For August, we received a number of spectacular entries, all of which could deserve an honourable mention. Some of them related to a rather royal delivery operation, but for reasons of State Security, we can't publish those... Let's just say that when you need this many tipper deliveries for your rose beds, then you are gardening at a different order of magnitude.
Anyway, the very well deserved winner for August is Josef, with this spectacular - and perhaps somewhat surprising if you haven't been to the quarry - view of Westerham on a summer morning!
Here we are delivering two loads of play pit sand to a former RN Dockyard. If you think that sounds strange, then read on...
Chatham became a Royal Naval Dockyard for the Thames area in Henry VIII's day - it was finally fully established in 1567 and delivered its first ship, HMS Sunne in 1586. The yard was decommissioned in 1984 and about a third of the original space occupied by the dockyard was taken over by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, which now runs it as a museum.
This summer, the Trust is running various activities for children. Arrr, in the Smithery, there be Pirate themed activities and the sand is for a grand, huge, sandpit, aye me hearties [/end pirate speak]. There is also, for example, a science show for children. The activities run until 2nd September and there is even a promotion on: a children's annual ticket is only £1 when bought with an adult ticket.
Over the 400 years of operation, more than 500 ships were built at Chatham, including HMS Victory of Trafalgar fame. The last ship actually launched at Chatham was HMCS Okanagan, a submarine for the Royal Canadian Navy, in 1966. In this photo, you can see parts of the three ships which are now preserved as museum exhibits in docks at the yard. The bowsprit nearest the lorry belongs to HMS Gannet. Launched in 1878, she was a sloop with an 1100 hp steam engine, as well as a three-masted barque rig (she could do 15 knots under sail but only 12 under steam). The next vessel is HMS Ocelot, a diesel-electric submarine of the same class as Okanagan and the last ship (well, "boat" if you ask submariners) built at Chatham for the RN. She is rather hard to see in the photo but if you look directly under the 'B' turret of the destroyer in the background, you can see a black bulbous shape, which is the sonar dome of Ocelot. Finally, the destroyer which you can actually see properly is HMS Cavalier, launched in 1944 and decommissioned in 1972. With twin steam turbines delivering 40,000 hp, she could reach a max speed of 37 knots (43 mph).
It's a tradition now - every summer we deliver 160 tonnes of RH37 sand (medium USGA sand) to Canary Wharf for Action for Kids' beach volleyball courts. This is the tenth year they lay on the event - it starts today (9 July) and carries on to 3 August (when there will be a lot of sweeping-up to do).
The event includes a number of tournaments featuring elite players, as well as amateurs in stirring moments like the Bartenders Tournament (tomorrow) and the Agencies Challenge Cup (on 27 July).
The picture shows two of our lorries lined up on Sunday morning, waiting to discharge some of all that sand.
This cheerful picture shows (part of) the biggest herd of African elephants in the UK, enjoying their new play sand. We delivered 40 tonnes of Sevenoaks sand FOC to Howletts near Canterbury. It's a fun way to assist wildlife conservation with something we can easily do.
The sand is donated via the Aspinall Foundation, the well known animal conservation charity, working in conjunction with Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks in Kent. At Howletts, they have 13 African elephants, which occupy a grass paddock, one with mud, one concrete floored - and one with sand, which we have the pleasure of refilling from time to time.
Full details of the sand we are supplying can be found here. The picture was kindly supplied by Bryony Hatcher at the Aspinall Foundation.
Here's our tipper coming through the gate through the Sanctuary to Dean's Yard behind Westminster Abbey, carrying 20 tonnes of Kingsley No 1 sand. Not much room to spare!
In the 10th century, a community of Benedictine monks established St Peter's Abbey in Westminster. In about 1042, Edward the Confessor decided that he needed a proper burial church, and started re-building St Peter's Abbey to a style fit for a King. It was finished and finally consecrated at the end of 1065, just in time for Edward's death in early January 1066. King Harold and then William the Conqueror were crowned in the Abbey, and since then, it has been the site for all English coronations.
The present church was built by Henry III in the 13th century, who like Edward the Confessor was rather keen on magnificent buildings, especially when dedicated to the glory of God and also, not incidentally, reflected well on himself. Henry VIII dissolved the monastery but granted the Abbey cathedral status in 1540 - he may have been a Church reformer but also had an eye for for grand architecture.
The sports sand we delivered will help restoring the Green at the Dean's Yard, which is the great quadrangle inside the various remaining abbey precincts, formerly a sanctuary for various fugitives of the law. Pupils of Westminster School (which is partly housed here) have the right to play football on the Green - which may explain the need for some sports sand dressing!