Posted in Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Aalsmeer flower auction – Holland

 

I recently took a trip to Holland (the hub of the flower industry) to work on my photography project, looking into the production and importation of flowers, and was pointed in the direction of Aalsmeer by the lovely Catie who lives not too far away.

Aalsmeer (also known as Royal Flora Holland) is the largest trade centre for flowers in the world, described as a portal to a world full of scent and bloom, it is open to the public on certain days so they can take a look at the amount of work that goes into ensuring fresh flowers are available in your local supermarket whenever you feel like purchasing them.

A statement from Royal Flora…

FloraHolland is a cooperative venture belonging to the growers of flowers and plants. They bring their supply together to perform a single international trade platform, the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. The members/growers are the owners of this company. We are also a ‘Royal’ firm and have been ever since our centenary in 2011 when FloraHolland was presented with the royal title.

On arriving at FloraHolland we were met with coach loads of tourists queueing at the door which I was quite surprised about because compared to other flower attractions in Holland, particularly Keukenhof, this was not advertised anywhere. As you enter the reception area you can purchase tickets priced at 7.50 euros and receive a map, although this isn’t really needed as the route is very straight forward.

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You are basically on a viewing platform above the market floor in the form of a bridge which you walk the length of the building and back again on the opposite side. It is quite a surreal experience to just be watching normal people go about their daily work and you do wonder if they are aware, or care, that people are watching and taking photos of them. At the same time, for the sheer size of the place, I did feel like I was at one of the wonders of the world and really intrigued by the whole process.

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Along the journey we came across a room that is used for research purposes and was filled with flowers. A guy saw us taking photos outside and asked if we would like to have a look around inside, which we were privileged to do so as it is not open to the public. He explained that they are sent new crops of flowers that haven’t as yet been grown for sale and they test them to see how they react to certain lights and temperatures and give them a value depending on their life span and quality.

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As you reach the other end of the bridge you can see the auctions taking place through the windows, unfortunately they were not in full swing when we arrived but there were still a few people bidding on flowers so we got to observe the process.

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After we had watched the bidding and had a bite to eat in the small café we made our way back down the other side of the bridge. As we reached the end of the viewing platform, there was a room that looked like a museum that gave out some information about the history of FloraHolland through videos and photographs and some statistics on the industry via posters.

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If you are a fan of flowers then this is a great place to visit, it is different to other attractions as all the behind the scenes action is the actual show. There is nothing fancy or put on about it and it is a bit dated but I found it to be a real spectacle and so glad I visited. I also purchased some tulip bulbs from the gift shop so I can think of my trip when they grow in the garden.

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Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Photography project – Flower market

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I am currently working on a project for university where I have to produce a body of work by the end of the year, I can then extend this further as my major project to be completed by May of next year.

I have decided to work on a documentary piece depicting the journey of a flower. I started on my own journey by visiting New Covent Garden flower market in Vauxhall.

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Although I really admire fine art photos of flowers that concentrate on colour, detail and shape I am looking at the way they are packaged, lined up and moved around during this stage of being passed between grower and seller.

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I really enjoyed my time at the market, there is a real buzz around the place and lots of energy for somewhere that operates between such early hours of the morning (4am – 10am) The market is split into companies that sell everything from freshly cut flowers to decorative items and is all under one roof.

Most of what is sold is for wholesale purposes but the market is open to the public if you wanted to have a look around and purchase for yourself, although it is recommended you come during the quieter hours of 8 – 10am and it is quite difficult to find on your first visit as there are no helpful signposts and you have to navigate past the busy car park.

I am hoping to go back and spend some more time at the market with one of the florists that has a workshop upstairs as well as visiting a farm that grows flowers and spending some time with a charity that makes bouquets for well deserving individuals out of flowers that have already been used at events.

I’m sure I will share updates with you as the project develops!

 

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

An afternoon at Kew

Kew gardens, also known as the Royal botanic gardens, is set in 300 acres of land in the London borough of Richmond and is home to the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world.

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I had last visited Kew gardens 10 years ago with my eldest son on a school trip and had vague memories of sweating in a giant green house. This experience was pretty much the same only I just had the responsibility of supervising one 12 year old (The youngest son who reluctantly joined me) and we were free to roam wherever we liked.

Armed with the map of the gardens it reminded me of a theme park for nature lovers as opposed to thrill seekers, I’ve definitely become more of the latter over the years! The park has different attractions dotted around and because we arrived quite late in the day we headed towards the right to see how much we could fit in.

Palm house

The palm house is a Victorian glasshouse and is home to some unique palms and tropical plants from the warmer climates of Africa and America. It is very warm as you walk in but if you venture up the spiral staircase you have to start removing items of clothing and wiping the steamed up lens of the camera as it is so hot!

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We left at the rear exit of the palm house to sit and admire the rose gardens while we cooled off for a bit before heading towards the Hive via the broad walk.

The broad walk

The great broad walk is a stretch of 320 metre pathway with double herbaceous borders described as an ornamental promenade.

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It is so much nicer walking from one attraction to another when there are pretty things to look at on the way!

