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Red sky at night, Shepherd's delight

It's funny how you can miss somethings that are right under your nose. I've lived in the same flat in my beloved Brixton for over 15 years but live on the ground floor of a six storey building and I've only just discovered the wonder of the sunsets if I climb to the top of the fire escape. This first time I saw this was one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen. I stupidly went up with just my mobile until the best of the sunset had passed. I was so mesmorised, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I stood spell bound knowing I should get my neighbours and camera to share the sight but for about five minutes i was routed to the spot spellbound by the vision in front of me.

The sky had started to fade before I could get my camera. It was so much redder and intense when I first saw it so this can't do it justice but it's a nice shot of the London skyline.
The sunset the following night wasn't quite as dramatic (I doubt I will ever see such a vision again but will be constantly chasing it) but I was prepared with the camera.
The shades of reds and yellows were just heavenly!
And finally the third night where I ventured up the fire escape. Look you can even see Battersea Power station
The wildlife also seems to be enjoying the view before going off to roost. London constantly surprises me as you sometime forget it can be so beautiful!

A life in colour

My mum has always been making things, ever since I can remember and one name that was always around was Kaffe Fassett, an American who discovered knitting following a trip to Scotland and has been working in textiles of one form or another ever since. Mum had many of his knitting books (yes he's a bloke to top it all) and has done some of his tapestry kits from Ehrman - hell I've even started one of the kits which are very therapeutic but do take a long time. Anyway the Fashion and Textile  Museum was holding a retrospective which I just had to go and see. So I left OH at home (really not his cup of tea) and off I went.
The name of the exhibition was 'A Life in Colour' and boy did it live up to expectations. AND you could take photos (as long as you didn't use flash). If only more exhibitions would let you do this!
It was a joy to see the design process from jug to painting to tapestry
 Mum (who has always quilted ever since I could remember) says she doesn't like his quilts, however I loved the bold colours in this. A cacophony of colour that just shouts happiness!
 But it was the section inspired by fruit and vegetables which was my favourite section. I would have loved this chair!
Look at these fabulous cushions inspired by an aubergine, cabbage and frog!
And this amazing radish (sorry about the strange perspective, it was on a table so I had to take it at a jaunty angle!)  
Of course there were the jumpers which are so my mum!! So 80s / 90s but still amazing (even though they're not really my cup of tea).
And there even pots! This is made from broken china.
But even the exhibition display screamed colour. Look how bold and beautiful this display is.
 
I came away from this exhibition with renewed energy. I always seem to flit from project to project and always seem  to have something on the go. I had felt frustrated by this process as I aways feel I can't focus on one thing which I used to see as a weakness, however this is how Kaffe works. He has several projects on the go and it means he can pick  up each projected with a renewed energy as he hasn't become jaded as he hasn't worked on it solely. So hurrah! I should embrace my working method and be confident on what I do.... and be bold with my colour.

 



Up on the roof

After our few days away in Lisbon we still had the rest of the week off so after spending a day unpacking, shopping, washing etc we decided to visit the South Bank which was celebrating neighbourhood. The whole areas was full of surprising garden displays.
 Here are some suggestions for growing veg which were right next to the Thames.
The windows gave great views of Hungerford Bridge
But the main destination I wanted to check out was the roof garden which I had known about for ages but was never sure where it was.  
But wow was it worth the wait. Here is a quick snap of one of the guys who works on the garden who I think I'd seen on Gardner's World. The space was incredibly and I'm hoping to return again soon.
 And how fabulous more street art! I've seen this artist's work in Old Street but it really brightened up the dull concrete of the South Bank
 
There was also an interesting woodland section towards the end which was crying out for a bit of black and white photography!
I loved these undulating hills of wheel barrows jam packed with flowers and veg. They were so vibrant and such a creative way to display plants
And look at this amazing array of herbs though frustratingly it didn't smell of herbs as much as we thought it would do though we were again right next to the Thames
But it wasn't all flowers at the South Bank. There was also a free exhibition on the Beano complete with photo opportunities and also a farting door mat (you stepped on it and it farted).
 
It was so refreshing to see the South Bank so green and vibrant. If you have the chance visit! And to find the roof garden just follow the yellow steps..... And wait for your breath to be taken away! I'll leave you with a few bees and flowers to brighten your day (hopefully)
 
 
And don't forget these were all taken in Central London! Just incredible....






Lisbon beach

In past years OH and I have gone on holiday in the UK and I've always enjoyed it but last year as it poured down for a third year in a row OH announced that he'd had enough and wanted to go abroad next year to seek out the sun. So he was in charge of deciding where we would go and booking it. He had always wanted to go to Portugal during the Saint's Festivals so Portugal it was. He had seen a deal which was perfect, 5* hotel in central Lisbon near where we wanted to go. Perfect! Except when he called to book that deal had sold out and he was talked into another deal only this time it was in Lisbon Beach which is not Lisbon. Now this holiday could have gone either way but luckily it was a success. Although we weren't in central Lisbon it was only a half hour bus journey from literally the beach and we saw more of Portugal than if we'd stayed in central Lisbon. However I realise now we've returned home most of my photos are from in town.....

