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Diary 2013 April


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1 April

Yellow Teddy making custard  Dino with ginger cake and custard
Dino has suggested that we have hot custard on our ginger cake to warm us up. Dino finished his bowl before anyone else, although the little beanbag dinosaur had a tiny bit as well.

Yellow Teddy with bucket of frogspawn  Yellow Teddy and frogspawn on straw
This bucket is full of frogspawn from a friend who has a tiny shallow boggy pond in their garden that dries out all the time and is going to be dug up. I put a raft of straw in the corner of my pond and slowly tipped the frogspawn in. It is a good job that all the jelly sticks together and does not fall through the straw. As long as the straw all stays in one piece, it will keep the fish out.

Tadpoles on straw
The eggs are now all curly comma shapes and I hope a good number survive to become tadpoles.

2 April

Park ducks  Brown Teddy with sweets
The ducks in the park were making a commotion, as they always do in spring when they get a bit more short-tempered, but it does not last long. Back at home, Brown Teddy has opened the little pack of chocolates that we were given for Easter. We always suck them slowly to make them last as long as possible! The stripey humbug was very minty flavoured.

4 April

Yellow Teddy with frozen rain
More frozen rain, but I am hoping that it will clear away so that we can go out today.

6 April

There were about five redwings in the park on the same bit of grass. This was about as close as I could get without them flying away. They are just like a thrush but with red under their wings and stripe across their head.

7 April

Goldfish  Baby goldfish
The goldfish are a bit more active now that the weather is brighter and warmer. I have noticed seven baby goldfish that must have been growing unnoticed all through last year. They are about 3 centimetres long and will soon start to turn orange coloured.

Butterfly 1  Butterfly 2
I was very fortunate to get so close to the butterfly. He was enjoying the warmth in the sun and not looking at me creeping up on him with my camera.

Robin looking for worms  Robin singing
We tidied all the pots and leaves at the end of the garden, and put some more pyracantha plants in. The robin always does two things when were are working down there - he comes down to clear up the worms, and then he goes up in his tree and sings his territorial song.

Robin's nest in shed
We had to get some tools out of the shed, so we went in really quickly. Fortunately there was no robin on the nest and I am glad that they have not yet laid any eggs, as it is still quite cold, with frosty nights.

8 April

Jay  Robin needlework
I am glad this jay stayed still as we walked past and was facing the right way to show us his blue wings. We went into the craft hobby shop and found this needlepoint pack of a robin. I prefer the real thing, and it is a lot less work as well!

Model of crocodile  Animal models for painting
Dino was delighted with the craft shop window display, of a crocodile made of heavy card fibres pressed into shape, and covered in patterned paper. The models are sold in brown so they can be painted, but the dinosaur looks quite real just as he is. Green paint would be a good colour so that he can hide in the jungle.

River pond  Wooden post fungus
This is a large extra pond that has been made behind the main part of the river. It is more slow moving, and it rejoins the river a short way further down. The part on the right is now an island that people cannot get on to, so it is just right for the birds. This post has fungus growing out of the ground and I think it will not be long before it falls over. This is near the river so the ground underneath must be a lot wetter than other verges and parks.

Wood pigeons with too much bread  Park robin
These wood pigeons had more bread than they could eat and were working very hard to cram more into their mouths. One of them tried to get a bit more down, but ran out of room in his throat and had to give up. They eventually walked off. It was a bread glut day with lots of visits from generous people, after all the cold weather. This is a park robin, and I am sure he watches the park gardeners just like my robins watch me.

9 April

Mossy wall  Mossy roof
I really like mossy walls because the green is so bright. Months of cold wet weather have made the moss very thick. It will not look so good when the hot dry weather comes.

11 April

Female blackbird at corner of pond
Here is our regular female blackbird at the end of the pond where the tadpoles are. Fortunately it did not appear to eat any, but had a bath instead. But just in case, we decided to put some green wire netting over the area.

Artificial turf  Dragon ornament
This artificial turf was lovely and green. I am glad to say that my lawn is usually like this but with daisies as well, but I think these would be cleaner to sit on, and with no ants! The dragon was crouching underneath the plant displays. His face is a bit fierce, I think I prefer the more friendly looking ones.

Church noticeboard  Daffodils in churchyard
This is St Mary's with St Paulinus Cray Church noticeboard, and just like it says the church garden is bursting with life and daffodils. I had some help looking over the high wall though.

13 April

Ivy hole near river 
This ivy on an old stump by the river looks like a good hidey hole if it rains, or gets too hot in the summer, but it might be a bit damp to sit down in.

