Chelsea in Bloom 2019

The Chelsea Flower show is world famous and incredibly popular, so for those of us who can’t visit, an event called Chelsea in Bloom is a nice aternative. Shops in the Chelsea area take part in celebrating the flower show by decoratating their shop fronts in beautiful flowers. They compete with one another to create the best displays. Can you guess this year’s theme?

My sister and I went along one day to take a look. There were 88 displays in all but I don’t think we managed to see all of them. Some were really impressive, some were quite fun and others pointing to a more serious aspect of pollution.

I really liked the ‘pretty’ fish made of leaves and flowers.

Some displays were huge covering the height of the building while others had more detail to them.

My favourites displays were the purple shark, the oyster shell surrounded by colourful flowers, and the googly eyed octopus.

We spent a few hours walking around looking at the displays before we decided it was getting late and headed for home (not to mention we were exhausted). I thought some of the displays were really creative and colourful and I enjoyed seeing them. If you’re interested in seeing who the winners of the competition were click here.

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.

London quirks

One of the many things I love about London are the quirks that you unexpectedly come across. There’s old and new sitting side by side and some really creative and fun quirks. Here’s a few that I came across in my recent visit that made me smile.

I went to Hyde park and came across a lovely vintage car. Upon closer inspection I saw that it had been transformed and was selling ice cream which I thought that was a wonderful idea.

Further on I discovered this bright blue house. I love how bold and vibrant it is.

Also on my wonderings around London I came across a really high pink building, which I thought was a unique colour and some really pretty floral displays which made me feel Spring was on it’s way.

I wasn’t in London for very long but I enjoyed coming across some lovely, quirky things. I look forward to my next visit and will keep my eyes peeled for more curiosities which in London are always just around a corner.

Winter Lights 2019

Canary Wharf is hosting it’s Winter Lights event again this year and last night was the first night it was on, so I, along with my sister and niece, went to see what colourful, creative displays would be on show.

Stepping out of the station we were greeted with one of the most popular displays. This consisted of coloured light balls hanging on wires in neat rows, changing colour in time with the rhythm of the music that was being played. It was quite surreal standing in the middle surrounding by these lights and really fun one. I did, however, find it really tricky trying to get a good photo.
I also thought the recycled plastic insects were interesting which didn’t have any light but the fluorescent paint made them glow. And the lit up hopscotch game made me think of when I used to play when I was younger (and yes I did have ago!).

Some of the installations had music or sounds to go along with them, like the lines making up the shape of a whale, which emitted whale noises and moved like one too. The fountains had playful music along with varying shapes and colours the shooting water made which I quite enjoyed.

One thing I noticed was that there was a lot of colourful pieces this year. The lit up, colour changing maze was one, and was quite fun, but the other piece I really liked were the beautifully colourful prisms, that you could spin to create a reflective effect. These were also tricky to photograph as people kept spinning them really fast but I finally got a decent shot. Next we walked up to the square filled with glowing, colourful trees making them seem almost dreamlike. This one was nice just to sit and look at, giving us a chance to have a little rest.

I think one of the most clever and interactive installations was the colourful bench that when you put your hand on the sensor showed your heartbeat in lines and patterns along where you were sitting. I also liked the animal silhouettes that walked along the water edge with corresponding animal sounds playing around you, something simple but effective.

It took us a few hours to find all the installations, by which point we were pretty cold and tired, but we did all really enjoy the event. The Winter Lights event is on for 2 weeks and I would definitely recommend if you happen to be around. Just remember to wrap up.

Camden Town

I visited Camden again not too long ago to show my niece around the markets and to look for some street art, which is always great. It was a rainy day but we didn’t let that dampen our enthusiasm. We first walked through Little Venice which holds canal boats, has pretty bridges and willow trees with drooping branches. There was a also a section where people had started to attach locks to the gates that was interesting.

Next we headed to the markets to get out of the rain for a while and to get something to eat. As well as food stalls there were lots of shops and stalls which had really cool and beautiful things. I especially liked the Moroccan style lamps and the retro cameras.

Having dried off a little we decided to head back out and see what street art we could find. It didn’t take us long to find some colourful, creative, amazing artwork. I love Dan Kitchener’s work and have seen it in several spot’s around London, and this rainy scene was very apt for the day. I also really liked the girl with flowers in her hair and the couple standing under a running tap, although it’s a shame that was spoiled a little with the black spray over it.

