An impromptu Saturday

This was an unexpectedly fun day. With no real plans, we checked a few of our favourite sources for inspiration (we’ll do a post on these soon).

We found a series of sessions called Daylight Music at the gorgeous Union Chapel in Islington. From 12 noon, they have an eclectic mix of up-and-coming artists. This was our first visit, but we imagine it encompasses quite a range of genres, and also features a pretty amazing café at the back, with proceeds going towards a homeless charity. They serve endless cups of tea, home-baked cakes and bacon sandwiches [!!!], with an informal atmosphere. We saw the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment‘s Experience ensemble perform Haydn, a slightly too intense guitarist/singer/songwriter, and The Swingles (previously the Swingle Singers), in an amazing line-up (which, to be fair, isn’t a typical weekly occurrence!).

Union Chapel, Islington
The OAE performed brilliantly, but the Swingles were the real highlight. They sang some of their well-known material and some new, but they interestingly described their technique of live looping, where they sing something once and their sound engineer instantly records it and replays it. This enables them to layer their vocals even further and develop their rich sound.

Inside Union Chapel, Islington

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A quiet day in

Today was just a quiet day in; it was Holocaust Memorial Day so we watched a fascinating documentary called “Holocaust: Night Will Fall”, which is about a film detailing the Holocaust that was made during the War but never broadcast.

Jewish cross at American War Cemetary in Cambridge

We then ventured to the cinema; the one of our choice is generally one of the Everyman cinemas. It’s a fantastic chain with comfy seats, a great bar and the option of having food brought to your seats. Word of warning, though – not all Everymans (Everymen?) were created equal [the best ones have sofas, but it depends on which venue and screen you go to!], so check before you book.

We went to see The Theory of Everything, which we’re sure you’ve seen by now, but if you haven’t… Go. I, for one, cried throughout – it was emotional as predicted, and beautifully acted by Eddie Redmayne [it was an incredible performance]. It reminded us of this photo we took of the chapel at St John’s College in Cambridge, where the movie was filmed (although not actually set [he studied at Trinity Hall during his time in Cambridge]).

Inside St. John's Chapel, Cambridge

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Modern day royalty at Kensington Palace

As the second part of our Historic Royal Palaces half-price January, we headed to Kensington Palace, both of us for the first time. In the beautiful setting of Kensington Gardens, the Palace is an interesting mix of historical state apartments and high-security home of William, Catherine and baby George, amongst other royal family members.

Kensington Palace

The first highlight was not a sighting of Harry popping out to get milk, but an extremely chubby squirrel in a nearby tree.

Squirrel

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A very Tudor day at Hampton Court

Yes, we know it’s out of season to visit Hampton Court Palace and make the most of the beautiful gardens, but we had two crucial things… A beautifully crisp, sunny day, and [perhaps more pertinently…] half price entry (valid until 13th February 2015). So, we headed out to one of the prettiest parts of suburban London to visit the huge Tudor palace.

Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII, responsible for large parts of Hampton Court, was a proud man – nowhere more evident than in the Tudor rose emblem found throughout. Except maybe his relationship history. That could take some beating.

Tudor Rose ceiling at Hampton Court Palace

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Bubbly St Paul’s and other London wanderings

Hello everyone! We’re excited to share with you a few photos today which are hopefully just a little bit different… We were happy with the colours we achieved amongst the rather grey skies.

We planned a festive wander around some rather famous London landmarks. We aimed to take in some of the traditional Christmas markets, but ended up more fascinated by some of the photo opportunities we discovered.

St. Paul's

We enjoyed how the dramatic, austere, grey St Paul’s (above) was brilliantly offset by this fun bubble (below) created by a riverbank entertainer who was entrancing a large group of children, as well as us!

Bubble over St. Paul's

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Walk on the Heath

One evening we went for another walk on Hampstead Heath (we’ve previously talked about it here). The sun was setting as we headed up, so we enjoyed some dramatic silhouettes of our fellow walkers…

Couple under a tree

A pretty church spire in the distance…

Hampstead skyline silouette

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Wintry museums day in London

Before the madness of Christmas week properly kicked off, we took time to spend a festive day together in London. We wanted to try a new skating venue, having been to Somerset House and the Tower of London in previous years, so decided to try the Natural History Museum‘s rink.

NHM ice rink by day

Before that, though, we went inside and checked out the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which is always wonderful, whether you’re into photography or not! [It’s an incredible collection.]

Natural History Museum

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A rainy City walk

As you may have spotted on our Twitter, we decided to venture on a rainy walk around the City, taking in some lesser-known historical bits and bobs and ending up back at the Tower, before the poppies exhibition that we’ve blogged about before is finally taken down. This time, we aimed to see them from an angle we’d not previously spotted – around the ‘front’ of the Tower, nearest the river. Here, there was another ‘wave’:

Wave of poppies at the Tower of London

It was fascinating to see the poppies up close, via the means of some rather heavy camera zoom:

Rain on the poppies at the Tower of London

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November at the Imperial War Museum

On Remembrance Sunday we thought it was an appropriate time to go and visit the Imperial War Museum, now back open after a while undergoing renovation. Especially poignant given the day, it was a fascinating trip and well worth a visit, especially to the moving [and pretty devastating] Holocaust exhibition on the top two floors. Cameras weren’t allowed inside the exhibitions, but Lambeth North tube was looking rather industrial and photogenic [usually I don’t edit my photos except for a bit of cropping, but this one uses an effect built into the camera that I was playing with as we were walking]:

Lambeth North tube

The light-filled central hall, going up through the centre, features transport and weapons from battle scenes throughout the modern age.

V2 bomb at Imperial War Museum

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A wander around London Bridge

With my other half away this weekend, you’re stuck with just me this week, as I took a brief stroll around London Bridge during a glorious Saturday afternoon, and decided to have a bit of a play with shooting in black and white. This is on the Jubilee line as I was warming up:

Tube carriage

For those who haven’t been there, London Bridge has seen a lot of regeneration in recent years (most noticeably with the building of the fairly epic Shard skyscraper as part of the London Bridge station redevelopment), with a strong focus on glass architecture, particularly in places such as More London Riverside. As I walked from the station to the riverside, I spotted a nice image of the old warehouses reflected in one of the new glass facades:

Terrace reflection

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