Trekking across London

The weather has been really sunny and mild recently so I decided to make a trip to Central London.

I headed towards Regents Park where there were plenty of blossoms that looked lovely and Spring-like

I then decided to walk to the other end of Regents park, up to Primrose Hill to look at the London skyline. It looked great on this sunny and clear day

I then walked back to the other end (via the London Zoo entrance where I spotted some zebras) and walked through the well kept pretty gardens and near the lake where I saw a statue like Herring.

I left the park and made my way to Trafalgar Square and then Covent Garden. There was huge rainbow made of cans to encourage recycling which I though was a cool idea.

At this point, having walked almost 27k steps I was exhausted and made my way home to put my feet up. It’s always a joy to visit London, even more as things are starting to get back to normal after a couple of difficult years.

London Christmas lights

London seems to have really upped it game in regards to Christmas lights this year. Having seen a few photos on social media my sister and I decided to go have a look around. Here are some of what we came across and liked.

Some building had lights all over, while others had a more subtle look

There were also more simple lights that I really liked, like the stars strung across Oxford Street.

The lights look really festive and seem to bring a much needed uplift to what has been another tough year for everyone.

Frieze Art 2021

I have visited the Frieze art festival for the last few years and after the absence of last year’s display, it was nice to see it back. The pieces are displayed in Regents park and is free to the public.

Here’s what we saw at this year’s festival. Some of the pieces were huge and others were quite playful. I like the huge colourful panels that you could walk through. The red shape in the trees was made up of recycled bottles which I thought was a timely piece.

I think my favourite art piece on display was the cloud with lightening strikes. I just love storms and lightening.

Other pieces had more poignant messages. The mass of tangles wire was wrought from the salvaged remains of the security fence raised around the U.S. Embassy in Oslo after 9/11. The stack of colourful spheres depicted motherhood and the female body. The red circular piece allowed you to sit on it and play, I had to ask some kids to get off for a moment so I could take a picture as they were clearly enjoying themselves.

I also liked the more odd pieces. The giant pineapple was fun and the meaning of it was amusing as it was meant to be wry commentary on the ‘prickly woman’. And the monster was strange, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or whether it made me uncomfortable.

Another fun piece I enjoyed was a huge semi circle made up of colourful panels. I enjoyed looking through the different colours at the landscape around me.

I thought there were some interesting art pieces at this year’s Frieze and I enjoyed having a look, and pondering about the meaning of some of them. I look forward to seeing what will be shown for next year.

Family day out to Southend

Summer in London has not been great this year weather wise. It’s been fairly cool and overcast most days, so when the sun came out bright and hot towards the end of summer we decided to make the most of it. The nearest coast to us is Southend on Sea so my family and I made decided to take a trip.

While we waited for others to arrive we wandered around the shops. I saw these mask shaped earrings that I thought were interesting.

When everyone had arrived we had a quick lunch and then made our way towards the pier, which is said to be the longest pleasure pier in the world at 1.33 miles long. The sky was bright and the sea was a beautiful blue and with a cool breeze we all set off.

At the end of the pier we all treated ourselves to ice creams and slushies, and taking in the beautiful blue sea, skies and sun.

After a rest, we sent my mum and the kids on the train back to shore and the rest of us walked. With the sun now low in the sky and the tide going out, the light cast some lovely silhouettes and shadows on the water.

We were pretty tired after that and after a quick visit to the gift shop we headed home for an even bigger family gathering and much needed dinner.

Looking for lions in London

I came across the Tusk Trail on social media and thought it would be a nice way to wander around London. There are 27 life sized lion statues dotted around London so my sister and I decided to try and find them all.

Like previous trails that have been left in years past, these statues too have been painted by various celebrates to be auctioned later for charity.

These first ones we found were around Burlington arcades. I really like the flowery lion. And the sunset scene on the other was a liked too, it made me think of the savannah.

There were also a few outside on the road nearby. I think my favourite is the ombre lion, with the colours going from orange, yellow and silver seamlessly. I really like the shiny-ness of it too.

We found some more in a church courtyard too. There were kids ticking off the lions they found on a sheet of paper they each had, which was I thought that was a nice activity.

These next ones were placed near Piccadilly Circus.

After finding these we moved towards Leicester Square.

On other roads nearby there were a few more. I really like the blue one with the scenery.

We then made our way towards Trafalgar square where we found a couple in the square itself and a few more in the area. I like the detail of the black and white with the red mane really standing out.

Last stop was Covent Garden where there were 2 more.

We found 26 out 27 as one had been removed, and we had a long but enjoyable walk around London. I think these trails are quite fun and inexpensive and something that anyone can take part in. I look forward to seeing what comes in future years.

Protesting for Palestine

I have been passionate about supporting the rights of Palestinians for many years now so when violence broke out in Gaza in the last few days of Ramadan it was difficult to see. In the weeks that followed there were many protests in support of Palestinians and against the abuse of power displayed by Israel, across the UK and across the world. I joined one protest a few weeks ago to show my support.