There was street art on huge walls as murals, in doorways and around almost every corner, so it took us a while to go around. I was familiar with some of the styles of some artists so it was great to see what new pieces they had done. I liked the coloured, squared doorway, something I can imagine having in my home, and the solemn looking girl I thought was really striking.

We eventually made it back to the station, having found dozens of new street art pieces and feeling quite satisfied, if not a bit wet. And my niece didn’t think Camden was quite as peculiar as I made it out to be. Street art is always changing, which is one of the great things about it, and Camden and other places in London really encourage street artist to be creative and bold, which I hope to see more of.

2018 Highlights

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect back on the year. I hope that you all have had a significant and positive one. 2018 for me has had some highs, such as having a new niece join our family, starting a new job, as well as experiencing fun, new things such as taking a candy making course. I’ve also been able to visit new places and had a break away with my family. My lows have been feeling unmotivated and uninspired at times to post on my blog, and wondering if it’s still relevant. I have also felt like the world is passing me by and that I have so much I still want to do.

I leave you with some of my favourite photos of the 2018 and I wish you all happy New Year and with the hope that 2019 is one of fullfillment, happiness and adventure for all of us.

Frieze Sculpture 2018

I visited London’s Regent’s Park earlier this year to look at the sculptures that had been placed there by Frieze. I visited last year and really liked some of the interesting sculptures displayed so was keen to see what new ones would be on show this year.

There were 25 sculptures by various artists on show, some were quite strange, others fun and a few quite eerie.

One of my favourites was the big yellow house, I thought it looked surreal amongst the green grass

I also liked the cute by creepy Dancing Clog Girls, and the giant Emperor penguin.

My other favourite piece was the gold leaf with colours on the inside, I loved how the colours emerged from the gold frame as you walked past the sculpture. I found the headless sculptures quite haunting, these depicting the ghosts of those slain in the Marikana Massacre.

A few others stood out too for met too; the huge anvil with the hare perched on top and the lampposts that had been tangled together was interesting. The girl resting on her side was based on Alice in Wonderland and looked quite serene to me.

I thought the sculptures this year were quite interesting, each emoting quite different feelings from the viewer, especially the ones that were reminders of darker times. I really enjoyed my visit and look forward to seeing what the Frieze presents to us next year.

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.

Rainbow lollipop class

My sister and I recently went to a candy making class, something that we both have wanted to do. We arrived for the class and excitedly looked around the shop at the wonderful sweets as we waited for the candy to be heated to the correct temperature. Once this was done we made our way to the workshop with our instructor. It was only a small class with another woman, my sister and me and the instructor who was going to lead the class. Today we were making rainbow lollipops.

The mixture of glucose, water and sugar was really hot, and so it was only safe for the instructor to use. The instructor poured the mixture onto a specially made table that was heated to enable him to keep working with it. The flavour of the mixture was tutti frutti and it smelled great. Once the mixture was on the table our instructor started to add colour, made with natural flavourings and were vegan, vegetarian and halal which was great to know.

First the primary colours were made, and then our instructor used these to make the secondary colours. The white was stretched to add air which would then bring out the colour. All the colours were then laid out in rainbow order and wrapped around the white candy to create a long, colourful tube. We were now able to start making our rainbow lollipops.

Our instructor stretched the candy tube to make it thinner and then gave us a piece each to create our shapes. Working on heated tables and with gloves on we made a simple shape first, the swirl, and adding a wooden stick our lollipop was complete. We then made a few more shapes; starts, hearts, flowers and butterflies. I think my favourite was the duck which came out quite well. We had to work quickly with each piece of candy as it would become difficult to mold as it cooled, hardened and turned glass-like.

The class was about 1 hour long, but the time went quickly, as it always does when you’re having fun. Our instructor was friendly, and very knowledgeable, and the candy making process was almost scientific when it came to understanding the way the ingredients interacted with each other. And the best bit; we all got to take our tasty creations home with us, which was a lot more than I expected. I would definitely recommend doing a class like this, as it’s not every day that you get to have a hands on experience that involves such tasty treats.

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”