Protesting for Palestine

I have been passionate about supporting the rights of Palestinians for many years now so when violence broke out in Gaza in the last few days of Ramadan it was difficult to see. In the weeks that followed there were many protests in support of Palestinians and against the abuse of power displayed by Israel, across the UK and across the world. I joined one protest a few weeks ago to show my support.

The route for the protest was along some of London’s famous backdrops. I joined them at Trafalgar Square and we made our way past Piccadilly Circus.

The route of the protest took about an hour to walk. We then all congregated in Hyde Park for speeches from politicians, organisers and academics. Even a heavy downpour wasn’t enough to scatter the crowd.

This protest is said to be the largest ever held in Britain for support of Palestinians and their rights. An estimated 200,000 people marched in London on this day. I pray that Palestinians are given their human and civil rights and that they are able to live in peace and freedom like so many of us take for granted.

I have Jewish colleagues and friends that I respect and I know that Judaism is a religion of peace. It’s Zionism that Israel promotes, a political ideal that leads to racism and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. I’d also like to point out there is no room for anti-Semitism in support for Palestine.

Ramadan Mubarak 2021/1442

Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims fasting during this holy month. We’ve just had an easing of restrictions here in the UK so while we are able to see family and friends outdoors we still aren’t able to fill the mosques at prayer times or gather in each other’s homes to open our fasts. But I’m grateful that we can see each other somehow, which is a big change from last year. I’m grateful that my loved ones and I have been able to stay safe and see another blessed Ramadan. I have also been lucky to have been sent some Ramadan treats from my friends which I will enjoy; a box of delicious medjool dates and a package including prayer beads, a scarf, rose scent and some chocolate.

Ramadan Mubarak, may this month be one where we can come closer to God, break old habits and form better ones, and I pray that we are forgiven our sins and that we all continue to help each other through what has been a tough year for everyone.

London in Autumn

The weather in London has been fairly mild so far which means that there is still plenty of greenery still around. Taking a day off I went for a walk around London to see what I could spot.

I started off in Regents Park heading towards Queen Mary’s rose garden. The trees were bare but there was still plenty of life in the rose garden this late in the year.

Walking around the 85 rose beds I eventually came through to a tucked away Japanese style garden which was nice and serene. There was also a waterfall nearby but I ended up on a path leading towards a little island on the lake instead. There were still some lovely autumnal colours around this part of the park; the yellowing leaves on the branches of the weeping willow trees looked picturesque next to the lake.

Ending up on the far side of the park and lake there was plenty of wildlife. I love how the seagulls are perched on the wooden posts, all neatly in a line, and I was delighted to see a grey heron near some silver birch trees, standing stock still almost like a statue even as I approached it. There was also a huge tree with fiery red leaves that just seemed to glow even with the sun hidden behind thick grey clouds.

Heading out the park I headed towards Baker Street and the famous Sherlock Holmes’ address. I’ve been past before and there have been long queues outside the museum dedicated to the figure. This time due to the pandemic, there was not a person in sight.

Walking along I decided to see what Christmas decorations might be up around London. I went to Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and St Christopher’s Place. Along the way I passed some purple monkeys hanging upside down which made me smile.

Then I walked up to Piccadilly Circus and spotting a blue police box which I thought was interesting. Then went past Chinatown and Leicester Square where I caught sight of a statue of Harry Potter which was an addition to the other iconic statues dotted around.

My final stop was at Covent Garden. I usually avoid this place as it’s thronging with tourists all year round. On this particular visit the atmosphere was quite different. There were plenty of people milling around but no where near as busy as usual for this time of year.

The decorations were up but sadly not many people to admire them.

I really enjoyed walking around London, there’s always something new to explore and this trip was no different, however it did feel a bit like a ghost town in places. Where the streets and squares are normally full of people, whether they be Londoners or tourists, there were people out taking photographs like I was but not many more. I tried to make the most of this unique year by going to spots that I would normally avoid because they are so busy and enjoy being able to take photographs with no people walking in front of the lens, but I do hope that things return to how things were to some degree soon, as London just isn’t the same without the busyness and rush of the people who have things to do and places to be.

