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Diary 2012 September


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2 September 2012

Frog in pond
We do not usually see frogs this time of year because everything is dry, so I was glad to see this one.

4 September

Mermaid Restaurant, Hastings  Fish and chip dinner
We had a day out to Hastings with the Church ladies group. Mr Webmaster drove the minibus and everyone had a good time on the journey talking and laughing. We had a lovely meal of fish and chips. The plates were big and so were the dinners. Not everyone managed to eat it all!

Seagull eating leftovers on cafe table  Seagull resting on roof parapet
We all walked down the seafront to a cafe where we had coffee and ice cream. We saw this gull helping himself to leftovers. The gull on the roof looks like he has eaten all he can manage. As soon as there is a little space in his stomach, he will go down again and look for bits of fish and chip dinners.

Coins in shop window display  Fossil shark's tooth
This shop window was very attractive with the gold toy coins. It was meant to look like a treasure chest spilling out onto the seabed. The enormous fossil shark's tooth was quite a sight and I am glad there are no sharks in the sea at Hastings!

Boat display with flowers on roof  Boat display with flowers by roadside
Everyone in seaside towns like to decorate outside with fishing things. The first boat display is on a flat roof over a cafe, and the second is on a spare triangle of space by the roadside.


6 September

Blue Parrot with chocolate grab game  Penny in the slot machine
We went back to Hastings again, in our car this time. Parrot wanted a go on this grab game but we told him it would be cheaper to just buy a bar of chocolate instead of losing all his coins in the machine. Later on we saw this antique penny slot machine in a shop window display. I am told these were a lot of fun, even if you didn't get any extra pennies out of it.

Brown Teddy at rocky end of Hastings cliffs  Slipping rock on cliffside
We walked down to Rock-A-Nore at the end of the town. Brown Teddy read the signs about falling rocks and said we should not go too close to the rocky bit. Some of the rocks are fallen ones and some of the more squared-shaped ones we think may have been put there to protect the base of the cliffs from erosion. When we looked up at the cliff sides, there were quite a few big ones waiting to slide down in bad weather. When the cliff rock underneath breaks up, the big one will slide down.

Hastings Winkle Club sculpture  Sea creature sculptures
Back in town we saw this sculpture by the Hastings Winkle Club which was started in 1900. It was very shiny and I like the swimming fishes best of all. Further in the town we saw more sea creature sculptures enjoying a game of chess.

Yellow Teddy with seagulls notice  Dino in Bottle Alley
This sign says Don't Feed The Gulls. They have plenty of fish at sea but they can get very lazy by standing around people who are eating chips. They do a good job of clearing up dropped food, because if they didn't there would be rats instead. On the other side of Hastings, we visited the very long Bottle Alley under the promenade with the wall sections made of glass embedded in concrete. It was made a long time ago from coloured bottles that people donated. Dino likes to search for interesting buried things but he will not find any fossils here. The round shape is the bottom of an old green bottle.

Blue Parrot and cliff steps  Dino and cliffs
We went up the cliff steps. Parrot doesn't mind steps because he can fly up, but it would still have been hard work so he cadged a ride on the backpack. Dino was delighted with the rock face, but he still didn't find any fossils.

Dino looking over town from clifftop  Dino eating Oatie Biscuits
Dino's eyes are very good and he can see every little thing in the town from here. Our car was parked at the top and when we got back for our snack, his keen eyes soon found the packet of Oatie Biscuits.

Yellow Teddy model of Hastings beach in Fishermen's Museum  Yellow Teddy admiring applique picture of boat
We drove down to the town again so we could park on the seafront and watch the waves. Brown Teddy, Dino and I went into Fishermen's Museum. they have a big boat in the middle and lots of pictures and fishing things in glass cases. Here is a model of Hastings Old Town seafront with all the boats on the beach. In the middle you can see the cliff lift. This second picture is made of pieces stuck on, with cotton wool for clouds. It was made by a blind man so he could feel what pieces went where. It is really beautiful and real looking. I like the red nets coming up out of the sea.

