The carnival is over

After an end to August that was bathed in glorious sunshine, Autumn has arrived under a bit of a cloud – literally. For several days now I have been pricking my ears at the sound of rain spattering on the kitchen skylight and have been caught in a few unexpected downpours (only to find myself sweating it out in my mac when the clouds lift ten minutes later). Suddenly layers – and umbrellas – are the things I need to be thinking about.

I was walking back from East Finchley on Monday afternoon – the sky drab with cloud and the air heavy with humidity – and decided to pop into Long Lane Pasture.

It’s been two months since I first discovered it during a geocaching exploit with stepmum-B. On a warm summer day back in July, we had plodded curiously along the grassy pathways, stopping to admire a bright flower, taste some small golden plums or wonder at an unusual plant. Profusions of ripening blackberries, just a few short weeks from plump purple readiness, lined the paths and we had been delighted to find a patch of cool relief under a draping willow tree by the railway fence.

LLP July montage

Since then, the blackberries have all but gone and with things having been mowed and generally tidied, it was clear that the volunteers had been hard at work.

LLP Sept (3)

LLP Sept (4)

LLP Sept (2)

This grass circle (above left) contains 17 different species of native grass which, apart from being hand-weeded, are left to grow wild.

And speaking of native, the middle picture below is a Guelder Rose (viburnum opulus), native to the British Isles and named for Gelderland, a Dutch province. It grows in hedgerows and still grows wild in the London Borough of Barnet although this particular shrub was planted in the Pasture. Birds love the berries but they are acidic and slightly poisonous for people.

LLP Sept (1)

I also got a gander at some rose hips (above left) – which I’d only ever experienced during my childhood as ‘jelly-in-a-jar’ – and all to the accompaniment of bees buzzing away industriously. On the way out I put some coins in the donation box by the gate to support the efforts of the volunteers who tend this little patch for the community.

I continued on towards home and as I passed Victoria Park, I noticed something unusual on the grass.

Victoria Park

No, the aliens have not landed. Rather over the last ten days, the park has been playing host to a kiddies’ carnival – rides, bouncy castles, you know the sort of thing I mean. I’d grown used to it on my morning walks. But on Monday it had vanished leaving nothing but the marked grass as testament to their stay. With the rain, it will no doubt green up even more quickly than usual but I was astonished at how much of an impact the ten days had made.

And speaking of astonished, the garden at Gidday HQ continues to surprise and delight, particularly given the absence of green-coloured-thumbs. Small sprays of roses keep bursting forth, the insects continue to buzz busily and a flourish of striking red poppies has cropped up along the garden fence.

ChezGiddayFlowers Sept17

I did not plant any of these but most days I wander out to visit them, enjoying their delicate freshness and vigour and wondering what other surprises might be in store. I’m also flabbergasted at their undaunted survival and the unequivocal claim they have made at the home of one so horticulturally-challenged.

Nature is a marvellous thing isn’t it?

As I type this, my feet are tucked into my cosy sheepskin slippers. The lounge room is noticeably darker without the sun streaming in and while the desk lamp illuminates the keyboard under my fingers, the floor lamp in the corner behind me casts soft light across the room. The days are already feeling shorter.

Yes peeps, the carnival is definitely over. Long summer days are already yielding to brisk autumn nights. The kids are back at school and daily commutes are crowded with the busy and the anxious again. The steady march of annual comfort telly – the flurry of The Great British Bake Off and the flounce of Strictly Come Dancing – has begun.

Nevertheless I’m hoping that it’s not quite over yet. A bit like the roses at Gidday HQ, just when I think they have finished their annual flowering, their scented petals burst forth again, enchanting me one last time.

Peach roses.JPG

So if you are looking for me, I’ll be the one still smelling the roses…and keeping my eyes peeled for a late burst of summer.

London Love…Fab Finchley

It’s been a little while since I shared a Fab Finchley foray with you so here’s the post to remedy that.

Yesterday I was off for a visit to the physiotherapist. While not the first physiotherapist I have ever encountered, it was in fact the first visit to this particular one who lives a short stroll away on the other side of my local park.

So last night I set off in the warm sunshine (yes still very warm at ten minutes to six o’clock) and before long my strolling took me across Victoria Park. London has been blessed with a few glorious weeks of summer (the newspapers are calling it a heatwave *guffaw*) and the park was dotted with people making the most of the weather – kids, runners, families, dog walkers. It seemed that everyone was moseying around the paths, enjoying a moment on a shaded bench or sprawling on the grass beneath the bright blue sky.

