London’s shop fronts

One of the things our daughter insisted on doing was to go shopping in London. One of her favourite shops is Selfridges (although she is not so keen on the price tags lol); so we duly visited the shop and she made her purchases. Selfridges is known for their fantastic window dressing, although this time around the majority of their windows were blocked, so no photos of those windows from me. However, there are a huge number of other fantastic shop windows almost everywhere you go in London. So here are the ones we came across that I thought were noteworthy.

This first one is Berry Brothers & Rudd, London’s oldest wine business; it has been operating since 1698 and eight generations later it remains in the same family hands at the same address at 3 St. James’s Street. It first supplied the royal family in 1830 and also supplied the wine for the Titanic.

Berry Brothers & Rudd, London’s oldest wine business

These next few can be found on Carnaby Street, which is famous for the swinging ’60s, but its history goes as far back as 1665 when the first “Pesthouse” of London was built on the street (a pesthouse was a house for plague victims). In the 1950s the first clothing shops arrived and attracted music legends like Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. And from there the street developed into “the” place to be in the 1960s if you wanted to be inspired, hear new music, follow the latest trends and see the biggest stars of music and film.

The Diesel shop on Carnaby Street – Make Love not Walls

I just really liked the skull on this window

I cannot remember the name of this shop, but I really liked the vibrant colours displayed.

The Tea House on Neal Street near Covent Garden is one a lot of people will have seen on Instagram. I had not really planned to visit this shop, so it was a nice surprise when we spotted it. While not as old as some other shops in London, the Tea House has been family run since it opened in 1982 and has over 200 teas in their shop. I love the vibrant red of this shop, which is continued inside.

The Louis Vuitton shop on New Bond Street surprised us with their display as the eyes you see open and close. This was a shop our daughter could not just walk by, so we went in to have a look around; needless to say we did not buy anything, but it was nice to take a look.

Louis Vuitton on New Bond Street

This gentlemen’s barber shop is one of the finest barber’s in London and has been offering traditional barber services since 1875.

Geo F Trumper, traditional barber on Duke of York Street

And finally we come to Baker Street, famous for the fictional residence of the fictional Sherlock Holmes. The house at 221B Baker Street is open to the public (for a fee) and tickets can be bought at the adjacent Sherlock Holmes Museum/souvenir shop. Apparently the author Arthur Conan Doyle used to visit the house and used its layout in his stories. Next door to the museum is Hudson’s Old English Restaurant and its little window pays tribute to the famous detective.

Hudson’s Old English Restaurant on Baker Street

And on the other side of 221B Baker Street, just a few doors down, you can find the Beatles Store; London’s only shop dedicated to the Fab Four. Here you can find everything from rare ’60s memorabilia to new t-shirts. Being a Beatles fan myself I was tempted to buy some vintage items, but the budget for this trip did not account for rarities of this caliber, so I had to pass them up.

The Beatles Store on Baker Street

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The Mews of London

One of the things I was really looking forward to was visiting some of the London Mews (you know, those little pretty streets made famous by the movie “Love Actually” in the scene where Keira Knightly opens the door to find Andrew Lincoln and some cue cards standing in the street). There are many of them in London, the one made famous by the movie is actually in Notting Hill – St Luke’s Mews; as this was somewhat out of the way given the plans we had made we visited some mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The mews are usually hidden away behind archways and you would never know that you are in busy London!

These houses were originally built in the 18th and 19th century to stable horses and provided accommodation above the stables for the servants. The houses sit on cobbled little streets which originally were service roads located behind grand Georgian and Victorian houses.

There was usually a tunnel under the garden connecting with the basement of the house, so servants could slip out to the stable without disturbing the residents. A curious feature of almost any mews house is that it has no windows at the back, so servants could not spy on their betters enjoying a stroll in the garden.

Most mews were utilitarian places, with hard-wearing cobbles and a drain down the middle to take away the waste from the horses.

