Southend

We’ve had some unexpected warmer weather recently so to make the most of it I made a trip to the nearest coast; Southend. My last visit was a few years ago so I was keen to see what had changed. I love being by the sea, I find it so calming and it’s always a welcome change of scenery.

When I arrived it was still a little hazy and misty so the sea wasn’t quite as clear as I expected. Looking across the fairground rides the sea looked welcoming. Walking down to sea level, the first thing I did was head towards the longest pleasure pier in the world at 1.34 miles long. Walking along the pier is a must for me and I wanted to do this before it got busy.

Walking along the pier there were benches where you could rest. I loved that each one I came across had a pretty seaside themed silhouette scene on the backrest.

Eventually I reached the top of the pier where there surprisingly, some colourfully decorated beach huts. I thought they looked great, especially as the sun had now come out through the clouds and made the colours pop. I think my favourite was the rainbow one with the giant silver ball on the roof.

There was also a restaurant and a RNLI Lifeboat base and giftshop, so I bought a few souvenirs for my sisters.

After taking in the view and soaking in the warm, bright sun at the top of the pier I decided I should head back to the coast and get some lunch. There’s a train that runs along the pier too but I decided to walk back as I was in no rush.

Having had lunch I decided to take a walk along the beach and take in the view from the coast end to the pier. The beach is a pebbly one and there were lots of seashells and oyster shells scattered throughout. I picked a few up before finding a spot to rest. By late afternoon the wind was feeling cooler so I headed back to the station. On my way back I found some really cool street art, which I stopped to look at and admire.

The train home was quick and easy and I left Southend feeling refreshed. I hope to visit again soon and would definitely recommend a visit.

London quirks

One of the many things I love about London are the quirks that you unexpectedly come across. There’s old and new sitting side by side and some really creative and fun quirks. Here’s a few that I came across in my recent visit that made me smile.

I went to Hyde park and came across a lovely vintage car. Upon closer inspection I saw that it had been transformed and was selling ice cream which I thought that was a wonderful idea.

Further on I discovered this bright blue house. I love how bold and vibrant it is.

Also on my wonderings around London I came across a really high pink building, which I thought was a unique colour and some really pretty floral displays which made me feel Spring was on it’s way.

I wasn’t in London for very long but I enjoyed coming across some lovely, quirky things. I look forward to my next visit and will keep my eyes peeled for more curiosities which in London are always just around a corner.

Dholki party

I was recently asked to take photos at a dholki party that a friend of my sister’s was having. A dholki is a party that takes place before a wedding which involves dancing and singing traditional songs to the beat of a drum – a dholki. The event was held in a private space in a restaurant meaning that we would be able to have good food and then have a space for the entertainment. Dholkis are mainly for women (and young children), giving the women a chance to let their hair down without any inhibitions.

The theme of the event was peacock feathers with colours pulled out to decorate other parts of the space which I really liked.

The bride-to-be’s friends set up dessert tables near the entrance that I though were really creative and colourful. I thought the popcorn was a nice way to keep the kids happy until food was served. I also loved the cake shaped in a cushion.

After everyone had dinner cushions, the drum and song books were placed together so that everyone could sit and sing songs together.

Once everyone had sung enough songs, the floor space was cleared so that people could dance. The bride and her friends had choreographed a few dances together, which was fun to watch.

It was a fun evening and a nice way to give women close to the bride-to-be a chance to spend time together with the her and her family.

Winter Lights 2019

Canary Wharf is hosting it’s Winter Lights event again this year and last night was the first night it was on, so I, along with my sister and niece, went to see what colourful, creative displays would be on show.

Stepping out of the station we were greeted with one of the most popular displays. This consisted of coloured light balls hanging on wires in neat rows, changing colour in time with the rhythm of the music that was being played. It was quite surreal standing in the middle surrounding by these lights and really fun one. I did, however, find it really tricky trying to get a good photo.
I also thought the recycled plastic insects were interesting which didn’t have any light but the fluorescent paint made them glow. And the lit up hopscotch game made me think of when I used to play when I was younger (and yes I did have ago!).

