Looking for lions in London

I came across the Tusk Trail on social media and thought it would be a nice way to wander around London. There are 27 life sized lion statues dotted around London so my sister and I decided to try and find them all.

Like previous trails that have been left in years past, these statues too have been painted by various celebrates to be auctioned later for charity.

These first ones we found were around Burlington arcades. I really like the flowery lion. And the sunset scene on the other was a liked too, it made me think of the savannah.

There were also a few outside on the road nearby. I think my favourite is the ombre lion, with the colours going from orange, yellow and silver seamlessly. I really like the shiny-ness of it too.

We found some more in a church courtyard too. There were kids ticking off the lions they found on a sheet of paper they each had, which was I thought that was a nice activity.

These next ones were placed near Piccadilly Circus.

After finding these we moved towards Leicester Square.

On other roads nearby there were a few more. I really like the blue one with the scenery.

We then made our way towards Trafalgar square where we found a couple in the square itself and a few more in the area. I like the detail of the black and white with the red mane really standing out.

Last stop was Covent Garden where there were 2 more.

We found 26 out 27 as one had been removed, and we had a long but enjoyable walk around London. I think these trails are quite fun and inexpensive and something that anyone can take part in. I look forward to seeing what comes in future years.

Whipsnade Zoo

I went to Whipsnade Zoo this summer with my sister and her family. It’s partnered with London Zoo I visited a few years ago. Whipsnade Zoo is huge so we started from one side and made our way round.

The animals are sectioned according to the continent they came from, so we started with Africa. The first animals we saw were chimpanzees. They were a bit far away but I liked that they had a lot of space to move around. We then moved onto the penguins which again I was pleased to see had a huge space and also a great view of the English landscape.

As we made our way along the path we suddenly spotted an animal that was outside like us! After a closer look we saw it was a wallaby hiding in the long grass. Did it escape?! Turns out no; there’s wallabies and Maras (like giant Guinea pigs) that are allowed to roams free. My 2 year old niece had fun chasing after the Maras, much to our amusement.

Getting over our surprise we next visited other animals typically found in Africa; rhinos, giraffes (my favourite), lions, ostriches, meerkats and zebras. Lions apparently sleep up to 20 hours a day so I didn’t hold much hope in seeing them running around. There was a cheetah too but they were hard to spot sleeping in the tall grass.

Walking along leaving the Africa section we turned a corner to see sudden bright pops of pink! Flamingoes!

Their pink feathers looked so lovely against the greeny water. There were flamingo chicks, their feathers stull grey, pelicans and herons all surrounding the same pond.

After stopping for lunch and a rest we made our way to the next section, the Asian continent. Here we saw elephants and tigers. The tigers were also pretty sleepy, making little movement. Nearby was an area dedicated to dinosaurs. There were various shaped and sizes, some growling and moving. My niece of 7 enjoyed making scared faces at them and digging for fossils.

Next we ventured into the aquarium and butterfly house. The kids enjoyed seeing the various fish and it was nice to go at a slower pace. By the time we reached the butterfly house my youngest niece was fast asleep and the older one didn’t like butterflies so didn’t stick around. I’m not fond of flying insects in closed spaces myself but I did manage to take some nice close up photos of some of the calmer butterflies.

Last stop was the farm, here they had a striking long haired Poitiven donkey, cows, ponies, alpacas, hens, rabbits and my little niece’s favourite baby goats! Feeling refreshed after her nap she spent her time petting, chasing after and hugging them.

I always feel conflicted when visiting zoos as I feel sad that animals are kept in smaller spaces than they would be in the wild. But the truth is that zoos can play an important part in conservation and survival of some animals. Seeing them in large, open spaces in nice and I’m glad that they seem to be well looked after at Whipsnade.

A Dusting of Snow

We’ve had a dusting of snow here in London recently. The excitement of snow was a nice opportunity to take a few pictures but I didn’t venture too far.

