Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Royal gardens

Last week I visited Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II. What we saw of the palace was very impressive, but unfortunately photography isn't allowed. Once outside in the gardens, you can take as many pictures are you like, so here is one of mine. Makes a difference from the blue waters and strong light of Greece and Cyprus, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chilling out in the pool

Another way to enjoy water, this time by the pool bar. I took this photo at our hotel in Cyprus and I have no doubt that every single person standing in that pool is British (probably the baby too). Who needs waves when they can have beer?

Thursday, September 30, 2010


When the sea is too rough for swimming, you can always play "catch a wave". Not horizontally, like a surfer might, but vertically, simply for the pleasure of the temporary lift.

Getting drowned isn't my idea of fun, so instead of fighting with the waves in Agios Gordios beach in Corfu, I just sat at a seaside cafe and took photos. This is one of my favourites.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Santa and the souvenirs

Another souvenir shop shot, this time coming from Cyprus. Amongst the usual bibelots, jewellery and kitchen notepads, sits a lonely Santa clutching a Christmas tree with one hand and ringing a bell with the other. Ho ho ho.

I took this photo earlier this month in a souvenir shop in Pafos, Cyprus. This was the only Santa in the shop.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's sales time

Sales aren't just for locals, they're also for tourists. I love those expressions of amazement and delight on the two girls' faces. Snapped at a souvenir shop in Oxford Street, London's retail centre.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Harry Potter weather

This summer has been unusually warm and dry. The effect can be seen all over our parks and open spaces which have turned a crisp yellow instead of their usual bright green. I took this photo just before a summer storm last week (our first in a long time), literally minutes before the skies opened. It reminded me of the opening scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fast-food reflections

There's so much happening in this photo, I don't know if it's interesting or just plain ugly! It's a quick snap of a Burger King restaurant facade in Peckham, South London. I don't usually do reflections, but I was crawling past as a car passenger at the time and was so bored I took photos of absolutely everything. If you enlarge it, you can see me taking the photo - I'm in the little silver car on the very left.

You can see more pictures of Peckham here and you can read about our roadtrip ordeal that made this photographic burst possible here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Greek dancing

Last time I was in Athens I watched a dance performance given by the Dora Stratou Dance Theatre. This photo shows the tsamiko dance, one of the most popular in Greece. When performed for an audience, tsamiko is at first danced in a circle by men and women, followed by a solo performance given by the head male dancer while everyone else remains stationary. The solo involves a serious amount of jumping, hopping and twisting. I didn't take any videos at the time, but there are several in YouTube if you're interested. See here and here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Athenian open air cinema

The open air cinema is a Greek institution. As soon as the weather warms up sufficiently (usually around the end of May), many of the normal four-walls-and-a-ceiling cinemas close down and open air cinemas take over. They are situated on rooftops or open spaces like courtyards, parking lots and parks. There are close to 100 open air cinemas in Athens alone.

This one is situated within the Flisvos marina complex. The sea is just behind the projection screen. We were there to watch Knight And Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Haircut, anyone?

Recently I started taking photos of "people at work". This is my Greek hairdresser in her salon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Man in bookshop

A man looking through books at Eleftheroudakis bookshop in Athens. I love the unusual curved display.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sunset over Piraeus

It's the end of another glorious summer day and we're at Flisvos marina, from where one can see the sun setting over Piraeus. I like this photo because the couple appear to be more interested in their conversation than the sunset itself, which makes me think they're locals who've seen it several times before.

Actually, the girl was busy talking, the guy was mostly looking into the distance. Let's hope he had been captivated by the beautiful sunset.

I've shown you Flisvos marina before here and here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dining by the sea

A family having an early dinner (or late lunch) by the sea in Mikrolimano, Piraeus. Mikrolimano is a small bay below the hill of Kastella in Piraeus, Greece. Piraeus is the port of Athens.

A number of restaurants, cafes and tavernas line the bay, offering diners the opportunity to enjoy their meal right next to the water. The only way to get closer to the sea is to dive in!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hellenic Parliament

On one of the rare occasions when I left home without a camera, I got the opportunity to take a photo of an iconic building from an unusual angle. Luckily, my Nokia 5800 phone came to the rescue, so I can share this image with you.

This is Syntagma Square, in the centre of Athens. The yellow building in the middle of the photo is the Hellenic Parliament, previously a royal palace. The expance of green to the right hand side is the National Garden.

I took this photo from the top floor cafe of Public Store. I like it because it shows how close Athens is to the mountains. The range visible in the background is Ymittos (Hymettus), which lies along the east border of the city.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I took this photo in the Plaka area in Athens, where all the tourist shops are. I'm not sure if the rag doll is on sale, I suspect not. It's not the prettiest of dolls, but it looked chilled out sitting on her little chair amongst the T-shirts, postcards and ceramics. I couldn't resist snapping it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vuvuzelas in Athens

If you've watched the recent FIFA World Cup, you will know what these are. If you're not a footie fan, let me explain: they are vuvuzelas, stadium horns used at football matches in South Africa. They make a monotone sound that resembles loud buzzing when you're watching a match on the TV. Very annoying but also quite distinctive.

