London Lights 2018

I’ve been to London a few times these last couple of months, and as the Festive season has approached I’ve seen lots of interesting, pretty, bright decorations and trees being put up. I thought I’d share some of the ones that I just had to stop and snap.

Some looked better in the day time or in bright light. I really liked the neon trees that have a simple shape and design and really caught my eye, and I loved the huge, moving robot on the tree at St Pancras station – something very different.

Then there were others that sparkled in the night when the sun went down, the presents atop the car in Covent Garden was a fun display, but I think I really enjoyed looking at the tree at King’s Cross alongside the mini fountains, and the light bouncing off the water.

It’s always fun walking around London, finding things that you least expect, and it’s been even more interesting in the darker, colder months when coming across the unexpected, brings a smile to your face.

I hope you all have a great festive season and have a lovely time with family and friends.

Bournemouth Family Trip

At the end of Summer I went to Bournemouth for a few days with my family, it was initially meant to be a several days away for a few of us, but in the end it was 15 of us in our cars heading to the coast.

On the day we got to Bournemouth and once we were settled into our hotel rooms, we decided to make the most of the rest of the day and headed to the beachfront. Although it was late summer it was still pretty warm, especially as we have had an incredibly hot summer this year in the UK.

We all spent time splashing around in the sea, relaxing on the beach and then when it became too cold we started our way back to our room to freshen up and then go to dinner. I found it incredibly refreshing to be by the sea and away from the city landscape.

The next day we split up into smaller groups, with my group first going to the aquarium. I didn’t really take many photos here as the lighting wasn’t great, and with the thick glass it was difficult, so I just enjoyed my young nieces’ excitement at the various fish and sea creatures they saw and tried to guess the names of, and walked steadily through the exhibits taking in the sights, sounds and smells.

After the aquarium we decided to go to the gardens that were nearby. There are Lower, Central and Upper Gardens, which seem to stretch on for miles, with changing flora and fauna to create various textures as you walk through.

After lunch we had planned to do some more activities but it rained for the rest of the day. It didn’t stop me though; I asked my sister, her husband and her daughter to pick me up and we made our way to another beach close by called Boscome. It was still raining steadily and it was quite windy too on the seafront, but I thought it felt refreshing and a change from the sun. I was also really pleased to find some colourful beach huts, which I have been on the look out for whenever I go to the coast.

We didn’t stay too long, as it was getting cold and quiet late. After my sister dropped me back at my hotel I rested before getting ready for dinner and then to watch the fireworks on the pier.

On the third day we packed our bags and checked out, ready to leave Bournemouth, but before we did we made a detour to Durdle Door, which is along the Jurassic Coast, and is a World Heritage Site. I’ve been go Durdle Door a few years ago and loved it, so I definitely wanted to visit again. There’s a really steep rocky path that leads from the car park to the coast edge, and then a steep set of stairs that lead to the beach. On my last visit you had to walk strategically on rocks to get down and then back up again, thankfully since then they’ve carved out steps that make it much easier.

The view from the top was amazing, and we were lucky to have some fantastic, sunny weather too, making the blues of the sea and sky really striking.

Once on the beach we soaked in the sun and the sea breeze while walking along the pebbly beach.

We didn’t stay too long, before making our climb back up to the car and heading towards another place nearby called Lulworth Cove. This is also along the Jurassic Coast and seemed to have a lot of boats sitting in the arc made naturally by the sea.

After sitting on the white pebbled beach and relaxing for a while, we made our way back to the car, visiting the gift shop along the way and started our very long journey home.

The trip to Bournemouth was great, I really liked that there was a lot to see and do, and most of it didn’t cost very much or was completely free. We had some really good weather and I loved walking along the various seafronts, and exploring the seemingly endless gardens. I would go back again some day as I’m sure there’s much more to do than what we covered in the few days that we were there.

