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Diary 2016 December

 

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1 December

 
December has started, with clear nights and lots of frost. Time to inspect all the shop windows for ideas for easy ways to make my own decorations!

3 December

 
I notice this lovely dawn whilst my lights were still on. Another frosty morning.


The day turned out sunny. We went to Dartford where there is a large market. There were people carol singing and telling the Christmas story. They had a loudspeaker which was just as well as the stall next to it was a fruit one, with the wares being shouted out - pound a bowl bananas!

 
This is the suspended footbridge to get to the railway station. This insignia say "Floreat Dartford" May Dartford flourish, which it certainly is, going by the crowds in the market.

 
I am sitting on the train waiting to go. This is part of the River Darent which gives Dartford its name. Dartford is famous as the home town of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones rock band and here is the plaque on the station platform.

 
We went by train to Hampton Court in West London. There was a chilly breeze blowing along the river and these rowers made us feel really cold. I hope the work of rowing was keeping them warm.

 
We sat in the walled rose garden of Hampton Court Palace to eat our sandwiches. The statues are wrapped up against being frosted over winter. We threw a crumb to a hooded crow and soon more arrived, as well as a seagull, then another seagull, and a wood pigeon. They know what happens when people sit down on the benches!

 
We went to the ice rink and watched while the machine smoothed off the ice, as it swept up the snowy crumbs and dribbled fresh water out of the back. In no time at all the rink was full of people and the smooth surface all scraped up again.

 
We walked down to the river as the sun went down. The seagulls were all sitting on a little boating pier and I wondered if they spent the night there or found somewhere else.

 
We went back to see the first part of another skating session, so we could get pictures of it all under the blue lights. As we left, we saw this penguin skating aid hiding round the corner! On looking more closely, we saw it was missing a handle. I think it is enjoying a little rest from the crowds.


This is the rink and on the right is Hampton Court Palace with its changing illuminations on the frontage.


We had a chilly wait on the platform but the train was very warm and cosy when it arrived.

4 December

 
The passionflower fruits are bright orange and look like giant Christmas tree lights or decorations. This holly tree in a tub only had a few berries last year but it is really doing well this year. Now that it is strong and healthy I will be planting it at the end of the garden soon.


Our robin waits outside the kitchen window for some bird pellets. He prefers it if they land under the bushes where he can poke about for them.

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5 December


This is Baker Street Station, in quite old fashioned colours. I like to get pictures of railway clocks, as they are all different and interesting.

 
This collection container is an old wartime shell, and it is next to the war memorial of Metropolitan Railway Company workers who died in the first world war.


On the train to Chesham, I tried to get a photo of the Christmas tree farm, which was very difficult as the windows were grimy and the train going fast, but you can just about see them. 

 
We got off at Chesham Station. This is the water tower, left over from the days of steam trains and the very smart signal box.

 
The waiting room at Chesham Station is full of old photos, and all along the top are their awards for the best station garden in bloom over the years.

 
I like these Metro-Land postcards, they were to encourage people to live out in the country and go to work on the Metropolitan line trains to London.


This Nativity scene was in a charity shop window, with real straw.

 
These ornaments are made of balls of seeds for the birds. There were lots of knitted red Remembrance poppies all around the war memorial.

 
On the way home, we stopped off at Rickmansworth. Another water tower, with an interesting water level gauge at the top.


While waiting for the final bus home, I got this photo by standing so that the lamppost light appeared to be on top of the tree.

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9 December

 
Today we went to Christ Church Erith for their Christmas Tree Festival. The church was completely full of about 80 decorated trees. This is somewhere I could stay all day and not get tired of it! Most of the decorated were hand made artwork.

 
All the trees were wonderful, but the best tree is this one full of cottonwool sheep. It matches the stained glass window sheep very well.

 
Brown Teddy liked this manger scene with these quite large models in a stable. On the grassy stable roof was a robin and a mouse.

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10 December

 
Today we decorated our Christmas tree. All the golden hooks had become joined together and Dino had a good time shaking the big lump until they all fell off one by one. Blue Parrot put the angel on the top.

 
There is no room for any more and every branch is full. Everything is on the golden hooks so that it all dangles and moves. Brown Teddy always looks forward o seeing these glass teddy decorations.

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11 December

 
We went to Greenwich. In the town I noticed this wonderful apron, showing the Thames and The Shard, with the London Eye in the background. It is quite realistic with an airplane zooming across the sky. We went round Greenwich Park and this is the Meridian Line marked in granite bricks across the road. It would be interesting to take a photo when the tree shadow is parallel with the Meridian Line.

 
There are flocks of Ring Necked Parakeets in the park, and lots of big old trees with holes in for them. The birds are very difficult to see in the trees, and almost impossible when the leaves are out. You have to listen carefully to decide exactly where the sound is coming from.

 
The autumn colours have gone now, except for this sequioa tree which has made the ground orange. In the corner by the big gate, they were selling real Christmas trees. Blackheath has a lot of old houses with large high rooms, so many of the trees were quite tall and wide ones.

