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.

The Old New Inn Model Village

I’ve always wanted to visit a model village, but have never been able to until now. On the way home from the Confetti Flower Fields we were passing by The Old New Inn Model Village so we decided to stop and take a look.

The model village is the only Grade II listed model village in the country and was first open to the public in 1937. Thee village is made up of older building and has been updated to include new shops as the times have changed.

The shops have have a lot of detail, you can see products in the windows and people sitting at mini tables. To give an idea of scale I asked my sisters to pose next to some houses.

There was a church model that when you got close enough to you could hear a choir singing, a mini zoo with penguins splashing and a little greenhouse with a gardeners and lots of mini pots and a barbeque. There was also a model famous red phone box, which was lovely to see.

One of my favourite things in the model village was a replica of the model village, which also had another replica of the model village!

There was also a model replica of the author Thomas Hardy’s cottage which is is the area (Dorset). He was born in the area and stayed to write a number of novels.

The details that had been put into the model buildings was impressive. Shops windows with products, gardens with plants and one that even a real mini pear tree that had pears growing on it. It’s nice to see that the attraction had been maintained for so many years and that it was well looked after, reflecting the town in modern times as well as old. It was an enjoyable visit and a fun detour.

Scenes in the Square

Earlier this year iconic film character statues were unveiled in London’s Leicester Square. Leicester Square is the perfect spot for the statues, seeing as it’s the location where all the big film premiers take place.

The statues are of characters from different eras of cinema so people of every age will be able to recognise some of them at least. I think one of my favourites was Bugs Bunny sitting a flower bed. The sunflowers growing around the statue added a nice summery, colourful touch.

We also found Mary Poppins, Mr Bean and Charlie Chaplin.

Harder to spot were Laurel and Hardy, up on the roof of the ticket office. Another one I really liked was Gene Kelly from his iconic song in Singing in the Rain. The statue felt so animated.

I thought these statues were a really nice selection and like that there were both British and American film icons, real life and made up. Batman and Wonder Woman were hiding somewhere in the area too but I didn’t find them. You can also do an audio tour. Next time maybe.

The End

I went to Trafalgar Square, one of my favorite spots in London, to check out the new piece of artwork on the Fourth Plinth. The piece is called The End by Heather Phillipson, and is a giant ice cream with a cherry on top, and with a fly and a drone stuck into it on each side.

I thought it was quite an interesting piece of work. Depending on which side you look at it might promote curiosity (the drone) or disgust (the fly). The piece is meant to represent Trafalgar Square as a place of celebration and protest.

What I thought was an interesting touch is that the artwork transmits a live feed of Trafalgar square from the drone’s point of view.

As a side note, I did think Trafalgar Square was very quiet for this time of year. Only a few people meandering. Although I enjoyed the place not being busy, it was a touch sad as to the reason why this tourist location usually buzzing at time of the year was so quiet.

Back into London

It’s been a while since I went into London or anywhere away from home due to the pandemic that’s sweeping the globe. After a tough few months trying to keep myself and loved ones safe the pandemic has lessened in parts of the UK. While we all still need to be careful and take precautions, I decided to go into London one day. I’ve missed London and with Eid celebrations coming up, I wanted to see if I could find any gifts.

I went early and it wasn’t busy meaning that I could take pictures of these colourful mosaics in an underground station that normally have swathes of people passing across all day long.

I also found some street art on Oxford street and banners hung from above thanking our hardworking NHS.

I wandered around the shops for a while, found a few nice gifts and just enjoyed being in the centre of London again. I’ll continue to be careful as we need to be, but I really hope things continue to get better and that we all find a sense of normality soon.

Winter sunset

One of the things I love in Winter, especially on a cloudless day are the amazing sunsets that I can see from my desk at work. The beautiful shades of orange and yellows that blaze just before succumbing to darkness always makes the London skyline that I can see in the distance even more enticing.

Freize Sculpture 2019

Regent’s Park was host to the Frieze Sculpture event again this year. I’ve enjoyed the artworks displayed in previous years so decided to take a look to see what was on offer this time. The park has been called a museum without walls and it seems like that’s just what it is with artworks surrounded by greenery.

There were some interesting pieces on show; one that caught my eye was a golden cello made of bees. I also liked the giant toy car and I really liked what the Superhero Cog woman represented by strong, stable cogs

Other pieces that stood out to me included the large Japanese cartoon character, My Melody, and the weather vanes that had inspiring words on them. I also thought that the Laura Asia’s Dream sculpture of a large face set at an angle was quite skillfully made.

My favourite artwork was a quintessentially English ball that represented a country house. I love how neat it has been tied up into a ball.

I thought the giant blue egg was cool, it was supposed to emit sounds that a baby bird in an egg would make but I couldn’t hear anything myself.

Other sculptures made you think, like the bridges which you could also walk over, words about climate change carved in them.

Another piece that I thought was quite immersive and one of the highlights was One through Zero, which consisted of giant bronze numbers in a circle, like a clock.

I thought some of the sculptures in this year’s Frieze were fun, interesting and quite unique, and I enjoyed looking at and contemplating what they stood for. I look forward to seeing what next year brings.

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.

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.

Regents Park in Spring

The recent Easter break in London was accompanied with soaring temperatures, and I wanted to make the most of having a couple of extra days off work and the great weather. I love the royal parks in London so I decided to explore Regents park especially as Spring is well and truly in swing.

The area surrounding Regents park is quite posh, the Regency style buildings look really elegant with their tall pillars. Upon entering the park I was greeted with a beautiful, colourful flower display, a theme that carried on throughout the park.

Walking through the main path I came across a pretty pink, blossomed tree overhanging a stream that I thought looked iconic of Spring.

Walking over the nearby bridge I came across wonderful weeping willow trees and what I loved even more was that the humble daisy was making it’s mark too among it’s beautiful cousins by creating what seemed a carpet white. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many daises before.

Further on I came across some more beautifully arranged flower displays, the colours and types all cleverly and carefully working together.

Moving away from the flower displays I spotted trees that had pink and white blossoms. There were plenty of flowers on the trees but the grass seemed to be covered in pink and white petals, making all look very pretty. One blossom tree that really intrigued me had dark red flowers and red leaves too. I’ve never seen a tree like this before so it was nice to come across it.

Following the path through the trees I came across a garden with a waterfall so I tried to make the water look misty by slowing down the shutterspeed. I think my photo came out ok but I still need to work on my skills.

Also in the area I saw a well-dressed scarecrow guarding the allotments and its early sprouting vegetables, people sheltering from the sun under the long droopy branches of willow trees with a book, and a really interesting but slightly creepy tree with branches that were growing and intertwining with the fence it was next to.

As well as the areas of that park that were groomed and very orderly, there was a section that had trees and foliage growing more wildly. I liked that you could go off track if you wanted to and get lost among tall tress and less beaten path.

At this point, having walked around for a few hours (and getting lost a couple of time), it was starting to become quite hot and I was getting tired, so I thought I should leave and get something to eat. I headed towards the Avenue gardens and the exit nearby. The Avenue gardens have lots of formal displays of flowers and fountains. I like that they have used flowers in some of the fountains too instead of water to create an interesting look.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Regents park and I loved the wonderfully varied, colourful, flower displays, which all made me smile. I look forward to visiting other royal parks soon and coming back here to see what more there is.