Saturday, April 18, 2015

It's Really Here


It felt like it would never come, but as happens in Montreal, spring suddenly appeared with temperatures in the teens (C)  and growth has been rapid. Although traces of snow can still be seen in north-facing wooded areas in parks, or where there are remnants of snow banks in parking lots, it feels as if winter is long past. We suddenly have collective amnesia about the cold and don our lighter clothing, walking about with our faces turned towards the sun.


Flowers seem to grow before our eyes. One day sprouts poke up and the next day blooms start to appear. Everything seems to be in a rush to make an appearance. Each day the landscape changes.


No slow spring here! No time to savour each new growth. Spring is here in a rush.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Portobello Road

Street Merchant
Photos: March 31, 2015

In all my trips to London, I had never gone to Portobello Road. We took advantage of a sunny day to stroll, poke around the stores and soak in the atmosphere.

Pots for Sale

Antiques mingle with newer items; antique stores with tourist shops.

Checking out the Merchandise

You can find jewellery, and household goods as well as fruit and vegetables!

Being Unique

Just around the corner I found these buildings. Each tries to stand out from the others. This is definitely a colourful area.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Walking Through Regent's Park

Photos: March 30, 2015

London has some wonderful, expansive parks. This was my first visit to Regent's Park.I was impressed by the variety of water fowl. It is always a delight to stroll away from the bustle of city streets.

Common Gallinule

This bird was testing the water, searching for food. Its bright beak looks glued on!


It is always the flowers that catch my eyes. These magnolias were just opening; I like the way they seem to perch on the branches.

Orderly Garden

The English seem to have a love of formal gardens. This kind of orderly display would be quite foreign to my city's parks.

Profusion of Blossoms

A bonus of travelling is that I get to experience spring twice. I won't be seeing blossoms like this until some time in May in Montreal.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Taste of London

National Gallery

I have been to London a number of times because my brother lives in England. Family sometimes guides vacation plans. I still manage to do some "sight-seeing" during my British sojourns. There is something special about emerging from the tube and being in Trafalgar Square. This is a view of the National Gallery. I went to the exhibit, Inventing Impressionism, about Paul Durand-Ruel and how he brought the art of the impressionists to public attention.

St. Martin in the Fields

Just off Trafalgar Square is St. Martin in the Fields (no fields around now!). Apparently there has been a church on this site since Medieval times. On this visit I only saw it from the outside, but many years ago I went there with my children. We ate in the cafe in the crypt and did some brass rubbings at the Brass Rubbing Centre.

St. Pancras

A visit to the British Library to see the Magna Carta exhibit took us past St. Pancras. What an imposing building! The exhibit was quite extensive and fascinating. As always, I am moved when I am so close to touching history.

In the British Museum

Another stop was at the British Museum.We went to the exhibit Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek Art. While it was interesting and worth seeing, the two exhibits mentioned above made more of an impact on me.

Soho Square

Not all was about museums. I love to walk in London and walk we did! It was great to have a taste of spring after the cold winter in Montreal. I feasted my eyes on the flowers and green grass, celebrated the blossoms and enjoyed walking with my head held high instead of being pulled into my coat like a turtle. And for the two of us - early music lovers, no trip is complete without concerts (we went to 2) and a visit to a music shop (I bought a few pieces and am looking forward to playing).

Thursday, April 9, 2015



There seems to be a new style of busker in London. In the past I have seen people dressed in costume, made up to look like a statue. They barely move until someone drops money into their box and then there is acknowledgement of the contribution. Now this idea has been taken to a whole new level. These buskers seem to be suspended in air.

Sitting in the Air

I did manage to get a look at the frame that is inside one of the costumes, but I still cannot imagine the strength it takes to stay hanging there in one position. I saw the top person near Covent Garden. Then near the National Gallery I saw many in costumes varying from what you see above to movie characters and even a witch.


I have no idea how much money they take in each day, but it must be enough to make it worthwhile.

