Tag Archives: postaday

Eerie in the Cemetery

photo

Weekly photo challenge: capture something eerie.

Highgate Cemetery, pictured above, is eerie only inasmuch as urban legends and horror lore tell us it should be. This cemetery in North London features in more than its share of vampire movies, but in reality, it barely sends a shiver down the spine. Rather, tranquility abounds – once you get past the fact that you’re among graves and ghosts, it makes for a beautiful setting for a stroll.

It’s been on my list, so I decided to visit a couple of weekends ago, in the spirit of Halloween. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, crisp and sunny after a recent downpour, with the smell of wet leaves hanging in the air. The cemetery is a quick walk downhill from Highgate Village – the perfect way to work off the effects of the lavender cake at High Tea of Highgate.

DSC_0109

You have two options, depending on how much you want to spend/learn. If you’re looking for a more mindless, cheaper meander on your own, go for the East Cemetery – it’s £4 for entry and a map (this is where you can find Karl Marx’s grave, a main attraction for many visitors). The West Cemetery is a whopping £12 but includes a one-hour guided tour, as well as free entry into the East Cemetery.

(Skint) Cold War geek that I am, I opted for the East Cemetery, though I have heard the guided tour is very good. I set out on the hunt for Marx, genuinely afraid I might miss him in the sea of headstones. Turns out I had nothing to worry about – the communist section is very in-your-face!

IMG_1365

The rest of the cemetery is as atmospheric as any of London’s grand parks (and, let’s be honest, way more peaceful. No teenagers on school trips here! St James’s, I’m looking at you). It’s a great place to re-charge and catch a quiet moment alone with your thoughts. Though of course, depending on your opinion re: unearthly spirits, you may not be truly alone…

DSC_0129

Advertisements

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

IMG_1369

 

This week’s photo challenge is about capturing the horizon – where the earth meets the sky. This view (from the rooftop of my building) is one of my very favorites, because it encapsulates two quintessential images of the city: blocks of Victorian conversions, where North Londoners eat, sleep and play in close quarters, and the London City skyline, where global commerce thrives and international deals are made or broken.

The Shard, the Gherkin and the new Walkie-Talkie building seem a stone’s throw away, so it’s funny to think that a couple hundred years ago my neighborhood would have been considered the countryside – a fresh air haven away from the industrial hustle and bustle of London. It would hardly be described as that today; as a matter of fact, students nearby recently tested the air quality of their schoolyard and found that pollution levels were twice those allowed by the European Union (!!) This has prompted a couple of Air Quality Summits, so we’ll see what comes out of them. Nevertheless, up on the roof it’s hard to feel too stifled, as you gaze at the skyline and beyond.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus (ON SUSHI!)

DSC_0322

 

I couldn’t help myself – I’m just back from Japan, and am trying anything I can think of to make the sushi immersion experience last longer, including posting a photo for this week’s photo challenge, ‘focus’ (though I can’t say staring at it is doing much to stave off my lingering craving).

This year, I got my first SLR camera, and have had lots of fun playing around with the settings (though more often than not I find the coveted ‘blurry background’ ends up extending to my entire photo…practice makes perfect I guess!) In this case, I think the focus is just where it should be: on the delicious morsel of bonito sushi waiting to be devoured. I had never heard of bonito before (a kind of tuna, ‘katsuo’ in Japanese) – but I’m so glad we’ve been introduced. This meal itself was part of a really special dining experience in Tokyo, which I’ll write about shortly (hint: it was a dream come true). Now the question is where to find bonito in London…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece (‘It’s a lot smaller in real life…’)

Stones + henges

Stones + henges

A couple weekends back, I went to go see what I’ve been avoiding since moving to London – the most famous pile of rocks to ever grace a field.

To be fair, ‘avoiding’ is probably too strong a word. I just never felt the need, kind of like how I feel about the London Eye – suuuuper touristy, overpriced and overhyped. While I still haven’t gone up the London Eye and probably won’t, I’m ever so glad to say I was wrong about the rock pile. I think once in your life, especially on a sunny, summery day, Stonehenge is worth the trek…and in all weather, I truly do think it fits the ‘masterpiece’ bill of this week’s photo challenge!

