Goodbye to 2020

Today is the last day of 2020, a year that was unexpected and tough for so many. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted almost every person in the world this year, and I’m no exception. There have been times that I have felt I could take things in my stride and others when I felt stressed, anxious and alone. But I always like to think that even in the worst of things, there’s always a silver lining and I think I tried to convey some of these in my photos this year, whether it was making the most of places being quieter and tourist free or just being grateful for the fact that we had long hot summer which is unusual for the UK. I was also happy to have ticked a few places off my bucket list which I didn’t expect like visiting Chatsworth House, the Lake District, and the confetti flower fields. My favourite photos of the year are shared below.

With several vaccines now available, I hope and pray that 2021 will be a better one for all of us, that with a little more patience and caution we will get through this once in a lifetime difficult, but shared experience and come out stronger together. I hope that all of our loved ones are safe and that we can enjoy each others’ company once again soon, very soon. Take care everyone and I wish you all a happy, healthy amazing year ahead.

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 3

After having spent the morning at a market and a museum we decided to spend the rest of the day at Loch Lomond, which is a well known beauty spot in Scotland. One little village which sits on the loch is Luss so we started there.

It was a grey, overcast day but we decided to make the most of it. Due to the mishaps of the morning we arrived a at Luss in the late afternoon so we decided to go into the shops first as they would close soon. They had a strange but interesting fairy house and a giant toadstool nearby.

As we arrived so late we missed the chance to take a ride on a speed boat.

We instead decided to take out a pedal boat which were still available to hire. It was harder than it looked but the slower pace allowed us to take in the scenery around us. The lake was huge and the distant hills seemed to go on for miles.

After the boat trip we decided to go to some other notable points around the lake. One tucked away spot was where there was a waterfall. We took a beaten down path through the woodland and followed the sound of roaring water.

The waterfall looked amazing, but I didn’t get a chance to try any fancy photography tricks as the air was filled with tiny little midges which were flying into our faces! There was also an iron tunnel nearby which led to a closer view of the waterfall.

Having spent a while exploring the area and getting tired of waving our hands around our faces we moved onto the next, hopefully midge free spot. Driving further around the loch we found a walkway that stretched out over the water which was very peaceful.

This last stop we made was to a viewing tower over looking the loch. There were also benches to sit on and lots of wildflowers around to admire.

Climbing to the top it was now dusk. If the weather had been clear we would have a seen a beautiful sunset over the lake. I was a bit disappointed but not too much as the view was still pretty amazing.

After spending some time at the top and taking in the view and the quiet we decided to start the long journey back to the hotel, along dark, winding, narrow roads to get some rest and some food. Although the day didn’t quite go as planned we still enjoyed it and managed to explore some of what Scotland has to offer.

Confetti Flower Fields

For 10 days every year the Confetti Flower Fields in Worcester open to the public. My sister and I have been trying to go for the last few years and this year we finally managed to. The flower fields are quite a long drive from London (about 3 hours), but my older sister and her husband were kind enough to drive us.

The flower flower fields are full of delphinium flowers which are later picked and turned in biodegradable confetti, hence the name Confetti flower fields.

The flowers are planted in colour blocks creating a really neat, picturesque view. I love how you can see the layers of flowers from the front to the back.

At the back of the field was a sunflower patch. There were hundreds of perfect looking, bright yellow heads looking up at the sky. The bees were having a feast with so many flowers to choose from.

Nearby there were also wildflowers that looked really pretty. In contrast to the delphiniums these were full of a range of flowers that each had a different kind of detail.

At the far end of the field looking across you were able to see all the flowers, the wildflowers, then the delphiniums and at the very end the sunflowers. They al looked quite beautiful in their own way.

We bought some honey at the shop that had been harvested only days before, and we soaked in the view sitting on some hay bales in the shade away from the hot sun. We all enjoyed the visit as it’s not often that you see a place that looks is so beautiful and like something out of a painting.

Beautiful Peonies

I decided to treat myself to some peonies having seen some in the shops. Peonies are one of my favourites flowers, so I couldn’t resist. I waited a few days for the flowers to open up and for the the lush, full bodied petals to unfold. What always surprises me about this flower is that the buds are so tight and small but there’s so many petals all folded within it.

The dramatic look and volume of the petals look amazing and the smell of the pink peonies was sweet and really fragrant. I thought the pink tinge on the petals tips of the white peonies, looked lovely, adding just a touch of colour.

I love the texture of the petals too. and how the pollen inside the flower is tucked away like a secret.

Sadly peonies don’t last very long but they brightened up my day whenever I caught sight of them or picked up the scent. Sometimes you really do just need to stop and smell the roses, as life would be a lot less beautiful without them.

Eid gifts

Eid this year was a quiet one, but that didn’t mean I had to miss out on presents. My family and friends can be very generous at times and this Eid they were. And it meant so much more this year as we all spent the day apart due to the pandemic that is currently coursing across the world.

As mentioned in my last post my younger sister made and delivered delicious chocolate cakes to each of us to enjoy. She also dropped off some sweets in a fun ice lolly shaped box. My youngest sister ordered expensive chocolates for me which is a real treat.

My friend dropped off some lovely candle holders decorated in various peacock designs. My sisters all loved them and I’m sure they will be borrowed soon.

I love having flowers in the house on Eid so I bought some for my mum, and my sister had some delivered too. My oldest sister came by and gave me a bag full of treats. The rose candle smells great and I can’t wait to taste some of these luxury treats too. As you can probably tell, my family have sweet teeth!

I have to admit I felt a little sad on Eid not being able to spend the day with my family, even more so for my parents as I know they are missing their grandkids a lot. My family being generous reminded me that although we weren’t able to spend the day together they still want to celebrate and that we are all thinking of each other. Hopefully by next Eid the world will feel safer for us and we can spend time with family and friends joyfully. I also hope that it will make us appreciate the time we have together even more.

A Walk in the Park

The lockdown has been in force in the UK for 6 weeks or more now, and apart from going out to get food I haven’t really had a chance to go out for a walk (like most people), something I used to do every day before the pandemic made the world stop. The weather was lovely recently so I took the opportunity to go to the park and try and clear some cobwebs from my mind and to stretch my legs.

Walking in and seeing so much green made me want take a deep breath and soak in the fresh air.

Keeping my distance while walking around I found some lovely, vibrant pops of colour in the shape of some flowers big and small.

The walk did me a world of good and I’m grateful to have a lovely park that I can visit if I need to. I don’t plan on leaving it so long next time. I hope you’re all well, keeping safe and making the most of the situation whereever you are.

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.