Taken at Barnes Pond, Barnes Village, South West London
'Mr Mandarin Duck'
The focal point of Barnes Village is thought to be the Pond. It is in the centre of the Common and is a very popular spot with small children who are fascinated by the birdlife. Recently, when I was walking past it, my eye was drawn to a water bird I had never seen. This is often an occurrence as birds fly from the local Wetlands Centre and find themselves on the pond with the species you would more likely see there such as mallard ducks and Canadian geese. This duck, which I later discovered was a Mandarin Duck, had very bright plumage, almost cartoon-like, and stood out from the rather dull, grey day. It was rather pompous as from the moment it saw we had it's attention, it kept showing off its magnificent multi-coloured feathers. I loved how many colours it contained and it rather cheered me up on a dreary cold day.
Taken on the Towpath to Chiswick Brige, South West London
Finally after what has seemed a very long cold snap, we have started the journey towards Spring. What a relief! It's started getting warmer and with the change in weather comes, the change in nature. Stems of daffodils pop out of the ground, crocuses flower into starbursts of purple and yellow and birds sing more lustily as though feeling the beginning of something better. On a walk this week, I spotted this blossom in a garden alongside the towpath. The sky was azure blue so it stood out against it more vividly and although all the buds weren't in flower, it made me excited for spring. I loved the different shades of pink and white enclosed in the blossom and bright colours that make you optimistic for what's to come. Roll on Spring!
Taken at the Memorial to Magna Carta, Runnymede, Surrey
'Can't see the wood through the trees'
This year is the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede. This being the case, we thought it was important to visit the birthplace of Freedom as with English Cabaret we are celebrating our Big Year for Freedom of which the anniversary of Magna Carta is part. We rolled up to the subdued settlement of Runnymede on Wednesday which was a very cold and dank day. After a bacon sandwich in the tiny tearoom, we took a map and walked in the direction of the memorial erected by the American Bar Association to commemorate Magna Carta. The mud squelched under our feet as we walked to the monument as it was accessed through a field with no tarmack pathway and only coloured wooden signs to guide us. I took this photo just before we got to the memorial, through the trees. It rather embodies what I thought of the area and memorial. Although Magna Carta is a very important subject matter for our history, as a country, as it was the first signed document to protect our freedoms, the area isn't buzzing with lots of people discovering the history and it feels as if it is overlooked apart from a few hardened National Trust visitors. There are no school groups visiting as there wouldn't be the facilities to provide for them and although it may wake up for the anniversary later in the year, in mid February it feels deserted and dead. I have called this image 'Can't see the wood through the trees' as it feels, having visited the birthplace of Freedom, that nobody can see the importance of it.
Taken from the top of Tower Bridge,London
'The View from the Bridge'
On a sparkling Tuesday last week, we visited the permanent exhibition over the top of impressive structure Tower Bridge. It was the perfect day to visit as there were no clouds in the sky just a curtain of blue velvet stretching above and the sun shining brightly. We approached the bridge from Hays Galleria and were worried we might not be able to visit because of the volume of people visiting London. However it was comparatively less busy than on the pavement. We visited the exhibition backwards, seeing how the bridge was constructed and how it worked first. The machines that were used to provide power to lift the bridge were beautifully kept and painted in vivid greens and reds. After our visit to the Engine room, we climbed the two hundred plus stairs to get to the top and the view. Inside the staircase was a complete contrast to the outside as it was dim and wood panelled but it just made it more magical when you stepped out into the sunshine. There were two walkways - one looking east and the other west - so we walked down both. The first faced towards Canary Wharf and financial sector with the wharfs on one side and the muddy river in between. The second however was the most interesting as the skyline encompassed the Gherkin, Shard, Tower of London and St Pauls in one view. I loved the architecture of the bridge and this picture shows it as a frame for the fantastic view!