Unwrapping Sculptures at Kew.

Saturday 1472 – 12th May 2012

Hello again everyone.. The weeks are rushing past at an alarming rate aren’t they! So what did I do with the 1472nd Saturday that I (hopefully) have left on this planet.

I went to the very famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London. I took advantage of only the 2nd sunny day here for many weeks. I was rather pleased with myself because this is the first time I’ve driven into London proper  ( still not into the congestion zone thankfully, though charges don’t apply on a Saturday anyway) .. No big deal really I know but I have always been nervous about driving in London as the traffic is pretty horrendous and the North Circular Road is a bit notorious !

I certainly wouldn’t have even contemplated it without my SatNav; one piece of technology that I have really embraced.  I used to be a map-aholic you know , always having one on my knee when I was a passenger. Indeed I took the responsibility for getting myself and the driver safely to our destination very seriously!!.  In a rather childlike way I used to enjoy a long journey that covered several pages of my map book; counting off each page as I turned it over and announcing “Only 3 more pages to go” or “we’re nearly at the edge of another page”

Map reading is easy enough when there are 2 of you but now I wonder how I ever managed to find my way anywhere when I was in the car on my own.  Having to keep stopping to look at a map was tedious in the extreme and it was never any good me just listing road numbers or place names I had to pass through because I could never remember them. London would definitely have been a No No !

Anyway enough of the journey lets’ get back to Kew.  Firstly I wish it wasn’t so far away as the drive takes nearly 2 hours – I usually go by public transport but the drive to the train station, train, tube and walk takes even longer and I end up exhausted before I get there !

Kew Gardens are glorious and so much to see. I strongly recommend it and if you are lucky enough to be able to go you need a whole day so don’t try to factor in anything else. Now I could show you lots of photos of plants ( and I will at some point over on Photomania ) but that would be a bit ordinary wouldn’t it !! 

So instead I’m concentrating on an exhibition called David Nash at Kew – A Natural Gallery which officially opens on the 9th of June but which was being set up while I was there.

Here’s a bit from Kew’s website –

“David Nash, one of the UK’s most prolific sculptors, is exhibiting his work at Kew Gardens. The exhibition, which opens on 9 June 2012, includes sculptures, installations, drawings and film in place throughout the Gardens, glasshouses, and exhibition spaces.

Nash will also work at Kew on a ‘wood quarry’ from April 2012, creating new pieces for the exhibition using trees from the Gardens that have come to the end of their natural life.”

You can read more about David Nash himself here

The photos I’m showing you I am calling David Nash – Unwrapped at Kew. I took them because sculpture is my favourite art form and the work looks exciting even when it’s wrapped up in cling film stuff; a sneak preview for you!!  I’m showing you the black charred ones but these are not the only type. I can’t wait to go back and visit again when it opens officially as I love  outdoor sculpture and David’s work is gorgeous; strong and organic.

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You can read lots of stuff about Kew gardens here , it’s well worth having a look, the website is packed with lots of information and loveliness 🙂

 Just going back to what I said about technology earlier in this post, apart from your phone and computer which are obvious what piece of technology, or maybe some other sort of gadget, do you think has made your life very much easier??   I’d love to hear about it.

Bye from the Saturday Girl until next week 🙂

P.s. If you don’t already know I also have a daily photography blog called Helen’s Photomania which you can find here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look

Flooding in a Drought

Saturday 1473 – 5th May 2012

I watched the FA cup final today with my son and was going to write about what a great victory Liverpool had over Chelsea but I’ve changed my mind… largely because they didn’t have any sort of victory over Chelsea let alone a great one !!!

So instead I’m going to write about (and show you a couple of photos of ) flooded Cambridgeshire in the middle of a drought and when there’s a hosepipe ban in most of the South East of England !!  If you think that doesn’t make sense read on.. ..

The last 18 months ( before April that is) have been the driest in East Anglia for 100 years. Apparently in a good year we only get 2/3rds of the average rain the rest of the UK gets. In 2011 we only got 2/3rds of 2/3rds if you get my drift! It’s serious in this region because we grow so many of the nations crops, for example a third of the nations potatoes.

Ironically a hose pipe ban was introduced by Anglian water on the 5th April and it hasn’t stopped raining since. April has been the wettest on record and there are floods everywhere. I wouldn’t want to be wading out to sit on these benches would you??

Heres a bit from Anglian Waters website where they explain why all this flooding has less of an impact on the “hidden drought” than we imagine it should –

“unfortunately, it’s not going to make much of a dent on underground water levels unless it persists for many more weeks, possibly months.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to refill our reservoirs, and some of them are recovering quite well. But the challenge we have is that they are starting from a very low level, following so many months of below average rainfall.

“Our aquifers – the water stores that you cannot see – are also starting from a very low level. The difficulty we have is that they take longer to be affected by rainfall, and that’s why these downpours won’t fundamentally change the situation.”

What happens to the rain?

  • At this time of year, a lot of rainfall is absorbed by growing trees and plants. When the weather gets warmer, much is also lost to evaporation.
  • The ground is very hard, because of the lack of rain over the last two years. This means that it takes longer for water to soak into the ground, with more water ‘running off’ into drains, rivers, and streams.
  • Once the soil does start to absorb the water, it acts like a dry sponge, recharging itself. Only once this ‘sponge’ is saturated can excess water start to make its way into aquifers.
  • Anglian Water captures a lot of the rain that flows into the rivers, and pumps it into reservoirs. Most of these have recovered well following the recent rainfall – but reservoirs only supply half of the drinking water we need in our region.

Ciaran continued: “We’ve got to be careful not to let the recent rainfall mask the ‘hidden drought’ that still exists in our groundwater stores. These aquifers are still notably low. It takes longer for them to be affected by drought, but it also takes longer for them to recover when it rains – many months, in some cases.”

But it’s not as straightforward as that. Anglian water admits on it’s website to leakage of 

“around six cubic metres per kilometre of pipe in our network. That’s compared to an industry average of just under 11 cubic metres”

and goes on to say that it will spend £14 million on tackling leakage. Their profits reported in June 2011 were said to be £709 million. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!!!

I’m sure they’re not alone in either leakage or profit !   An article in The Independent as long ago as July 2010 stated that “3,300,000,000 litres are lost every single day through leakage”  

Yes that does say EVERY SINGLE DAY ! and I doubt that has improved enormously. if you’ve got time have a read as it goes on to say that water companies are restricted by the regulator Ofwat who dictates how much they can spend on leaks! Surely that can’t be right?? If it is the world has indeed gone mad!

My own personal water supply actually comes from Cambridge Water rather than Anglian water and 97% of the water supplied by them comes from underground aquifers but maybe because of better management of leaks?? we don’t actually have a “Temporary Usage Ban” as they call it though I don’t think it likely that anyone is going to be using a hosepipe for some time anyway !! 

Oh and this is what happens if you rely too much on your SatNav – There is a road under this car which is beside a pub where I had lunch with a friend of mine. The person who was driving it was apparently following their SatNav to get to the Pub – there are 2 roads and this is the wrong one !!!

SatNav users beware!

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What’s happening in your region weather wise?  Are you having extremes of weather too?  I’d be interested to hear your stories.

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Goodbye from Saturday Girl until next week or join me every day on my other blog Helen’s Photomania here   where you’ll find lots more photos.

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