The Roof Gardens, Kensington.

Hubby and I have been trying to fit this little jewel into our itinerary for what seems forever, so when a gap opened up at the same time that the Roof Gardens were open to the public and it wasn’t raining we raced across London to Kensington High Street, eager as eager could be to find what treasures lay in store.  As we entered the building I spied a polite notice asking us not to feed the flamingos and ducks as they were on a special diet, and to be honest, I gave a wry grin and took it as a little joke, fully expecting to see fiberglass models of said birds.  So you can imagine our surprise as we turned a corner and there were four elegant flamingos trotting towards us, free as they say, as a bird.  The flamingos are fondly known as Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks, which suits them perfectly.  After amusing ourselves with a little photography, it was lovely to photograph them so close up, we turned another corner and found a mother duck with 5 ducklings, along with lots of other little ducks floating around the place. The gardens truly are a marvel,  there are three distinct areas, a Spanish garden, a Tudor garden and an English Woodland.  We spent a good couple of hours admiring the planting of mature trees and shrubs, the beautiful pathways, bridges and buildings, and glorious mini lakes and streams. Every detail had been attended to and it was easy to see why the gardens have been given Specific Historical Interest and given a Grade II listing by English Heritage.  The gardens are free to the general public when they are not being used for events, you do need to call first to see if they are open.

Enjoy. flamingos-1-1-of-1 flamingos-2-1-of-1 flamingos-3-1-of-1 flamingos-4-1-of-1 ducklings-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-6-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-4-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-5-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-3-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-2-1-of-1 roof-top-gardens-1-1-of-1

August

For me at least August has always, in so far as possible, been a month to let time stand as still as is possible.  This is the moment when the hard work in the garden begins to bear fruit, the grass slows down and barely needs cutting and if it does, well who really cares and just a casual browse of dead heading the flowers as I pass while gently watering the geraniums is all that is necessary.  A time to relax and enjoy the moment.  When the boys were young we would go off for the day two or three times a week to the ‘Happy Fields’, with a bottle of pop, sandwiches, blanket all carried in a ruck sack, football being bounced as we walked the couple of miles to the park to spend the day by the old badgers den and Finham brook where it was safe to paddle on worn by the stream ancient sandstone. Then walking home, the boys ravenous with hunger, slightly crisp at the edges where the sun had caught foreheads and shoulders and listening to their wonderings aloud about what was for supper.

In August I do the bare minimum, windows do not get polished, cookers are not cleaned, housekeeping is kept to a one step ahead of catching botulism regime and no more, for me sitting in the garden or pottering about is far more important than whether my shelves gleam. And potter we have, we have visited palaces, both Buckingham and Hampton Court, there have been seaside trips to Brighton and Deal, there has been night time driving around central London just to see the sights at midnight and sitting in the garden by candlelight until 4.00 a.m. listening to the sounds of the night while enjoying the cooling of the air.  There have been wanderings along Kensington High Street and night time exploring of St. Pancras Station listening to the pianos donated by Elton John played so beautifully by complete strangers,  there was a little exploration of the city and Leadenhall Market and trips to London Zoo.  On the hottest of days home brew has been drunk and very much enjoyed while sitting and enjoying the garden, the sweetest of tomatoes from the greenhouse have been picked and eaten in the simplest of salads or pasta dishes, the latest Rowan magazine has been devoured and a cardigan for winter cast on.

August is such a beautiful month to catch your breath in, to relax and just be.  To stop striving to resolve all ills and remember as Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam so eloquently puts it,

“One Moment in Annihilation’s Waste,

One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste…”

And while I was allowing myself to just be, a seed sparked life, one that has been sat in fertile soil for as many years as I can remember, definitely since the age of seven or eight and I decided to explore it just a little.  Only to find I had exactly what I needed just, metaphorically speaking, around the corner.

To cut a long story short, I found a Handweaving studio just off Finsbury Park and trotted over for a look and after playing selected a loom that sang the loudest to me and headed home. Two days later and I produced my second piece, the first a scratty looking dish cloth, this one a very expensive cotton tea towel in a log cabin weave.IMG_1597All praise August and let us hope for a little more of the long balmy days of late summer.

Tiger Cubs at London Zoo.

We went to see the tiger cubs at London Zoo last week, they are just four weeks old and Mum does a very good job of hiding them, either by feeding them from a long distance away or hiding them in the long grass.  We hung around for a couple of hours then we got these shots,Tiger 3 (1 of 1)one of the cubs going off for an explore…Tiger 2 (1 of 1)definitely up to something… Tiger 4 (1 of 1)when Dad decides to come over and say hello… Tiger 5 (1 of 1)Dad greeting his cub, – looks fierce doesn’t it !!! Tiger 6 (1 of 1)followed by a little lick… Tiger 7 (1 of 1)and then Dad wanders off, Tiger 1 (1 of 1)cub then heads back to mum to tell her all about his mini adventure.

