A Snowy V&A!

One of my absolute favourite places in London is the V&A, so it was a treat to pay it a visit with my camera when the ‘Beast from the East’ arrived in town.

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The Natural History Museum was looking quite beautiful in the snow too!

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Porto

 

Back at the start of the month, we spent 5 days in Portugal. I hadn’t been to Portugal before and was looking forward to exploring somewhere new – especially the food and drink!

Our first destination was Porto. Porto is a beautiful city, piled on top of a very steep hill which runs right down to the Douro river – the link between Porto, the port wine houses where the wine ages and the vineyards further upstream where this delicious wine starts its journey. We visited Caves Ferreria for a tour and of course a tasting. This has started a bit of a port drinking habit but it’s just so delicious!

I tried lots of bacalhau (cod) during the trip cooked in a variety of ways, and of course plenty of pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) but they truly came into their own in Lisbon – our next destination!

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This beautiful square and church were just minutes from our Airbnb.

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The city – piled up high!

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The sunsets over Porto! I love the light in this shot.

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As the sun set, I captured this shot of one of the boats that was once used to transport the Port down the river. I had a bit of a play with Photoshop on this one, and although some may say it’s overused, I like the way this effect brings out the vibrancy of the boat against the striking structure behind it.

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A surprising encounter when exploring the streets around the Port wine houses.

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This derelict and possibly burnt out building caught my eye as we were admiring the view of the city from the other side of the river.

Porto was great fun and we really enjoyed exploring this city with its stunning views and steep hills. Look out for my next post with my snaps from our time in Lisbon!

 

A weekend in Toulouse and Albi

Back in October my boyfriend and I spent the weekend in France. I only took the Friday off work but it felt like a really good break. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Toulouse – with a comically low bathroom ceiling (especially as we’re both quite tall) but a wonderfully comfy bed.

It was a weekend that centred around our stomachs and we ate our way through the city over the next couple of days. This included visits to the markets full of all kinds of delights – and a few horrors!

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We also took the train to Albi for a day which was a stunning town, another market to explore, a delicious lunch including snails and a trip to the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. We were much luckier with the weather in Albi so there were many more photo opportunities!

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My highlight of the weekend had to be seeing a starling murmuration over the river in Toulouse. I’ve always wanted to see this natural spectacle but had no expectations that Toulouse would be where I see it!

We’re off to Portugal next so look out for some more photos soon.

 

Exploring Bologna

Bologna is a beautiful city, and after the tourist-heavy Florence, it was a breath of fresh air! We had a wonderful two days exploring this stunning city with its medieval architecture and it’s very own leaning tower. It is even home to the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088.

We happened to be in town during some kind of festival, so one night wandering back to our Airbnb we discovered a panel discussion with an Italian band (lots of excited students in the front row) and then a giant screen showing a black and white movie in the main square. What a treat! My favourite discovery was a photography exhibition which told the story of the city from the late 1800s to present day through photos of the city. Here are a few of my snaps from our adventure – not many as admittedly we spent most of our time eating pasta and ham …

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Florence – exploring the city

Our recent trip to Italy began in Florence, I was excited to see the city as had heard so much about it from friends and colleagues. It is a stunning place, however, it is such a tourist trap that we didn’t enjoy walking the streets in the centre of the city. Too much hard work – especially in 34ºc heat! We did manage to find some quieter corners and some delicious food in local restaurants so, despite the crowds, I could enjoy the magic of such a beautiful city. DSCF8325

Our AirBnB was very close to the stunning Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, completed in 1436. It is an awe-inspiring building with white, pink and green marble adorning its outer walls. My boyfriend braved the climb up the Dome however, having seen Richard Ayoade and Rebel Wilson tackle the climb in Travel Man, I opted for a less strenuous activity. I went to the Palazzo Vacchio and explored the imposing chamber which featured a sculpture by Michelangelo (not the one, although a replica stands outside the museum entrance) and some beautifully decorated apartments which were the private quarters of Cosimo I. The Hall of Lilies was beautiful too – there were no photos allowed inside so I have nothing to share but I recommend a visit if you go to Florence (there was also no queue to visit the museum!).

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One morning we stumbled upon the Loggia dei Lanzi which is an open-air sculpture gallery and features some striking and intriguing sculptures. There are plenty of world-renowned galleries in Florence, but the queues are so long that we found it quite off-putting. It’s also a sad fact that when there are so many tourists just “ticking off” masterpieces, you can feel slightly herded along.

My boyfriend and I both felt this way when visiting the Vatican in Rome, so decided not to join the queues and see what we really wanted to without feeling an obligation.  I really recommend both the Palazzo Vacchio and this collection of sculptures which can both be enjoyed without queues – and the Loggia dei Lanzi is free!

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Above – The striking and disturbing masterpiece from Giambologna, Rape of the Sabine Women which was carved from a single block of stone.

Below – Another work from Giambologna, Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus, 1599.

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The famous Ponte Vecchio … a tourist hotspot!

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I hadn’t realised it at the time, but on the Ponte Santa Trinita there are 4 statues representing the four seasons. This particular one represents autumn, by Giovan Battista Caccini.

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To escape the crowds, we went for a wander on the other side of the river. We noticed that there was a fort on top of a hill which was unfortunately closed once we reached the top. But we enjoyed the walk and the views that it rewarded us with. The fort we were walking towards is the Forte di Belvedere and apparently offers stunning views of the city if it is open, it is probably worth checking the opening times before you make the trek – learn from our mistake.

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Despite the fort being closed, we loved our walk back down the hill through these wonderful streets. And look – no crowds!

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So that’s a brief overview of our exploration of Florence and some of the photographs I am most pleased with. Of course, our trip was mainly focused on seeing Radiohead perform at the Visarno Arena … have I mentioned that yet?

Look out for another post soon with some of my photographs taken in Bologna – taken in the rare moments when we weren’t busy eating pasta.

 

Sunset in Florence

I’m back in London after four fabulous days in Italy. I love visiting this country, and having already been to Rome, Verona and Venice, I was excited to explore some more Italian cities. This time my boyfriend and I went to Florence and Bologna. Our main reason for the trip was to see Radiohead perform at the Visarno Arena in Florence – a stunning setting for a phenomenal gig. But this was just the cherry on the cake. I’ll be sharing my photos over a few posts, but first I wanted to share one of my highlights. Watching the sun set over Florence. It’s a very touristy city, and I have to admit that it was a little too busy for us, but watching the sunset on the first night, we couldn’t deny it’s beauty.

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I have to admit I’m particularly proud of the shot above, taken kneeling down next to a pool/fountain of some kind halfway up the hill which we had climbed to admire the view.

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More posts from this trip to follow – watch this space!

 

Springtime at Fulham Palace

To burn off some of the Easter eggs I’ve consumed in the last 24 hours, I went for a stroll and ended up in the gorgeous gardens of Fulham Palace. I love taking photographs of flowers, and although there wasn’t a great deal to see in the gardens yet there was some beautiful blossom and the wisteria was stunning. I’ll be popping back in the summer when there should be lots more to see – that’s if the pesky squirrels don’t dig up all the seedlings first as I witnessed them doing this morning!

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