Afternoon Tea on the Thames

Afternoon tea is quintessentially British, and it seems to be a big craze at the moment in London. I’m not particularly keen on it (how in-British of me, I know) as I don’t particularly drink hot drinks and I prefer a big tasty lunch to sandwiches and cake, but when I was came across afternoon tea on the River Thames with a guide that would inform me of Muslim history in London, I thought it would be quite fun. As a cruise linked to Eid I decided to buy myself and my mum a ticket hoping she’d enjoy it too. My sisters, my sister in law and her mum also joined us.

The meeting point was at Tower of London and after we were all checked in we were able to get on the boat. Once we were in our seats we had tea to start with and then the some delicious looking food.

As we enjoyed our food and the view, the guide started telling us about some of the connections of Muslims to the city of London, which was quite interesting. When we reached Westminster Bridge the boat turned around to go back towards the port. By this point I’d had enough to eat so I grabbed my camera and went above deck. The sun was out and with the cool breeze it felt so refreshing. We passed some iconic landmarks that sit on the banks of the River Thames.

After spending some time above deck taking in the sights and some photos we headed back downstairs. The organisers held a competition that my sisters and I (and it seems no one else) entered so we won a big box of chocolates, as the odds were definitely in our favour!
As we docked back into the port we gathered our things and headed for the exit. It was a lovely afternoon that we all really enjoyed, and I thought it was a real treat to actually go on a boat down the River Thames instead of just watching the waves from the shore.

Impromptu visit to Kew

One of my favourite places in London is Kew Gardens, so when my sister and her husband invited me for an impromptu trip recently I couldn’t say no. Kew is known for having plants, trees and flowers from around the world, there’s so much to see and it’s a great place to get lost in for the day.

First stop was the Hive which is a large structure made of metal and has lights that blink according to bee activity in a real beehive at Kew.

You can’t go to Kew and not visit the Palm House, which holds tropical plants from around the world. It’s usually really hot in here and as usual I had to wait for my camera to de-fog before I could take some photos. One plant we were pleased to find was the Sensitive plant. When you touch the open leaves they react immediately and close together.

From there we went to the Waterlily House hoping to find the giant lily pads that I remember from my childhood but have missed on my previous visits. Unfortunately they’d been moved, so I’ll have to try again another time. I did, however see some pretty waterlily flowers though.

Next we went to the Woodland area, and with it being late summer and the weather unsettled we got caught in a heavy downpour, thankfully though we were able to shelter under a giant Elm tree until the rain stopped. The Woodland area had a great number of trees of all types, my favourite though were the Redwood trees. These giants have a reddish, rough grain trunk and can grow to a phenomenal size.

Walking further along came across a huge wooden table, which seems like it would be perfect for all my family when they come to dinner! And hidden nearby was a log trail that you could walk across, made up of different types of trees, so educational as well as fun. There was also a badger set and tunnels you could go into.

By the time we reached the log trail we’d made it to the far end of the grounds and it was getting late so we started heading back towards the gates. I had a relaxing, fun day out and it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to see the beautiful plants, trees and flowers that can be found around the world so close to where I live.

Regent’s Park Frieze Art

Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, and this Summer it has been host to Frieze Sculpture a free outdoor display of contemporary art. I had the chance to go a few weeks ago and unknowingly stumbled across the strange, striking and fun art pieces.

The ones that really stood out for me was the stunning white tree when seems to glow in the sun, and the robotic man statue.

My favourite was the elephant carefully balanced on it’s trunk, but I also really liked the bronze angles and the silver crouched man made of letters, symbols and numbers from around the world.

There are 21 statues in all, some are huge, fun figures and others have lots of complex details and make you wonder what they mean. There’s still time to go visit, so if you’re in the area I would definitely recommend it.

Holland Park, London

We’ve had some lovely weather this summer in London and I was able to make the most of it by going to Holland Park one sunny day. The park has so many different types of plants and flowers, and it was a delight to walk along the winding paths taking in all the vibrant colours and varying scents.

One of the main features of the park is it’s beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden. I was surprised to see that they had Koi carp (and pennies) in the pond as well as a peacock strutting around. There was a pretty waterfall and a walkway that allowed you to cross the pond and through the garden. I found the garden very peaceful and aesthetically pleasing.

There are also some smaller gardens within the park, some that held interesting statues, and others that had stunning flower displays, as well as a giant game of chess.

