Friday, 6 July 2012

Tumbleweeds, Hampton Court and Flirting with Bees

We have started working in Early Clearing this week and it feels quite strange.  We have had to move from the familiarity of the Enquiry Unit working with a small team to the newly set up arrangement in the Mansion Site computer lab that normally buzzes with students during term-time. Now all the undergraduates have completed their summer terms and sat their exams, the only students around are the post grads with longer deadlines like me, or those who are preparing for re-sits in August.  Even the library feels strange with piles of books everywhere and furniture in disarray as renovations are carried out ready for the start of the new academic year in September.  For the next two weeks our Clearing team is the same size as it was in the Enquiry Unit so we are tucked away in a corner of the lab with vast expanses of empty desks filling the rest of the space.  I have visions of tumbleweeds rolling down the aisles any minute!  We then expand into 8 teams with the ranks swelled with newbies at the start of A level week.  Throughout Clearing we have a rota to write for a daily Clearing diary .  If you are thinking of applying to Greenwich for a Clearing place, check it out for lots of useful advice – mine was the second and dealt with money issues – a subject always close to a student’s heart!


Thinking of tumbleweeds and Clearing I came across this wonderful piece:

All hail the tumbleweed, denizen of deserted steppe, itinerant ditherer of the dusty plains. It goes wherever the wind and the land dictate, often shedding seeds as it bumbles. Around boulder and over hillock it canters, cantankerously, seeming to ask as it rolls by: “Why do you notice me?” It speaks – whether we listen or understand – of life past and passing on; of wide open spaces and perhaps loneliness; of a spirit at once opportunistic and inscrutable.
How’s that for waxing lyrical? I wish I could write like that. However, I really meant to write about my annual trip with him-at-home to the Hampton Court Flower Show.  I much prefer it to Chelsea because it is easier to escape the rather annoying moneyed weirdo people to admire the wonderful plants and landscaping in peace.  I love even the journey there which entails either a walk along the river checking out the lovely houseboats,

 or strolling through the palace gardens with the backdrop of the Tudor Hampton Court Palace setting it all off perfectly.  I always have to get my fix of those amazing chimneys.

Hampton Court Palace chimneys
As we arrived we met Mr Bee-man who was having a sartorial challenge with his costume wings so a quick adjustment from yours truly and he was happy to pose for a pic.

Bee man 

That was before I proceeded to tell him all about our wonderful hives at the Avery Hill campus and probably went on a bit too long and too enthusiastically.

I love bees and they are so important to sustain our food supply and the well-being of our planet.  Over the last few years they have had a really hard time with populations being decimated by viruses, pesticides and loss of habitat.  I would love to have a beehive in our garden but it is much too small so we have lots of bee loving flowers growing instead.

I loved this garden of cacti and succulents set to resemble a coral reef.  It was so cleverly done, set up in a blue Perspex cube with a watery roof on a little island surrounded by a moat.  Standing in the cube I felt surrounded by water as the light played on the ripples

Coral Reef
This was a rather strange garden with peacocks, angels and floaty things  - even the idea of a stained glass window rendered in flowers – a very strange mish-mash in my view.

Victorian Fantasy

Stained glass window

There is always a themed competition for colleges and I had to admire this entry from the students at Hadlow College ( ), one of our partner colleges specialising in environmental (more bees!) agricultural, equine, and animal courses.  The theme must have been poetry or literature as this entry is called the Lady of Shalott. I wonder if it could have been improved with a few small onions around to give it an ironic note!

After a great day we staggered home.  I was very restrained and only bought two plants.  We changed trains at Waterloo and I was delighted to get the best view I have ever had of the new Shard building at London Bridge.
The Shard
Every time I travel up to London Bridge, I enjoy watching the London Quarter project develop; the demolition of several really grotty buildings progressing to a very large hole in the ground to the construction of the most elegant of spires. Then there is the expansion of the railway and changes to Borough Market. Watching the spectators on the viewing platforms has been just as fascinating. Why is it that it always seems to be men and small boys line up peering at building sites, gazing in fascination at large construction vehicles, and engrossed in the music of pile drivers?

Hampton Court Palace chimneys:

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