Thursday, 25 July 2019


Not much of a theme to the last couple of weeks for me, just scraps of this and that.  If you are in Britain, I hope you enjoyed the hot weather - or at least weren't too uncomfortable in it.    We have a mobile air conditioning unit which can sit unused in the cupboard from one year's end to the next, but just occasionally, on a day like today, it's worth its weight in gold. I'll try and remember how much I appreciated it, next time I find myself moaning some chilly day about it cluttering up the cupboard under the stairs.  

A few days ago we had a visitor from the balcony.  This pigeon has been patrolling around for a while waiting for seeds to fall from the bird feeder, and took the chance to explore somewhere new - our dining room.  It was a little puzzled at the unfamiliar surroundings but soon settled on top of a book case, well out of reach.  It seemed to have a high boredom threshhold and after an hour or so of waiting for it to do something, I put some food outside, opened the door and left the room. When I returned a few minutes later it had decided to go out and eat the food.  There was a little bird poo to clear but not much.  I'm hoping it's not got the idea that flying inside our house ensures you get fed... so I'm keeping the door shut for a few days, just in case.  

During the hot spell I felt glad I'd made a mini (very mini) pond which I put in an isolated corner.  It's basically just an extra large plant trough sunk in the earth, with a few dead branches around it, a large rock and a few inches of pebbles inside, and a bit of water weed.  I'm assuming that creatures have been drinking from it - although how wild animals ever find water is a mystery to me.  It is also popular with small insects, and since there are swifts around, which feed on insects, I'm happy with that.  It's sited near a beehive, and maybe bees drink too. Who knows? I like to feel I'm doing my bit to keep the wheel of nature turning anyhow! 

I happened to spot a large old scrapbook in a junkshop. I like to buy scrapbooks if they are not expensive, and this one wasn't.  My criterion is whether I could sell it for more on eBay if I get fed up of it, and I am sure I could. I've really enjoyed looking through it. 

  This is my favourite page.  The fashions are from around 1910, and it looks such a delightful scene, doesn't it? I think probably somewhere on the Italian coast.  I've been reading "My Bolivian Aunt" by designer and photographer Cecil Beaton, in which he describes how his aunt had lots of glamorous women friends around this period, 1910, whose clothes made such a huge impression on him when he was small that they influenced his style forever after. 

The scrapbook has quite a lot of variety.  Whoever owned it was fond of brightly coloured die-cut scraps depicting comic characters, flowers and butterflies, dressed up animals, and people in foreign costumes - some of the nationalities being rather hard to guess in my opinion! 

I went for a movie with a friend to JW3, a Jewish cultural centre which runs all kinds of interesting events. We had a cup of coffee and I snapped this through the window - they've created a kids  "beach" with a paddling pool, sand, and a backdrop of Eliat, Israel. In winter they have an icerink in the space and it's fun to sit and watch everyone playing. I don't know why some of the people seem to have haloes round them, some polarization in the window glass maybe.   

And here are the kids having races at  our annual local garden party.  This party has been going as long as living memory. When we first came here old folk were talking about how it had been in the 1930s.  Every year it is basically the same, with variations depending on what people feel like doing. And that is, when you think of it, amazing, since the area has changed so much.  When we came, the area was very run down, full of bedsitters and squats, and the housing was collapsing, literally collapsing.  Now it is considered quite desirable, but people still keep to the same routine for this party.

By day, it's like a fete, with stalls, BBQ, tombola and organised races, and several tugs of war.  In the evenings people come out weather permitting with a bit of a picnic or wine, and an 89 year old neighbour and his excellent jazz band perform (unamplified thank goodness) until about 10 PM.    Everyone relaxes.  The weather was okay this year, but when it rains they sit under an awning.     I think the pictures below are of the egg and spoon race. 

One elderly neighbour who loves cats has been producing artfully designed cat cakes for many years. Each year they are a bit different. Here's this year's design.

 It feels good to keep up a tradition, there are not enough traditions around.   

I met an old school friend a couple of days ago. It was blistering hot but the Royal Academy was a reasonable temperature and we saw an exhibition of a French fin-de-siècle artist called Félix Vallotton.  Some of his work was photographically naturalistic, some was black and white prints and there were also a few surrealistic pictures, like this one.   The subtitle of the exhibition was "Painter of Disquiet" and that about summed him up for me. I felt somehow uncomfortable with his pictures, he was very talented but I wasn't sure what he was trying to convey. 

