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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Gravesend and Tilbury

I always look at Footprints of London walks diary but have never joined one before. This walk was part of the Thames festival and was one of several walking along the Thames from London to Southend.  I chose this one partly because I was available that day and partly because I have never been to either of these places before.

It was easier to get to Gravesend than I thought. Going from Epping to Stratford on the underground then walking through the Westfield shopping centre to the International Rail Station which I didn't even know existed. I was surprised to find my train terminated in Ramsgate so maybe an idea for a future excursion.

I liked Gravesend but didn't have a lot of time in the town centre. I met our walk leader and about 9 other walkers at the railway station after treating myself to a delicious and cheap lunch in a friendly cafe.

Rob, our leader described Gravesend as an unassuming little town and I agreed with him.

We saw the newest building in town which was an amazing Sikh temple

We also saw the oldest building which is Milton Chantry, the remains of a leper hospital built in 1322. Other highlights were the riverside park and fort. Pocohontos statue and the custom house.

We left Gravesend by Ferry to Tilbury. Most of us went free as we had the relevant bus pass. I didn't realize it covered ferries!  We walked along the sea wall to the World's End Pub for refreshment then to Coal House Fort which we viewed from the path as it was getting late. From there we walked to Tilbury Town railway station past the huge container port and the Cruise terminal. A total of 6 miles walked.

A very enjoyable day. The worst bit was traveling through London in the rush hour on the tube. I didn't even attempt to get on the first Epping train.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and interesting so I would like to do some more walks with him.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Memory books

Since my teens I have taken photos (badly) and stuck them in albums. For the last few years my albums have been digital but I still like to print some. Last year I added other souvenirs such as maps, tickets etc. I have been collecting photos and other bits and pieces all year and finally have started making this year's memory book.

I found this rather nice album in a charity shop and have been filling it in with this year's memories.

So what are they? Well some are days out I have blogged about but I have yet to post about my wonderful Scottish holiday. The other highlight was the arrival on October 2nd of Emily Rose, our first grandchild so loads of photos of her.

I decided next year to utilize an old loose-leaf folder which will be covered and decorated.

I thought I could include my journal as I can just take pages to insert later. I'm looking forward to this project but I had better finish this year's first!

Sunday, 10 September 2017


with the woodfest at Hatfield Forest.  When I mentioned to DB that the woodfest was on last weekend he wanted to go as we both remember going years ago and really enjoying it.  There were all the traditional rural crafts such as pole lathe turning and bodgers. It was relaxing and low key. So we were quite shocked when we arrived about 10.30 which was half hour after it started, and found so many people milling about. As DB has a blue badge we were able to drive right up to the event but then were told no more disabled places. A very nice lady said she could squeeze my little car in and helped with unloading the disability scooter.

Then we looked for the rural crafts amongst all the stalls selling crafts.  The only demonstrators we saw was a lady knitting, 2 men turning wood on modern lathes and an axe hewer. The last one was enclosed in a cage in a dark corner so no photos there. I suppose it was health and safety!

This was one of the turners.

This was not a craft but a display to advertise the wildlife and particularly the badger group so that was very interesting. I took the phone number so perhaps next year I can go on a badger watch. I did do it once years ago with another group and it was amazing.

As I sit here writing this, Countryfile is on and they are highlighting an endangered species which is the heritage crafts people. I suppose that is why the woodfest was so disappointing.

I couldn't help noting the contrast between this event and one I went to 2 years ago in rural New York State. It was an applefest  full of demonstrators of old crafts and the axe hewer was out in the open. The other difference was the catering. At the applefest all the food was based on local products and recipes and very reasonably priced. At the woodfest we bought a cup of tea and a coffee which cost nearly £5. The food was not local and was expensive.  I usually take my own flask but we didn't this time as we wanted to support the event and it was part of our day out. Needless to say we left after an hour and ate at home. The live music looked good but did not start until the afternoon and DB was really set on the woodworking which was the main thing we went for.

Still it was a beautiful drive out on a sunny day and a pleasure to enjoy the countryside.

