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.

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.

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.

Light-seeing in London

My niece has been asking me to take her to London to see the Christmas lights and yesterday I thought I’d show her around. We started at Trafalgar Square to see the fountains, lions, Nelson’s Column and the huge festive tree. After a walk around we went to Leicester Square where there was a Christmas market and we treated ourselves to some sweet mini pancakes.

We then walked towards Oxford Street to see the lights there and maybe take a peek at the sales in a few shops, before stopping for a much needed lunch. Carnaby Street was next on out destination, which has some interesting artworks and displays.

As it got darker and the lights began to shine we went on to St Christopher’s Place, another little place that’s hidden away.

We finished at Marble Arch after a fun but tiring day. My niece said I sounded like a tour guide pointing out landmarks, so hopefully I did a good job.

Lumiere London – Part 2

The Lumiere event that my sister and I went along to recently was spaced out over various areas across London. Part 1 covered the innovative light artworks in Mayfair and Regent Street, and this post will cover the remaining areas.

After our walk through Regents Street we headed towards Trafalgar Square. I love Trafalgar Square anyway so with this light festival I was looking forward to see what was on show. In front of the National Gallery the words ‘Central Point’ were illuminated (these are normally found on top of a building on Oxford Street) and the iconic fountains were filled with light and plastic bottles. My favourite in this area were the neon dogs, which were so colourful and fun.

After seeing the dogs we hurried on to the next area on the map, Leicester Square. On approaching we could see an array of wonderful bright colours and could see that the whole area had been transformed into a garden of light. There were enormous lit flowers and colourful trees and I think this was my sister and my favourite spot on the map. My photos don’t show just how much the colours popped but it was a a really pretty sight.

Our last stop on the map was at Kings Cross, here the installations were a bit easier to find and closer together. There were some really innovative ideas; some light sticks to draw on the ground, a fun light show projected onto a large building and rainbow tunnel made up of coloured bottles. A little extra thing we spotted were candy floss on light sticks, which we thought was such a simple but effective idea.

All in all my sister and I had a great but exhausting evening, we walked around London on a cold night for approximately 4 hours and manged to see all but a handful of what was on show. We thought it was a great event and one that certainly lived up to the promise of showing us the city in a new light. I think we both agree that we would definitely go along to this event again if it was held next Winter. For more photos you can check out my sisters post of the evening here.