn tree. There are still some hawthorn berries left for the blackbirds.

Blue Parrot with tangled Christmas lights  Yellow Teddy with tidied Christmas lights
As it was a sunny day, Blue Parrot decided to take down the last of the Christmas lights. He made a heap of them on the floor. Fortunately I am very good at untangling and I wrapped them all up in sets. There is just room in the box if you push it all down a bit.

Crocus  Aubrietia  Hedgehog basket
The sun has brought out the first flowers of the year and they are a good six weeks early. The shops are beginning to stock gardening things again. Last year it was chicken baskets and now it is hedgehogs. How many more animals are there to make baskets of?

15 January

Greenwich - Cutty Sark under restoration, masts raised
Today we went to Greenwich Park to see how the Cutty Sark clipper ship restoration is getting on. I was delighted to find that the deck coverings have been taken off and the masts have been raised. There is still a lot of work going on, and diggers everywhere. The blue stripe under the ship is a glass enclosure that will have a museum underneath. The glass makes it look as if the ship is on the sea. I think maybe the blue is protective film, but hopefully the clear glass will reflect the blue sky and look similar. I just love it!

Greenwich - Cutty Sark restoration - figurehead   Greenwich - Cutty Sark gold decoration on prow
Here is the figurehead, called Nannie. When her left arm is fixed on, she will be reaching out ahead. The gold decorations look really good against the shiny black.

Discover Greenwich Centre - model of jousting
Went went into the Discover Greenwich Centre. Here is a model in a glass case, showing a jousting tournament in front of the palace that used to be on the river front at Greenwich. This is a joined photo, so the building does not look quite straight!

Discover Greenwich Centre - model of jousting - spectators  Discover Greenwich Centre - suit of armour
This is a closeup of the model, showing the King and his court watching the horses. Two guards in armour are making sure they stay safe. Behind the model, there is another glass case with real armour. I don't know how anyone could fight with all that heavy metal weighing them down. I think only the strongest men would have had that job, and maybe they were given the biggest and best breakfasts every day as well!

Greenwich Park frosty hill and Observatory  Greenwich Park squirrels
The day started frosty, and there was still some left in the shadows. In the background is the Greenwich Observatory. There were lots of squirrels around. I think they don't need to hibernate because there are so many acorns and nuts around, as well as visitors feeding them. There were about six squirrels running around this huge chestnut tree, because there was someone on the other side offering them peanuts.

17 January

Orange dawn
This is what I like to see when I look round the curtains early in the morning. It makes me want to make plans to go out somewhere, to make up for the greyer days. Although there was some frost, it soon disappeared and the day was sunny.

18 January

Yellow Teddy drains cleaning
I was busy reading my books when I heard a very loud rushing and sucking sound. It was the drain men clearing out the pipes for us. They worked really hard and I am glad they all had thick rubber gloves on! I now feel much better whenever I pull the plug out of the sink.

Priory Park geese on frozen pond  Priory Park frozen pond broken ice
In the afternoon we took a walk to Priory Park. The pond was entirely frozen and the geese and ducks were standing around on top of it. A lot of the ice had been broken up and had frozen again. There were piles of bits of bread by the bridge but a lot of it looked frozen. When it thaws, the geese can finish it off.

Priory Park frost on box hedging  Priory Park compost heaps
I like the frost on these box hedges, because you can see all the shapes much better. I just wish it was a proper maze rather than squares, but the gardeners do a good job of keeping it full of flowers in the summer. At the moment I think they are in their warm hut in their compound making plans for the summer flower borders. The hottest place in the park has to be in the middle of the compost heaps, which can just be seen through a gap in the hedge. They look about ten feet high, or three metres.

19 January

Seagull on muddy grass 1  Seagull on muddy grass 2  Climbing frame looking like a cottage roof
There has been a lot of rain and the park was empty with just seagulls standing on the muddy puddles in the grass. I realised why when I saw two of them fighting over a worm. Cold mud is their dinner plate! This climbing frame looks like the roof of a little cottage and is a good place to dive into if it rains, but it is only big enough for small children or teddies.

Water drops on tree
The drips on this tree in the park look just like my white fairy lights, which are now packed away. It made us want to hurry back home, but we decided to continue and just walk faster to get warm. By the time we got to the shops, we were quite hot and full of energy from the exercise.