So after finding our way onto the metro from the bus stop this was our first real view once we'd reached above ground. Rossio square - and look how blue that sky is!
We stumbled across this giant lift nearby which we jumped on and were delighted to find it was free with our 2 day travel card (which were a godsend! Would highly recommend getting this if you go).
The views of Lisbon were amazing.
 But while we were admiring the view there was a small parade of farm animals going through the street. It was frustrating for me being up so high and missing the action, however I got some interesting shots from up above. We never quite worked out where all of  these beasts ended up as they were heading towards the river.....  
Now Lisbon seems to be full of two things. Hills and street art, one of which I really enjoy, one of which I don't, I'll let you guess which! Here is the first major piece of street art I saw which stretched over three different walls. Made a welcome pit stop conquering my first hill....  
 Our destination was the castle (OH's choice) which was incredibly solid though full of tourists including some Americans who seemed flummoxed that you bought the ticket outside of the castle. To quote from the line for tickets 'why are people buying tickets here but then going over there?'. It was scarry!
 But once we got in the views were even more incredible than those from the lift which you can just see in the left hand corner of this photo. The big church looking structure was the Archaeology museum - yes there is no escaping work even when on holiday. 
 OH hates having his photo taken so I always have to take a sneaky shot when he's not looking. Here he is admiring the view.
 The other great thing about the castle were the peacocks. There were loads of them and they hung around the cafe looking for left overs.
  And this (although not a great shot) is a peacock up a tree which was a surprise!
Lisbon has seven hills in total, something OH omitted to mention when he suggested Lisbon. This one combines graffiti and steps!
 
 And boy were there a lot of steps! Though I did surprise myself and didn't struggle that much...
But on the second day our calves told us that we had walked quite a lot so we explored the funicular railways (there are two). One lady who got on at the bottom pointed to a house half way up the hill saying that's where she lived but it was easier to take the railway to the top of the hill and walk back down the hill with her shopping. To be honest I didn't blame her! 
I had suggested to OH that we walked down the hill and got the railway back up. The drop towards the bottom made my stomach lurch and I was only on foot. I hate to think what it would have been like on the railway!
There was also the tram of which there were many but this route, Route 28 is one for the tourists as it travels through the streets up and down the hills like a fairground ride.
It meant you saw some of the many old fashioned style shops. Here is a haberdashery - I think OH was glad we were on the tram so I couldn't rush in to have a look!
Towards the end of the route we jumped off and stumbled onto a botanical garden which had the most amazing number of ducklings. Here are about 1/5 of the total number of ducklings on the pond. It was incredible and I was in seventh heaven.
Lisbon was celebrating the feast of St Antoine who I think was the patron saint of sardines as they were everywhere though I could be wrong
And the streets were decorated in bright tinsel. All in all our few days away were amazing. It was so nice to see the sun but Lisbon is so beautiful and everyone was so friendly. I even managed to ask for 2 bus tickets in Portuguese! But I will leave you with a few images of the great street art that we saw, mostly unofficial but there was one place we saw some official areas for graffiti.
 



 



 

 
 




Trooping the Colour 2013

Now if you're a regular reader of my blog  you may recall I met the Band of the Blues and Royal last year who gave me a tour of the London Barracks and exclusive access to changing of the guard at Windsor Castle  were Trooping the Colour again this year and it was such a great experience photographing them last year I went again.
 It's great seeing them coming out of the Knightsbridge Barracks, it certainly helps that there aren't that many people around to see it as they're all down the Mall waiting for the main event to kick off.
So here is one of the fabulous drum horses. I'm pretty certain this is Mercury (though it could be Achilles). The drums are solid silver and boy are they loud! Last year poor Achillies was stung by a bee during the parade and so had to be taken out but all in all they are so patient.  
I love the noise of all of those horses walking down the street as well as the visual look which is just stunning.
When they start to play it just takes your breath away! If you look closely you can see my reflection in the drum - not my best side I might add.
Here they are going through Wellington Arch. The greys are always at the back which certainly helps with exposure! But trying to keep up with the band on foot is exhausting as I'm not the fittest of people...
I am finally spotted by one of the cornet players (who is also the person who arranged for me to see them at Windsor Castle last year) trying not to smirk as I think he'd seen I was so hot and sweaty by this point!! I think I may have to start training for next year. Still I got some good shots having kept up with them.
And here they are manoeuvring into position at Canada Gate to waiting to escort her Majesty up to Horse Guards Parade.
So once they were in position I went off up to the Mall to try and get a view. As you can see it was impossible from the Palace.
The Mall was well guarded with both soldiers and the police. The PC near us is normally based in Southwark so was in good company with a fellow South Londoner.
I spotted this guy painting the scene. I think he must have been there for a while.  
 I was in luck and found a place by the barriers. I got talking to a lovely lady called Jackie and transpires I met her daughter ten years ago in a brief encounter in Seattle USA before a Manchester United match (least there were too many coincidences for it not to be her). Anyway we had a perfect view of the horses coming back down the Mall from Horse Guards parade. Here are the horses which accompany the gun carriages.
My shot of Cate this year would have been fantastic if she was looking my way!! Annoying!
And the Duke of Kent didn't help my view of Her Majesty with his sword in the way!
But this year I managed to spot Prince Charles
AND Prince William with Princess Anne. Yep I only knew as I'd seen them on the TV last year, I mean when then come past you don't immediately think it's Charles or William, you just think it's another bloke with a big hat on!!
Here come the boys in their full glory! 
 Followed by the amazing formation of the marching soldiers
It was another fabulous day! I just love the pomp and ceremony. Hoping to see more over the Summer if I can. Watch this space.