 
In the afternoon we watched the Pantomime Horse Race. The horses raced from pub to pub around some of the streets of Greenwich, stopping for quick drinks. It was really good fun and lots of people lining the streets.

 
The race was raising money for The Sick Children's Trust. Some of the motorists on the roads were a bit puzzled though!

 
There is a Christmas carousel in front of the Cutty Sark, but not much custom yet as it was too early in the day. This is the "cutty sark" (short shirt) on the middle mast of the ship.

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20 December

 
We spent the afternoon at the garden centre. This is my favourite tree covered in frosty things. These clear necklace type ornaments look just like frozen water drops.

 
The angels were not freezing, with lovely robes to keep them warm! These pots of honey are in bear shapes, with the lids looking like hats.

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21 December

 
This is the skating in the lower "moat" part of the Tower of London. I really like these restaurant pods and the seats all had thick sheepskins on, an absolutely brilliant idea for enticing customers to have their meal sitting by the River Thames without getting cold.

 
We walked around St Katharine's Dock. This giant Christmas tree amongst the boats was sparkling with coloured lights. This repurposed stone is now a seat but it shows how the iron door hinges were built into the stone blocks as they were placed in the building.

 
We went on to Somerset House and this is the tree underneath the ornamental staircase. In the gift and sweet shop, we saw these lovely reindeer chocolate lollies, too good to eat (at least until Boxing Day).

 
More skating in the courtyard inside Somerset House buildings. Then on to Trafalgar Square. This nativity scene is very interesting, but much better lit up at night, because all the wooden figures are spotlighted.


We love to see the old Routemaster buses kept in good order and running the Tower Hill route for the tourists.

 
These are the Christmas trees in the Sky Garden, they look like the Shard opposite, which is a lot higher than this building. But this one is free to go up!


Back down on London Bridge, the Thames was all lit up from the surrounding buildings.

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23 December


Today we went to Danson Park in Bexleyheath. We brought a load of old bread for the crows, but ended up feeding it to these swans, ducks and gulls. Here it is all peaceful because they haven't seen the bags yet, but they have an idea what is coming.


We had the bread ready cut up into squares, and the gulls were the most energetic and noisy. There were lots of very loud squawks and screeches all at once.

 
The fastest ones get the bread. Afterwards one crow did get some crumbs at last.


Although we fed all the bread to the swans and gulls, I was very glad to see that someone had dumped a pile of bread behind these trees and lots of crows were eating it. So they did get some after all.

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24 December

 
I was up early enough to see the dawn. These wonderful skies do not always end up in a sunny day though. The winter jasmine flowers are the best they have ever been.


In the evening I watched the Norad Track Santa which was flying just over Christmas Island!

25 December

 
Blue Parrot was the first to discover all the presents that had appeared under the tree. Brown Teddy also found some interesting looking envelopes.

 
I had all the plates ready and washed the night before. We have already started on the cheese nibbles, and I can guess who was the first one to nibble.

 
I just love all these snowy Christmas cards and most of them are sparkly as well. Dino is keeping an eye on the peanuts and more nibbles in the plastic containers.

 
It was a really good Christmas dinner. Everyone had some Christmas pudding, custard and ice cream.


Afterwards we watched the Queen's speech where she praised people who help and encourage others.

 
Then it was time to open the presents. What a pile! Dino had his eye on this big red one, as it is the right size for being a large box of biscuits.

 
I love my Rupert Annuals and we will all read it together later on. Brown Teddy was delighted with this tea-light ornament, and the tea-light is battery, not a real candle.

 
Wrapping paper everywhere is a normal part of Christmas, but eventually it all goes into the paper bag. This is my living room mirror and is the best decorated part of the house. This year I have some brand new sparkly silver tinsel round it. I put a long piece of wide elastic firmly round the frame, and then use safety pins to keep everything in place.

26 December

 
We took a walk to the river, where we saw a white egret. Then on to the park where we saw the swans.

 
Dino is counting all the boxes of biscuits and chocolates that people have given us. He measured the height as 18 inches. That is a lot of eating to be done and we will have to spread it out. I suggested we wait until it snows but Dino was not sure he could wait that long.


This is today's lovely sunset, and I am glad I got a picture of it.

27 December

 
We went to Hall Place Gardens. The frost stayed in the shadowy parts all day, but the air was not too cold. The second photo is of the overflow channel which is now dry and we were able to walk across it.

 
One of the trees was covered in early pink flowers and some of them had fallen on the ground. I noticed this box on one of the bigger trees and I think it is for bats to spend the night in.

 
We looked hard for more flowers. This Mahonia bush is winter flowering in bright yellow. Brown Teddy found the flowering heathers which are pink and mauve.


This is the best display, the sunlight is lighting up the red and orange stems of the dogwood bushes, and they are behind all the pink and white heathers.

28 December

 
A hard frost overnight, although the day was not too cold, but there was lots of fog early on.

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