27 January

Priory squirrel 1  Priory squirrel 2  Priory squirrel 3
There is too much food around for the squirrels to be thinking of hibernating, especially as we have not had any really cold weather yet. Even when they have had all the acorns, people are always bringing peanuts. I am glad I can eat my dinner without being entertainment for young children in buggies!

29 January

River Cray twigs  Fir tree with curved branches, Priory Park
This is the River Cray. Lots of twigs have caught on the rock and made a little island, with a sandy patch on one side. The second rock is a bit left out because all the twigs have been used up by the first rock. I hope they are not arguing over it. This fir tree in Priory Park is just right for Teds and Dinos because there are two curved sitting places that are not too far off the ground. Blue Parrot can have the higher up branch. It is better than a garden seat because you don't have to keep painting it and the evergreen leaves keep the rain off.

31 January

Dusting of snow  Dusting of snow on roof
Cold weather is here. This dusting is all there is at the moment, not enough to play with. This picture looks like a more much interesting landscape of a fir tree plantation in deep snow, but as it is only the mossy roof tiles on the house over the road, I can't play with that either! Warm bedroom is the place to be for Teds, reading our picture books.

1 February

Woolly cloud
Despite the icy winds, we decided to take a walk in the sunshine. Fast walking kept us warm. This woolly cloud was the only one in the sky. I could do with some wool like that to make some feet warmers!

4 February

Robin  Priory Pond - Christmas cake  Priory Pond - crackers
This robin is waiting for the frozen bird bath to be filled with fresh water. We are emptying the bird baths every night, as it is easier than hacking out the ice in the morning. Later on I saw three goldfinches with yellow and red heads on the pond and birdbath, but I was too late to get a photo. Maybe next time! They come into gardens from the countryside in very cold or snowy weather.

Priory lower pond was frozen and there was plenty of frozen bread scattered over the ice. All the geese and ducks have gone elsewhere, and only the coots remain pecking around. A lot of ducks fly off to places along the River Cray where it does not freeze. In the dry top pond I saw this piece of Christmas cake and some crackers. I expected water and ice in the pond, but not ic-ING and WATER biscuits! The pigeons ate the pizza last month, and I wonder if they will go for this cake as well.

Yellow T4eddy checking on garden snow at nearly midnight  Melting snow around the airbrick
Fine dusty snow started falling in the evening, and I don't think we Teds will get to sleep on our beanbag very early, because we will want to keep looking out of the window to see the snow. I got up at nearly midnight to see how the garden was getting on. The snow round this airbrick has not settled, and now I know why the kitchen floor is so cold the warmth is being sucked down from the house floors and escaping out the holes! I am glad the bathroom floor is insulated and a bit warmer to walk on.

5 February

Six inches of snow in the garden  Starling flying from birdbath
About six inches of snow fell overnight, just enough to be interesting. I am glad we emptied the birdbaths the night before, it only took a broom to clear them. I just managed to get a picture of this starling flying away after his bath. I think he will find a warm chimney pot to sit on and preen, so that his feathers keep him warm and windproof.

Yellow Teddy scraping wallpaper  Bluetit
I did some wallpaper scraping ready for a new window. I found these old calculations that someone had scribbled on the wall a very long time ago. There was even a diagram of the window that was here before we moved in. We have lots of bluetits in the back garden finding spiders and little meals amongst the bare twigs, so the snow has not hidden their food supply, which I am very glad about. There are also lots of berries and seedheads for the other birds.

6 February

Priory Pond ice  Priory Pond rock surrounded by ice
I was relieved to see that there is still some unfrozen water in Priory Pond. The rock that I was using to measure the depth has now become a frozen island, with sea pack-ice all around it!

7 February

Red dawn
When I get up early, I always sneak a look out of the window and take a photo if the sky is interesting. It would have been a great shame to miss this red dawn.

10 February

Snowball on grass verge  Blackbird having an icy bath
I took a walk to see how much snow was left. This big snowball is doing very well, even though the roads and paths are now clear. When I got back, this blackbird was having a very cold bath in my garden, and I hope he finds a warm chimney to sit on to get dry before the cold night.

11 February

Yellow Teddy inspecting the icy fish pond  Yellow Teddy with daffodil and crocus buds
I have been breaking the pond ice every morning but now that the nights are not so cold, the sides are staying clear which I am very relieved about. The stones in the middle of the garden are warming up and melting the snow. All the daffodils and crocuses that I planted last year are coming up.

