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Friday, September 21, 2012

South Luangwa Bush camping

Ok its  high time for another post,

I have been super busy, loading images to two stock photo image banks, in an attempt to have a constructive outlet for some of my stuff. Its been interesting, you definitely have to have a thick skin and I think ill be lucky if the earnings mount up to much more than a meal out after a couple of months, but im a published artist at least!

Going back now to June and my trip to Zambia and Malawi. South Luangwa National park is the home of the walking safari in Africa. What an experience. We went bush camping for 1 night, most people would do 2 or 3. Our guide has been out in the bush for 17 years and one of Africas top guides. She'd kill me if she saw her mug published to the web, but my following is so small I think I can get away with it. This was a really beautiful experience and a new way to see wildlife. Peering at elephants through the long grass, being observed by curious giraffe, and best of all listening to stories of the wild around a camp fire. I dont think I have ever been as alert as when i was laying on my swag in my tent at night listening to the night sounds. I wasnt afraid, I think I almost wanted something exciting to happen, but I might have turned to mush if it really did.

We heard a beautiful story of one night when a monther and baby elephant came through camp and while mother was browsing, baby found a warm spot next to a small girl asleep in her tent, and the baby snuggled up on the other side of the canvas to wait for its mum. Cute!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HOT Property #1 - Pumulani


For those of us that get sweaty palms at a swankily lush property and a bit of tasteful (or sometimes not so tasteful) design. Heres the first in what will be an on and off series of  posts, sharing some of the spots I have had a chance to check out. Feel free to share your own.

Pumulani is on the shores of Lake Malawi in Southern Africa. I was here last week at the end of a Zambia and Malawi safari trip. Impossibly huge rooms, almost too big, cleverly blending into the forested hills clinging to the Lake shore.

Apart from doing very little, you can do sunset dhow trips, bird walks and village visits amongst other things.


The View from the Loo


My Room - all 95 feet of it


Check it out

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Britain Goes Bunting Crazy

The last in my Jubilee series.. out in the village England in Sussex on the Monday public holiday. Union Jacks and Bunting everywhere, presumably the same across the country.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Queens Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

What a great atmosphere there was in London that weekend. It did get a bit wet on the Sunday as HM took to the river and the poor duke came down with a dicky bladder but quite a show. We are rather good at a bit of pomp in this country. It really shouldnt make sense but I think at least in the current incarnation of the monarchy its worked quite well for us, and even rebuplicans have a respect for the Queen.

The inspiration for the pageant was Canaletto's painting of a Georgian event almost 300 years ago. You can see that the vessel Gloriana in this years event is a wonderful replica of some of the ones here. Gloriana of course a reference to the first Elizabeth.



Our offices overlook the river at Millbank, so we went in for wonderful view, crowd free and a party atmoshpere.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jubilant Riverside Walk - Bunts and Boats

Saturday 2 Jun, the day before the River Pageant, and it was actually sunny! ...briefly.

Lots of happy Londoners getting into the spirit, hoisting bunting and checking out the boats in the Avenue of Sail between London Bridge and Wapping. These were the ones too big to take part in the flottilla. Tower bridge, opened its drawbridges on the Sunday in a Royal Salute, and the Royal Barge moored near St Katherines dock to review the rest of the river borne craft. You may remember, the wonderful rain sodden choir belting out Land of Hope and Glory. This was that bit of the river.




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1901 and dining posh for less

Pleasant Company, Stylish Interiors and meals with a view


To kick off the Diamond Jubilee weekend and as a bit of a pre-birthday celebration outing for myself on Friday night, a few off us went off to the  1901    Restaurant at the Andaz hotel by Liverpool street station (which used to be the Great Eastern Hotel dating from 1884. What a wonderful setting for a refined dinner with friends. The interiors I am imagining date from, well...1901. At least it does appear to be from something early Nouveau with its huge stained glass domed ceiling, reminding you of the Galleries Lafayette in Paris.

 It would be a tad on the pricey side but for one of the wonderful 'Stardeals' from Bookatable. Three courses and 2 glasses of wine for 30 quid.  I did quite a bit of research on how to get something fancy and not get stung for too many extras. Last year i had a meal deal for The Criterion, another place with amazing period interiors (as well as Russian Oligarch diners). That one ended up setting us back 60 quid each when you factored in drinks. So word to the wise...look out for the offers including a couple at least one drink, and go and have a couple of pre-dinner beverages somewhere where mere mortals drink beforehand. 

Pre-Dinner Cocktails at Devonshire Terrace


My lovely friend Cat, over at Catnipping, trotted of the following day on another deal  to the Ivy, a well known celebrity dining spot. Tip number 2 - a lunch deal as opposed to dinner is often another way to mix with the toffs but come out relatively unscathed wallet-wise.