 The reason they are called “mews” is not immediately obvious. Some research shows that they were named after the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which evolved from the Kings’ Mews, which goes back to Richard II (r. 1377-99). The royal hawks were kept at the King’s Mews from 1377, where the birds were confined at moulting time; mew meaning moulting. Up until the reign of Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) the Mews was at Charing Cross, at the western end of the Strand where today the National Gallery stands. The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as stables, keeping the name “Mews” when it acquired this new function.
So, after this little history lesson, here are some of my favourite photos I took of the iconic London Mews.
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Views from the Thames

One of the things I really wanted to do on this visit to London was  a trip on the Thames. There are a number of ways you can do this, but if you have the London Pass the hop on/hop off City Cruise is included in the pass. This enables you to get a 24 hour ticket and you can jump on and off all day long. We did use this service one day, but mainly to get from one side of the Thames down back towards the Tower. While we enjoyed the informative commentary that was offered we did not enjoy the school groups that were also on this trip (god only knows where the adults were!), it made for a rather unenjoyable experience and meant that we did not use the service again.

A much better service we thought were the Thames Clipper commuter boats. As they are shipping commuters around there is no commentary (there is an app however to give sightseeing info), but we didn’t really need this. The advantage with these boats is that the seats are better (upholstered, whereas the City Cruises had wooden seats), no school groups (as no commentary), and better schedules. The fare can be paid using your Oyster card and there are plenty of different routes available up and down the Thames.

So here are some more photos taken from the mighty River Thames.

The Shard with the Tower Bridge in the background

Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral

The Walkie-Talkie, Gherkin and Cheesegrater Buildings

HMS Belfast

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More London evening shots

Here are some more shots from our last night in London last week. Low light photography is not really one of my strong subjects, but I think these turned out ok.

Houses of Parliament

On Westminster Bridge

London Eye detail

St Paul’s Cathedral

Tower Bridge

The Tower of London with the Shard in the background

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London – What a week it’s been

I have been back 5 days now and while normal life has resumed, the memories from London are still very fresh.

Our daughter and I spent 7 nights exploring this exciting city. I love London with its quirky sights and sounds, its busy roads, tubes and pavements, its tourist attractions which are almost always busy, and its hidden gems. This was not our first visit, but the first time we spent longer than 3 days in the city.

A lot of our days were spent walking; walking to attractions, walking the streets of London, walking down the steps to a tube station and then back up again at the other end (I had forgotten the amount of stairs the tube has!!), walking inside the attractions, walking to get food and drink and then finally walking back to our rented apartment.

Thanks to a book called “Walking London” by Andrew Duncan we managed to explore quite a lot of the city. I think our daughter had had quite enough by Day 4, especially as according to her fitness tracker we had walked a record 27,000 steps a few days prior to Day 4. It is a miracle that our feet did not drop off by the end of the week.

Whenever I am in London I always wish that I was a natural street photographer to capture some of the really unique people that call London Town home. Alas, I am not that brave, so will just have to make do with the more traditional style of photographing the city (although I did manage to sneak some photos of a group of young Japanese girls in their traditional dress – more of that later).

On our last night in London we took a water bus down to Westminster and were rewarded with some stunning night sights of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye; below is one of my favourite shots from our last night.

I hope to be able to write and share more of our week in London in upcoming posts in an attempt to revive my blog a little, as I have been rather neglecting this over the past months.

The London Eye at night

 

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Palm Trees – that’s all…

It’s been a week of rain and some snow (short lived thankfully!) for us, so I am looking through my photos of our recent tropical vacation and found this palm tree gem.

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We call him Harry

Meet Harry, we met him on holiday recently (and his friends). He is friendly and doesn’t need much looking after (just as well, as the beach was taking up most of our time).

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Sunsets are amazing

Another shot from our recent Caribbean vacation, this time a sunset shot. Sunsets, and sunrises, are amazing, no matter where in the world you are! They are always worth sticking around for.

Sunset in Punta Cana

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Sunrise return

It’s been a while since I last posted, which is mainly due to considering if I should continue with my blog.

Is blogging really still relevant in this day of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where posts swish by, constantly vying for likes and comments? I have asked myself this question for some time and I am sure I am not the only blogger to do so. My blog is only small and has just over 320 followers, most of which don’t engage at all, and I suspect the majority of them no longer use this platform. That being said, people do still read blogs, otherwise platforms like this would no longer exist. I don’t like to bow to defeat, so have decided to continue this blog. I might change things around a bit in the next little while to freshen things up, but I do like sharing my photos and creations even if only a small number of people read the posts and engage with me (I am not going to let that defeat me!).

So, here is a beautiful sunrise my husband and I got up early to see on our recent vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Sunrise in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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More streets

This street offers a view of the St Nicolai church in Hameln, Germany. A you can see, this was taken last autumn, and I think the yellow leaves really set of the old brickwork of the church very well.

View to the St Nicolai Church in Hameln, Germany

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