Poverest Recreation Ground snowball in ditch  Poverest Recreation Ground snowball on field
I took a walk in Poverest Recreation Ground to see how the other giant snowballs were doing. They are still quite big but looking a bit muddy now. It must have taken several people to push them along to gather all the snow when they were made.

Poverest Recreation Ground snowy playground  Poverest Recreation Ground snowball in playground
This cable ride with the sliding seat looks very dangerous. The only game being played here was making more snowballs and this one is inside the playground, and it's having a rest against the noticeboard.

Poverest Recreation Ground unfinished snowmen
Further along the park in a shady corner these unfinished snowmen were quite safe from the warm sun and I hope they last a bit longer. They seem to have picked up dead leaves as they were rolled along. I think the children did not have time to finish the heads before they had to go home to tea in a nice warm kitchen.

Acorns in cups  Yellow Teddy with cotoneaster berries
In the woods I saw these acorns, so I know the squirrels still have some food. In my garden there are plenty of berries left on the cotoneaster bush, which are eaten mainly by blackbirds. I am going to plant some more cotoneasters at the end of the garden to get more berries for my birds.

Yellow Teddy inspecting cracks  Yellow Teddy with builder's bag
The builder has been very busy taking the covering off this piece of wall. This crack looks quite big and is where an old doorway had been blocked up. The builder is going to mend it and recover it with cement. There are lots of bags of bits around so we have to forget being completely tidy for a little while.

12 February

Icy pond
Looking through the kitchen window at my icy pond makes me feel quite cold, but the best way to get warm is to go for a long fast walk, which keeps me warm for the rest of the day as well, even when I am back indoors.

13 February

Priory Park pruned willow trees  Priory Park dirty snowball
Priory Park top pond is still empty which has made it really easy for the gardeners to get to the islands to prune back the willow trees. Another big snowball nearby is surviving very well and in the background you can see the gardeners' truck.

Priory Park composting area  Priory Park compost pile
This is the composting area of Priory Park where all the prunings and dead leaves go. The lorry was moving the compost into a big crunching machine, and the smashed up twigs and bits went up a belt onto this pile. It will all break down into good soil which they will put around the park later on.

15 February

Last of snow disappearing
This last bit of snow looks as if it has decided to go down the drain before it has melted properly. I am sure we will see this bit of water again when it comes back as fresh clean snow next time.

17 February

Seagull 1 Magpie 1 Seagull 2 Magpie 2
In Poverest Recreation Park there are always lots of seagulls and magpies walking all over the field. I don't like being out in the mud but the birds are very happy, as it brings all the worms to the surface, especially when people have been running over the grass. This field is one big dinner plate for them and they are so busy that they do not always realise we are nearby. That means we can get good closeup pictures while they are occupied catching the worms.

19 February

Pied Wagtail 
I often see pied wagtails around, even in the streets, but they fly off quickly before I can get a picture, so I am very pleased to have got one at last. I think he felt a bit safer as he knew he was behind a fence away from people.

Priory Park pond with low water  Priory Park pond excess bread
The water in Priory Park lower pond is still very low. We seem to have not enough water but too much bread. When the birds have had enough for the moment, people still tip the bread in for later, before they go home. Maybe the birds have it for supper.

Yellow Teddy with builder's bucket of tools  Yellow Teddy with builders' sweet wrappers
When I got home, I saw that the builders had finished and stacked their tools all in one place, so perhaps we can be a bit tidy after all. In the wheelbarrow I found evidence of where they get their energy from orange-chocolate biscuit bars and chocolate-covered coconut bars!

20 February

Bluetit in hawthorn tree  Crocuses and daffodil leaves
After all the snow and ice, we have had a very warm sunny day. When I saw this bluetit preening in the hawthorn tree, I rushed indoors and upstairs to get the camera, and the bird was still there when I got back. He was obviously knew he had to get himself smart for his photo! All the bulbs I put in last year are coming up and the stones keep everything warm as they heat up in the sun.

26 February

Fish pond  Blackbird
The fish are very pleased with the warm weather and are all swimming at the top of the pond, instead of lurking on the bottom. The blackbird is finding lots of meals inbetween the stones and in the long grass.

28 February

First daffodils  Cow van
These are the first roadside daffodils that I have seen on my walks. In Orpington High Street I saw this wonderful van painted like a cow, with a face on the front, an udder on each side and tail on the back door. Is it a white van with black marks, or a black van with white marks?

