Today we are going on the train to King's Cross St Pancras.
The big birdcage structure is just outside St Pancras Station and has a
swing in the middle that children can go on. We found our way to St
Pancras Lock for the Open Weekend.
This is by the canal side and they have buried some sound files of
people speaking, and it is to be opened in 2025, 13 years after it was
buried. Not long at all! There is a lot of building work going on and
all the barriers are covered in ivy-painted nylon sheeting, so
everything is green.
This is St Pancras Lock. The lock on the far side has been drained so
that the lock gates can be repaired. These two Irish navvies were
wandering around and telling everyone how life was when they were
digging the canal in the eighteen hundreds.
Here is the drained lock, and they have put scaffolding and steps down
so everyone can go down and see it. This is the view from the bottom
This is the brick lined bottom of the lock, it looks quite good for its
age. We were told they made the bricks from the waste clay dug from the
I like these canalside bricks, to help people get a footing as they push
the lock gates. Opposite there is a very pleasant little garden belong
to the Cruising Club.
Then we went up the brick water tower, which used to provide water for
steam trains long ago. Here is the ballcock in the very top part, where
we walked around.
This is the view north from the top of the tower.
Opposite the tower and canal are these circular blocks of apartments
built inside the old gas holders, and in the middle, where another gas
holder used to be, is a big circle of grass, with one raised side so
that people can lounge on the grassy slope in the summer.
This is my favourite part. The seating colonnade goes all round the
circle of grass. The greenish vertical bits are mirrors reflecting the
grass, which is on the right, and the brown bits are the real
background. At certain angles, all the mirrors join up and all you can
see is green. It is truly wonderful and makes the open space look much
bigger. The ceiling is a mirror as well with lots of little holes for
the light to come through, unfortunately it was a bit rainy and so there
were a lot of drips! But I think it would be wonderful on a sunny day
when the sunlight makes spots of light on the dark stone floor.
Relics of the gas holder have been left in place.
I don't know what it is and it doesn't go round, but I didn't really
expect it to!
This hoarding round one of the building areas gives local history, and
has been done to look like giant books stuck to the fence. It describes
the awful living conditions for the families and the children working
all hours from the age of five. This is real grass, but the hoarding is
another cover-up for the building work. Maybe when they have finished
they could put some more trees in to make it look similar.
The fountains were coming on and off in sequence along the row, making
interesting patterns on the granite part. These other fountains were
spurting up briefly in different sections at different times, quickly
one after another, so it was making sudden pattering sounds like
drummers making musical sound patterns with the brush-type drumsticks.
The planting areas are rather smart, with rusted iron borders and
reddish wood seats with curved planks. Just don't sit with legs against
the rust wearing white trousers! We walked past the back of St Pancras
Train Station. Most of them seem to be high speed trains for long
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As we walked past the park, we saw a huge bread bun floating around. The
ducks, geese and swans were taking turns pecking at it and we stayed
until it got smaller and smaller.
Someone has stuck goggle eyes onto this waste bin, so now the opening
looks like a gaping mouth. Here is a good picture to tell the difference
between a coot and moorhen. Coots are bigger with white face and beak,
moorhens are smaller with red beak.
Colder weather is coming back for a while. It started snowing slightly
last night and this morning there is a thin layer of white everywhere.
This is the pond netting, and all the goldfish are very still, because
the water is cold.
Someone put a small artificial Christmas tree outside, so now it is
looking very Christmassy but a bit late! The yellow winter jasmine has
lost most of its flowers to the frosts in January.
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We went through Brixton on our train journey today. There are lots of
colourful markets here. The Victorian railway bridge goes over the main
road, no-one ever needs to ask where the train station is!
We went again to the RAF Museum in Colindale. It is very big, we have
been twice before and there were still lots of things we hadn't seen
We saw hundreds of insignia badges in glass cases.
These are my favourites, all flying birds.
This is Colindale station, and I always look out for the different
enamelled sign boards showing all the stations. All the colours show the
different train line systems in London. This is not a bridge, but it is
a way of getting all the cables over the track.
