Exploring the Docklands

The London Docklands are hardly the most tourist-y part of London; situated several curves of the Thames away from the hub of Westminster, this area has historically been populated by dockyards and warehouses. And obviously, such utilitarian features don’t draw many crowds. But the modern Docklands are different- four years ago, I stayed at a Thames-side hotel in the heart of the Docklands, and was endlessly surprised by the scenery and character of the area.

Canary Wharf Night

A view of the Isle of Dogs from my room at dusk- I thought it was breathtaking

Hotel Night

Looking east along the Thames at low tide

The first evening at my hotel, I just took photo after photo of the impressive skyscrapers on the Isle of Dogs. They looked so striking against the darkening sky, and since I’ve long been obsessed with the tower known informally as “Canary Wharf”- properly known as One Canada Square- it was the best sight I could possibly be enjoying.

The next morning, I walked along the south bank of the Thames west from the Docklands, and I loved the tranquility of this path. Mostly residential (with either condos or row houses), the area was charming and much quieter than the rest of the London I knew. It really was lovely, and I imagine this would be a beautiful place to live.

Canary Wharf Path

The Isle of Dogs, seen from a leafy courtyard

Docklands Path

I’d love to jog or walk my dog along this quiet Thames-side path

Gherkin Docklands

Despite being a distance from central London, one can still see landmarks like the Gherkin from the Docklands area

This part of the Thames also felt a lot less frantic and crowded than the Westminster section. Instead of rows of tour-boats ferrying tourists about, there were small pleasure-crafts and rowboats. I might not even mind taking to the Thames in this area- but of course, wherever on the Thames one is, one really does want to avoid falling in! Apparently the Thames is actually quite clean nowadays, but I shouldn’t like to risk it…

Docklands Boat

A group of people rowing down (or up, I can’t remember!) the Thames

Thames Boat

A moored boat caught in the mud at low tide

Leaving the riverside path, I explored Rotherhithe and the area around Canada Water- fitting, seeing as I live in Canada! Here I got a glimpse of the less affluent London; in a stark contrast to the riverside lofts just a few minutes away, I was now walking among unpretentious (and even ugly) blocks of flats.

CW Flats

As much as I’d love a flat in Kensington or a penthouse overlooking the Thames, in reality, I’d probably end up living somewhere like this if I lived in London!

Surrey Quays

We browsed through the Surrey Quays shopping centre, which is beside Canada Water

Canada Water

Canada Water itself; with the then-under-construction Canada Water Library visible

Although the green and ingenuous village feel of Rotherhithe was appealing, I still couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the bustling Isle of Dogs across the river. Canary Wharf, situated on the Isle of Dogs, is a prominent business district and it houses the offices of numerous international banks and other companies.

1 Canada Sq

A look up at One Canada Square- and it’s a long way up, as this tower is 770 feet tall

CW Sign

One Canada Square was only recently surpassed by the Shard as the tallest building in the UK

CW Colonnade

The futuristic colonnade at the base of One Canada Square

My main purpose on the Isle of Dogs was to see One Canada Square, but there were other things of interest there as well. In one of the nearby docks, I saw a US Coast Guard vessel- unusual, but interesting! Aircraft kept going overhead to and from London City Airport, and the yellow supporting spires of the Millennium Dome were visible in the gaps between skyscrapers.

USCG Docklands

I have no idea what this ship was doing here, but it was neat

O2

Millennium Dome is one of the most surreal buildings I’ve ever seen

I always knew that I’d like staying near the Millennium Dome and One Canada Square, two of my favourite buildings in the world. But contrary to what I expected, the locale they inhabit wasn’t boring- the Docklands were actually really enthralling! Being near the river means that the sights are always changing; changing with the tide and with the journey of rowboats and tourist tours alike. The Docklands are definitely one of the most surprising areas of London I’ve explored, and there’s more to them than old industry and financial monopoly!

CW Sunshine

The towers look so wonderful with their windows glinting in the sun

Docklands Condos

Some condos across the river from my hotel

CW from Window

The outstanding view from the hotel room. It could not have been any better than this!!

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Land of My Fathers

A lot of people I’ve met have said that the Rocky Mountains of Canada are the most magnificent natural wonder in the world. And for awhile I couldn’t have disagreed with them- I’ve visited the Rockies twice and both visits were incredible experiences that I still think about from time to time.