1 March

Frogs and spawn  Frog resting
The frogs have arrived and have already laid piles of frogspawn. Their croaking is very loud. They are so busy with their job that they are not remembering to duck down underwater when a person walks past. That is good news for me as I can take lots of closeup photos.

A row of frogs with spawn
It looks like playtime in the pond, but in reality they are spending a lot of time pushing each other with their back legs and seeing who can croak the loudest. I have taken loads of photos, because one day I will come out to see them and they will all be gone.

2 March

Foggy cold morning  Twiggy dog plant holders
The day started very foggy and chilly, but I am glad to say that it soon cleared and we took a walk to the garden centre. This year the twiggy plant holders are of little dogs with the usual lovely pansies. When are they going to do Dinosaur ones, that's what I want to know!

5 March

Magpie on roof  Magpie on aerial
At last, some good magpie closeups, on my neighbour's roof. The camera is rather slow starting up and zooming in, so I am glad he did not fly away too soon. Sometimes the magpies come down to my birdbath for a drink, or even a bath. I am sure they are very good at keeping the mouse population down.

7 March

Map of a world
We scraped off the bedroom wallpaper and found this map of a world. At the top are the cloudy mountain tops, where there is a lot of rain and where all the rivers begin. In the middle is a large continent full of forests, woods, parks and rivers. At the bottom in a paler colour is the sea. The coastline is very long with plenty of places for inlets, bays and sandy beaches. In the bottom right is the special island that we keep just for picnics. It takes about a week to travel all around this little world and by then we are glad to get home for a bit of a rest. But it's nice to know it's all there to go back to again another time. Now that we have a photo of the secret map, we can get on and put the new wallpaper on.

11 March

Hewitts boot fair  Pedham Place boot fair
It's boot sale time again and this is Hewitts Farm and Pedham Place. I bought a pyracantha plant (for the berries) from Martin the plant man, and a small book. The best thing about boot fairs is the open countryside and the fresh air, grass and trees.

12 March

Hanging basket stand
Another walk to the garden centre. This hanging basket stand should really be revolving like a carousel, with some cheerful organ music to help things along! It reminds me of the cup and saucer carousel rides at the seaside.

13 March

Mistletoe  Squirrel's drey, Priory Park
I thought at first these were bird nests. The first one is a bunch of mistletoe. The second one in Priory Park is very large and made of twigs and dead leaves. I think it must be a squirrel's drey, as there are no wild eagles in Orpington!


14 March

Spreading compost, Priory Park  Lone daffodil
In Priory Park the gardeners were very busy spreading the compost that they have made. This lone miniature daffodil in the rose bed must have got there from a previous lot of compost.

15 March

Yellow Teddy watching goldfish  Four goldfish in a warm sunny corner
The weather was very sunny and warm. The goldfish are very glad that the water is warming up at last and that they don't have to lurk on the bottom of the pond. You can see that all the fish come swimming towards you when you walk past. They can feel the vibration from footsteps and come to see if any food is going to be thrown in. These four friends were basking in the warm sunny weedy corner.

18 March

Mound with trees at Hewitts Farm  Hewitts Farm boot fair
Our last visit to Hewitts Farm boot fair until next winter. There are a lot of empty spaces on the gravel area. Once the good weather comes, everyone goes to Pedham Place which has a lot more room. At Hewitts there is a big mound with trees and shrubs, and maybe one day I will climb to the top to get some good photos of the surrounding farmland.

18 March

Sleeping duck 1  Sleeping duck 2  Pair of sleeping ducks
Priory ducks still have a puddle left in the dried-up pond. I still have not worked out how they can sleep balancing on one leg and not keep wobbling and waking up. The last two ducks look asleep but their eyes are open. Sorry, not bread, just a Ted taking a photo!

25 March

Birds on aerial in fog  Foggy at Pedham boot fair
We have had a lot of very foggy mornings recently, which is very unusual. These birds on the aerial have not got their usual "bird's-eye" view of the surrounding gardens. We went to Pedham Place boot fair hoping that the fog would clear. It was cold and damp all morning, and just as we were driving home at midday the sun began to come out.

