Christmas Decorations In London

Regent Street decoarations are a lovely blend of silver and gold this year, although they weren’t shown to their best advantage on the day I visited.

I used the Burlington Arcade to go and look at Fornum and Masons’ Christmas window displays. The shops in the arcade had decorated both the inside and the outside of their windows. I was attacted to a window full of unusual boxes and went in for a better look. The assistant was most helpful and showed me a number of beautifully made boxes. Some of them contained games compendiums while other had lots of partitions inside for all sorts of different uses. My favourite was an artists box with many hidden features and an exquisite marquetry pattern on the outer cover. As I left the shop I noticed a shoe-shine stall – with a queue.

Last stop was Borough Market where I bought some delicious olives and feta from one of the festively decorated stalls.

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Dubai Creek

A year ago today I flew back to Dubai after a break of more than forty years. I’d seen many images of it’s development so the changes I encountered weren’t surprising, but I wasn’t sure I would enjoy modern Dubai so only booked a few days stay. In retrospect I wish I’d stayed longer because I enjoyed myself so much, even relishing the heat that I found soothing and relaxing after years of miserable British weather.

In contrast to today’s Dubai which is a world famous tourist destination, it was barely known in the 1970’s when I lived there. My husband was a civil engineer and first arrived in 1969. The airport was tiny with few flights, there wasn’t a port nor any roads outside the immediate town. Tracks across the desert were used by intrepid travellers who wished to go to Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. The first road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was completed while I lived there and any trips we made to the East Coast or Al Ain were long and arduous adventures across hot desert tracks or through dry wadi beds.

Before Port Rashid was completed in 1974 boats had to moor offshore and transfer their loads onto smaller vessels that could negotiate the silty opening of Dubai creek. Although the twenty first century has transformed the creek, it was still recognisable to me and the dhow wharfage is still in use in Deira.

We stayed at the Carlton Towers Hotel overlooking the creek and despite the late hour of our arrival, as soon as we’d finished checking in, we took advantage of the beautifully warm night to stretch our legs with a walk up the creek. There are many more buildings and the creekside has been developed with a block paved promenade and lots of trees but it didn’t take any time to get my bearings and feel at home.

The dhows were moored several deep and the wharf stacked with towering piles of produce from boxed white goods to TV’s, vehicles to tyres. The fact that this valuable cargo was left virtually unattended with only a couple of watchman laid asleep on top of the goods seemed unbelievable to my companions.

Hardly any tourists visited Dubai in the 1970’s and despite the fact that most ex-pats had large houses and could accommodate guests, parents were the most frequent visitors. One of the expeditions we almost always treated them to was a trip along the creek. I was amused to see that this has developed into a bigger money spinner and was eager to try it again.

Abras were much cheaper in the past but the trips between Dubai and Deira are still great value and just as much fun. From my numerous journeys in the past I have quite a lot of photographs but nowhere near as many as we took on our hour long trip in 2016. I hope you enjoy seeing a selection of past and present views of Dubai Creek.

Inner Temple, London

Last week I walked round part of the Inner Temple of the Inns of Court in London. It covers a fairly small area and I expected to see it all during the time allotted, but it was so interesting that I will have to make a return journey to see even half of it.

It was a dull, late October day with a hint of moisture in the air but that didn’t detract from the architectural splendours to be found. This area with it’s four Inns of Court date back to the twelfth century. As I entered Middle Temple Lane through the gates off the Embankment, I noticed a winged horse – Pegasus –  decoration that I saw repeated throughout my walk, and discovered it was from the coat of arms of Inner Temple. The other three Temples have a sheep, a lion and a griffin and they can be spotted above doors or even on the guttering of the buildings.

On either side of the lanes are doorways leading into the various chambers with a list of the barristers who form that particular chamber. Narrow lanes lead off into an array of courts, squares and gardens.

I was disappointed that Middle Temple Hall was covered in scaffolding and not open to the public because it is reputedly one of the finest Elizabethan halls in the country. Temple Church was open and I spent a fascinating time exploring the interior. It is one of the oldest buildings, having survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz during WWII.

Dubai Then and Now 1970’s – 2016 Part 3

These photographs were taken on the road to the airport. I took three from the taxi on my way to the aiport in 2016 so didn’t have time to set up a shot. In the 1970’s if I wanted to take a photo I pulled onto the sand at the side of the road and lined up whatever I wanted to take. It was possible to stand in the middle of most roads in the early 1970’s.

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Clocktower roundabout 2016

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Clocktower roundabout 1970’s

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Airport approach road and flyover 2016

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Airport approach road and flyover 1974

Dubai Then and Now 1970’s – 2016 Part 2

A couple more photo’s to show how Dubai has changed.