Sunday, 3 September 2017


A blogger mentioned her disappointment after a night in an Airbnb so I thought I would write about my experiences with them.

The first time was 2 years ago when I visited a friend in the US and we wanted to stay in New York. A colleague advised my friend to try Airbnb so we booked 3 nights in Park Slope, Brooklyn in a beautiful Brownstone House. We didn't see much of our hosts except on the first night but they were so hospitable and told us to help ourselves to anything including wine, bottles of water etc. My friend made use of the jacuzzi whilst enjoying a glass of wine. Our hosts also printed information and maps for us and told us the best places to eat. We think they stayed in the basement so we pretty much had the house to ourselves.

The 2nd experience was a farmhouse in rural upstate New York. We wanted to visit myfriend's son who was at college in Ithaca and also tour the Finger Lakes area.

Again we more or less had the place to ourselves apart from seeing the farmer briefly each evening then he kindly gave us a tour of the farm and told us the history of the place and then we were left to wander about on our own.  We had a big bedroom with our own bathroom and a dining room. This area we could lock so totally to ourselves. Then the kitchen/sitting room we shared but he must have been out very early as we didn't see him. It was wonderful sitting in that huge farmhouse kitchen watching the birds on the feeder.

Our 3rd Airbnb was in Amsterdam when my friend came over to the UK last year and we flew from Stansted for a 2 night break. We were on the 4th floor of an apartment so plenty of exercise as no lift! Our host was a very friendly young man who we saw very little of but the first evening he was very surprised to see 2 "old ladies" in an airbnb so patiently explained that it didn't include breakfast in spite of the name. We told him we knew that and didn't expect it. He then went out shopping and brought back bacon and eggs for our breakfast as he was so amazed by our intrepid spirit. We did laugh and felt quite ancient. The apartment had been cleaned by his sister as we arrived but he obviously didn't do any cooking as although everything was clean, food was out of date in the fridge but that didn't worry us as we didn't eat it.

This is the entrance to the apartment and above the view from the bedroom.

I had one more experience and that was last month when db wanted to have a week in Clacton so we could also visit his family.  I found a caravan on Airbnb on a holiday park. It was clean and well equipped and in a good position not far from a Holland on sea and the beach.  We didn't see our host but collected our key from the office but a lady came from the next caravan and introduced herself as the friend of the host and if we needed anything to ask her. It was good we had the place to ourselves but also knowing there was somebody nearby if necessary.

 So altogether very satisfied with our experiences.  I would definitely look at Airbnb first when planning a holiday.


I'm not a twitcher but I do love watching birds, just the everyday birds in my garden although I do get excited when I see something unusual.

This year I have had a large amount of young long-tailed tits on the feeders. They are so beautiful and acrobatic. I could have got photos as they seem quite fearless and feed nearby but I'm so busy watching them I forget to have the camera ready.

Goldfinches are plentiful too and lots of young ones too so must have nested nearby. Even the pigeons make me laugh as they waddle about.

This is the blackbird which cheekily came into my kitchen calling for sultanas and even brought his youngsters.

Not a brilliant picture as you can't see the full colouring of red head of this goldfinch.

I was amazed to see this parakeet in the garden about 3 years ago although I have seen many in London. This summer I heard them in the elderberry tree and then they were in a nearby garden and suddenly they flew low into my garden just in front of me being chased by a magpie.

Last week I went to visit a friend who lives 5 miles away in a village. I met her at her son's house as he lives on a farm and they get lots of wildlife. The main thing I wanted to see were the Red Kites as they are daily visitors there. Sadly they didn't turn up but we did sit and watch the buzzards floating on the thermals so effortlessly. We could hear their mewing and the incessant calling of a youngster. In spite of the lack of Kites, it was a beautiful day and so peaceful walking about the farm land. At least I have watched Kites on other occasions. We also heard and saw the green woodpecker.  We get those in the woods nearby and I love hearing their laugh - hence the country name of Yaffle.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Enjoying the sunshine

Lots of jobs done today in the house and garden but still time to stand and stare. Db and I went for coffee at a little cafe on a lake just outside town. Redricks Lakes is used to train swimmers for competitions but anyone can swim there although I haven't yet as I would like to do the induction first which is Saturdays. It is probably busy at the weekend but mid-week when we go is very quiet apart from the water fowl.