Overall the park had some beautiful features and you can tell it was very well maintained, and on a sunny day it made for a lovely day out, one that I would definitely recommend.

Halal Street Food Festival

I recently went to a halal food festival in London with a friend. I usually don’t go to food events as I’m never too sure what I can eat, but as this was one where I could have my pick and not hold back I was keen to see what they would have. The event was held in London’s iconic Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch. There were lots of stalls with food on offer, so it took us a while to look around and decide what we wanted as well as it being super busy.

We finally decided on masala cheesy chips and chicken wrap to share and delicious looking waffles on a stick for dessert with freshly squeezed orange juice to wash it all down. We then headed towards the games section where we played giant noughts and crosses and connect four and just soaked in the atmosphere.

The event was very popular and queues were super long, but the food was varied and enjoyable. I’d be interested to go to such an event again but maybe on a weekday to try and avoid the rush.

London Olympic Anniversary Games 2017

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the London Olympic Anniversary Games again this year, it was a fun day out and it gave a us a chance to see the Olympic park and some great athletes.

I was able to see high jumpers, long jumpers, discus throwers and runners such as Mo Farah who really was the star of the day with the crowd going wild as he won his race.

The atmosphere was family friendly and relaxing and I would definitely go again.

Palestine Expo 2017

Palestine has been a controversial issue for many years but it’s one that I’ve felt quite strongly about for some time, so when I heard about a Palestine Expo coming to London I made sure I was able to go. The Expo was in London and was the biggest social, cultural and entertainment event on Palestine in Europe.

There were lots of people from all backgrounds attending which I thought was great. At the venue there was a knowledge area, food quarter and a gallery. I thought the day was very worthwhile; I attended some talks with inspiration speakers and learnt about issues that Palestinians face today, about their culture and tried some of their food.

As tensions continue in the Middle East I think events like these are important to share information and broaden views and I would definitely attend an event like this again. I hope that Palestinians facing hard times know that they aren’t alone and that they have support from around the world to help and resolve the situation they are in.
You can see my sisters’ posts here and here

Sweet Art

I heard about a promotional Sweet Art Gallery not too far from my workplace last week so one lunchtime I decided to go down and see what was on show. The gallery was quite small with some fun art pieces on display, but what was really interesting was that they were all made out of sweets!

My favourite was the take on the Mona Lisa painting, and you could eat the sweets it was made of as they had a sweet machine nearby. There was also an alternative tube map and a section where you could unleash your creativity using sweets and pipecleaners.

At the back of the gallery there was a pick and mix section, which had all the sweets that the brand sells, and the best bit – it was free! Although I couldn’t eat most of the sweets due to them containing gelatine I did scoop up some to take back for my work colleagues, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

It was a fun, well spent lunchtime, and I hope to see more of these fun pop ups throughout summer.

Chocolate, cheese and wine fair

I recently went to a mini chocolate, cheese and wine fair to see what goodies (by which I mean chocolate) was on offer.

The stall were stacked high with various cheese blocks, and excitingly, in one section, there was a cheese carving competition. I only managed to see the beginning of the sculptures (as I forgot to go back) but they did have on display a finished cheese sculpture of someone famous.

I took a quick whizz around the wine stalls just out of curiosity, but didn’t linger long as I don’t drink. One wine that I did think was interesting was a chocolate flavoured wine. Wonder what people think of it. Other foods on display were delicious looking breads and baked goods as well as different oils to add taste.

There were only a few chocolate stalls but the products on display were really unique. There were chocolates embellished with coloured patterns and prints, which would make great gifts, and some that had unusual flavours and designs. I especially like the pearl effect Easter eggs on display.

Even though the fair wasn’t very big I thought the products and competitions were interesting and it made for a nice afternoon out.chocolate, cheese and wine fair

Spring has sprung

Spring has well and truly sprung in London so I took a walk into one of my favourite local parks to see how the turn of the season has made itself known.

There was lots of colour on display such as this bright, yellow daffodil ‘runway’ which made me really smile. It made me want to run down the middle of it too (but I didn’t). There were also beautiful pink and white magnolia flowers and cerise Primroses reaching out for the sun.

The water in lake was sparkling, and was alive with graceful swans and paddling ducks. The row boats were sat on the side, not yet in use, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re in demand by eager rowers.

As I walked along the path I was watched keenly by a squirrel that was trying to be brave and not run away from me and my camera. Nearing the exit I saw the pretty white blossoms filling the trees, making me feel that the new season will be filled with hope, beauty and new opportunities.