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Diary 2016 March


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3 March

We went to Hall Place in Bexley to check out the daffodil meadow. Not a lot going on, but I think it won't be too long if we have some good weather. There are lots of dug up holes everywhere along the grass paths, I am sure it is badgers looking for worms at night. You have to look where you are treading, with the dips and holes.

Blue Parrot was delighted to see just a very few blossoms starting to open, so few that it needed a really close up picture to get them! He was also very pleased to see some new trees planted.

This is a very tall poplar tree that has blown down, going by the torn wood at the base. I can't see where it came down from, so I think the gardeners must have dragged it to lie here. Here are the heraldry topiary beasts in yew, they always look especially good when the sun is shining, because the shadows show up the shapes.

Here are the gardeners trimming some of the other yew shapes, with a big trimmer on a long pole and a stepladder. The grey geese were helping to weed the rose beds and trim the grass.

In the stable block, there was a really good display of children's artwork. My favourite was a big blue page stuck all over with colourful painted butterfly wings. They have all done such wonderful paintings, and everythign different, we really enjoyed going round. We then went on to the big glasshouse where Blue Parrot found his favourite plant - Bird of Paradise flowers, adn its long name is Strelitzia.

My favourite is the long fishpond with waterfall. These spiderplants are hanging down over the radiator pipes and they can all be potted up as new plants, but they make a nice curtain just as they are.

4 March

A very exciting day out today to the RAF Museum at Colindale and Blue Parrot couldn't wait to get going. I like this old-fashioned wooden handrail at Colindale Station, I am glad they keep the old fitments like this, and in good repair.

The RAF Museum is a very big place with lots of giant hangars. The planes outside give you a taste of the inside. The entrance is over the far right back, into the Milestones of Flight hangar.

This aircraft engine looks like a lot of work and I wouldn't like to have to sort it out if it wet wrong! You can pay to go in this aircraft simulator and later on we saw it rocking about as someone was having fun inside.

We went upstairs to get a pilot's eye view of the hangar from the balcony. Blue Parrot was interested in this wall print about the fable of Icarus who tried to fly and failed - I heard some tut tutting from him about lift, drag and feathers staying with their owners! The hangar is full of historic planes from the beginning, this one has bicycle wheels underneath. There is also one of the first gondolas that went underneath the airships.

After that we crossed into the Bomber Hall, with lots of huge planes everywhere. I knew we would take ages to get around it all.

There are lots of other displays of history and the people involved, this painting is of an RAF veteran.

This roll of honour book is for the Royal Australian Air Force 460 Squadron, and has a kangaroo and boomerang on the emblem. The motto of the badge is "Strike and return."

All these paintings of planes in action make you think of the noise over the countryside, the smoke and the dangers to everyone.

We watched a short video about the invention of the bouncing bomb by Barnes Wallis and this is a recreation of his workroom. This big machine is a Gee ground transmitter that sent signals that allowed aircraft to find their position and navigate.

This is a view inside a Tornado Swing Wing strike aircraft. It is very cramped and I can hardly imagine how terrifying it must have been if the plane was in trouble. This case has models wearing all the airmen's gear, from the thermal underwear and long knitted socks, up to the flying suits, helmets and goggles.

These stereoscopes made it easier for people to interpret the aerial photos of the landscape, because it made the structures stand out in 3D, instead of just being flat grey shapes. I think I need the eyepieces a little closer together!

The stained glass panel is one of two in honour of four Bools brothers who died in the Second World War. This operations room is a recreation with models, showing how it would have looked. It is very realistic. The young airman in the background looks a little worried about going out on a sortie, or maybe he has just come back from one.

Here are the medals awarded to service people. They are very colourful and shining with gold. There is a lot more detail if you look at them closely. Brown Teddy said they are like some of the emblems that the Queen wears.

Here is an American officer sending men out in a bomber, with one of the men just getting into the plane. This memorial stone is in honour of the American airmen of the Eighth Air Force who died.

Oh dear, someone has dropped their Teddy and he is now sitting on a bomb case in the Bomber Hall waiting for them to return. I am sure the RAF will keep him very safe in the meantime and bring him meals and drinks from the hangar cafe nearby. This is a large model of a small cap badge, made of natural plant material by Gill Cubitt. The bottom tail feathers look like sycamore seeds to me, what a good idea and a good way of letting us see all the detail.

Time to go home, but there is so much more to see at the Museum we will definitely be coming back another day to look at all the other hangars. This is the large station clock on Colindale Station, a really good one as station clocks go. Back in London, I noticed that these clamps that the rails are on look like little hands holding them up!

