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Saturday, 21 April 2018

THE GENEROSITY OF SPRINGTIME


We have been deprived of the gloriousness of sunshine and even its hugging warmth was hindered to us, too. Instead, we were cloaked by a cold breeze which was hardened with an icy touch for weeks. It was doubtlessly the bullheaded extension of the winter period. Am I right my dear fellow U.K. residents and the disappointed transient travellers? 

When we already rolled out the red carpet for the month of Spring, we had hardly experienced a decent week of brilliant sunshine. Sighs in people's breath with a long face mood were in every place. In general, it was such a dismay for most of us apart from the fact that we also encountered the tenacious frigidness of “Beast from the East”. 

Most of us, human beings, tend to delve more into the negatives in life. What a pessimistic outlook which we should try not to entertain. Broadly speaking, a despondent mindset may not apply to you or to most of us, but the quagmire of being ungrateful and wanting more always lurk beneath us. Am I sanely right to conclude?

For the past days, there has been a sudden soar in temperature across the country. Hence, the efficient yet costly house heaters which provided us warmth were given an instant hiatus. On the other hand, locked away electric fans were dug out & cleaned, and idled air conditioners were dusted off & turned on. Moreover, windows have been wide opened supplying gentle fresh air and the humming tête-à-tête sound of birds, all throughout day and night. 

Prior to the sudden leap in temperature, we were forestalled to feel the beautiful excitement of basking under the soothing sunshine. Can you imagine that for the past weeks, we were still wearing our wintry clothes and shoes? 

 

Despite the weather interruption, we were still grateful to have spotted thriving colourful blooms of yellow, pink and mauve. We were also astonished by the developing foliage of strong trees in parks and on the verges of the road. In particular, the mesmerising Magnolias in full showy tulip like flower. Consequently, it made most of us steadily buoyant with inclined confidence to welcoming the much anticipated generosity of the season of Spring.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

THE SKYDECK BAR: THE VIEW FROM THE SHARD


A day before their pre-planned visit viewing on the 72nd floor of the tallest building in Western Europe, The Shard, there was an abundance of sunshine. Its most anticipated rays graced warmly the people of the U.K. It indeed made people's day flourishingly glorious as it had been withheld from them for so long. Comparably speaking, they were like restrained plants in the garden or in pots as the lake of sun repressed the strengthening of green leaves as well as inhibiting the production of colourful blooms.

The skydeck visit day... 

When they were finally on their way to one of the famous landmarks and well-accomplished designed buildings in London, the “Beast from the East” brewed the silvery skies and replaced the pleasant climate with chilly conditions. However, the change of weather didn't hinder them in pursuing the planned visit and from jumping-on a standby black cab. While they were quiet cosy inside the cab, the creeping gloomy weather outside was cheered-up by the jovial crowd. They were celebrating the traditional death date of the foremost patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick's Day, wearing green coordinated ensembles. She then whispered, “I bet they will be liquored up in bars, walking groggily on streets and seeing double on a Saturday night!”. 

Their black cab moved moderately on the busy roads of London until they eventually reached St. Thomas Street. From the ingress of the street and through the cab's windshield, she had a glimpse of the conspicuously erected 95-storey skyscraper. A 309.6 metres (1,106 ft) tall pyramidal tower designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano which was durably embellished in 11,000 shard of glass panels. This London's skyline has 87 levels with 72 habitable floors occupied by hotel rooms; restaurants & bars; a viewing gallery and an open air observation deck. What a dynamic “vertical city” symbol of London! 

The cab stopped and arrived at the drop off point of The Shard. They were greeted by a hotel's foyer employee standing outside and who then directed them to use the side corridor. They traversed on a pavement feeling the chill breeze while heading towards the main entrance door of The View From The Shard.  

They were greeted, queued and then, advised to place their belongings in a tray for a CT (computerised tomography) scanning. Moreover, they also passed through a full body scanner before finally joining in the people ahead of them. Wait a minute, there was a stand by photo booth with an attendant who asked them for 3 different pretence poses. The end product of the quite fast captured images, after they were cropped and photoshopped, was a monetising souvenir scrapbook.  

Walked straight... turned left... turned right... then inside the quick as a thud lifts... 

They reached the compacted viewing gallery deck on the 69th floor bustling with enthusiast locals and mesmerised tourists. After a quick circuit, they finally headed to an open air observation deck on the 72nd floor for spectacular panoramic views of the capital. As they joint the ongoing fervent crowd, the icy cold breeze from the “Beast from the East” greeted and bashed them. What an open superstructure exposed to the elements; you can take in the atmosphere and hear the sounds of the metropolis below. They claimed their complementary glass of Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne while also really pleased to be wearing more than just their party clothes and accessories.  

Thereafter, she started capturing aerial landscape sceneries from the 72nd floor of Western Europe's Tallest building or at 244 metres (801 ft) above the ground. However, the poor weather condition and the murky glass panels inhibited her in snatching decent and fulfilling photographs. Inevitably, she was relatively dismal and it was utterly evident in her facial expressions. On the other hand, her eagerness and optimism in capturing adequate yet comprehensible images prevailed more and counter triumphed her melancholic state of mind.

They finished sipping their glass of champagne and couldn't stand longer the frigid conditions. Accordingly, they routed their way down and decided to adjoin the set of queuing adieu crowd. The high speed lifts at 6 metres per second took them down and found their selves concluded at the gift shop. A souvenir store chock-full with miniature models of The Shard London; London fridge magnets; kiddie stuff toys and sweets; informative print and publications; customised fabric shopping bags and many more. With all of the choices in front of her eyes, she decisively chose and bagged the 160mm miniature model of The Shard London. 

Their tummies called of their attention... 

