London walk about

I know some parts of London quite well but with it being a large city there’s still plenty for me to discover. On my recent walk with a friend I was able to see some well known landmarks up close as well as unexpectedly come across buildings that I thought were very interesting.

We started at Leadenhall Market which looked very grand with its high arched roof and traditional style shops. We then walked along and discovered a really tall, steel building which looked quite futuristic to me. I was surprised to learn that it was actually a bank. One building that we were drawing closer to and that I was particularly excited to see was one of my favourite buildings in London, The Gherkin. I see it every day on the train into work but had never up close, so I was really pleased to see it from the ground up, even in the rain.

We then walked along to the Tower of London where we found an artful looking pride of lions guarding the walls, and along the banks of the River Thames there were some stylish, unique igloos that you could enjoy some lunch in. I wasn’t able to sit in them but they did look cosy and inviting with a great view of the river and London’s skyline.

Next up was Borough Market where there were lots of stalls selling a range of great products. The ones with the sweet treats especially caught my eye. Around the corner and something hard to miss was one of London’s newest and tallest landmark, The Shard. I was delighted to be able to get close as I’d seen it from far away so many times. Whenever I get up close to a tall building I always have to tip my head right back and look straight up at the top.

On the last part of our walk was St Paul’s Cathedral. We were lucky enough to get there just a it’s loud bells began ringing (and we discovered why later when we stumbled across a bride and groom that had just been married inside). I don’t think my photos quite did the famous, grand cathedral justice but it’s a huge building that has a great level of detail and history to it.

The walk took us most of the afternoon and tired us out, so after listening to the church bells for a while we headed to the station and towards home. I was able to see some famous, beautiful landmarks as well as lesser known spots that held my attention and made me smile. I hope to come back to some of these one day and venture inside to see what else there is to discover.

London Zoo

London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world, and it’s one that I never got round to visiting, until now. On the day that I went it was cold but bright, meaning that I would get some good photos and that it wouldn’t be too busy; I think I was right on both counts.

On arriving I first headed towards the small mammals area. They looked curious and peeped out from their hiding places to see who had come to visit. After a quick look I headed towards the lions that are newly housed there and were one of the reasons that I wanted to visit. As they were one of the main attractions the area was decorated and staged as if it could be an authentic Indian village, with colourful paintings and props. The lions themselves were huge and very impressive and with only a pane of glass between them and us, I was able to have a look up close and see the might of such creatures.

Next I went on to see the petting animals where they had some tiny, super cute kids that you could feed and play with and that the young children seemed to enjoy. The llamas and camels were nearby too that I could see. A short distance away, the tigers were housed. The adult tiger was very active and difficult to photograph but my patience paid off when I managed to get a clear photo. I was also rewarded with seeing the beautiful baby cubs, playing and running around.

As it was coming up to Christmas there were reindeer out on walks with zookeepers, meaning that I was able to get close. Onwards I went to see one of my favourite animals, the giraffes, making me happy upon reaching their enclosure. I always find giraffes surreal looking with their long necks and gangly legs. I loved that they were so close it seemed that if they really stretched, they could easily lick my camera.

The path then led me onto the Reptile house which had some quite scary looking but beautiful reptiles from around the world.

There were some magnificent birds at the zoo too, some that could fly and some that couldn’t, each with their own colourful and unique features. Some were in cages but the larger ones were left in an open space, making me wonder why they hadn’t flown away.

I had a quick walk around the Bug house but as I’m not a fan I didn’t hang around too long. What I did find surprising was that there were live ants on display that didn’t have any glass around them. They were Leaf-cutter ants and looking carefully closer I could see each of the ants marching back and forth across a rope carrying tiny pieces of a leaf to take back to its home. I didn’t take too many photos of this area as bugs aren’t too appealing to me but it was amazing to see some of the numbers enclosed such as the hundreds of locusts and various stick insects. I sharply made a turn into the aquarium next, to warm up and see the pretty fish. Amongst all the diverse fish in tanks I was pleased to come across some miniature blue starfish too.

Lastly I came across the Butterfly house, where I was debating whether to go in or not, seeing as I don’t particularly like flying things (apart from birds). I did decide to enter thinking I could make a sharp exit if it wasn’t for me, and I was really glad I did. Once my camera stopped fogging up in the warmer temperature of the area, I could see some beautiful, exotic butterflies flitting around, including the Glasswing Butterfly which I’ve already posted about. There was an array of brightly coloured butterflies, most of which were too fast to capture, but after ducking and flinching about a hundred times I think I managed to get some nice photos. There were also moths in the house but they were largely inactive being night time creatures. The Atlas moths were amazing, I wasn’t sure they were real at first due to their stillness and size; each wing being the size of my hand, but as always, nature astounds.

There were so many other animals around too, such as the gorillas and monkeys, penguins, Komodo Dragons and tortoises, to mention a few. Some weren’t easy to photograph or even see but the vast variety of the animals in London Zoo is amazing. I know zoos can be seen as bad places that imprison animals; I did feel particularly sad for the big cats and caged birds, but as the world we live in is increasingly destroying habitats, I feel a place like London Zoo can help preserve and protect some endangered animals. I spent most of the day looking around and there was still areas I missed as the place is huge. I really enjoyed seeing all the different animals and their colourful and varying feathers, scales, fur and skin, and I feel like I learnt lots too.

Monopoly on the Square

My sister and I headed into London today to Trafalgar Square to see the giant Monopoly board that’s based on the game we used to play as kids. It’s been installed there for the weekend and is part of the London Games Festival that’s being held over the Easter break.

The Monopoly board wasn’t big as we imagined and there weren’t as many game pieces as we’d hoped but it was still a fun idea, and with the weather so warm and sunny we were happy to be out, even if we didn’t get a chance to play a round.

I think we had most fun though climbing up to where the famous bronze lions sit that guard Nelson’s Column. We haven’t done this since we were kids and no one cried this time!