At the heart of the Christmas celebrations is the Christian story of the birth of Jesus.  In looking at London’s Christmas decorations, I saw very few religious scenes, so for this post I visited a church.

All Saints, Margaret Street is located north of Oxford Circus, in Fitzrovia.  Turning off the street into the courtyard takes you one step away from the everyday world of central London, but doesn’t quite prepare you for the beautiful interior of the church.  The building was designed by William Butterfield, completed in 1859, and is full of ornate paintings and carvings.

The north wall was originally tiled with geometric patterns, but in 1873 they were replaced by new tiles depicting scenes from the Bible and the Early Church.  Here is a detail from the nativity scene.

All Saints Margaret Street manger

At the east end of the north aisle is the Lady Chapel, with this statue of Jesus with his mother Mary.

All Saints Margaret Street statue

All Saints Margaret Street has services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It is an English-speaking Church of England congregation, with an Anglo-Catholic style of worship, but if you are looking for a different type of church, I’m confident you can find what you need in London.  Here are just a few of the churches I have walked past this year.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

London Chinese Lutheran Church

st peters italian church

If you don’t want to go to church, you can still see a Christian nativity scene.  Out in the middle of Trafalgar Square is “Christmas Crib”, a sculpture designed by Tomoaki Suzuki and Jessica Ogden and commissioned by the church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields.  There are carved representations of Jesus, his parents, the Shepherds, the Magi and an angel – but I focused on the donkey.

Trafalgar Sq crib donkey (1)





Winchester Through a New Lens

I took the new camera on a day out to Winchester.  (For those who didn’t read London Through a New Lens, it’s a Nikon D750).

Why Winchester? To see my friend Catherine.  My friends from India and China keep scattering and re-grouping in different countries.  Last time I saw Catherine, we were in Bangalore.  This time we were lunching in her new hometown of Winchester.

I’m not the first to say that Winchester cathedral is stunning.

Winchester cathedral

Nor am I the first to marvel at how much bigger it seems on the inside.

Winchester cathedral ceiling

I’d tried out the automatic setting on the camera for the London photos.   It was time to turn the dial round to the next point…A for Aperture Priority.

Once I’d set the camera to A, I kind of forgot to change the aperture, so everything was photographed at F4.  Still, the cathedral’s icons and statues are beautiful on any setting.

Ikons in Winchester Cathedral

Winchester cathedral statue

I could hardly move in the cathedral quarter for friendly tour guides.  Stop for a moment and someone will gently direct you to a priceless piece of history or art.

I was glad of their guidance, as my only previous source of information on Winchester had been a blogging friend, Andrew Hardacre, who has posted photographs of the city on his site “All Downhill from Here”.  

I’m not sure that Andrew is entirely to be trusted.  Judge for yourself as you read tales of King Alfred “a famous Saxon King, who launched a contemporary version of The Great British Bake-Off”, as told in his posts   View from the Top and  I am Alfred King of the Britons.

King Alfred statue

Yes, that is King Alfred – and yes he’s photographed at F8, so I finally did master the dial for changing the aperture.

Winchester is only one hour by train from London’s Waterloo station.  I’m looking forward to another visit, maybe to the city’s Christmas Market which starts tomorrow, Thursday 19 November.

28 Photos Later: Day 22 in London

Welcome to Day 22 of “28 Photos Later”.

twentytwoSince it’s a Sunday, I’ve chosen a photo of a church – “St John’s Hyde Park”.   The church has stood in Hyde Park Crescent, Bayswater since 1832.

W2 Hyde Park Crescent

St John’s is part of the Church of England.  I’m including an extra photo today, to show you how peaceful the place looks, despite being in central London.

st johns church

If you sat on the bench in that photo, hoping to hear organ music, you would be disappointed, as the 165-year-old church organ is currently being restored.  That is a story in itself: the organ is named Betty (no, I don’t know why) and she has her own Twitter account (@BettyHydePark) and WordPress blog (click here).  And the church has its own website – Click here for St John’s Hyde Park.

