Sky Garden in the rain

I'd read about the Sky Garden at least a year ago and I've been trying to get my hands on the free tickets on and off for ages. Whenever I've looked there have never been tickets on the days we could go until earlier this year when I bagged a couple to go last weekend. The reason for the tickets is that the garden is at the top of what is known as the Walkie Talkie building which is packed full of offices so you need to go through airport style security before you assend the 35 floors to the top.

Sadly the day we went it was tipping down so the views in certain directions were obscured by raindrops but you can still make out the views.  
OH and I have been up the black building in the foreground a few years ago to the Vertigo 42 bar - a surprise for OH's birthday and amazing views with champagne. 
The bar in the Sky Garden was tempting but we opted to go for a pint once we had return to ground level.
As you can see the weather was far from perfect with grey views across North London 
It was surreal to see so much greenery in an enclosed space, but the garden is fairly young and it didn't feel as lush as I imagined. 
It was a little surreal looking down into the Tower of London. Bizarrely I overheard someone saying 'I hate the Normans. They get everywhere'. Random or what!
This view from one of the mezzanine levels made my stomach lurch a little as it was surreal looking down onto the Thames. Sadly the outside gallery was closed due to the 'inclement weather'. 
I was also shocked and saddened to see the continual rise and rise of so many tower blocks in the City. The skyline of London has changed so much, even in the past five years as more and more high rise office blocks have gone up. Sadly many of it is unaffordable to the average Londoner. 
I think this is my favourite shot of the ferns mixed with the high rises in the background. If you can get tickets it's certainly worth a trip as you get great views. It may not be as  high as the Shard but the views are free and that, for me, is priceless! 

Lumiere London 2018 Part Two

So for a second night OH and I headed out into the dark to find the light. This time we started in Victoria but my camera was really playing up so many of the photos to follow are from my mobile so apologies in advance as my photo sizes and scale are very mixed.
 First up was an amazing light in front of the Catholic Cathedral in Westminster, just down from the Abbey. The light was powered by pedal power and of course OH had to have a go. 

 We then spotted this rather intriguing video on the way to Westminster Abbey which showed a video lots of people walking up the wall. The weirdest one was a lone bride. 
 One of the highlights of the Festival was this, Westminster Abbey in surreal, garish colours. It really was quite surreal and quite beautiful. 
 My master plan was to jump on the tube at this point up to Charing Cross to save walking but OH was having none of it so we walked up to see this installation in Trafalguar Square. 
The view was better from the steps looking down 
Onwards and upwards towards Leicester Square where there was a surreal but crowded garden. We walked around the square but I did take a quick snap of this magnificent fox at the entrance 
Up to Chinatown where these amazing flamingos were flying up and down the street. Three incredible puppets followed by the crowds 
 Cafe Royal's video display was wonderful but sadly over shadowed by the new advertising boards at Picadilly whose light bleached the video display which was a real shame. 
 This installation was nuts. Lots and lots of neon string which reminded me of Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. 
 I did enjoy the way the light played with the string and it's surrounding. 
 And finally to the South Bank to the last of the installations of the evening which OH wanted to see. I liked it except for the crowds. And the tired legs !! 
So there we have it. Sadly I didn't count how many steps we actually walked over both evenings but it was a lot. But we did enjoy the festival. The wow factor wasn't as epic as the first festival but perhaps that was because we had seen the first festival which was unique. I did miss the carnival feel  there was during  the first festival, especially walking down the closed off Regent Street and Picadilly but I suppose you can't have everything. Hopefully it will become a regular event so there is something to look forward to in the gloom of winter.

Lumiere London 2018 part one

January is a cruel beast. The memory of Christmas is fading but the days are short and daylight is scarce to say the least. So I was delighted to hear that the Lumiere Festival was back. The first festival was back in January 2016 and OH and I loved it, but so did everyone else and the streets became too overcrowded as too many people turned up. So after a year away they put on another festival with a much larger footprint meaning that OH and I had a lot further to walk!
 We started in Granary Square just behind Kings Cross for The Wave which was a mind boggling swirl of smoke and strobe lighting. Now I must apologise in advance as my camera decided to play up and so these aren't the best photos....
 Also in Granary Square was this interactive moving beast of lights dancing to the music. It was mind boggling but the photo doesn't really do it any justice! If you go to this link on my Instagram feed you can see a video of it and you'll see what I mean!
 We rather foolishly decided to walk from Kings Cross over to Tottenham Court Road. Not normally a long walk but the night was young and we still had a long way to go.
 Anyway this rather delightful cube also reacted to human touch which is always satisfying. 
 And onwards this time to a rather trippy sphere hanging above Oxford Circus 
 I love and hate it when they close major streets as it always feels so unnatural walking down the middle of the road. 
 Our next stop on our mammoth walk was South Molten Street for these see-saws which drew a crowd
 By now our legs were really beginning to hurt. I'd been suffering from various ailments from October to early January so I was out of the habit of walking far, and even OH who cycles everyday to work said his feet were hurting. We were a little disappointed by this installation which was close to Grosvenor Square. Ah well you can't win them all. 
And so to our final destination for the evening just outside the Connaught Hotel in swanky Mayfair
This was another interactive one where you were given a stick and each section made a different note so you could in theory play music on them. 
Sadly no tunes were heard during our brief visit but it sounded good. And there we have it - part one which was the first evening of the Festival. Day two to follow soon.... I promise! 

The Gingerbread City London

So Christmas feels like a long time ago now but I need to share with you something I saw in mid December. I had a rare day off mid week and on the list of things to do and see was to investigate something called The Gingerbread City which I'd recently read about. It was housed at the Museum of Architecture which is something I admit I'd never even about. Numerous architect firms create structures from Gingerbread which is then used to create a city which the public could then visit. The ethos behind it was to encourage the public to engage with architecture and the money raised (there was a small entrance fee) went back to the Museum for the following year.

It's hard to describe the city which was huge, wonderful and bonkers. And the smell was insane - it was as if sugar was floating in the air. It's an annual event and I encourage you to make a note in your diary to check it out next year. Here is what I saw.