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Diary 2017 April


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1 April

We went to Dartford, through the park and then through this tunnel. The left one is the foot tunnel and the right one is the water tunnel. In winter when the water is high and fast, both tunnels have water going through and the gates from the park are then shut for walkers.

This is Brooklands Lakes fed by the river alongside it and it is used as a fishing amenity. This long path crosses the lake, with water on both sides.

At various places anglers have their tents and spent a lot of quiet time waiting for a fish to bite. These little stepped places are for the anglers.

There were a lot of branches that had been hauled out of the water, covered in fresh water mussels, all dried out in the sun. The river Darent runs alongside the lake, and goes into the tunnels and through Dartford Central Park.

I like bridges, I get a good view straight down into the clear water.

Brown Teddy was glad the big nettles were on the other side of the railings. Another bridge leading back to the lakes part.

We walked back into the park, where the funfair had started.

You can win toys on these stalls, either catching a ball in a net or picking up a floating duck on a hooked stick.

These are the scary rides, with lots of screaming going on.

We love to watch the Dodgems, and I like to see the sparks on the electrified wire netting on the ceiling. The cup and saucer ride is a lot more peaceful.

These are the children's rides.


2 April

In the evening we watched our video recording of the boat race between the Oxford and Cambridge University teams. The Oxford women's team got off to a bad start with trouble with the oars, so they were behind all the way, and the Cambridge team won. it was the other way round with the men's team, Oxford won and the boats stayed almost level all the way.

3 April

We went to Morden Hall Park near Wimbledon. This is our tram, and we got off at Phipps Bridge, right outside the park entrance.

Phipps Bridge is top right and we walked down and leftwards to the buildings and into the stable square marked No.1. Then we went to the right along where the rivers are.

The entrance is right next to the tram lines. We went across the big green to the other side where all the little rivers are. They are all braids of the River Wandle, where Wandsworth gets its name from.

This part of the river passes the Old Snuff Mill.

This handsome duck spent some time swimming against the flow, hoping for bread from us, but eventually decided to rest on a small rock in the water. I think this must be the boat house, it is very pretty with roses up the wall and a man was painting a picture of it.

The rose garden was full of families and children having their picnics on the grass. Further on I saw this huge old tree, I think it must be at least 20 feet round.

This is the river just behind the mill, where it is deeper and more calm.

We walked further upstream where it was very quiet, away from the picnics, and just the sounds of the birds.

Brown Teddy was glad the mud had dried out, so that we could go right up to the edge. This tree trunk crossed the path, with a low bit to step over, and another bit where we could go underneath (only teddies small enough for that). But we all decided to step over, and there is a very handy side branch sticking up to use as a handle.

This is the chalky soil underneath a huge fallen tree root. The sand martins or some similar birds have made nest holes. We had a quick look but they seemed to be old ones.

All the old logs and branches were left in piles, to rot down and provide homes for insects, which feeds the other wildlife.

These are old fashioned signs at Wimbledon Station that haven't been replaced by LED displays. "Off" means the red light is off, and so the train is free to go. We saw this game installation at Waterloo Station, where people rock the table to get the marble to hit the markers, in order to win a prize. The items on the table are London landmark buildings made up to look like food and cakes.


8 April

We went to Crystal Palace park. This piece of iron at the top of the hill is the very last piece of the old Crystal Palace. This is the only statue left that is still complete.

The sphinxes have been painted. This is the facade that overlooks where the Crystal Palace gardens once were, which is now a big flat area of grass.

This is the "Rusty Laptop". The "top" is the cover over a performance stage to the left, which is front of a big pond. The boxy part is the backstage rooms for the performers. It is no longer used. The trees in the park are all just coming into leaf.

This is where we had our snack, and there were lots of families sitting around and people playing on the grass. These pigeons are sitting about waiting for crumbs. The branches are hanging over the lake, so the path stays reasonably clean!

These are the concrete dinosaurs from the Victorian times, when dinosaurs were first discovered. Now we know that dinosaurs stood more upright.

The models are all being repaired and painted, so that they don't fall to bits. I like these little carvings on the bridge handrail, a timeline of millions of years, with pictures of dinosaurs at intervals.

One end of the lake is for paddle boats, and all the rest is kept clear for the birds.