Yellow wagtail  Pied wagtail
A good day for wagtail spotting, here are Yellow and Pied bobbing about looking for snacks.

14 April

Shield bug 1  Shield bug 2  Shield bug 2
This is a Shield Bug, he made it up the piece of stone to sit in the sunny patch at the top.

16 April

Shrub branch rooted in pond  Tadpoles
I have been watching a mossy island grow in a corner of the pond, but it turned out to be shrub branches rooting into the water, with moss on top. We have now replanted several of the "new" shrubs along the pond edge, which will make the tadpole area even more covered and safe.

Yellow Teddy's favourite white, yellow and orange daffodil  Lacewing inside daffodil
This is my favourite daffodil, with all three colours. Inside another one I found a lacewing having a rest.

17 April

Worm tracks in mud 1  Worm tracks in mud 2
There was a pile of fine mud in a corner from washing the pond filter sponge mats. Overnight the worms have left all these tracks. I think the big blobs are water drops. Worms love mud!

18 April

Duck behind grass on pond  Yellow Teddy at the computer
A long time ago there was a children's television programme called Rosie and Jim, which was puppet adventures. They lived on a narrowboat called the Ragdoll that had a wooden duck on the roof. Each time, Pat the boat owner made a lovely drawing of where they had been, with Duck hidden somewhere. Rosie and Jim would find the drawing, pointing out all the things they had seen and they ended by saying "But where's Duck?" Well, here he is for real, and Mrs Duck coming into the picture as well. I really enjoyed the website and looking around the narrowboat You can click all over the boat picture, and if you click on the narrowboat Duck, he quacks.

Dandelion  Pigeons bathing in pond
I love dandelions when they are really big. These pigeons in the park were having a good soak in a quiet moment with no ducks around.

Yellow Teddy watching heavy rain  Rainbow
After I got home it rained quite hard for a while, followed by the rainbow. I was glad I got in and avoided a soaking.

19 April

Bee houses for sale 
These are wooden bee houses in a shop, but I am sure I could make something like this with all my spare bamboo sticks if I cut them up and tied them in bundles. Sometimes they are called insect hotels.

Speckled pigeon 1  Speckled pigeon 2
Pigeons are mostly all the same grey colour, so I am taking pictures of the more unusual ones with brown bits and speckles.

20 April

Yellow Teddy with satnav  Gravesend industrial view
A day out to Gravesend, and at last a chance to use the new TomTom satnav. It is much better than the old ancient one, and it looked as if we were flying slowly over a map. Gravesend is very industrial, with factories, pylons and wind turbines.

Part of coat of arms on bollard  Windmill Street road sign Gravesend
This is a bollard with a painted shield of a sailing ship. The OXO bit is two buckles and a windmill in the middle. The road name is still a good description, as there are three huge wind turbines across the river from here.

Gravesend coat of arms  The King's Head stonework
I like to look out for decorated things. The blue creature is a porcupine with a fish tail. You can read about the meaning of the coat of arms here:,-democracy-and-elections/mayor-general-information/arms-and-insignia

The bouquets on each side of the King's Head are "horns of plenty" (cornucopia). I am going to make a copy of my photo and paint all the white bits, especially the all the colourful fruits - all on the computer, with no mess! If I see something plain, I just have to colour it in.

Statue of Princess Pocahontas  Princess Pocahontas picture on information board
Here is a statue of Princess Pocahontas and her picture on the noticeboard.

St George's Church Gravesend  Church picture on metal waste bin
Here is St George's Church where Princess Pocahontas is buried. You can see her statue on a plinth very small at bottom left of the photo. The wastebins around Gravesend have this picture on them and I think it may be the same church.

Owl model on mast  Old mended and rebuilt wall
The Port Authority buildings have loads of masts and aerials on top, but I was puzzled by this model of an owl on one of the masts. Then someone explained to me that it was to keep off the pigeons or birds that might build a nest up there. This wall was very interesting. It must have once been the side of a house, then the path was built up and then the wall was made bigger and longer. I like all the different colours of bricks.

Tilbury pylons  West Thurrock Power Station
Here is West Thurrock Power Station across the river, which closed many years ago. The electricity pylons are still there, and I think this would be a good place to have a lot of climbing plants - sweet peas, honeysuckle and climbing roses would look wonderful covering the pylons, leaving a shady space underneath for a picnic! I think they might need some ivy to get to the top and loads of birds would nest in it undisturbed.

Swans by jetty
These swans were crowding all around this low jetty, as people like to walk down it with their bags of bird bread. We went to the end and fortunately everything was dry and safe and not slippery. But I would not go on it after rain or in icy conditions, as there are no rails.

