(Apologies readers / viewers for the delay and backlog - many photos from Dubai and India yet to posted soon, internet connection permitting!)
A half-day of work on a Sunday allowed the opportunity for a "sight-seeing" walk through the Fitzrovia and West-End part of London. Starting off with the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Tavistock Gardens (not pictured), I made my way towards Russel Square and the British Museum. (The grand Hotel Russel shown below). Covent Garden had the expected amusing street performances, but the giant teddy bear (in a sorry state) outside St Paul's church was certainly unexpected. Cherry blossom gave a springy-feel to the entrance of the Parish Church of St Mary-le-Strand. Unfortunately I was a few days early to catch the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition in Somerset house but I enjoyed taking photos myself in the central courtyard. The photos at the end were taken in the immaculately landscaped and florally-rich Victoria Embankment gardens.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tokina 19-35mm and Minolta 70-210mm f4 lenses.
The North Wessex Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is located in the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Today's delightful post is composed by Dan:
With Niraj’s departure to India imminent, this would be the last of our epic odysseys for some time (except of course for the one Niraj was going on). It was doubly important therefore that this walk was befitting of the occasion.
Not to their detriment, the North Wessex Downs have escaped the limelight of other, more popular walking destinations in the South – fading somewhat into obscurity behind the Cotswolds, Chilterns and the like. But in spite of this little injustice, one cannot help secretly wish they would stay that way. The quiet anonymity of these glorious hills and sleepy villages, add to their unique charm.
Our walk began at the village of Kintbury, perched on the River Kennet. It is not hard to imagine why this little known tributary of the Thames was the inspiration behind Kenneth Grahame’s classic Wind in the Willows. Down the road from Kintbury Station and before the turning for the start of the trail, was the splendid Blue Ball pub – perhaps one of the few places in the country that can boast on its menu, wood fired pizza. A short way into the walk, crossing some fields we caught our first glimpse of the red kites common to the region – soaring under the mid-morning sun. These majestic birds glided effortlessly, barely flapping a wing.
Beyond, emerging through a small pocket of woodland, we were greeted by the sight of newly born lambs. We paused for a while, taking in this simplest of nature’s spectacles. Further down we stopped for lunch at the Swan – an organic gastropub sourcing almost all of its produce locally from its own land and neighbouring farms.
Back up the road we stopped over at Inkpen Church – I have long believed that no walk is complete without a village church stop, preferably one with a graveyard too. This church was among the nicest we have seen in all our walks. Around halfway point we began the short, steep climb up Inkpen Hill. The views from the hill were nothing short of spectacular, with a panorama over five counties (though one could not really tell which was which). We continued on to the gibbet, a 17th Century hanging mast sited on top of the hill. The route took us back, completing a circular trail through the hillsides, patches of woodland and back to Kintbury.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Sigma 50-500mm (Bigma) lens.
How apt that this function was set in the beautifully decorated church hall in Harborne, minutes away from Bourneville, home of Cadbury's - I remember many-a-time polishing off large 200g purple packages with Bal and Shivani when studying in Bath! We certainly enjoyed the great company and the occasion was full of festivities, fun and lots of food. Best wishes to the happy couple for their wedding this Summer!
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and Minolta 70-210mm f4 lenses.