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Thursday 19 June 2014

Walpole Park revisited ...

Back in the dark days of January I wrote an article (Walpole Park and my dog-walking worries) bemoaning the loss of much of our local park and expressing some doubt as to whether the council would deliver it back to the good citizens of Ealing in line with their rather vague deadline of early 2014.

Serious progress has been made, but ... there is an I-told-you-so coming ... it's so not finished, and I think we've sailed way past that early 2014 deadline - and then some.

This:

Walpole Park, Ealing, London


... has happily become this:

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

But we still can't get in to enjoy it: the blur to the right hand side is due to my having snapped the shot through a gap in the railings that still divide the park.

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

And whilst there's a lot of heavy plant moving around it was impressive yesterday to see how many people were catching the rays and making the most of the green space that was available to them. I think it's a special talent that we have developed here in London. We may not know much about a lot of things, but we certainly know how to rock a lazy afternoon in the park.

Just look at this kindergarten class who've swapped their classroom for the blue sky and the leaf canopy overhead. And, seriously, when did you last see such a cool multi-baby buggy? What a mothership!

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

This chap was happily playing riffs on his guitar beside the chain-mail fence that chops the park in two:

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

And these folk were just laying back in the grass working on their sun tans:

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

And, best of all, the funny bits where it looks like they've dug up the grass for no good reason are being cultivated as wild flower meadows. Next year I look forward to celebratory picnics on sunny afternoons when the cornflowers, the poppies and the clover will be in bloom. It's going to be epic!

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

They're busy building a new play area for the little people, which looks pretty amazing too. Emi and his chums will have a ball playing there when it's all done and dusted.

Walpole Park, Ealing, London

They've planted gazillions of roses and shrubs along the pathways, and it's all shaping up to look rather splendid.


Over in the adjoining Pitshanger Manor, one-time country get-away of the famous architect, Sir John Soane, they're hosting an art exhibition. It seems an appropriate venue given Soane's connections: back in the day he entertained art-world luminaries such as JMW Turner in this place.

Pitshanger Manor,Walpole Park, Ealing, London

And the great thing about it is that it's an exhibition of local artists who want to get their names out there. You can pop along until 21st June, admire the work on view and buy it if it really takes your fancy. It's Ealing's answer to the Summer Exhibition over at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly, and I think it's great that we have a showcase for our local talent.

Pitshanger Manor,Walpole Park, Ealing, London

And that's something that chimes with the ethos of the park behind: it's the people's park and is something that just about everyone in the area feels they have a stake in. Just take a look at the number of trees and park benches that are dedicated to the memory of loved ones who have passed away.


I'm sure all the work will all be worth it in the end, but for now I'd just like it to be over so that we can let our dogs and our children race around without having to worry about them getting run over by a JCB.

All the best,

Bonny x


As shared on SYC , Little things Thursday and Good Fences

Wednesday 18 June 2014

F is for Feather Duster ...

And I just love to watch when it's being brandished by a bloke to clean a tank. Yes, honestly. I joke you not. Have a look for yourself:



After a busy day mooching around at the Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset it was a pleasure to put my feet up and watch this lot dust the tanks. Seriously this could catch on as a spectator sport. And it only added to my pleasure to observe how many of them were guys. I don't think I've ever seen any so many chaps doing the dusting. It was a sweet thing to watch.

All the best,

Bonny x
As shared on the Alphabet Project

Monday 16 June 2014

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

You know how they say Men are from Mars? Well, girls, it's absolutely true. And to prove it all you have to do is take a couple of normal, sentient men to the tank museum. Before your very eyes, they will morph into warrior-types who totally know everything about the military hardware on display and talk loudly with one another about SPGs and ranges and ballistics and other stuff that you've never heard them mention before.

