Sunday, 30 December 2012

Before Christmas - an Evening Walk by the Thames

One mild December day, we caught the train to London again. From Waterloo Station, we walked westwards along  Lambeth Palace Road, to cross the Thames via Lambeth Bridge. The skyline of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is lovely from here, with only low-rise buildings surrounding it.

The characteristic red and black wrought ironwork of Lambeth Bridge.

Looking upstream from Lambeth Bridge, the growing skyscraper, Vauxhall Tower, dominates its neighbouring buildings.  There are, apparently, plans to build more  high-rise towers for business and residential use in this area, which is not far from the old Battersea Power Station.

It was just after midday when we walked across the bridge, but the sky in the west already showed  pastel tints of an early winter sunset to come.

After a brisk walk on grey pavements,  under the lime trees beside the river, we arrived at The Tate Britain Art Gallery. Our destination was the exhibition of The Pre Raphaelites - Victorian Avante Garde. I have always loved the Pre Raphaelites and this exhibition was wonderful. So many beautiful paintings have been brought together from collections across the world. There was so much to learn and such colour and technique to wonder at.

When we left the Gallery to walk back to Waterloo again, dark had fallen and the lights of a December evening illuminated the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey as we passed them by. Warmly clad office workers and tourists mingled on the pavements. The Westminster Christmas Tree shone its silver lights beside Pugin`s tower, where Big Ben chimes the hours, and in front of the elegant buildings of Parliament.

Crossing the road at Westminster Bridge, we stayed on the North Embankment and enjoyed the lights and bustling street scene. We walked towards the new pedestrian bridge at Hungerford, that spans the river alongside the railway crossing into Charing Cross Station.

Looking back from new Hungerford Bridge, along the Embankment towards Westminster.
It was strange to think that the area beneath us was once the site of the Blacking Factory where Charles Dickens worked as a young boy, pasting labels onto bottles of boot blacking.

Across the pedestrian bridge towards the South Bank.

The London Eye shone blue against the night sky...........

.....and the old ships, now converted into restaurants and bars, waited for early evening customers.

It took just a few minutes to walk across the Thames. In the Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank, a Christmas Market was in full swing. The air smelled of hot dogs and candy floss. A musical Victorian carousel of galloping horses swirled round and round, lighting up the riverbank as people gathered to look, to listen or to find unusual gifts to buy in the wooden cabins by the path.

If we had not been in a hurry to catch the train, I would have loved a ride on one of the old, gilded  Gallopers........

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas!

I hope to be back blogging again very soon.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Dark Sunset at Mudeford

A very dark, non existent sunset!

I have just discovered that I have come to the end of my photograph allowance on Picassa/Blogspot. In the next few days I will try to get up and running again.

Hoping that all my blog followers are well and that those of you in the UK have not been badly affected by the floods.

See you again soon, ASAP!

Best wishes, DWx

Friday, 16 November 2012

Snapshots from a London Taxi

On Wednesday this week, we took the fast train from  the New Forest and were in London in less than two hours. It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day. A rare day treat for us these days, although the sights of central London were once part of our daily comings and goings during student days, back in the 1970s.
We needed to travel to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, to meet our friends, so we treated ourselves to a taxi ride from Waterloo Station.

The taxi took us over Westminster Bridge and up past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. We sped up Birdcage Walk and then the traffic slowed down as we passed Buckingham Palace, so I decided to take pot luck with random snapshots through the window. The usual scattering of tourists were there. My camera caught a sunbeam as we drove by.

Gold against the blue.......

....and a view straight down The Mall towards Whitehall and Trafalgar Square.

Turning left along the walls of the Palace, we were overtaken by a large silver limousine. In the back, sat  a lady with elegant , swept up hair,  her face hidden. I wonder who she was?
Driving next to Green Park, a red liveried open topped landau, pulled by gleaming bay carriage horses, trotted  down to the Palace. Perhaps the smartly dressed passengers inside were foreign dignitaries, on their way to luncheon with the Queen?

The traffic crawled down to the archway at Hyde Park Corner, always one of the busiest roundabouts in central London. 

To our right, we watched people walking through golden leafed  autumn trees in Green Park.

On our left, beyond the high walls and barbed wire, autumnal greens and yellows gave dappled shade to the borders of the Queen`s garden. A place for peace and nature behind the grand facade of Buckingham Palace.

Winged Victory watched the Hyde Park traffic circling around her.