The route for the protest was along some of London’s famous backdrops. I joined them at Trafalgar Square and we made our way past Piccadilly Circus.

The route of the protest took about an hour to walk. We then all congregated in Hyde Park for speeches from politicians, organisers and academics. Even a heavy downpour wasn’t enough to scatter the crowd.

This protest is said to be the largest ever held in Britain for support of Palestinians and their rights. An estimated 200,000 people marched in London on this day. I pray that Palestinians are given their human and civil rights and that they are able to live in peace and freedom like so many of us take for granted.

I have Jewish colleagues and friends that I respect and I know that Judaism is a religion of peace. It’s Zionism that Israel promotes, a political ideal that leads to racism and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. I’d also like to point out there is no room for anti-Semitism in support for Palestine.

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.

Lake District

On our drive back to London from Scotland we decided to make a stop at the Lake District. I’ve wanted to go to the Lakes for years so I was really looking forward to it. We were lucky with the weather too, as it was bright, sunny and a complete contrast to the day before at Loch Lomond.

We drove to one part of the area called Ullswater and got out to have a look around. Here there was a pier and a gift shop alongside a brilliant blue lake. Walking around the lake the scenery was just beautiful with vibrant blues and greens everywhere you looked.

Having walked for a while the kids were getting tired and the older ones getting bored (teenagers eh!) so we headed back to the car. We next drove to another part of the Lakes and this time leaving the grumpy teenagers behind with their gadgets we went for another walk.
We came across a couple of families that were getting their boats into the water at a part of the lake that was low enough to do so. We watched for a while intrigued to see that people did this.

After some time we continued down a road and then some smaller paths. It was quieter and less busy, and anyone we did pass said hello which we thought was very friendly. There were also people swimming in this part of the lake as it was less deep. My niece found some blackberries which I helped her pick and we also came across some strange rock formations. No idea what these were for.

We eventually went back to the car to check up on the teenagers and then we drove to our final spot in the Lakes. We drove uphill to a small church that was tucked away in the hills. From there we were able to hike up to the top of steep hillsides.

The climb was easy because the earth and grass were soft and it wasn’t slippery but it was difficult because of just how steep it was. After walking uphill for about 10 minutes I found myself breathing harder than I expected! It was well worth it though. As we climbed higher and higher the view became more and more breathtaking.

When we finally reached as far as we could due to time restraints we stopped and just took in the view. The landscape was stunning, and the sun bursting through the clouds casting light spots and shadows across the hills was just wonderful. It really was soul food to just look around and see how beautiful this world can be.

We soaked in the view for a while and then carefully and steadily made our way back to the church where the car was, passing lots of friendly smiley people along the way. We were a bit disappointed to not have been able to make it to the top so my brother in law took a short cut and drove up to a high point. From here you could see the hills, the lake glittering in the sun and the tiny sailboats on the water. It was an amazing view.

We finally started making the long journey back home, hoping to beat traffic and arrive early evening. It was a great summer break, visiting the Peak District, Scotland and the Lake District. I’m so pleased to be able to tick off a few places off my bucket list and it was a nice reprieve from the city and the tough year that 2020 has unexpectedly been.

Scotland Trip – part 3

After having spent the morning at a market and a museum we decided to spend the rest of the day at Loch Lomond, which is a well known beauty spot in Scotland. One little village which sits on the loch is Luss so we started there.

It was a grey, overcast day but we decided to make the most of it. Due to the mishaps of the morning we arrived a at Luss in the late afternoon so we decided to go into the shops first as they would close soon. They had a strange but interesting fairy house and a giant toadstool nearby.

As we arrived so late we missed the chance to take a ride on a speed boat.

We instead decided to take out a pedal boat which were still available to hire. It was harder than it looked but the slower pace allowed us to take in the scenery around us. The lake was huge and the distant hills seemed to go on for miles.

After the boat trip we decided to go to some other notable points around the lake. One tucked away spot was where there was a waterfall. We took a beaten down path through the woodland and followed the sound of roaring water.

The waterfall looked amazing, but I didn’t get a chance to try any fancy photography tricks as the air was filled with tiny little midges which were flying into our faces! There was also an iron tunnel nearby which led to a closer view of the waterfall.

Having spent a while exploring the area and getting tired of waving our hands around our faces we moved onto the next, hopefully midge free spot. Driving further around the loch we found a walkway that stretched out over the water which was very peaceful.

This last stop we made was to a viewing tower over looking the loch. There were also benches to sit on and lots of wildflowers around to admire.

Climbing to the top it was now dusk. If the weather had been clear we would have a seen a beautiful sunset over the lake. I was a bit disappointed but not too much as the view was still pretty amazing.

After spending some time at the top and taking in the view and the quiet we decided to start the long journey back to the hotel, along dark, winding, narrow roads to get some rest and some food. Although the day didn’t quite go as planned we still enjoyed it and managed to explore some of what Scotland has to offer.