But then in 2011 I visited Snowdonia in North Wales, and that became one of the most memorable events of my life! Quite appropriately, Wales is the “Land of my Fathers”- my grandfather is from the south of Wales, and I’ve always liked the thought that I have Welsh blood and I hail in part from the land of daffodils and red dragons…

Ever since visiting Snowdonia four years ago, I’ve wanted to go back. So today I’m going to revisit those beautiful green hills and rocky, clouded mountains while also sharing them with you!

Welsh Mountain

This is just west of Conwy, a charming town that’s home to an extensive 13th-century castle

Welsh Tunnel

Hills like these stand guard along the coast, like natural fortresses

Welsh Houses

It would be quite something to live in a house beneath a mountain as imposing as this one!

Mine Activity

This was so moving- a seemingly abandoned mine on the shores of a lake

North Wales

More evidence of mining activity- after all, Wales is known for its mining and its sheep. To me, this photo looks like something out of “Lord of the Rings”

Welsh lake

Another peaceful lake

Welsh Lamb

I was rather taken with this funny little lamb!

Wales Outcropping

The contrast of rock and vegetation was stunning…

North Wales

 

…but as we gained altitude, things grew visibly wilder

Cloud Wales

Before long, we were in the clouds. I actually got chills. I had never seen anything so eerie yet beautiful

Wales Cloudy Lake

Speeding by a cloud-covered lake

Wales Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are apparently becoming quite a menace in north Wales- but it must be said, they look gorgeous

Welsh Mountain

Overlooking a valley by the Sygun Copper Mine

Welsh mountain

The top of a mountain that I personally climbed… I was very proud of myself!

Welsh Mountain Path

The path to the top. It was very cold up there!

I still don’t think I’ve seen any landscape more striking than what I saw in north Wales. The entire atmosphere was so wild and almost forgotten, and I was so moved by it. I hope you got a sense of the awe I had from these photographs!

Vladivostok

The weather I’ve been experiencing lately has been terribly cold- I’ve lived in Canada all my life so I am used to winter, but the weather of late has really been a Siberian sort of cold. It’s bracing, to say the least! So today I decided to share an outfit inspired by the Siberian winter; combining practicality with a distinctive Russian style.Vladivostok
Vladivostok by adairjacobs on Polyvore
Russia is actually a hotbed for fashion- so this look includes lots of designer pieces that agree with the overall aesthetic. A navy blue Alexander McQueen coat in a very feminine style pairs nicely with the striped top, which is a nod to the naval heritage of the city of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. Richly detailed accessories in traditional Russian red and white allude to the tradition of decorative art in Slavic countries and particularly the Eastern Orthodox Church, while also following the latest trends. The graphic gold jewellery mirrors the beauty and savagery of a winter landscape, and a black fur hat and boots enable the wearer to survive in that very landscape!

The Yorkshire Air Museum

My 2011 trip to the UK was pretty legendary- I climbed a Welsh mountain, watched a USAF F-15 on its take-off run, shopped at Selfridges, and visited so many castles and country houses that I can’t even remember them all. But the memories I recall most fondly, and which educated me the most, are those of my visits to various military and aviation museums. These museums seem to be almost as plentiful as pubs are in the UK, and one that I really loved was the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Located on the former site of RAF Elvington near York, the Yorkshire Air Museum has an awesome array of vehicles and, especially, aircraft. An imposing Chieftain main battle tank guards the car park, and gives visitors an idea of the advanced and unique equipment held by the museum.

Chieftain YAM

The Chieftain was in service with the UK from the mid-60s until 1995

Spitfire YAM

A replica Spitfire- the original R6690 flew in the Battle of Britain but was shot down over London in 1940. Its pilot, Pilot Officer Gaunt, was sadly killed.

This museum was memorable for me because it had close to a dozen aircraft I’d never seen before; and that I haven’t seen since! One was a member of the fabled V-bomber trio- the gorgeous and gigantic Handley Page Victor. The Victor played an important role during its lifetime, as it comprised part of the UK’s Cold War nuclear deterrent.

Victor YAM

The Victor is an unmistakeable design, with its T-tail and elegantly-integrated intakes. However, back then I lacked the aviation knowledge I now have…

Nimrod YAM 

…and I continually confused it with this aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod!

I was delighted to also see a Harrier GR.3 here! I’ve always been fascinated by this truly gravity-defying jump jet, and it was so neat to see one again. The GR.3 is of the first generation of Harriers, and was the precursor to the British Aerospace-built GR5, GR7, and GR9 models. GR.3s served alongside Sea Harriers in the Falklands War, and provided vital air support as ground forces went on the attack.

