Pink Blossoms and Floral Dresses

My sister and I made the most of the 25° scorching sun yesterday and took a trip to the local park (it was packed, so clearly we weren’t the only one with this idea), and both of us being photography enthusiasts, took the opportunity to take pictures of the beautiful scenes. I managed to get a few pretty photos (some of them were a bit bright from the sun!) and also took a good walk around to soak up the scenery.

It was a pretty lovely afternoon out, the park we went to is a pretty huge one with plenty of gardens with flowers, a lake with boats, a play ground area, and also leads to the local mansion if you walk far enough!

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We also found some small hidden areas sectioned around the lake which looked beautiful, especially when we were walking through them which had a very private, ethereal feel to them.

One of the things I love seeing in spring are blossoms, it feels like they all fall off too quickly! I’ve been seeing lots of these this spring, thankfully, and love how pretty they look.

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We also saw lots of people hiring boats to paddle on the lake, which looked pretty fun, and made for a nice adventure for a lot of the families – I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this over summer, especially if the weather stays this nice!

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All in all, it was a really lovely day out to the park, finished off with yummy cold slushies. I even managed to wear my pretty floral dressed which I had tailored for summer – perfect for matching with blossom trees!

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Night Lights Ambience

One of my favourite things about winter (when Im not shivering from the minus-degree temperatures and binge-eating seasonal chocolates) is to look for all the beautiful lights which have been installed around the city. Because it gets dark so quickly (at the moment, the sun has been setting at 4pm) it’s easy to explore all the lights in the area and see how lovely they look.

Unfortunately, I’m sure many of you photographers will know that the bane of taking photos when going out are low-light photograph – it’s difficult to get a decent picture without it being too grainy or blurry! Here’s one my husband took of me after dinner, where we explored the O2 arena a few weeks ago and strolled around. The best thing about this was the night-time atmosphere, there were plenty of tourists and lots of shops and restaurants open, which really created a pleasant buzz.

One of the things I am intending to do this year is to learn when to relax and enjoy the moment – I’m one of those freaks who is always simultaneously Snapchatting, Instagramming, Whatsapping and using a DSLR to capture a beautiful sight. Thankfully my husband is used to it, but it’s something I’m trying to cut down on! Let’s see how it goes this year – quality photos over quantity!

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Miniature Silhouette Art

Here’s a few pieces I worked on recently, I wanted to use some metallic silver or gold pens on these to add a little sparkle but didn’t find a decent enough pen to use unfortunately. I love drawing miniatures (plus I find them easier than larger scale pieces, usually because I end up drawing everything out of proportion!) and thought I’d mix up some watercolour backgrounds with silhouettes. I’ve done a couple more but didn’t love those, so here are my three favourites.

I’m trying to push myself to practise, practise, practise more of my pen lines, so fingers crossed I’ll be posting more soon! Let me know what you think, and which you like most : )

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The BFG Dream Jars Trail

I love it London has an art-themed ‘hunt’ over each summer for people to find an follow – one summer it was giant eggs, another it was giant elephants, and another year we had rickshaws designed by fashion designers – not to mention many more things to find!

This summer we had the BFG Dream Jar Trail – based on the BFG film which was released last month, where ‘dream jars’ designed by celebrities all over put their childhood dreams into manifestation inside giant jars, which were then placed all over London, as well as other major cities in the UK like Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham.

My sister and I thought we’d try our hand at finding some, and decided to follow one of the six Dream Trails to find jars – nearly six hours later and with very tired feet, we managed to find around 12 (it would have been 13 but one got removed from it’s spot due to vandalism, leading to me and my sister wandering around in a park in a daze looking for it). We started at Bond Street and the edge of Hyde Park, worked our way up to Leicester Square and China Town, and walked up to Embankment and Victoria before we stopped.

I loved the creativity of these, and thought they were a great idea, and they were very popular with the tourists and the kids!

Here’s the Dream Jars we found – but you can see all of them here – a great tribute to the genius writer that is Roald Dahl : )

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The Mountains of Bergen: Mount Fløyen & Mount Ulriken

One of the main reasons my husband and I went to Norway a few weeks ago (apart from the beautiful views!) was the fact that it’s a great place for hiking and climbing mountains. Bergen has seven mountains surrounding the city, so there were ample opportunities to explore the mountains and do some hiking. My husband is pretty passionate about walking around natural spaces and has always loved climbing mountains and through peaceful woods, so we were both pretty excited to try something different on holiday and explore Bergen’s two most popular mountains – Mount Fløyen and Mount Ulriken.

Mount Fløyen

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Due to Mount Floyen being quite a popular mountain, the roads up to Mount Floyen always have tourists and residents strolling up or down the mountain, and there were also trams travelling to and from the mountains for those who wanted the stress-free rides. We decided to take the tram or the Floibanen up to the mountains to explore, and then take the scenic route and walk back down again to the city later.