I had walked almost entirely across the park when I was struck by how vibrant and lush it looked. It wasn’t that there were loads of flowers out as there are at other times (I found my first daffs of the season here) but it seemed that everywhere I looked was literally vibrating with energy and colour.

Stopped in my tracks by the beauty of this scene, I turned around to see this.


I smiled quietly to myself. For a few moments I stood there, taking it all in, before turning back and heading on to my appointment.

And it reminded me once again how much I love living here.

ps…regular Gidday-ers maybe wondering about the lack of birthday posting since the big day on August 1st. It’s been a busy ol’ time but rest assured I’ll be updating you soon…

Snow Stories…Fabulous Finchley

This is probably not the first snow post you will read today, nor is it likely to be the last you will stumble across particularly if you are reading anything about the UK. 

But I can’t help it. I get all excited and Australian when the white stuff falls so I beg your pardon today if I seem unoriginal.

Last night’s snow fall here in London has left 4-5cm of pristine whiteness over Fabulous Finchley as I discovered on opening the curtains this morning…

My snowy back garden

 …so I quickly dressed, cleared the front path…

Not that I want to seem like a big girl or anything but this shovelling  snow sh*t is hard work!
 …and set off to snap some of snowy Finchley.

A couple of inches covered the cars in the street – that’s quite a bit of snow for Londoners. (I can hear some of my followers from colder climes scoffing about now).

I passed a few early on in my snowy shuffle that were committed to business as usual…

Determined local restaurant staff braving the elements…
…as was this mad jogger. Just silly behaviour really!

 …but undeterred, I shuffled on until I reached my destination…

…and began to snap away.
Taken from the main gate above – I love the Narnia-esque quality of this shot (could that be Mr Tumnus up ahead?)

No tennis today…
…but plenty of action on the swings!
Families were out in force and it seemed that in every corner I beheld a flurry of activity…

There was much ‘work-in progress’ going on as well and even this poor pooch got caught up in the adventure of it all.

Doggone it! It looked much smaller before…

Maybe he should have paid better attention…

Helpful sign??
Anyway getting back to the action, it appeared that the park had been invaded by a few rather cool customers…
Hats off to the clever clogs who made this one!
Is it my turn on the swings yet?
Nice ‘do’
Do you think this one’s on the property ladder yet?
This seated cutie made me laugh out loud
Shrek in snow…love your work!

By now, all this shuffling about glove-less in the snow had developed me a yearning for a nice warming cuppa and the toasty cosiness of Gidday HQ so I headed for home…

Leaving Finchley’s snowy playground
A fabulous splash of colour in the wintery day
Gorgeous architecture just around the corner
Almost home…

 …and arrived, wide-eyed and happy and filled with that magical feeling that only a Winter Wonderland, and the anticipation of a steaming mug of hot chocolate, can bring.

Hope you find a little of your own magic this Sunday.

Fabulous Finchley…Misty-eyed

Last weekend it was time to do a little more exploring of the new ‘hood so I decided to wander down to Victoria Park just a 10 minute stroll away. 

The park was proposed by Henry C Stephens to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887 and was finally opened in 1902, a year after her death. It’s not a large park and it’s kind of set back from the street and tucked away behind the lawn bowls club but it was originally part of Colby Farm where Charles Dickens penned parts of Martin Chuzzlewit – or so the sign says – so there’s a touch of literary significance as well.

So I wandered around for about an hour, pausing to snap gorgeous pic after gorgeous pic. Bear in mind as you look at these that it was about midday when I arrived!

Amazing misty sun photo – I was stoked when this pic turned out!
Entering though the Ballards Lane gate
Trees in the mist
Following the winding path
Rooms with a view
An avenue of trees through the centre of the park
Tennis anyone?

Is the fog starting to lift?
A place to rest
The local cafe and the place to book your tennis court

Backlit by the sun
The sun finally comes out and reveals brilliant Autumn colour

How wonderful it is to find so much inspiration just around the corner. I can’t wait to explore a little more.

I also have to pause for a shout out to HTC. All of those photos were taken with my phone and it’s getting increasingly difficult to justify taking my camera anywhere with quality pics like this!

Until next time peeps…