In which I more than feel my age

When I take William to the park, the playground, a museum, the library or the shops, there’s always a grandparent or two like me, doing their share of childminding.

Not today. Sarah’s friends recommended the new adventure play at a local leisure centre as a good place to spend the morning. I’d be able to relax while William let off steam.

It didn’t work out like that. Towers, tunnels, trampolines and slides went from ground to way above our heads. Daunting at first if you’re only two. ‘Granny come too’.

Which is all very well, but safety netting was at small-child-head-height. We scrambled up padded stairways; inserted ourselves into cylindrical tunnels; dropped through chutes to the floor below, and zipped down slides that, were they removed to a domestic setting, would have to be sited leaving from the bedroom window.

At this point I noticed that I was easily twice the age of the next oldest carer. Just now, sore and creaky, I feel at least four times older.

From dinosaurs to fish: from butterflies to rainbows: and back to dinosaurs again

William began his day yesterday by lining up his extensive collection of dinosaurs (thank you, Ben and Alex).  Please note the previously unrecorded vaccosaurus right in the middle there.

Then we went to the Horniman Museum, as we so often do.

We had to visit the Aquarium, as we so often do.

We had to visit the new Butterfly House, so William could show it to me.

And we had to visit the new exhibition about colour, The Rainbow Revealed.  Here’s William, sitting in the light tent, soothed by the calming green light that followed the vigorous energizing magenta.

Just before home time, we came upon this dinosaur.  He lives out his days in the primaeval forest created in the Horniman Museum Gardens.  The primaeval plants are currently protected from the winter storms by very unprimaeval plastic, which slightly spoils the effect.

A fine day.

Click on any image to see it full size.  These are smart phone photos.  Not so smart really.

Winter: for one day only

Winter’s not been around in recent years, not really.  Those crisp snowy days we all seem to remember from our childhood, those snowball fights, those Jack Frost patterns etched our bedroom windows, those chilblains – all seem to be ancient history.

This week in London, where we had an early unofficial Christmas with William and family, winter arrived for one day only before becoming sunny and mild again.  Look at these ducks and gulls in the local park, standing in puzzled uncertainty or ineptly skating on a frozen pond.  One day only was quite enough for them.

Snapshot Saturday: a transient house in a temporary home.

If you go to London, and if you go to the Victoria and Albert Museum some time before next February, don’t miss a rather special temporary exhibition I saw there this week.

Find the glass lift, and allow it to sweep you upwards to the sixth floor.  Here, from this light and airy vantage point, you can enjoy views over the museum and beyond.

Contemporary Korean ceramics.  That’s what you’re looking for.  There are glossy ceramic tiles, reinterpreting Korea’s exquisite porcelain from the Joseon dynasty (you can see examples of these down on the first floor).  There are wonderfully lustrous translucent vases, in luminous reds, yellows and blues.  Oh wait ….  they’re carved from soap.

But what drew me back, several times, was this house.

Here’s what its creator Kim Juree has to say about this, and the many houses she has created in the same idiom.

So what you’ll see if you visit won’t be what I saw.  Don’t wait too long.  This temporary structure isn’t long for this world.

If you peer behind the house, you’ll see a few of those vases carved from soap.

This post is a response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: temporary

Fresh air and fun, London style

I’m in London, doing a spot of childminding for two-year old William.  But after all that city living in Poland and Berlin, my inner Country Mouse needed some attention.

A city farm then.  This turned out to be a Good Idea.  It involved an exciting trip through the waterways and futuristic high-rise building sites on the route of the Docklands Light Railway.  It involved, in the smart business district of Canary Wharf, an exciting intermittent fountain that commanded William’s rapt attention for many minutes.

William and the fountain at Canary Wharf.

It involved a ferry crossing to get us from one side of the Thames to the other.  ‘Did you see the seal?’ said one of the crew.  No, we didn’t, but it turns out they’re rather common.

The ferry goes from Canary Wharf to the far side, back and forth, all day.

And it involved a saunter along the Thames views.  Then we arrived.  Surrey Docks City Farm.  Path, through parkland and with riverside.

IMG_20171003_104718386_HDR
The view from Surrey Docks Farm.

It’s a farm, but not as we know farms here in North Yorkshire.  The animals are behind fences, and the crops are in beds rather than fields.  But it’s nicely ramshackle, in a good way, and a real piece of countryside among the high-rise.  William and I befriended sheep: monster woolly breeds from the South Downs and from Oxford, quite unlike their rangier northern cousins.  Donkeys requested loving pats on the back. Here was the biggest sow ever.  Ducks were a-dabbling, up tails all.  Goats played King of the Castle to increasingly complicated rules, jostling each other off the heights: and hens busied themselves policing the entire site.

A few goats having fun.

William was, if anything, even more interested in the vegetables.  Those gourds!  They were long, thin, and taller than him.  Those pumpkins!  So big, so h-e-a-v-y. And the long leaves of the cavolo nero!  So tough, so leathery, and such an intense shade of dark green.

William holds a pumpkin inspection.

Everything in the cafe is home-made.  So we had lunch there – an enormous lunch – before retracing our steps.  The ferry was still as exciting, and there were workmen hanging off the gangway onto the boat, doing unimaginably interesting things.

Maintenance work on the jetty.

The fountain as entrancing as first time round.  By the time our train journey was over, William was fast asleep.

Snapshot Saturday: rus in urbe*

I’ve been in London this week, spending each day with William, now almost two.

One of the things I love about being with The London Branch is the real connection with nature that’s to be had in Hither Green, part of busy multicultural Lewisham.

We’ve spent happy moments peeking out of the window watching the fox cubs playing and relaxing in the garden next door.

Virtually every day we go to one of the parks near their house. And the day before yesterday, this is what we saw.  A juvenile heron doing what herons have to do.  Fishing.

I saw this heron as a friend, a link with my more rural day-to-day life. You might think that’s a bit of a stretch, but perhaps he, like me, is a fellow country bumpkin among all these townies.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘friend’.

  • ‘country in the city’

 

Snapshot Saturday: a view of densely-packed London from the River Thames

‘Redoubt’ tugs cargo-laden barges down the Thames. The river is as much a busy highway as it ever was.

I had to be in London, because it’s not every day my son gets a chance to sing in the Royal Festival Hall. Admittedly, he was only one of some 400 singers from Lewisham Choral Society and the Hackney Singers, who’d combined to perform Bach’s B minor Mass.  What a privilege to hear so many voices give such a finely tuned and moving performance.

The other treat was that I was seated between my daughter-in-law, and a new friend made entirely thanks to blogging.  She’d discovered my blog after following up a comment I had made on the wonderful ‘Spitalfields Life’.  She commented – often – on mine, and eventually we met. I do like this blogging malarkey.

Views from the deck.

Anyway, I got to the Festival Hall from Greenwich by way of a commuter trip along the Thames.  And on this journey I got a sense of densely packed communities, sometimes in tower blocks; and of the densely packed offices of Canary Wharf and the City.

Something old, something new ….

I saw too the Docklands area, where once tobacco, ivory, spices, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine and wool were unloaded from densely packed ships along the quayside to be processed in wharfside buildings – once busy, crowded industrial sites, and now transformed into desirable apartments and businesses.

Once a busy hive of industry, these wharfside buildings are now dwellings for people who would never have chosen to work there.

I saw the Tower of London, with the city behind showing itself developed in a manner unimaginable to the many unhappy souls who entered, never to return to life as they had known it …. or to life at all.

The Tower of London, with the now almost equally famous Gherkin behind.

This journey is a treat which some lucky Londoners can enjoy every day as part of their regular commute.

My response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: ‘Dense’