Once we arrived at the top of the mountain, we were able to see an extraordinary view of the city, which was pretty breathtaking, where we sat and enjoyed the view for a little while. There was also a lovely little coffee top for tea and cake in this area, where a lot of families gathered outside to enjoy the food and breathe in the fresh, cool air.

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Although this view was pretty amazing, we were able to keep walking from this area further upwards towards the top of the mountain, where we walked though beautiful paths and plenty of woodland areas. My husband and I had a lot of fun walking through the woods and being silly, although admittedly we were both pretty out of breath from climbing uphill after a while and needed to rest – pretty embarrassing after seeing a lot of people stroll past easily, clearly used to climbing the mountain every day!

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One of my favourite parts of this mountain is this man-made trail that we found in the middle of nowhere, which we followed to a small clearing with seating to rest and little notes with a game. I forgot to take pictures of the signs here, but it was a nice little find for us in the middle of a huge forest. There’s something a little haunting and eerie about the picture below (maybe I’ve seen too many horror films in the woods!), but really this was a really peaceful, fun place and we managed to run around the trees and explore a little before moving on.

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We carried on walking and followed a path to find a big beautiful lake, which was pretty empty, apart from a family of ducks which didn’t take any notice of us! We sat here for a little while to rest, and enjoyed the peaceful view before walking around a little more, and even found a small cabin on the side of the lake (we didn’t go in though because it was private. And locked.)

We weren’t able to to get to the top of the mountain but we were pretty happy with what we had seen, and were also a little tired, so after this we headed back down towards the city, and made plans for the next mountain hike!

Mount Ulriken

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After climbing down from Mount Floyen and taking a short break in city (and having something to eat!), hubster and I decided to tackle the much larger Mount Ulriken which involves more hilly areas, steep roads and and higher peaks which we wanted to explore.

We took a tour bus to the entrance of the mountain (I say entrance, it’s more like the roads which lead into the mountain) which we later regretted because the tour bus journey was pretty short and very expensive!

Unfortunately we weren’t able to take the cable cars (called Ulriken Express) across to the peaks of the mountain, which I was really looking forward to, due to the high winds and the cold weather. We did managed to walk around for a little while though and spot some memorable sights including this beautiful waterfall below. I really wanted to try some of the water from this waterfall but it was at an awkward location which seemed a little dangerous, so we stopped to take pictures and ooh-and-ahh at the fresh, cool air instead.

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We also did a little more hiking through this mountain, although we weren’t able to access a lot of it without the cable-cars taking us to the top. We also found this mountain a lot less busier than Mount Floyen which had more families and tourists, while this mountain was for the more serious hikers and explorers.

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We had a really fun (and tiring!) day exploring mountains in Bergen, which we found very refreshing. I have mentioned before how wonderful it is to find a place like Norway which has so many natural landscape scenes – mountains, forest, lakes and snowy peaks, and we certainly found all of these in Floyen and Ulriken. I think in future I’d love to be more adventurous and try some rock-climbing or scaling, although I think I’d need to be a little fitter to try these!

I’ll leave you with a funny sign-post we found in Mount Floyen (there’s lots all over) which made me laugh, Norwegians love their trolls and monsters and this was just one more on the list!

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Weekend Pretty…Easter Sunday Trees

The weather has been slightly more schizo than lately, but we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the rain (and hailstones!) from inside with this lovely long bank holiday weekend! I’m sure you know I have an obsession with trees (and chocolate) so naturally I took the chance to take a picture of these today when rushing out to the shops to buy snacks for a lazy Sunday!

Enjoy the weekend all!

xxx

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A Mad Hatter-Books-Pastel Themed Tea

I held a tea party for my sisters this weekend, and I’ve finally manage to sit down (and rest!) to post the results, which I was really pleased with. My sisters and I decided that for Eid this year, instead of giving everyone Eid presents we’d do Eid experiences – a day out, a picnic, a tea. I love my afternoon teas so decided to organise a themed afternoon tea for the girls.

I had a little difficulty deciding on a theme because I liked so many, and initially was going to just do a Mad Hatter’s tea party. But I do love my florals and we all love books, so I decided to work these into the look as well, which worked a lot better than I thought it would – I was worried it would look really messy and nonsensical. My eldest sister commented that it also reminded her of a colourful fair or festival, especially with the colourful bunting, and thankfully the guests all loved the results of the tea!

Here’s what the table looked like, and some of the desserts:

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My favourite part of the decor and table were these – book-themed toppers for the cupcakes. I picked out a bunch of our childhood books so that we could enjoy a few fond memories of the books we used to love (including our first Urdu learning book!) – these were a hit with the ladies and I was glad I included these!

