2 September 2012
We do not usually see frogs this time of year because
everything is dry, so I was
glad to see this one.
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!
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
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!
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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!
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.
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 was absolutely delighted to find this reproduction cast of an Iguanodon
fossil, and lots more fossils in glass cases.
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.
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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.
You can only just see this moth amongst the dead leaves.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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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
these bikes outside a bike shop have been covered in colourful knitting.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lots of the huts have fishy decorations on them. If
I had one, I would have a friendly seagull zooming through the sky.
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.
Someone threw down a whole load of chips. It did
not stay on the ground for long.
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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
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Engines Youtube in the last minute of the video.
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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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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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