I took this photo in Plaka, Athens, a few days after the world cup final between the Netherlands and Spain (Spain won). I've never before seen them on sale anywhere in Europe, which makes me think about the power of televised international sport.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A bite to eat

Travellers at Heathrow Terminal 5 grabbing a bite to eat at the Pret-A-Manger outlet. I like the bird's eye view.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I snapped this picture in Greenwich, SE London, earlier tonight. It's not often you see a car like that in our streets.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I took this photo in a Greek restaurant in London, called As Greek As It Gets. The food isn't the best, but the decor is very "modern Greek" and very interesting. Not a blue-and-white checkered tablecloth or chair with raffia seat in sight.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunny and packed

What a difference four days can make! The weather today finally took a turn for the better, and Londoners were quick to claim a place in the sun.

I took this photo at the Riverside Terrace Cafe outside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. According to the Met Office, the hot spell won't last, but we can enjoy it while it's here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wet and almost deserted

Like most Londoners, I tend to avoid going into central London at weekends, but yesterday was an exception as I had tickets for a concert in Covent Garden. That's how I found myself walking along the Strand shortly before 7 PM. This is usually a bustling street, heavy with traffic and pedestrians, but the rain (and a huge traffic jam further north towards Holborn) gave this stretch an almost deserted look.

They keep promising us "ice cream weather" but I'm not sure if they mean the kind of ice cream you eat in the sunshine or next to an open fire. Ho hum.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thames transport

I took this photo of a commuter boat approaching Greenwich Pier just before 9 PM today. You can see the Doclands in the distance, as well as the domed exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

The tide was out at the time, exposing the Thames foreshore, the closest thing we've got to a city beach.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cast your vote... in church

Today is a General Election in the UK. I took a picture of the polling station on my way to vote.

Yes, you've guessed it, it's inside the church. If you enlarge the photo, you'll be able to make out the temporary sign.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stormy clouds

This weekend is a long one in the UK (Monday is a bank holiday) and long weekends usually mean stormy weather. True to form, yesterday's semi-clear morning skies gave way to stormy clouds by early afternoon, and we've not see the sun since.

It's wet and miserable out there at the moment, but at least I got a nice photo out of it. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sing a song of sixpence...

Just a blackbird caught singing in the garden...

This is the Common Blackbird, Turdus Merula, also called Eurasian Blackbird. The male is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and beak. It has a rich, melodious song.

This photo reminds me of the nursery rhyme with the blackbirds in a pie. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old ambulance

This is a Bedford CA ambulance from the 60's, now living on the side of the road in Exeter, SW England. Someone must love it very much to still pay the road tax!

Bedford Vehicles was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors, itself the British subsidiary of General Motors (GM), established in 1930. The company was a leading international truck manufacturer and the CA was one of their biggest sellers. Its chassis became a popular basis for ice-cream vans, ambulances and camper vans.

I wonder how many people's lives were saved by this now derelict piece of metal...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sping has sprung

The extra cold winter we had this year means that the arrival of spring has been delayed by a few weeks, but now that it's here, it's really colourful.

I took this picture at a park near my home. As you can see, the tulips are out in full force.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Athens by night

Tonight I met up for drinks with a friend in the centre of Athens. I had my little camera with me and took some photos to show you what the city looks like after dark. You may have to click on the photos to see them properly.

Shops in the centre stay open from 9 AM to 9 PM. I took this photo at 9:16 PM, just as Ermou street, one of the main shopping areas, was starting to quieten down. The lit-up building in the distance is the Parliament.

Shop windows are brightly lit and imaginatively decorated.

In between the cement and the traffic, it is possible to catch glimpses of the Acropolis.

Monastiraki is a popular destination for diners looking for a cheap and filling meal. The weather is very mild at the moment, so many people choose to dine al fresco. Greeks tend to have dinner late, so although it was almost 10 PM when I took this photo, all the tavernas were packed.

No need to worry if you're too late for the shops. Street kiosks sell everything from travel guides to loo roll.

We had a drink at this little bar. It wasn't very busy as it's mid-week and we were a little early. It was more lively when we left just before midnight.

Rows of taxis are waiting for customers at Syntagma Square.

I opted to take the metro, so walked through the square to the metro station. Can you make out the couple kissing by the fountain? Sooo cute!

It seems that lots of other people had the same idea, as the platform was pretty crowded, considering it was past midnight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The plain of Thessaly

Greece is a very mountainous country and large stretches of flat land are both rare and agressively cultivated. The lowlands between the towns of Trikala and Larissa in Thessaly (central Greece) form a plain surrounded by a ring of mountains. The area has a distinct summer and winter season, with summer rains augmenting the fertility of the plains. This has led to Thessaly being called the breadbasket of Greece.

This photo shows part of the plain of Thessaly close to the mountain village of Domokos. We were driving down the mountain when I took this photo. It was early evening and the light was very poor - I only noticed the Avin fuel truck when I uploaded my photos on the computer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dancing in the streets

Easter is the busiest time of year on Greek motorways, as many people travel significant distances to spend the holiday with their families and friends. Smaller roads tend to get clogged up with local shoppers and through traffic, so traffic police often have to intervene to keep cars moving smoothly and safely.

