Goodbye to 2020

Today is the last day of 2020, a year that was unexpected and tough for so many. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted almost every person in the world this year, and I’m no exception. There have been times that I have felt I could take things in my stride and others when I felt stressed, anxious and alone. But I always like to think that even in the worst of things, there’s always a silver lining and I think I tried to convey some of these in my photos this year, whether it was making the most of places being quieter and tourist free or just being grateful for the fact that we had long hot summer which is unusual for the UK. I was also happy to have ticked a few places off my bucket list which I didn’t expect like visiting Chatsworth House, the Lake District, and the confetti flower fields. My favourite photos of the year are shared below.

With several vaccines now available, I hope and pray that 2021 will be a better one for all of us, that with a little more patience and caution we will get through this once in a lifetime difficult, but shared experience and come out stronger together. I hope that all of our loved ones are safe and that we can enjoy each others’ company once again soon, very soon. Take care everyone and I wish you all a happy, healthy amazing year ahead.

London in Autumn

The weather in London has been fairly mild so far which means that there is still plenty of greenery still around. Taking a day off I went for a walk around London to see what I could spot.

I started off in Regents Park heading towards Queen Mary’s rose garden. The trees were bare but there was still plenty of life in the rose garden this late in the year.

Walking around the 85 rose beds I eventually came through to a tucked away Japanese style garden which was nice and serene. There was also a waterfall nearby but I ended up on a path leading towards a little island on the lake instead. There were still some lovely autumnal colours around this part of the park; the yellowing leaves on the branches of the weeping willow trees looked picturesque next to the lake.

Ending up on the far side of the park and lake there was plenty of wildlife. I love how the seagulls are perched on the wooden posts, all neatly in a line, and I was delighted to see a grey heron near some silver birch trees, standing stock still almost like a statue even as I approached it. There was also a huge tree with fiery red leaves that just seemed to glow even with the sun hidden behind thick grey clouds.

Heading out the park I headed towards Baker Street and the famous Sherlock Holmes’ address. I’ve been past before and there have been long queues outside the museum dedicated to the figure. This time due to the pandemic, there was not a person in sight.

Walking along I decided to see what Christmas decorations might be up around London. I went to Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and St Christopher’s Place. Along the way I passed some purple monkeys hanging upside down which made me smile.

Then I walked up to Piccadilly Circus and spotting a blue police box which I thought was interesting. Then went past Chinatown and Leicester Square where I caught sight of a statue of Harry Potter which was an addition to the other iconic statues dotted around.

My final stop was at Covent Garden. I usually avoid this place as it’s thronging with tourists all year round. On this particular visit the atmosphere was quite different. There were plenty of people milling around but no where near as busy as usual for this time of year.

The decorations were up but sadly not many people to admire them.

I really enjoyed walking around London, there’s always something new to explore and this trip was no different, however it did feel a bit like a ghost town in places. Where the streets and squares are normally full of people, whether they be Londoners or tourists, there were people out taking photographs like I was but not many more. I tried to make the most of this unique year by going to spots that I would normally avoid because they are so busy and enjoy being able to take photographs with no people walking in front of the lens, but I do hope that things return to how things were to some degree soon, as London just isn’t the same without the busyness and rush of the people who have things to do and places to be.

Chatsworth House

Earlier in the year my sister was kind enough to invite me to go away with her and her family for a few days to Scotland. We were driving up so we decided to make a stop on the way to break up the long journey from London. We stopped around half way at the Peak District and while we weren’t able to spend any time in the country park I did suggest going to Chatsworth House, a place I’ve wanted to go to for years (as any Pride and Prejudice fan will understand).

Driving towards the house I suddenly spotted it sitting in the amazing green landscape with the Peaks as it’s backdrop. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

We only had an afternoon so we decided to explore the gardens where we could also have a picnic instead of going inside the house. The gardens were huge and were broken down in different parts. There were flowery gardens which were organised and had some very pretty flowers in them.

There was also the Victorian rock garden where I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite impressed with. The kids (and some adults) seemed to love climbing up the rock sculptures which were scattered at different heights. We ended up climbing quite high after following steps to wherever they took us.