Ship in a bottle
This ship in a bottle is unusual because it shows the beach and huts as well, and also has some seagulls flying around. It is called "Coming ashore in a storm" and I will be relieved when the boat is on the beach and the fishermen are at home, warming their feet in front of the fire!

Model boats in Shipwreck Museum  Old coins and spoons in Shipwreck Museum
Next we went into the Shipwreck Museum. It was very interesting but also a bit sad because all the items belong to people who mostly drowned in shipwrecks. In this display the swimming fish make it look like the ships are all on the seabed. The second picture shows some coins and broken spoons.

Yellow Teddy with rusty sextant  Brown Teddy with rusty anchor
Here is a sextant which the captain used for making measurements of the ship's position. It is very rusty. Brown Teddy thought this anchor must have been on the seabed for very many years, because it was very ragged and rusted away.

Dino admiring cast of iguanodon fossils  Dinosaur fossils
Dino was absolutely delighted to find this reproduction cast of an Iguanodon fossil, and lots more fossils in glass cases.

Yellow Teddy with lobster pots  Blue Parrot with curved mirror
These pots are for catching lobsters and crabs. They crawl in the hole but cannot crawl out again because the inside end of the hole is too small. Here is Blue Parrot finding out how much more you can see sideways with a curved mirror. This one is by the miniature train track for safety purposes. It was getting a bit chilly, so we decided it was time to go home. It was nice and warm in the car, and some of us fell asleep on the journey home.


10 September

Yellow Teddy clearing garden  Yellow Teddy with honeysuckle berries
I decided to cut back some of the climbing plants, while it was sunny and before the weather gets cold. The honeysuckle still had some berries, so I saved them and put them on a rock for the blackbirds to eat.

Leaf coloured brown moth
You can only just see this moth amongst the dead leaves.

12 September

Yellow Teddy with Polhill fish  Brown Teddy with Polhill fish
We went to Polhill Garden Centre. We always visit the fish house when we are there. They all swim to anyone walking past because they are hoping for a snack.

Polhill fish  Polhill big Koi fish
I love all the colours. The big Koi are at least a metre long. Sometimes the shop assistants give people some bags of pellets to throw in to the fish. The fish have very good memories and crowd round anyone who stops by their tank.

Polhill axolotls  Jars of fishfood
There are axolotls which are a type of salamander. I can't imagine anyone wanting more snails, I have far too many in my garden, but I think these special aquarium ones are used to keep the glass clean. These fish food containers look like sweet jars. I hope the people who buy them keep them out of reach of their small children!

Union Jack beanbag  Yellow Teddy with globe wicker seat
I thought this Union Jack beanbag was the best thing in the shop, until I saw this wicker globe seat. We could really have some fun in here, but you have to take in with you everything you need, like drink, cakes, games, drawing paper and Ipod, so that you can get comfortable without having to climb out again. I think maybe a small torch would also be a good idea.

Pond fish with hose jet  Orange dragonfly
When I got home I put the hose in the pond to fill it up a bit more. The fish are always interested and keep swimming through the jet and bubbles. The birdbath stone was very warm from the day's sunshine, so the dragonfly enjoyed resting here.

Yellow Teddy with Conference Pear
I had a huge number of pears earlier in the year, all growing well, and then they mysteriously disappeared during the summer. I only have about five curved ones left, and we will definitely have to eat these very slowly, to make them last a bit longer!


14 September

Old buckets and spades  Bikes covered in knitting
We went on a day out to Whitstable. We looked round the town first. These old-fashioned metal buckets are much better than the modern plastic castle shaped buckets. People in Whitstable seem to like decorating things and these bikes outside a bike shop have been covered in colourful knitting.

Divers helmet seat  Dino with diver's helmet  Blue Parrot with diver's helmet
On the seafront there is a seat with a diver's helmet shape that you can look through. We all took a turn getting inside. It is a big helmet so there is no problem squeezing in.

Wooden seafront seat  Yellow Teddy with net ornament on seafront
This wooden seat on the seafront looks like two sailing boats with sails. It's nice to see a seat where you can actually lean back and rest on something. This artistic arrangement is bits of net, very loose string knitting and old knitted-style plastic pot scourers that have been unravelled. It helps you see old pieces of things as something beautiful, if the are all put together with bits of extra colour added in.