These traffic policemen were tasked with controlling the flow of cars at a busy junction outside the town of Lamia in central Greece. I snapped this photo from inside a car with a dusty windscreen - I guess you could say I used a filter. Although the colours aren't quite right, I like it because their movements almost look choreographed.

I felt very sorry for them as it was really hot that day. We were barely comfortable sitting in our car with the windows down, whereas they had to stand in the hot afternoon sun, wave their arms and blow their whistles. It's not a job I'd ever want to do!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Numismatic Museum

This is the Iliou Melathron (The Palace of Ilion), once the house of Heinrich Schliemann, now the Numismatic Museum of Athens, on Panepistimou Street. It's one of my favourite buildings in Athens, often neglected because of its position on a busy street, far too close to other buildings of architectural and historical insterest, namely the Parliament on one side and the University on the other.

It was built in 1879, designed by German architect Ernst Ziller in the style of buildings of the Italian Renaissance adapted to the neoclassical spirit of the late 19th century. The detail on the ceilings is amazing.

I took this photo after the 25th March parade, this is why there are people strolling where cars should have been wizzing past.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hondos Centre

Hondos Centre is a large department store in Greece, selling cosmetics and accessories. This is their flagship store on Omonia Square, in the centre of Athens - a stone's throw from the Town Hall building I showed you in my previous post.

I took this photo because the huge poppy mural caught my attention. Poppies are everywhere in Greece during spring, and although it's a little too early for them at the moment, soon the green fields will burst with red colour.

If you're ever in Athens, there's a very nice cafe on the top floor of this Hondos Centre store.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Athens Town Hall

This is the Town Hall of the City of Athens, situated on Kotzia Square. It's not as magnificent as the Paris Hotel de Ville, but I like it because it's understated and elegant. It's surrounded by some pretty ugly buildings, but the open space in front of it offers some respite from the abundance of cement all around.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Souvlaki man

The other day, while waiting in the queue for my souvlaki-pita to be prepared, I started taking pictures of the gyros stands (pork or chicken meat on a vertical stick). I explained what I was doing to the man behind the counter, and he said: "I've been making souvlakis for 10 years and no one has taken *my* picture yet". Of course I offered to put this right there and then.

I also took a photo of the souvlaki-pita he made for me. Here it is: pork meat, tomatoes, onion, chips and tzatziki wrapped in warm pitta bread. Yummilicious!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brave men

This is a member of the Presidential Guard standing in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece. The writing on the wall consists of a list of placenames where Greek soldiers have fallen in battle, as well as a quote by Ancient Greek historian Thucydides, which translates as "Every place is (worthy) burial ground for brave men".

The Presidential Guard is an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Greek Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. Its members are drawn from the Army's Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps. There is a minimum height requirement of 1.86 meters (6'1") to join the Guard.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Watching the parade

Today is the anniversary of the start of the war for Greek independence, which was fought between 1821 and 1829. The day is traditionally celebrated with student and army parades, and everyone goes out to watch and applaud those marching.

The military parade through the centre of Athens was short and unpretentious this year, as befits a country in serious finacial trouble, but the spectators enjoyed themselves nonetheless.

The sunny weather and gloriously warm temperatures (21-23°C) certainly helped lift the mood. For someone who comes from the cold and wet north, it felt just like summer!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A satisfied customer

Greetings from Greece! This morning was my first back in the homeland so I went to my local bakery for a much craved cheese pie. There I discovered something interesting for my Wordless Wednesday post and returned with my camera to take photos. While I was snapping away, a customer came in and told me I should take a photo of the pretty lady behind the counter. I said why don't I take a picture of them both. He said fine, if I promised not to let his wife see it. I duly promised and snapped away. Don't they look happy?

Most Greeks buy their bread fresh in the morning or on their way home for their afternoon siesta. The cabinet on the left would have displayed various types of pie (cheese, cheese and ham, sausage) as well as piroshki and traditional spanakopita. I took this photo after midday, so all the good stuff's gone.

P.S. I hope you're not the wife!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rush hour London

I took this photo while standing on a railway platform situated over New Cross Road in south east London.

It is a true snapshot, in the sense that I took it very quickly, using my pocket camera. I had to hold it as steady as possible and stretch my arms over the bridge wall to get a clear shot. I pressed the magic button and ran to board my train. You can't get snappier than that!

I thought it'd be interesting to show you what traffic looks like during the evening rush hour.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Paris by night

This is a side view of the Hotel de Ville in Paris. Somehow the word "City Hall" doesn't do this magnificent building justice.

I took this photo in December 2008. I'm pretty sure Christmas was the reason for the sparkly roof.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dreaming of blue sea and golden beaches

The sun's shining, the temperature has risen to double figures (yayyyy!), the air smells of spring -- and hubby is planning a skiing holiday for us. I love snow as much as the next person (maybe more), but given the choice of a week in the mountains or a week by the sea, I'd opt for the sea without hesitation.

This is Porthminster beach in Cornwall on a grey autumn morning. The sea is the Atlantic. I can't help thinking it must look gorgeous in springtime.