We have a new addition to our house. He is called Oliver, and yesterday I discovered that he has his own wharf, which he has been keeping very quiet about! He started appearing in our garden at some point before Christmas, and was friendly and not very willing to go away. He kept coming back, and in the end I fed him. He ate so ravenously that I thought he must be really hungry and possibly a stray
I didn't feed him the next day but he still came back so then I did. He would beg at the door, asking for more, hence his name. I made him various shelters in the garden, the most successful being a plastic box with a hole cut in the front and a blanket. he would sleep there most nights, and have all his meals with us. He would rush indoors every so often, and go straight into the back room to eat some of Cassie's biscuits before I could put him out again. This went on for about three weeks. I visited some of our neighbours, none of whom knew where he was from. I did some posters and took him to the vet to see if he was chipped but he wasn't. So, in the end, we decided that we would take him in. He had to have the works, blood tests, injections, neutering, (which made him into a much less smelly little cat, poor boy!) flea and worm treatments, as well as antibiotics for a wound on his back foot. Then he had to stay in for three weeks, between injection courses, although we only managed two and a half before we let him out again as he was going stir crazy. I was nervous letting him out in case he ran off, but he hasn't so far! The most difficult part has been integrating him with Cassie and Lily. Lily spends a lot of her time in the bedroom, so at first we thought it would be fine to let him in sometimes when we were in there. It wasn't and he leapt towards her with dubious intentions, so he doesn't go in there now. After much hissing and extreme annoyance from Cassie, she is really beginning to tolerate him much more. They can spend time in the same room for ages, and so far she has the upper paw! He is very energetic, and if we haven't played with him enough, he is more bold with Cassie, but usually he backs off when she tells him to. He is a very funny little cat and loves being told he is a good boy!
These pictures are from a visit to the foreshore a few weeks ago in Woolwich. The stairs to this piece of shore are really good but it is a bit isolated so I don't often go there alone. This visit was quite early in the morning and I thought that it would be fine which it was. It was a beautiful morning. One of my finds was this notebook. I liked the way that the sand in the screen shifted with the water. It is now thoroughly dry and I have artistic plans for it which are not quite formulated yet, and involve some deconstruction which I am not sure how to do.
The water was so still and it all just looked gorgeous!
The boat is called The Royal Iris. It is an old ferry, originally from Liverpool, built in Dumbarton, and had an interesting life before it ended up abandoned here. The Beatles performed on it in the 1960s.
Now it is home to pigeons and whatever other creatures can use it.
The Thames Barrier in the background.
This fox was under the steps when I left, and didn't move when I stood there and talked to him. I don't think he was very well. His fur was all sandy, as if he had been on the beach. I hope he survived. I saw a dead one on the path by the river the other evening, and then when I went onto the shore, I met a very angry man (but angry in an interesting and quite amusing way) who thought he had been poisoned. The man was voluntarily picking up rubbish, which he does on a regular basis. He used to work on the bins, (his words) and had theories to sort out many problems, (including flooding, rubbish, cracked walls, companies dumping rubbish in the river, and how to safely get down the concrete bank onto the shore!) By the time I had finished talking to him, it was nearly dark, and I could just about see enough to pick my way along the beach, find a couple of things, go under a creepy jetty with slimy rocks under my feet, and climb up a ladder in my wellies, which was not easy. The Russian man's words continue to echo in my ears!
This is a piece of fabric dripping into the Thames in a beautiful way.
Here is the second fox. Poor thing.
And here is Dobby. It was only when taking a picture of this tap that I noticed the resemblance!
I found this extremely heavy piece of wood with cut marks on it as if it was part of a carpenter's bench or a butcher's board. I didn't notice that it looked like a bear until I took this picture. I am going to give it to my brother for his birthday (no expense spared!) as I thought it might make a good base for one of his amazing carved skulls.
I went back to my favourite piece of foreshore this morning to see whether storm Ciara had left me anything good. The tide was pretty low today and I walked along further than I normally do, past the place the Russian man gave me advice. I found some shopping trolleys, that someone had obviously positioned in happy companionship by the wall.
On the way to the trolleys and the welly boot that had seen better days, I saw an interesting brick and, as I was looking at it, saw a pipe bowl next to it. I was excited to see that it had a design on it, more than the leaves on the seam that I normally find! There are a couple of pictures at the end of this post. It is the Insignia of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. This regiment formed in 1689 and were stationed all over the world, fighting in many battles.The image of the sphinx and the word Egypt represent honours awarded to them for the battle against the French at Alexandria in 1801.
'The Hydra and Kali' by Damien Hurst.
Anchor number one, not attached to that tiny boat!
Anchor number two, not attached to anything, and not one I have seen before, so may have been uncovered yesterday. No doubt someone will take it away soon, as it is quite small, though still extremely heavy!
My favourite finds from today. There was some lovely iridescent glass around. All the bottles were buried in the mud and needed lots of washing out. I use a knitting needle to sloosh water around in the bottle in a bucket, mixing with the mud until eventually it plops out.
Here is my pipe bowl. I will do a better picture of it tomorrow!
I went back to Erith on Saturday with Andy as I wanted to look at the pier which I missed on Friday. There is a Morrison's supermarket so we could combine a walk with food shopping. This article from The Londonist explains the history of the pier. The information below is from there. The wooden pier that used to be here was 444ft long, opened in 1842, and a hotel called The Pier Hotel was built. Erith became popular as a tourist destination, and also had two steamer ships, The Star and The Diamond, calling there twice a day, on their route between Gravesend and London. So, gentlemen could commute, and enjoy a breakfast on the boat, including wine! The railway came to Erith in 1849, so the use by commuters changed from river to rail. Then, in 1865, The Crossness Sewage works opened, and, instead of floating out to sea as predicted, the floaters and other sewage headed up river towards, Erith, making it far too smelly for tourists. The pier was used for cargo ships until the 1950s, as the water was deep enough for them to dock. The pier was not fit to use by 1957, so a new one was built. The current concrete pier is 360m long. The hotel was demolished and warehouses built. As the town changed through the 60s and 70s, the pier was no longer used and was abandoned until the 1990s. In 1999, Morrison's built a supermarket on the site of the old deep water wharf, and retained the pier for the public to use. It is used by people fishing, walking and getting some fresh air. When we visited there were a couple of anglers and a sweet dog right at the end, a couple of families and dog walkers, and us. It feels great to be out in the river on solid ground, above all the oozing mud, with a great view of the birds.
I think these are Black Tailed Godwits. They form monogamous couples that can last for 25 years. When migrating, they arrive within three days of each other, then mate. Amazing! If they are wintering in Britain, then they spend the summer in Iceland. The ones that breed here in the summer, spend the winter in Africa.
These are Common Gulls, (apparently not that common) and Common Sandpipers. (I think)
Some Mallards and a sunken shopping trolley.
Shelducks, who were having a bit of a fight. I thought they were a type of geese when we were there as they are really big. Very beautiful colours.
The view across the river to Rainham Marshes.
The Dartford crossing in the background.
I couldn't make out these birds as they were right on the other side of the river. I can see two types of gull, and then some little waders.
This is the ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Erith Ltd) oil refinery, which processes Rapeseed oil, and Linseed oil among other things.
A Port of London boat speeding by. On the flag it says Harbour Master, so that's who he is!
I loved the huge sense of space you get on the pier.