Sunday 31 July 2011

Special Effects

Some of the things the new toy can do...pick a colour and only show that, making the rest of the picture black and white. You hover over the colour you want and select it. These two came out quite well. Some strange effects with half coloured apples and things-not that pretty but fun!

Fish eye lens effect.
Looks like a small whirlwind has hit the garden.

This is called 'miniaturize effect' which I think would be more apparent on a landscape maybe-the top and bottom of the picture is blurred. If I ever get around to doing the interiors of my dolls houses I will use this and make the miniature look even smaller!

Vibrant colour effect. This small tree is growing up through the decking-the cut down tree still sends up the odd one. I will pull it out soon but it looks quite cute at the moment. The catfood box contains pieces of amber coloured glass that I am going to put in a pot or something soon.

Saturday 30 July 2011


I have been saving up for a camera for about six months, and thought I would buy an SLR. To tell the truth though, I don't really know what I am doing and was a bit worried about spending a fortune then not being able to use it properly. So I thought I would buy another little canon power shot as I have loved my work one. I ended up buying a canon power shot but a more fancy one-a 'bridge camera' so called, as they bridge the gap beween point and shoots and SLRs-so they say! I read a few reviews of this camera-and decided it sounded great-especially because of the zoom. I got time to set it up and play with it briefly today and these are some comparison shots very quickly taken on it and my old canon. The left side is the old one.

Already I love the zoom! I want to get to know a bit more about what I am doing-not just to use auto all the time, so will be loooking for a good online course in the autumn I think.

I am so looking forward to taking zoom photos when out and about. I may have to get a new career as a member of the paparazzi or perhaps a spy!

Thursday 28 July 2011

I Quietly Observe

This graffiti caught my eye as I was on the way home from greenwich today. I think it is a line from a Massive Attack song. Not sure if Kure wrote it-it does not look the same in style. This is the underpass where the graffiti is-my road is the other side through the light and a bit further. We once saw a burned out motor bike in here but it is not normally that dramatic. It gets graffitied regularly and cleaned up just as often.

I have a mystery plant in my garden. It first caught my attention a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was probably some kind of weed, but because it was on its own I thought I would let it grow and see what appeared. It has suddenly got much bigger. It has prickly leaves. Today when I went out to see it, I noticed a tendril curling towards the chamomile, and suddenly had the idea flash in my brain that it is a pumpkin! Is it? Do you know? I really hope so. It could be a stray seed from the few that have lain around quietly rotting over the last couple of seasons-it could have been tipped out of a redundant pot where one in particular lay for ages. As it has quite a lot of room I think it will do ok if the weather stays hot. We shall see!

I am intending to go for some kind of walk every day this holiday and so far have kind of kept to it. Today I walked to Greenwich, through the park. I chose a different route and so ended up walking past the beautiful long border outside the museum. I love this fennel en masse.

I got enthused over cooking today and made delicious beetroot soup from Sophie Dahl's book, and fruit cakes-the small one is to take to my Dad tomorrow as I am visiting. I had a slice after my soup tonight, and it has turned out ok. It is a simnel cake recipe with fruit soaked briefly in brandy, flaked almonds and mixed peel. I have been listing things on Ebay which is quite a lengthy process but I am enjoying watching what is happening. I am very good at buying things, I hope this transfers to my selling ability!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Back Again!

I have had a productive few days and feel more like myself again. I have been really appreciating the garden-so many things going on. I don't know how people with big gardens keep up with it though as there is always something to do and it is only small! I love my geraniums-there are a few varieties and they all seem to love it here so I know I can safely add a new one now and again. I love the fact that you can just cut them back and they will flower again.

Luckily the cats have been sleeping a lot, as the Robin continues to chirp every day on our fence.

As promised-a couple of pictures. I managed to get these yesterday, after trying for about a week. Can you see his little damaged tail? I wonder how he did it.

