Nemophilist

Is someone who likes being in the woods.

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Ever since I was a child I have had a fascination with the woods, not in a fairy tale kind of way, I feel instantly connected with nature, way more than I do with humans.

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Humans assume too much, they go against the grain, they require too much energy to deal with. Nature is the opposite, it is restorative, it offers no opinions or criticism, it just lets you be.

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I like being in the woods, I like the solitude, I like the peace it gives you.

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Psithurism is the sound of leaves rustling as the wind blows through the trees, it is the one of the most comforting of sounds to me.

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Sunlight glimmering through the leaves, the Japanese have a word for that – Komorebi.

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In German the word for the feeling of being alone in the woods and connected to nature is Waldeinsamkeit

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Shinrinyoku is the Japanese word for having been forest bathing, ie taking a relaxing trip to the forest to improve health and well-being.

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Location: Mount Royal park in Montreal (not technically a forest but close enough especially for city dwellers like me!)

Photos: By me.

Beautiful Brutalism

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A long, long time ago in my late teens/early twenties I worked in a little restaurant/bar next door to Moorgate Station. There was a sister restaurant just behind us above another entrance for the station that led into the Barbican Estate and this was when I was probably first properly introduced to Brutalist Architecture. I would spend many a lunchtime wandering round and admiring the estate. Both restaurants and the escalators and walkway above the entrance on   street are all gone to make way for the Crossrail but the estate is still their in all its brutal glory.

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defoe house

tower

al fresco

On the estate is also the Barbican Centre, a cultural arts centre that houses exhibitions, has a cinema and theatre amongst many things. There is a restaurant and a terrace that you can also enjoy as a visitor but pretty much most of the estate is closed off because it’s a private residential area. It is one of my favourite places in London, smack bang in the city and a serene little oasis anyway from the hustle and bustle. I always dreamed of living there but property prices these days have killed that off! A three bedroom flat on the 12th floor will set you back at least £1.6 million!!!! You can read more about the history of the estate here.

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stairwell in the centre

side balcony

On Saturday we went to an exhibition at Arts Centre, followed by some lunch and walk round the accessible parts of the estate so I could get some pictures. I did have my main camera with me but stupidly forgot to put the SD card back in it, so I ended up using my phone instead, so not the greatest quality but I can still show you what I saw. Mainly for me I love the shapes, the curves, the line, the way the towers loom over the city. How the estate has its own florist and residents adorn the concrete balconies with foliage. On a cloudy day it looks mean and moody and on a sunny day it’s actually quite beautiful.

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frobresher crescent

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semi circles

curves

hanging

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barbican fountains

curved stair

blue stairs

cross rail

This last picture is where the old walkway into the estate above the entrance on Moorfields which is just behind the entrance on Moorgate, to make way for the new crossfields. I was kind of bittersweet about my old work place being demolished, on the one hand it introduced me to a beautiful part of the city which I would explore on my breaks because I had to get away for my idiot boss, on the other hand I actually hated working at that restaurant because I had an idiot boss who used to pick on me!

Things never really the same or they get stagnant, so it is always interesting to see how the new evolves around the old. By any means the Barbican isn’t an old estate, construction was started in the 60s, so quite young by compared to some but for me it still one of my favourite places in the city. I have to visit the conservatory in there, it’s usually open on Sundays and Bank Holidays, so I will definitely be returning whether it for this or an exhibition.

I plan this summer to take more walks and photos, and next time I’ll remember to put the memory card back in my camera!

Please note that all photos remain my property, please do not use without permission or credit.

I Went For a Walk and Saw…

I was going to the usual monthly round-up post but I’ve spent most of the month trying to catch up with work and so not much to report after what I’ve already blogged about already, so I though instead of doing monthly round ups as I plan on blogging a lot more anyway, doing photo posts.

Anyway here a few shots from our walk round Kensington and Chelsea.

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I know I’m not the world’s greatest photographer but I just like to share some of the things I see on my travels.

