Rainbow popcorn

My brother and his family went to Qatar not too long ago to visit family, and my sister-in-law kindly brought back some treats for me in the shape of this colourful rainbow popcorn. The popcorn kernels are coated in coloured sugar with each colour having a different taste. I was told they’re all the rage in Qatar.

It’s quite fun to try and work out what each colour tastes like but I did find the popcorn quite sweet so I couldn’t eat a lot.

It’s a really colourful and fun idea, and it’ll be interesting to see if it catches on in the UK.

Brighton – part 1

I enjoy taking day trips to places I’ve never been to before and one such place that a friend and I went to not so long ago was Brighton. It was an early start and took a few hours by train to get to but we managed to arrive just as the sun was becoming brighter and warmer. First we wandered throughout the lanes discovering lots of cool street art (which I will post separately) and just in time for the market and shops to start opening. Something I noticed quite quickly was just how quirky some of the shops and props were and that there was so much colour everywhere, which I loved.

We walked along the market stalls that had interesting products for sale and along nearby roads, some of which had some really colourful houses. One shop that I was particularly keen on visiting was a well known cake shop called Choccywoccydoodah which has some amazing cake designs and eggs just in time for Easter. We didn’t stop to buy any though as we were keen to keep moving and see everything on our list. Another shop that I was pleased to unexpectedly come across was one that sold rubber ducks and only rubber ducks.

Next we went to see the famous Royal Pavilion which upon arrival, we could see why it was so popular and considered so beautiful. The Indo-Islamic style of the building was striking especially against the bright blue sky and quite unusual for an English town. I spent quite some time just looking up at the intricate detail of the embellishments and the curves and spires that reached up high.

After the Royal Pavilion and it’s gardens we headed towards the coast, photos of which I will post soon.

Chocolate, cheese and wine fair

I recently went to a mini chocolate, cheese and wine fair to see what goodies (by which I mean chocolate) was on offer.

The stall were stacked high with various cheese blocks, and excitingly, in one section, there was a cheese carving competition. I only managed to see the beginning of the sculptures (as I forgot to go back) but they did have on display a finished cheese sculpture of someone famous.

I took a quick whizz around the wine stalls just out of curiosity, but didn’t linger long as I don’t drink. One wine that I did think was interesting was a chocolate flavoured wine. Wonder what people think of it. Other foods on display were delicious looking breads and baked goods as well as different oils to add taste.

There were only a few chocolate stalls but the products on display were really unique. There were chocolates embellished with coloured patterns and prints, which would make great gifts, and some that had unusual flavours and designs. I especially like the pearl effect Easter eggs on display.

Even though the fair wasn’t very big I thought the products and competitions were interesting and it made for a nice afternoon out.chocolate, cheese and wine fair

Spring has sprung

Spring has well and truly sprung in London so I took a walk into one of my favourite local parks to see how the turn of the season has made itself known.

There was lots of colour on display such as this bright, yellow daffodil ‘runway’ which made me really smile. It made me want to run down the middle of it too (but I didn’t). There were also beautiful pink and white magnolia flowers and cerise Primroses reaching out for the sun.

The water in lake was sparkling, and was alive with graceful swans and paddling ducks. The row boats were sat on the side, not yet in use, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re in demand by eager rowers.

As I walked along the path I was watched keenly by a squirrel that was trying to be brave and not run away from me and my camera. Nearing the exit I saw the pretty white blossoms filling the trees, making me feel that the new season will be filled with hope, beauty and new opportunities.

Mother’s Day 2017

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK today and my mum got really spoiled with lots of flowers, presents and cards from her children and her grandchildren; a way to show her we all love and appreciate her. I hope all mum’s out there were treated like royalty today too.

Winter Lights 2017

Canary Wharf in London hosted a Winter Lights festival which I went along to last week. Last year was London’s first light festival which was huge and was based in the centre of the Capital. This year’s festival, however, was over a 2 weeks period, with less installations and in a less busy part of London, although still very attractive.

On arrival to Canary Wharf we were welcomed by a giant egg shaped structure that was lit up with changing colours that you could walk through, which I thought was vey pretty. Walking on we saw some lovely, illuminated angel wings with halos, but one of the best pieces on show, for me, were the bright neon strips tied around tree trunks. Light was shone one to them to bring out the reflective nature of the strips which looked very bright and almost psychedelic. It was a simple idea but one that was so striking.

Next we came across some balls that changed colour in sync to music being played, which was relaxing and entertaining, and some mist on water that had shapes and colours projected onto it, which if you moved around in front of made the shapes dance and change. Another of my favourites pieces on show was the super innovative water fall where the water was dropped in letters to form words that shone for a second before disappearing.

The last part of the festival was set up indoors which gave everyone a chance to warm up, and get out of the freezing cold evening. The most interesting light installation here was one that was operated with an EEG headset which a person put on, converting the person’s brainwaves into light movement and sound. It felt quite futuristic and I can imagine it being an idea that grows.

