Giant bubbles

Giant bubbles have appeared outside one of London’s famous landmarks – the Leadenhall building, also known as The Cheesegrater. The bubbles are an art piece called ‘Evanescent’ by design studio Atelier Sisu. The idea behind them is to entice people back into the city after the last few years and appeal to our childlike wonder and universal playfulness.

These bubble installations have been spotted in other major cities around the world too and I thought they were a lovely idea and were a pleasure to see.

Goodbye 2022

Today is the last day of 2022. Reflecting back across the year, I didn’t have any grand plans at the start but it feels like it’s been an eventful one. I was finally able to travel abroad after a very long time and I managed to gain some new qualifications after a lot of hard work. There was also an addition to the family in my new little nephew. I hope the year was a fulfilling one for all of you, whatever you did.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the year gone by and as we move into 2023, I hope it’s a year full of good health and happiness, and everything we all want it to be. Happy New Year.

Istanbul – part 3

I did some shopping in Istanbul (of course), starting with a market in the area of Eminonu. It was a market that locals shop at so my sisters and I were hoping for some good bargains. We looked around and bought backlava, some oud in pretty colourful bottles and turkish delight.

There was lots to see, great smells and some lovely looking fresh produce. It took us a while to look around and finally make our way to the famous Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar was pretty touristy and really busy. We looked around but I didn’t find anything particularly appealing. There were lots of shops selling counterfeit designer bags and clothes and others selling jewellery and food. I only ended up buying some sweets for myself before heading for lunch at the famous Nusr-et.

After lunch we went to nearby Nuruosmaniye Mosque to pray. Afterwards we found a really steep narrow staircase to one side and putting in the effort and courage to climb the small uneven steps, we found ourselves on the top tier of the mosque. The view was beautiful and worth the effort.

I absolutely loved the beautifully detailed designs and colours of the tiles. And the mosque has high ceilings and was really spacious and light. We sat for a while taking in the view and soaking up the atmosphere.

At the end of our Istanbul trip we visited the Basilica Cistern, a place I was keen to see (even more since it was in the film Inferno). The cistern was built in the 6th century and the roof is supported by 336 marble columns. The space was lit up with atmospheric lighting and in modern time includes some art pieces too.

The walkways wound through the columns and artworks and it was cool and quiet. I really enjoyed seeing how well kept it all was and how the light created some stunning reflections.

We then decided to get something to eat and look at a few more shops. We were accompanied by one of the many cats we saw on the streets that are very tame and look well looked after.

I really enjoyed my trip to Istanbul, we saw lots but there was still so much to see that we didn’t have time for. The food was delicious, the people friendly and welcoming and the history unlike any other. I really hope that I can come back one day and continue to learn about this special city and experience more of what it has to offer.

Istanbul – part 2

On my visit to Istanbul I went to The Blue Mosque also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. It was being renovated so there was lots of scaffolding and parts covered up but you could still see how beautiful the visible parts were. It was really busy but I managed to take a few snaps.

We didn’t stay too long, and after praying and looking around I moved onto the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque which is opposite The Blue Mosque. Walking across the square the time for prayer came around and it was beautiful to hear the two mosques sounding the call to prayer in turn.

The Hagia Sophia was originally built as a Greek Orthodox church 1453. It served as a mosque until 1935 and then was converted into a a museum. In 2020, the Hagia Sophia became a mosque again.

Inside there were lots of circular chandeliers to brighten up the space and on the walls were plaques with Allah, Muhammed (PBUH) and the names of his closest companions written in Arabic. It was quite beautiful to take in the embellishment and architecture of the building.

Something I found interesting was that you could still see Christian embellishments in some parts like the walkway to the exit depicting what looked like Mary and Jesus and images of angles around the ceiling dome.

We stayed a while, soaking in the atmosphere and taking pictures. Again this mosque was very busy so we didn’t stay too long. It was really nice to have spent time in both The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Both are quite beautiful and I hope to come back again one day.

Istanbul – part 1

I don’t often get to travel, in fact I have been abroad for a very long time, so when the chance arose I grabbed it. I went to Istanbul for a few days with my mum and sisters and we made the most of the time we had.

We went to Topkapi palace which was home to all the Ottoman sultans. The palace was huge it took a few hours to get around. There were several throne rooms and reading rooms, each with beautiful mosaic embellishment all around.

I loved some of the ceilings, just so beautifully and intricately detailed.

Every room was covered in tiled and mosaics and I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved these tiles where the same colours were used but they each had a different design.

