Sunday, 28 July 2013

Luna Cinema at Hampton Court Palace

As twilight fell, we strolled through the perfectly landscaped grounds of Hampton Court Palace, the rain hitting the ground so hard that it was bouncing back up to our knees, and our eyes seriously in danger of becoming acquainted with someone else's umbrella, we had to admit that it wasn't exactly how we'd imagined it.

Think "Outdoor Cinema" and it conjures up Americanised images of convertible mustangs lined up against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, the whole scene awash with a sepia-toned romance - or perhaps that's just me taking inspiration from the film we went to see; Grease.

Needless to say, the British version of outdoor cinema is somewhat more, well, wet. After a seemingly endless heatwave, we chose the day when the deluge arrived for our inaugural outdoor cinema trip. Having settled on a spot in the vast field, overseen by the splendid buildings of Hampton Court Palace, we set about making a rainproof shelter from the resources we had to hand.
The view of the screen from our foil blanket and umbrella shelter.
A mat, a blanket, a foil sheet and a dome umbrella later, we had ourselves a decent makeshift shelter, and the film began. Haagen Dazs were giving away free ice cream throughout, and although it wasn't the weather for it, it would have been rude not to!  

A sea of umbrellas facing the screen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

An afternoon in Battersea Park

This lovely summer weather has lured me into spending more time outside, particularly in the various parks and public spaces of Old London Town, which are great places for faffing around and making the most of the weather.

Following the expedition across Hampstead Heath last week, yesterday was the turn of Battersea Park, a lovely area immediately south of the river, best known for it's zoo, to be graced with our presence. We avoided the zoo (if it's not free, we're not going in - not until after payday, anyway) and wandered around until we came across a fountain-centric splash pool, perfect for dipping our legs in and cooling down.

We stayed until our toes started to wrinkle, at which point we bounded off across the park, full of renewed vigour from the cooling effect of the water, covering what seemed like miles of fields and gardens, before we came across the Tropical Gardens, and once again sat down to rest and faff away a few minutes. I'm not sure what was particularly tropical about the gardens- even the weather had cooled down and clouded over by this point- but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. On leaving the gardens we promenaded around many more fields before heading back to the edge of the park and walking back across my favourite bridge in London (because it is adorned with fairy lights that make sure it looks like Christmas every day.)

I love the juxtaposition between the park and the industry of Battersea power station behind it.

Little Venice - not the real thing, but not bad.

Anyone who knows me will have had at least one conversation with me which involved me uttering the words "I really want to go to Venice". Truth is, it's always been top of my list of places to visit, for reasons unfathomable. Although I've not made that pilgrimage yet, a friend - who had probably got fed up of my whining about wanting to go to Venice- recently took pity on me and arranged a trip to Little Venice, which is surprisingly situated in the heart of London, just around the corner from Paddington station.

To get into the spirit of things, we took a canal boat to Little Venice. The 30 minute journey along the Regent's Canal was lined by canal boats on either side, each more extravagantly furnished and bizarrely named than the previous. On arriving at Little Venice, where the Canal opened up into a lake (probably not the technical boating term, but it'll suffice for these purposes) we hopped off the boat and began exploring. The first thing we came across was The Waterside Cafe, a quaint cafe in a boat:

(The photo doesn't do justice to the quaintness)
  We meandered on a little further passing a few exclusive-looking restaurants - one of which, The Summerhouse, I very much intend to return to one day, when I have pennies in my pocket- before crossing over the river and walking back down the other side. Along our way, we came across London's answer to Jack Sparrow's ship, moored in the canal.
Our wandering taught us that there isn't much to actually do in Little Venice, once you've had your fill of boats and window shopping (window eating??) in overpriced restaurants. So we pottered off to the nearest restaurant we could afford (Strada), and ate Italian food until our hearts were content, all the while imagining that we were in real Venice.

Conclusion: Worth a visit for an hour or so, but not a lot to see and do. Fingers firmly crossed that the real Venice is more lively.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Photo of the day 06/06/13

Another early finish at work = another batch of animal photos from around the zoo!!

Jae Jae the Sumatran tiger is getting braver and coming face to face with the public more often (apologies for the rogue human ear in the left of the shot!)  I think I need to get me one of these snazzy newfangled cameras that automatically eradicates fences and wire!

The newest arrivals to the zoo are the kangaroos, fresh from Down Under about a month ago. Having never seen a kangaroo in real life before, they're not quite as cute as they're made out to be, but they're fascinating to watch.

Last but not least was this gorilla, chewing on her own toes as a human baby would!