This morning, as I baked my pain au chocolat, I looked out of the window to see if there was any activity on the bird feeder – none at all, though perhaps because some fat little furball has been scoffing everything. What I did get to see however was a bizarre Mexican standoff between our neighbour’s cat and a cat I haven’t seen before. It went on for several minutes, such that even after the pain au chocolat came out of the oven and I had made two lattes they were still in exactly the same position. I did wonder if it was a prank involving taxidermied cats, but they showed just about enough sign of life to allay my fears.
We popped on the overground one stop to Rotherhithe, and on getting to the midpoint of the tunnel @potoft decided that it was an appropriate point to try rejigging her sock. After a brief scramble to refit her shoe, we emerged into the sun at Rotherhithe. Walking towards the river, we popped into the Brunel Museum, which I must say is one of the most disappointing museums I’ve visited (I’ve been to a pencil museum, I know what I’m talking about). For £3 you get to look around a gallery space the size of my lounge with some boards on the Thames Tunnel. Downstairs we watched a video on the life of IK Brunel which had the same background music to every schools programme I watched as a child. Unfortunately the video didn’t really say much about the Thames Tunnel, or even explain the respective involvement of Marc and Isambard, or on some occasions which Brunel they were talking about (not helped by the fact it didn’t treat matters chronologically).
On some dates you can visit the original shaft, but this didn’t seem to be an option today. I think getting to look in the shaft would make admission worthwhile, but I didn’t really learn anything, however, it is something ticked off the bucket list.
The one highlight were the card diaroma/stereoscopic viewers, one of which is artistically reproduced below.
The highlight really was a model of the Prince Albert rail bridge over the Tamar incorporated into a bench, and to see this you don’t even need to pay admission.
Next we pottered over to the Mayflower pub and had two halves of ‘Noble’s craft lager’. As someone who isn’t that keen on lager, whenever I see an independent brewery’s lager, I will try it (Korev by St Austell being an excellent example). It was quite enjoyable, with a tang reminiscent of some Belgian beers. Researching it when I returned home, I discovered it is actually a Greene King (though there’s no evidence of this on the pump clip) – probably the best Greene King beer I’ve tried. Though for context, my opinion of Greene King is such that if I had known it was a Greene King beer I wouldn’t have tried it, so clearly some marketing guru has some nouse.
The area around the Mayflower is very much like Wapping with some remaining warehouses, and the Mayflower is a particularly charming pub, which I intend to return to for the opportunity of having an 11 cheese English cheeseboard.
Sitting on the decking at the back of the Mayflower, we could sit and see the historic warehouses of Wapping that you don’t normally get to see and the multitude of boats going up and down the river.
Having drunk up, we followed the Thames Path East and came across this rather delightful bronze of one of the Pilgrim Fathers and a modern child (and status dog!). Any visitor from the New World can guarantee good luck by putting a token in the Pilgrim’s pocket.
Walking down to Surrey Water we had the treat of spotting some coots, and more importantly, some cootlings. One moorhen discovered how protective of their nests coots can be, as it was chased round and round a floating platform, before escaping to the safety of a fence. There were two nests, one still under construction, and it was nice to see the two prospective parents working together to build a nest, with the father fetching reeds and bits of straw and the mother arranging them into a nest.
The nest with the cootlings was a much more well proportioned affair and was almost entirely made out of natural materials and the youngsters seemed to be having fun in the water.
Dragging ourselves away, we walked up to Stave Hill and enjoyed the view from the top before walking on through Russia Dock Woodland where we spotted at least two herons.
Arriving at Greenland dock, where organic matter is in much shorter supply, we found one coot had built a nest of a much more impressive scale, but largely expanded by the use of plastic bags.
Also in the dock was what I think is a Great Crested Grebe, and in the bright sunlight we were able to watch diving through the water.