Saturday, 23 July 2016

Celebrating 220 years!

This evening we went out for a celebratory meal at a local restaurant with David's family to celebrate three 2016 birthdays totaling 220 years..

The venue was The Crown at Henlow, and although in the photo above,  borrowed from the web, it looks very quiet, this evening the garden was full of people enjoying the warm, fine weather.

Once back at David's parents house we were surprised with a large birthday cake which we enjoyed with a glass of bubbly.

A lovely evening and great to be able to celebrate together.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Early Morning over London

It really seemed far too early when I was asked to open the blind - and it was brighter outside than I expected - despite the fact that the moon was still up (looked bigger than it does in the photo).

Had quite a good view of the Thames and central London but the sun was at the wrong angle for a clear photo.

And so to breakfast.  This may have been a mistake..

Thursday, 21 July 2016

An unusual table

This table came into the Bargain Loft the other day.  Initially I thought that it would make a good hall table, but in fact it is more versatile than that..

The drawer pulls out.. reveal the top of a full-size school desk..

The lid of the desk opens as it should - although it is barely deep enough for the break-time apple which I often had at junior school (and which used to smell so good at each change of lessons when the lid was opened!)

It still has its original Bakelite-topped glass inkwell and this gives the only clue about the manufacturer - American Seating.

It has been fascinating to try to research this item and the conclusion so far is that it is a created piece - maybe for home-schooling?

The American Seating company has been in business for generations - one of those manufacturers that you might not know the name of but in the US at least you are likely to have sat on or at their products - in schools, colleges, cinemas, libraries, theatres, community venues etc.

Anyway it is about to start a new life as my bead jewelery work station.  I just need to find the right size apple to fit - although I am not sure that will be the same without the accompanying small bottle of slightly warm school milk!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Early Celebrations

Lunch at L'Auberge Chez Francois at Great Falls is now a birthday tradition - especially for the 'big' birthdays!

Claire very kindly treated me to a lovely pre-birthday lunch - including the special dessert (diet, what diet?).

Having enjoyed the air conditioned cool of the restaurant, we decided to head out to the garden patio for coffee in the shade.

No tour of the garden this time, just a few  photos..

Thank you, Claire!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Boat Trip in Buffalo

Last Wednesday, after exploring downtown Buffalo I headed for the Canalside/Waterfront area.

This area is being regenerated, having at one time been a very busy port and the reason for Buffalo's prosperity in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Now being promoted as an area for leisure and events, this is the site of the Erie Canal, opened in 1825 to link Lake Erie (which runs 65 miles west of Buffalo to Cleveland) with New York.  The importance of this was that it opened up a route for grain from the Mid West farming states to be transported all over the world via the port of New York.

A few of the huge grain silos can still be seen in the harbour.

The boat trip took us out of the Harbour, past the naval museum and out onto Lake Erie.

We soon passed a quaint looking round building which is in fact one of the places where water is pumped out of the lake for use in the city.

Once out on the lake the boat turned and followed the Niagara River.  Like Lake Erie, the river marks the border between Canada and the USA.  

The Peace Bridge spans the river and flags at the Centre mark the border..

We travelled further up the river and then turned into part of an industrial canal which originally linked the Erie Canal to the lake.

The lock gates closed behind us..

Beyond the lock, bridges swung and lifted to let us through..

We were soon heading back to the Harbour and a view of some of the historic downtown buildings in Buffalo.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Aquatic Garden residents

When we visited the beautiful Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, we anticipated that, because the lotus and lily plants are growing in shallow, muddy water, we would be pestered by midges and mosquitoes.

In fact, not a single bite that day - and the flying insects that were most in evidence were the beautiful dragon and damsel flies.

There was a great variety in terms of size and colour and David managed to capture quite a few in close up..

This one was rather striking as at first sight it appears to have square wings (or two sets of semaphore flags)..

We heard many frogs, but with the cover of the lotus and lily leaves they were well camouflaged and so we didn't see a single one.  By the noise they were quite large - I imagine like this one that we photographed in Atlanta earlier in the year..

We did see several turtles, basking in the sun and very muddy - a type of sun screen for the shell?  

Or just the result of living in a rather muddy swamp?

There was quite a size difference - the first turtle was 9 or 10 inches long and the little painted turtle, above, just a few inches.

There are said to be some 140 varieties of birds throughout the year living in or visiting the gardens.  In the heat of the day we heard a few in the trees but only saw these egrets from a distance by the river.

David was disappointed not to see the beavers that live in the swamp by the Anacostia River, but they are mainly nocturnal.

Monarch butterflies are often seen in the garden at this time of year, but not by us. We saw only this more familiar one - a Red Admiral, I think?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Is it Art? (Or an oversize washing line?)

When we were leaving Buffalo airport on Friday we couldn't help but notice this colourful selection of t-shirts and shirts above the check-in desks.

There was a further selection on the other side of the Departure area. 

The t-shirts were very varied in colour, size and with logos representing all parts of the US and beyond.

There was an explanatory poster indicating that this was an installation commissioned by the Allbright Knox Gallery in Buffalo and arranged by Kaarina Kaikkonen, a Finnish artist who creates public art like this from donated clothing.

The clothing items in this piece comprised 1,000 shirts and t shirts which had been donated by members of the public in western New York State.