Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Signs of Autumn..

One of my colleagues brought in a Colchium bulb into work- they are also known as Autumn Crocus (for obvious reasons) or Naked Ladies!. The plants are famous for not needing to be planted in any soil in order for them to flower- simply placed on the side as a bare bulb and let the plant get on with it! As can be seen above- beautiful! :)


An Urban Farm in Dalston?? Yep thats right- in a disused shop in the east of London is FARM:shop which combines the ideas of sustainable food, the local community, ecology as well as hopefully a viable business!

The shops aims to grow much of its own vegetables on the premises, and uses hydroponics to be as sustainable as possible.

Tilapia are grown in vats - from which the water is used to fertilise the plants in a closed system.

There are even 3 very happy chickens kept on the roof of the shop! They provide eggs for the shop below to sell.

Hydroponics are used to grow greens for the cafe.

The fish in the tanks under the window and the water is circulated through the plants. At the end of the summer the fish are to be eaten.

Its a great idea and the staff were really friendly- highly recommended to pop in for a cuppa!!

2 mins from Dalston Junction station.

Leadenhall Market

I work close to Leadenhall Market and it was lovely to walk through it this morning when it was practically empty- which is unusual! It used to be a meat market and theres is a story about a Goose who escaped the slaughter of his compatriots and remained in the market as kind of a pet being fed by local bars- apparently he lived to the ripe old age of 38!

Such an amazing place in the heart of the City of London- now filled with pubs, cafes, restaurants and gift shops. Plus a great cheese shop! Yum! :)

Its even been used in the Harry Potter movies as a set for Diagon Alley.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Hackney City Farm

I'd never visited Hackney City Farm before- so as I had a day off today I decided to go and visit it. Its located in a corner of Haggerston Park in the East of London- probably about a 5 min walk from Hoxton overground station.

Its not a huge farm but I would really recommend visiting! They have a whole range of animals- from smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, a goose, pigeons, and loads of free range chickens and ducks. And they have a flock of sheep, some pigs, a couple of goats and a donkey.

There is also a vegetable garden, a cafe, and a shop where they sell eggs and plants.

The chickens are pretty much allowed to wander everywhere which is lovely to see! I was particularly liked a large white Silkie cockerel who was crowing pretty much constantly! When he found a piece of corn- he used a different sound to call his girl friends over - who all came running to see what he had found for them- it was really sweet to see how he looked after them!

I wonder if these are the animals I met at the Phoenix Garden Agricultural show last month?.

Def go and visit this lovely place if you are in the area!

Open: Tues- Sun 10-4:30 Free Entry.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

My Hero

Its not often you get to meet your hero.... :)

The Allotment in September

Ok so the allotment is just beginning to look a little tired as we come to the final full productive month in the year. But there are several plants at their peak in september- the autumn fruiting raspberries and blackberries are ripening their fruits in the late summer sun- making a very welcome snack to have when im up there. I must grow more soft fruit next year- these blackberries are delicious!!

The Rainbow chard at the front will beginning dying back as the cool nights approach but the kale behind should keep through the winter.

The apples are ready to pick- if you can find some that havent been munched on! Luckily we have a whole tree to pick from!

The Romanesco Cauliflower is growing well- although a few of the tips are distorted from where they had been pushing through the leaves- but should straighten up- cant wait to try this!

Black Tuscan Kale should last through the winter with fresh leaves to pick in mild periods.

Brocolli should be picked soon before the frosts begin

My yellow courgettes are in full pelt- how long can they keep going?!!

Are these edible? My Mushroom ID skills are not up to much- so dont think I can risk it which is a shame.

YUM! A couple of our really tasty apples from the tree!

With the cooler nights already arriving- many of the plants will stop fruit and leaf production- so all that is left to do is dig out the rest of the potatoes and start tidying up the summer crops, and begin to plan what I want to grow next year! :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Urban Physic Garden

I was walking through Southwark the other week and stumbled across a new urban garden- built on an old car park. Unfortunately for me I was in a hurry to meet my sisters as we were going to the theatre so didnt have much time to look around- so went to speak to the guy working there to ask when it was normally open to the public and he told me that actually that day was the last day it was open as it was being shut down- which was a shame- i dont find out why this was- perhaps lack of funding or short term lease of the site?? Either way- im sure it must have given the workers of the area a lovely place to come and walk around at lunchtime for the short time it was open. I think more places like this should be encouraged to be set up.

