Lumiere London 2018

I’ve had a couple of busy weeks so far this year attending various events. One such event was Lumiere London which was back for a second year showcasing various light installations across London for 4 days. I went a couple of years ago to the first event that was held in London and when I heard it was back I couldn’t wait to see what was on show this time.

I met up with my sister just as it got dark in the early evening at Bond street and found our first piece, which was a see saw that lit up when you rode it. This was actually in London last year and I sadly missed out having a go, so was happy to be able to have a go this time, being the big kid I can be. After the see saws we looked for other light installations in the area and found a neon bike, coloured tube lights covering the front of a building and one of my favourites, coloured umbrellas that people were dancing around with. There were several other pieces too that played music when you struck them or as they came on or off that were interesting too.

The next area we went to was Oxford Street up to Piccadilly Circus. There were light shows projected on the buildings that changed with music, which was relaxing to watch and was good for larger groups of people. In this area there were also other pieces, one that I thought that was really fun and sweet was Supercube. It was made up of lots and lots of tiny jars and in the jars were images of tiny women dancing or people making faces coinciding with music. I thought it was really innovative and another of my favourite installations.

We then went to Leicester Square which was filled with lots of huge animal shaped paper lanterns that I thought where great. Nearby in Chinatown there were more animals, here there were cheeky flamingos flying around, weaving in and out of people which I thought was brilliant.

The final area that we explored was Kings Cross. We first came across huge desk lamps in a row with seating beneath them which made for a great photo backdrops. Further on we entered an area filled with mist and light beams shooting across it. The effect was quite cool and like something out of the Twilight zone.

After looking around at the other light pieces on show we headed home, after some 4 hours of walking around London looking at innovative, fun light art, I can honestly say we were exhausted, but it was an engaging evening and I hope they do one again next Winter.

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.

Colour and Vision at NHM

A great thing about living in London is having access to some of the top museums in the world. One of the best and most popular is the Natural History Museum. This year they had an interesting exhibition on called Colour and Vision and seeing as it had been a few years since my last visit I thought it was a good opportunity to go back.
The building is beautiful with lots of exquisite detail. The tall arched doorways and the intricately designed pillars make for a grand view.

Natural History Museum

Inside there’s lots to see, such as the dinosaurs and sea animals but I headed straight for the Colour and Vision exhibition before it got busy. The exhibition was about how animals view and display colour in nature. The entrance was aptly marked by a brightly lit colour spectrum and cues to help keep an open mind.

As I walked through the exhibition there were lots of interesting animals and displays, some that made me slightly squeamish at times, like the animal eyeballs in jars. Others were stunning such as the exotic birds with colourful feathers and butterflies with vibrant, standout wings.

The exhibition was insightful and interesting with some truly beautiful displays and facts that make you wonder about the amazing animals that share our world. (sadly my camera couldn’t capture this very well due to the dim lighting). It was a good visit overall, and I would definitely recommend a trip.

Spiral staircase

I went to a department store in London recently called Fortnum and Mason. Its known as the Queen’s grocer and has been operating for over 300 years. On the day I visited they had their spiral staircase beautifully decorated in pink, delicate flowers which I just had to capture.

Spiral staircase

Other wonderful and interesting things I spotted were glacé fruits, colourful candles and delicious looking sweets. I also tried some of the tea that was brewed whilst I wandered.

It was fun walking around and seeing things that I wouldn’t normally see in my every day life. I don’t plan a visit again anytime soon, but if I happen to be in the area I’ll be sure to have another browse.

Roaring good cake

My recent trip to the farm was fun and interesting and once my family and I had seen all the animals we headed over to my sister’s house to get some rest and some delicious food. Once we were all fed and relaxed it was time to cut the birthday cake my sister had made for her daughter. Weeks of preparation had gone into making the cake and the end result was brilliant. It was colourful, fun and neatly fitted into the theme of the day; animals.

Animal birthday cake

My sister made all the animal cake figures from scratch as well as the cake and the matching cupcakes. I love all the details of the animals and how the rest of the table was tied in with animal toys scattered around the table and animal characters on the cups, plates and napkins.

Once the candle was lit and blown out by the birthday girl we all tucked in, and enjoyed a cake that tasted as good as it looked.

I wish the birthday girl good health, happiness and love for all the years ahead of her.

Farm day out

My sister organised a day out for us all this weekend to a farm local to her, to coincide with her daughter’s birthday. This farm was quite big and had all the typical farm animals you would expect but also had several unusual ones too.

It was great to get up close to some of these animals; the sheep, goats and llamas were lively and eager for attention and the animal feed they could see in our hands. I’ve never seen a turkey before and I found the amazing plumage fascinating.

We were able to pet some of the more interesting animals in the farm, namely a snake, which was soft and warm, a Bearded Dragon which was spiky and my favourite, a Chinchilla, known as one of the softest animals in the world and I can see why with fur that’s as soft as a cloud.

The other animals I was excited to see were the flamingos, ones that were on my bucket list. As the day warmed up they cooled off in the pond becoming more active. The enclosure they were in also had other birds such as peacocks and Scarlett Ibises, which I thought was an interesting mix as they would normally never meet in the wild.

As well as animals to see there were play areas for the kids to enjoy, including a ball pit and mini golf. We also enjoyed a tractor ride around the farm and ice cream in the sun.The farm really reminded me of my visits to Pakistan as a child and playing with the animals my grandfather kept. It was a really fun day out that everyone enjoyed, and we left exhausted but happy.

Eid-ul-Adha 2014/1435: Eid Mubarak

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Eid Mubarak to Muslims around the world who are celebrating Eid-al-Adha which coincides with the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and honours Abraham’s promise to God. In these blessed days may all pilgrims’ prayers and ours be accepted