All in all this ended up being very good value for a special meal out. Not everyone was bowled over by their meals, though I was happy with mine, and had a very pleasant evening lording it up for a change

Needless to say I had my camera with me







For lunch for the Jubilee Saturday, I caught up with another friend (could it be the Queen?), for Dim Sum at DimT at the More London Complex


The Views from here are stunning, day or night. Right by Tower Bridge.


The Dim Sum was pretty tasty too, though service slow. I do miss Sydney Yum cha, where the dumplings come past on trolleys for you to pick at till you are full to bursting. The pork buns here though were just as good as Marigolds in Market City, Sydney. My favourite!




Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Selous Game Reserve

Following on from Zanzibar, we took a light aircraft down to the Selous Game reserve in Southern Tanzania. The Selous is one of the largest reserves in all of Africa, although the northern section is the only part open to safari traffic. While the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater in the North draw the largest crowds,  the Selous has a magic of its own. Wild and untamed, with areas that you can visit and not see another soul and with two large rivers snaking through. Safari experiences here tend to be both land and water based.


I found some of the game quite skittish and timid,  I suspect due to historical hunting further south. But at the same time, it felt wild and the scenery beautiful and very varied. Further North around Lake Manze the game is more concentrated (as well as the people), and we finally found our lions, who were more than happy to sprawl in the sun and be photographed. On the way back we had to wait for a herd of buffalo 300 strong to pass, hoofing up great clouds of dust. It was like something out of the wild west

I stayed at two wonderfully luxurious Serena properties,  Selous Luxury Camp and Mivomo River Lodge. Selous Luxury Camp falls in the category of what i like to call Pretend camping. This is popular in Africa - basically all mod cons, in this case down to rolltop baths and chandeliers and a hint of Out of Africa colonial charm - but with canvas walls for atmosphere. I did hear a very vocal hippo through my own set of canvasses.  Mivomo river lodge is perched dramatically on the river banks - alltogether less of a bush camp experience, huge suites with aircon, private terraces with plunge pools and outdoor showers overlooking the river.  Whilst enjoying a gourmet lunch we saw 30 or so elephants come down to drink on a distant shore.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zanzibar

Zanzibar.. The Spice Islands.  The names themselves conjur up exotic travel, Dhows carrying exotic goods from the East blown by the trade winds, Sultans and harems. Zanzibar became the capital of the Omani empire in 1698 and has a rich history with a unique blend of Arab and Swahili cultures. On a darker note it was formaly the centre of the slave trade to the East until Livingstone had a hand in bringing about its abolition.



The capital, Stone Town has a certain faded charm, with crumbling merchants houses and palaces with intricately carved wooden doors and snaking alleyways.


The meat and fish markets make for a colourful and vibrant experience, though not for the faint hearted vegan.












Away from the capital are a host of gorgeous beaches, spice plantations to visit and the Jozani forest with an uber cute troop of Colubus monkeys. These days its a great add on to a Tanzanian Safari to the Selous or the Serengeti reserve 

I first went to Zanzibar for the Millenium, and was lucky enough to pop back on a flying visit hosted  by Serena hotels en route to the Selous Game reserve last September. As the sun has come out in London, I thought it might be time to share these sunny shots of East Africa.





Tuesday, May 22, 2012

London by Night

The great thing about night photography is how the colours come alive. In the daylight you struggle to reproduce what the naked eye can see. In the dark the intensity of of the light in the images seems to be more vivid than in real life.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Boris Biking along the Riverbank

Bless me mighty Interweb for it has been 10 weeks or more since my last blog post.

Meanwhile I have been in South Africa (again), Austraia and Singapore, so plenty to catch up on, as well as some 2011 African adventures to write about

Today though, I'm feeling like Mr Fitness after 2 hours cycling from Mile End along to Bow, and up along the Lea River, past Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes nature reserves, and back through Hackney downs and a latte at 'Elbows' in Victoria Park Village.

On Saturday I cycled from Warren Street in the West End to Islington and popped down onto the towpath, cycling all the way home to Falcon Works along the regents canal.

These green corridors are wonderful escapes. Its great that Im a 15 min tube ride from Londons west end but can walk or ride along the canal.

Im not overly fond of Boris (Johnson...the recently re-elected Mayor)  but I do like his Bikes (even though it was Red Kens  idea to have them in London apparently). Actually on the Mayoral front, being such an amusing baffoon does mean he is one of the few conservatives who dont make my stomach churn, so if were going to have one of his lot in City Hall, may as well be this one. Ken came over just a tad desperate to get back in and the bickering was atrocious.

But I digress... Bikes.... here they are..
Marvelous they are.. The Stations have become much more frequent. You can either sign up to the scheme, or get one ad hoc. Its a pound for 24hrs access. Then first half hour of use is free, after that its not much more than a pound an hour so the cost is negligible. The great thing is you dont really have to plan, you can do it on a whim. Which is mostly when i do.