After 3 hours of walking around, I think I managed to see most of the light and art installations on show. The festival didn’t cost anything and it let me see some really innovative art, as well as enabling me to spend some in a part of London that I never usually visit.

So long 2016, onwards to 2017

Today is the last day of 2016 and it has been a tumultuous year both in the world and, I feel, for me personally. I hope 2017 is calmer, more peaceful and more fulfilling, for all of us. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite photos of this past year, of places I’ve been lucky to visit and things I’ve enjoyed. Happy New Year to all of you.

London Zoo

London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world, and it’s one that I never got round to visiting, until now. On the day that I went it was cold but bright, meaning that I would get some good photos and that it wouldn’t be too busy; I think I was right on both counts.

On arriving I first headed towards the small mammals area. They looked curious and peeped out from their hiding places to see who had come to visit. After a quick look I headed towards the lions that are newly housed there and were one of the reasons that I wanted to visit. As they were one of the main attractions the area was decorated and staged as if it could be an authentic Indian village, with colourful paintings and props. The lions themselves were huge and very impressive and with only a pane of glass between them and us, I was able to have a look up close and see the might of such creatures.

Next I went on to see the petting animals where they had some tiny, super cute kids that you could feed and play with and that the young children seemed to enjoy. The llamas and camels were nearby too that I could see. A short distance away, the tigers were housed. The adult tiger was very active and difficult to photograph but my patience paid off when I managed to get a clear photo. I was also rewarded with seeing the beautiful baby cubs, playing and running around.

As it was coming up to Christmas there were reindeer out on walks with zookeepers, meaning that I was able to get close. Onwards I went to see one of my favourite animals, the giraffes, making me happy upon reaching their enclosure. I always find giraffes surreal looking with their long necks and gangly legs. I loved that they were so close it seemed that if they really stretched, they could easily lick my camera.

The path then led me onto the Reptile house which had some quite scary looking but beautiful reptiles from around the world.

There were some magnificent birds at the zoo too, some that could fly and some that couldn’t, each with their own colourful and unique features. Some were in cages but the larger ones were left in an open space, making me wonder why they hadn’t flown away.

I had a quick walk around the Bug house but as I’m not a fan I didn’t hang around too long. What I did find surprising was that there were live ants on display that didn’t have any glass around them. They were Leaf-cutter ants and looking carefully closer I could see each of the ants marching back and forth across a rope carrying tiny pieces of a leaf to take back to its home. I didn’t take too many photos of this area as bugs aren’t too appealing to me but it was amazing to see some of the numbers enclosed such as the hundreds of locusts and various stick insects. I sharply made a turn into the aquarium next, to warm up and see the pretty fish. Amongst all the diverse fish in tanks I was pleased to come across some miniature blue starfish too.

Lastly I came across the Butterfly house, where I was debating whether to go in or not, seeing as I don’t particularly like flying things (apart from birds). I did decide to enter thinking I could make a sharp exit if it wasn’t for me, and I was really glad I did. Once my camera stopped fogging up in the warmer temperature of the area, I could see some beautiful, exotic butterflies flitting around, including the Glasswing Butterfly which I’ve already posted about. There was an array of brightly coloured butterflies, most of which were too fast to capture, but after ducking and flinching about a hundred times I think I managed to get some nice photos. There were also moths in the house but they were largely inactive being night time creatures. The Atlas moths were amazing, I wasn’t sure they were real at first due to their stillness and size; each wing being the size of my hand, but as always, nature astounds.

There were so many other animals around too, such as the gorillas and monkeys, penguins, Komodo Dragons and tortoises, to mention a few. Some weren’t easy to photograph or even see but the vast variety of the animals in London Zoo is amazing. I know zoos can be seen as bad places that imprison animals; I did feel particularly sad for the big cats and caged birds, but as the world we live in is increasingly destroying habitats, I feel a place like London Zoo can help preserve and protect some endangered animals. I spent most of the day looking around and there was still areas I missed as the place is huge. I really enjoyed seeing all the different animals and their colourful and varying feathers, scales, fur and skin, and I feel like I learnt lots too.

Glasswing Butterfly

I recently went to London Zoo (more photos coming soon), and one of the creatures I saw that absolutely fascinated me was the Glasswing butterfly. I’d seen this butterfly online a couple of years ago and was awed by how pretty and delicate it looked. I also remember believing that I would never see one for myself as they are native to South and Central America. I was so pleased to have been wrong about that.

Glasswing butterfly

Walking through the butterfly house and seeing these lovely butterflies fluttering around made me feel incredibly lucky. Of all the various butterflies in the house these were one of the most calm meaning that I was able take some close up photos.

Glasswing butterfly

Glasswing butterfly

These Glasswing butterflies look almost mythical, with their opaque, stain glass like wings. Having shown my photos to family members I was repeatedly asked whether they were real, and I was happy to say that they were, having seen them with my own eyes