The taxi driver knew a back way, avoiding the slow traffic in Knightsbridge, so we twisted and turned through elegant Regency squares and past streets of tall  houses.
The gardens of Belgrave Square caught the late morning sun on trees and bright foliage.

Soon we had arrived. The fine Victorian architecture of the V&A Museum, on the Cromwell Road in Kensington, stood out against the deep blue sky.

We were meeting our friends inside. They had travelled from the West Country and we planned to find each other before going to the Exhibition of Hollywood Costume that is currently showing at the V&A.  

The main doorway.

Sitting by the pool in the great quadrangle , drinking hot chocolate and chatting with our friends, I let the camera look upwards. The elaborate architecture is influenced by styles from around the world, from the old British Empire of Victorian times. We marveled at the workmanship and the years of toil and skilled craftsmanship that had made this amazing building.

I put my camera away inside the museum. The Hollywood Costumes Exhibition was excellent. If you are interested in film or in costume design, it is well worth a visit. Standing so close to dresses worn by Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and so many other great stars of old Hollywood, almost brought their original wearers back to life. Modern costumes, from Sci Fi to period drama, were there in all their clever and intricate detail. I came away with renewed respect for those who work behind the scenes to design and make the costumes that bring a drama to life. Even Dorothy`s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz were there.

Afterwards, we spent an hour or two exploring familiar and less familiar floors of the V&A. I have been visiting this museum of the arts for years. It never fails to thrill and inspire.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

In November Morning Sun

The ground frost of early morning melted quickly today, as the sun came up. Light from the east shone through canopies of leaves on the lime tree near the pond.

A solitary rose, its outer petals nipped by the cold, stood out against tree ivy clambering up a fence.

On a rare, blue skied morning, the reds and golds of the Liquid Amber gave an illusion of health and vigour on the side that faced the sun.

On its sheltered side, the wounded trunk still shows its scars and the whole awaits reshaping by a tree surgeon when its leaves have gone.

A Red Admiral butterfly escaped my camera as it flew in fits and starts among holly leaves. This bush by the Forest gate is one of the few that has berries this autumn. When migrant thrushes arrive on the next east wind, the berries will soon be gone.

Jay and the Grey One were finishing their breakfast hay as I walked the field boundaries to check the fences.

The others were enjoying a morning drink.

Oak, beech and holly mingle in the old, overgrown hedgerow between field and  Forest heath.

The beech trees are at their most beautiful now...........

....but the upper canopies have lost their leaves to recent winds. Beech mast is scarce this year, but  there is promise in new buds for next spring, shining silver against a cold, blue sky in the pale November sunlight.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Forest Ponies on the Green

On a weekend walk under overcast skies, I found two nieces of our New Forest geldings , grazing out on a village green. Young Ginger looks so much like her Uncle Ginger back in the field. She belongs to a commoning neighbour and was the last foal for Ginger and Woody`s mother, who died several years ago.

Little Grey was with them. She came over to "chat".

She is expecting her first foal.

The yellow-green leaves of a garden hornbeam brought light to a dull day.

This cottage thatch has overgrown with wisteria.

Snowy is always somewhere around the village.....

....and her friend the black mare is never far away.

Back in the garden, I photographed autumn colours before the rain came and leaves began to drop.

The beautiful red, heart shaped leaves of the Rain Forest Pansy will be gone all too soon.

Today, Monday, the rain blew over the Forest on a soft south westerly wind. I have been thinking of everyone across the Atlantic tonight, especially Bloggers in the Eastern Seaboard States. Hoping that you all stay safe throughout the next stormy days and nights of Hurricane Sandy..

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A Walk on the Misty Heath

Yesterday, it was late afternoon before the sun peered out from behind low, grey clouds.
I left Whisper Dog at home and set off for a brisker walk around the heath. Some hawthorns and silver birches have shed their leaves now, their twigs and branches dark against the sky.

Into the misty distance, I looked across open Forest towards the Avon Valley and the west.

I scrambled downhill along a muddy path, through rust yellow bracken.

Bramble leaves were reddening beside a dew pond where ponies and cattle come to drink.

In the valley bottom, I found Fudge, the young grey mare who used to be a fudge coloured dun when she was a foal. She was grazing green shoots among dry brown grasses and heather plants.

Climbing the next hill, I watched the sun coming and going between clouds, as the moor grew darker and mistier.

On my way back, I walked through gorse and bracken, to the edge of the woods on the hill.

 Wood ivy stems had been left beside the path.

There were rich gold and russet beech trees bordering a field......... I passed into the dark holly tunnel down the lane that leads towards home.