Still, it was nice to see my friend and catch up.  And I think that's about all I have done, apart from working on the book, babysitting, and dealing with a few rather difficult incidents, actually.  And the weather is  set to cool down tomorrow,  which is good.  Someone is coming over that we haven't seen for 20 years, and I would rather like to cook her a meal without giving everyone heatstroke!  


  1. Well, you've been busy! And in the heat, too. I can't believe it's hotter where you are than it is where I am.
    Tomorrow will probably be different.
    I love your tiny little pond. I notice that you have crocosmia growing by it. That plant has become a huge problem for me. It is invasive here and never blooms and I pull it and pull it and pull it to no avail.
    That little fete is such a fine tradition!

  2. I just left a comment, but I am not sure it went through, so I will do it again! You can delete one if they both come through. As to how animals detect water they do it by smelling it. Kudos to you for creating the little pond in the garden. It can be a lifeline for some animals during extended periods of intense heat. The dove that came into the house made straight for the books so obviously this is a high class individual. I can understand that you don't want this to be a regular practice but you should at least feel a little flattered that your house was chosen!

  3. Most days are busy work interspersed with such scraps of fun and i hope you have a lot more fun and a lot fewer of the difficult incidents.

  4. Stay cool, here in the humid South of the USA, yesterday was our fist day with the temperature below 90 F since early May. It feels like summer should be over and we still have at least two more months.

  5. I love that the neighborhood has had this tradition for so long and keeps it going...You've done some interesting things and I do hope your heat subsides. We've had heat, humidity and lots of rain. I went to get groceries today in a downpour and more is on the way if distant thunder is any indication. Hopefully, you'll have a lovely meal with your friends!

  6. How wonderful that your neighbourhood keeps up the traditional garden party! It sounds like a really nice occasion to meet everyone in a relaxed way.
    The scrap book page with the fashionable people is beautiful. A good find!
    I hope the "dealing with a few rather difficult incidents" you mention at the end of your post was successful.

  7. Hello Jenny, Those are just the types of activities with which to keep busy in summer. I prefer not having wildlife in the house, but at least you got a good story out of it. Good scrapbooks can be very personal, like a diary, at the same time documenting the popular culture of its period.

  8. i hope difficult incidents were not hurtful my dear Jenny!

    you observation for bird is so engaging :)

    i too try to strict right after being so generous to bird visit during my morning mediation :)

    seeing someone deer after such long time is such a great pleasure and excitement :) hope you enjoying his or her company at the moment

    your scarp book is fascinating ,i loved peeking in it ,these stunning laddies have elegant outfits

    what a glorious tradition to have race every year ,everyone looks having great fun together .socialization and health both along

    i agree such painting cause bit unrest and confusion about painter

    enjoy your wonderful summers :)

  9. What a coincidence - I am about to post my pigeon problem here too.
    Love the photo of the young children enjoying an egg and spoon race - they look so carefree and totally absorbed in what they are doing.
    I agree about the painting by Félix Vallotton - I can't make it out - it appears to be a landscape full of women undressing, some look happy to do so whilst others do not.

  10. From pigeons to scrapbooks and picnics. All rather delightful, especially to continuing of the picnic tradition.

  11. You always pack so many interesting things into your posts, Jenny.

    I am sure that I would not have been so calm if a pigeon paid me a visit like one did in your house. My cats, however, would be thrilled.

  12. That scrapbook looks like it's straight out of the Golden Age of Illustration. I'd look to go through it!

    1. That should be "I'd love to go through it!"

  13. I was glad to get back to relatively cool Costa Rica after a brief trip to Spain where it was 40 degrees...never has a siesta in an air conditioned room seemed such a good idea!

  14. Hello, I am glad our heat wave ended, it did feel awful. I love the mural of the beach. The cupcakes are so cute. Having a pigeon in your dining room would be a surprise. It is nice you friend is coming for a visit. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend!

  15. I'm glad you survived the heat wave, Jenny. It has finally cooled off here in Tennessee and the last two nights almost felt like autumn. The older I get the less I can tolerate heat. When I lived in San Angelo, Texas it was often over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) for MONTHS.

    That pigeon who visited your house is absolutely amazing! I've never seen anything like that.
    I don't know which I like better - - the old scrapbook that you discovered or those wonderful cat cupcakes!

  16. G'day, Jenny. I responded to your comment in my own post. You must have misread what I wrote...bungy jumping was the brain-child of a New Zealander...Kiwi - as we Aussie's affectionately call our neighbours across the Tasman Sea - .AJ Hackett. The first bungy jumping site was - "Hackett’s first commercial bungy site at Kawarau Gorge, near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island".

