Shrouds of the Somme

Shrouds of the Somme is an exhibition by Rob Heard at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and is a physical representation of every one of the 72,396 British Commonwealth servicemen killed at the Somme that have no known grave. I went along with my sister to have a look and to remember all those that have fallen in war.

Each fallen servicemen was represented as an individual, miniature figure wrapped in a shroud. The figures were laid out in neat rows, and were slightly different to one another. Looking at the shrouds, it was astonishing and incredibly powerful to see just how large a number 72,396 is, a number that is difficult to comprehend in your head.

To one side of the field, there were a smaller number figures. These had placards at the head of each figure with a number and a date. The dates ran from the battles before the Somme in 1914 and ran to battles until 1918. There were dates for every day in those years. The numbers below the dates showed how many servicemen have died on that day. The deadliest day was at the start of the Somme, July 1st with 19,240 that died.

The exhibition was a very powerful one, and quite an emotional one my sister and I found. It was difficult, poignant and important to see just how many had died for our freedom and way of life.

I was pleased to see that there were lots of school children on a day trip to the see the shrouds. We have to hope that exhibitions like these have an impact on future generations and that we look for peaceful solutions to conflicts instead of violent ones that destroy families and communities.

This quote by the artist Rob Heard in the booklet I bought has stayed with me since I read it and I’m sure will stay with me for along time yet
“As a nation, we marked the beginning of the centenary of the beginning of the war with ceramic poppies in the summer sunshine and will commemorate the end with 72,000 dead bodies laid out in the November rain”

Chelsea in Bloom 2018

The Chelsea Flower Show is a world famous event that happens each year in London. Lucky for me though an alternative event called Chelsea in Bloom that takes place at the same time. Chelsea in Bloom is a flower competition that boutiques, restaurants and other retailers take part in around Chelsea, each showing off their creative flair. This year my sister and I decided to scout out the displays. The theme this year was ‘Summer of Love’ inspired by the Royal Wedding and the 60’s/70’s cultural revolution. Some of the shop fronts had pretty arches over doorways, others had some truly creative and beautiful pieces.

One that I really liked was the arch of blue and purple flowers, because it was really neat, I love blues and purples and most importantly the flowers smelled amazing. I can’t say the other displays really smelled of much but this one had a very fragrant smell, one that I wish I could have bottled.

The other ones that really stood out for me were the giant colourful skeletons, The pretty swans and the huge floral engagement rings. My other favourite was the hotel front covered entirely in flowers, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good photo of that as there was a double decker bus parked right in front of it!

It was quite tiring walking around, especially as the map provided wasn’t very accurate, but we did manage to find most of the flower displays and it was great to see fresh flowers used to create some really interesting, fun and sometimes beautiful displays. I think it was a nice, free, event and one that I can imagine revisiting next year.

The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist

The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square has recently become home to a new piece of art called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz and is a replica of Lamassu, a mythological beast that guarded Assyrian city of Nineveh, which was destroyed in 2005 in Iraq. In the hot sunshine, the colourful Iraqi date syrup tins pieces that make up the beast glimmered.

I really loved the colour, details and symbolism of this statue and I felt it was quite different to what’s been displayed in Square in the past.

If you have a chance I would definitely visit this piece of art which will be on display until 2020.

Primrose Hill

In North London there is a park call Primrose Hill, and when you climb up the steep hill, the park is names after, and reach the top you are rewarded with a stunning view of London’s skyline. I was lucky to go on a clear day and loved the urban London landscape juxtaposed with the nature’s greenery. I would definitely recommend a visit, but go early to beat the crowds.

Winter Lights 2018

The Winter season in London can sometimes feel long and cold, but to help brighten it up there have been a couple of light events to make the most of it getting dark early. There was Lumiere London which had art installations scattered around central London, and there was also a similar event held in Canary Wharf, which was just as great. This event was also held last year which was very good, so I was looking forward to this year’s.

One windy evening my sister and I headed down to see what was on show. There were installations indoors ad well as out but we decided to do the ones outside first. There were some really interesting ones that I really liked, such as Halo which was a ring of lights and to make it even better it was suspended above a pool of water giving it a nice reflection. My favourite was the wonderful Dodecahedron which you could also climb into to take in the stunning colours. The huge inflated, lit up rabbit was also cute I thought. There were also pieces that interacted with music or with movement by people that was interesting.

Once we’d seen all the installations outside, we headed indoors to see the ones displayed there as well as warm up, as we were freezing. I thought these ones were even lovelier than the ones outside. There was wearable fashion such as a dress with LEDs and a clutch that you could have words appear on.

One that was really intriguing, simple and so effective were the giant, colourful, bubble-like balloons hanging from rods. They were made from plastic strips and as they retracted and expanded they changed shape as they spun. My absolute favourite though, were the colourful mosaic lanterns that cast beautiful light patterns on the walls and ceiling. I did suggest it could be my next birthday present but I don’t think my sister will be taking it as they were quite pricey.

There were a few we couldn’t find but having wandered around Canary Wharf for long enough we decided it was time to go home. I thought this light event was really good, and I feel lucky to be able to see such great art installations close to home, which certainly helped brighten up the winter nights.

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.

London’s Festive Lights

London has been looking very Christmassy these couple of months, and on my recent walks around the city here’s some of what I’ve come across.

Covent Garden has lots of decorations up.

I really liked the lights on Oxford Street, especially the glittery, golden waterfall inside one of the department stores.

My favourites was the trees made up of fluorescent coloured lights at Liverpool Street, in Shoreditch.

It’s really lovely to see all the effort that has gone in to making London festive and bright for this time of year.

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 Katherine Docks

I passed through St Katherine Docks a few weeks ago. The docks are tucked away near Tower Bridge and hold lots of different types of boats, from modern yachts to boats of a more older style.

There was also a nice surprise of seeing the Queen’s royal barge Gloriana situated in the marina.

There’s lots to take in as you stroll across the bridges and sidewalks, including some panels of vibrant colours and prints along one wall. I personally always love to take in the details of the older boats; the way the ropes have become frayed after years of use, the rusty anchor and chains and the pretty lettering of the names of the boats.

St Katherine Docks is a calm space in a bustling part of London and it’s a great spot to take a stroll through or to stop and have a drink or a meal and admire the view.

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.