Farewell 2021

2021 has been a tough year; the world had aims of leaving the pandemic behind and returning to a more normal life, but sadly the pandemic is still with us, still raging in too many places. Vaccines have brought us hope though, and more freedom. I pray that less wealthy countries have access to them just as we have. I would specifically like to thanks the NHS health workers for the endless hardwork in vaccinating us and caring for those that are ill.

This year has been a quieter, more reflective one for me, I have taken time to look at the world around me and have tried to shape a path for myself that I hope will lead to fruition in the future. Below are some of my favourite photos of the year that we now leave.

I hope 2022 is a happier, healthier one for all of us, I pray that we can finally leave the pandemic behind us and have more gratitude for the freedom we have. I hope that 2022 is one that allows us to fulfil some of our ambitions and gives us drive to be better to ourselves and each other. Happy New Year.

Light Field

I visited a light art installation by Anthony James which is currently being shown at Marble Arch. It’s called Light field. I really enjoy light art, especially if creates optical effects.

Looking into the hexagonal shapes made it look like the space went on forever. There was a similar styled longer shape too. I also liked the square boxes, all placed in a uniform way. The boxes changed colour in time to some music being played, which I found quite relaxing to watch.

The exhibition is at the Mound and is free. Worth a look I think.

Looking for lions in London

I came across the Tusk Trail on social media and thought it would be a nice way to wander around London. There are 27 life sized lion statues dotted around London so my sister and I decided to try and find them all.

Like previous trails that have been left in years past, these statues too have been painted by various celebrates to be auctioned later for charity.

These first ones we found were around Burlington arcades. I really like the flowery lion. And the sunset scene on the other was a liked too, it made me think of the savannah.

There were also a few outside on the road nearby. I think my favourite is the ombre lion, with the colours going from orange, yellow and silver seamlessly. I really like the shiny-ness of it too.

We found some more in a church courtyard too. There were kids ticking off the lions they found on a sheet of paper they each had, which was I thought that was a nice activity.

These next ones were placed near Piccadilly Circus.

After finding these we moved towards Leicester Square.

On other roads nearby there were a few more. I really like the blue one with the scenery.

We then made our way towards Trafalgar square where we found a couple in the square itself and a few more in the area. I like the detail of the black and white with the red mane really standing out.

Last stop was Covent Garden where there were 2 more.

We found 26 out 27 as one had been removed, and we had a long but enjoyable walk around London. I think these trails are quite fun and inexpensive and something that anyone can take part in. I look forward to seeing what comes in future years.

Whipsnade Zoo

I went to Whipsnade Zoo this summer with my sister and her family. It’s partnered with London Zoo I visited a few years ago. Whipsnade Zoo is huge so we started from one side and made our way round.

The animals are sectioned according to the continent they came from, so we started with Africa. The first animals we saw were chimpanzees. They were a bit far away but I liked that they had a lot of space to move around. We then moved onto the penguins which again I was pleased to see had a huge space and also a great view of the English landscape.

As we made our way along the path we suddenly spotted an animal that was outside like us! After a closer look we saw it was a wallaby hiding in the long grass. Did it escape?! Turns out no; there’s wallabies and Maras (like giant Guinea pigs) that are allowed to roams free. My 2 year old niece had fun chasing after the Maras, much to our amusement.

Getting over our surprise we next visited other animals typically found in Africa; rhinos, giraffes (my favourite), lions, ostriches, meerkats and zebras. Lions apparently sleep up to 20 hours a day so I didn’t hold much hope in seeing them running around. There was a cheetah too but they were hard to spot sleeping in the tall grass.

Walking along leaving the Africa section we turned a corner to see sudden bright pops of pink! Flamingoes!

Their pink feathers looked so lovely against the greeny water. There were flamingo chicks, their feathers stull grey, pelicans and herons all surrounding the same pond.

After stopping for lunch and a rest we made our way to the next section, the Asian continent. Here we saw elephants and tigers. The tigers were also pretty sleepy, making little movement. Nearby was an area dedicated to dinosaurs. There were various shaped and sizes, some growling and moving. My niece of 7 enjoyed making scared faces at them and digging for fossils.

Next we ventured into the aquarium and butterfly house. The kids enjoyed seeing the various fish and it was nice to go at a slower pace. By the time we reached the butterfly house my youngest niece was fast asleep and the older one didn’t like butterflies so didn’t stick around. I’m not fond of flying insects in closed spaces myself but I did manage to take some nice close up photos of some of the calmer butterflies.

Last stop was the farm, here they had a striking long haired Poitiven donkey, cows, ponies, alpacas, hens, rabbits and my little niece’s favourite baby goats! Feeling refreshed after her nap she spent her time petting, chasing after and hugging them.

I always feel conflicted when visiting zoos as I feel sad that animals are kept in smaller spaces than they would be in the wild. But the truth is that zoos can play an important part in conservation and survival of some animals. Seeing them in large, open spaces in nice and I’m glad that they seem to be well looked after at Whipsnade.