Everything was made in rasied beds and the floor covered in bark chips- a very simple idea and the whole place could be taken apart and rebuilt else where easily- and as no digging is required it could be set up in a whole range of derelict sites.

And the theatre was actually very good- went to watch Kevin Spacey in Richard III- im not really a Shakespeare fan- especially after a long day at work- it was a long show (just over 3 hours) but good fun!


I love seeing the seasons changing and these acorns that have been forming on the Oaks along Parkland Walk caught my eye on my way home from work- so I picked a few to take home with me.

The pottery Stoat I bought down in Cornwall on a holiday back in 2008- he is raku- which means his glaze is all crackled- i really like how realistic he looks! :)

Spirit Collection Tour @ The Natural History Museum

It was half term and I foolishly decided to go to the Natural History Museum. I love going to this museum but its the crowds that always prevent me from staying longer than 30 mins or so each time I visit. However this time I wasnt going to look round the main museum- but rather what is held in its basement. The Spirit Collection is where the museum keeps its specimens in alcohol that arent on display in the main museum- and these are held as a scientific resource for researchers to use to help in their studies. This area is not open to the general public apart from on these special tours.

I love the outside of this musuem- its beautiful!

The dissection room

The tour guide who informed me that photography wasnt normally allowed while on the tour- however then went on to say if she didnt see me taking photos then that was ok!

Inside each of these aluminium vats are filled with alcohol and hold the larger specimens that would not fit inside a jar- eg chimpanzees, komodo dragons and large mammals. Note the ceiling runners used to open and close the lids.



A giant Squid- this was huge! See a news article here on where it came from.

Different squid tentacles- either discs or hooked depending on the species.

And finally some of the flesh eating beetles used to clean carcasses!

Australian Landscape @ The British Museum

Every year the British Museum turns one of its front lawns into a recreation of a landscape from a different country- this year it was Australia- and ties in with an exhibition within the museum and is made in collaboration with Kew Gardens. In the past few years they have done China, South Africa and India.

I first visited the garden back in early May- where we had had some blustery cold weather so the garden really wasnt looking its best- but upon a return visit in late August really showed the plants surviving remarkably well the temps of a pretty awful British summer!

The grass trees always hold a soft spot for me as I have one myself that lives in a friends garden while I am currently garden-less! and these 2 below looked beautiful. I have to say a couple looked very worse for wear- but Xanthorrhoea are notorious for coming into this country with no roots at all- and then slowly dying. Indeed my X.glauca arrived with only 2 roots! But slowly regrew over time- but i know of many others that simply dont survive. These 2 below are probably over a hundred years old- which i believe makes looking after them something of a responsibility. They are all imported with a liscence to show they have been taken legally from teh wild from where the land had to be cleared- and would have otherwise been destroyed. And also luckily for me have proven to be hardy - especially with the winters we have been having recently.

My lovely Blue Grass Tree (X. glauca)

Me at the South African Garden @ The British Museum last year

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

I love cocktails, and I love secret London- so when i heard through the grape vine a new speakeasy bar had opened where to gain entrance you have to walk through a secret entrance in a fridge- i couldnt wait to try it out! In fact since then ive been back 3 times!

The bar is hidden in an American Diner near Spittalfields where you actually have to walk through the above fridge to get into the bar!

This underground speakeasy is a bit of fun and certainly a great place to take a date- it can be quiet early on in the evenings midweek but get there about 8 and its packed! I wouldnt spend the whole eve there but certainly worth stopping off to sample some well made cocktails!

So my advice is go and find the fridge and ask to see the Mayor....

Islington Ecology Centre

I've lived in Crouch End now for about 6 years and never visited the Islington Ecology centre until earlier this year completely by chance!

There is an unassuming entrance right by Finsbury Park station- which id walked past hundreds of times not knowing it was an entrance to a nature reserve!

The place is really beautiful and wild- with lots of different habitats created and is a far cry from the flat grass of finsbury park just across the road. The hold lots of different events on throughout the year- i believe the next one coming up was about wilderness survival.

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