Yellow Teddy looking at murky waves  Dino looking for seaweed
The sea at Whitstable was very grey, muddy and murky looking with broken seaweed in the water. It is not very inviting, even on a hot summer day, there would be all sorts of bits and pieces hitting your legs and making you jump in fright! Dino thought the seaweed hanging on the woodwork looked like lettuce, but he did not try to eat it.

Yellow Teddy looking at flood gate  Yellow Teddy finding seat made of old surf board
This is one of the low floodgates. Planks of wood are stored alongside, that can be slotted in if the water gets too high. I like this seat made out of an old surfboard but it might be a bit slippery!

Boats in Whitstable Harbour  Pile of colourful nets
This is Whitstable Harbour where the fishing boats come in. All around there are sheds and shops where you can buy fish and oysters. The nets on the quayside are all lovely colours and these ones look like wigs, one curly brown, and one golden orange.

Waste bin with shark's mouth lid  Siggy Seagull eating chip
We went in to get some chips. This is a waste basket but there is no incentive to throw your rubbish in when you have to put your hand in the shark's mouth! Our friend Siggy Seagull came with us today, and had first go at the biggest chip. I like chips all golden with soft insides. We took them back to the car and put them in our wholemeal rolls, this is called a chip butty and is very good on a cold day, even when you are at home.

Yellow Teddy with placenames marker  Blue Parrot with seafront drinking water tap
We drove along the coast towards Herne Bay. This scallop shell shape is made of planks, and inscribed on top are lines pointing in different directions, with the names of towns on them. Down on the seashore there are lots of huts and Blue Parrot was delighted with this drinking tap. It is nice to know that no-one need get thirsty if they are a long way from home or the car.

Seafront chalets
The chalets all along the seafront are very colourful. I like the ones that have a front veranda. The huts in the row behind are placed inbetween the bottom row ones, and so on all up the slope, so that everyone can sit and look out to sea.

Chalet decoration 1  Chalet decoration 2  Chalet decoration 3  Chalet decoration 4
Lots of the huts have fishy decorations on them. If I had one, I would have a friendly seagull zooming through the sky.

Herne Bay pier  Herne Bay old pier head
Here is the pier at Herne Bay. They have taken down the big sports pavilion that was on it and now the pier is empty. It used to be a very long pier but the middle section was destroyed in a storm a long time ago. The end of the pier is now all alone out at sea and falling to bits. It is a safe resting place for seagulls and pigeons. If they mended it and put a cafe and restaurant on it, and had boat trips taking people out to it, they would make some money towards rebuilding the inbetween bit! Behind the pier head are some wind farm towers.

Crowd of seagulls
Someone threw down a whole load of chips. It did not stay on the ground for long.


18 September

Yellow Teddy opening packets of fish windsocks  Fish windsocks
I bought these fish windsocks in Whitstable. I kept on seeing them on shops and hanging out of windows, so I just had to buy some for myself. I am now waiting for a windy day and I will put them on the washing line.

I decided to get the seeds out of the honesty plant seedheads. You just rub the seedheads and the two outside pieces come off along with the flat seeds which you can save and throw around the garden. What's left is the middle piece like tracing paper on the stems. I will keep the stems in a vase until they get dusty or full of cobwebs, then they will have to go outside.

19 September

Lego-shaped notebooks  Victoria Sponge cake
While out shopping I noticed these Lego patterned notebooks. The yellow and blue pieces can be used to keep the notebook shut. It will definitely be going on my Christmas wishlist. In the evening we visited Auntie Freda for a special meal. It was all very delicious especially the sponge cake, and everyone had a really big piece. We were all very full and watched our new Riverdance video until we got tired.


22 September

 Yellow Teddy going through Dartford Tunnel  Southend: Mr Donut  Southend: ice cream sign
Today we went out to Southend. It is on the north side of the Thames Estuary so we had to go through the Dartford Tunnel. When we got to Southend, everywhere were signs to remind us to buy doughnuts and ice-creams.