The Hive

One of the things I was mostly looking forward to seeing at Kew was The Hive. Described as an immersive sound and visual experience, it was designed to give humans an insight into what it is like for a honeybee inside the hive. As it was a sunny summers day with lots of visitors the hive was definitely buzzing and although there isn’t anything to do inside it I did really like the experience.

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Princess of Wales conservatory

Described as one of the most complex glasshouses, this conservatory contains ten different environments and houses all sorts of exotic plants. The conservatory commemorates Princess Augusta, who founded the Gardens and it was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in July 1987.

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Davis Alpine house

This innovative, award winning structure is home to the alpine plants. The design enables it to create the cool, dry and windy conditions that alpine plants favour and this glasshouse is surrounded by beautiful scenery of rock gardens and waterfalls.

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There were so many more places within the gardens that we didn’t get to explore including the creepers and climbers and the treetop walkway, I suppose this means we will have to take another visit again soon!

When I asked my children if they wanted to join me on a trip to Kew gardens they all refused, my daughter even decided that she would rather revise for her GCSE’s (which are not until next year May) than come with me. My 12 year old wasn’t very enthusiastic about the trip but came anyway and upon leaving the gardens he declared that when he is older he is going to buy me a house in Kew and get a membership card so we can visit everyday… I think that is a result!

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Geffrye museum – Shoreditch

The Geffrye museum, situated on Kingsland road in East London, explores the home and home life from 1600 to the present day. It reminds me of a historic Ikea only you cant enter the rooms an try out the furniture.

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The museum is set in beautiful 18th-century Grade I-listed almshouses of the Ironmongers’ Company and is surrounded by a lush green at the front and period and herb gardens to the rear.

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The outside space

We started our tour by entering around the side to see the herb garden which is only open to the public between April and October.

As well as being full of fragrant green herbs such as sage and rosemary there is also spots of colour to brighten it up.

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Can you spot the miserable 12 and 15 year olds who are not amused at being taken to explore a herb garden? Luckily they were a bit more enthusiastic about the inside exhibitions of the museum!

Inside the exhibition

The exhibition itself is full of period rooms set up like they would be in different eras. As well as just having the rooms there are also cabinets full of historic memorabilia, paintings, books that you can browse and interactive activities.

If you have smaller children then they can follow a trail answering questions such as how many windows are there in an Edwardian drawing room? Obviously my children were too mature (I wont mention that they bickered with each other throughout the whole trip) for such an activity!

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As you reach the end of the first exhibition which is all about historical homes you are greeted with a bright open space that houses the shop and café.

This then leads onto the modern part of the exhibition which shows homes from the 20th century, it also has a downstairs area where you can answer questions such as ‘how do you feel about housework?’ and stick the answers on the wall. I think this area is mainly used for education purposes.

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It is a shame that the first part of the exhibition isn’t as spacious as the second part but I suppose as a listed building they are limited to what they can do with it. I also found it strange that there wasn’t an exit at the end and you had to make your way back to the start to get out.

My primary school is not far from the Geffrey museum and I remember visiting it on school trips as a child. It was lovely to go back 30 years later with my own children and see how it has developed and I can say it is still as interesting as it was back then!

Have you ever visited the Geffrye museum?

 

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

The rookery at Streatham common

Situated between Streatham and Norwood, Streatham common is a mass of green space that is hard to miss. I have lived in and around the area for over 20 years and so have spent a lot of time on the common. I have attended festivals, fun fairs, bonfire nights and even school sports days on the common and it is easy to forget that you are surrounded by busy roads, even more so if you venture up to the rookery.

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I imagine it is usually an oasis of calm strolling around the paths of the rookery but I attended on the last day of term when the children were chasing each other around with the buzz of the beginning of the summer holidays, I am surprised I managed to avoid capturing them whizzing by in my photos.

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The rookery is filled with the colours of summer and has loads of seating areas to just sit around and enjoy the tranquillity.

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There were little pockets of water and you can see the tracks where they connected forming a stream, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be running at the moment which is a shame as this would have made a lovely feature.

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I only ventured around the back paths, as it was so busy I avoided going to the rookery café but will definitely be going back over summer to explore further.


 

Posted in Photography, Uncategorized

Photography project – The garden edition

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I have come across quite a few garden blog posts recently and they all seem to be full of bountiful blooms, immaculate lawns and ornate décor. Then I look out of my window and just see a mess of overgrown bushes, withered flowers and a dilapidated shed.

A few years ago I decided to give my shed a makeover, I painted it in a pretty off white shade and hung bunting around the top but I have since filled the shed with everything I don’t need from the house so it has become a bit of a dumping ground. My neighbours then put in a new fence and all the greenery on top of the shed died revealing a hole in the top and a load of dead roots.

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My plan is to hire a skip and get rid of the lot! I would also like to cut down the bushes and start over with a blank canvas but in the meantime I have challenged myself to photograph the garden focusing on details and textures. It is quite a small space so I wasn’t expecting to find a lot but it’s amazing just how much detail there is in a garden environment.

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One thing I have noticed recently is the abundance of berries that have started growing, although I have no idea where they came from, this is an addition to the garden that I really like and would love to grow more fruit.

I often look for places I can visit to photograph but actually there is so much to see on my own (back) doorstep that I should pay more attention too!

Have you found anything interesting to photograph lately?