These first couple of photos are from my garden when the snow had freshly fallen

A few days later I did venture to one of the local parks. The temperature was still so low the lake was still partially frozen. The smooth ice in the centre looked like a lake within a lake.

Where the lake ran off in smaller streams the water was still completely frozen over. The poor birds just walking on the ice looked odd. On my way back I did pass a scenic looking church, making me think of those classic Christmas cards.

I didn’t stay out too long as it was so cold. It took me the rest of the day to feel like I had warmed up again properly. The snow and ice were an interesting and quite beautiful addition to Winter but I’m glad they didn’t stay around for too long.

Wintery Park Visit

The new year in the UK has been a slow one. There is another national lockdown to try and curb the ongoing pandemic and with the cold days it feels quite grim at times. I’ve been trying my best to keep positive though and nothing helps me more than being active. In light of this I decided to bundle up and visit one of our local parks. Valentines park was voted one of the 10 best in the country last year, so I always enjoy my visits as there’s always lots to see.

As I arrived at the park the lingering cold mist was clearing and the sun was beginning to break through the clouds. The huge boating lake at front of the park was starting to pick up colours of blue in the sky.

I walked to the far side of the park where there’s an old house called Valentines mansion, built in 1696 which still looks pretty grand. It’s now used for events but it’s a really elegant feature to the area. Nearby is a vegetable garden that is still in use, although there’s nothing growing now as it’s winter. There’s also plenty of cheeky squirrels around looking for food.

One of the things I really like about this park is just how varied the trees and wildlife is. There’s plenty of geese, ducks and smaller birds, and the trees seem to come in all shapes and sizes.

Having taken a few snaps as I walked around the park and starting to feel quite cold I headed home. I’m sure I’ll be back soon, as not only is this lockdown likely to last a while yet but the park is so vast there’s plenty still to see.

Scotland Trip – part 1

I went to Scotland in the Summer with my sister and her family and having spent a day in the Peak district, the next day we continued driving north to our destination, Scotland.

On the drive up we could see the landscape change. The view became more hilly and the greens became deeper and more lush. With the grey clouds chasing us the view became quite dramatic but so beautiful.

Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in, found somewhere to have dinner and then had an early night.

The next day we spent at a theme park so the kids could have some fun (and me of course). We walked through the nearby country park to the rides on what was a bright, beautiful day. Quite a change from the day before.

We spent some time on the rides, and then we visited the small indoor rainforest which was also on site. Here they had some quite impressive species, and we spent time marvelling at the different and some quite deadly animals we could see.

We spent the afternoon at a park as the sun was out with some friends of my sister and her family who then invited us back to theirs for dinner, which was a nice end to the day.

Sheba

Our cat, Sheba passed away this morning. She’d been part of the family for 14 years. She was a timid, soft hearted, gentle and cuddly cat that seemed fond of me even when I was grouchy with her. I hope that she was happy with us and that I cared for her well. We all loved her in our own way and she will be greatly missed by us all. I pray that she is in a better place. Inna lillahi wa inna illahi ra’jioon (To Allah we belong and to him we shall return).

Springtime Park Visit

Things have changed a lot here in London over the last few weeks as I’m sure it has around the world. Before they did though I did spend a few days out and about. One sunny day I spent in a local park, taking in the blossoming trees and interacting with the wildlife, just as Spring was beginning to spring.

The sky was bright blue and the clouds were light and fluffy creating great reflections on the lake.

As I walked through the park I spotted lots of flowers already blooming or that had been planted to bring in some colour.

There was a smaller garden that I passed by which has a carved owl statue and some pretty gates. Nearby was a small stream where ducks and geese were soaking up the sunshine.

Further along were some huge vibrant green fields, the product of all the rain we’ve had recently. There were also lots of curious, friendly squirrels that were brave enough to come close enough for food. I eventually gave in and gave this cheeky little one some food I had in my bag, which it took straight out of my hand.

There were other little spots tucked away around the park which had some lovely flowers blooming too.

