London Zoo (again!)

A few weeks ago hubby and I trotted around London Zoo, it is simply the best thing to have a Zoo on one’s doorstep, and is one of my dreams come true. Unfortunately the tiger cubs weren’t out to play which was the main reason we had gone, and then it rained and we ended up viewing all the lovely fish in the aquarium.  It is not easy to take photographs with flashes of october-2016-3-1-of-1lights and fingerprints on tanks and extremely low light and no tripod, but I did my best.october-2016-5-1-of-1october-2016-2-1-of-1I loved the roti island snake necked turtle, he seemed to be having a high old time. october-2016-4-1-of-1They are critically endangered and it is thought that there are no longer any in the wild, all that are left are in conservation zoo’s around the world.  october-2016-6-1-of-1That certainly gives one something to think about. october-2016-7-1-of-1Kambuka was behaving himself on the day we went, as a side note we almost went to the zoo on the day he decided to have a little wander. october-2016-10-1-of-1And the lemurs are much fewer in number, sadly some of them were quite old when they arrived. october-2016-8-1-of-1october-2016-9-1-of-1And then we had a quick trot around to see one of my favourites, (after the Penguins!) The Rothschild Giraffe, the tallest of the nine types and the most endangered.  I wish they had more space, they are lovely to see at West Midlands Safari park where there is a herd of them walking around and you can feed them from your car window, they have a really long blue tongue and they love the pig nuts that you can buy and actively wait for you to wind your window down an inch or two to give them a tasty treat.  It is quite scary to do, but absolutely wonderful.



It is a sad fact that it always takes longer than one might imagine to produce a crop of tomatoes,  what with them being a Mediterranean plant and needing a long and bright growing season.  In this country, traditionally and certainly long before the advent of double glazing rather than a frosty windowsill the preferred spot to start the seeds off by the keen amateur grower was on the top of a nice warm television in the days when they were nice and deep, preferably on Boxing day.  You can imagine the fuss this caused, when the majority of the household was still in a festive and entertaining mood.

As hubby only decided to retire in February, we were too late to sow seeds and get good solid growth on our own tomatoes, not least we didn’t own a cold frame or had built a greenhouse, at least one of which we would have needed to prevent long and leggy growth.  We tried to purchase some of our favourite tomatoes which had been grafted onto a vigorous root stock, but they had sold out.  So we were at the mercy of a few garden centres and B & Q.   The garden centres provided us with a few good plants, B & Q were a big disappointment.  The plants were fine until they started to set fruit, and then we realised they had all been mislabelled and we were left with a large supply of a yellow fruiting variety, which was tasteless.  Basically a years work down the drain.  I think I will grumble about this B & Q tomato buying experience for many a long year and warn others to be aware of their quality control.

But moving on their were some successes and we had some beautiful tasty tomatoes, which have come into their own in the summer and early autumn. They are tasty treats to enjoy with relish. october-2016-24-1-of-1 october-2016-18-1-of-1 october-2016-22-1-of-1And just as a little extra, our geraniums are still doing well, I am keeping them in this winter as the trial pot that was left through last winter did not freeze and has done well all summer.
october-2016-23-1-of-1We shall see how successful we are come the spring.

One lovely jumper finished.

Last winter I realised that I hadn’t knit a jumper for me yet, and that it would be lovely to have something just to sling on to keep cosy and warm in.  I saw the jumper Bellerose by Martin Storey, adapted the colour way slightly and started knitting. I’d not done stripes before and it was quite fun.  october-2016-20-1-of-1The colours I chose were Almond and Granite and Raspberry and Mustard in Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted and the jumper came out a treat.  It hand washes nicely and I have worn it almost continuously since I finished. It’s just a very me jumper and I love it.

Sunshine and showers.

I must apologise for my absence, life tended to get in the way.  Firstly we were just having a nice time as well as contending with a few family issues.  The family issues haven’t disappeared and the nice times stopped as hubby had a bit of a blip in the matrix health wise which was just a bit scary at the time.  So I didn’t blog the nice bits and then I didn’t blog after that, so some of my blog posts might look just a tad summery in the next few weeks, sorry about that.

We are okay, hubby is feeling much brighter than when his lips turned a little bit blue on a visit to Hampton Court and ended up in hospital for many hours that night, all results came back negative.  He is definitely back to normal and not puffing and panting like a cart horse.  I am still being battered by the family issues but am resolved that life is simply too short and hubby’s and I’s main priority is to make every day beautiful, if only in the simplest of ways.

But as always there were silver linings, two jumpers for me were knit up and finished, one quilt, finally quilted, books were actually read and not left to flop into my lap as my eyes closed and some wonderful films were watched. The garden was tidied for the winter and tasty meals were cooked, it was all good and hubby recovered and did a little more every day.

An Aunt, a little distant now, but loved as a child, I found out yesterday passed away.  And I know its a cliche to think about your life when you hear such news, but it is the human reaction and very normal.  I gaze at the Autumn leaves outside my window with their coppery and golden highlights flickering  in the bright sunshine and feel good. I remember seeing a cardiologist many years ago and we got into a slightly off centre conversation about life.  His reaction and bearing in mind he probably saw many, many people questioning the state of their existence was to enjoy life, that’s it, enjoy it, celebrate, revel in it, enjoy it.  I thought it was quite revealing about the thoughts and feelings that occur when in a crisis,. no more whipping oneself about times gone by, just the immediate everyday to think about, we might call it being present these days. And certainly, no more being whipped by, anybody really. And to that end, we just intend to be, together, giggling and having fun.

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


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.


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)