Shrouds of the Somme

Shrouds of the Somme is an exhibition by Rob Heard at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and is a physical representation of every one of the 72,396 British Commonwealth servicemen killed at the Somme that have no known grave. I went along with my sister to have a look and to remember all those that have fallen in war.

Each fallen servicemen was represented as an individual, miniature figure wrapped in a shroud. The figures were laid out in neat rows, and were slightly different to one another. Looking at the shrouds, it was astonishing and incredibly powerful to see just how large a number 72,396 is, a number that is difficult to comprehend in your head.

To one side of the field, there were a smaller number figures. These had placards at the head of each figure with a number and a date. The dates ran from the battles before the Somme in 1914 and ran to battles until 1918. There were dates for every day in those years. The numbers below the dates showed how many servicemen have died on that day. The deadliest day was at the start of the Somme, July 1st with 19,240 that died.

The exhibition was a very powerful one, and quite an emotional one my sister and I found. It was difficult, poignant and important to see just how many had died for our freedom and way of life.

I was pleased to see that there were lots of school children on a day trip to the see the shrouds. We have to hope that exhibitions like these have an impact on future generations and that we look for peaceful solutions to conflicts instead of violent ones that destroy families and communities.

This quote by the artist Rob Heard in the booklet I bought has stayed with me since I read it and I’m sure will stay with me for along time yet
“As a nation, we marked the beginning of the centenary of the beginning of the war with ceramic poppies in the summer sunshine and will commemorate the end with 72,000 dead bodies laid out in the November rain”

Chelsea in Bloom 2018

The Chelsea Flower Show is a world famous event that happens each year in London. Lucky for me though an alternative event called Chelsea in Bloom that takes place at the same time. Chelsea in Bloom is a flower competition that boutiques, restaurants and other retailers take part in around Chelsea, each showing off their creative flair. This year my sister and I decided to scout out the displays. The theme this year was ‘Summer of Love’ inspired by the Royal Wedding and the 60’s/70’s cultural revolution. Some of the shop fronts had pretty arches over doorways, others had some truly creative and beautiful pieces.

One that I really liked was the arch of blue and purple flowers, because it was really neat, I love blues and purples and most importantly the flowers smelled amazing. I can’t say the other displays really smelled of much but this one had a very fragrant smell, one that I wish I could have bottled.

The other ones that really stood out for me were the giant colourful skeletons, The pretty swans and the huge floral engagement rings. My other favourite was the hotel front covered entirely in flowers, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good photo of that as there was a double decker bus parked right in front of it!

It was quite tiring walking around, especially as the map provided wasn’t very accurate, but we did manage to find most of the flower displays and it was great to see fresh flowers used to create some really interesting, fun and sometimes beautiful displays. I think it was a nice, free, event and one that I can imagine revisiting next year.

The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist

The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square has recently become home to a new piece of art called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz and is a replica of Lamassu, a mythological beast that guarded Assyrian city of Nineveh, which was destroyed in 2005 in Iraq. In the hot sunshine, the colourful Iraqi date syrup tins pieces that make up the beast glimmered.

I really loved the colour, details and symbolism of this statue and I felt it was quite different to what’s been displayed in Square in the past.

If you have a chance I would definitely visit this piece of art which will be on display until 2020.

Primrose Hill

In North London there is a park call Primrose Hill, and when you climb up the steep hill, the park is names after, and reach the top you are rewarded with a stunning view of London’s skyline. I was lucky to go on a clear day and loved the urban London landscape juxtaposed with the nature’s greenery. I would definitely recommend a visit, but go early to beat the crowds.

Winter Lights 2018

The Winter season in London can sometimes feel long and cold, but to help brighten it up there have been a couple of light events to make the most of it getting dark early. There was Lumiere London which had art installations scattered around central London, and there was also a similar event held in Canary Wharf, which was just as great. This event was also held last year which was very good, so I was looking forward to this year’s.