26 March

Ceramic mushroom with snail  Ceramic mushroom with caterpillar
These ceramic ornaments in the garden centre look very jolly. But, they are three things I don't really want in my garden. Fungi usually mean some old wood is rotting down in the soil, and snails and caterpillars mean holes in my plants. At least the caterpillars turn into butterflies.

Tadpoles with tails  Tadpoles huddling together
The tadpoles have hatched out really quickly as the days have been very warm. They spend all day wriggling in the blanket weed and eating the algae. There are quite a few fat ones. No doubt the fish have eaten a few, but that is better than having 500 frogs in my garden all at once! Very soon they will all go and hide amongst the plants in the corners where the fish can't get at them.

30 March

Yellow Teddy with stacking pots of violas  Dino with pot tower
These are my stacking pots, that go together to make a pot tower. I have filled them with violas, which are a small type of pansy. Dino helped to fit them together into a tower, as they were a bit heavy for me. I am keeping it near the water tap in the shady corner, as violas don't like hot places. These towers are good at not wasting water, as it dribbles down from the top level onto the others, and then you give the layer at the bottom a bit extra to make up for the lack of drips!

1 April

Hewitts Farm mound  View of boot sale from Hewitts Farm mound
I have always liked this mound at Hewitts Farm, but today I decided to go to the top and get a photo of the boot sale. I could really enjoy this hill if I had it a bit nearer home!

Dandelion growing in concrete crack
If I went into the garden centre and asked for a plant with lots of brilliant yellow flowers, that did not need a lot of care and would grow anywhere without any trouble, I don't think they would supply me with a lovely dandelion like this. This one was growing in a concrete kerb crack.

2 April

Yellow Teddy at River Cray outfall  Yellow Teddy with logs along River Cray
We went for a walk along the River Cray to see how the water levels are. The water was a bit low but at least it has not dried up. At this end part there is not enough water to move these bits of branches. Throughout the riverside gardens the cut logs are left for the insects and wildlife.

Yellow Teddy and River Cray top part  Duck island on River Cray
The upper part of the river was quite full, as it only loses water through an overflow, which acts a bit like a dam. I like the little artificial duck island, sensibly covered with protective nettles!

Mallard ducks resting  White duck resting
Further along these well-fed ducks were all resting on the banks amongst the old leaves. The white ones stayed back a bit away from the path, but they still come for bread when it is being thrown about and there are lots of different quacks and squeaks from the different kinds of duck. If you walk slowly, they don't get worried and so you can get good pictures.

St Paul's Cray village sign
Here is the St Paul's Cray village sign on top of a tall post. The apple at the top is a reminder that Kent is an apple growing area. The church is St Paulinus which is on the other side of the road. The mill at the right is a reminder of the various mills that used to be here. The white horse is a symbol of Kent. Date of 1086 refers to when the Domesday Book was completed, which listed all the lands and farms in the country.

3 April

New weir on River Cray  Blackbird by River Cray
The Parks Department has been busy reshaping some of the banks and cutting waterways to improve the river. I like this little dam and it should make a lot of deeper water behind it for the birds. It will look better when the water supply has increased. This blackbird knows that there will be lots of worms in the damp ground on both banks.

5 April

Robin's nest in garden shed  Robin coming out of shed
I have a robin nesting in my shed. We were very surprised and had to quickly take out our lawn mower and other tools. You can see the dead leaves on the left at the bottom of the basket. I left a camcorder running looking at the gap in the shed, and got some good film of the robin coming and going. This is a very cosy and safe home for him, completely dry and no draughts. Just like my house!

6 April

Wren on his singing post  Wire netting raft by River Cray outlet
We had another walk along the River Cray and heard some very loud birdsong. We went onto a little bridge and then saw this tiny wren producing all that sound. I am sure he was singing to defend his territory because he was up on his post where he could be seen by all, and usually wrens like to hide in the undergrowth.

If you look carefully at this raft of twigs and ivy, you can see that it is made of wire netting and there is a water outfall pipe further up. I think the raft must be there to stop the bank getting worn away when the water is in full flow.

Fallen tree regrowing
This big tree obviously came down some years ago, with the roots left up in the air, and it has sprouted new shoots all along its length. So next time I see a row of trees, it may not have been planted by anyone but just grown in a line all on their own!

Brown Teddy at River Cray weir  Yellow Teddy by River Cray
This is our favourite part of the river. There was not enough water to make a waterfall, and only a small trickle went off to one side to continue the river by another way. You can see how clear the water is. It is only ankle deep, just enough for the ducks to paddle through.