Brighton

On Saturday we headed off down to Brighton to see what we could see, not clocking the fact that it was Brighton Pride weekend. What gave the game away was the gorgeous looking biker clad men with a certain air of Village People about them at the train station, oh they were such good fun.  We hit trouble with a delayed train and didn’t arrive until nearly midday and trotted off down to the beach to find ourselves in the middle of the biggest carnival I have ever been in.  Apparently there are 160 thousand people that come to Brighton on this weekend.  It was the best of times, the music, the atmosphere, the vibe, the colour, it was just wonderful.  Here are a few pics of the day, we got home at nearly midnight, absolutely exhausted and just a little bit sun burnt. Brighton 1 (1 of 1) Brighton 2 (1 of 1) Brighton 5 (1 of 1) Brighton 4 (1 of 1) Brighton 7 (1 of 1) Brighton 6 (1 of 1) Brighton 3 (1 of 1) Brighton 9 (1 of 1) Brighton 10 (1 of 1) Brighton 11 (1 of 1) Brighton 8 (1 of 1) Brighton 12 (1 of 1)

Buckingham Palace, public toilets and other tiny details.

Hubby and I have longed to go to Buckingham Palace for quite some time when the exhibition Fashioning a Reign, 90 years of style from the Queen’s wardrobe, came up and gave us the shove we needed to get our tickets booked.  We decided to book for a morning slot to begin before the changing of the guard finished and that was a very good plan, the Palace starts to heave at 11.30 and then one is shuffling along in a very dense queue.  The other problem that one needs to remember is there is no public loo at the Palace until the end of the tour and then its a good few steps away from the Palace, so you need to be prepared for that, we took 2.5 hours to get around, but I can imagine that when it is as busy as we saw it, that it can take considerably longer.

So, I did a bit of research and found the nearest loo was only 300 yards away, not in St James park as most people say, we walked up Buckingham Palace Road, turned right into Palace Street which is nearly opposite the entrance to the Royal Mews, then walked past the Pheonix Pub turning right into Cathedral Walk and then one walks straight into a shopping arcade with Marks and Spencers on the left and the public loo’s are a couple of feet after that, if the public loos are shut Marks and Spencers have some very good loo’s in their downstairs cafe.

Anyway back to the visit, your channeled through airport styled security and then start your wonderful walk around the State rooms with the aid of a free audio tour.  I loved every second of it, I’ve wanted to know what Buckingham Palace looked like on the inside since a very small child, so it was a big dream come true and what’s more as we had our tickets stamped we can go back as often as we like for year.

The dresses were as you might imagine amazing, I particularly enjoyed the tailoring depending on designer and era, the seventies styles were for a Queen I think quite a statement. But then our Queen has never shied away from a little bit of colour or a statement head piece.  Of course the one dress that made all who saw it gasp was the Coronation dress, heavily encrusted with pearls, crystals and sequins in floral emblems of the Commonwealth and I can assure you how every woman looking at it wondered how it would feel to wear such a dress, how it would move, how much it would weigh, how Queenly we would feel and we all gave a deep sigh as we left the display knowing that we would never, no matter how much we wanted to, own a dress such as this.

We had coffee and cake after the tour, very nice, paper cup, nice cake, £17.00, ouch. The second time we went we took our salad sandwiches and coffee and had a mini picnic sat on one of the Queen’s benches admiring her garden and chatting to one of her many security staff.

Next time we will pay to do the garden tour, but until then here a few snaps, of course there is no photography allowed in the Palace. Buckingham Palace 6 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 5 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 7 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 1 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 2 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 3 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 4 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 9 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 12 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 10 (1 of 1) Buckingham Palace 11 (1 of 1)

Camden Lock.

Hubby and I decided to take ourselves off to Camden Lock for the day. It is the second time I have been, we spent the whole day and I think we have only just scratched the surface of it, the sights, the smells the sounds, it is a busy place to be.  I still think we have only just scratched the surface of it, enjoy. Camden 2 (1 of 1) Camden 3 (1 of 1) Camden 4 (1 of 1) Camden 12 (1 of 1) Camden 1  (1 of 1) Camden 11 (1 of 1) Camden 7 (1 of 1) Camden 10 (1 of 1) Camden 6 (1 of 1) Camden 5 (1 of 1) Camden 8 (1 of 1)

Greenhouse full of tomatoes and one huge fig tree.