Eid-ul-Adha 2021/1442

Eid-ul-Adha has visited us again. All restrictions have been eased here in England but we still need to be careful as the pandemic isn’t over yet, not for us, not for the world. The pilgrimage (hajj) in Saudi Arabia was limited to just residents again this year, but we can all mark the days as special wherever we are. I pray that the pandemic eases for everyone, that we cherish the time we have with our loved ones and Allah has mercy and bestows forgiveness on us all. A reminder to also think of those in hardship across the world and hope that their prayers are answered.
Eid Mubarak everyone, I hope you all enjoy this blessed day wherever you are. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

It was really hot and sunny in the UK recently so to make the most of it my family and I wanted a day out. The place we chose was RHS Garden Hyde Hall, which is an outdoor space with various types of gardens.

There were so many different types of plants and flowers, some I’d never seen before and most that I’d never be able to name. We started off looking at a little garden that had a variety of flowers, my favourites were the huge, eye catching, red poppies. I’ve never seen them that size before.

We then walked down to the fish pond that also had water lilies.

As it getting quite hot, we stopped for ice cream and a little rest. Nearby was a dry garden that overlooked the far reaching green hills below.

We walked on and saw beautiful flowers wherever we looked. It was amazing to see such a variety of flowers in every shape and colour you could imagine. Although I seem to be drawn to the purple ones the most.

I also spotted some light pink poppies, again I’d never seen this colour before and never in this size (they were about the size of a melon). Maybe there’s something in the water here.

We then took a path that led us to the Sky Meadow. Curious as to what this could be we came to a field full of wildflowers and a lovely calming view. I imagine the name comes from the fact that the sky meets the meadow and that’s all you see.

After resting for a while we made our way past a huge lake and a lovely green expanse which was lined neatly with tall trees and an interesting sycamore structure in the middle. The kids wanted to play so we headed in the direction of the play area that also had some fun animal structures .

The last part we saw was the Winter garden which consisted of foliage that would keep growing and survive the cold. There were some figures of leaves, showing stages of decay as you walked along, that I really liked. Nearby was also a pathway lined with hundreds of foxgloves.

We then made our way to the shop, where we picked up some lovely plants for my mum. My favourite being these Galaxy sky petunias that were quite striking.

The visit to RHS Garden Hyde Hall was a really nice one, there was so much to see and so many winding pathways that lead to unexpected spots. I felt a little rushed on this visit and the heat tired us out too, but I’d like to come back again in another season, see what else is growing and hopefully take it a little slower.

Visit to Maldon

I went to Maldon recently with family as the weather was nice. We headed to Maldon with Hythe Quay nearby. There were lots of sailing boats, the masts and sails high above our heads. I love the colours and details of the embellishments of the boats.

There were boat trips being taken down Blackwater river, which looked quite fun.

We opted just to sit and watch, enjoy our picnic and the cool breeze.

We didn’t spend too long here as there wasn’t much to do, so having rested we made our way back to the car. It was nice to see the calming blues of the water even for just a short while.

Colours of Spring

Spring is in full swing here in London so went to our local parks and into my garden to see what kinds of flowers I could spot.

The earliest flowers to be seen are the daffodils and croci. There were swathes of bright yellow daffodils in some parks that I visited, which was always pleasant to see. The flowers blooming early in my garden was a huge camellia tree with vibrant perfect looking pink flowers and magnolias. These magnolias were on a huge tree I spotted in someone’s front garden. It was quite a magnificent sight.

Later the flowers that opened up were varied and some I haven’t seen before like Blue Pasque flowers which I thought were quite fascinating. And as always a tree full of blossoms is a sure sign that Spring is here.

I’m lucky to have a few parks where I live and am able to go for long walks with lots of visual stimulus to enjoy. I always find myself stopping to tale a closer look at flowers I come across, each that brings it’s own beauty and joy.

Blue poppy

I haven’t taken any macro photos in a while, so when I bought my mum some flowers there were some lovely rich violet anemones also known as blue poppies that I thought were stunning and deserved a closer look.

I love the detail and texture of the petals and the indigo pollen that has fallen on to some of them. The small cluster of stamen in the centre create a balance against the smooth simple petals. And the yellow stigma is a nice contrast to the violet.

Even before fully open the petals seem to look like they are hiding a treasure in the centre.

These flowers are a real joy to look at and were a real pleasure to photograph. I hope to do take some more macro photos soon.

Ramadan Mubarak 2021/1442

Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims fasting during this holy month. We’ve just had an easing of restrictions here in the UK so while we are able to see family and friends outdoors we still aren’t able to fill the mosques at prayer times or gather in each other’s homes to open our fasts. But I’m grateful that we can see each other somehow, which is a big change from last year. I’m grateful that my loved ones and I have been able to stay safe and see another blessed Ramadan. I have also been lucky to have been sent some Ramadan treats from my friends which I will enjoy; a box of delicious medjool dates and a package including prayer beads, a scarf, rose scent and some chocolate.

Ramadan Mubarak, may this month be one where we can come closer to God, break old habits and form better ones, and I pray that we are forgiven our sins and that we all continue to help each other through what has been a tough year for everyone.