Gardens at Musée Albert-Kahn

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I should probably start a blog just dedicated to gardens that we visit on our travels because where ever we go, we always end up hunting out a botanical garden or something similar and our trip to France was no different. So the Wednesday before bank holiday weekend, we headed over to the suburbs of Paris to go to the Rock en Seine Festival (which I’ll be covering in a separate post). We went a few days early with the hope of either maybe hitting Disney Land Paris or a wander round the city on the Thursday but when we got there the heatwave was just starting and by the time we got to our hotel at the top of Saint-Cloud, the temptation to just in our air conditioned hotel room was strong!
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So on the Thursday we went for a little walk around Boulogne-Billancourt which is just on the other side of the river, to look for a Sephora and something to eat and on the way back we popped into the Albert Kahn Museum which has a beautiful garden you can wander round that is split into different styles which have been restored and maintained in the spirit of their creator. It starts off with a Japanese theme, then into a formal French garden, English garden and finally a forest of blue cedars representing the Vosges Mountains near Kahn’s birthplace.
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We took a little walk around the gallery and then the garden and sometimes it pays off to explore the area where you’re staying rather than hit the usual tourist hot spots. I’ve been to Paris a few times now and we always seem to find a cool off the beaten track places to visit. I highly recommend visiting here if you can, we didn’t explore the whole garden because it’s pretty big (8 acres) and it was very hot, so we mainly stuck to the shady spots but it was very serene and beautiful and only costs 4 Euros to get in!

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There are some more photos from our visit on my Flickr account here.

Las Vegas Lights!

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When it comes to Las Vegas, I think the first thought most people has is party town and casinos, well you wouldn’t be too wrong but spend a little more time there are you’ll discover that there is so much more to do that shop and gamble. Actually I’m probably being a little too harsh but that’s pretty much how Vegas is advertised. This was my second trip to Las Vegas for the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly festival but this time we stayed an extra few days either side to get in some more exploring. One of the coolest places to visit is the The Neon Boneyard Museum and this was our second trip there and not just because of my obsession for neon signs. Our first was for an after dark tour on our first trip, where they light up a few of the restored signs but this time we opted for the day tour and I can highly recommend both as you get to see the signs in very different settings.

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The tour includes a guide round the yard and quite a detailed history of the signs, hotels and how Vegas has changed since it was established in 1905 and is relatively young for a city but still has a rich and vibrant history. The museum was founded in 1996 in partnership with the Allied Arts Council in Souther Nevada and Las Vegas city and restores signs that have been sitting in storage for many years mainly in the Youngs Electric Sign Company Boneyard. Vegas has a reputation for a quick turnover of put up, take them down when it comes to hotels, so much that with only two years between our trip we noticed this quite a bit and there seemed to be more vacant lots waiting to be built on than last time we were there as well.
The museum entrance is the old shell of the La Concha Motel which was split into three pieces and transported to the museum and restored. This building was designed by prominent African-American architect Paul Williams in the 1960s and is considered to be one of the best preserved examples of Googie architecture.
Apoligies that this post is a bit pic heavy but I had a hard time choosing my favourites. I might do a follow up post with the night tour pics which were originally on my other neglected blog but all my photobucket pic links seem to have broken for some unknown reason, so will definitely be transferring them over to Flickr soon.

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Binion’s was one of the original hotel and casinos which opened up in what is now known as Old Vegas located on and near Fremont Street.
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Restored H sign from Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel and Casino.

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The Stardsust is probably Las Vegas’ most famous sign until it was revamped in 1991 and then the hotel was demolished in 2007.
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A close up of the Sassy Sally sign.

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Hiding in the background the Silver Slipper.
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Some of the signs are also placed along the highway outside the museum as part of the National Scenic Byways program in the US, amongst those signs is the Silver Slipper which is all I managed to get a picture of before our taxi arrived to take us back to our hotel.

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Please note that all these pictures are my own and at request of the museum cannot be used for commercial purposes so I would be grateful if you did not use without permission.