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Summer Pavillions in Hyde Park

The British Summer has yet to show it's true colours so armed with a mac and an umbrella just in case OH and I set off to Hyde Park on a grey Sunday to view the Serpentine's  Pavilion and Summer Houses. Both the Pavilion and Summer Houses were specially commissioned by the Serpentine and it was essentially an exhibition of architecture. First up the Pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). It's described on the website as an unzipped wall which also houses the cafe. It was a great building as it changed (often  dramatically) depending on where you were stood. The downside was that it wasn't water tight which wasn't great if you wanted to sit down to drink your coffee in the cafe during the numerous summer showers London is experiencing at present! Anyway here are a few pictures of the Pavilion to start with.

There were then three other summer houses which were inspired by Queen Caroline's Temple close by. I must admit that having seen the Pavilion we weren't blown away by these but you can't like everything can you! 

Above is a view of Queen Caroline's Temple, and below is a view inside it to give you an idea of the inspiration
By the time we finished admiring the architecture the sun had started to come out so we went for a little wander around Hyde Park before heading back home. Now you can often hear parakeets in London but I have never seen them this close up before. They normally stay high up in the tree tops. 
However we stumbled across someone who was feeding the birds which was attracting hoards of parakeets (as well as pigeons) and they were very low in the branches. Both of these photos were taken without zoom as I only had my 33mm camera. The only zoom was raising my arms up so the camera was a little closer to the bird.
And just to prove the sun was out here is a reflection of the blue skies on the Serpentine
Never wanting to miss a free exhibition OH and I popped into the Royal Geographic Society which was showing this year's Britain from the Air images.  There were some stunning images from across the country and was well popping into on the way back to the tube. 

Tate Extension Opening

OH and I had a rare Monday off which we didn't realise the other had taken until the start of the weekend (yep we're great communicators :)

I had booked the day's leave as I knew I would be shattered following a busy few days going on a photowalk,  Blogtacular and Open Squares Weekend so was looking forward to a quiet Monday to collect my thoughts. OH on the other hand suggested visiting the new Tate Modern Extension which had opened that weekend suggesting it would be quieter given it was a Monday. He knows how to press my buttons as I summed up a second wind, grabbed the camera and off we went.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak view of the original Tate Modern before it opened 16 years ago. It had been a favourite building of mine for years before it's transformation so it was like opening a long awaited present. The impact of the architecture still resonates with me today with those first steps down the long slope into the belly of the Turpentine Hall. I was apprehensive that the new kid on the block wouldn't have the same impact but I'm happy to say the building is stunning.
It's entrance was disappointing as we wound through the crowds from the old building back into the open before finding a side door next to a shop. However once inside it was vast, angular, rough yet beautiful. 
 It reminded me of a huge cathedral worshiping at the alter of  Modern Art 
 It wasn't all straight lines and angles. Look at this curve of this sweeping staircase (we saw a lot of stairs as the queues for the slow moving lifts were unreal). 

There were so many vantage points to look up, down and out from. 

 But I just don't get modern art. There I've said it. 
 OH and I wondered through room after room of 'art' but most of it just baffled me if I'm honest 
Even the infamous Bricks were there, carefully roped off.
 And you could interact with some of the art, here you could lie down and be part of it.... still unsure about how I feel about this. 
 I did find one piece I really liked which is this great selfie piece. When you looked in you not only saw yourself in a kaleidoscope but you also saw the faces of people looking in from the other side.  
 This map was made up of pieces and while you seemed able to walk over it I accidentally kicked a panel and immediately thought I would be kicked out for desecrating the art work! 
 Even in the Louise Bourgeois Artist Room I still didn't get the pieces 
 I'd been looking forward to seeing one of her famous spiders but it seemed to be dwarfed in the space it say in surrounded by lots of other art works. Ironically given the building was so huge it felt as if this piece needed it's own space so you could fully appreciate it. 
 Though I did like these two small heads 
 So OH and I were working our way up to the top floor (no mean feet given this was on the 10th Floor!) but whilst I was taking a quick breather on floor number 7 (I'm ridiculously unfit) we bumped into our friend who volunteers at the Tate who was also making his way up to the view. 
 So this, apart from the architecture, was the best thing about the new Tate Extension. 
 The view

 Look St Paul's - AGAIN 
 London is currently a giant building site and views like this show how much of the capital is changing 
 But was a great opportunity for great reflections though I'm worried that new buildings are turning London into one giant mirror!

After enjoying the view for about half an hour (and having a catch up with our friend) we left the extension via a bridge on the fourth floor which over looked the Turbine Hall which currently has the Ai Weiwei tree on display 
 Working our way down it was great taking pictures of this from different floors 
 Finally this was taken from the escalator going down, down, down. 

So in conclusion the new Tate Extension looks fantastic but I just don't get the content. It's still a building I love and love wandering round the galleries but I'm looking at the surroundings and people rather than the art. I'm still trying to decide whether this is good or bad..... What do you think? 

Hidden Green Spaces in London: Open Squares weekend

After a rather intense few days at Blogtacular OH and I spent Sunday seeing green spaces taking part in Open Squares weekend, some of which aren't normally open to the public. We love this kind of event as we see parts of London we wouldn't normally see and I am constantly surprised by the secrets that London holds.

First up we were in Great Fire of London territory having walked past Pudding Lane where the fire first took hold back in 1666. A little further up the street towards the Tower of London was St Olave's which is the final resting place of Samuel Pepys - you know the guy who wrote his diary during the Fire and buried his cheese in his garden to save it from the fire.
Here he is above and below is the small green space in front of the Church. It's normally open to the Public but isn't somewhere OH and I would normally head to. 

Walking back towards the Tower of London you could tell the Euros (football) were on
Now yes this isn't a garden but I don't think I've ever really noticed the detail on this Church which is on the way to the Tower
Can you tell we're very close to the Tower of London? The clue is in the name....
Next on my hit list was St Dunstan's in the East which had been featured in Gardener's World I couple of weeks ago and I'd never even heard of it.
It's another which is open all year round (and free) but again is somewhere we wouldn't necessarily have gone to. It was bombed in the War but has been left to it's own devises and it down a fabulous green oasis
Though I'm guessing that rather than let nature talk over nature has been helped along the way as not all the planting was necessarily native. 

Our first hidden space of the day was Nomura International PLC which was a stunning roof terrace of an office block overlooking the Thames
Bizarrely there were two ducks sunbathing on the terrace 

Many of these office block roof gardens have vegetable patches as well as formal planting 

This block also overlooked the local fire station where they were carrying out a practice drill. 
Pest control was also on display with a wide range of falcons used to keep pests at bay. 
Next up another public space near St Paul's called Cleary Park dedicated to Fred near a wonderfully named Huggin Hill 
At first I thought this was a little strip of green along a road but you then stumble across three layers of green - amazing 

 My mum and dad have a picture in their bathroom of St Paul's, an image I grew up with so I always love it when I get up close and personal. I took this as we went to our final destination of the day. 
 I hadn't realised that I would be seeing it again but much higher up at our last destination, Evershed's on Wood Street 
 Another roof terrace with an incredible wild flower meadow
There was even a beehive (though they say they don't produce too much honey) 
 And a vegetable garden which office workers look after 


And again the views were amazing 

Finally filming was also taking place on the street below Eversheds. Was interesting to watch a wind machine in action. Apparently they were filming a new Jaguar advert which isn't as exciting as say filming the new James Bond film but you can't have everything can you!