Some of the installations had music or sounds to go along with them, like the lines making up the shape of a whale, which emitted whale noises and moved like one too. The fountains had playful music along with varying shapes and colours the shooting water made which I quite enjoyed.

One thing I noticed was that there was a lot of colourful pieces this year. The lit up, colour changing maze was one, and was quite fun, but the other piece I really liked were the beautifully colourful prisms, that you could spin to create a reflective effect. These were also tricky to photograph as people kept spinning them really fast but I finally got a decent shot. Next we walked up to the square filled with glowing, colourful trees making them seem almost dreamlike. This one was nice just to sit and look at, giving us a chance to have a little rest.

I think one of the most clever and interactive installations was the colourful bench that when you put your hand on the sensor showed your heartbeat in lines and patterns along where you were sitting. I also liked the animal silhouettes that walked along the water edge with corresponding animal sounds playing around you, something simple but effective.

It took us a few hours to find all the installations, by which point we were pretty cold and tired, but we did all really enjoy the event. The Winter Lights event is on for 2 weeks and I would definitely recommend if you happen to be around. Just remember to wrap up.

Camden Town

I visited Camden again not too long ago to show my niece around the markets and to look for some street art, which is always great. It was a rainy day but we didn’t let that dampen our enthusiasm. We first walked through Little Venice which holds canal boats, has pretty bridges and willow trees with drooping branches. There was a also a section where people had started to attach locks to the gates that was interesting.

Next we headed to the markets to get out of the rain for a while and to get something to eat. As well as food stalls there were lots of shops and stalls which had really cool and beautiful things. I especially liked the Moroccan style lamps and the retro cameras.

Having dried off a little we decided to head back out and see what street art we could find. It didn’t take us long to find some colourful, creative, amazing artwork. I love Dan Kitchener’s work and have seen it in several spot’s around London, and this rainy scene was very apt for the day. I also really liked the girl with flowers in her hair and the couple standing under a running tap, although it’s a shame that was spoiled a little with the black spray over it.

There was street art on huge walls as murals, in doorways and around almost every corner, so it took us a while to go around. I was familiar with some of the styles of some artists so it was great to see what new pieces they had done. I liked the coloured, squared doorway, something I can imagine having in my home, and the solemn looking girl I thought was really striking.

We eventually made it back to the station, having found dozens of new street art pieces and feeling quite satisfied, if not a bit wet. And my niece didn’t think Camden was quite as peculiar as I made it out to be. Street art is always changing, which is one of the great things about it, and Camden and other places in London really encourage street artist to be creative and bold, which I hope to see more of.

2018 Highlights

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect back on the year. I hope that you all have had a significant and positive one. 2018 for me has had some highs, such as having a new niece join our family, starting a new job, as well as experiencing fun, new things such as taking a candy making course. I’ve also been able to visit new places and had a break away with my family. My lows have been feeling unmotivated and uninspired at times to post on my blog, and wondering if it’s still relevant. I have also felt like the world is passing me by and that I have so much I still want to do.

I leave you with some of my favourite photos of the 2018 and I wish you all happy New Year and with the hope that 2019 is one of fullfillment, happiness and adventure for all of us.

Frieze Sculpture 2018

I visited London’s Regent’s Park earlier this year to look at the sculptures that had been placed there by Frieze. I visited last year and really liked some of the interesting sculptures displayed so was keen to see what new ones would be on show this year.

There were 25 sculptures by various artists on show, some were quite strange, others fun and a few quite eerie.

One of my favourites was the big yellow house, I thought it looked surreal amongst the green grass

I also liked the cute by creepy Dancing Clog Girls, and the giant Emperor penguin.

My other favourite piece was the gold leaf with colours on the inside, I loved how the colours emerged from the gold frame as you walked past the sculpture. I found the headless sculptures quite haunting, these depicting the ghosts of those slain in the Marikana Massacre.

A few others stood out too for met too; the huge anvil with the hare perched on top and the lampposts that had been tangled together was interesting. The girl resting on her side was based on Alice in Wonderland and looked quite serene to me.

