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.

Windy Southend

I had a few days off after Eid so I decided to take a trip down to the coast. The easiest coast for me to get to is Southend-on-Sea, and on this particular day it was grey and windy but not wet like it had been all week.

The first thing I did was walk along what Southend boasts as having the longest pleasure pier in the world, at 1.33 miles. I always enjoy the long walk to the end where there are a few souvenir shops and a restaurant.

At the end of the pier I walked around and then went in to one of the shops to look around and warm up as it was really windy out on the sea.

After having enough of being blown about at the end of the pier I walked back down to the shore to grab some lunch. Having had a sit down I was ready to venture out again. I made my way to the sea front, which it seemed I had all to myself! I found some really pretty shells as I made my way up the pebbly beach.

There wasn’t much else to do at the sea front, so feeling windswept I made my way back to the station, doing some window shopping as I went. I did come across some cool street along the way.

I always enjoy my trips to Southend, I love the long pier to walk along, and being by the coast always feels relaxing, although less so on this visit as the blustery wind and grey skies made the coast seem more dramatic than usual.

Local Streetart

My local borough has been trying to create a cultural area that celebrates art. To kick things off they invited a couple of street artists to do some work.

This first piece is by @einsigns and is a word that has a lot of meaning due to the pandemic that has been with us for a year now. I love the font and colours against that black backdrop.

The second piece is by @dotmasters. I love the print on the background and the blue and white contrast. I like the playfulness of this piece too.

I think these pieces of streetart are great and a joy to look at. I hope that we get more talented artists showing us their work too.

Scotland Trip – part 2

The fourth day into our trip we decided to spend seeing parts of what Scotland was well known for. We had a good plan for the day but as the day went on we ended up doing all sorts of other things instead.

We were up early to go to some local markets. We made our way to one nearby only to find that it was closed. We then had to circle round to another one we found further away. This market wasn’t great but it was good to look around and see what was on offer. I ended up buying a blue stone necklace for my little niece as it was her birthday. It caught her eye and I couldn’t say no.

After spending half an hour or so at the market we were still on schedule, so the next stop was going to the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Walking up to the entrance we were told that due to the pandemic we had to pre-book and that they had no slots for walk ins! Helpfully though the staff told us that there was another museum nearby that we could go to that did have free slots. We booked our places online and made our way to the Royal College of Surgeons where the Hunterian Museum is based. It was a steep walk up but the building and the view from the top was stunning.

We also found this iconic view, I love the symmetry and elegance of the arches.

We located the entrance to the Hunterian Museum and made our way up the beautiful yellow staircase.

The museum itself was lovely, high ceilings and lots of light. I also really liked the exposed wood beams in the ceiling. Inside there was an array of beautiful and strange objects. I only took photos of artefacts that were attractive or interesting to me but there were lots of jars with eyeballs, and other odd animal parts in that I didn’t take to too well.

After walking around the museum we headed back to the car to drive into town to find something to eat. There was some cool street art around although I wasn’t able to have a proper look around for them.

As we had to find food that was suitable for a halal diet we found restaurants were closed either permanently or due to the pandemic, so it took a lot longer than expected. After finding our patience frayed we finally found a restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up.

Scenes in the Square

Earlier this year iconic film character statues were unveiled in London’s Leicester Square. Leicester Square is the perfect spot for the statues, seeing as it’s the location where all the big film premiers take place.

The statues are of characters from different eras of cinema so people of every age will be able to recognise some of them at least. I think one of my favourites was Bugs Bunny sitting a flower bed. The sunflowers growing around the statue added a nice summery, colourful touch.

We also found Mary Poppins, Mr Bean and Charlie Chaplin.

Harder to spot were Laurel and Hardy, up on the roof of the ticket office. Another one I really liked was Gene Kelly from his iconic song in Singing in the Rain. The statue felt so animated.

I thought these statues were a really nice selection and like that there were both British and American film icons, real life and made up. Batman and Wonder Woman were hiding somewhere in the area too but I didn’t find them. You can also do an audio tour. Next time maybe.

The End

I went to Trafalgar Square, one of my favorite spots in London, to check out the new piece of artwork on the Fourth Plinth. The piece is called The End by Heather Phillipson, and is a giant ice cream with a cherry on top, and with a fly and a drone stuck into it on each side.