They walked back at the drop off point and headed onto the level 31 of The Shard for some contemporary British cuisine and breathtaking views. A buzzing Aqua Shard surrounded by delightful family; reunited friends; etiquette conscious socials; some generation-Y food-photo affiche and the unfeigned diners. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: THE BIRTHPLACE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE


(The Façade of the restored 16th-century 2 storey house of
England's National Poet and the "Bard of Avon", William Shakespeare)

I felt the sudden rush of cold in my body and it gave me chills...

It was the itsy-bitsy raindrops first before the imposing cottony snow flakes came to the scene. Thereupon, the frigid condition and the pearly appearance of snow materialised on my way out of the busy London; I was heading up to the green fields of West Midlands. Coincidentally, as I was on the train zooming its way up, the nippy condition outside was getting extreme. As a result, the unexpected chill was gently creeping inside the carriage through the glass clear windows.

From my seat I felt the developing cold and when I looked outside, the snowfall was getting substantial and thicker. Delightfully speaking, it resulted to the unveiling of a vast field blanketed in accumulated white flurry snow. Then, I became less fidgety on the train as the feeling of the shivery winter season was intensely sensed by my delicate skin. Consequently, I whispered in my mind and I quote, “this isn't the weather condition I'm expecting. I'm anticipating the warm breeze of fresh Spring slapping on my face. Then, I breathed out heavily with a tight hug of my shawl wrapped around me”.

I arrived on time at my destination and the night after...

On my second day in West Midlands, we routed down miles away by car onto the motorway and headed into the abyss of Stratford-upon-Avon. My usual habit of taking pictures of the outside surroundings, whilst in the car, on our way to Stratford-upon-Avon was apprehended by the weather condition. It should have been a great journey on the road if I were able to take a few snaps of the boundless calm fields. We were all snugly wrapped-up as the intermittent presence of sunshine didn't grace my visit. Promptly, we arrived at our destination in the county of Warwickshire, England and were resolute to enjoy exploring the market town village under the steadily drizzly weather condition. It was snowy cold yet a sensationally refreshing jaunt!

The gently sprinkling of fine drops were subsiding when we approached one of the specific access avenues at the town centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. It was called Henley Street which had an elongated road with architecturally levelled cobblestones, low kerbs and flat pavements (making the whole town wheelchair-friendly). It was bordered and brightened up with diverse low-rise buildings which were occupied by their preserved local stores and the pervasive chains of commercial shops. Moreover, it also served as the alternate passageway to Windsor Street or onto the roundabout for Union Street, Bridge Street, High Street and Wood Street. Yes, there were lots of street names to guide you and for you to memorise, too!
(The Erected Visitors Guide Map)
(The Henley Street)

From the ingress of Henley Street, I easily noticed a restored 2-storey rectangular house with a sturdy pitched gable intersecting roof and contemporary loop level spear top metal fence. Historically speaking, the house was built in 16th-century using the traditional half-timbered method and constructed in wattled and daud around a wooden frame. To be more specific, the façade of the house had a woven lattice of wooden strips infixed with a combined sticky material of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. For the past years or ever since it was owned and managed by the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, this eminent house has been a small museum open to the public and a popular visitor attraction. Moreover, it has been acknowledged as a Mecca for all lovers of literature for it's believed to be the Birthplace of England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon", William Shakespeare.

In spite of the fact that the renowned Shakespeare's Birthplace is a small museum open to the public, the out-and-out admission is still not free of charge. When we decided to explore the innermost Birthplace of England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon", William Shakespeare, we bought upfront our Shakespeare's Birthplace Adult Tickets. Customarily speaking, the ticket itself gave us an entire access from the interesting museum at Shakespeare's Centre; the spruced-up tender rear garden; a significant snoop of Joan Hart's Cottage on the ground floor of the house; the innermost of the main restored 2-storey rectangular house of William Shakespeare and his family; the added 17th century rear wing and ending up to the matter-of-fact detached Gift Shop.
(William Shakespeare's Phrases and Sayings)
(The 1988 Oil in Canvas of William Shakespeare in the Globe Theatre by Philip Sutton, R.A.)

(William Shakespeare Life's Chart and Family Tree)
(The Parlour on the Ground Floor of the Restored House)
(The Dining Area with the Corner Fireplace on the Ground Floor of the Restored House)
(The Childhood Bedroom with a Chimney of William Shakespeare
on the First Floor of the Restored House)
(The Birthroom Window with Henry Irving's Name
on the First Floor of the Restored House)
(The Adequate Room on the Second (Attic) Floor of the Restored House)
(William Shakespeare's Parents, John and Mary, Bedroom on the First Floor of the Restored House)
(The First Floor in the Rear Wing of the Restored House)
(The Door on the Ground Floor in the Rear Wing of the Restored House)
(The Fireplace on the Ground Floor in the Rear Wing of the Restored House)
(The Food Storage Room on the Ground Floor in the Rear Wing of the Restored House)
(The Tender Rear Garden in the Rainy Day)
(The Back End Perspective of William Shakespeare's Birthplace
with the Angular View of the Rear Wing)
(The Detached Gift Shop of Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust
and the Souvenir Coin)

The modern Shakespeare's Centre greeted us with noticeable phrases & sayings onto the walls and warmly took us back in time by featuring his creative collections of plays, sonnets and poems. It also gave us an insight into his colourful theatre life on a canvas painting and communicated to us through the detailed summary of his life's chart.

Personally speaking, when I stepped in at the centre I thought that it was a terrible enterprise in acknowledging the life of William Shakespeare and where he lived. It was indeed a radically designed contrast to the adjacent well-preserved 16th-century half timbered house. However, the succinct state-of-the-art approach in establishing how William Shakespeare became England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" turned out to be brilliantly and symmetrically beautiful!