I thought the sculptures this year were quite interesting, each emoting quite different feelings from the viewer, especially the ones that were reminders of darker times. I really enjoyed my visit and look forward to seeing what the Frieze presents to us next year.

London Lights 2018

I’ve been to London a few times these last couple of months, and as the Festive season has approached I’ve seen lots of interesting, pretty, bright decorations and trees being put up. I thought I’d share some of the ones that I just had to stop and snap.

Some looked better in the day time or in bright light. I really liked the neon trees that have a simple shape and design and really caught my eye, and I loved the huge, moving robot on the tree at St Pancras station – something very different.

Then there were others that sparkled in the night when the sun went down, the presents atop the car in Covent Garden was a fun display, but I think I really enjoyed looking at the tree at King’s Cross alongside the mini fountains, and the light bouncing off the water.

It’s always fun walking around London, finding things that you least expect, and it’s been even more interesting in the darker, colder months when coming across the unexpected, brings a smile to your face.

I hope you all have a great festive season and have a lovely time with family and friends.

Bournemouth Family Trip

At the end of Summer I went to Bournemouth for a few days with my family, it was initially meant to be a several days away for a few of us, but in the end it was 15 of us in our cars heading to the coast.

On the day we got to Bournemouth and once we were settled into our hotel rooms, we decided to make the most of the rest of the day and headed to the beachfront. Although it was late summer it was still pretty warm, especially as we have had an incredibly hot summer this year in the UK.

We all spent time splashing around in the sea, relaxing on the beach and then when it became too cold we started our way back to our room to freshen up and then go to dinner. I found it incredibly refreshing to be by the sea and away from the city landscape.

The next day we split up into smaller groups, with my group first going to the aquarium. I didn’t really take many photos here as the lighting wasn’t great, and with the thick glass it was difficult, so I just enjoyed my young nieces’ excitement at the various fish and sea creatures they saw and tried to guess the names of, and walked steadily through the exhibits taking in the sights, sounds and smells.

After the aquarium we decided to go to the gardens that were nearby. There are Lower, Central and Upper Gardens, which seem to stretch on for miles, with changing flora and fauna to create various textures as you walk through.

After lunch we had planned to do some more activities but it rained for the rest of the day. It didn’t stop me though; I asked my sister, her husband and her daughter to pick me up and we made our way to another beach close by called Boscome. It was still raining steadily and it was quite windy too on the seafront, but I thought it felt refreshing and a change from the sun. I was also really pleased to find some colourful beach huts, which I have been on the look out for whenever I go to the coast.

We didn’t stay too long, as it was getting cold and quiet late. After my sister dropped me back at my hotel I rested before getting ready for dinner and then to watch the fireworks on the pier.

On the third day we packed our bags and checked out, ready to leave Bournemouth, but before we did we made a detour to Durdle Door, which is along the Jurassic Coast, and is a World Heritage Site. I’ve been go Durdle Door a few years ago and loved it, so I definitely wanted to visit again. There’s a really steep rocky path that leads from the car park to the coast edge, and then a steep set of stairs that lead to the beach. On my last visit you had to walk strategically on rocks to get down and then back up again, thankfully since then they’ve carved out steps that make it much easier.

The view from the top was amazing, and we were lucky to have some fantastic, sunny weather too, making the blues of the sea and sky really striking.

Once on the beach we soaked in the sun and the sea breeze while walking along the pebbly beach.

We didn’t stay too long, before making our climb back up to the car and heading towards another place nearby called Lulworth Cove. This is also along the Jurassic Coast and seemed to have a lot of boats sitting in the arc made naturally by the sea.

After sitting on the white pebbled beach and relaxing for a while, we made our way back to the car, visiting the gift shop along the way and started our very long journey home.

The trip to Bournemouth was great, I really liked that there was a lot to see and do, and most of it didn’t cost very much or was completely free. We had some really good weather and I loved walking along the various seafronts, and exploring the seemingly endless gardens. I would go back again some day as I’m sure there’s much more to do than what we covered in the few days that we were there.