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Taken from an abra under Al Maktoum Bridge 2016

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The same shot taken in 1979

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The Sheraton taken from an abra in 2016

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A similar shot taken from Dubai side in 1979

 

 

Dubai Then and Now 1970’s & 2016

After a forty year absence I revisited Dubai in November 2016. It felt very familiar, yet unfamiliar. Here are two views that reflect the larger impression. Whilst they are recognisable they have changed dramatically.

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Looking inland from the Abra Steps on Deira side 2016

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The same shot taken in 1979

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The Abra Steps Dubai side taken from the creek 2016

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The same shot taken in 1974

Autumn

Autumn appears to have come early this year and although the maple trees aren’t at their best yet, some are already displaying an amazing range of colours. There are still more leaves on the trees than the ground, but some have started to fall.

Some flowers are still blooming and I saw several clumps of winter crocus on my walk this morning as well as two geese roosting on the rail of a bridge.

 

Thorpe Green, Surrey

After a stormy night this morning dawned bright and breezey and I walked to nearby Thorpe Green. It always brings to mind Enid Blyton summer holiday reading from childhood and rightly or not is how I imagined the south of England.

The Rose and Crown is a popular pub, especially on weekends during the summer when it’s difficult to book a table and the garden is overflowing.

Cricket isn’t played on the green, which is a pity because it looks a perfect setting although the land is quite wet.

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Behind the bank of trees marking the boundary of the green is this hidden gem. Although it all looks tranquil the peace is disturbed by the passage of planes overhead and the sound of the M25 that runs alongside the resevoir.

 

Heather Garden

I was lucky to hit a sunny period between heavy showers and storms when I went for a walk last week. As I entered the heather garden I noticed two robins washing themselves in puddles and was fortunate enough to get a picture of one of them.

The light was strange and most of my shots were over-exposed but the blend of nature’s colours was breath-taking. After so much rain this month, the grass is lush and very green, which contrasts brilliantly with the purple heather and the red berries that are appearing on various trees.

Borough Market

I visited Borough Market last week. It’s the first time I’ve been this year and although some of the photographs I took didn’t have many people visible,  it was very busy with the usual vibrant atmosphere.

As the London Bridge attacks began on the 3rd June 2017, I was walking south across Waterloo Bridge on my way home with my family after seeing the musical, 42nd Street. We were all happy and still buzzing from the spectacle of the previous few hours but were alerted to danger by the sight of hundreds of emergency vehicles with their blue lights causing the night sky to take on a different hue, pouring south across the Thames. The sound of sirens filled the air as we picked up speed to escape our very vulnerable position mid-way across the bridge. Not only were the vehicles pouring south over Waterloo Bridge, but looking up and down stream, we could see the same thing happening on the bridges in both directions. Looking over our shoulders we saw that the Embankment also had a stream of blue-lighted vehicles progressing rapidly towards the danger.

It was too early for news to have broken in the media but we sensed danger and got off the bridge as quickly as possible, opting to avoid crowds by crossing the roof of the Hayward Gallery. From this vantage point we could see nothing, but the sound of the sirens being deflected off taller buildings, became deafening.

Until we reached ground level we had no idea whether we were walking into danger or not as we were unable to pinpoint the direction the vehicles were heading. Once we descended the steps we realised we were probably safe as we met no crowds of people fleeing.

As we approached Waterloo Station we walked past several restaurants full of people enjoying a Saturday night out and everything in the station appeared normal. As we waited for a train we looked on Twitter and found early reports of the horrors that had been happening a short distance away. At that time it was thought that a third attack was happening at Vauxhall, a station we pass through on our way to and from London. This was later reported to be unconnected but at the time it added to our sense of unease and anxiety. Being unable to settle once we reached home, we sat and watched as the media began to broadcast reports from the multiple scenes.

As hours and days passed I was able to put my experience into some sort of cohesive order. Despite the horror everyone feels upon hearing of these atrocities, certain things stand out. The thing that I was most struck by was the bravery of the first responders who, in these situations, run into danger. I know they train for this and are better equipped to deal with it than members of the public but it runs against every natural instinct of a human being.

My family and I found ourselves on the fringes of this particular attack but we weren’t in any danger. We went to a show, walked to the station and boarded a train home, but our proximity to the danger emphasizes how much a part chance plays in these things. If we’d been to a different theatre we may have been walking over London Bridge or if the attackers had chosen Waterloo Bridge we’d have been caught up in events. Although I am more alert, I intend to continue visiting London regularly and applaud the crowds of people I saw this week doing exactly the same thing.

Dreaming in Arabic

Adventures in the United Arab Emirates & Beyond

Seanic

Living is Easy with Eyes Closed