I enjoyed my walk around the park, always find it calming to be in nature and just to be able to switch off from the world for a while.

As things develop at a rapid and unsettling pace around the world, I hope you all are staying safe and well and that we all get through these unpredictable times. I pray that our loved ones are safe too and that this pandemic that has struck the world so suddenly disappears as quickly as it came.

Soaring Seagulls

I took my little nieces to the park on a bright, blustery winter’s day, to help them burn off some energy and to stretch my legs. They started off by racing through a whole flock of seagulls who were happily feasting on bread that someone had dumped. The birds soared in the bright blue sky as my nieces chased them, screeching loudly at being disturbed.

Seagulls

Groombridge Place

I recently went to Groombridge Place in Kent for a day out with my family. It seems to be a fairly popular tourist attraction but thankfully it wasn’t too busy the day we went.

Groomsbridge Place is a moated manor house and was used as Longbridge house, the home of the Bennet’s family in the film Pride and Prejudice. This was the view as we started to walk up to the main part of the site.

The manor was closed off unfortunately, but we could see the house and the details through the gate and over the low walls. I was quite excited to see this place as Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and it’s always fun to see places and buildings used in films too.

After we had a look at the manor house, we continued along the path up to the main entrance. Having bought our tickets we found a place to have our lunch and take in our surroundings. We spotted a Sherlock Holmes sign on one of the smaller buildings. It turns out that Arthur Conan Doyle regularly visited Groombridge.

After lunch we then decided to take a boat ride down the stream, looking out for wood beings along the way.

Departing from the boat we were near the play area, where there was a play about to begin. We left the kids and my mum to keep an eye on them and the rest of us decided to go into the Enchanted forest. The forest was quite wild, you could see some trees that had been tidied but left where they had fallen. The thing that jumped out the most was that there was seemingly an endless carpet of bluebells.

Getting closer we were enthralled by how beautiful the rich blue looked in the forest. I tried to get some close up photos but it was tricky as there were quite a few spiders which I could see, which I wasn’t too keen on.

We wandered around the forest for quite some time, there were quite a lot of steep parts and it was quite tiring, especially as it was becoming fairly hot, and the air starting to feel quite close. Along the way we found some interesting things. We found a huge totem pole, with expertly carved animals, some travellers caravans that were really pretty and intricately decorated, a huge amount of wild garlic plants, and my favorite, swings hanging from tree branches. There were some strung from high branches that swung over a carpet of bluebells which I thought was very picturesque.

Finally finding our way out we collected my mum and the kids (who all wondered where’d we’d been for so long) and made our way to the birds of prey show. Along the way we crossed paths with a family of geese, who hissed at us when we got too close to their gosling sand some zeedonks who were resting in the sun. The birds of prey show had some really cute, tiny owls that were great fun to watch as they ran around.

The star of the show was a falcon that flew incredibly fast over the crowd. I felt the wind clip past my head as it zoomed past at super speeds. Once it landed it enjoyed a well deserved meal.

Once the show was over we headed down to the gardens. There were some pretty, hidden away parts as well as areas that were more formally groomed. There were also peacocks walking around and showing off their beautiful feathers.

I really liked how neat some of the hedges and flower arrangements were.

After walking back to the main entrance we bought some souvenirs and headed back to the car. We were all pretty tired but we all had a really nice day out at Groombridge and all the beautiful, interesting things it had to offer.

Camden Street Art

Camden is known to have some great street art, and on my last visit there I decided to go looking to see what I could find. With street art you often have to go off the beaten track (so to speak) to discover art on sides of buildings, behind fences and on practically any surface that looks appealing. After some searching I found some really amazing art, by some talented artists.

I think my favourite find was this Chimpanzee face painted on a wall, I thought the detail was really impressive, and I really liked the colourful owl made with bold strokes.

There was probably loads more tucked away on side streets and behind buildings and I hope to go back at some point to see what else has been left behind, as well as new pieces drawn over the old.