Category: LONDON

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

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St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

St Andrew By The Wardrobe is a very interesting church peacefully nestled along Queen Victoria Street in the City of London.

What made St Andrew by the Wardrobe unique from the many other Church of England churches dotted along the City of London is the array of immaculate long sleeves shirts, suit jackets and trousers on display as well as hundreds of pair of shiny shoes.

Apparently the clothes are from the Suited and Booted charitable organisation, giving men the chance to be suitably clothed to attend a job interview, among others.

I thought the suited and Booted charity is a very appropriate project to be sponsored by the church afterall it is the Wardrobe church.

The church was designed by the great English architect, Christopher Wren, though it has been rebuilt at least a couple of times, having been a victim of the Great Fire as well as being bombed during the Blitz.  The current church was opened again to the public in 1961.

The history of the church started in the 13th century, during the reign of King Edward III. The immediate area around the church is called the Great Wardrobe, as it became the place where King Edward III moved his state robes and other effects from the Tower of London. St Andrew’s Church became better known as St Andrew by The Wardrobe.

The Church has great connection with William Shakespeare.

It is a beautiful church, very woody. If you want to visit it the address follows below:

St Andrew by the Wardrobe
Parish Church
St Andrews Hill & Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 5DE

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

We spent a very delicious if rather expensive Valentine’s Day at Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant, which is quite local to us.

The food were appetising, tasted really freshly made.  I particularly liked the various flavoured crispy naan and poppadoms presented in a nice dainty bamboo/wooden basket.  They came with four kinds of chutney/dips: mango, cucumber, plum and pineapple?!!!

The Aloo Pakora was enjoyed by all. The crisply deep-fried sweet potatoes shreds in butter was divine.

We had the tandoori mix, which was quite good but I prepared the Masala Lamb chops as it was really tasty that I had to prised every bit of meat from the bone, yummy.

The Jalfrezi, Masala, matar and pulao rice were cut above the take-out from other restaurants.

We also had the Rogan Josh, though very expensively tasty, the lamb was rather chewy with bits of bones that you have to delicately spit out. 🙂

The service was very good, very attentive and friendly staff.

The restaurant was packed compared to other restaurants in the area.  Childshill boasts a number of excellent eateries, perfect for meal dates.

Though the final bill was on the high side, it did not contain a service charge.  It is up to you how much tip to leave.  I think that was nice, instead of having 10-15% presumptuously added to your bill when service was below par.

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower and the Parliament Bldg, photo by PH Morton

Elizabeth Tower, photo by PH Morton

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower was formerly known as the Clock Tower.  It is part of the imposing, one of the most famous landmark of London, the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is often identified by a  misnomer, Big Ben.  In actuality, Big Ben is the huge 13 tonnes Great Bell located at the top of the 360 feet high tower.  The four-face clock became operational on 7 September, 1859.

The Clock Tower has been renamed as Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH

rntne_hosp

Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH

I finally had my eardrum repair operation yesterday at University College London Hospital and I have to say the service and care were first class.  Excellent in fact!

Because I am growing older by the day, I am more susceptible to illnesses and diseases, which are rather unheard of when younger.  I find that I have a few more medical problems that require me to visit various hospital specialising with ailments of the human body 🙂

My experience with UCLH was the best.  The building itself is very old, inside is quite old as well but very clean and somewhat comforting.

The hospital is also a teaching hospital like the Royal Free Hospital.  The nurses, doctors, consultants and anesthetists were all professionally able. Their bedside manners were friendly, heartening and inspiring.

Additionally, I had a room all to myself.  It was like a private hospital, I was given a welcoming pack consisting of the blurb of what the hospital does, a pair of totes-like socks to use to walk on the very shiny, very clean tiled flooring to prevent you from falling. There were also eye mask, earplugs, dental kit, pen and paper all sealed in a lovely zipped plastic envelop.  The pen was so useful, I used it to answer all the quick crossword puzzle of the Metro newspaper, available at the reception of UCLH.

The food was  good, there were selections for everyone; those with allergies, vegetarian, who are kosher, also who wants halal food and for me, who eats everything. 🙂  I had the Chicken with creamy sauce, and it was delicious completed with jam pudding & custard.

Bimala was my personal nurse.   She was so kind and so cheerful but I also saw other nurses as well, who were equally kind, in the intervals of 15 – 30 minutes taking my heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, etc.  Apparently to increase the level of oxygen to your body, you have to take a deep breath with your mouth wide open, that will also open your lungs.

Prior to the operation I was visited by the various doctors and the anesthetist, telling me what will happen and the likely side effect of my operation.  Apparently the ears control the facial muscles, the right side of my face can drop, I could have tinnitus, permanent hearing loss, etc.  All wanted to know if I might die during the operation.  Reassuringly, they laughed it off and said they don’t do death!

My surgeon was Dr Quinney, who I consulted at the Edgware Hospital.  He was very serious but you know you will be safe at his hand.

