Posts Tagged ‘London’

Walking in the Trees at Kew

Kew Treetop WalkwayKew treetop walkway

Last weekend, we went to check out the Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens on its opening day. The line to climb the stairs snaked down a pathway, but it moved pretty quickly, and we were soon up in the trees on the sinewy metal structure.

Though it was a shorter pathway than I anticipated, I really enjoyed being up in the trees, feeling the structure sway with the wind and getting to enjoy the great views of the Temperate House and other Kew Gardens sites.

kew treetop walkway

Not everyone was as thrilled to be up in the trees, though. For those with any discomfort with heights, the walkway made them a bit queasy, and there were quite a few people clutching on to the railings or their partners and waiting eagerly to get down.

The biggest thing I would change about the walkway would be to add an additional entry/exit point, since there was only one — a single staircase only big enough for people to go single file each way, which caused quite a backlog on the narrow walkway. There was a lift right across from the stairs, but it wasn’t ready to be used yet.

We also went to check out the other summertime special tree exhibit, the Rhizotron, which was supposed to teach about root systems. We were unimpressed. It was really directed toward little children, with a cute mosaic, a few metal roots on the walls of the tunnel and some cartoony bugs. It seemed like an afterthought compared to the treetop walkway.

Check out more photos of the walkway on Flickr. And check out all the photos from day as well.

Weekly Reading, Creative Coffee Club and Tuttle

It’s been another fun-filled week in London. Evan got back into town on Monday, Wednesday I went to Creative Coffee Club for the first time, Thursday Evan’s parents arrived and I also met up with a new London friend, and Friday I went to Tuttle Club. I also managed to write a couple of Londonist posts and finally submitted my bio and photo to go on their staff page after just a few months of Lindsey bugging me to send them in.

This week’s posts:

Creative Coffee Club was a nice meeting of about 15 people. We discussed creating a “network of networks” to bring people together as well as a host of other topics, ranging from creativity on social networks to yawning kittens. It really got me thinking about the networks we all belong to, how we use them differently and how they converge in various ways. It also made me think about people’s anxieties while networking both online and off since I feel like I’m often a tentative connector, though I do somehow find a way to open up and make friends. Thanks, Toby, for the invitation.

Yesterday, I made a new friend in London who actually found me on my blog. Jen is a friend of the BSE who has been in London for a little while, so she sent me an email after seeing my interview with Battlecat and we met for lunch.

Tuttle Club/Social Media Cafe was nice today — it was quieter than usual, so I didn’t feel squished, it wasn’t too loud, and I was able to have some good conversations with people. I talked to some of my usual friends like Steve (who wrote a great post this week about a musician with a bad attitude) and Janet, who I also saw at the Creative Coffee Club, and I got to speak more with some new friends, like Vikki, Improbulus (who mysteriously does not share her real name), Allix and Dan.

We also booked our big trip today, so if you have tips on any of our destinations, please send them along.

And tomorrow I should be heading out for a day in Bath, so look for lots of new photos soon.

Weekly Reading and a New Watercolor

hyde park serpentine watercolor

Today, after going to Tuttle and having a lovely Friday morning talking to friends and making new ones, I headed to Hyde park with my watercolors, intent on painting something in the afternoon sunshine. What you see above was my one and only creation — a view of the end of the serpentine, facing the Hilton Hotel (which you can see rising over the trees). I was never particularly talented with watercolors, but I still like to try. And sitting on a bench in the middle of the park, I just didn’t really have the patience for mixing colors or measured brushstrokes. I’m also pretty horribly out of practice, though it was fun to be outside, doing something.

In the park, I notice that things were completely different from two weeks ago when Evan and I went and took photos. The tulips in those striking gardens were almost completely gone and their flowerbeds looked frazzled. The supposedly dead tree that people were climbing — seriously, it had NO leaves or even buds — was lush and verdant, forming an intriguing bower. And the beautiful flowering tree, with full, pink blooms, had no flowers to speak of. My how things change…

Writingwise, this week has been busy. It was my last week at Sugarscape.com. In my 6 weeks there, working three or four days a week, I managed to write 69 stories, not counting competition copy (the numbers on my page are a bit off since it includes individual photos for galleries). It was sad to leave Alex and Becs, who were lots of fun to work with, and they bought me a lovely bouquet and a travel journal for my summer trip.

I also wrote a post for Londonist, “Shocking: Amy Winehouse Arrested, Let Out on Bail,” and a post for Workology, “Want to reduce your WTD? Get a VA!” I would love for all you freelancers and small business owners who read this blog to come join me at Workology, or at least comment on my blog posts — as of today, you don’t need invites anymore to join the new social network for independent workers.

And if you haven’t read the blog post about Best Supper Ever (I know, it’s just below on the page right now), go take a gander — Battlecat gave an awesome interview.

Springtime in Hyde Park!

hyde park tulips

Winter finally decided to loosen its clutches on the city of London, and we’ve had some lovely weather. The first really gorgeous day, Evan and I took an excursion down the road to Hyde Park. While we’ve been to the park plenty in the winter, and we knew it was a nice park, it was pretty chilly and barren save for the grass.

