Colours of Spring

Spring is in full swing here in London so went to our local parks and into my garden to see what kinds of flowers I could spot.

The earliest flowers to be seen are the daffodils and croci. There were swathes of bright yellow daffodils in some parks that I visited, which was always pleasant to see. The flowers blooming early in my garden was a huge camellia tree with vibrant perfect looking pink flowers and magnolias. These magnolias were on a huge tree I spotted in someone’s front garden. It was quite a magnificent sight.

Later the flowers that opened up were varied and some I haven’t seen before like Blue Pasque flowers which I thought were quite fascinating. And as always a tree full of blossoms is a sure sign that Spring is here.

I’m lucky to have a few parks where I live and am able to go for long walks with lots of visual stimulus to enjoy. I always find myself stopping to tale a closer look at flowers I come across, each that brings it’s own beauty and joy.

A Dusting of Snow

We’ve had a dusting of snow here in London recently. The excitement of snow was a nice opportunity to take a few pictures but I didn’t venture too far.

These first couple of photos are from my garden when the snow had freshly fallen

A few days later I did venture to one of the local parks. The temperature was still so low the lake was still partially frozen. The smooth ice in the centre looked like a lake within a lake.

Where the lake ran off in smaller streams the water was still completely frozen over. The poor birds just walking on the ice looked odd. On my way back I did pass a scenic looking church, making me think of those classic Christmas cards.

I didn’t stay out too long as it was so cold. It took me the rest of the day to feel like I had warmed up again properly. The snow and ice were an interesting and quite beautiful addition to Winter but I’m glad they didn’t stay around for too long.

Wintery Park Visit

The new year in the UK has been a slow one. There is another national lockdown to try and curb the ongoing pandemic and with the cold days it feels quite grim at times. I’ve been trying my best to keep positive though and nothing helps me more than being active. In light of this I decided to bundle up and visit one of our local parks. Valentines park was voted one of the 10 best in the country last year, so I always enjoy my visits as there’s always lots to see.

As I arrived at the park the lingering cold mist was clearing and the sun was beginning to break through the clouds. The huge boating lake at front of the park was starting to pick up colours of blue in the sky.

I walked to the far side of the park where there’s an old house called Valentines mansion, built in 1696 which still looks pretty grand. It’s now used for events but it’s a really elegant feature to the area. Nearby is a vegetable garden that is still in use, although there’s nothing growing now as it’s winter. There’s also plenty of cheeky squirrels around looking for food.

One of the things I really like about this park is just how varied the trees and wildlife is. There’s plenty of geese, ducks and smaller birds, and the trees seem to come in all shapes and sizes.

Having taken a few snaps as I walked around the park and starting to feel quite cold I headed home. I’m sure I’ll be back soon, as not only is this lockdown likely to last a while yet but the park is so vast there’s plenty still to see.

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.

The End

I went to Trafalgar Square, one of my favorite spots in London, to check out the new piece of artwork on the Fourth Plinth. The piece is called The End by Heather Phillipson, and is a giant ice cream with a cherry on top, and with a fly and a drone stuck into it on each side.

I thought it was quite an interesting piece of work. Depending on which side you look at it might promote curiosity (the drone) or disgust (the fly). The piece is meant to represent Trafalgar Square as a place of celebration and protest.

What I thought was an interesting touch is that the artwork transmits a live feed of Trafalgar square from the drone’s point of view.

As a side note, I did think Trafalgar Square was very quiet for this time of year. Only a few people meandering. Although I enjoyed the place not being busy, it was a touch sad as to the reason why this tourist location usually buzzing at time of the year was so quiet.

Back into London

It’s been a while since I went into London or anywhere away from home due to the pandemic that’s sweeping the globe. After a tough few months trying to keep myself and loved ones safe the pandemic has lessened in parts of the UK. While we all still need to be careful and take precautions, I decided to go into London one day. I’ve missed London and with Eid celebrations coming up, I wanted to see if I could find any gifts.

I went early and it wasn’t busy meaning that I could take pictures of these colourful mosaics in an underground station that normally have swathes of people passing across all day long.

I also found some street art on Oxford street and banners hung from above thanking our hardworking NHS.

I wandered around the shops for a while, found a few nice gifts and just enjoyed being in the centre of London again. I’ll continue to be careful as we need to be, but I really hope things continue to get better and that we all find a sense of normality soon.

Vincent van Gogh exhibition

Before the lockdown was implemented in the UK I visited the Meet Vincent exhibition in London. I’m quite a fan of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork and I think his story is an incredible one and deeply sad. I think that his art is emotive and really beautiful so was keen to go visit and find out more. The exhibition was quite different to what you might expect. There are lots of props and everyone is encouraged to touch and get close to the displays.

Upon arrival you were handed a headset that would activate as you walked around the exhibit, telling you about that period of the artist’s life and what kind of art Vincent would have produced. There was a room that has a video project onto the wall to give you an idea of what the landscape was like as Vincent painted. You could hear the wind rushing through the tall grass and the birds crying in the sky. Another big section was the cafĂ© Vincent frequented regularly, painting other customers from his table.

Haystacks play a large part in Vincent’s artwork and there were hay bales you could sit on and a large cart filled with hay.

I think my favourite section was the reproduction of his famous bedroom. You could walk into it and it really felt like you were walking in to one of his most famous paintings. It bought back memories of when I tried to draw the chair with a pipe resting on it at school.

The next section was about Vincent’s stay at a hospital after he infamously cut off his ear, having struggled with menial illness. He created many more paintings here during his stay.

The final section was about how the world has fallen in love with his paintings after he died. Vincent van Gogh painted over 2000 paintings during his 10 years as an artist.

I would definitely recommend a visit to this exhibition if you’re a fan, mildly curious or just love beautiful paintings. I really enjoyed my visit and it gave me a much better idea of who Vincent van Gogh was and his struggle through life.

Soaring Seagulls

I took my little nieces to the park on a bright, blustery winter’s day, to help them burn off some energy and to stretch my legs. They started off by racing through a whole flock of seagulls who were happily feasting on bread that someone had dumped. The birds soared in the bright blue sky as my nieces chased them, screeching loudly at being disturbed.

Seagulls