Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blue Skies and Sunshine

I had a fabulous couple of hours at Kew Gardens yesterday - the sun was shining and the sky blue - no sign of volcanic ash in the atmosphere as far as I could tell!!  I am lucky enough to live fairly close to Kew - not sure how far it is distance wise, but two short train journeys - changing at Clapham Junction - and I can be there in about an hour - a short walk over the River Thames at Kew Bridge.  I try always to be there in time for opening at 9.30 (then I can be home in time for whatever live football is on tv at lunchtime.....) and I like to be first through the gates.... (little things please me!) Yesterday I had quite a crowd with me.

Anyhow, yesterday was glorious. I knew that the magnolias were in bloom because the BBC breakfast tv programme had been there one day in the week with their weather forecaster) so I made for that part of the gardens first.  I got a bit carried away with the photos - in all I took 2 films (36 shots each...) so will have to prune (sorry about that!) out the shots so you don't get bored.  You should be able to click to enlarge them.

Magnolia trees. From a distance they look so fluffy!
magnolia blooms in close up.
I think this is the first year I've been going regularly, that I have caught the Snake Head Fritilleries in flower - they looked fab too.

I walked round the conservation area alongside the river but the bluebells are a way off flowering yet - leaves only - so will be back to see them in a couple of weeks or so, I expect. 

Doesn't the sky look blue taken up through the tree! It wasn't quite that blue to the naked eye.
Although lots of the daffodils had finished, there were areas that still had lots of glorious drifts - and with the sun shining through them they looked amazing. (I have been know to lie down on the ground for this - but not today as the grass was quite damp - it was obviously cold overnight and the dew hadn't dried)

It was so peaceful for once, with the shutdown on flights over the UK with the ash problem from the Icelandic volcano, you could really hear the birds (not that I could identify many of them - although the peacocks are quite distinctive).  I did come across one peacock, but didn't get close enough to photograph him - he wouldn't put his tail up either - and he made off at a steady trot, obviously looking for his lady-love!!)  Normally, with Kew being so close to Heathrow, planes flie overhead every minute or so, and if you go up the Treetop Walkway, you feel as if you could reach up and touch them!

They regularly change the display in these beds outside the Palm House and these spring bulbs looked - and smelled - glorious!

In front of the Palm House are a couple of round beds full of tulips - again I crouched down low to get the sun shining through the petals.
I had to take some more shots of the sun on the fountain in the lake in front of the Palm House - it still makes one of my favourite Kew shots, especially with the sun out.

This Japanese Cherry makes a great spectacle, although I am sure last year the blooms were pinker - but maybe it's just my memory!
I loved the reflections of the trees in this small lake.
I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed taking them yesterday.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A damp day in London

Last Saturday I took a trip to London instead of Kew - the weather was forecast; and turned out to be - dull and showery - not the ideal for photographing flowers - and despite numerous tube lines being shut for engineering works, I started at Covent Garden Market.  I was a bit early - by the time I got there it was only about 9.45 and the stallholders were just setting up.  There was some sort of filming going on - I couldn't work out what, although some of the people being filmed where wearing London Wasps rugby club colours (they were singing "Jerusalem") so I assume it was something for the rugby club, but I couldn't find out what was going on.

From there I walked to Trafalgar Square - which is so much easier to walk around now it's partly pedestrianised. 
There is water coming out of this fountain, but the day was so dull it doesn't show up in the photo.

There were already lots of tourists in London, especially Japanese - I guess the currency conversion rate is good for tourists at the moment!

I love walking around London, I hadn't been "up" to London (I live south of London) for quite a while.

This is Tragalgar Square, London buses and taxis and all - in a brief lull from major traffic. 

The "other side" of Admiralty Arch at the top of The Mall leading down to Buckingham Palace. I saw some Japanese tourists standing in the middle of the road to get a good view! I wouldn't - not even on a Saturday when the traffic is lighter than weekdays.

From here I walked through Horseguards Parade (where they have Trooping the Colour in June) - and home for the beach volleyball I think, come the London Olympics in 2012...

I love the way The London Eye dominates so much of London's skyline.  I have been up in - round in?? it a couple of times - but last Saturday wasn't the day for it - ideally you need a bright sunny day to make the views best - but it is spectacular - I thoroughly recommend it if you get a chance.

Leaving Horseguards, I walked through St James Park (it was quite an exciting day as there had been some kind of "police incident" at the restaurant at the start of the park - the restaurant was all taped off and a police forensic guy in his blue suit and camera was at work.  I googled when I got home but it didn't seem to have made any news sites - I suppose it's such a common occurence that it doesn't always.

Once I got past the police tape, into the park itself, there was some gorgeous drifts of daffodils and it wasn't quite raining yet....

I walked through the park down to Buckingham Palace to find crowds and crowds of tourists - I had chanced upon Changing the Guards.  Feeling a bit like Alice in the A A Milne poem, I joined the crowds - I think the last time I was in London for Changing the Guards I was about 10 with my Mum and brother and sister... Unfortunately I couldn't get a very good view and the gentleman in front of me kept turning to talk to his daughter (teenaged) just as I was trying to take pics of the guards ..

This is one of the only really decent ones I got. Like I said, I was quite a way away, and the crowd was too deep to allow me to get into my camera bag to change to the longer length lens, which would have helped!

It started raining about this time so I left the crowds to it and was going to walk down to Westminster bridge but took the wrong road (too wet to get my map out, didn't want to look too like a tourist....!!) and ended up walking all round the outside to Buck Palace gardens till I got back to where I'd started -

I didn't want to come home without finishing the film off so I took the right road down to Westminster to take a couple of shots of the Abbey and Houses of Parliament

They've obviously got the builders in judging by the tarpaulin on the roof!  I had to stand on the corner waiting for the traffic lights to change to keep the buses and lorries out of my shot...

so that was my morning in London.  The rain had just about stopped and I couldn't be bothered to wait for a bus so walked back down to Victoria station to catch the train home.

The photos don't really do London justice due to the poor weather but it was a good day nevertheless.

I have got some more Kew photos to blog from the week before this, when the daffodils were truly gorgeous, but will come back to do that another day.
I don't know why there are such large gaps between the pics, sorry!