There was one special place within the palace that we were all keen to visit. It was a room that held holy relics of Prophet Mohammed (SAW), of his companions and also other Prophets. We weren’t allowed to take photos, but there was Prophet Moses’ (AS) staff, Prophet David’s (AS) sword, Prophet Mohammed’s(SAW) footprint and hair strands. It was quite astonishing and moving to see belongings of Prophets that we all revered so much.

Having walked around most of the palace we decided to get some lunch. I really enjoyed Tokapi palace and it’s a place I would definitely want to come back and visit.

Chelsea in Bloom 2022

The Chelsea Flower show takes place in London every year, showcasing beautiful gardens. To coincide with the event, businesses in the borough of Chelsea and Kensington hold an alternative floral art show called Chelsea in Bloom. Shopfronts are decorated with pretty displays and this year’s theme was the ‘British Icons’, to celebrate all things British and the Platinum Jubilee. My sister and I went to have a look at what creative designs would be on display.

There were so many displays but here are some I liked the best. Some displays were truly creative, like this Spitfire one, and other’s really detailed like the emblem with the horse and lion.

I really liked the display outside the Royal mail, Postmen on ladders and a collection of the iconic red postboxes. And the biscuit Buckingham Palace was artistic.

One of my favourites was this Queen’s head outline in different colours, I thought it was simple but really pretty.

I thought the bus was iconic too, and I really liked this floral tunnel with top hats, pocket watches, teacups and cards. It was super busy so only managed to get a couple of photos.

These cakes on a giant cake stand was another of my favourites, I thought it was really creative and very British.

Here are some more icons, The Beatles and Elton John, and representing fashion, Vivian Westwood. I thought the upside down table, chairs and cakes was cool.

I really liked the giant 50p coin, simple and fun. Paddington bear made of flowers was lovely too.

Another of my favourites was the Mini Cooper on show. It was quite a big display with flower hearts surrounding it.

These are only some of the displays we saw, there were many more with floral archways and window displays. It was really nice to go and see these imaginative displays, especially after it was cancelled for the last couple of years. The winners have been announced on the website.

Trekking across London

The weather has been really sunny and mild recently so I decided to make a trip to Central London.

I headed towards Regents Park where there were plenty of blossoms that looked lovely and Spring-like

I then decided to walk to the other end of Regents park, up to Primrose Hill to look at the London skyline. It looked great on this sunny and clear day

I then walked back to the other end (via the London Zoo entrance where I spotted some zebras) and walked through the well kept pretty gardens and near the lake where I saw a statue like Herring.

I left the park and made my way to Trafalgar Square and then Covent Garden. There was huge rainbow made of cans to encourage recycling which I though was a cool idea.

At this point, having walked almost 27k steps I was exhausted and made my way home to put my feet up. It’s always a joy to visit London, even more as things are starting to get back to normal after a couple of difficult years.

Ever After Garden

In Grosvenor Square in London is the Ever After garden. The garden is made up of over 25,000 illuminated roses, each rose representing a person that has been lost due to the pandemic. Roses can be dedicated to a person, the cost going to charity.

From above the roses are arranged in the shape of a butterfly.

The garden was peaceful and the display felt poignant. A beautiful way to remember those that are being missed I thought.

London Christmas lights

London seems to have really upped it game in regards to Christmas lights this year. Having seen a few photos on social media my sister and I decided to go have a look around. Here are some of what we came across and liked.

Some building had lights all over, while others had a more subtle look

There were also more simple lights that I really liked, like the stars strung across Oxford Street.

The lights look really festive and seem to bring a much needed uplift to what has been another tough year for everyone.

Family day out to Southend

Summer in London has not been great this year weather wise. It’s been fairly cool and overcast most days, so when the sun came out bright and hot towards the end of summer we decided to make the most of it. The nearest coast to us is Southend on Sea so my family and I made decided to take a trip.

While we waited for others to arrive we wandered around the shops. I saw these mask shaped earrings that I thought were interesting.

When everyone had arrived we had a quick lunch and then made our way towards the pier, which is said to be the longest pleasure pier in the world at 1.33 miles long. The sky was bright and the sea was a beautiful blue and with a cool breeze we all set off.

At the end of the pier we all treated ourselves to ice creams and slushies, and taking in the beautiful blue sea, skies and sun.

After a rest, we sent my mum and the kids on the train back to shore and the rest of us walked. With the sun now low in the sky and the tide going out, the light cast some lovely silhouettes and shadows on the water.

We were pretty tired after that and after a quick visit to the gift shop we headed home for an even bigger family gathering and much needed dinner.