The tomatoes are starting to come good. Some of the yellow ones are ripe and are absolutely delicious. greenhouse 1 (1 of 1)But firstly one lone cucumber which was delicious, we are not sure why we we don’t have more fruits, we have the blossom but no fruits, we have tried self-fertilising but it hasn’t worked. greenhouse 2 (1 of 1)But the toms are coming good. greenhouse 3 (1 of 1)Soon I will stop paying silly prices for a few punnets of tomatoes a week and gorge myself senseless for a few weeks, I can easily eat the best part of a pound a day given half a chance, they go in every meal and every snack!  By the time the season has finished I am all tomatoed out and the winter tomatoes that come from abroad hold no appeal at all and if that is not a measure of how we should be eating seasonally I don’t know what is.  However given enough of a glut I will store some, my favourite way is to slowly oven roast them, very slowly over a few hours until they become the sun blush tomatoes that I love and then bag them up and freeze them, using their concentrated flavours in soups and stews in the dead of winter, it certainly wakes your taste buds up I can tell you. greenhouse 4 (1 of 1)Hubby was coming home from the physiotherapists a few weeks ago when he spied this, the biggest Fig tree you ever did see, perched in the yard of a builders merchants surrounded by wooden pallets.  When he came through the front door he was quite breathless he could hardly contain his excitement as he told me about it, hubby does like the odd fig, preferably in multiples of 3 or 4,  and if I don’t issue strict instructions to save me some from our small tree they disappear like sweeties down a childs throat. greenhouse 5 (1 of 1) greenhouse 6 (1 of 1)Oh look how full it is, absolutely drenched in figs.  I think we will be walking this way every week now whilst at the same time wondering how to get some down.

5 things I ate on the cheap in London this week.

1. First of the home grown tomatoes, warm, juicy and sweet.

2. A gorgeous salad sandwich made with my own home made wholemeal bread, with just a touch of Heinz salad cream to add a little sweetness followed by a home made heavily fruited wholemeal buttered scone and a flask of coffee in the gardens of Buckingham Palace .  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there wasn’t a blade of grass out of place, just perfect.

3. Home grown cucumber sandwiches and home made scones and iced coffee while admiring the sights on a Routemaster heading for Trafalgar square.

4. More salad sandwiches and scones gobbled down quickly in the roof garden of John Lewis, Oxford Street before anyone complained.

5. Home made banana cake and home brewed coffee in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts while admiring the mechanical art.

Leadenhall Market.

Leadenhall Market flutters into my instagram feed fairly frequently and so has been on my to do list for what feels like forever.  Hubby and I’s plans to go and see the roof gardens of Kensington fell through at the last moment and we were just pondering what to do in the persistent drizzly rain when we decided that today we could just wander around Liverpool Street and see what we could see. Gherkin (1 of 1)Firstly a shot of the Gherkin as we walked past a courtyard. Facade 1 (1 of 1)Quickly followed by a shot of a facade being preserved for a new building. Facade 2 (1 of 1)You can see why though, just so beautiful. Leadenhall market 5 (1 of 1)And then we found ourselves in Leadenhall Market at which point I wished I’d bought the big camera, but you can’t always carry that around all day. Isn’t it pretty?  Apparently Leadenhall Market dates from the 14th century and was originally a meat, game and poultry market and stands on what was the centre of Roman London. This beautiful ornate roof structure was designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones who was also the architect of Billinsgate and Smithfield Market.  Then in about 1990 the market was transformed into this architectural beauty that we see today. (thank you wiki) Leadenhall market 6 (1 of 1)It’s certainly very popular with the city types, the cheese lunches with very nice wines did look good. Leadenhall market 4 (1 of 1)It was lovely exploring, Leadenhall market 1 (1 of 1)There was a lovely pen shop to explore, Leadenhall market 3 (1 of 1)and various avenues to explore. It is quite small really, Leadenhall market 2 (1 of 1)but such a treat. And when we came out we explored a little further but it was till pouring with rain and we couldn’t find anywhere dry for our picnic lunch, when I had a bit of a brain wave, the sky garden must be very close and sure enough, just down the road we found this. Walkie Talkie (1 of 1)Our very own Walkie Talkie, we walked around the building to see if we could enter and they were full up so couldn’t admit us, so we hopped on the no.15 bus, a very old route master which took us all the way to Trafalgar Square and ate our lunch on the way, it was great fun sitting on a tiny red double decker bus as it trundled along in and out of the traffic, there was even a proper conductor who came around and checked your tickets! (oyster card)  We then had a little wander around Trafalgar Square and hopped on the no.9 to take us to the Royal Academy of Arts to see David Hockney’s latest work on portraits, which of course was wonderful. Royal Academy.  (1 of 1)And we came across Spyre by Ron Arad RA a kinetic sculpture which each segment moving at a different speed which ensures that it never repeats the same posture once.  It also has a camera on the tip so you can watch what it is filming on the big screen in front.  Quite amusing and quite beautiful but also just a little bit scary.  Royal Academy. 3 (1 of 1)Royal Academy. 2 (1 of 1)And I have no idea why Sir Joshua Reynolds is wearing a sash of flowers, it is most becoming though.