Regent’s Park: A Place to Pray or Study

It’s time for exams and graduations in colleges all over London.  Regent’s Park is home to an independent university called Regent’s University London, a horticultural college called Capel Manor College, and the subject of today’s post – London Business School.

London Business School was founded in 1964, built up a reputation as a good place to study for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and became a full college of the University of London in 1996.

LBS bikes

The grounds of London Business School are gorgeous.  Would these gardens and cloisters inspire you to study or tempt you to dream away your days?

LBS garden

LBS cloisters

Just north of the business school is the Regent’s Park Mosque.  It seemed fitting to post these photos today, as Ramadan begins.

RP Mosque dome The site near Hanover Gate was donated by the British Government in 1944 for the provision of an Islamic Cultural Centre and mosque.  Construction of the main mosque building was finally completed in 1977.

RP Mosque minaret

For information on the Regent’s Park Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, including a timetable for Ramadan, click here.

For information on London Business School, click here.

Dussehra – on the Streets

It’s festival time. Now you can see where some of the flowers and leaves from Sunday’s blogpost have gone.

Dussehra truck

On Monday, several different groups of people were gathering at one temple in Whitefield. We watched one group from Ramgondanahalli carry their idol through the streets. Here is the back view, complete with flags.

Dussehra Whitefield idol back view

And here is the front view, complete with drummers. Can you see the money pinned to the idol? The 100 rupee notes are at the top; 10 and 20 rupee notes are pegged to a string near the bottom.

idol and drummers

Dussehra – the Prequel

What do you do with a sackful of flowers in Bangalore this week?  Celebrate the festival of Dussehra (also called Dasara).

tumbling flowers

At this festival people honour the tools that they use in your home or at work. Anything from a sewing machine to a tractor to a laptop, even a camera.

My photos of last year’s Dussehra appear in a series of three blogposts, starting here.

This year, our driver is planning a puja for the vehicles on Friday, so I don’t have photos of our own ceremony yet.   Instead, here are the supplies that you need for the puja, on sale from roadside vendors on Whitefield Main Road.

If you are doing a puja for the car, you need banana leaves to decorate the front of the vehicle.

banana leaves

Then you need offerings of fruit and leaves.


leaves for puja

And pumpkins to be smashed.


This ceremony means a lot to our Hindu driver; and to me it is a symbol of the anniversary of my husband’s job in Bangalore, and of our driver working for us.

Protecting your New House

In my last post, I mentioned a face in the background.  It was a red faced mask, hanging on a building. Here is another similar face.

Drishti Bommai closeup

These red faces appear on buildings all over Bangalore.  In Tamil they are known as Drishti Bommai.  I have also heard them described by Kannada speakers as Muneshwara.  They are hung on buildings during construction (as you can see in the next photo of an unfinished building in Nallurahalli).  They are intended to protect the builders and the future occupants, by warding off the Evil Eye.

Building site Nellurahalli

The next photo shows the roof of our driver’s house, built in 2012.

Red face on driver's houseThe final two photos show Drishti Bommai which haven’t been activated yet – I spotted them for sale at a roadside stall on 1 August.

Different Drishti Bommai

Side view of Drishti Bommai

Similar faces are painted on trucks – as in my post from 9 September 2012.


Sometimes it seems like there is a festival every day in India. As well as the weddings and the major religious festivals, there are small festivals in individual villages. In many places there is a tradition of carrying statues of deities through the streets in remarkably tall chariots.

This chariot is from a village near Varthur.


Here are some details from that chariot.




On our regular route from Whitefield to Bengaluru International Airport we drive through Devanahalli.  This chariot (snapped with my iPhone camera) came from that area.


The last two photos below come from our local village – Ramagondanahalli.  I was in the car on the main road, and the procession was disappearing into a narrow side street.  My photography skills sadly weren’t up to the job – the chariot was too big to fit in one photo, so you just have to imagine the top and bottom joined together. Maybe next time I will be better prepared!