There was the Cascade Fountain on the grounds too, which had water flowing down a long pathway of steps. It was quite an amazing feature due to it’s size and how perfectly it sat in with the slope of the hillside.

Walking on, we found a maze which was sadly closed but I loved the gate at the parameters which seemed to be in the shape of the face of a certain gentleman perhaps.

We finally made out way around to the other side of Chatsworth house, where there was a huge fountain called the Emperor fountain. We had actually spotted the water shooting high up in the air on our drive down and wondered what it was. The water shoots up upto 300 feet into the air.

The Emperor fountain sits in front of the house. Here was the iconic view from the films and photos that we always see. The house was simply stunning in all grandeur.

The house had been celebrating dogs so there were statues of them scattered statues around the house. Maybe a good idea to help give the house some scale.

Having spent some time taking pictures and admiring the house we started making our way towards the gift shop and then the car as the kids (and the rest of us) were tired and the dark clouds that had been present all afternoon had finally decided to let loose and pour down on us. I really enjoyed our visit and it’s a place I can finally tick off my bucket list. I really hope I can come back one day and explore the house and walk further into the grounds. A memorable visit for sure.

Confetti Flower Fields

For 10 days every year the Confetti Flower Fields in Worcester open to the public. My sister and I have been trying to go for the last few years and this year we finally managed to. The flower fields are quite a long drive from London (about 3 hours), but my older sister and her husband were kind enough to drive us.

The flower flower fields are full of delphinium flowers which are later picked and turned in biodegradable confetti, hence the name Confetti flower fields.

The flowers are planted in colour blocks creating a really neat, picturesque view. I love how you can see the layers of flowers from the front to the back.

At the back of the field was a sunflower patch. There were hundreds of perfect looking, bright yellow heads looking up at the sky. The bees were having a feast with so many flowers to choose from.

Nearby there were also wildflowers that looked really pretty. In contrast to the delphiniums these were full of a range of flowers that each had a different kind of detail.

At the far end of the field looking across you were able to see all the flowers, the wildflowers, then the delphiniums and at the very end the sunflowers. They al looked quite beautiful in their own way.

We bought some honey at the shop that had been harvested only days before, and we soaked in the view sitting on some hay bales in the shade away from the hot sun. We all enjoyed the visit as it’s not often that you see a place that looks is so beautiful and like something out of a painting.

A Walk in the Park

The lockdown has been in force in the UK for 6 weeks or more now, and apart from going out to get food I haven’t really had a chance to go out for a walk (like most people), something I used to do every day before the pandemic made the world stop. The weather was lovely recently so I took the opportunity to go to the park and try and clear some cobwebs from my mind and to stretch my legs.

Walking in and seeing so much green made me want take a deep breath and soak in the fresh air.

Keeping my distance while walking around I found some lovely, vibrant pops of colour in the shape of some flowers big and small.

The walk did me a world of good and I’m grateful to have a lovely park that I can visit if I need to. I don’t plan on leaving it so long next time. I hope you’re all well, keeping safe and making the most of the situation whereever you are.

Springtime Park Visit

Things have changed a lot here in London over the last few weeks as I’m sure it has around the world. Before they did though I did spend a few days out and about. One sunny day I spent in a local park, taking in the blossoming trees and interacting with the wildlife, just as Spring was beginning to spring.

The sky was bright blue and the clouds were light and fluffy creating great reflections on the lake.

As I walked through the park I spotted lots of flowers already blooming or that had been planted to bring in some colour.

There was a smaller garden that I passed by which has a carved owl statue and some pretty gates. Nearby was a small stream where ducks and geese were soaking up the sunshine.

Further along were some huge vibrant green fields, the product of all the rain we’ve had recently. There were also lots of curious, friendly squirrels that were brave enough to come close enough for food. I eventually gave in and gave this cheeky little one some food I had in my bag, which it took straight out of my hand.

There were other little spots tucked away around the park which had some lovely flowers blooming too.

