Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Imperial War Museum North

While in Manchester we noticed that the Imperial War Museum was not too far from our hotel so decided to take a trip down by the river and pay it a visit while also getting a chance to explore the quays.

The imperial war museum north is the newest of five branches and was open in 2002. It has very impressive, modern architecture but doesn’t have the stunning entrance of it’s London Counterpart.

As you enter the museum there is a large seating area, shop and café where you can get a bite to eat or just relax after walking around.

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The main exhibition space is upstairs and although everything is in one large space, it is split into mini exhibitions and goes through a timeline of conflicts in Britain and the commonwealth.

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As well as life sized vehicles on the floor and hanging from the ceiling, the space is filled with memorabilia from the time, including posters, letters, clothes and weapons. There are also hands on activities designed specifically for kids. I really liked the idea of the trench stenches, although I wasn’t quite daring enough to have a sniff myself!

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Although there are little videos you can watch in different rooms, every hour there is an audio-visual cinematic display that takes over the whole space. It is a real immersive experience and you can either sit and watch it on the benches around the middle of the space or continue walking around while taking it in.

I find these performances really interesting as they are like watching documentaries and include recounts and stories of people that were around during that time in history. Each show is different so you don’t have to worry that you are listening to the same thing if you are still around when the next film starts.

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I really liked the Imperial War Museum North, although it is nowhere near as big as the London Imperial War Museum, I actually like that I was able to take it all in within a couple of hours rather than choosing certain sections to visit. There was also a really good exhibition in an adjacent room about the conflict in Syria but I think this is now finished and will be replaced in July with a different show.

The Imperial War Museum North is free to visit and it is situated in a lovely space around Salford Quays, about a 15 minute walk from Old Trafford football stadium.

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, Uncategorized

A transformation at the Natural History Museum

I haven’t posted any photos of flowers for a while so I thought it was about time I shared a few for you!

I recently attended an event being held at the Natural History Museum where it was transformed into a wedding reception venue. I was there just to photograph for the event florists and had to have all the photos taken before the bride and groom made their entrance, which was no mean feat considering there were around a hundred people working in there and the lighting was constantly changing!

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My next adventure will be photographing flowers before they have been arranged into beautiful centrepieces, in fact before they have even been picked from the fields as I am taking a trip to Holland next week to visit Keukenhof gardens. Have you ever been?

Posted in London, Travel, Uncategorized

Imperial war museum

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The Imperial war museum in London has been housed in the previous Bethlem hospital since 1936 but has in recent years undergone a £40 million revamp. The museum records the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire since 1914 and has some spectacular displays on show.

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As you enter the museum you are faced with the wide open atrium filled with all sorts of vehicles and aircraft hanging from the ceiling and over the sides of different levels.

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The museum is divided into different sections across four floors and it is suggested that it takes half a day to work your way around all the galleries.

I really wanted to see the holocaust exhibition and was really blown away by the size and vast amount of information in the one section, it is like a museum in itself! Unfortunately you can not take photos in this particular exhibition but it is filled with photos, personal stories, posters, models, film and so much more. Children under the age of 14 are not allowed in but this is understandable with the sensitive nature of the subject.

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Another part of the museum I perused was the first world war section. It was a lot busier downstairs so was hard to take in a lot but still contained lots of eye catching displays and interesting facts.

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I spend a lot of time in Elephant and Castle as I attend university there so found this painting really interesting.

If you are a history buff or student learning about the wars then this is a great hangout and it is also set in beautiful grounds with interesting architecture which complement an autumn stroll perfectly.

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, Travel, Uncategorized

The chocolate museum – Brixton

I am not sure I know anybody that isn’t a fan of chocolate, I know that I absolutely love it! I have often wondered how anybody managed to discover such a great tasting product so when I realised that there was a chocolate museum just down the road I had to go and visit.

Hidden away on a side street in the heart of Brixton is the only chocolate museum in London. It may not be as grand as The British museum or as well known as the V&A but that is one of the great things I love about London, it is full of little treasures!

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The chocolate museum has two floors. As you enter you could be mistaken for thinking it is just another coffee shop as you are greeted with a bright space where people are sitting around at tables. This is the workshop space where customers can purchase and make their own chocolate either as a pre-booked class or walk-in session.

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As you descend the colourfully artistic staircase you enter the museum section which is home to objects and artefacts that showcase the history of chocolate in the UK.

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As well as putting on workshops the museum also welcomes groups of school children to teach them about the history of cocoa, where it comes from, how it is made and the connection it has to slavery. I love the fact that it comes from a tree that bears fruit which means we must be able to class it as one of our five a day right?

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The chocolate museum is fairly small so doesn’t take long to look around. If you want to visit and make a day of it then it is probably worth joining in with a chocolate making session. I didn’t personally have time to stick around when I visited but I would love to go back and see what chocolate creation I could come up with!

Are you a chocolate fan?

 

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Love and fear @ the design museum

As I entered the design museum I was quite taken with the stunning architecture and design of the building itself. Very minimalistic and open plan you could be mistaken for thinking that there isn’t actually much going on inside there.

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Once you reach the top floor you are led round into the main permanent collection entitled designer, maker, user. It is full of innovative designs and there are loads of interactive things to do that are particularly aimed at children, they are even able to design their own objects that can be displayed on the wall. We were quite interested in seeing how certain brands such as Apple and Bosch have developed their companies by continuously updating their products and I found it amusing to take a picture of all the Sony products using my Sony Xperia phone.

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The crowdsourced wall was thought provoking. Made up of 200 objects that shape the lives of people in over 25 countries in demonstrates the intimate relationships that people have with the objects around them. Next to the display is a list of all the people that submitted ideas and their most important objects.

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As well as having a permanent collection that is free to visit there are also temporary exhibitions that have a fee to enter. I went to see the fear and love exhibition, I really loved the design museum but was not so enthused by this particular exhibition. The reactions to a complex world aims to challenge perceptions of what design is and how it is presented, there were certain elements that were more intriguing than others.

I really liked the material installation that looks at how we are mislead when it comes to our clothing that have inaccurate labelling, although it was so hard not to sink my hand into the mounds of fibres that looked very inviting. This particular exhibition is aimed more at adults and my 12 year old did seem a bit bored, although he was quite impressed with the robot who continually followed him around as he strolled back and forth.

This particular exhibition has now closed but there are some other interesting ones coming up including ‘California’ which documents California’s mid century modernism and ‘Cartier in motion’ which examines Cartier’s approach to watchmaking.

Have you visited the design museum yet?