Tuesday 31 January 2012

Gangs and Fighting

Do birds come in gangs? This little Blue Tit was part of a gang who swooped into the garden on Saturday morning while I was making tea. I am not sure what there is to eat out there at the moment-maybe the berries on the jasmine or the ivy at the back. They didn't stay for long as the cats went out in their own gang and the birds wisely disappeared. This is Cassie in her tent-or lair as it has so often become. I draped this cloth over the scratchy post when I was clearing up the Christmas tree, and she loved it, so it has stayed-and looks better than the post as it is sparkly and silver. Mostly Cassie just sleeps under there, but every so often she leaps out at Tiger or Lily as they walk past, sometimes taking the whole cloth with her. It provides a bit of excitement in their little lives. Lily usually runs, but Tiger often fights back!

Monday 30 January 2012

Fairy Tales

Resin Angels is having a monthly photo challenge. January's is Fairy Tales. With one day to go inspiration finally struck. We watched the Norwegian film 'Troll Hunter' at the weekend and these are shots from the film. It is about exactly what it says-a troll hunter. He is followed and filmed by a group of student film makers who are increasingly amazed to find that trolls do exist. They have territories they are allowed to stay in but this has not been happening so the hunter is busy. I enjoyed it-it was a funny twist on fairy tales. There was a great Billy Goats Gruff scene. But, as the troll hunter points out, fairy tales are for kids, the reality is much more scary.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Magical Greenwich

I love Greenwich, as you can probably tell, the amount of posts I write about it. It is a feast of visual inspiration. Yesterday it seemed to take on a magical persona at first... Changelings in the market.
An elephant walking across the plains of the window sill.
A giant silver moth flying across a table.

A man on a door knocker with ears growing through his tin helmet.

A ship sailing through the streets.

And a tree winning a long running battle with a fence.

Later, Greenwich seemed to take on the character of different and far away places...

A French flower stall.

An Italian market.

Or Central Park in New York.

Greenwich is soon to become a Royal Borough. I thought it already was one!

Friday 27 January 2012

More Positive Thoughts and Things

Monday morning-I got to work very early, about seven, and had to go looking for Fatima our cleaner to get the nursery keys, as it was still locked and alarmed. I walked through the hall and saw a little bird flying around. I got the keys and came back into the hall. I really wanted to help the bird but couldn't think how. I watched it flying around, willing it to get out of one of the open windows. Then...it did! A good start to Monday I thought. These stylish mice were dressed by Hafsot. I was working one to one with her to do some language assessment. She speaks a lot-and has good vocabulary and imagination, but often, what she says does not seem to make sense and leaps from thing to thing in a seemingly random manner. I think she has a lot to say and maybe not quite the time to formulate her thoughts before she speaks. However, when given a concrete task like playing with these little mice and getting them dressed, and when I am given the chance to talk to her on her own, then she makes perfect sense. So I am not worried about her now. And I love what she put on the mice. She is a very stylish little girl with a very glamourous mother, so I am not surprised really.

To end the week, another bird visited us. This is the same robin as last week I am sure, as they are territorial birds. The camera work is very shakey but the song is clear.

Sick Kitten

Just wanted to pop in and share this-so sweet! May be back later if recovered from the week a bit. It has been a week fraught with all sorts of difficulties caused by people who are unable to deal with things in a rational manner, but instead resort to drama, moodiness or just plain unpleasantness. I am a quite tolerant person, but sometimes I wonder why. I try to do my job in as pleasant but effective way as possible, and realise that everyone is different and works in different ways, but there is no excuse for rudeness and petulance. Ah well, a weekend away from the place is always a good thing, especially when you come home to find old videos of children playing with kittens in your inbox!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Wishful Thinking

What we see... What I wish we saw...

I can't help it-every time the crane goes up with its latest load of girders or steel poles, I wish it was an elephant dangling at the end of the chain. It would be quite spectacular and something we would remember forever! Thank goodness photoshop can help me make my wishes come true!

Monday 23 January 2012

I happen to think the cauliflower more beautiful than the rose

Or the artichoke than the hyacinth. I don't really-I think they are all beautiful, but the Withnail quote came into my mind as I bought these two artichokes mainly for their beauty. I will try to cook them in a couple of days so as not to be wasteful, but until then I will enjoy looking at them on the table. Next to them are two wet felted rocks and a wet felted ball. I have not tried this technique before and was encouraged by a very interesting little felting book bought in the charity shop at the weekend. The purple rock was more successful, the other one not at all but I will take it off the rock and see what I can do with it.

After finding these tutoials I may try felting with the children. Especially the bag one-it looks really easy to do and gets good results.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Back Streets

On Saturday I had to go to Eltham, to the building society to try to pay in our surprise cheque-not possible as it is issued in joint names-need to sort out tomorrow!
I managed to find my way round the back streets to the M and S carpark-thus avoiding the queues in the High Street. M and S full but found a place in the carpark next door. Rushed to the bank, then had a most enjoyable and leisurely browse around a set of unfamiliar charity shops, and found a few great things. ( I can't help it!)
When I came back to the carpark I took a photo of this lovely building behind its sharp and unfriendly fence.
Tonight I googled 'Neo classical building M and S carpark and found this article first.
"With such a mighty residence it isn't surprising that Eltham was associated with families close to the crown. Trot back past McDonald's and walk north downhill along the Well Hall Road. Along the way divert up the footpath beside the police station and enjoy the astonishing 18th-century neo- classical orangery at the back of the Marks and Spencer car park. These days the only remnant of a once-imposing house, it resides under corrugated iron, festooned with sweet wrappers."
So, it is an orangery. I have not been able to find the name of the house it went with, but did find this very interesting article about historical Eltham. It was a popular place with the Royal family for a long time, a place to stay on the way to London from France, until the time of Henry the Eigth who preferred Greenwich, and took a lot of the timber from two of the Royal parks-Horn Park and Middle Park (both now local primary schools) for ship building.
In one of the as yet unexplored google leads there is named a 'Fairy House'. I want to know what that was.
I wonder what will happen to the orangery. It looks very solid at the back and front. I wonder too who owns it.
If I had taken more notice of the street names I would have seen that the road was called Orangery Lane, which would have given me a bit of a clue in my search!

Friday 20 January 2012

Star Tree

I saw this little star tree in a charity shop and had to have it. I think it was 50p-a price I have been paying for bargains since the '80s. I remember items that cost me 50p over the years-a purple jumper from Leicester market, a pair of crystal earrings from a junk shop in Maidstone, a 50s rose coloured dress also from Leicester market and the star tree. I bought it with my dolls houses in mind-the dolls houses which now look like a miniature version of our flat-too much stuff crammed into a small space-and not even arranged, just piled. I used it this week as part of my carpet sessions with the children, to encourage them to talk about things they see. My favourite thing anyone said about it, was Aliyah saying 'it looks like the stars fell from the sky and into the tree.' Another favourite thing one of the children said this week was Clinton, whilst making playdough food, who said he was making 'Angel snacks'. I had never thought about angels needing snacks but I suppose it is a possibility, and what better to snack on than some playdough food made by a child. I love working with this age group as they come out with the sweetest and funniest things and they are so earnest, but are developing their senses of humour too. I was reading a book about play today and it was talking about the mess children make during their play, and how early years practitioners need to be aware that to constantly tidy, or insist that children do, is an interruption. I know this and try to abide by it, hard though it sometimes is from the adult perspective! We have a traditional home corner area at work, and every day it gets trashed, clothes all over the floor, along with plates, food, babies-you name it, it is on the floor. I think it is mainly children rushing to get the thing they want and chucking everything else out of their way to do so, but I never seem to see them doing it. But yesterday I was not so sure. I came along and found Charlie in the middle of putting everything under the table, while holding a duplo gun he had made, and looking around frantically. I asked what he was doing and he informed me that the 'bad mans' was coming, so he had to hide everything. It made a strange kind of sense so I left him to it!
Anyway, another busy week over, and I still have not made a periscope, though I have now printed instructions from the Internet, got some mirrors ready, and taken my saw into work to cut the tube. Next week I will do it!
Hope you have had a good week and have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday 18 January 2012


A tiny flash of red is all we could see of this Robin, but we could hear him so clearly as he sang his lovely song. Unrelated to the Robin, but another part of today, are these bottles. In fact they are not just bottles, they are part of something. We don't exactly know what yet, but something we are working on together. I appealed for large plastic bottles before Christmas, and got quite a few-enough to get this far with whatever it is we are building. I had a lot of interest and offers of help in using the hot glue gun to stick the bottles together. I squeeze the glue out and the children take turns pushing the bottle onto it before it solidifies. They arranged the bottles in an arc big enough to fit two people in. I am thinking it is a lunar module, but at the moment it doesn't really matter, just the excitement of making a big thing, that is really easy to lift up, is enough.

It is living on top of the phonebox untill it gets big enough to get in and to stand around without getting too easily broken.

Tuesday 17 January 2012


Winter sunshine is my favourite kind. Cassie agrees. This photo has a name-I name most of the photos used on my blog and find myself using the same unimaginative ones over and over again-which I suppose shows my interests. I keep photos on my desktop until I have used them, or decide not to, and the names help me find them quickly. This one has been on there for ages waiting to be shown. It is called 'Goldeneye'. I loved the way that Cassie's eyes are almost the same colour as the gold part on the cushion behind her. This picture is the odd one out, as there is nothing shiny about it. It is a very mundane subject but one I love. It is the sponges we use to clean up in the creative area at work-the area with the paints, playdough, collage, water and sand, amongst other things. When I have finished the last bit of tidying in this area at the end of each day, and then the end of my week there (we work in a four weekly rota of areas to set up and work in), I rinse out the sponges in hot water, squeeze them, line them all up the same way around then squeeze them into their wire holder. I love things to be neat and tidy-though you wouldn't believe it sometimes, and like the subtle changes of colour in the sponges. There is something to enjoy in the tiniest of tasks if you look hard enough! The texture I have used is one of Kim Klassen's and is called 'Embrace' which is quite appropriate for the subject. Looking again, I see that the wire is shiny.

This morning it was icy on the rubber matting outside, so I had to go to fetch rock salt from the other playground. The frost was glistening in the sun on top of the bin, making this quite ugly object quite beautiful.

Monday 16 January 2012

Satis House, Failed Cake and Good Lunch

This is Restoration House in Rochester. Isn't it beautiful? We walked through a park from the back of the cathedral, and as we came out were faced with this house. It is called Restoration House and is Satis House in 'Great Expectations'. I got this information from the signs next to the gate. I have not seen this before either, and will be back in June when it is open.
"Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham's house, which was of old brick and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a courtyard in front and that was barred; so we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until someone should come to open it." This is my peanut loaf. Looks good doesn't it? It isn't though. It is weird. Topped in cake weirdness only by the courgette cake I made many years ago. At least this one isn't green. I got a lovely cake baking book from my Mum for Christmas, and this is the first thing I chose to make from it. I hope the next one is better!

Below is the scene of our good lunch on Saturday. I thought I would give it a mention just on the off chance you get an opportunity to go there. The food was delicious. Topes website here.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Lions and Shops

A view looking back from the bridge over the Medway. We walked to the bridge which is just at the end of the high street, so I could take photos of the lions which decorate it, and which I see as I drive away and always mean to take photos of. The first lion is on a hotel at the end of the high street. I like the way there are lions decorating buildings wherever you go, and wondered why. Lots of answers here.
I think this lion is couchant or dormant, or just having a sit down!

These lions look like they are guarding the bridge. Such fierce faces.

This one looks so noble, and quite Egyptian to me, especially with the stone work around him.

And this one is quite fierce from the front...

...but very cute from the back!

A group of pretty vintage clothes. I love the colour combinations.

Such sweet faces in the teddy bear shop.

The seemingly endless corridors of the bookshop.

A slightly embarrassed looking tiger in the Oxfam shop.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Rochester Cathedral

Although I go to Rochester quite often, I have never been in the cathedral. 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood' inspired me to do so this week, as Rochester, renamed 'Cloisterham', is the settting for Dickens' last novel, and there was a good version of it on the BBC this week. We had a proper frost this morning, so everywhere looked beautiful and bright. This is a view of the cathedral through the twisted branches of an ancient Catalpa or Indian Bean Tree, thought to be the oldest in Britain. The tiny model of the cathedral in the crypt. Rochester is the second oldest Cathedral in the country. (I think Durham is the oldest) The present nave was started in 1083 and a Saxon cathedral was there in 604. A timeline here shows its interesting history.
Lovely details-this carving is around a doorway used by monks as a night-time entrance from their dormitory in the next door priory. It is from the 1340s. So you can forgive it for being a little chipped!
I love gargoyles. Such strange characters hiding around the place.

I loved the light transferring the pictures in the windows to the stone.

And the views from the windows of the crypt.

Our day didn't end there. We had a delicious lunch in Topes restaurant, a walk to the bridge to see lions, a visit to a Tudor lodging house and some secondhand book browsing. The book shop at the end of the highstreet is another place I have not been and it is enormous. You could get lost in there for days.