River water patterns  Tall flower stem by riverside
These water patterns remind me of being at the seaside, when there is shallow water on a sandy beach. I think this flower is going to open out into something more grand and I am definitely coming back to check up on it a bit later on.

Yellow Teddy with bramble patch  Chaffinch
These messy brambly places are just right for nesting birds. There is lots of birdsong all along the river and I was really pleased to see this lovely chaffinch and get a picture before he flew away. Often I end up with just a picture of an empty branch!

Brown Teddy with decaying log  Yellow Teddy with mossy log
This is a giant tree log that has been here for years. When they tidy the old trees, they leave the logs to decay naturally. This one is covered in moss and has plants growing on it. I think the moss keeps it damp for longer and so makes it break down into soil even more quickly.

9 April

Robin singing in hawthorn tree
Here is my resident robin at his singing post in my hawthorn tree. He sings for a bit then listens to make sure there are no others singing in his territory.

11 April

Yellow Teddy on walk through Covet Wood
This is a footpath through Covet Wood. This part goes past the back gardens and then you come out into the woodland and park. There is always lots going on with the birds all calling, crows, magpies and woodpeckers, and squirrels rustling the leaves.

15 April

Computer board amongst leaves  Yellow Teddy inspecting pot tower
I saw this computer board on the footpath back from the boot sale at Pedham. It looks like a city with skyscrapers and big buildings. Unfortunately there were no ants crawling over it to look like people! Back home, after lunch, I inspected my flowers. I have moved the pot tower into the sun a bit more and I will have to get someone to turn it round from time to time so that the flowers at the back get some sun as well.

Yellow Teddy with pink daffodil  Yellow Teddy with red tulip  Yellow Teddy smelling wallflowers
I decided to tour the garden to admire the flowers while they are still good and fresh. I can't make up my mind which is my favourite. I think possibly the best one at the moment is the wallflower because of the lovely scent.

 Yellow Teddy watching the shed for the robin
I don't see the robins so much nowadays because I think they are sitting on the nest. We can't use the shed or get anything out, but it makes me feel really good to know that they are safe and dry at night, especially with all the cold heavy rain and gusty winds that we have had. I couldn't sleep if I thought my birds were getting cold or wet.

17 April

Wavy shrub planting  Underneath viaduct at St Mary Cray
This planting by the shopping park reminds of a rolling foam coming in on the breaking waves at the seaside. I remember these plants when they first went in all spaced apart but now they have all grown together. This is the underside of the railway viaduct at St Mary Cray. I am wondering what the ivy will do once it reaches the highest part of the ceiling, whether it will start growing down the other side.

New weir on River Cray  River Cray improvements notice
This is the River Cray bank and weir improvement, and you can just see at lower left some water coming through underneath the big rock. I think over time the holes will all silt up and then this little dam will be able to hold back the water and make a deeper pond behind. Further along the Parks Department have put a little notice to let us know what they have done.

18 April

Misty rainbow
This rainbow seems to have got spread out in the mist. The weather was very changeable, with rain then sun and rain again, and that is the best time to look for rainbows.

19 April

Smile face on ink bottle lid  Whale-shaped pen clip
We opened some new special ink today and found this cheerful smile inside the lid! I was allowed to try out a new pen. The people who make them like whales and they decided to make the clip in the shape of a whale, so that we don't forget to look after them. I will think of whales every time I write with it, and the dark blue ink will remind me of the deep sea. Now I can draw a whale by copying the shape of the pen clip and then paint in the sea with some watered down writing ink. Brilliant!

20 April

This chaffinch was singing in my garden and my camera only just managed to zoom in enough to get a photo. His song is very long and chirruppy, with a special bit at the end to finish it off. Mostly I hear them without being able to see them.

22 April

I have decided I am going to enjoy the dandelions when I am out and about, but perhaps not in my garden, because they seem to spread a bit too much, especially after I found one in the middle of a rockery plant. It's nice to know we will never ever run out of dandelions and their lovely flowers.

23 April

Blackbird sitting on gutter  Blackbird on lawn
I heard some clucking outside my bedroom window and found our blackbird sitting on the top gutter. He has a nest in my back garden and is working very hard finding all the worms, which is much easier now that we have had loads of rain. But he was looking a bit bedraggled at times in the rain, so he got a few extra crumbs of bread to help him out.

