Chatsworth House

Earlier in the year my sister was kind enough to invite me to go away with her and her family for a few days to Scotland. We were driving up so we decided to make a stop on the way to break up the long journey from London. We stopped around half way at the Peak District and while we weren’t able to spend any time in the country park I did suggest going to Chatsworth House, a place I’ve wanted to go to for years (as any Pride and Prejudice fan will understand).

Driving towards the house I suddenly spotted it sitting in the amazing green landscape with the Peaks as it’s backdrop. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

We only had an afternoon so we decided to explore the gardens where we could also have a picnic instead of going inside the house. The gardens were huge and were broken down in different parts. There were flowery gardens which were organised and had some very pretty flowers in them.

There was also the Victorian rock garden where I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite impressed with. The kids (and some adults) seemed to love climbing up the rock sculptures which were scattered at different heights. We ended up climbing quite high after following steps to wherever they took us.

There was the Cascade Fountain on the grounds too, which had water flowing down a long pathway of steps. It was quite an amazing feature due to it’s size and how perfectly it sat in with the slope of the hillside.

Walking on, we found a maze which was sadly closed but I loved the gate at the parameters which seemed to be in the shape of the face of a certain gentleman perhaps.

We finally made out way around to the other side of Chatsworth house, where there was a huge fountain called the Emperor fountain. We had actually spotted the water shooting high up in the air on our drive down and wondered what it was. The water shoots up upto 300 feet into the air.

The Emperor fountain sits in front of the house. Here was the iconic view from the films and photos that we always see. The house was simply stunning in all grandeur.

The house had been celebrating dogs so there were statues of them scattered statues around the house. Maybe a good idea to help give the house some scale.

Having spent some time taking pictures and admiring the house we started making our way towards the gift shop and then the car as the kids (and the rest of us) were tired and the dark clouds that had been present all afternoon had finally decided to let loose and pour down on us. I really enjoyed our visit and it’s a place I can finally tick off my bucket list. I really hope I can come back one day and explore the house and walk further into the grounds. A memorable visit for sure.

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.

Elephant Parade London

There’s an Elephant’s Parade in London for a few weeks this Summer. The elephant’s in this case are not real elephants but statues that have been decorated and dotted around London for you to discover. Last weekend I took my sister and my niece along with me to find them.

The first few were close to the station as was a shop selling miniature versions of the elephants that you could take home.

After visiting the shop we looked for the others in the area. There were a number clustered in a park that were decorated in different colours and styles. I really liked the black elephant with colourful flowers, and thought some of the styles were quite innovative and interesting

After spending some time looking at the elephants, taking photos and admiring the paint work we looked for others that were located close by.

The last few that we found were also very pretty, I especially liked the blue and white patterned one and the metal one made of clock faces. The elephants were all located fairly close to each other so it didn’t take too long to find them, which was good as it was very hot (and in previous years looking for the statues has taken a lot longer as they are spread out so much more across London)

What I like about these sorts of events in London is that they’re free, everyone of all ages join in and the artwork is always really creative, colourful and fun. I also love how they make you go off the beaten track in London and discover some parts that you would never otherwise see, such as the last few located near a big screen showing tennis with deckchairs to relax in. These elephants will eventually be auctioned off with the money raised going to charity which I think is great.

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!

Elephant parade

On my travels around London I often spot interesting and quirky pieces of art work, and one I came across recently was an elephant dressed in a Mayor’s outfit. I remember a few years ago lots of these were decorated and then placed around London to be auctioned off, and in recent years, in the same vein, there have been eggs, bears and phone boxes. I love the idea of taking a generic mould and personalising it in a creative and fun way to raise money for charity.

Ella May elephant

Over the years here are others that I’ve spotted, all decorated beautifully.

As this seems to be a popular and fun way to raise awareness on important issues, I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Italian gardens in London

Wondering around Hyde park earlier this year I came across the Italian Gardens. The Gardens have embellished statues, urns and large water fountains, all which create a really nice relaxing space.

The main water fountain leading to the top of the Serpentine lake was a combination of a group of boys holding a huge platter with a woman on either side holding an urn, all pouring water into the lake.

On the far side of the garden is a chapel with really pretty flowers planted on either side in neat geometric rows.

I thought the gardens were laid out nicely and kept in really good condition. I found them to be a calming space with the sound of rushing water from the fountains drowning out some of the background noise and pretty flowers soothing to the eyes. I’ll definitely look to visiting it again at some point.

Hyde Park

I’ve had some free time since having left my job and being determined to make the most of it and the nice weather I decided to go to Hyde Park which I have passed by on many occasions but have never really explored.

Hyde Park is a Royal Gardens and is based in Central London. There are so many parts to it that I wasn’t able to visit everything but I did see lots of lovely things.

I decided to walk down to and along the huge lake called The Serpentine and follow the edge across the park. As its summer there were lots of deckchairs, geese and beautiful flowers to enjoy along the way.

What I liked was there were lots of smaller paths away from the main walkways in case you fancied a varied and perhaps quieter walk. There were also lots of statues to admire, each one quite different to the last. The most famous is the Princess Diana fountain which is a huge circular waterway. Each section is different, some with steps, or curves or even water shooting upwards. The kids really seemed to be enjoying the cool water.

Something that I unexpectedly came across really made my day, Ring-necked Parakeets! They were camouflaged in the trees and I almost missed them but I luckily joined a few people in watching them. The parakeets seemed completely at ease with people and even flew down to get food from out stretched hands. There were also pretty magpies, squirrels and pigeons that were enjoying the attention and food too.

I really enjoyed my walk around Hyde park, and I really appreciate all the hard work that it’s taken to make it look beautiful. The park is huge and there’s lots more to see, so I hope to visit it again at some point. I know how lucky I am to live in such an amazing city with so much culture, art and history and I plan to keep making the most of it. I’ll keep you posted on what else I explore and enjoy.

Strange sculptures

I was playing tourist recently in London (of which I will post more about soon) and on my wonderings I came across these interesting sculptures. The horse’s head is called Still Water and looks quite calming. The black beast-looking thing across, I have to admit gave me the creeps so I didn’t take any closer photos of it but it’s called She Guardian and I’m sure will also be scaring others. There was also a temporary summer observation wheel which gives you a view of the local area including Hyde Park, which seemed nice.

statues

Buses and bears

During my visit to London recently I came across these interesting, small(ish) buses that have been painted in different styles by artists. These and many other painted buses can be found scattered across London to encourage walking around the city.

bus

bus

I really like the waterpainted bus with the hazy outlines of famous London landmarks in bright colours. The second one in the style of pop art I also quite like, depicting the Queen’s guards, in a simple but effective way.

I’d also heard about the ‘Paddington trail’ in London so on my travels I kept an eye out for bears too, and to my excitement I found one!

paddington bear

These statues of Paddington bear, like the buses have been scattered around London, each one painted by a celebrity in a different way. The idea behind this one seems to be to celebrate the new Paddington film just out but also raise money for charity when they will be sold early next year. In addition to the statues the London high street seems to be Paddington crazy at the minute with all things Peruvian bear being displayed in windows and posters.

psddington bear

In the past I have encountered painted bright giant eggs, colourful elephants and artsy phone boxes, all of which I am always pleased to find and to me they make a nice addition to the London streets, especially as its always for a good cause. I look forward to seeing what they decide to paint next.