Southend Pier railway track  Yellow Teddy waving to Southend Pier train
We decided to go on the pier first, while the weather was sunny. It is the longest pier in the UK and is one and a third miles long. There is a train track alongside the walkway. This train passed us a lot of times, backwards and forwards, during our long walk along the pier.

Yellow Teddy with Southend Pier one-third mile marker  Southend Pier two-thirds mile marker  Southend Pier one mile marker
I noted all the markers and we took guesses at how long it would be until we arrived at the end. We kept stopping to notice things and take pictures so all our guesses were not much use. The railings are numbered as well and you can see that half a mile is number 87. I think it was every fourth railing that had a painted number and the total was something over 120.

End of Southend Pier  Yellow Teddy with pier bell
The end of the pier goes off at an angle and this is the view from the very end, looking back. The main pier goes off to the right and back to the land. The pointed building is a big cafe with big wide steps at the front. Below where I was standing is a RNLI Coastguard gift shop. At the very end is this bell, which actually has a dinger, but I don't think the pier guard wants everyone ringing it all the time!

Pigeons drinking from leaking pipe on Southend Pier Mosaic in Southend Pier entrance
This is a water pipe at about two thirds of the way along, and the pigeons have discovered that it drips regularly. There were all jostling to get to it for their drinks. The pier entrance at the land end has some very beautiful mosaics of sea life, but they are up high over the glass entrance doors so you have to look up to notice them.

Amusements helter skelter  Amusements vertical roller coaster  Tables and chairs in the shape of ice cream cones
Southend has lots of amusements all along the seafront. This helter skelter is in the one designed for younger children. This rollercoaster is in the older people's one further along. The coaster car goes up vertically one side very slowly and them comes down vertically the other side very fast. These ice cream cone seats and table are a lot of fun and I don't think they would be too cold to sit on!

 Yellow Teddy admiring the glass domed roof in Kursaal  Blue Parrit admiring the neon lights inside the Kursaal
At the very end of town we went inside the Kursaal which used to be the main centre for amusements, and still has some inside, but I think it is mainly used for events and dinners. I am glad that the building is kept so smart. I really enjoyed all the coloured glass in the ceilings.

Southend Viewing Tower  View of Southend town and beach
Back by the pier we went up the viewing tower. It has a lift so that people can get to the shopping streets at the top, or you can walk up the steps or the zigzag path. In the middle you can see the dark shape of the pier going out to sea. This is the view from the tower looking to the left. The tall white shapes are decorations and they have lots of little lights on the town-facing side. Unfortunately we could not stay till dark to see them.

Southend cliff lift  Blue Parrot with jam scones
Further along westwards is the cliff lift. We walked up the steps to get a closer look and some better pictures of the coast. Back at the car we were ready for a snack and I am very glad that someone remembered to bring the scones and jam!


23 September

Crossness Engine House, Erith  Crossness Engine House and Boiler House
Today we went to see the Beam Engines at Crossness which is on the River Thames at Erith. This is a very old building that is being made into a museum.

Yellow Teddy and crane in Fitting Shop  Big nuts and components in Fitting Shop
First of all we went into the Fitting Shop, where we saw this crane and lots of huge lathes. One of these nuts is as big as a football and I hope the engineers don't accidentally drop one of them near their feet. I think this is where most of the work is done because they had made a little kitchen for themselves on one side! Everything looked very well organised and I think they can get a lot of work done here, because they have a machine for everything they might need.

Pump with teapots and water fountain  Model of twelve boilers in Boiler House
The museum is in the old Boiler House and has lots of small pumps and engines on display. This one is is pumping water through three teapots and into a little fountain. In a glass case is a model of the Boiler House when it was working, with twelve steam boilers in two rows.

Inside the restored part of the Engine House  Prince Consort Beam Engine
Here is the main Engine House. One of the Engines, called Prince Consort, has been repaired to be like new and is all steamed up so that the visitors can see it working. Some of the iron girders and columns have also been cleaned of rust and painted in lovely colours, just like it was when it was new 150 years ago.

Rocking beam  Flywheel
This is the rocking beam powered by the engine cylinders underneath. It has an arm that operates the pumps, and an arm at the very end that makes the flywheel go round. The flywheel keeps the whole engine running smoothly.