After my operation under general anaesthesia, I was gently woken by reassuring nurses about 4-5, two were Filipinas telling me Gising na Jean (wake up Jean).

I am so happy that we have the NHS.  We should all make sure that it is not privatised for all our sake!

Autumn Arrives in London

Tulip Tree Leaf, photo by PH Morton

photo by PH Morton

Liriodendron tulipifera Aureomarginatum, commonly known as Tulip Tree

Autumn Arrives in London

As our summer season ends and so autumn arrives in London and Great Britain.

The word autumn has ancient roots alluding to the passing of the year. In the USA and some parts of the world this season  is called ‘the fall’.

This year, we have had mixed weather, from a wet and cold winter through a sunny and wet spring rolling into a sunny and wet summer.

We had two of the hottest days in September for over 100 years, with temperature reaching nearly 32C (89F).

Yes the British weather can still excite conversation among Brits. 😉

It is still quite mild with rain and sunshine and I can still wear a T shirt, without feeling cold. 🙂

The most common sign that autumn is approaching is when the leaves on deciduous trees. change colour from their spring and summer colour of green, to browns,yellows, reds and orange.
The leaves then soon after start to fall from their twigs and branches.

In autumn, some of the trees produce spectacular colour combinations of the above.

Deciduous is a Latin term meaning “falling off at maturity”

Leaves that fall off their tree branches in autumn are from the broad leaf type, having large areas to soak up the sun.

Trees that have these types of leaves need maximum food and energy to grow and produce fruit, such as apples, pears and berries etc.

These leaves have reached maturity by the end of summer using up the green chlorophyll pigment they contain to produce energy and food via photosynthesis for the tree in spring & summer.

As the daylight grows shorter with the arrival of the colder days of autumn and winter, the leaf receives decreasing amounts of  warm sunlight.

The leaf can no longer produce enough food for it’s tree, therefore it will trigger a kind of self destruct sequence.

As the temperature lowers, the leaves try and remain above freezing to provide nourishment to the tree until the last possible moment.

As the green pigment fades in the leaf, other pigments appear, which were masked by the dominant chlorophyll.

One pigment is carotenoids, which produce rich yellow, orange and brown colours, such as in carrots, banana peel, pumpkins.

Another pigment produced is called anthocyanins which are mainly red and purple.

As autumn progresses, the leaves become weaker, insects feed and worsening  weather take effect.

Within the stem of a leaf which is attached to it’s branch is the abscission layer, which chokes of the leaf veins that transfer water and food to the tree via the branch.

This further decays and weakens the leaf and stem, so the leaf becomes detached from it’s branch and so falls to the ground, it’s important work done.

Evergreen trees retain their leaves through cold freezing winter weather, because their smaller area leaves, some are needle shapes have a coating of a wax that helps protect them from the extreme cold.

autmn-leaves-in-london

Photo by PH Morton

Enjoy these wonderful seasonal colours and think of the sacrifice the leaf made to produce them.

Our Home Harvest 2016

one-of-our-potted-tomato-plants

Our Home Harvest 2016

 

When we were both still gainfully employed,  😉 it was hard to maintain our fairly long back garden, where the lawn must be mowed, the bushes regularly trimmed, the pond life fed, the garden furniture repaired, etc., the list went on.  We, therefore,  paved over parts of it, but still kept some smaller flower& plant beds and a good size lawn.

A good idea in any size garden is to use plant pots or troughs to grow plants, flowers and vegetables.

Some of the larger pots are fitted with small wheels (like castors) on the base.

some-of-our-newly-picked-tomatoes
This means that we can easily move large plants, such as the tomato plants, to follow the sun as it moves, to maximise exposure to the light and heat.

This spring, and as in previous years, Jean & I decided to try and grow some tomato plants in three of our large pots.  Tomatoes are quite inexpensive and plentifully sold in shops and supermarket during the summer, but growing your own has its own reward.  You can be sure of the freshness and they seem to taste better 🙂

 

one-of-our-small-apple-trees

 

This year’s weather has been mixed in London & SE England.

A rarely frozen and wet winter was followed by rain alternating with hot sunny days in summer, extending well into September. This combination has resulted in a nice crop of tomatoes. some have ripened and hopefully the others will soon as well.

Our two potted small apple trees have produced their ripe fruit nearly a month early this year.

They are ‘Jonagold’ apples, which are sweet and a little bitter to taste but simply delicious.

We found that If you have two potted apple trees, keep them near each other in order to get at least one good crop, this helps cross fertilisation from the bees etc.

We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

However, this year both tree have a lot of apples, thanks to the weather.

our-pear-treeWe have one potted Conference variety pear tree, near the end of the garden, and as with the apple trees we also need to get another one as this lonely tree only produces a pair of pears each year.

Our wild blackberry bush has also produce a bounty of berries this year too!

We wonder if this year’s winter will be cold and wet again. Snow has not fallen to settle on the ground here in nearly the last two years, much to our grandson’s disappointment who is wishing of building a snowman in the garden!