10 April

We went to Uxbridge. This is a Penny Weighing Machine. The old pennies were quite large. Uxbridge Station has lots of heritage things still kept in place.

This destination board is quite old but it still does the job. Whilst in the shops, I noticed these donut pillows. Not a good idea because it makes you hungry for things with too much sugar!

13 April

We went to the park to get pictures of the blossom before it falls. This Canada goose has a nest on one of the islands.


14 April

We went to Woolwich to see the Tall Ships Regatta.

There were lots of characters from the olden days. These are the ordinary poor people who lived in Woolwich, costermongers who sold things, and a sailor with his bag over his back. Their clothes were all very grimy.

These ladies are mending nets and selling food in the basket. This lady is selling milk in churns and she is carrying them with a wooden yoke over her back neck and shoulders.

Then we went on to Greenwich which is also part of the Tall Ships Regatta. This is the Cutty Sark clipper ship. There were lots of food stalls everywhere.

This sailor must be an officer, with his smart and clean uniform. On the table are the possessions that they had on board the ship.

We walked through Greenwich Park. The giant sundial is by the boating pond. We had our sandwiches facing this slope down from the Observatory. It used to be terraced hundreds of years ago and you can see where people are sitting on the slightly flatter bits.


15 April

Today we went to Lesnes Abbey which is in Abbey Wood in South London. This is a wildlife pond with an observation area. There was nothing happening, no ducks, but there must be lots happening underwater that we can't see. Lesnes is pronounced Lez-Niss.

This is a tree stump carving of one of the monks of Lesnes Monastery. I like these giant iron leaf shapes, they are bicycle racks behind the cafe!

Here are the ruins of Lesnes Abbey. It was built in 1178 but closed down in 1534. It was then mostly demolished and the stone taken for use in other buildings.

There are lots of repairs all over it, to keep it from falling apart even  more. This picture shows how big it was. The church part is on the right and the rest of it is monk's living and eating quarters.

At least this door is still standing. This is the very old Lesnes Mulberry Tree, held up by props.

Brown Teddy noticed some bluebells and so we took a walk further into the woods behind the Abbey.

What a sight, millions of bluebells, getting more and more as we went into the woods.

In the middle of the woods is a fossil area and this is a wood carving of a prehistoric animal. Another tree stump carving of a figure, animals, birds and leaves.

Even more bluebells, the path just kept going and eventually we came out back where we started. This place is definitely one for the diary next spring.


16 April

This robin is sitting on the edge of the pond netting. The pigeons took turns splashing in the birdbath, they always like a long soak.


17 April

We took the Docklands Light Railway to Greenwich riverside. This train seat material looks like a wavy river, just right for a train that goes under the river and around watery docklands. This is the bridge over Deptford Creek.

The Tall Ships Regatta was still going on. Here is King Neptune on his motorbike seahorse, stopping everywhere for chats and photographs.

This seaside setup was popular with the children. The singers were performing songs from the 1940's, with harmony singing, and everyone enjoyed it all.


17 April

We went to Kelsey Park in Beckenham. It is a long thin park and this is my idea of the perfect little stream, especially as it has stepping stones.

The birds were very relaxed as they are used to people. The white speckled pigeon was very comfortable on the warm concrete.


18 April

We went to Hall Place to get some pictures of the meadow. All the daffodils have now gone, and the ornamental blossom trees are starting to come out.

There are winding mown paths going everywhere. Brown Teddy likes the cow parsley that has grown up over the daffodils, with their lacy flowers.

At the other end of the gardens there is a brilliant display of azaleas, and these will come out even more in the coming weeks.

This yew hedge garden is being refurbished. The have cut down the big yew blocks in the middle, so that it can regrow from the stems. These are the Queen's Beasts all standing in a row looking out over the rose garden and river.


20 April

We went to Upminster in Essex. After shopping, we sat under these trees and had our lunch. The bedding was very bright with spring flowers.


22 April

We went to the garden centre. This macaw ornament would scare my birds! I like these enamelled daffodil ornaments, that are bird feeder dishes.

In the pet section, I saw these black fish that look like quill feathers. The bearded dragon has a nice warm vivarium, and he sat very still with only his eyes moving to look at us.

