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.

Eid-ul-Adha 2022/1443

Happy Eid to everyone who is celebrating Eid-ul-Adha. I hope you all have a great day with your families and friends, enjoying lots of nice food and receiving gifts. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

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.

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.

Thinking Spot

I’ve had a contemplative few weeks this summer and I’ve been wanting to find a quiet space and just think and de-stress. This spot I came across was perfect. With a stunning view and no one else around, it was just what I needed. I wasn’t able to stay for long but the view was a sight for sore eyes and the swift wind felt like it was sweeping away my frustrations as it rushed past me.

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).