Today we went to Hall Place Gardens. I saw this area last year with
thousands of bulb planting holes, one week it was all holes and then
another week it was all filled in. I thought it would be daffodils but
it is snowdrops. It makes sense really, because this rose garden area
is very neat and tidy, and snowdrop leaves will vanish, unlike daffodil
leaves that get to be a mess for quite a while. They will be able to mow
the grass as before. This is just the
beginning, it will be a carpet of white in a few years.
Here are some more snowdrops in the far back corner of the gardens,
under a big tree.
Brown Teddy likes this hamamelis tree with its raggy flowers.
There are not many flowers around, so the best part of the garden at the
moment is definitely these golden dogwood stems and purple heather.
In the old stables room, there is quite often an art exhibition. These
paintings and models are all done by school children, and everything was
very interesting and well done.
This wonderful fish mobile would be easy to make at home, but I think
this one took a bit longer, with all the detail.
Some engineering work on our train tracks. The chunky granite gravel
must be new as it is quite instead of dark dirty brown. They parked the
new crossing bridge in the car park.
A day in the garden, someone is drilling drainage holes in the new green
pots. This shrub had to be moved, as it was competing with my new apple
trees. All round the edge I put in some spare miniature daffodil bulbs that I
had growing in a pot. They will go from yellow stems to green quite
Today we went to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, London. We
walked from Kensington Underground Station along the very long subway to
the museums, it saves having to cross lots of busy roads. This is one of
the roof windows. On the way home I took a picture of the window from
The front of the building is being refurbished, so we went in one of the
side entrances, to the modern glass built part. Outside is a very
interesting lot of grass circles so that people can sit and have their
This painting of insects is in oil on copper. I like the butterflies and
moths, not so sure about the grasshoppers and bettles and other long
This is what we mainly came to see today, some beautiful paintings by
Ferdinand Bauer. It was difficult getting photos through the glass
cases, so I took some on the computer display screen. He has painted
every shaft on every feather.
This bird is saying, Look at me, aren't I lovely. We all agreed.
Fossil fern, shells and ammonites and a shark's tooth.
I am guessing these fossils are casts, as the rock would be too heavy to
hang up on the wall.
In the corridor is this miniature triceratops, and a little woolly
mammoth, which the children were taking turns to sit on while their
parents took the photo. The shop was full of dinos, dino toys, and these
3D pictures, interesting but I don't want to go to sleep with those
teeth looking at me!
These animatronic dinosaurs are just in front of the restaurant, and
they are either playing or about to fight. The soundtrack is quite
growly and hissing, so it must be a fight over dinner. Along the side of
the restaurant is a long mural of dinosaurs going through forests.
Next went went upstairs to the Minerals Department, a big hall full of
glass cases of rocks. I was amazed at this huge topaz in its own case,
under spotlights. It is as big as a person's hand and weighs nearly 2
kilograms. It is called the Ostro Stone and is on loan from its owners.
This gold nugget is enormous, twice as big as me, it is a replica of the
real nugget called the Welcome Stranger. Lots of big diamonds, also
models, but still interesting to see how they are when found and when
cut into different shapes.
This gigantic iron meteorite is from Argentina, and was found in the
1700's. This wulfenite stone formation is called butterscotch crystals.
Me, Brown Teddy and our Dino could probably eat all of it over a weekend
or two, if it really was butterscotch toffee.
Spear-shaped crystals of aragonite, an "iridescent mass", and eyed-agate
These are opals, one of my favourites.
Here is the fire opal from the case above. This piece of pegmatite looks
We then went into The Vault at the end of the hall, which contains very
high value exhibits. This is the Aurora Pyramid of Hope, a collection
296 diamonds of every available colour. They are under normal light and
also it changes to ultraviolet light, to show up different colours. Here
are some more opals. In the Vault we also saw Mars rock, space diamond
dust in a test tube, and some rare gold formations.
The fish don't have anywhere to hide now that there are no water lily
leaves, so I have put these pieces of shading net material over the
corner, so they have somewhere they can relax and feel safe.
This is my ingenious plan to give the fish some cover until the lily
leaves grow again. These are foam kneeling pads, I cut each one in half,
and cut off the corners of the squares to make sort of circles. I even
used the cut off corners threaded up together. The fish just love it and
were soon collecting underneath in the shade. When they get used to it,
I will move the rafts to the middle of the pond, which is much safer
than the edges.
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