Two weekends ago, though, it has a fantastic facelift — there were tulips, cherry blossoms and daisies in bloom, the lake was full of row boats and pedalos (what the Brits call pedal boats/paddle boats — you know, the plastic kind you power like a bicycle), and there were plenty of children, pets and friends soaking up the sunshine. Even better, we left our jackets at home and were even able to go without our sweatshirts for much of the day.

hyde park serpentine rowboat

Evan and I went out on the Serpentine on a rowboat, which was very relaxing (I did some rowing, too). The only thing missing was a picnic and some sunscreen — I unfortunately managed to get a pretty decent sunburn.We also took a tour of the Serpentine Gallery, which had a very intriguing exhibit of Viennese artist Maria Lassnig‘s work. Though the gallery was very small, it was perfect for a 15-minute detour in the park, and Lassnig’s works were very intriguing — the first paining that greeted us was a self-portrait titled “You or Me,” where we were confronted by the naked octogenarian artist pointing guns both a the viewer and at her own head (you can see some more images of her work here).

And here’s a great photo of a duck Evan took while we were at the park…

duck at hyde park

For more photos of the day at the park, visit Evan’s site.

Saturday at Kew Gardens: Photowalk

Saturday, I went on a lovely trip to Kew Gardens with Annie, Mex, Nikki and Julian (the links go to their photos). Unfortunately, Evan had to work.

For the bank holiday weekend, there is a Woodland Fair going on at Kew, and there were horse-drawn carriage rides, craftsmen, Morris dancers and a falconry show. I didn’t get to see all of the different gardens in the park, or go in the palm house, though, so hopefully I’ll get back there soon.

touching an owl

We got to touch an owl — its feathers were soft.

woodworker

There were woodworkers turning wood by foot power — those long sticks attached to a strong wrapped around the piece of wood, and turned it back and forth.

may flowers

There were also cute crafts like these wood May flowers.

bee being born

We saw bees emerging from their pupal cases — this one was had only popped his head out. I also bought some pollen collected from the bees’ legs, and there were many different types of honey to buy.

Morris Dancers

There were morris dancers putting on a show — they danced around with bells on their shoes and legs and smacking their sticks together.

crazy people dancing

In one of the stranger moments of the day, these two wandering musicians were encircled by some very enthusiastic people who danced circles around them. If only I’d videotaped it…

yurt and accordion player

There were also lots of yurts — here’s a wooden tiger overlooking the accordion player in front of the puppet show yurt.

Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr.

 

Weekly Reading: This Time Featuring a Monkey!

Well, it’s been another busy week, but I got to see a lot of people. The Tuesday night blogger meetup was nice, and today I went to the Social Media Cafe/Tuttle Club, where there was a nice, big group to chat with over croissants and coffee. I got to catch up with Mike, Darika, James, Rob, Melinda, Toby, Lloyd, LJ, Josh and Steve, and I met a few new people, including Roger, Justin, Terence and Laura.

The best part of the event was that there was a nice little discussion group afterwards hosted by James and James of Spinvox about the “future of voice.” We talked about the difference between voice and text, where voice recording, storing, transcribing and translating technologies are going, and the implications of having a record of all the things you’ve said.

They also started by having us do a funny little drawing activity, where we added on to shapes, which was supposedly a psychological test that revealed what we thought about ourselves, how other people viewed us, our career, religion, home and love life. Mine were pretty funny, though I don’t know how accurate they were. I apparently see myself as a dinosaur/dragon with a fat tail and spikes, but I think other people see me as a flower… hmm… leave your psychological interpretations below.

personality test drawing

And what have I been writing this week?

There were the usual entertainment and fashion posts for Sugarscape, though the site was experiencing some pretty serious technical problems that slowed posting considerably, so it’s possible not all my stories made it up.

I got back on the wagon with writing for Hitched with a post about “Going Green This Summer.” Big thanks to Jamie from WalkIt.com for helping me put some ideas together, and thanks, Luke, for connecting us.

I also managed to do a few posts on Londonist — a nice little piece about “New Cancer Centre Offers Free Support,” and what you’ve been waiting for… “Stupidly Cute Monkey Born at London Zoo.” Check out the video of the endangered little critter below. Sort of so ugly it’s cute, and then ridiculously so because of its fuzzy little head and skinny little limbs.
You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Tuesday Night London Blogger Meetup

I finally made it to another one of Andy Bargery‘s blogger meetup — this time at the Coach & Horses — and had a nice evening catching up with Londonist folks, seeing some people I hadn’t seen in a while and meeting a few new ones, too. I worry that since I know some people at the events now, I don’t spend as much time mingling as I should. It’s always nice to catch up with people, but I need to find a balance between meeting new people and spending time with the people who I only really see at events like this.

The best moment of the night was when I was chatting with TikiChris, the food and drink editor for Londonist, and meeting a new Chris, who said, “I just emailed with someone from Londonist… Francine…”! Of course, I told him that it was me and introduced myself. He works for is doing some work for Lactofree, and had found my blog and emailed me about my Lactofree posts, and we’d been exchanging emails just a few days earlier. We had a good chat about lactose and food allergies, and he said some new Lactofree products are in the works.

I was happy to see M@, Dave and TikiChris from Londonist, Siany, Annie Mole, Tim, Peter, Andy Roberts, and Melinda. And it was nice to meet some new people like Chris, Tom and Jaz. I also met Malcolm, who blogs about breakfast, so I had to do a bit of ranting about how I haven’t actually found a very good breakfast here yet. He says Americans just don’t like British breakfasts (I could agree to that). I did get some good recommendations, though, and I’ll be trying some out — top of my list is the Wolesley.

Sorry if I forgot to mention anyone… it was quite a busy night!