Street Performer

This guy had a totally different approach. He behaved quite dog-like but had an amusing patter, interacting with anyone who came close by. Better him than me. I can't imagine how stiff I would be trying to get up after being scrunched down in this box for hours!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Castle on the Hill

I've always been fascinated by the notion of Hastings ever since I read 1066 and All That. Although the battle did not take place here (rather in a place now called Battle), the name conjures up the history of the time. I have seen the Bayeux Tapestry in France and love the feeling of walking the area where these historical figures may once have walked. The castle (built in 1070), or what remains of it, was one of the first of a series along the coast that the Normans built after the conquest.

In Hastings

A second reason for visiting Hastings is that my spouse and I have been watching Foyle's War which takes place in Hastings during World War II. It was fun to wander some of the streets and try to imagine where parts of episodes may have been filmed.

The View from the Hill

We took the funicular up to the top of the hill. The castle grounds were closed until some time in April but the view was certainly open! Hastings now seems to be a fading seaside town. Along the shore are a number of amusement facilities from mini-golf to rides. The oldest part of the city has narrow winding streets.

The Waterfront

Once a major fishing town, it is now much less so. It was fun to stroll around and see a slightly different part of England.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rural Sussex

From the Churchyard

Photos: March 24, 2015

After a Montreal winter, it is lovely to see the lush green English countryside. Even though the trees are still not in leaf, the spring growth is evident everywhere. We spent a day visiting different spots in Sussex. Above you can see the view from the Berwick church churchyard.

Berwick Church

A church has been located here since the 1100s. During WWII the Bloomsbury group stayed at Virginia Woolf's farm nearby. Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell painted the murals in the church at that time.

Rural Pub

This country pub sits waiting for customers. My brother and I had lunch there some years back. Everywhere you look in England there are mosses and lichen growing. The damp climate is perfect for them.

The George Inn

Our next stop was Alfriston, a quaint town with many tea shops. We did not stop for afternoon tea, but did have lunch in The George Inn, which was granted a license in 1397. It was delightful to sit by the fire and enjoy our meal.

By the Manse

My eyes feasted on all the flowers. Blossoms are opening everywhere. 

The Pavilion

We also stopped in at the museum in Brighton which sits next to The Royal Pavilion. This is an over the top building which was constructed for the future George IV, who was an extravagant man with a very extravagant lifestyle. Having toured the inside once, I just gawked from the exterior this time.


Grafitti can be found everywhere. While I hate the tagging you see in many places, I love murals done by good street artists. Brighton had several.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Walking on the South Downs

New Life

What a pleasure to come from the greyness of the end of winter to the green of England. We took a hike on the South Downs, starting in Ovingdean and ending in Lewes. Along the way we saw many recently born lambs and a field full of ewes who were shortly to give birth.

Rolling Hills

The land goes up and down affording delightful views of the varied fields. I felt a bit like a character displaced from a Jane Austen book, walking from town to town as that was the only mode of transportation available to me.


There is a sense of camaraderie as each person you pass must be greeted as well as the dogs and horses! One lamb had managed to find itself on the wrong side of a fence. It was bleating pathetically, not sure how to get out of its predicament. It took three of us to coax it through the gate we held open. What a sense of relief as it gamboled up the hill to rejoin the flock.

New Growth

New growth is sprouting everywhere. Nice to have a taste of spring.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Flowers in England

Daffodils in the Woods

I seem to have allowed my camera to hibernate most of the winter. It was a bitterly cold one and I did not relish taking my gloves off to focus and shoot. I am just back from a trip to England and my eyes feasted on the colours of the spring flowers. Many varieties of sunny daffodils greeted me everywhere - in fields, parks, gardens and even seemingly growing wild in the woods.


There were primroses in every colour in gardens.

Yellow Primroses

I had to stop and stare. Spring sprints by in Montreal, with a series of flowers overlapping in their presence as sudden warmth makes growth happen quickly.  Here in England there is time to savour each variety as it takes its pride of place. Spring lingers.