Such was my experience yesterday. We'd had Mr B's car fixed, and we wanted to make sure that the nice people down at the garage had actually sorted out the problem, rather than just telling us they had and charging us a ship-load of money for the fun of it. We wondered where we might go to put the motor through its paces. Emi, who plays far too much World of Tanks online, has been lobbying for a visit to the tank museum for ages and wasn't slow about suggesting it as a suitable venue. He even did the puppy eyes thing, so there was simply no saying no! to him.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

Throughout our visit Emi positively fizzed with excitement, and Mr B was pretty much up there with him. Mr B had to do military service in the Spanish army and was heard to mutter something about having been an infantry man, but he very quickly forgot about his infantry connections and rolled into the (cavalry) joys of tank warfare in a way that left me baffled and bemused.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset
 I found the whole thing interesting (sort-of), but, as with the insects at Micropolis, I was far from hooked.  I'm much more interested in social history and I found these industrial-scale killing machines chilling. Sitting silently as exhibits in the museum you get only a small flavour of their true potency. As a little girl growing up in Northern Ireland I can vividly remember how these monsters roar when their huge engines growl into action, and how they make the ground shake when they move; you can feel the pounding strokes of their engines through your feet.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset
The first person to have thought up the idea of a tank appears to have been Leonardo da Vinci, who drew plans for an armoured vehicle way back in the 1480s. They've got a made-up model of what his tank might have looked like if some Renaissance prince had decided to run with the idea and put it into production.

I don't know how feasible or manoeuvrable Leo's little armoured run-around would have been, but just imagine if they'd managed to iron out any wrinkles in the prototype and make it work.  I wonder how it would have changed the history of European warfare.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset


Nobody else seems to have thought much more about tanks until the advent of the machine gun, which made its first really big splash in the First World War. It seemed that the only means by which to meet the threat presented by this new mechanical gun was to create a mechanical monster with armour that was impervious to its bullets. Churchill, then the British Minister for War, encouraged the engineers to get cracking on something that would bring Leonardo's idea into the twentieth century and on 15th September 1916 the British Army used their first tanks at Flers in France. They needed a bit more tweaking, but slowly, slowly they got the technology right and the tanks went on to break the deadlock of the trenches.


I'm sure there's a fascinating story behind each and every tank that they've got parked up in the museum. This one, however, caught my eye:

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

And here's the tank he commanded:

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

It kind of blew me away to have it in front of me knowing a little bit of the battlefield drama that it's come through.

Another one caught my eye:

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

And here she is, the last tank of the line from 1945, looking as pristine and invincible as the day she rolled out of the Vauxhall factory in Luton:

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

There are loads of opportunities to see how the tanks look and feel inside. As you might imagine they are extremely cramped and none too comfortable. I'd hate to been sharing a ride in one of the camouflage numbers that fought in North Africa during the Second World War. Imagine six grown men squashed into a space not much bigger than two toilet cubicles stretched out around the guns and the turret, driving through the heat of the desert, with the heat of the huge engine and their own body heat. It must have been a total nightmare just existing, without even factoring in the threat of Rommel and his troops trying to blow them away.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset

At the risk of stating the obvious, the museum is a great day out for tank enthusiasts and anyone interested in military history. They have tanks from all periods, including Leonardo's prototype, the first tanks from WW1 right through to tanks that have seen action in Afghanistan.  There's a perfectly acceptable cafe and a sandwich van outside. Dogs are not permitted in any part of the museum, and there's ample free parking very close to the entrance. All parts of the museum appeared to be accessible by wheelchair. If you'd like to check it out you can find all the details on their website: Tank Museum web site.

The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset


On our way home we found the most glorious field of poppies in full bloom, which seemed a fitting end to the day.


There was a long line of cars that had pulled over on the side of the road to take photos. And if you look carefully you can see the heads of other people out there in the middle of all that colourful loveliness snapping away to their hearts' content.




All the best,

Bonny x


Saturday 14 June 2014

WD40 stain removal ...

Have you ever got pine resin on your clothes? It's a really tough one to get out.

Where we live on the Costa Brava we have such amazing pine trees. They're so rugged and majestic all at the same time, and they produce the very best pine nuts. Emi and his little chums go crazy in the summertime to collect them, and carefully crack them out of their protective cases to eat.



The only issue that I have with these beauties concerns the sticky resin that they secrete. In our garden we have a particularly lovely old pine tree that throws its shadow over a couple of garden benches. In the summertime this makes for the perfect shady spot to sit and read, whilst you keep a parental eye on the action down at the pool.