    What a wonderful photographer Cecil Beaton was.

    Great post, always. :)

  17. It has been hot, and we do not have any a/c at all, so I'm quite relived it's become wetter and a great deal cooler. I always fill both our bird baths with water and very often see bees drinking from them. In fact all the birds ever do is flap around in them until there is no water water left. I'm not sure I'd be as calm as you were about having a pigeon in my dining room!

  18. I enjoy your scraps posts--LOL! So much to take in. Nice to have time to catch up with a friend. I find that painting disquieting, also. But I got a kick out of the little cat cakes. ;)

  19. I love the idea of an annual neighborhood garden party. What a great way to keep in touch or meet your neighbors!

    My boss and his family just spent three weeks in the U.K. I haven't talked to him yet to ask him about the weather. They spent a good chunk of time in Scotland where it seemed to be really cool.

  20. What a lovely post, Jenny. I like your interest in scrap books! I think I will try that. I also like your little pond and will definitely make one in my little garden. How do you refresh it! Your annual event sounds lovely and how great that your 89 year old neighbour still plays. Wonderful!

  21. It's amazing to see a bird being quiet in the house! The pigeon has a excellent threshold value.

  22. Hello Jenny, yours is a delightful post and, considering the heat, you've done a lot over the past while :D)
    Your birdie visitor enjoyed itself indeed!
    Love the mini-pond and I'm sure many, many insects and creatures welcome the drink... including the bees, they need the water too. It looks lovely with the sticks beside it, a little oasis.
    The garden party looked like fun and I thought those cat cakes were delightful.
    Nice to see the photos from the scrapbook. Also, interesting to read your thoughts on the art exhibition.
    Cheers and I hope your reunion and meal went well xx

  23. Jenny, I think you have very busy summer: parties, exhibition, friends, dove...,
    I liked the party in your area is amazing, many people having fun, childre with spoon and egg race, it's a pleasure to see that.
    Hugs and happy summer!

  24. It shows how slack I am that I have missed this post till now!
    I find birds that enter the house become disorientated and fail to find the way back out for a while. Clashing into windows does not help I suppose.
    Even if they return few remember how to leave.
    Kids have so much to do these days, we often were dumped into the backgreen and the area round about, safe in those days, probably just as safe today but mums are more neurotic now. Summertime in 50's early 60's Sunday schools would take trips out of town for picnics, not now.
    Félix Vallotton, I rarely wonder what a male painter is trying to say when he offers a variety of naked or near naked women to view....
    Sorry about your 'incidents.' I hope they are resolved.

  25. My father had a scrapbook of all his holiday trips - not just the usual photos and boarding passes but all sorts of trivia like bus tickets, café receipts and cloakroom tickets. Goodness knows why he felt the need for such exhaustive memorabilia!

    I like the kids' beach, complete with appropriate background. But they wouldn't have much luck going for a swim!

    The annual garden party looks like fun. Nice that old traditions like the egg and spoon race still survive. Was there a three-legged race or blind man's buff?

  26. Just came across this on the iplayer and thought of you.

  27. Slowly catching up on blogs and oh, I loved seeing your garden party. I can just imagine it -- what a perfect spot for it! Love the idea of your own fete with the stalls and the music, picnics on the lawn. Just perfect. The exhibition sounds interesting -- not sure if it's my cup of tea, but you never know. I remember seeing T's FB the pigeon story. So glad you got it out and hope it doesn't return for one hates to keep the doors closed when it's nice! So many good things here it all has me smiling! (Oh, and I love your scrap book. I have one somewhat similar with the Victorian things that my friend in France sent me. I don't know what to DO with it since I'm not doing a lot of collage anymore but I like looking at it!

  28. The outdoor get-together looks like fun - the kids seem to be having a blast.

    I like that little pool. I bet the bees do appreciate the water source.

  29. A lovely scrapbook of a post. It gives me an idea of an ordinary week or two Chez English Travel Writer. I like what you do. A bit of everything and all of it pleasant.

  30. Love your blog Jenny! Always fun to see what folks are up to in the UK!

  31. I love the visiting dove and the outdoor gathering of neighbors. Louisiana is known for its outdoor festivals, and very often it's hot. There was a Jazz and Blues Festival in the park near our house in September and it was so hot, I just worked my shift at the neighborhood table and returned to my air-conditioned house.


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