Friday 22 July 2011

Break Time

Tiger being happy in the garden. She looks really strange in the first picture but at least she kept quite still which she rarely does for a photo.

Back to normal in this one.

School finished today with a graduation ceremony for the children leaving the nursery. It was really sweet and the parents seemed to love it. It was a lovely day but I am completely exhausted now. I am going to have a blog break I think-probably not for long, but I need to do some work ready for next year-we are getting different staff, more staff and want to change how we do certain things. The trouble with all this is that it requires lots of thinking about! Also I need to sort the house out as it has got in one great big mess recently.

I will be back in a week or two, hopefully not so tired!

Wednesday 20 July 2011


These eggs are from Rhian at work. I didn't know she kept chickens until today, when she brought some of their recently laid eggs in to share. We had them soft boiled, as a starter tonight, and they were delicious. It is strange, as we were only talking about how lovely it would be to keep chickens last night. I would worry about the foxes though.

Other bird news-the robin has returned-well I think it is the same robin. He was cheeping away on the fence tonight and didn't fly away even though I was really close. If he does it again tomorrow I will try to get a picture!

Tuesday 19 July 2011


The big butterfly count is going on at the moment and I want to do my own-I might try to do it at school with the children tomorrow-and then try to do one of my own at the weekend. This page in my journal happened to have the word butterflies left uncovered so I painted a quick peacock butterfly from a free poster this weekend. I remembered the beautiful butterflies we saw in Craster in Norhtumberland two years ago, and after a search in my photos I found them!

Peacock butterfly.

Painted Lady.

Monday 18 July 2011

Wet Weekend

A 'wet weekend' is defined as 'a very boring or disappointing experience or person' by this online dictionary. I don't know about that, but it is not the best occasion for washing all the Forest School clothes-this lot just had to stay out on the line until today when they were almost dry. Three loads later of washing, hanging, turning inside out and back again, folding and putting in bags, they are done, and going back to school tomorrow. This week should be about enjoying the company of the children for a last few days before they go off to next year, but it becomes about frantically trying to get eveything finished! Oh well, I shall enjoy the days anyway. The wet weather is perfect for the garden and it looked very lush this weekend. I have planted my first experimental lemon thymes-I will see how they go before I get more. The fennel is amazing-and every time I look at it I think of the lovely word 'umbelliferous' (not sure if that is the correct spelling)

The sun came out briefly, and caught this terracotta flower. This pot has one weed in it(and not even a very nice weed)-it is a wall hanging pot and used to have something better than that-I must replant it!

Another view of the fennel.

Behind it is a pot of cerinthe seedlings which I have dug out of the proposed path. I have laid the dried plants around the garden as I really like these flowers and they seem to self seed easily. I also scattered allium seeds around everywhere in the hope they would do the same.

I have grown Verbena Bonariensis from seed before and it is quite easy to do so. I bought these plants from Great Dixter and they have done really well. Even the one that looked dead for ages has recovered and grown huge. The flowers last for ages and at the moment they are gradually dropping, so scattering little purple flower heads all over the dark earth which looks very pretty. The chamomile is doing so well and has spread to fill all but one tiny gap. It is very thick and springy. I need to look up how to care for it in the winter. I took some verbena and some chamomile cuttings the other day-I am a bit hit and miss with cuttings-I don't always remember to look after them.

An arrangement of little bits and pieces that looked good after the rain. It really brought the colour our on the piece of wood.

Sunday 17 July 2011


If you can't have the real thing then a postcard is the next best thing. My postcard frame has been newly arranged since the visit to the exhibition on Saturday. Thanks for the sweet comments on Nanette. Just to explain-when I wrote her babies were gone I meant not living with her anymore. Her mates are all dead. The film is a strange and moving one. The youtube preview gives a good idea of what it is like. I felt so sorry for her. One of the visitors said that in Borneo there is a saying about Orang Utans that they can talk, but they choose not to so they don't have to do any work.

