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.

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.

Pops of Colour

With the recent cold snap here in London it’s nice to see early signs of colourful life emerging. I love seeing pops of colour unexpectedly appearing, something that always brings a smile to my face. Here are some lovely flowers I came across not so long ago. I hope they cheer you up as much as they did when I spotted them.

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.

Scotland Trip – part 1

I went to Scotland in the Summer with my sister and her family and having spent a day in the Peak district, the next day we continued driving north to our destination, Scotland.

On the drive up we could see the landscape change. The view became more hilly and the greens became deeper and more lush. With the grey clouds chasing us the view became quite dramatic but so beautiful.

Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in, found somewhere to have dinner and then had an early night.

The next day we spent at a theme park so the kids could have some fun (and me of course). We walked through the nearby country park to the rides on what was a bright, beautiful day. Quite a change from the day before.

We spent some time on the rides, and then we visited the small indoor rainforest which was also on site. Here they had some quite impressive species, and we spent time marvelling at the different and some quite deadly animals we could see.

We spent the afternoon at a park as the sun was out with some friends of my sister and her family who then invited us back to theirs for dinner, which was a nice end to the day.

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.

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.

My cousin’s Henna party

With my cousin’s wedding fast approaching there have been lots of celebrations, especially the traditional kind. My sisters, mum and I were invited over for a henna party, which gives all the ladies and girls in the family and among friends a chance to have fun and enjoy good food and each others’ company.

The house and garden had been decorated to look pretty and flowery.

A marquee had been erected in the garden for us all, which included a colourful seating area for the bride as well as other lovely touches.

The bride was dressed in a beautiful green and gold outfit with some lovely accessories. The guests were also wearing some pretty outfits. I love these colorful bangles my sister was wearing.

The evening began with women giving the bride advice on what they thought was useful to know going into married life, which was interesting but also somewhat embarrassing! Then it was time for food and some folksong singing, with some putting henna on their hands too. As the guests made their way to leave at the end of the evening they were handed boxes of Pakistani sweets to enjoy.

We all were invited over for a second evening too. This one was much like the first but with some more colourful and pretty outfits. I especially liked the bride’s lovely traditional Pakistani outfit of yellow and green with accessories to complete the look.

There was some more folksong singing, but with a dolki (drum) this time to help keep everyone in the same beat, which the young girls played singing twinkle little star to.

Everyone had a lovely time and we are all looking forward to the wedding in a couple of days time.

Groombridge Place

I recently went to Groombridge Place in Kent for a day out with my family. It seems to be a fairly popular tourist attraction but thankfully it wasn’t too busy the day we went.

Groomsbridge Place is a moated manor house and was used as Longbridge house, the home of the Bennet’s family in the film Pride and Prejudice. This was the view as we started to walk up to the main part of the site.

The manor was closed off unfortunately, but we could see the house and the details through the gate and over the low walls. I was quite excited to see this place as Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and it’s always fun to see places and buildings used in films too.

After we had a look at the manor house, we continued along the path up to the main entrance. Having bought our tickets we found a place to have our lunch and take in our surroundings. We spotted a Sherlock Holmes sign on one of the smaller buildings. It turns out that Arthur Conan Doyle regularly visited Groombridge.

After lunch we then decided to take a boat ride down the stream, looking out for wood beings along the way.

Departing from the boat we were near the play area, where there was a play about to begin. We left the kids and my mum to keep an eye on them and the rest of us decided to go into the Enchanted forest. The forest was quite wild, you could see some trees that had been tidied but left where they had fallen. The thing that jumped out the most was that there was seemingly an endless carpet of bluebells.

Getting closer we were enthralled by how beautiful the rich blue looked in the forest. I tried to get some close up photos but it was tricky as there were quite a few spiders which I could see, which I wasn’t too keen on.

We wandered around the forest for quite some time, there were quite a lot of steep parts and it was quite tiring, especially as it was becoming fairly hot, and the air starting to feel quite close. Along the way we found some interesting things. We found a huge totem pole, with expertly carved animals, some travellers caravans that were really pretty and intricately decorated, a huge amount of wild garlic plants, and my favorite, swings hanging from tree branches. There were some strung from high branches that swung over a carpet of bluebells which I thought was very picturesque.

Finally finding our way out we collected my mum and the kids (who all wondered where’d we’d been for so long) and made our way to the birds of prey show. Along the way we crossed paths with a family of geese, who hissed at us when we got too close to their gosling sand some zeedonks who were resting in the sun. The birds of prey show had some really cute, tiny owls that were great fun to watch as they ran around.

The star of the show was a falcon that flew incredibly fast over the crowd. I felt the wind clip past my head as it zoomed past at super speeds. Once it landed it enjoyed a well deserved meal.

Once the show was over we headed down to the gardens. There were some pretty, hidden away parts as well as areas that were more formally groomed. There were also peacocks walking around and showing off their beautiful feathers.

I really liked how neat some of the hedges and flower arrangements were.

After walking back to the main entrance we bought some souvenirs and headed back to the car. We were all pretty tired but we all had a really nice day out at Groombridge and all the beautiful, interesting things it had to offer.

Dholki party

I was recently asked to take photos at a dholki party that a friend of my sister’s was having. A dholki is a party that takes place before a wedding which involves dancing and singing traditional songs to the beat of a drum – a dholki. The event was held in a private space in a restaurant meaning that we would be able to have good food and then have a space for the entertainment. Dholkis are mainly for women (and young children), giving the women a chance to let their hair down without any inhibitions.

The theme of the event was peacock feathers with colours pulled out to decorate other parts of the space which I really liked.

The bride-to-be’s friends set up dessert tables near the entrance that I though were really creative and colourful. I thought the popcorn was a nice way to keep the kids happy until food was served. I also loved the cake shaped in a cushion.

After everyone had dinner cushions, the drum and song books were placed together so that everyone could sit and sing songs together.

Once everyone had sung enough songs, the floor space was cleared so that people could dance. The bride and her friends had choreographed a few dances together, which was fun to watch.

It was a fun evening and a nice way to give women close to the bride-to-be a chance to spend time together with the her and her family.