 The swan did come a lot nearer gradually.

We sat with a very good coffee and DB made friends with the swan then we watched the grebes diving. 

Although we live in a town we have some beautiful countryside within walking distance.
This is DD walking the dogs in the field between Parndon Mill and the River Stort. 

The yellow flowers are so cheerful.We really appreciate our walks and so do the dogs.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A walk in Burnham on Crouch

Two friends had asked to come with me on one of my days out then one was ill and cancelled the day before and the other was also not well and not sure if she would come. We had planned London but in the end on the day I prepared to go on my usual bus journey and walk and was glad I had as last minute was a message to say 2nd friend not well enough.

I used my bus pass again to travel to Chelmsford and then to Burnham on Crouch. The journey was lovely as all through the countryside with wonderful views.

It was a bit breezy at first as I visited the tourist information office for leaflets then sat by the river to eat my packed salad and bought tea.

I know this area fairly well as about 40 years ago db and I had a weekend in the Anchor Inn right next to the river for our anniversary.  Then over 20 years ago we had a few days in our camper van on the camp site at the end of the high street.  I have also had a few day trips here but not for a long while.

I decided on a route I had not taken before, along the river to Creeksea, around the Marine which I don't remember from before then heading inland along hedgerows of plums and blackberries which were very welcome for dessert.  The sun shone and it felt like a real Autumn day. The worse bit was crossing a railway line which made me very nervous although it was only one track and few trains travel on it.

I finished the day with a cream tea in the Georgian tea room garden with a big pot of coffee.

Then a final walk around for last photos of the clock tower and the yacht clubs in the other direction.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Harvest home

I have cut back on veg growing this year for various reasons but I think most days through summer and Autumn there is something edible. Also a certain amount is frozen for the winter.

So far this year have been loads of strawberries mainly consumed but a few frozen. Gooseberries likewise. Most blackcurrants Frozen but some given to a friend who gave me a pot of jam in return. A little rhubarb eaten, Frozen and gifted. There are Jonagold eating apples, a Bramley and a quince bearing it's first fruit.

Many herbs some of which grow all year and others are Frozen or dried.

Recently I have been picking blackberries both in the garden and wild. At the moment there are tomatoes and lettuce every day. The first beetroot will be pulled tomorrow and I have enjoyed one cucumber. Lavender is scenting the house but I have to leave some for the bees.

Bay leaves, blackberries and tomatoes.

When it's written down it sounds much more than I thought it was!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Holiday charity shops

A blogger was asking if anybody else goes into charity shops on holiday. I do usually though didn't during my Scottish week as I was too remote to see any.

On holiday in Clacton with DB though we went in several plus the stroke association book sale. This is mainly as DB is disabled and uses a mobility scooter so he is limited as to activities and he enjoys charity shops.

Anyway this is my haul from the week.

The books were 20p each and 2 are for children I know. I'm looking forward to using the afternoon tea book and having friends round. The Body Shop body butter is new and sealed a bargain at 99p and my daughter will love it. At the bottom is a set of tea towels with oven gloves and sleeve all new.

I finally gave in and these are for our first grandchild-a girl due in October. They are as new and the dress set had the label still on.

Last are 2 items for me. Cotton trousers as mine are getting shabby and a smart linen dress for an upcoming Bible convention.

We are visiting a fete tomorrow so we may end up with more purchases.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Enjoying my garden

We finally seem to be having a good summer to the extent I can even have breakfast on the patio.
The patio is old and needs repairing or replacing but I don't look at that. There is so much activity and beauty to focus on.

The bees on the lavender.
The sparrow family on the fat balls
There are so many birds on the feeders, coming and going plus the flowers and the peacefulness.

Who needs to go to exotic places?