I did discover rather unfortunately, last week that they dont have stops very far along the
South Bank.  I had a wonderful night ride all along the gorgeously lit up South Side of the Thames last Monday night. I got a but carried away with myself and after Tower Bridge (amazingly lit at the moment pre-Olympics), I ran out of bridges to get back over to the other side. I thought I'd drop the bike and train it but alas...no bike parks over there!.  Had to cycle through the car exhaust filled Rotherhide bleedin tunnel!.


Well as is traditional, here are some pics.. The first being Home Sweet Home, Falcon Works on Spring Afternoon. Then a random shot of a bike stand (acually in Marleybone), and  journey along the Regents Canal and the Lea River, before a Vicky park village cafe

                            

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Somerset House

One of London's tucked away gems, best known for its Winter skating rink, it also houses the Courthould Gallery. I love the buildings, there a few such grand pieces of coherent period architecture in the city. This version of the complex dates from 1770, but the site has historical significance from a considerable time before that. It was named after the Duke of Somerset who was the protector of England while King Henry VIIIs son Edward VI was in his minority.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cultural Activities



Its cold and miserable February in London, its just snowed ..which actually does make everyting temporarily a bit less gloomy. To combat the winter inner city blues Ive been taking myself out on a little whirlwind of culutural activities.

Last week, I went on a spontaneous trip to the Lion King on the way home from work. Cheap seat in the very back row but those theatres are designed so well you could still see everything. Felt very pleased with myself and was quite moved as all the marvellous puppety animals paraded on stage to Circle of Life. I think thst was actually the highlight, perhaps that should have done it at the end. The rest was good but didnt quite grab me in the same way. Still was v pleased to have gone.




Last weekend I went with my mum to the new Two Temple Place gallery. In the wonderful extravagent town house of the Astors, they had a William Morris exhibiton. This vibrant wall hanging was the highlight.


This was the exterior of the gallery.

Following this we went off to see Joanna Lumley and Robert Lindsay in the Lion in Winter. Really good. I always loved the Katherine Hepburn film and the script is stunningly clever. Plots and Inrigues, it really keeps you on the edge of your seat. Very witty and acerbic. The Play delivered just as well. Small shades of Patsy Stone in Joanna Lumleys interpretation of Eleanor of Aquitane. The English Queen kept locked up in a tower for many years but let out for Christmas for a battle of wits with her husband Henry II and sons the future King John of Magna Carter fame and Richard the Lionheart. Eleanor was the richest woman in the world at that time. She had previously been Queen of France and went to the crusades.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dennis Severs House and a Perfect Georgian Street

Today I went to Dennis Severs house, a wonderful little place just off Spitalfields market. They have it all set out as it would have been in 18th Century London, as if the occupants have momentarily left the room. Candles burning, fires crackling, and unmade bed, a half drunk cup of tea. If you sit for a while in one of the rooms you here the clip clop of hooves outside and church bells. What a great idea.

Dennis Severs House


Afterwards I took some shots in a perfectly preserved Georgian street close by. What a wonderful address, so close to everything yet tucked away in its own little world..

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Walk to the shops

What things can we see on the way down to the supermarket to do the mundane weekly shop on a winters day...

Monday, January 9, 2012

A walk from Stepney to Canary Wharf

I bought myself a new camera for Christmas, and feeling slighlty cheese and chocolate heavy following the festive binge, I thought I would take myself for a walk and try out the new camera at the same time.

As ive said before, there is a lot of rubbish housing and ugliness in the area to go past, but there are also redeeming features tucked away. St Dunstans church Stepney and its avenue of trees and graveyard. Inside there are Elizibethan monuments. Walking through the back streets of Georgian bomb survivors over canals to Limehouse there are historic wharf buildings and a Hawksmoor church, and finaly West India Quay and Carary Wharf. Some say Souless, my flatmate wouldnt move there despite getting a more swanky flat for less money, I think she is fonder of the gritty innner london multicultural vibrancy than I am. I dont know what its like to spend all your time there, but I quite like Canary Wharfs modernity and proximity to the water.

Back on the DLR, East London line and tube to Stepney with neon lit, Halal chicken shops, Asian veg markets and barbers. Chicken shops and barbers, how they all survive together, goodness only knows . Ive to ban myself from bargain priced Donners and Biyrianis since moving here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Expectations

Great Expectations Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Despite abandoning for six months after tiring a bit of the middle bit where its a bit slow and Londons a bit miserable, I returned to it in my Christmas cottage in the countryside. It seemed very fitting for a wintery read in a village. I really did enjoy it again by the end. Though the end itself is quite sad and a bit disappointing in some ways.

I love Joe Gargery, what a lovely bloke, love his dialogue. Theres lots of good character dialogue actually.

Im sure ill return to another Dickes at some point. This was an improvement on Tale of Two Cities



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