A Mild Winter

It’s been a very mild winter here in London so far. Usually by now it’s freezing and sometimes there’s even snow. This year, as the temperature hasn’t dropped so much I have been coming across some pretty sights on my lunchtime walks.

I’ve loved seeing these vibrant yellow daffodils emerging and making the grey days seems brighter. On a Sunny day it’s easy to think that Spring has already arrived.

I also spotted these pretty pink flowers that really made me think of Spring, and these very neat vertical flowers that look a little surreal.

As much as it’s lovely to see spring-like flowers so early it does have me a little worried as it’s not normal. Are these effects due to climate change or is it just an odd winter? I think only time will tell.

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.

Queen Mary’s rose garden

I went to Regent’s Park earlier this year, when flowers and trees were all beginning to bloom at the start of spring. I passed by Queen Mary’s rose garden and told myself that I should come back when the roses had grown. A few weeks ago I did just that.

Queen’s Mary’s rose garden is the largest in London and you can see that it was, there were dozens and dozens of different kinds of roses, all shapes and colours, some fragrant others not so much, each one was wonderful in it’s own way.

My favourite was probably the beautiful ombre rose, which had the colours of a sunset, and was one that I’d never seen before.

Each type of rose had a name, some I forgot to check but the ones that I did spot were quite fun; Ingrid Bergman, Scent-sation and Valentine Heart among some. The Pride of England rose bush was huge with big red roses all over. The other rose that caught my eye was called Nostalgia, which was red at the bottom and white in the centre. It made me think of Alice in Wonderland’s ‘painting the roses red’ song.

Another rose that also stood out was one called Gorgeous, which I thought really was. With roses growing in close bunches it looked like one vibrant coloured flower.

There were also some mini roses growing from the tops of wooden frames near some benches and others that smelled amazing like the yellow roses.

There were so many other roses that I didn’t get a chance to see, either because I’d left my visit too late and they had diminished, I couldn’t find them and because I eventually ran out of time. The visit to Queen Mary’s rose garden was really amazing and I truly loved seeing all the beautiful roses that bloomed in such variety after I’m sure a lot of love and care from the gardeners. I think it’s become of my new favourite places in London.

Eid-ul-Adha 2019/1440

Happy Eid to everyone who is celebrating Eid-ul-Adha. I hope you all have a great day with your families and friends, enjoying lots of nice food and receiving gifts. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

My cousin’s reception

My cousin’s wedding reception took place a few days after the wedding which is quite traditional according to Islam. This event was a much more laid back affair, especially for us as the groom’s family hosted this one (the wedding day was hosted by the bride’s family).

The venue was decorated nicely and the stage looked great with white flowers and pretty lighting. There was also a cake that tied in with the theme.

All the ladies on our side of the family decided to wear pastel coloured outfits, and my nieces all matched too. I decided on a blue ombre outfit with diamantes and my sister bought me a blue clutch to go with it which I love.

The bride and groom arrived together shortly after and sat on the stage so everyone could say hello and take pictures. The bride was dressed in a lovely light pink and blue outfit that sparkled in the light, and the groom looked dashing in his black tie.

After dinner everyone gathered on stage and took pictures with the couple to remember the happy occasion and celebrate them. I pray the my cousin and her husband have a long, happy, healthy life ahead together. They’ll be able to relax on their honeymoon to Dubai soon, which I’m sure will be very welcome.

My cousin’s wedding

My cousin’s wedding day finally arrived. It was a much anticipated event as we don’t have many big family weddings here. The wedding was an evening event, which was a good thing as it turned out to be the hottest day on record here in the UK! Having got dressed in our finest we drove to in our much needed air conditioned cars to the other side of London to the wedding venue.

The venue was beautifully decorated and the stage was adorned with pretty flowers and rose petals for when the bride and groom arrive.

The wedding cake was set up with matching cupcakes which I thought were great, and the favours were placed on tables for each guest, which consisted of a small pot of honey and small bottles of zamzam water, which is considered holy.

As guests started to arrive they were greeted with welcome drinks and asked to write a note to the bride and groom in their guestbook. The bride’s sister looked lovely with all her matching jewellery and the rest of the family all looked dashing too. My little nieces had matching pink and gold outfits that looked really cute.

Finally the groom and his family arrived and the bride walked in on her brother’s arm to take her side with her husband. My cousin looked beautiful in her traditional red wedding dress; her hair, make up and outfit looked perfect and her henna a dark red as it should be.

The wedding went well with good food and it was nice to see the family and relatives all together. It was an emotional affair, especially when the bride had to say goodbye to her family and go home with the groom, but all the hard work that everyone put in paid off. The reception traditionally takes place a few days after the wedding so I’ll see them again soon.

My cousin’s Henna party

With my cousin’s wedding fast approaching there have been lots of celebrations, especially the traditional kind. My sisters, mum and I were invited over for a henna party, which gives all the ladies and girls in the family and among friends a chance to have fun and enjoy good food and each others’ company.

The house and garden had been decorated to look pretty and flowery.

A marquee had been erected in the garden for us all, which included a colourful seating area for the bride as well as other lovely touches.

The bride was dressed in a beautiful green and gold outfit with some lovely accessories. The guests were also wearing some pretty outfits. I love these colorful bangles my sister was wearing.

The evening began with women giving the bride advice on what they thought was useful to know going into married life, which was interesting but also somewhat embarrassing! Then it was time for food and some folksong singing, with some putting henna on their hands too. As the guests made their way to leave at the end of the evening they were handed boxes of Pakistani sweets to enjoy.

We all were invited over for a second evening too. This one was much like the first but with some more colourful and pretty outfits. I especially liked the bride’s lovely traditional Pakistani outfit of yellow and green with accessories to complete the look.

There was some more folksong singing, but with a dolki (drum) this time to help keep everyone in the same beat, which the young girls played singing twinkle little star to.

Everyone had a lovely time and we are all looking forward to the wedding in a couple of days time.

Chelsea in Bloom 2019

The Chelsea Flower show is world famous and incredibly popular, so for those of us who can’t visit, an event called Chelsea in Bloom is a nice aternative. Shops in the Chelsea area take part in celebrating the flower show by decoratating their shop fronts in beautiful flowers. They compete with one another to create the best displays. Can you guess this year’s theme?

My sister and I went along one day to take a look. There were 88 displays in all but I don’t think we managed to see all of them. Some were really impressive, some were quite fun and others pointing to a more serious aspect of pollution.

I really liked the ‘pretty’ fish made of leaves and flowers.

Some displays were huge covering the height of the building while others had more detail to them.

My favourites displays were the purple shark, the oyster shell surrounded by colourful flowers, and the googly eyed octopus.

We spent a few hours walking around looking at the displays before we decided it was getting late and headed for home (not to mention we were exhausted). I thought some of the displays were really creative and colourful and I enjoyed seeing them. If you’re interested in seeing who the winners of the competition were click here.

Eid-al-Fitr 2019/1440: Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to Muslims who have finished fasting for a month. I hope you have a great day filled with family, friends, delicious food and happiness. May Allah accept our fasts, show us mercy and forgive us our sins.

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.