Recently Mr B sat down to read on his favourite bench whilst Emi was playing with his remote control submarine. When he came back inside and turned around it looked as though someone had run a paint roller back and forth across his butt. Nobody'll notice, he said sheepishly, when I pointed out the problem. But, honestly, the only people who wouldn't have noticed would have been the folk with the white sticks who were out walking their guide dogs.

I tried to wash the offending marks out of the fabric, but every stain remover that I could find between London and the Iberian peninsula had no effect whatsoever. I thought dark, uncharitable thoughts about what a klutz Mr B was.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I went and sat on the self-same bench to watch Emi perform some new and polished aquatic manoeuvre in the pool. In fairness he was yelling in that excited way kids do when they need your total attention RIGHT NOW, so in my defence I'm going to say that I was distracted by the drama of the moment. When I got back to the house after the performance, however, Mr B feigned great concern that I might have accidentally sat on the barbecue grill or something.  Grrr... . And of course I had to admit to having sat on the self-same bench that he'd got an earful for sitting on earlier.

Once again I was stumped as to  how I could get the offending stains out of the clothes.

I mentioned all of this to my friend (the Whippet Mummy) at a party on Saturday night (I know we're a wild and crazy pair!). Now the Whippet Mummy is a bit of a whizz when it comes to sorting out problems like this. Straight out of the blocks, and without a moment's hesitation, she advised me to try some WD40 lubricating oil. So I zipped over to the hardware store first thing Monday morning and bought myself a bottle.

Want to see a before picture?



Not a pretty sight, and bear in mind that this is after it's been through various wash cycles with various stain removing potions.



Yesterday Maxi and I spent a short period of time in the sunshine oiling and scrubbing the offending marks with a nail brush on the picnic table outside. The really stubborn bits we rubbed with kitchen roll soaked in surgical spirit. And this is what we got for our labours:




Amazing or what? I was seriously impressed. Admittedly they do have a slightly petrochemical whiff about them, but another wash with strong detergent ought to sort that out. The back of the WD40 bottle boasts that it's also great stuff for getting rid of chewing gum if you ever happen to get that matted into your clothes.

So now I'm passing on my new stain-removing tip: when all else fails reach for the WD40!

All the best,

Bonny x
As shared on SYC

Friday 13 June 2014

Maxi missing in action ...

I've had a pretty terrible few days. I haven't been able to think straight or to write anything.

You see what's happened is that we've suffered a couple of bereavements: both my father-in-law and his older brother, my husband's much-loved only uncle, have died within a very short space of time. Papa J passed away back in March, and TiĆ³ F passed away on Monday. They were our much-loved patriarchs, who'd lived through some pretty tough times and had the very best stories to tell. But it's all too raw and personal to write about. What I can say is that they have left a gashing hole in our family circle that will never be filled.

Then to make a really bad situation worse Maxi went missing, and it felt like I'd also lost a child. Emi was really upset, and I was really upset because my little boy was upset and because I was upset to have lost Maxi, who means the world to me. The already-sad house felt empty and haunted by his absence.


On Tuesday he was taken from our back garden, where we thought he would be safe and well, whilst we went to our uncle's funeral. Since then I've spent sleepless nights, pacing around, wondering where he was, and what was going on in his little furry head. Did he understand what was happening? Were they being nice to him, the people who had taken him? Was he missing me as much as I was missing him?

And in the middle of all my misery I started to think of those poor parents of little Madeline McCann. Now I'm not for a moment suggesting that my loss was anything to equal the awfulness of their loss. But I had a small sense of how terrible it must be for them to have the never-ending uncertainty as to what has happened to their little girl. The not knowing bit is a torture; the dark corners of your mind suck you into a black abyss where you imagine the most awful outcomes.

Now having written all of the above, and, at the risk of being accused of being a drama-queen, I am delighted to report that Maxi has been returned safe and well. It's taken days of frantic phone calls and multiple visits to our local police station to track him down and get him back, but back he has happily come.


And I'm so very happy to have him with me again, and you can rest assured he's enjoying an obscene amount of cuddles and treats. So this week my very special Friday Find is my darling little Maxi.


All the best,


Bonny x

As shared on Friday Finds