Oh my Goat!

It was a wet and cold Chinese New Year in London today. Grey the city may be, but Chinatown was awash with the traditional colours of red and gold. The one thing about the rain is that it tends to put people off. That’s not to say it wasn’t busy. It was. Outside of China, London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest.

It’s also a noisy time. Children throw bangers on the ground while the constant thud of drums and cymbals help the lions dance and chase away bad sprits and bring good luck. The Chinese are very superstitious. Before the new year starts, houses must be cleaned from top to bottom. If you clean your house for the first few days of the new year, you’ll sweep away all the new luck.

Chinese New Year is a time for families to get together and eat lots and lots of food, mainly dumplings which is thought top bring prosperity. It’s also a prosperous time for children as they receive ang pows – red enevelopes containing cash – from their relatives. I still do even though I’m a fully grown adult! Red and gold are auspicious colours with red symbolising luck and joy and gold for wealth and prosperity.

So gong hey fat choi to one and all. Happy New Year. I hope the Year of the Goat will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one.

Photos taken on the Panasonic GX7.

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Big Ben overlooking the Thames

Houses of Parliament and the London Eye

My Dad has a keen interest in politics and had never visited the Houses of Parliament before. He was up in London to look at my new flat (and gave his seal of approval) so we decided to take the tour. We didn’t realise the tour only runs on the weekend and during recess but could watch a debate on cancer care. Here I was at the heart of democracy and in the very place where the laws of the land are made, where scandals and secrets of outrageous proportions are hushed up and where a king was nearly blown skywards.

On the way to debate we passed through St Stephen’s Hall where the House of Commons used to sit until a fire destroyed the royal chapel in 1834. It’s around the same size of the original chapel (29mx9m) and a lot smaller than the current Chamber where the debates are held. After this point, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos. The general public can come and go as they please and it’s free. We stayed for about an hour.

We rounded off the day with a trip to the London Eye. It’s one of those things to do when in London – I’d been before but not at night. It takes about 30 mins. As we went on a very cold Thursday neither the Houses of Parliament nor the London Eye were very busy so we didn’t have to queue for very long. Our capsule for the Eye wasn’t very full either which meant we had space to walk around (apart from the young Spanish couple snogging heavily which ruined the view a bit).

On a side note – don’t forget to register to vote. We have a collective chance to get our voices heard.

Photos taken on my Lumix GX 7.

Man outside Portrait Gallery playing the bagpipes. Photo by Sarah Rajabalee

Trip into Central London

Last week’s positive response made me pick up my camera and shoot. I’d forgotten how it felt just wandering around with just my camera. I had given myself the assignment of ‘London’ – a wide scope and something easy. I wandered from the West End down to the Portrait Gallery (where I stopped in and had a look at the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize. Well worth my £3 entry fee) and onto Trafalgar Square.

By the time I had left the Portrait Gallery, it has stopped raining. Photographing after it rained meant I could include the reflections which, for me, makes it more interesting.

Photos taken with the Lumix GX7. 14-42mm lens.