Yellow Teddy watching valve gear in basement  Decorative spiral staircase in basement
In the basement is the valve gear and there are lots of smaller pistons in action. It is all very smooth running. On the other side of the basement is some similar old gear that has not been mended, and it is all very dark, musty and thick with rust. When we were going back up, we suddenly noticed how decorative the spiral staircase is and I just can't wait to come back and get a photo of it all newly painted and colourful.

Decorative screen  Top of pillar with flowers and leaves  Arch showing painted and rusty sections
Here is a part of one of the screens and the top of a column. I looked very hard and I could not find any missed bits or blobs. Someone has painted it very slowly and followed all the shapes without making a mess. This is very hard to do when there is a lot to cover, so I think the painters have been very patient and careful. In the last photo you can see where they have had to stop halfway over an arch. Only one corner of the ground floor has been repainted so far.

Unrestored rusty part of Engine House  Yellow Teddy looking at rusty cylinder
The other half of the hall is still all rusty and I am working very hard to imagine it all finished. It will look like a theatre and I think the architect who designed it used his decorating patterns from other buildings and churches. I am glad he did. Here is the top of an old cylinder, seen from halfway up the stairs. I am sure it is on their list to mend but I think their list is very long. I get impatient when I see dirt and rust, because I like everything mended, working and shiny!

Yellow Teddy looking down over central octagon  The painted octagon
While I was up the stairs, I got some more photos of the middle bit, which is an octagon shape (eight sides). It is the best painted bit. I hope people put lots of coins in the donation buckets, so that all the painting can be finished.

Hand-operated model showing how the beam engines work
Just before we left the Engine House, we had a go on this little model. You can turn a wheel at the back and all the pistons start moving. You can see it in action on our Crossness Engines Youtube in the last minute of the video.


25 September

Yellow Teddy with hot water bottle  Yellow gerbera flower
This is the first time we have needed a hot water bottle at night, so I think summer must be just about over now! When it gets cold, I get out my photos of yellow flowers and have them up on the screen. Here is a gerbera from a bunch of flowers that someone sent us.

25 September

Yellow Teddy and snail in bike box  Yellow Teddy with cleaned up bike box
We have been getting loads of snails using the bike box as their sleeping quarters during the day, and making a lot of mess as well. We have moved them all to the very end of the garden, too far for them to get back to here. I cleaned out the box with the hose and a stiff brush. I keep finding odd ones each morning, and when I am sure they have all gone, I will put the box back in its usual place. I am planning to use the copper strip to keep them out, like I did with the sunflower pots some years ago.

26 September

Yellow Teddy with windfall Spartan apples  Southend stick of rock
These are the windfalls from our Spartan apple tree and we will be eating these straight away, after they have been scrubbed. For a few weeks we do not have to buy any apples. Here is the seaside rock that I got from Southend. I like to look at it, but eating it is not so good because it is too sugary and sticky. I prefer apples!

Yellow Teddy with shiny new juicer
We had to buy a new juicer and this one is like a mirror. I think the idea is that it becomes invisible on the kitchen worktop. I just love my carrot juice every morning, but I always have some water in it, so that it is not so strong, and then it lasts all day.

30 September

Dino holding ladder on shed roof  Yellow Teddy nailing down batten on shed roof
Today we put new roofing felt on the garden shed. Dino stood on the ladder to hold it firm, and I went up and nailed down some of the battens. I got some help with the higher up ones!

Yellow Teddy with sorted bags of nails  Yellow Teddy with jars of sorted screws
Someone has been busy sorting out the big box of rusty nails and screws, and now all the good ones are in jars and bags. It's no good keeping them all if you can't find the right size one when you want it!

Old blackbird's nest on the fence trellis  Comma butterfly
While trimming back the shrubs on the fence, I found the old blackbird's nest from earlier this year. I knew it was in there somewhere but I couldn't look for it because of scaring the birds away. They like to wedge the nest down between the trellis and the fence rail. It is full of yellowy leaves. Here is a Comma butterfly that landed on the plants by my pond. It was sitting getting warm in the sun. The weather will be getting colder soon, so we will not be seeing many more butterflies around.




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