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Day in London

I planned another one day holiday for last Friday and it was brilliant.  For about the last 4 years I have wanted to swim in the lady's pond on Hampstead Heath so I had hoped to do that until I discovered there are no lockers for valuables and I didn't fancy leaving mine on the bank as I was on my own. It was a very hot day and I still wanted to swim in a natural outdoor venue so chose the Serpentine in Hyde Park. There are basic changing rooms and about 30 lockers so being a mid week school day there was plenty of room and spare lockers.  It was fantastic swimming in a lake among dragonflies, ducks, swans and geese etc and unbelievable we were in the middle of London.

As you can see there was plenty of room and only about 6 people in the water at first and still not more than a dozen when I left. I had a cold shower by the side on the bank without soap or shampoo as the water drains into the lake. When dressed I enjoyed my picnic lunch and water brought from home. Not as frugal as my last day out as apart from the bus ride to Epping , I used my Oyster card for the tube to London and back.  The swimming was £3.80 as being a "pensioner" I had a concession.

I then made my way by tube to Stratford for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which I have never visited, buying an Earl Grey tea in my travel cup and a muffin to enjoy by the river and beautiful flower beds. I saw the Meccano like sculpture but did not join the queue to climb to the top but will do on my next visit.  I just walked about enjoying the gardens and the river views.

The sculpture is the Arcelormittal orbit.

One of the day's highlights was at the start walking through Hyde Park to the lake when I heard the wild ring necked parakeets and saw people hand feeding them.  So piece of cheese sandwich in one hand and camera in the other and this is the result below.

Two friends have agreed to join me in my swim in the Hampstead Heath ponds so I look forward to sharing that in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Floral plenty

When I arrived home from my trip to Leicester over two weeks ago, two bunches of chrysanthemums waited for me from dh who missed me. I have added to these with lilac, bluebells,grape Hyacinths and a shrubby bit from gardens n foraging. The lilac scent fills the room but alas the white lilac died quickly.

I do love fresh flowers in the house.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Recycle update

Well the chest eventually went to a good home! I decided to give freecycle another chance and a lovely man asked for the item and was so pleased when I chose him. The others all wanted photos etc. We arranged a convenient time for him to collect then he emailed on the day to make sure it was still ok. He came with his wife and they took it to the car themselves and were so polite and friendly that it made my day.

On the same subject today I saw a buggy and a pushchair dumped in the archway entrance to flats nearby. The residents regularly dump all kinds of stuff good and bad there. Once a week the council collect it in the rubbish cart. The buggy seemed to have mildew but the pushchair was perfect except for needing a wipe over. No good for us so I put an offer post on freecycle with a photo from my phone and details of where to collect it. I just hate to see good items sent to landfill and it will do somebody a good turn.

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Why is it so hard to give good furniture away? I hate dumping good stuff and as I have just changed the single guest bed for a double I needed to pass on a good pine bed and clean mattress also the large chest of drawers which no longer fits. First I offered free to friends and one said they would definitely take them for another friend or keep themselves. After 2 weeks they no longer want it so I put on a local Facebook site for £5 each. I had loads of interest and after one  let down, the bed was collected. So far two buyers have arranged to collect the chest but not turned up. I have had 3 day's waiting for collections.
So why don't I put it on freecycle or donate to charity?  Because I've been let down so many times by freecyclers not turning up and charity shops will only take pristine items. The chest is a good solid piece but has slight water marks on the wooden top - easily fixed-but would be rejected by charities.
If I can get it in the car it will go to the dump and if not I either have to pay to have it collected or try and break it up. That really goes against the grain so maybe I will try freecycle once more but can I face more let downs?

Monday, 6 March 2017

It's finished!

I'm amazed that I finished my Amsterdam bag. I'm really pleased with it although it's not perfect but I haven't done any serious sewing for years. This is also the first proper bag I've sewed not counting the simple woven one I made at school.
So here are pictures.

I have enough material for another bag but will wait until I decide what style to make. Anyway this was one of my winter projects so now I have to finish my memory book!