Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Secret Destination Adventure Time!

It was a lovely bank holiday weekend. The sun was shining and I had some friends visit from America. They were kind enough to trust me to plan 3 days of activities for them as a surprise, taking them to new and exciting places each day.

Day 1 :

I picked them up from Gatwick Airport and whisked them away for a day of fun activities in the countryside.

Secret Destination 1 - Avebury
We went to the standing stones in the village (the largest in the world) after driving through the pretty town of Marlborough. Many of them are still standing and it is thought that the circle was constructed around 2600BC. There is a lovely Henge Shop nearby packed full of souvenirs as well as books and jewellery. Avebury is one of my favourite places and gives a great chance to get up close with such impressive stones. It has such a different vibe to somewhere more touristy like Stonehenge.

B poses with one of the stones and below Jehera does yoga in front of one of the taller ones.
Secret Destination 2 - Stonehenge
We drove a little further down the road through Devizes to Stonehenge. We didn't pay the overpriced admission, but had a good look from the side of the road. It's crazy how close it is to the side of the main road (A303), shame the Druids who built it didn't have roads as transport of the stones would have been a great deal easier...!

Secret Destination 3 - Glastonbury
After a delicious vegetarian lunch in the Blue Note cafe, it was time to browse the shops. Lots of tack, but a few real treasures. I stocked up on silver charms for the bracelet my husband bought me for our wedding anniversary a few years back. I tried to resist the books, but caved and bought 4 in the end. As the weather was so nice and we had some time, we went for a walk up the Tor. Beautiful views across the surrounding countryside despite the fact that the wind picked up just as we reached the top. Legend has it the Tor was once the site of Avalon from the Arthurian myths and there are lay lines crossing there.

Day 2 :

Secret Destination 4 - Eden Project, Cornwall
The Eden Project is a charity funded set of two biospheres. One is filled with all kinds of tropical plants and the other focuses of Mediterranean. The tropical dome is much bigger and even has a man made waterfall. There is a lookout that goes just inside the roof, but unfortunately it was closed due to high temperatures and humidity. They sell organic, locally produced food and have their own bakery.

The outside gardens are beautiful too and they have a whole host of activities and special events including circus skills and outdoor concerts.

Secret Destination 5 - Haytor (Dartmoor)
Haytor is a giant rock you can climb, which of course we did. My uncle let me take some pictures of him mediating on the top under the beautiful blue sky with Little Tor in the background. We even saw some wild Dartmoor ponies as we left after climbing back down.

Day 3 :

Secret Destination 6 - Dartmoor Wildlife Centre
A few minutes down the road from where my Aunt and Uncle live is the wildlife centre. It began as a Hedgehog rescue centre and hospital and has expanded to include foxes, badgers, owls, sparrow hawks, ferrets, weasels and a small amount of farm animals (donkeys, cattle, alpaca, a pot bellied pig and some goats). I got to hold a hedgehog and brush one of the donkeys which I loved. I wish I lived closer so I could volunteer every week.

Secret Destination 7 - Lyme Regis (Dorset, Jurassic Coast)
Our final trip before heading back to my flat was to visit the pretty seaside town of Lyme Regis. They have a sandy beach which was full of tourists, but more importantly if you go in the opposite direction there is a pebble beach with rocks full of fossils. They are literally everywhere and many of the roads are completely covered in ammonites. Its fascinating to see the remains of creatures millions of years old, it makes me feel such a small part of the universe.

Cornfield just outside Lyme Regis. There is something so British about it somehow and it summed up my mood for the weekend of relaxation and natural beauty.
One of the best things about staying with my aunt and uncle in Devon was the amazing home cooked food my aunt makes. The first night was a sumptuous veggie curry and the second the comfort of cauliflower cheese with a host of other vegetables included. I can only hope my guests had as much fun exploring the English countryside as I do. I hope they come back as I have so much more to show them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Croydon Riots #2

The riots in Croydon happened on the evening of Monday 8th August 2011. That same evening various other parts of London (including Clapham and Enfield) as well as Birmingham and Liverpool also suffered. It all began because of a man who was shot dead by police in Tottenham a few days earlier and not many details were released which provoked public unrest. It started with a local peaceful protest, but things spiralled out of control quickly. The day after the riots in London and Birmingham, it spread to Manchester and other parts of the Midlands (Wolverhampton had a nasty evening sadly).

As well as the riots there was mass looting and many shops were completely cleared out and then set on fire. There were many images of the Sony distribution centre in Enfield and a furniture shop in Croydon being burnt to the ground. The shop in Croydon was on what was named Reeves corner (after the shop) and had been in the family for many generations and is a very sad loss to the community. The other main area to be affected in Croydon was London Road from West Croydon train station up as far as Mayday Hospital. This is a stretch of road filled with independent shops (many selling groceries, jewellry and even Rock Bottom a musical instrument shop and practise space for local bands).. The area that was hit is about a mile or so long and every single shop had it's windows smashed in at the very least.

To put in perspective, I live just off London Road between the train station and the hospital so was witness to a lot of what went on that evening. We had looters going past our flat all night as well as helicopters hovering filming the devastation and the raging fires on the corner of the road parallel to ours (less than a 3 minute walk from our front door). My husband and I stupidly went out to see how close the events were and to see if we should travel to my dad's about 20 minutes away. We took some photos (on my previous post) with my iPhone and then came home after one guy started on me when he spotted what I was doing. At that time there was one car on fire in the road and another one completely burnt out. The one that was still on fire was in front of the shop that later burned down completely and I suspect it was related.

In total 7 properties along London Road by us are in the process of being demolished. At last count there were no human fatalities although they sadly found someones pet cat in two halves which was later collected by it's owner to be given a proper burial. One of the main problems was that all the shops had flats above them so many people have lost not just their livelihood, but their homes as well. Another sad aspect was that the owners of Rock Bottom found from their camera footage that 90% of the looters of their shop were people they knew who had been customers which I find particularly disgusting.

Personally I think there is no excuse for this behaviour. Many of the people involved were opportunistic criminals. While the riots were happening in the town centre, people took the chance to loot PC World and Currys on Purley Way as they knew the police were to busy to stop them. It still feels a little like a war zone and people are still very upset about what has happened. No one really understands quite why it got so out of control and there have been accusations based on race and social status which I don't agree with myself.

Anyway I've put some more pictures below that I took on my phone since the disaster on London Road and I will be taking more as they demolish the area and when they hopefully rebuild in the future. On a side note we decided to stay here that night and barricaded the front door once we got home from our photo excursion regretting that we had left the house at all and entered the danger zone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Croydon Riots #2

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Croydon Riots

Pictures I took last night and this morning from the bottom of my road and the City Centre.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone