Friday 28 June 2013

The Joy of Gardening

Below is our little nursery garden. The tomatoes have done really well in the grow bags, even though one of them had nine in it. I went to get some more compost and pots last weekend. I go at the weekend and then drive to school to drop it off as it is preferable to trying to find the time in the week. I have a key fob and can park just outside the gate at that time. Yesterday I had the help of many little gardeners re-potting the tomatoes. I love doing gardening with the kids in a different way to many other things, I think because it is a real and useful thing that I really believe they should know about. All are offered a chance to join in but not all want to. I have a core group who are always there and they are the ones who have done the most work in our little patch, and who can do things independently. I hope they will do it for themselves if they can. I am really looking forward to doing more next year when we have a larger playground. I have no idea how it will be arranged or used yet. Things are very much up in the air at the moment so I am not going to worry about it until September. This year's little garden will go home with me, the children, and one of our lunchtime supervisors who wants the courgettes and has room for them. She is a very good gardener and cook. Yesterday she made fresh vine leaves stuffed with rice and brought them to school still warm. She uses her own vine leaves. Delicious!

 I found a foxglove at the end of the garden yesterday. I didn't know I had any. I like the way it has grown up with the ferns. Perhaps it will self-seed. I think there used to be one there. This is an interesting site on the flower. It includes the information that the marks on the petals are where elves fingers have touched them.
The yellow flags in the pond are at their best at the moment. Like my other irises, they don't last long, but they are beautiful while they do.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Things that were...

 Hidden. (Can you spot what was hidden?)

Tuesday 25 June 2013


I love my collection jars but didn't realise there were quite so many. Some are recent and some older. 
 Bead jar. Charity shop yesterday  £1.50. I looked through them as I was watching 'Mrs Brown's Boys' ( A recent love-I used to think I would hate it as the music got on my nerves and the look of it reminded me of Les Dawson who I didn't really find funny. However I love it!)  last night and there are some good ones.
 Tiny jar of diamante paste gems. I got it on Greenwich market. It was from someone's sewing box. It is a lovely thing which I will just leave as a jar of sparkles rather than using them. Fairly recent purchase.
 A modern jar of eggs I felted about three years ago. 
 Old jar from a charity shop, filled with Dungeness souvenirs, including a sea nut ( I think they are called)- a large seedpod which, if you shake it, gently rattles. It is the only one of these I have ever found.
 Jar of faces from Linda Sue. Another modern jar.
 Beautiful French milk bottle from last year's holiday. It has a piece of furry seaweed, an egg sac from a sturgeon (I think), and, most preciously, some shimmery blue feathers from Baby Blue Jay. He visits Linda Sue for nuts and is quite a lovely little bird!

 Large charity shop jar from a trip to the seaside, containing sea and river glass from various places.
 Fairly recent charity shop jar that came with the baking beans. The pebbles came later.
 Another Dungeness jar.
Button jar from grumpy seller on Grennwich market. Well, maybe not grumpy, but suspicious. She leaps out from behind the stall as soon as I start to browse her buttons, telling me the prices.

Only another few weeks to go. Just as I am finishing my reports, tracking etc, so the intrigue and shenanigans over who is working with who, and how difficult it will all be next year have started. I just want a nice last couple of weeks! I am not letting anything spoil my summer holiday this year. Last year was filled with worry over the impending industrial tribunal thing we had going on. I am so glad that it was finally all over, and, no matter how difficult things may seem now, nothing is as bad as that!

Sunday 23 June 2013

Night Scenes

Night time London on the way home from a fun evening. The meal was a kind of fancy cheese and meat picnic-lots of platters to share with delicious french bread and wine. All very tasty. Then Andy and I went round to my friend's house on the way home-she only lives up the road, and had Mauritian rum. I felt surprisingly OK this morning, if a little tired!
 Trafalgar Square.

 This is the newest type of London bus-a redone version of the old route masters but without the fun (and danger) of being able to jump on and off when it is moving.

 Charing Cross Station.
Roses in my road.

Friday 21 June 2013

The Longest Day

The longest day has come around again so quickly. Monty Don on Gardener's World said not to see it as the peak of a mountain where it is all down hill from now, but as a plateau with a few weeks of lovely light. This month is one of the busiest at school and I always feel as if I have missed it, but this year I have got a lot of the major tasks done, and there is not a lot I can do towards next year as I am going to be working with new people, so I can enjoy the rest of June!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Red Sandals

I forgot I had these sandals. I found them tonight while looking for something else. Hardly ever worn. Ha, perhaps I can be slightly more elegant sometimes! Only trouble is that elegance with heels tends to equal inelegance with the pavement. Still, I might wear them at the weekend as we are off out to a wine bar and a French restaurant. I need to at least attempt to be smart I suppose though I am not very good at that!

Sunday 16 June 2013

This Week

A dead baby blue tit we found in the playground. I think it flew into the upper floor window and broke its neck. Although very sad, it was a lovely opportunity for the children to see the bird close up and to talk about death. We looked at it for ages and then gave it a little goodbye ceremony, wrapping it in pink tissue, inside a box and with two of the petunias we have grown placed on top. It will be buried in my garden.
 Blossom collected on my windscreen yesterday after a bout of heavy rain. I had just popped up to the charity shop (getting rid of stuff rather than buying it this time!) and this was in the carpark.
 The old egg basket that has been in the hall gathering dust for ages got a clean on Friday evening.. I had to prepare for a delivery on Saturday which involved moving stuff, which caused cleaning and sorting. The basket is filled with wooden eggs, eggs shakers made from real eggs and a couple of imitation wild bird eggs.
 I have been enjoying colouring in the spotty curtains on this picture all week. I have actually found a good propelling pencil which is nice to use and doesn't keep breaking.
 The garden is a pretty jungle and has so many bees and other insects buzzing around. I discovered the purple irises have flowered and are surrounded by geraniums and buttercups.
 I was trying an experiment in photoshop to get a photo that had a natural edge but it was taking forever and wasn't going quite as I thought so I stopped here! I was using the rubber to go carefully round the edges and then changed technique to use the lasso tool which is what the edged white patches are from. Too fiddly!
 I took this picture of the doughnut because I thought it looked pretty on the pink plate. I only noticed after seeing it on the computer that I had inadvertently made a London Underground sign!
 Out with the old-washing machine. It had become unbearably loud during the spin cycle. I think some kind of seal must have gone. It has been like it for ages but I had got to the point where I couldn't stand it anymore-and neither could the cats!
And in with the new. I bought the new one from Argos and they will remove your old one and install the new but you have to unplumb it yourself. This involved a trip to Band Q on Friday at 8pm as I could not find my wrench. This was what I was preparing for-clearing the hall mainly. It looked great empty but there is nowhere else to put the things in it so they are back.
It took three men to install it! The head man said there should be a rubber seal in the fitting for the drainage pipe but there was not one. He fitted it anyway, saying it might leak. He tested it and it did leak. I said I could sort it out. I intended to try to get a rubber washer but thought I would look at it first. basically he had not pushed the pipe attachment in far enough, nor tightened the metal tightener thingamy (a stainless steel band clamp I now know) tight enough. I did this and it was fine. The water supply hose also leaked but that just needed tightening too and it all works fine. It is lovely and quiet. A purr rather than a roar!

The final thing I have done this week is to take back control of my hair. I have been having it dyed at the hairdressers for ages now and it has gradually gone this kind of  light golden reddish colour that I think just doesn't suit me. The final straw came this week when a colleague at work who is well meaning but somehow manages to say the most offensive things, stopped me in the corridor to say, 'Are you alright? You haven't looked well for ages'. I was not quite sure how to respond so said 'Thanks-I think!' I then went back to class and said what had happened and one of my class colleagues said maybe it was my hair. (I had been moaning about that earlier in the week too!) I think she was right. It was better in that it didn't show the grey so much as it grew out, but it was so light that it just made me look like I look when the grey starts to grow out, but all the time. So anyway, now it is reddy brown again-a bit dark maybe but I like it more. And it will save me around £40 each time I have my hair done!

Friday 14 June 2013

Trying to Look Natural

This is it, my moment of fame, appearing on YouTube. I am joking of course about the fame but this made me laugh. It is me, about a minute in, walking under a tree, under instruction from the enthusiastic man who showed me round, Mike Purdy. I showed the children as I thought it would make them laugh. I don't know if I wrote about what one of them said to me a while ago. She rushed up to me, grabbed my upper arm and said, 'Why are you so big? Why are you so fat?' That made me laugh. After seeing the video she grabbed my arm again and said 'Sarah you are so big, you are so my teacher!' Funny girl. Anyway, I am the slightly embarrassed one walking under a tree.

Sunday 9 June 2013

London Open Garden Squares

The London Open Squares event was on this weekend. I heard about it on the news on Friday and decided to go to a few in my area yesterday, rather than sitting at home all day checking reports. It was well worth it. I only visited three gardens in the end, as I was much longer at each one than I thought. The first was a local primary school. Their garden was established seven years ago and is amazing. It has chickens, bees, a bird hide, a large greenhouse, a circular lawn surrounded by raised beds and pergolas, a pond, an area of box hedging, logs for insects, vegetables, flowers and trees. The children work on it in their lunchtimes and use it whenever possible for other activities. it is a really peaceful space and did feel secret, as the gate suggests. They also have an allotment on a local farm. They have won awards and shown at Chelsea. I got lots of ideas to share at school, as we will be developing our outside areas next year once the building work has finished.

The smaller eggs are from the younger chickens. There were two Pekin chickens running around loose and they were most comical. (They were the black and white variety) They have little ball shaped bodies, wide feathered feet and seem to spin on the spot to change direction. One of the TAs who was showing us around and telling us about the garden, got one and put it up her t-shirt (a black t-shirt) It instantly stopped moving as apparently it thought it was time to go to sleep!
 The next garden was Ballast Quay and is one I have peeped into and been curious about for a long time. It is small, right on the river, with lots of animal sculptures by two local artists, run down old sheds, and the best thing-one of the sheds was an artist's studio. I didn't really talk to anyone at this garden, apart from a woman who had been at the school garden too so I don't know much about it. The studio was full of plants, drawings, photos and strange large felty/woven looking blankets. It was hard to tell if all the stuff in it was recent or had been tacked up like that for years. I would love to have that space to go and use. Right on the river, private from everyone and very cosy.

 The man behind the goat was called John and was one of the artists. The other artist who was not there made the goat, bull and other wire birds. John made the heron in a lower shot. I bought a lovely iron key from him. In support of local art, to remind myself of my visit and because I love how it feels, heavy and smooth. The little grave stone is in memory of the animals who died as a result of the cure for foot and mouth, namely mass slaughter as a preventative measure.

 Rusty old chaos in the shed.
 A great spot for an evening of food and wine.
 The studio. 

The last garden actually was a garden square. Gloucester Circus in Greenwich, which is right next to the park and has large Georgian houses on one side and council flats complete with a 1960s style drying green behind them. All residents have access. It has lots of different species of trees including two of the oldest and largest London Plane trees that were probably planted when the houses were built. I talked to one man, had a glass of cordial and then was looking around and taking pictures when another man rushed up to me with a plan of the trees and lots to say. He lives on the square and said he does not use the garden much as he has a  garden of his own which takes all his time. He videoed me walking under a tree! He also took a picture of me holding the local newspaper which apparently he has lots of photos published in. All very funny really. I looked round with him and we identified most of the trees from his plan. It is a very peaceful place and another that I have looked into often as we always park near there when we go to Greenwich.

 If you are interested in seeing any more photos of the gardens, I put the rest on flickr. The first things I have put on flickr for ages and all their uploading things and editing things have changed so I didn't label the pictures as I seemed to miss that part!