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Diary 2015 April


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1 April

Daffodils  Hall Place
Here are the Gravel Hill daffodils all out at last. I went back to Hall Place to buy some plants. The cut flower garden is gradually getting filled with new plants.

New shrubs  New rose
oI bought a viburnum and a forsythia and they are a good size. I also have a climbing rose put in later on.

Laths for trellis
As it was warm and dry, we painted the laths which will be made up into a trellis.

2  April

Train station  Diesel goods train
Today we went to Highgate in North London. I love seeing all the stations and other trains. This is a goods train full of tons and tons of granite chippings pulled by a diesel engine.

View over London from Highgate Hill
This is the view from Highgate Hill looking south over the whole of London.

Easter shop window display  Art shop window display
I had a good look around for Easter shop windows. I just love this art shop with giant pencils in the window, it makes me want to get my colouring books out.


Alexandra Palace front  Alexandra Palace south side
This is Alexandra Palace, which was built as a place of entertainments for the general public in the 19th Century.

Television mast  Television blue plaque
Being on a hill, it was the best place for this television transmitter mast and the first television programmes were transmitted from here in 1936.

View over London
This is just a small part of the view, it goes a long way both left and right. Next time we come we are going to bring our binoculars.

Lightning conductor  Lightning conductor joining strip
This is the copper lightning conductor. As it was a fine day, Brown Teddy didn't mind touching the copper. This piece has been joined over the break, so that the electricity from any lightning strike goes over the gap.

Rear entrance  Glass roof
This is the door at the rear. Inside is the entrance booth to the indoor ice rink. The rest of the Palace is derelict and is waiting for the day when it is all refurbished. The roof is like the Crystal Palace and in fact it was meant to be for North London what the Crystal Palace was for South London - be a venue for entertainments and exhibitions for the people.

Fairground  Copper lion statue
Behind the palace was a small fairground. I like these giant bubbles, which children can get inside and make it roll about on a shallow pool. Near the cafe is this lovely copper lion. The back and tail are all smooth from all the hundreds of children who have climbed up on him over the years.

Boating lake  Pigeons bathing
The boating lake has lots of boats in the shape of swans. In the distance is the television mast and the glass dome of the Palace. On the far side of the lake these pigeons were having a quiet bath, away from all the noise and people.

Alexandra Palace old railway station  Alexandra Palace old railway station
At the rear of the Palace is where the old railway station used to stop and it is now a community centre.


Highgate old trackway  Highgate old trackway woodland
We left the Palace and followed the route of the old railway track, which is now a woodland path. Over the wall it drops away to the garden below and there are views over all the town.

Old trackway, rope on tree  End of old trackway
Someone has tied a rope to this old tree and all the jumping and swinging has worn the soil away from the roofs. The track route stops just under this bridge, and the rest of it has been built over with houses.

Highgate Wood entrance  Highgate Wood path
We followed some more footpaths and came to Highgate Wood, which has lots of crisscrossing paths through it. It is definitely one to come back to when the leaves are out.

Highgate Wood drinking fountain  Highgate Wood branches
In the middle is this Victorian drinking fountain with a poem at the bottom, and amazingly it still works and you can get a drink if you press the brass button. All the pruned and fallen wood is left lying around in neat rows and piles, but these branches are piled up over a trunk to make an interesting little enclosure for children to investigate.

Highgate Station  Escalator to Highgate Tube Station
This is Highgate Station which is derelict, and there is a tree growing out of the middle of it. Immediately underneath is the entrance to Highgate Tube Station, and the escalator goes a long way down, as it starts on a hill.


4 April

Upminster smock windmill
We went to Upminster Windmill in Havering, North London, for their first Open Day of the year. After our last visit in January, I just couldn't wait to see inside. This is the back view, the front view is much whiter.

Windmill tour disc  View from top of windmill
We went in groups of about 8 and all had to have a disc so that everyone is accounted for. We were taken by the guide straight up the steep wooden ladders to the top floor, and then worked out way down. This keeps all the groups separate and moving along safely. This is the view looking towards the back and the excavations of the old engine house.

View through windmill window
We were on the top Dust Floor. This view from the window would have been much more dramatic when the sails were going round. Our guide told us absolutely everything about all the equipment on each of the floors. It was very interesting and we had no idea how much went on in just one windmill! He explained exactly how all the equipment worked.

Windmill workings  Windmill workings
Almost everything is wooden, with iron fittings. The cog teeth are all separate pieces that are held in with a wooden pin so that broken ones can be replaced. Here is the bolted iron join in the central shaft.

Windmill workings  Windmill workings
The square bins on the right are the grain hoppers.

Windmill workings  Windmill workings
These octagonal boxes hold the millstones. The screw like machine is for separating the flour from the chaff. I think it would all have been very noisy when it was working, with heavy vibration and dust everywhere. Even today people whose surname is Miller are often nicknamed Dusty Miller.

