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.

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 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.

Snow in London

It’s been really cold in London very recently leading to some significant snowfall. It doesn’t snow a lot here but among the travel chaos and freezing temperatures, the snow looked beautiful. As per usual the cat stayed tucked away somewhere, having ventured out in the garden first.

And our garden bench looked very pretty and wintery in a layer of snow.

In the centre of London grand buildings looked even more scenic with a snowy surroundings.

Most of it has melted away now and everything is back to normal. It was nice to have a blanket of snow for a while that can transform a landscape, even amid the chaos and cold.

Here’s to the best of 2017

We’ve reached the end of 2017 and in some ways it’s felt liked a long year, in another it’s like it passed by quicker than ever. I’ve been lucky to go to lots of amazing places this year with family and friends and I leave you with some of my favourite photos that I took. I hope 2018 is an amazing, blessed year for you and me and that the World is calmer, more peaceful and that ease comes to those experiencing hard times.

Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for taking an interest in my little world.

Hampton Court Palace

I went to Hampton Court Palace a few weeks ago with my family for a day out. The Palace was once the home of King Henry VIII and was built in the Tudor style in 1514. The building and grounds are huge, with mazes, gardens and so much more.

Walking up to the Palace and through the entrance was a large courtyard. There were huge tall pillars along a walkway leading to other rooms, high walls with a decorative clock and a fountain with statues to depict what life may have been like.

Inside were some beautiful rooms and staircases. The King’s Staircase was especially wonderful, with a huge painting across the entire wall and ceiling, and an intricately made handrail leading up the stairs.

The rooms were set up as they would have been when it was lived in, with costumes and props on display and with facts of King Henry’s life there. The inside ground walkways opened up to courtyards that had fountains and statues.

On the other side of the building was the was the Queen’s Staircase, also quite beautiful, and was lit in a soft, warm light.

After looking around the main part of the Palace we headed towards the gardens. The Great Fountain Garden is one of the largest and was one that we came upon first. Just as we entered a horse and carriage pulled up, and we all piled on excitedly for a ride around the garden.

After our ride we walked towards the other gardens, the main one was The Privy Garden which was set out in an Italian style and was very well looked after. Along one side was a long, vine coloured walkway which was lovely for a stroll. Nearby were other well kept, but smaller gardens. I personally loved walking through the rose garden which gave off an amazing scent.

The Palace also had a maze, which is England’s oldest surviving at 300 years old. We had fun looking for the centre and then our way out. Next we visited the huge play area for children, with high bridges, hills and sculptures. Hidden away, the Palace also had The Great Vine, the largest and oldest known grapevine in the world, at over 240 years old.

There was a lot to see, with some beautiful, grand rooms, staircases and gardens, and we easily spent a whole day there, after which we were all completely exhausted. I can see now, why Hampton Court Palace is so popular and it was amazing to see and learn about the history of how Kings and Queens of our past lived in such an opulent palace.

St Dunstan in the East

London has some beautiful old buildings, some that are hundreds of years old. One such building that I visited recently was St Dunstan in the East which was a church built in 1100. It was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and then again in the second World War, after which instead of repairing, was turned into a public garden. Over time nature has grown around and over the stunning, ornate walls, doorways and windows making the view look almost enchanting and something out of a romantic fairy tale.

The steeple built by Sir Christopher Wren has survived and stands tall over the garden, and the rest of the building built in a gothic style looks even more amazing as it has been weathered by time and the elements.

The vibrant green leaves of the shrubs and climbers create a drastic contrast against the huge, grey stone walls as well as dampening the noise a little making it easy to believe that you’re the only one around.

This garden is tucked away in the centre of London and surrounded by modern buildings looks almost surreal. Once you’re within the walls though you feel transported to an older time, and the tranquil feel of the place along with the stunning architecture and nature make this a spot that I would love to come back to.

Spiral Staircase

In Heal’s furniture store in London, tucked away towards the back is a wonderful staircase. It was designed by Cecil Brewer in 1916 and it is as beautiful today as it was then. The staircase spirals from fourth floor to the basement level, with a stunning Bocci chandelier filling the space in the centre with 65 glass pendants.

This is the lovely view from the bottom to the top

The handrail is a rich dark brown, giving a lovely outline to the staircase, and the glass pendants sit at irregularly giving a sense of height

My favourite view is from the top down to the basement. There is a black glass table sitting just under the chandelier which reflects back the lit up pendants giving the view an extra twinkle.

I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area, as access to beautiful structures isn’t always so easy.

Enchanting Doorways

I recently went around London to visit some locations that are very popular as they’re pretty and eye catching. Here’s some that I thought were great.

I started in Kensington at this cake shop. The outside was very charming with it’s pastel pink and quaint tables and chairs. The arch of flowers and pumpkins was very seasonal and made for a grand entrance to the inside where there were some delicious looking treats.

Nearby was a bakery which was also looking very Autumnal with an archway that represented the harvest at this time of year.

Next I went to see a very picturesque house that was painted immaculately in white with the shutters and door painted in a popping pink.

Walking to the station I came across a lovely restaurant with a flora and fauna decorating the front with a well placed bicycle to add to the look. There were also other well kept doorways and walkways and of course the huge beautiful building that is Harrods. The best thing I saw all day though, was a huge suspended rhino above a jewellery shop. It looked surreal and it really made me smile.

I can see why some of these locations are sought after and busy, and it’s always nice to come across something unexpected too. I have more photos of other locations that I visited, that I will post soon.

Afternoon Tea on the Thames

Afternoon tea is quintessentially British, and it seems to be a big craze at the moment in London. I’m not particularly keen on it (how in-British of me, I know) as I don’t particularly drink hot drinks and I prefer a big tasty lunch to sandwiches and cake, but when I was came across afternoon tea on the River Thames with a guide that would inform me of Muslim history in London, I thought it would be quite fun. As a cruise linked to Eid I decided to buy myself and my mum a ticket hoping she’d enjoy it too. My sisters, my sister in law and her mum also joined us.

The meeting point was at Tower of London and after we were all checked in we were able to get on the boat. Once we were in our seats we had tea to start with and then the some delicious looking food.

As we enjoyed our food and the view, the guide started telling us about some of the connections of Muslims to the city of London, which was quite interesting. When we reached Westminster Bridge the boat turned around to go back towards the port. By this point I’d had enough to eat so I grabbed my camera and went above deck. The sun was out and with the cool breeze it felt so refreshing. We passed some iconic landmarks that sit on the banks of the River Thames.

After spending some time above deck taking in the sights and some photos we headed back downstairs. The organisers held a competition that my sisters and I (and it seems no one else) entered so we won a big box of chocolates, as the odds were definitely in our favour!
As we docked back into the port we gathered our things and headed for the exit. It was a lovely afternoon that we all really enjoyed, and I thought it was a real treat to actually go on a boat down the River Thames instead of just watching the waves from the shore.