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Diary 2017 February

 

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2 February

 
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 deck.


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 canal.

 
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 distances.

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6 February

 
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.

11 February

 
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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13 February

 
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 before.


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.

17 February

 
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.

19 February

 
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 quickly.

20 February

 
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 above ground.

 
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 snacks.

 
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 leggity creepies!

 
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 like writing.

 
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.

20 February

 
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.

28 February

 
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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