Millstone  Model windmills
On the ground floor is an old millstone and a case with model windmills. There is lots of other memorabilia like old flour containers, adverts, newspaper cuttings, bits of equipment, and some tables selling souvenirs and booklets. The tour was free but we did make an addition to the collection box and I bought a pen and pencil to remind me of our wonderful day. The guides did a really good job and made it a real day to remember.


Frieze on Upminster Library building
We walked back to Upminster town centre and here is the painted frieze over the front doors of the Library, showing the windmill sails on the left, followed by swirly lines to show the wind, blowing both tree leaves and book leaves about, then wheat, the church and the town houses.

Decorative train carriages
On our way home we passed this very colourful train decorated like the normal patterned train or bus seat material!

6 April

New plants in pots  Forsythia planted
Time to put the new plants in. We have cleared the strip along the fence and cut back the plants that are growing up the fence. The forsythia is my favourite at the moment.

Robin  Wood pigeon
The robin visited to tidy up the grubs and worms. The wood pigeon is rearranging the grass seeds - down his throat. Good job I dug in a lot of the seeds, so he is only getting the ones on top, which would die anyway.

Primrose growing in crack on steps  Trellis wood
This little primrose is growing in a crack in the steps at the bottom of the garden. It has been there for years. I decided to sort out the trellis wood into difference lengths and think how I am going to put it together.

Straw raft in fishpond  Tadpoles
I made a straw raft out of a square of netting wrapped around the straw and sewn with garden string, so the fishes can't get to the tadpoles so easily. The tadpoles are just beginning to swim away into the corners, which is much better for them.

Pond air pump
We have moved the air pump to a different corner and it is being kept much shallower. It had been slowly whooshing all the mud away from the bottom, which is not really helpful as some of the smaller water lily tubers have now floated to the surface.


7 April

Limehouse Basin
We went to Limehouse Basin in North East London, to see the canals and narrowboats.

Lock gates  Lock gates
These steel lock gates are big and deep, and as soon as I got my photos I was glad to get back onto the path. It looked a bit too far down for my liking!

Flowers on narrowboat  River view
This was the best boat with all its tubs of flowers on the roof. We walked along until we came to the River Thames. The sun was out and the water was sparkling. In the distance is the Canary Wharf area. It was named after a dock quay which was named after the Canary Isles where fruit was imported from.

Duck and ducklings  Duckhouse
Some of the canals between the housing developments are not flowing water so it has to have a blue chemical added, and there is a notice that the water is hazardous. How are these ducks surviving the hazardous water, though? Hmm, a puzzle. There is little pond life so I am sure people are feeding them. This is their duck house at the end of the stretch of water.

We went back to Limehouse Basin and in a secluded corner behind the moored boats, these two swans were beginning to make a nest out of the weed twigs on the floating raft.

Commercial Road Lock   Commercial Road Lock
This is Commercial Road Lock. The zigzag edge is the water overflow and the actual lock is on the right hand side.

Commercial Road Lock winding gear  Commercial Road Lock rope pulley
We like to look for all the old leftover gear and try and guess what it was for. The winding gear is easy to recognise but I think the second one is a rope pulley for boats to get through the short tunnel.

Commercial Road lock  Little tunnel hole
I prefer it when the water is high up, I am not fond of the big drops. Brown Teddy wondered what this little tunnel thing was but we think it is probably just a drainage hole.


Lock gate handlebar  Lock gate
I had a go at pushing the lock gate bar. The gate moved a few inches. It was already half open so I didn't flood anything! There are lines of raised bricks in the paving underneath the bar so people can get a foothold when pushing it.

Millennium Park  Millennium Park
We walked along to Millennium Park. This is a very beautiful big pond, and the water is clear and full of big blobs of weed. It looks like an underwater forest of trees and greenery. We walked along the bridge on the right of the first photo and got a bird's eye view of it all.

Iron sculpture Millennium Park - Suffragette  Iron sculpture Millennium Park - Footballer  Iron sculpture Millennium Park - Carthorse
Further along are these iron sculptures that we keep seeing in different parks. The first is a suffragette from a century ago who is campaigning for votes for women, the second is a footballer, and my favourite is the carthorse.

Fishtail sculpture and seat  Fish scale details
This sculpture is meant to be the back half of a big fish, with the tail fins being the steel seat. Each scale has been made by a child with their own picture and writing on it.

Regent's Canal  Hertford Union Canal
The canal is called Regent's Canal, and it was much greener here with the willow trees and the communal gardens to the houses. Off to the right is the Hertford Union Canal.

Ford Lock  Below Ford Lock
Further along the Regent's Canal there was activity at Ford Lock, as some boats were going through. As the were letting the water out, it was all churning and foaming. It did not take long before the gates could be opened and the boat came out. We had been hoping to see a lock in action and so we were delighted to be there at the right time and get pictures.


West Boating Lake, Victoria Park
We eventually arrived at Victoria Park and this is West Boating Lake. There were crowds of people and children, and lots of water birds and pigeons.

Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking Fountain  Fountain weathervane
In the second part of the park is the Burdett-Coutts Memorial Drinking Fountain built in 1862 to provide clean drinking water for the poor people of East London. It is very ornate and I especially like the mermaid on the wind vane. The spikes on her cup are to stop pigeons landing on it!

Victoria Park daffodils  Greenwich Park daffodils
Plenty of daffodils further along in the park, all lit up in the sunlight. Then I remembered the daffodils at Greenwich so we stopped off there on our way back home, to get some more pictures. Many were beginning to fade, but we found plenty of clumps still in good condition.

Greenwich Park observatory  Snack time
We sat in front of the Queen's House and watched people going up and down the hill to the Observatory at the top. Just time for a snack before getting the train home.


9 April

Dino opening package  Pond pump box
The new pond pump we ordered arrived today. Dino is the best one to open the stiff cardboard. I checked the box to make sure it was the correct one as ordered.

New pond pump  Dino with flexible tube
It is much bigger than the present pump and it will push a lot of water through. Dino was going to undo the flexible hose as well, but I think he will have to be a bit more careful and not bite into it!

12 April

Trellis building  Trellis completed
I finally got round to nailing together all the laths into a bespoke piece of trellis to finish off the fencing at the end of the garden. I had to bring in some extra pieces so there is more painting to do to get it all green on both sides.


14 April

Blossom trees  More blossom trees
Back to the daffodil meadow to see what is out. I know the daffodils are resting a bit this year, but there was lots of blossom. It was very fluffy looking in the brilliant sunshine.

Mown path in meadow  Almond blossom on trunk
I like the wide mown paths so you can walk all round everywhere. Brown Teddy likes the pink almond trees, as there is often a piece of blossom coming out of the trunk lower down where he can see it properly.

Forsythia  Flowering currant bush
A much better photo of the forsythia this time, and the flowering currant bush was out as well.

Vase of daffodils  Fish lounging in the weed and straw
When I got home a friend had sent us some lovely daffodils, so even more to take photos of. The sun was still out and some of the fish were lazing around in the straw rafts, which are beginning to fall apart. They like the warm water in this corner of the pond, where it heats up as there is not so much movement of the water.

15 April

Ceramic owl ornaments  River weed
I like these friendly ceramic owls in the garden centre but my garden birds would be terrified of them. We wandered back home along the riverside park. Looking over the bridge I could see lots of weed waving about in the current. The water is always very clear.

Downriver from bridge  Upriver from bridge
Brown Teddy and I agree that this bridge is the best part of the riverside park. I am looking downstream and Brown Teddy is looking upstream, in case we can spot any ducks.

19 April

Anvil weather vane
We like to look out for unusual weather vanes. This one is an anvil and is on top of a old forge building at a nearby farm.

22 April

Early morning park
We went through the park very early in the morning. All the ducks were sitting around on the grass sleeping, but I am sure some of them were opening an eye to watch us as we went past.

Robin was following us around all the time we were working in the garden. He especially likes it when someone moves a plastic bag, to reveal all the worms underneath.

26 April

London Marathon runners  London Marathon start line
Today we watched the London Marathon on the television. Brown Teddy's favourite part is when they all start off, as they are all going fast and are full of energy.

Yellow Teddy running London Marathon video
I made myself a little video with me running in front of the two men in the elite men's race. I think I took the lead for a very short while! I don't think I could keep it up for the whole two and a bit hours though.

27 April

Collared dove  Moorhen chicks
This is our friendly collared dove sitting on a neighbour's roof. He is waiting to see if I throw a peanut onto the lawn. He likes the smaller roundish peanuts but not the longer larger ones as they are a bit too big for his throat. We went through the park and I just got close enough to get a picture of the baby moorhens. The parent bird was running over to someone throwing bread to the ducks, and then running back very fast to feed the chicks.

28 April

Gorse bush  Blossom meadow
We went to Hall Place. The yellow gorse is all out and very thick with flowers. The meadow is full of apple and prunus trees in full blossom. The weather was perfect, with a slight breeze and blue sky.

Fallen blossom  Blossoms on tree
This fallen blossom is still in good condition. There are many millions more on the trees though, I am very glad to say.

Petal snow  Back path
Brown Teddy was delighted to find this "snowy" corner round the back of the meadow. This grassy path goes along behind the trees and I think not many people go down here. I like mysterious little paths and finding out where they go, as long as I am with someone.

Yellow bush  Two magpies
This yellow bush was really bright even in the shadow. There were several magpies finding worms and insects in the long grass and wild plants under the trees. Magpies fly away when you get near, so we were glad to have a really good zoom on the camera.

Brilliant azaleas  Peeling papery bark
At the other end of the park are lots of brilliant azaleas. This clump is my favourite, and it was even brighter than the photograph. I liked this tree with the peeling papery bark, but I think if I had it at home, I would want to tidy up the raggy bits! I think my birds would pull bits off for their nests.

30 April

Geese and goslings in park
We saw this goose family on our way through the park very early in the morning. The parent birds always have their necks up high, to look out for any danger, and also for any food that visitors might have brought.



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