23 April

Here I am watching the London Marathon, with all the fun runners streaming out of the gates of Greenwich Park. Here is the winner of the women's race at the finish line.

25 April

The nights have suddenly got very cold, after weeks of warm weather, and there was ice on the bird bath. We had to lay out the hosepipe so that the ice inside it could melt.

In the afternoon I sat in the greenhouse, where it was cosy and warm, out of the breezes. I had some bird pellets and all my usual friends came by at different times. The blackbird is very bold and comes quite near. The female blackbird is also looking for food to take back to the nest. This is the white tip pigeon, he is quite used to us and gets a few bits now and then.

Woody the wood pigeon managed to get the courage up to come closer for some bits. The sparrows don't mind how close them come, as long as they get the food for their nestlings.

27 April

Another very cold night with more ice on the birdbath. We went to Richmond Park. It is a big park with lots of mature trees and open spaces.

We went to Isabella Plantation where all the ornamental plants are. Here is the bluebell corner. The bluebells are nearly coming to an end now but it was still quite a sight to see, and lots of paths to take.

The rhododendron flowers are bigger than me! The azaleas all around are magnificent and there is a more to come in the next few weeks.

This path runs alongside the stream behind the azaleas.

Little bridges cross the stream at intervals. The azaleas are on both sides. There are lots of little weirs so there are trickling sounds everywhere.

We stopped by the big pond for our snack. These ducks were very bold indeed and they got a few crumbs.

What a beautiful duck and I think he knows it. More noisy rushing water from this overflow waterfall at the edge of the big pond.

As we went back to the azalea area, we saw this mother duck and ducklings marching quite briskly up the path. They disappeared under the azaleas, and then came out by a circular pond and all plopped into it. The ducklings all split up and were swimming around the pond in all directions.

This is the pond the ducklings went into. You can see a stepping stone crossing on the right, only it is sawn log ends, not stones.

We continued behind the main paths, and found more rhododendrons. About now the sun came out properly and showed up all the colours. Brown Teddy likes this tree trunk, all shades of brown stripes.

Some of the rhododendron beds set amongst the grass have these low hurdle fences around. It keeps them neat and I suspect it also stops small children playing hide and seek in the bushes. Inside one bush was a load of nettles, so that would keep anyone out. Back at the pond this hooded crow was finishing up some crumbs that someone had dropped.

Lots of very tall trees and this one has some good nest holes. This old tree is held up by a prop.

29 April

In the afternoon we filled some of the ceramic pots with bits of sedum, which does not need much looking after or watering. We use a plastic pot inside the ceramic pot, so it can't crack in winter. Then we made this mound of sedums and daisies using a pile of stones that had collected in a corner. the sedums will cover it completely and the stones will disappear. It is right by one of the new apple trees, so we couldn't plant anything big, and the mound will help keep the tree roots more moist.


30 April

This is Notting Hill Gate underground station, with a sharp bend in the platform, and we were wondering what the track had to go around, as they are normally straight. Must be something immovable!

We went to the open day at Perivale Wood to see the carpets of bluebells. Everyone kept to the soft paths and enjoyed the sea of blue.

They are true English bluebells which are small with curved drooping heads. The Spanish bluebells common in gardens are big, tall and straight with stripy flowers.

Brown Teddy wondered how many there were. I am sure it is in millions! Lots of nest boxes everywhere and I saw one numbered 65, and I don't think that would have been the top number.

A lovely open glade of bluebells, and a bird viewing hide built up a tree.

This area for the children has a bug hotel, and a woodpile to encourage worms and woodlice to live underneath. On the left is the fun area for children with paints and long rolls of paper spread out on a big tarpaulin. 

We left the bluebell area behind and our route went by the Grand Junction Canal, which was behind the railings, but I got the camera through the bars!

Back to the beginning, and lots of examples of hurdle fencing. These are all the tools for looking after a woodland.

The natural history table had examples of grasses, and a magnifier and microscope so we could see the fantastic detail of the flowers and grass seeds.

This setup is a foot operated woodland lathe. On the table is a collection of carved wooden spoons. It seems you can make anything as long as you have a good supply of wood from your own woodland!

This is Perivale Station where we sat and had our sandwiches before going home. The sun had been shining on the wooden seats so they were very warm, which makes a nice change from the normal cold metal ones on platforms.




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