I thought it was quite an interesting piece of work. Depending on which side you look at it might promote curiosity (the drone) or disgust (the fly). The piece is meant to represent Trafalgar Square as a place of celebration and protest.

What I thought was an interesting touch is that the artwork transmits a live feed of Trafalgar square from the drone’s point of view.

As a side note, I did think Trafalgar Square was very quiet for this time of year. Only a few people meandering. Although I enjoyed the place not being busy, it was a touch sad as to the reason why this tourist location usually buzzing at time of the year was so quiet.

Back into London

It’s been a while since I went into London or anywhere away from home due to the pandemic that’s sweeping the globe. After a tough few months trying to keep myself and loved ones safe the pandemic has lessened in parts of the UK. While we all still need to be careful and take precautions, I decided to go into London one day. I’ve missed London and with Eid celebrations coming up, I wanted to see if I could find any gifts.

I went early and it wasn’t busy meaning that I could take pictures of these colourful mosaics in an underground station that normally have swathes of people passing across all day long.

I also found some street art on Oxford street and banners hung from above thanking our hardworking NHS.

I wandered around the shops for a while, found a few nice gifts and just enjoyed being in the centre of London again. I’ll continue to be careful as we need to be, but I really hope things continue to get better and that we all find a sense of normality soon.

Vincent van Gogh exhibition

Before the lockdown was implemented in the UK I visited the Meet Vincent exhibition in London. I’m quite a fan of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork and I think his story is an incredible one and deeply sad. I think that his art is emotive and really beautiful so was keen to go visit and find out more. The exhibition was quite different to what you might expect. There are lots of props and everyone is encouraged to touch and get close to the displays.

Upon arrival you were handed a headset that would activate as you walked around the exhibit, telling you about that period of the artist’s life and what kind of art Vincent would have produced. There was a room that has a video project onto the wall to give you an idea of what the landscape was like as Vincent painted. You could hear the wind rushing through the tall grass and the birds crying in the sky. Another big section was the cafĂ© Vincent frequented regularly, painting other customers from his table.

Haystacks play a large part in Vincent’s artwork and there were hay bales you could sit on and a large cart filled with hay.

I think my favourite section was the reproduction of his famous bedroom. You could walk into it and it really felt like you were walking in to one of his most famous paintings. It bought back memories of when I tried to draw the chair with a pipe resting on it at school.

The next section was about Vincent’s stay at a hospital after he infamously cut off his ear, having struggled with menial illness. He created many more paintings here during his stay.

The final section was about how the world has fallen in love with his paintings after he died. Vincent van Gogh painted over 2000 paintings during his 10 years as an artist.

I would definitely recommend a visit to this exhibition if you’re a fan, mildly curious or just love beautiful paintings. I really enjoyed my visit and it gave me a much better idea of who Vincent van Gogh was and his struggle through life.

Slices of Time

I recently visited the Now Gallery in North Greenwich to see the Slices of Time exhibition by Emmanuelle Moureaux. I saw this was going to be on months ago and was really looking forward to seeing what would be displayed. I can honestly say, I wasn’t disappointed. The display was made up of thousands of numbers, arranged in colour order creating an amazingly complex, colourful display.

The thousands of individual numbers were all held up by thousands of strings.

The whole piece was really surreal, especially when you looked up close and the numbers and colours overlapped with each other.

I really loved this piece as you could see how complicated it was by all the individual numbers and how it was kept in an orderly way, not only in shape but by rainbow colour too. Organised chaos almost.

The exhibition is free and on until 19th April, and I would definitely recommend a visit.

Here’s to 2019

It’s the last day of 2019 and as always I like to share some of my favourite photos of the year gone by. I know I’ve been somewhat lacklustre in my posting this year but I still was able to visit some lovely places like the quaint Groomsbridge in Kent, the beautiful rose garden in Regents park, and celebrate my cousin’s wedding. I hope you all had an amazing year and were able to tick things off your lists of things to see and do.

Here’s hoping that 2020 is a year and the start of a new decade of happiness, good health, and fullfillment of our dreams. I also hope the world is a more peaceful, calmer place than it has been. Happy New Year to you all.