I enjoyed my walk around the park, always find it calming to be in nature and just to be able to switch off from the world for a while.

As things develop at a rapid and unsettling pace around the world, I hope you all are staying safe and well and that we all get through these unpredictable times. I pray that our loved ones are safe too and that this pandemic that has struck the world so suddenly disappears as quickly as it came.

A Mild Winter

It’s been a very mild winter here in London so far. Usually by now it’s freezing and sometimes there’s even snow. This year, as the temperature hasn’t dropped so much I have been coming across some pretty sights on my lunchtime walks.

I’ve loved seeing these vibrant yellow daffodils emerging and making the grey days seems brighter. On a Sunny day it’s easy to think that Spring has already arrived.

I also spotted these pretty pink flowers that really made me think of Spring, and these very neat vertical flowers that look a little surreal.

As much as it’s lovely to see spring-like flowers so early it does have me a little worried as it’s not normal. Are these effects due to climate change or is it just an odd winter? I think only time will tell.

Here’s to 2019

It’s the last day of 2019 and as always I like to share some of my favourite photos of the year gone by. I know I’ve been somewhat lacklustre in my posting this year but I still was able to visit some lovely places like the quaint Groomsbridge in Kent, the beautiful rose garden in Regents park, and celebrate my cousin’s wedding. I hope you all had an amazing year and were able to tick things off your lists of things to see and do.

Here’s hoping that 2020 is a year and the start of a new decade of happiness, good health, and fullfillment of our dreams. I also hope the world is a more peaceful, calmer place than it has been. Happy New Year to you all.

Queen Mary’s rose garden

I went to Regent’s Park earlier this year, when flowers and trees were all beginning to bloom at the start of spring. I passed by Queen Mary’s rose garden and told myself that I should come back when the roses had grown. A few weeks ago I did just that.

Queen’s Mary’s rose garden is the largest in London and you can see that it was, there were dozens and dozens of different kinds of roses, all shapes and colours, some fragrant others not so much, each one was wonderful in it’s own way.

My favourite was probably the beautiful ombre rose, which had the colours of a sunset, and was one that I’d never seen before.

Each type of rose had a name, some I forgot to check but the ones that I did spot were quite fun; Ingrid Bergman, Scent-sation and Valentine Heart among some. The Pride of England rose bush was huge with big red roses all over. The other rose that caught my eye was called Nostalgia, which was red at the bottom and white in the centre. It made me think of Alice in Wonderland’s ‘painting the roses red’ song.

Another rose that also stood out was one called Gorgeous, which I thought really was. With roses growing in close bunches it looked like one vibrant coloured flower.

There were also some mini roses growing from the tops of wooden frames near some benches and others that smelled amazing like the yellow roses.

There were so many other roses that I didn’t get a chance to see, either because I’d left my visit too late and they had diminished, I couldn’t find them and because I eventually ran out of time. The visit to Queen Mary’s rose garden was really amazing and I truly loved seeing all the beautiful roses that bloomed in such variety after I’m sure a lot of love and care from the gardeners. I think it’s become of my new favourite places in London.

Chelsea in Bloom 2019

The Chelsea Flower show is world famous and incredibly popular, so for those of us who can’t visit, an event called Chelsea in Bloom is a nice aternative. Shops in the Chelsea area take part in celebrating the flower show by decoratating their shop fronts in beautiful flowers. They compete with one another to create the best displays. Can you guess this year’s theme?

My sister and I went along one day to take a look. There were 88 displays in all but I don’t think we managed to see all of them. Some were really impressive, some were quite fun and others pointing to a more serious aspect of pollution.

I really liked the ‘pretty’ fish made of leaves and flowers.

Some displays were huge covering the height of the building while others had more detail to them.

My favourites displays were the purple shark, the oyster shell surrounded by colourful flowers, and the googly eyed octopus.

We spent a few hours walking around looking at the displays before we decided it was getting late and headed for home (not to mention we were exhausted). I thought some of the displays were really creative and colourful and I enjoyed seeing them. If you’re interested in seeing who the winners of the competition were click here.