One windy evening my sister and I headed down to see what was on show. There were installations indoors ad well as out but we decided to do the ones outside first. There were some really interesting ones that I really liked, such as Halo which was a ring of lights and to make it even better it was suspended above a pool of water giving it a nice reflection. My favourite was the wonderful Dodecahedron which you could also climb into to take in the stunning colours. The huge inflated, lit up rabbit was also cute I thought. There were also pieces that interacted with music or with movement by people that was interesting.

Once we’d seen all the installations outside, we headed indoors to see the ones displayed there as well as warm up, as we were freezing. I thought these ones were even lovelier than the ones outside. There was wearable fashion such as a dress with LEDs and a clutch that you could have words appear on.

One that was really intriguing, simple and so effective were the giant, colourful, bubble-like balloons hanging from rods. They were made from plastic strips and as they retracted and expanded they changed shape as they spun. My absolute favourite though, were the colourful mosaic lanterns that cast beautiful light patterns on the walls and ceiling. I did suggest it could be my next birthday present but I don’t think my sister will be taking it as they were quite pricey.

There were a few we couldn’t find but having wandered around Canary Wharf for long enough we decided it was time to go home. I thought this light event was really good, and I feel lucky to be able to see such great art installations close to home, which certainly helped brighten up the winter nights.

Lumiere London 2018

I’ve had a couple of busy weeks so far this year attending various events. One such event was Lumiere London which was back for a second year showcasing various light installations across London for 4 days. I went a couple of years ago to the first event that was held in London and when I heard it was back I couldn’t wait to see what was on show this time.

I met up with my sister just as it got dark in the early evening at Bond street and found our first piece, which was a see saw that lit up when you rode it. This was actually in London last year and I sadly missed out having a go, so was happy to be able to have a go this time, being the big kid I can be. After the see saws we looked for other light installations in the area and found a neon bike, coloured tube lights covering the front of a building and one of my favourites, coloured umbrellas that people were dancing around with. There were several other pieces too that played music when you struck them or as they came on or off that were interesting too.

The next area we went to was Oxford Street up to Piccadilly Circus. There were light shows projected on the buildings that changed with music, which was relaxing to watch and was good for larger groups of people. In this area there were also other pieces, one that I thought that was really fun and sweet was Supercube. It was made up of lots and lots of tiny jars and in the jars were images of tiny women dancing or people making faces coinciding with music. I thought it was really innovative and another of my favourite installations.

We then went to Leicester Square which was filled with lots of huge animal shaped paper lanterns that I thought where great. Nearby in Chinatown there were more animals, here there were cheeky flamingos flying around, weaving in and out of people which I thought was brilliant.

The final area that we explored was Kings Cross. We first came across huge desk lamps in a row with seating beneath them which made for a great photo backdrops. Further on we entered an area filled with mist and light beams shooting across it. The effect was quite cool and like something out of the Twilight zone.

After looking around at the other light pieces on show we headed home, after some 4 hours of walking around London looking at innovative, fun light art, I can honestly say we were exhausted, but it was an engaging evening and I hope they do one again next Winter.

Here’s to the best of 2017

We’ve reached the end of 2017 and in some ways it’s felt liked a long year, in another it’s like it passed by quicker than ever. I’ve been lucky to go to lots of amazing places this year with family and friends and I leave you with some of my favourite photos that I took. I hope 2018 is an amazing, blessed year for you and me and that the World is calmer, more peaceful and that ease comes to those experiencing hard times.

Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for taking an interest in my little world.

London’s Festive Lights

London has been looking very Christmassy these couple of months, and on my recent walks around the city here’s some of what I’ve come across.

Covent Garden has lots of decorations up.

I really liked the lights on Oxford Street, especially the glittery, golden waterfall inside one of the department stores.

My favourites was the trees made up of fluorescent coloured lights at Liverpool Street, in Shoreditch.

It’s really lovely to see all the effort that has gone in to making London festive and bright for this time of year.