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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kew Gardens, we went to Kew yesterday 28th May on the most wettest and miserable day of the month. I would not have gone if I had not pre-booked tickets and we only ended up going to three greenhouses. Bloody huge greenhouses and very impressive. We wanted to go to Bluebell Wood, Azalea Gardens, Rose Garden etc but just couldn't because the heaven's just opened. Firstly, we went into the tropical greenhouse and it was so hot in there my phone wouldn't take picture's properly. It was wonderful though and the only photo's I got are these ones...I have done a close up of the plant name, its so beautiful. There is so much to see and so many rare plants I would recommend that you go there if you can, just to see the tropical greenhouse. The next photo's show you an absolute amazing lily pond, the flowers are beyond this world and the lily pads are at least 6 feet in diameter and they are not the largest. The water of the pond is dyed black to stop algae growing and there are loads of fish in there. Some of the flowers are as a big as dinner plates and its just so impressive. We went to the cafe for a while which is linked to the shop and let's just say, its for tourists. It's absolutely disgusting the prices of food and am not too keen on their hygiene standards.I said to Frank I will go in and purchase a small Kew Umbrella, Well, I actually admit that I swore because there is no way I am paying £18 for a brolly. The bigger ones were £25. Sorry, but I could have bought it but begrudge that price tag. I wanted to purchase a gift for my Ma in law and thought a Kew Tea Towel or a Handsoap, but alas, £12 for a teatowel and £15 for a handsoap, NOPE! We went to the Temperate House which will be closed in the summer for major renovation and I must say, it's so flipping huge. The plants inside are so rare and they are having to dig a lot of it up to survive the renovations. The first picture of a palm tree is very rare. There was only one left which was a male and so no female to polunate with. Kew polonated (don't know how) and this is one of 500. It looks so rough to touch but it really isn't. The second photo is of the largest palm tree in the country if not the world. It is actually touching the roof of Temperate House and is one of the reasons they are having to renovate. I do remember it being on Gardener's World when Alan Titchmarsh was talking about the history of Kew. All in all, I had a good few hours of touching the trees, saying hello to them, touching the leaves of palms, ferns and so much more. We sat outside a temple called 'Temple of Arethusa' on some memorial seats to have our packed lunch and then we started walking along and found a gorgeous huge tree called 'cedrus deodara' and again, is bloody huge. I had to touch it, couldn't help myself because I wouldn't see a tree like that again. If you get a chance, google it and you will see what I mean. Finally, I will leave you with a photo of a wall of orchids which are situated in the 'Princess of Wales' Conservatory. Wow!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Southend Pier... We took a trip to Southend on Sea today and it brought back some memories of my day trips out as a child. I must be honest though, it's not like I remember it to be. The sea front use to have a large slope of slabs going down to the beach but they are all gone now and it has been filled with pebbles, millions of them. I do recall hearing on the news a few years ago that the tide's were getting higher so this must be a precautionary thing. I also remember the parade being a much longer street, filled with slot machine arcades, small knick knack shops, candy floss stalls, doughnut stalls, sweet stalls selling southend rock but to see it now, it's sad. The Kurzle at the end use to be a big monstrosity of an old building and now it's a Tesco and a bowling alley, what a shame. I know we all have memories of our day's out and it's not all that bad there but it doesn't seem to have the same atmosphere. We went to a shop called 'The Rock' which sold mountains of Southend Sticks of Rock, fudge etc and I asked the shop keeper has it been busy and she said it's the quietest it's been. I asked her was it busy here last summer and she said no, not at all. I noticed as I was walking along that the large arcade shops were empty but what I remember as a child coming to visit this place, there was a slot machine shop with a big bingo game in the corner. I couldn't see it! Has that gone too! I did notice that there were a few bar's set up which is flipping typical of any seaside place (maybe that's what's ruined it). I bet it's not safe there of a night now. I also noticed that there are no huts selling the deck chairs that you could use and blimey, the cost of 4 hot fresh doughnuts is enough to buy you a meal in McDonald's. The improvement's I do see are the toilet facilities. My god, you haven't got to go down a load of steps to get to a narrow corridor of a row of toilets. Now there are stainless steel cubicles standing in a row and they are clean. There is also a police stand and a beach warden stand too, which is brilliant. Nearby built into the pavement are water jet holes that kids absolutely love. Just walk, stand or run through and you will get soaked. When we did visit Southend back in the late 70's there was no such thing as Adventure Island but from the photos you will see it's thriving with lots of rides for kids. There are loads of high bank's with gorgeous planting and a lift or stairs to get you back to the shop area. Now that has all changed to me. There was no flipping shopping centre there and McDonald's or a bakers was nowhere in sight. It was just a cobbled old street and I remember getting that smell of the sea as the breeze whooshed against your face. Now it just smell's of coffee beans and bakers. Oh well, it was nice to visit for a few hours but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again!

Monday, 6 May 2013

CAKE! two in fact. I decided what's the point in going to all that effort to make ONE! So I made two Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake (thanks to Lorraine Pascale's recipes). I just decided to add the last of my cherrie's on the top of one. I could have gone out today with Frank and pup but I just wanted to relax at home and how better than to do some baking. I pulled the cooker out and cleaned, stripped the bed, turned the mattress and general pottering about, had a walk down to Homebase just now and got loads of bedding plants for £10 and am now relaxing for an hour till dinner is due to be started. Frank has been spending most of the day pottering around in the garden, front and back and is now as we speak, planting up the hanging baskets. I will take a photo of them when they are established but here is a photo of the back garden (from the seating area). I was looking through my baking book and thought, apart from the washing on the line, it is quite pleasant and cottage like!One side of the garden is a bit bare but we are working on it to get it established with shade loving plants. Plus my cat Peanut is buried one side under the Kiria and don't want to disturb him resting. The other photo is of Tammie watching, following and sniffing everything that Frank does. She has to investigate everything in the garden but right now, it must be too hot for her because she is sprawled on the living room floor fast asleep. Think I will join her!