Black swan  Swan asleep
There was only one black swan and I think he might get more bread thrown for him, as he stands out from the others. This young swan was fast asleep, with no chance of being disturbed as people or dogs would never want to go in the muddy Thames water.

Lake in Gordon's Park  Pondn in Gordon's Park
This is the small lake in Gordon's Park. I am sure this second pond was made to look like a Monet painting. It is the ideal place for someone to sit and paint pictures, as there is a path all round so you can choose the best view, and being in a hollow it is very sheltered and warm, with no river breezes. 

Brown Teddy reading information board Information board picture of old Blockhouse Yellow Teddy looking at remains of Blockhouse
Brown Teddy likes to read the information boards. We always take photos of them so that we always have the information once we get home. This is the remains of the Blockhouse which was used to defend the river.

Paving cracked by tree root  Yellow Teddy with Mission House ornamental door
I am glad this tree is not planted near a house! This is the decorative door to the Mission House. I wish I had one like this at home, maybe I could make a drawing of it and put it on the wall as a pretending little door.

Gravesend Town Pier  Yellow Teddy on Gravesend Town Pier pontoon
Here is Gravesend Town Pier which is the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world, built in 1834. It now has a restaurant on it, but walkers can go along the glazed corridor at the side. At the end there is a new pontoon for ferries and boats.

The pier's history:

Hawk-shaped kite 1  Hawk-shaped kite 2  Pigeon
On the pontoon was a nylon kite looking like a hawk. I think it is another way to keep birds from nesting there, and the next pier downriver had one as well. This beautiful pigeon was not put off, and he and his two friends followed us around for some crumbs. 

Town Pier gate with large print  Town Pier gate lock
As we came off the pier, I noticed this large print of the pier at night. I had gone straight past it without seeing, because I was looking at the river instead. Then someone told me that it was a flood defence door, something else I had not noticed. It's a good idea to go out with several people, so nothing gets missed!

Tub of flowers  Patterns on glass
These flower displays were doing really well in full hot sun outside a pub, and I hope they fill them with summer flowers when the bulbs have finished. I like the patterns on the glass, and the idea is that passers-by cannot look in and stare at people eating at the tables! 

West Street Pier railway remains
Here are the remains of the old railway line that went onto West Street Pier. It is all a bit sad to see something falling apart. I think I would like to see all this mended and turned into a Railway Pier Restaurant with history exhibits, soundtracks and videos of steam trains on screens on the wall, and teas and jam scones served from a railway carriage. Hmm, just dreaming! There is a good photo of the pier here and you can read the railway history here, with lots of photos

21 April

Our resident male blackbird is not so bold as the brown female, so I have to hide behind the kitchen curtain to watch him get the worms and crumbs.

Yellow Teddy with the nail box  Yellow Teddy mending shed
Now that it is warmer, we can get to mending things around the garden. The robin has decided to make another nest somewhere else, so we were able to finish off the edges of the roofing felt.

Yellow Teddy with rawlplugs  Yellow Teddy helping mend the water tap bracket
I could have a good time making pictures and shapes with all these rawlplugs, but first of all we had to get on with fixing the bracket that holds up the outside tap.

23 April

Prints in mud  Robin singing
Here is some more mud from cleaning the pond filter sponges. This seems to be squirrel and blackbird prints. I think the top right ones are a bluetit hopping around. Here is our resident robin singing very loudly in the hawthorn tree, claiming ownership of our wonderful garden.

Butterfly  Bee-fly  Ladybird
Warm days mean more insects about. The butterfly was enjoying the warm stone of the birdbath. This is a bee-fly, not a real bee at all, and it has a very long needle-shaped mouth to get into the flowers. The ladybird very kindly sat still while I got the camera in really close.

25 April

Ladybird on book
Well, this is absolutely amazing. Someone left the shorthand dictionary on the table, and a spotted ladybird was found sitting on top of the "dotty" entry. After the photo, he was escorted to the window to fly away.

26 April

Speedy the Snail
It was a wet morning, so Speedy the Snail was still out and about. He obviously wanted his photo taken before he went back under the wet leaves. I reckon he can see round corners if he wants to.

27 April

Ducklings  Female mallard duck
We had somehow missed seeing the park ducklings when they were very small, and these are quite well grown ones. The mother duck was sitting on a log by the edge, watching out for danger. The gardeners leave lots of logs and branches lying in the water for the birds to sit on in safety.

29 April

Parrot tulips
Blue Parrot was very excited about these brilliant coloured tulips because they are called parrot tulips. He wants us to buy a really big bag of more bulbs in other colours so that next year we can have them along the whole flower bed. He will have to wait until September for that, though.



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