5 March

It was a cold day with icy mizzle, but we went out anyway to Streatham in south London. We came across this milestone on the east side of the High Road. The north side of the stone says Whitehall 5 Miles and the west side says Royal Exchange 6 Miles, both of which are to the north in Central London. The other two sides have nothing readable.

Whilst waiting on the platform at Streatham Station, I noticed this beast on the gable end of a house in the distance.  It looks as if he is holding a shield. There are a lot of old red brick Victorian buildings in Streatham.

11 March

It was a bright sunny morning so went went through the park on the way to the shops. The duck was having a very energetic bath and the gulls were sitting around preening.

The corner with the daffodils was in full flower, at last.

12 March

We went to Hornchurch today. The like their flowers and have lots of big planters full of spring bedding. This plastic hawk is doing a good job of keeping the pigeons away from the shops.

This Easter Bunny looks very cuddly, even though it is a painting on the glass. I like the Easter bonnets covered in fluffy chicks.

The frogs are back in my garden, with many more sitting on the lower shelf under the water. We will have to make a straw raft again to keep the goldfish away from the frogspawn.

14 March

This is The Old Cottage in Cheam, dating from 1500. It was moved from its original position because of road widening.

I was surprised to see this old milestone in Sutton High Street, it says the same as the one we saw in Streatham a few weeks ago, the distance to London Whitehall 11 miles and Royal Exchange 12 miles. This world is in the top lantern roof inside the shopping mall.

I like this buggy, it is for getting shoppers up and down Sutton High Street, which is all on a slope.

17 March

Today we went to the Science Museum in Kensington. In the long underpass from Kensington Station to the Museum, I saw this really good poster of the Cutty Sark sailing through and out of some book pages.

Last time we looked at the ground floor, and this time we looking around upstairs. It is all about measuring time. All these hourglasses are not doing much counting unless someone actually turns them all over!

This is the huge turret clock mechanism from St Giles Church, Cambridge, and was made in 1671. There were lots of pocket sundials that people used before clocks were invented.

This Chinese sundial has a dragon's tail as the shadow marker. This cup one is very unusual and has the marker in the centre. My favourite is this one that looks like a candle.

This is one of the first television sets, the screen is very small. In this cabinet is a prototype of the Post Office talking clock machine.

Further on we saw these dioramas of farming and ploughing. They look very real, and the models in the middle blend right into the painted curved background.

It all looks so real, I feel I am really there! Brown Teddy enjoyed pressing the button to make this huge threshing machine work.

It's a long way down the stairwell, best not to lean over too much! Outside the museum, someone had thrown down a whole baguette and a big crowd of pigeons was pecking and flinging it around. They didn't take much notice of people walking past.

We ate our sandwiches by the Thames in the sunshine.

We then went to Greenwich. This bus shelter has an interesting piece of artwork, all the phases of the moon. We walked along the pathway alongside St Alfege's Church. The old gravestones are all lined up along the railings and most of the lettering has worn away.

There were some men climbing the rigging on the Cutty Sark. The brown figure at bottom left is a model that is always there. Then we fed the seagulls with our old bread and biscuits, and there was a lot of screeching and swooping. The tide was out and there were a few people wandering around beach combing.

In the shopping arcade all the shops are full of London souvenirs for the tourists.

19 March

More Easter shop windows full of chocolate and chicks.

I thought I would check out the barber's shop, and I was very glad to see they have the knitted Last Supper again. It is really good with lots of tiny detail in everything.

This is Jesus on his donkey. I think the sheep is taking a nap! On the other side, another disciple is sitting down with a rooster, a sheep and three camels.

21 March

My favourites, sunny yellow chicks. Lots of hats just waiting to be decorated in the craft shop window.

We took a walk along the river. This is my favourite part, a noisy waterfall. We saw a white egret fly past and got a zoomed in photo after he had landed.

There are some bluebells out, but they are very small and short. This tree trunk has been left for the wildlife. Last year it had a wasp warning notice on it. The branch hole is now a drinking spot for the birds.

22 March

This is what happens if you let a buddleia grow in the brickwork. It would be an easy way to demolish a wall without any hard work, if you don't mind waiting a few years!

The wood pigeon is having a long soak in my birdbath. I got some good pictures of his feathers, like overlapping tiles.

Later on some other pigeons had a good soak. I think the water probably needs changing after all that.

In the afternoon we went to Coolings Garden Centre. I just love this giant solar panel called Smartflower. It tracks the sun and can close up if necessary. Inside I was surprised to see a giant plastic lion sitting around.