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I had various things scattered around the room  for display to implement all three themes – pastels and florals, book wallpapers, piles of books and a top hat with playing cards to tie the themes together, which I thought went wonderfully together, not to mention the ‘this way’, ‘that way’ and ‘wrong way’ arrows.

I’m sure you can tell that the most obvious theme was the Mad Hatter/Wonderland one – I loved the variety of decor which is out there and took the opportunity to scatter random quotes and prints around the table, as well as ‘drink me’, ‘eat me’ and ‘take me’ tags on the food and goody bags. I also ordered giant playing cards for us to play with, although it was quite funny to see how people would hide their cards!
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My mum also lent me this beautiful tea set which was love at first sight for me, and very apt because it’s actually a Harlequin Tea Set! These were beautiful dainty tea cups in bright colours with matching sauces, which I put on display and thought really made the whole table (not to mention actually made the tea party an actual tea party!)

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My nieces and nephews probably enjoyed themselves the most (you can see my nieces shouting and giggling through my letterbox below), although my sisters and sister-in-law had a lot of fun looking for the small touches around the room too, and putting on false moustaches, giant glasses and hats!

I was really worried about not having enough food on the day, so my menu was a little adventurous, surprisingly I managed to make more than I thought. Even better, the guests all brought some amazing food as well so we were all seriously stuffed and  from red velvet cake, cupcakes, chocolate trifle, sandwiches, pizza, samosas, chicken bites and kebabs, to name but a few of the things we had laid out.

Having said that, my nieces were the first to run to the sweet table and run off giggling with sweets in their hands!

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I had

It was an exhausting but fun afternoon, which was made better by the scorching sunny afternoon and the yummy ice-creams we finished off with. We were meant to play games but we felt pretty lazy and the cushions on the floor were pretty useful for us to laze about in!

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It was really fun (and a little challenging) planning this tea party by myself, but I had fun doing it and also learned what I can make and what I can’t. I was really happy with the decorations I made, they took me a while (hence being quiet on the blogging front!) but I was really pleased with how it all came together.

So now I’m looking forward to the next Eid experience, and also more tea parties with different themes, which I’m already planning – I just need to recover from this one and I’ll be off again!

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #14: N is for Night

Night-time is becomes a busy time in our household – as the sun sets the kitchen bustles with ovens warming up food, glasses clinking and plates being set out with food; and the lights slowly pop on all over the house as the blanket of night creeps over. (And occasionally I’ll creep out into the garden and whisper ‘I AM THE NIGHT’ as well before the husband shakes his head and drags me back in again.)

I took these photos today to show the view outside my window, it’s difficult to take pictures at night because they seem a little blurry but also surprisingly, the pictures came out a bright blue compared to the dark outside.

So here’s a peek of the clear sky, I tried to looking for the moon but didn’t have much luck, but I’ll keep trying – until then, it’s evening time so back to stuffing my face!

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A Day Out at Willen Lake

We decided to have a day out this weekend, making the most of the Bank Holiday and not having to go work the next day (yaay!) by taking a picnic and surprising my sister with a day out at Willen Lake.

So we took the kids, made some snacks and nibbles, took some badminton rackets, balls and a cricket bat, and headed up to the park and hid. Meanwhile, my sister’s husband dragged her to to the park with their little daughter and went around in circles in the same part of the park, to her bafflement, while we all hid (I came late so didn’t hide) behind bushes and shushed the kids.

Finally she spotted us and the look of disbelief on her face was something to see – although it was less of a surprise after the toddlers ran towards her instead of hiding!

We had a great day though, and managed to take in the sights (and the kids managed to hijack the children’s play area which made their day). My husband and I wanted to try some boating, but it as too cold and windy so we promised to come back in the summer when it’s hotter to give it a try (that way he won’t mind when I push him in the water!)

Here’s a few snaps of the day, I didn’t take many photos as we were too busy playing games and eating, or chasing little toddlers around – but I do love these shots. The ones of the swans are one of my favourite, there’s something dreamy about them all gathering together : )

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The Flowery Cafe in the Corner

I love finding hidden away gems in the hustle and bustle of the streets of London, and it’s always a joy to find a new place that hasn’t been overly-glitzed by over-enthusiastic foodies (like me, I’ll admit) and isn’t overrun. I found a beautiful, flowery cafe hidden away behind the walls around Stratford area recently, and loved the fact that it’s quiet, peaceful and serves yummy-yet-healthy food which is ideal for a quick lunch stop into a flowery wonderland.

Amazingly enough, this one is literally a few stone’s throw from my work place (almost across the road), and in all the years I’ve worked there, I’ve never noticed it until a work colleague took me to lunch there a few weeks ago.

I love the colours that come slanting in when the sunlight pours in, it’s a pretty yet simple effect and isn’t ruined by the fact that there’s still plenty of passerbys.

Here’s a few quick snaps I took from the last time I visited, it’s hard to capture the flowery prettiness, but I’m sure you get an idea!

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