The occasion was a friend visiting from Toronto, staying with my Canadian friend Laura who is finishing up her Master’s degree here in London. We booked rail tickets in advance to Salisbury, which ended up being around £20 for a return journey (not bad for a couple hours’ ride). Upon arriving at the station, we (and the hoards of tourists who had the same idea) thought it’d be best to pay another £20 to the tour group – this includes your coach bus ride to and from Stonehenge, your admission AND a handy line bypass (so worth it, not to mention we felt like prehistoric monument VIPs…when does one ever get to say that).

While I do have to say that it looks bigger in pictures, it was pretty cool to see the stones and the henges up close and personal. There’s an audio guide to accompany your circling of the site, telling you all about its mysterious history (no but SERIOUSLY, what was it meant to be?? sunworshipping temple? creepy burial ground? Merlin’s clubhouse?) I have to say, while bits and pieces have been pillaged or stolen (…really? no one noticed this happening?) it’s in remarkably good shape for being 5000 years old. It is so, so mindblowing to think of its history and sheer longevity…for this, I say, it’s an undisputed masterpiece to me.

Having said all that……

….can we all agree that a TRUE masterpiece is any jump pic that manages to capture all people in the air at the same time?? Seventh time’s a charm!!

IMG_1084

Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List

I initially came to post about SUNSHINE IN LONDON (this is a CAPS LOCK BIG DEAL!!) and the alleged beginning of spring (I say ‘alleged’ because I have been burned by imposter warm weather before). But then I thought I’d try my first daily prompt, so inspired by today’s visit to Alexandra Palace, I have created a list of My Top 5 Favorite London Views.

1. City of London viewed from the fields of Alexandra Palace

DSC_0310

If I squint, I can see the top of Alexandra Palace from my window and have always meant to go. Today was the perfect day, as for once BBC Weather didn’t lie to me and it really did feel like 19C. From my place I took a bus north through Highgate Village to Muswell Hill, which are both situated high on a hill (just in case anyone didn’t pick that up from their names.) Consequently, Alexandra Palace has the most gorgeous, sweeping views of the City of London – the Gherkin and the Shard are there, as well as St Paul’s and even the London Eye. What I love most is that the view also consists of vast green fields and valley-type areas filled with typical London flats – just your average neighborhoods, with people going about their daily lives right next to the financial center of the universe.

2. Whitehall viewed from the National Gallery

IMG_1031

From the steps of the National Gallery, you get this quintessentially London view – Big Ben, Whitehall, double-decker buses, a few Union Jacks thrown in there for good measure. It’s not in the photo, but you’ll also see Trafalgar Square, which I like to think of as being the center of the universe, period.

3. Parliament and the Victoria Embankment viewed from Hungerford Bridge

IMG_1058

This is a view that’s particularly close to my heart, as it can be see from a bridge that turns into the street I lived on for my first year in London. The night I arrived, some new friends and I strolled a few paces out the door and were faced with a view of Westminster that took our breath away, and kept taking it away day after day, week after week. It was hard to be sad about anything at all that year, having this in my backyard.

4. St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge viewed from the Tate Modern

IMG_2536

I adore this one, just because I think any photo graced with the presence of St Paul’s Cathedral automatically becomes ten times more beautiful. This is the Millennium Bridge and the Thames as seen out a window of the Tate Modern Gallery. For all the bridge’s loveliness, I can’t help but shudder when I see it because, as any Harry Potter geek would know, it gets blown up in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (not real life…not real life…)

5. London skyline viewed from Primrose Hill

IMG_3680

Primrose Hill is for lovers (and for hilarious old sun tanning men with their shirts off, but whatever. To each their own). Primrose Hill to me means warmth, lazy summer days, picnics, and good company – and of course, a wonderful city scape view. Here’s hoping this summer will bring plenty of days like this…!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Sorry little guy...

Sorry little guy…

This is my first Weekly Photo Challenge post – the theme for this week is ‘change’. I decided to go with the seasonal aspect of the challenge, because I am THAT excited about this finally being the weekend the parka heads out of my life and into the dry cleaners’ capable hands!

I came across this tenacious snowman on a recent trip to Moscow, outside the GUM shopping mall next to Red Square. I don’t think he’s long for this world, and I’m hoping the sun’s going to win this fight (though I’m sure he’ll be back with a vengeance next year).

‘Change’ can also aptly describe the city of Moscow itself, from the reign of the Romanovs to the terrors of Stalin to Putin’s vise-grip hold on power…but that’s a whole other story for a different photo challenge!

Here’s to spring finally springing x