24 April

Priory pond puddles 1  Priory pond puddles 2
Priory pond now has two puddles instead of one, after all the heavy rain, and I am really hoping it will continue to fill up. The old puddle is getting very green and unhealthy, and the ducks need some fresh water. The main big pond is now just damp instead of dry, but at least that's a start. When I lie in bed listening to the rain pouring, I always think of these ponds.

Great Tit with beakful of food
This Great Tit is taking a beakful of food into the nest box that is just to the right of him in the picture. I was really surprised to find the nest box being used, because it is only a few feet from the kitchen window. I am sure these birds were delighted to have a box that has never been lived in - all clean! When I put it up I made sure all the branches covered it up well. The bird arrives at the back of the trellis and has a look around to make sure it is safe, then he makes his way down through the twigs, before going into the box hole. When he comes out he flies away in a straight line.

25 April

Yellow Teddy watching Priory lower pond filling with rain  Priory ducks enjoying the puddles
Today is very gusty with heavy rain. Normally I enjoy a day indoors reading my books, but I really wanted to see how Priory Park pond is doing. When we first went past, the puddles in the lower pond were joining up and when we came back again after shopping, nearly all of it was covered in water. The ducks were even swimming in the deep puddles on the nearby grass! All I can say is Yippee!!

Fallen wet almond blossom
The blossom trees are holding up well to the gusts and the downpour, but it is always a bit sad to see flowers knocked to the ground. At least I get a closeup look at them.

28 April

Yellow Teddy with veggie juice drinks  Yellow Teddy checking SatNav
Today we are visiting friends in Hassocks. I never go anywhere without my veggie juice drinks. It was my job to check the SatNav (an old one!) en route to make sure we were going the right way.

Road sign - Pease Pottage services  Road signs - Hassocks, Pyecombe, Henfield and Newtimber  Bus shelter near Hassocks
These road signs were making me hungry. After eating your pease pottage, you might get a pie in Pyecombe, then visit the friendly chickens in Henfield who are all living in new wooden chicken houses from Newtimber! I liked this rustic bus shelter but I think the passing heavy traffic would make it very noisy and draughty. There is a huge tree overhanging it which has shaded the roof and allowed all the moss to grow. My garden birds would love this for nest material!

Rainy motorway  Bridge near Wrotham
Our journey home was very rainy and all the cars were throwing up spray. They looked like boats going along a big wide river in the mist. A few people were going much too fast and I am glad they were not in our lane. I was very glad to see that the sheep in the fields still had all their woolly coats to keep them warm. I really enjoyed the scenery and all the countryside getting well watered. When we see this bridge, it means we are nearly home, and I was glad to get back indoors before it got any darker and wetter.

29 April

Yellow Teddy at River Cray weir  River Cray weir
I checked up on my favourite waterfall on the River Cray and it now has water falling over it! I like to hear it before I get to see it over the wall.

Yellow Teddy River Cray flowing  Yellow Teddy with hawthorn stump regrowing
The river is now a lot clearer because with the extra flowing, all the silt is getting moved along. This tree was broken and covered in ivy and had to be cut down, and now the stump is regrowing. It is a hawthorn tree and they are very good and fast at regrowing.

Boating pond near Kent Road
Here is the boating pond near Kent Road where some of the ducks and geese went for a swim when Priory pond was all dry. It is filled artificially, so it is only dry when it is drained for the winter.

Yellow Teddy at River Cray new watercourse  River Cray new weir
Further upstream, the new water channels are full and flowing. The new weir is making a lot of gushing noises which I like and there are some sandbag sausages to hold the mud back. I think this is going to help build up the riverbed behind the weirs.

Yellow Teddy at source of River Cray  Robin singing
Over the back is the main source of the river and here is the owner of this area, singing very loudly, obviously because it is such a good place to live with lots of food around.

Priory Park pigeons bathing
Priory Park top pond now has a large puddle as well and the pigeons are having a good time bathing, although after several weeks of rain they must be quite clean already! They are making the most of having a shallow bit to walk around in.

30 April

Daddy blackbird with youngster
Here is Daddy Blackbird feeding his youngster. This is a shady little path by the pond with roses over the top, so they are a bit hidden. There are lots of places round the garden when they can hide and poke around for worms, which must be quite easy now as the ground is very soft after a few weeks of rain.




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