This pheasant ornament looks a bit like the pigeons in my birdbath at home. These are straw birds on sticks. They think of something different each year to use the twiggy straw for.

I like this birdy ornament but I prefer real birds. In the cafe we noticed the robins going under the tables for the crumbs that people dropped. They were very bold and I am sure they must have a nest somewhere nearby.

23 March

Today we went to Hampton Court on the River Thames. All the daffodils on the riverbank were out, but I had to zoom in the camera from the bridge to get a good photo. Next we went to the green to see the funfair.

I really like this swirling chairs ride, but I think it might seem a lot faster when you are actually up there. The giant plastic balls have a long zip plus Velcro fastening so each child can get inside, and the man blows air in to fill it up. Then he lifts it onto the shallow pool so the children can roll around. I think it must be a bit cold on the feet and legs!

This ride was going round, but no people on it yet, as the fair had only just opened at midday. There were lots of smaller children's rides as well.

This is the Hook A Duck stall with lots of toys to win or buy. The sweets stalls were very colourful as well but too sugary for me.

These two are our favourites, the Dodgems with the loud music, and the Carousel with the organ music.

Later on we went into Hampton Court Palace gardens for our snack. This is the rose garden, and we ate our sandwiches in the vegetable garden. We spent some time back on the bridge looking at all the activity up and down the river.

This grebe looks very smart. This hooded crow is very smart as well, waiting for crumbs to fall, as people buy and eat snacks on the railway station stall. I think he is smart enough to help himself from the table, if the owners disappeared out of sight for a minute.

Back at Waterloo Station in London, we saw this giant replica of a Waterloo Campaign Medal on the wall. Down on the concourse is a piece of railway carriage, to show what the new ones will be like next year.

27 March

The morning was very wet and windy, in between the sunny periods. In the afternoon we watched the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge. We were all very worried when the Cambridge Ladies boat filled with water but they rowed on, their pumps cleared the boat of water, and they managed to finish. But they did have safety boats following them closely behind. Brown Teddy says this cox's eye view of the Men's Race boat looked very chilly.

Blue Parrot preferred the bird's eye view from one of the high up cameras, as the boats went under the bridge.

28 March

Today we travelled to Markfield Park in North London. We got out at Seven Sisters railway station. The name is very old, from when seven elms were planted in a circle with a walnut tree in the centre, more than 300 years ago, . The trees have been replanted several times since then.

We went to Markfield Park to see the Beam Engine open day, which is at the top right of the map.

These carvings are at the Crowlands Road entrance to the park, they look quite old but are set in new brick piers.

Here is the engine house, the banner says "A Masterpiece of Victorian Engineering". The Beam Engine was used to pump sewage, but it is now kept as a historic piece, and open to the public on its steaming days throughout the year.

While we were waiting for the engine to be started, we looked around the museum exhibits. This is a ceramic water filter. In the case is a piece of wooden water pipe, and it is amazing that it didn't rot or leak! Perhaps it did, though!

I could not believe the size of these giant spanners, the smallest one is bigger than me! Before everything started, we were invited to go upstairs to see the rocking beam.

This is the rocking beam and we got a really good closeup view of it. Back downstairs, the hall began to fill up with people, families and children, all waiting for the steaming to start.

The volunteer is painting grease onto the piston to keep it running smoothly. This is the regulator mechanism.

It was really wonderful when everything started, and the huge flywheel was going round. Here are the gears that transfer the movement from the flywheel. There was a soft low booming noise from the engine as the pistons went up and down.

The paintwork is very smart and it reminded us of Crossness Engines, being mostly green and red.

The steam comes from the adjacent boiler room, this is one of the two boilers. At the end of the steaming session, after the flywheel has stopped, this man is levering the flywheel into the correct position using a rod inserted into the holes, ready for the next session.

Outside we saw the Conservation Gardens but unfortunately it is all overgrown and derelict now. I hope someone can bring it back to life, but I think it will take a lot of work. The Rose Garden was much better, as roses do not need quite so much maintenance.

Then we walked down to the river. Brown Teddy likes to read the notice boards but we always take a photo and read all the details at home. We sat in the park and had our snack and then watched the swans. The riverside walk is very popular with people, both walking and jogging.

29 March

These daffodils were snapped off by the stormy weather we have had, so I brought them indoors. The sun was reflected off a mirror in the other room and illuminating them. They looked better than the ones outside!

31 March

Quite a blustery and changeable day, with mares tails in the sky, but not too cold.




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