Category Archives: Things to see & do

Imperial War Museum panorama

Another experimental panorama, this time at the Imperial War Museum. Most of the main attractions are set as highlights, but Microsoft Silverlight is very frustrating in that it doesn’t allow users to hover over something in the scene and find out more. In fact it’s not very good at displaying information at all – I’d have thought it would at least show captions from the titles and descriptions that you set!

Wait a little while and it should automatically go through the highlights, or just click on the thumbnails to the right (again, there must be something not quite right with a piece of software if you have to give people guidance on how to do the basics!)

I’d suggest opening full screen for maximum impact, or see the original on

A Day At The (Horniman) Museum

The facade of the original 1901 building at the Horniman Museum
I was recently prompted to pay a long overdue visit to the Horniman Museum, round in Forest Hill, south east London. So last Sunday morning Oliver and I set off for the day.

Wow, it had changed incredibly since my last visit, back in the days when I was working on plant uses in the Centre for Economic Botany at Kew (my first job at Kew). With brand new galleries, a new aquarium, and the temporary travelling exhibition Myths and Monsters (from the Natural History Museum team) it proved to be a great day out.

Myths and Monsters
Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum

Even the old natural history galleries, where one is rather fittingly invited to ‘step back in time’, provided some engaging displays; for examples skeletons of apes and early man, together with moulds of brain sizes, give a stark reminder of how we have evolved. Somehow these rather erudite displays seem suitably complemented by the over-stuffed walrus
which takes pride of place in the middle of the gallery.

At the Horniman the theme of culture is a constant one, and we found ourselves watching videos of brass shields being made in Benin, looking at mummies from Egypt, and gazing at the most amazing displays packed full of musical instruments of all shapes and sizes (with a nice little side room where you can try some out, though not the expensive guitars, much to Oliver’s disappointment!).

Lunch in the Conservatory at the Horniman Museum View over a dreary looking London from the Horniman Museum I shouldn’t forget the gardens. It was hardly the best time of the year to visit a garden, nor was the weather on our side, but it’s good to see that they have just got nearly a million pounds of Lottery money to carry out an extensive refurbishment, including rebuilding the bandstand (from where you get amazing views looking north over central London).

He’d hate me for saying this, but whether it was the stepping back in time, the change in surroundings, or simply a rare chance for us to spend one-on-one time together, Oliver was transformed from ’12 year old going on 18′ into the studious scholar, to the point where half the time he was telling me what things were!

Just goes to show the power of museums of all shapes and sizes, and you don’t get much wider a range of exhibit than the Horniman – well worth a visit, with a wide appeal to everyone.

Check out their website and their Facebook page

Aquarium jellyfish at The Horniman Museum The Horniman Museum Natural History Gallery at the Horniman Museum Like father like son - Oliver taking photos at the aquarium at The Horniman Museum

Phototrek in the New Forest

The lonely life of the professional photographer!

Way back last summer the kids bought me a voucher for my 40th birthday to go on a phototrek in the New Forest. After a failed first attempt thanks to storms back in November, I finally made it down there.

The treks are organised by local photographers Ian Badley and Barry Whitcher, under the banner of

Turned out to be a great day, and although we didn’t get much sunshine the weather stayed kind to us. Would recommend these New Forest phototreks to anyone, beginner or expert.

090215272 Dead wood patterns (b&w)Barry Yew sprig on moss Walkers and cottage Fallen tree - detail Holly Dead branches (black & white) Winter bracken Walking reflections (spot the dog!) Walkers and cottage

Exhibition at the National Theatre : after the wave

I’ve just seen on the London Photobloggers site that the National Theatre is staging an exhibition from today until into February entitled after the wave

after the wave, held jointly with some of Britain’s top news photographers, is a visual testimony to the incredible strength of the men, women and children who have lived through the tsunami and are beginning to rebuild their lives.

This one seems both worthy and worth seeing.

The Way We See It

The Way We See It is a fairly new site which gives a challenge every week – to go out and photograph a nominated London location. I haven’t been able to try it out myself yet as all the locations are in central London, but it looks like fun. Comparing your interpretation of a location, and trying to get that unique shot, are all part of the challenge of photography, and the results do show the difference between the ordinary and the talented photographer.

And if you don’t take part, just seeing pictures and learning about some of the more hidden parts of the city makes for enjoyable browsing. Just the names – Ironmonger Lane, Apothecary Street, Bride Lane, Sicilian Avenue to name a few – should be enough to entice you in.

One of my favourite sites used to be The Big Smoker, a blog about life in London. A year go it was changed to, and though I don’t think it’s as good in some respects now it has gone ‘mainstream’, it’s still a good read.

127They’ve recently run a nice review of the new exhibit in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern (by Rachel Whiteread), which I’ll have to go to. Haven’t been there since the fantastic Weather exhibit (see left) ended a couple of years ago.