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.

Chatsworth House

Earlier in the year my sister was kind enough to invite me to go away with her and her family for a few days to Scotland. We were driving up so we decided to make a stop on the way to break up the long journey from London. We stopped around half way at the Peak District and while we weren’t able to spend any time in the country park I did suggest going to Chatsworth House, a place I’ve wanted to go to for years (as any Pride and Prejudice fan will understand).

Driving towards the house I suddenly spotted it sitting in the amazing green landscape with the Peaks as it’s backdrop. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

We only had an afternoon so we decided to explore the gardens where we could also have a picnic instead of going inside the house. The gardens were huge and were broken down in different parts. There were flowery gardens which were organised and had some very pretty flowers in them.

There was also the Victorian rock garden where I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite impressed with. The kids (and some adults) seemed to love climbing up the rock sculptures which were scattered at different heights. We ended up climbing quite high after following steps to wherever they took us.

There was the Cascade Fountain on the grounds too, which had water flowing down a long pathway of steps. It was quite an amazing feature due to it’s size and how perfectly it sat in with the slope of the hillside.

Walking on, we found a maze which was sadly closed but I loved the gate at the parameters which seemed to be in the shape of the face of a certain gentleman perhaps.

We finally made out way around to the other side of Chatsworth house, where there was a huge fountain called the Emperor fountain. We had actually spotted the water shooting high up in the air on our drive down and wondered what it was. The water shoots up upto 300 feet into the air.

The Emperor fountain sits in front of the house. Here was the iconic view from the films and photos that we always see. The house was simply stunning in all grandeur.

The house had been celebrating dogs so there were statues of them scattered statues around the house. Maybe a good idea to help give the house some scale.

Having spent some time taking pictures and admiring the house we started making our way towards the gift shop and then the car as the kids (and the rest of us) were tired and the dark clouds that had been present all afternoon had finally decided to let loose and pour down on us. I really enjoyed our visit and it’s a place I can finally tick off my bucket list. I really hope I can come back one day and explore the house and walk further into the grounds. A memorable visit for sure.

The Old New Inn Model Village

I’ve always wanted to visit a model village, but have never been able to until now. On the way home from the Confetti Flower Fields we were passing by The Old New Inn Model Village so we decided to stop and take a look.

The model village is the only Grade II listed model village in the country and was first open to the public in 1937. Thee village is made up of older building and has been updated to include new shops as the times have changed.

The shops have have a lot of detail, you can see products in the windows and people sitting at mini tables. To give an idea of scale I asked my sisters to pose next to some houses.

There was a church model that when you got close enough to you could hear a choir singing, a mini zoo with penguins splashing and a little greenhouse with a gardeners and lots of mini pots and a barbeque. There was also a model famous red phone box, which was lovely to see.

One of my favourite things in the model village was a replica of the model village, which also had another replica of the model village!

There was also a model replica of the author Thomas Hardy’s cottage which is is the area (Dorset). He was born in the area and stayed to write a number of novels.

The details that had been put into the model buildings was impressive. Shops windows with products, gardens with plants and one that even a real mini pear tree that had pears growing on it. It’s nice to see that the attraction had been maintained for so many years and that it was well looked after, reflecting the town in modern times as well as old. It was an enjoyable visit and a fun detour.

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.

Eid-ul-Adha 2020/1441: Eid Mubarak

Eid today will mean so much more to many of us, not just because we weren’t able to spend the last Eid together but because we have all been through so much. I hope that this Eid we don’t take our loved ones for granted; to be able to see them, spend time with them, to hug and laugh with them. I pray that this pandemic across the world eases, that our prayers for ourselves and loved one are granted and that the world is a kinder, more generous and considerate one due to our trials this year.

Eid Mubarak everyone. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

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.