Poor Nenette

Poor Nenette.
Life stretches.
Life doesn’t change, only continues.
Three mates.
All gone.
Four babies.
Three gone.
One left.
A potential mate in the minds of those who keep her.
So drugs are given to make sure she does not have a fifth baby with her son.
Yoghurt and tea with contraceptives hidden in the yoghurt.

She mixes the tea into the yoghurt as if to clean the pot.
She unscrews the lid just like a human.
She puts her chin on her hand and looks despairingly out through the glass, looking just how you imagine you would look if in her place.
A lot of visitors comment on her breasts.
Nearly as many comment on the big lumpy part under her chin.
Gerard, her longest serving keeper says this part is to make a loud noise if necessary, but that generally, Orang Utans do not make noise.
Unlike children, who shout and screech outside her enclosure while she looks on with quiet dignity.
Poor Nenette

Saturday 16 July 2011

Quite Too Utterly Utter

The title is from this song sheet cover, satirising a follower of the Aesthetic Movement, the subject of The Cult of Beauty exhibition at the V and A (video here.-take a look just for the fantastic curator) The phrase made me smile. I can just imagine saying it and adding 'daaaahling' on the end. In fact I may start to do that! The exhibition was really interesting and full of beautiful objects- paintings, furniture, ceramics, clothes and jewellery. I seem to have been coming across the art of this era a lot recently-the Red House visit, the novel I am currently reading (The Children's Book by A.S.Byatt) (Interesting articles on this book here and here), newspaper and magazine articles. The idea of 'art for art's sake', that is purely to provide beauty in our lives, is so appealing. We had to wait an hour to go in, so sat and had a coffee in one of the amazing tiled rooms of the museum-it had tiled scenes of the seasons and each of the months. (It is called the Poynter Room) (picture here-if you scroll down a bit) Everything is so richly decorated that it is easy to while away the time just gazing around. On the way to the exhibition-lovely ironwork lettering on South Kensington Tube.

Pictures were not allowed in the exhibition but are in the rest of the museum. This is Thuner-Saxon god of Thunder.

He brought the weather. On the way home-some of the tube stations are so deep underground. Best not to think about it too much!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Sluggy Mud or Muddy Slugs

Last day of Forest School for this year-lots of mud and small creatures involved.  Under a single and very small log, we found an earwig nest, two slugs, some slug eggs, a centipede, a woodlouse and some ants. I do find earwigs a bit much as they are always in big groups, and they don't just appear, they get uncovered and spill out of places in large numbers-in my experience anyway! I hide it well though.
The eggs are quite pretty I think. I also like the delicate grey colour of the slug's eyes.
The highlight of Forest School this week was showing the children a dead blackbird. Our TA took some equipment out and found it (I had not seen it when doing my safety sweep first thing-don't know how I missed it really!) I asked if it was too gory to show the children and she thought so. When I went round to get it I decided to show them the head only as that was not too bad. So I wrapped the body in a paper towel. Once they sat down in base camp, I explained what I had found, and that it was probably killed by a cat. I gave them the choice to look or not. All but two children wanted to see the bird so I went around the circle.

"Is he a baby bird?"

"Where is his Mummy, Daddy and brother and sister?"

"Has he got legs?"

"He looks like he's sleeping."

"He's got no eyes."

"Where is his body?"

"He was killed by cats and monsters and wolves."

These were just some of the things the children said. It was a strangely moving experience actually, because they were all really interested and somehow respectful. I felt like the little bird gave a lot to the children, sad though his death was. On a factual note we noticed that he had a pointed tongue that followed the shape of his beak. I have never been close enough to a bird to look in its mouth before.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

St Pancras

St Pancras station towers above the entrance to King's Cross. I love its gothic towers, glowing clock face and warm brick colour. We were up at King's Cross meeting my sister, who is down from Leeds for a few days for a course. It was lovely to see her.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Nap Wood

No words, just the beautiful woods-and my second attempt at macaroons-which look at home amongst all this green.