Harrier YAM

This GR.3 would have been built in the ’60s or ’70s. Click here for more photos of this groundbreaking aircraft

Tornado YAM

The Panavia Tornado is another aircraft I already knew and loved. It is currently being used by the RAF to attack ISIS targets in Iraq

I learned a lot during my time at the Yorkshire Air Museum- there were so many planes that might have looked familiar, but that I really knew nothing about. I did my best to learn their names and some facts about them, and it was one of the most enjoyable and informative museum visits I’ve ever had!

Lightning YAM

This is the English Electric Lightning- an early jet-powered aircraft, it had fantastic performance but (unsurprisingly) limited range

Buccaneer YAM

With folding wings typical of carrier-based aircraft, the Blackburn Buccaneer was designed to be a nuclear-capable maritime strike aircraft. Paint schemes ranged from the camouflage seen here to an anti-flash white livery for nuclear missions

Buccaneer Front YAM

The museum has a second Buccaneer- this one is a sandy colour, as it was used in the Gulf War

It was interesting to see a Canadian T-33 Silver Star displayed, beside an original World War II hangar and a prominent Union Jack. By the time I visited the museum, I’d been in the UK for several weeks; and although I didn’t really miss Canada, I did miss my dog! So it was neat to see a reminder of Canada.

T-33 YAM

The aging buildings create such a wonderful, atmospheric backdrop for old aircraft like the T-33

Fairey Gannet YAM

An ungainly Fairey Gannet- this aircraft is a specialized Airborne Early Warning variant; note the radar dome beneath the fuselage

Many of the Yorkshire Air Museum’s aircraft are displayed outside, but there was also a large hangar containing many different aircraft. The showpiece inside was undoubtedly the resident Handley Page Halifax bomber! This Halifax was reconstructed from parts of various original planes, and is a beautiful example.

Halifax YAM

The Halifax was one of the wartime RAF’s four-engined heavy bombers; similar to the better-known Avro Lancaster

WACO Glider YAM

This WACO Hadrian CG-4A was an American-made glider, used extensively during the invasion of Sicily, Operation Market Garden, and D-Day airborne landings

After looking through the hangar, it was back outside again- and it was like I stepped right into the 1940s! As I mentioned, the Yorkshire Air Museum is on the former site of RAF Elvington, which was used heavily during WWII. Many of the original buildings are intact, and the museum has done a great job of retaining the wartime feel of the location.

C-47 YAM

 

I always think of the C-47 Skytrain as an American plane, but (as shown here) the RAF operated it as well

Building YAM

It was so amazing to think that these buildings stood during WWII, and were hubs for the defence of Britain and its Allies

I walked among the buildings and hangars for a little while, and it was such a fantastic experience. My imagination was going wild- except for my modern dress and the presence of a bunch of picnic tables, I could have been in the ’40s. Speakers on one of the buildings were even playing appropriate music; in typically stoic British fashion, ditties by George Formby were being played.

Buildings YAM

A collection of beautiful camouflaged WWII-era buildings

Jeep YAM

An Austin Champ truck, along with a bunch of bicycles in a garage

The atmosphere of the museum grounds was nostalgic and quiet, so it really felt like just a memory. Although the olive drab buildings and ancient aircraft were still standing, long gone was the bustle of the war. A further memorial to the days of the war and the sacrifices of those people who lived through them was found in the museum’s RAF Memorial Chapel; located just beside a gorgeous memorial garden.

Chapel YAM

The chapel pays homage to various squadrons and associations, and is a place of peace and remembrance

Mem Garden YAM

 

The memorial garden was planted with roses and shrubs dedicated to both units and individuals; which mixed wonderfully with the wreaths of poppies near the memorial

Prop Garden YAM

A lone destroyed propeller is a fitting tribute to the glorious dead

I think about the Yorkshire Air Museum an awful lot. Granted, it’s not the only museum to have original wartime buildings and an undeniable ’40s atmosphere- IWM Duxford is so original that it has been used as a filming location for various movies. But Duxford was teeming, and hordes of tourists and holiday-makers don’t really contribute to a feeling of wartime nostalgia. The Yorkshire Air Museum, on the other hand, was secluded and peaceful; which added to my enjoyment of it. I haven’t been to Yorkshire since that trip in 2011- but I know that next time I visit, I’ll have to visit this museum again.

Impeccable Class

With the 2015 Golden Globes now a memory and the Oscars and BAFTAs just around the corner, Hollywood’s hallowed award season is in full swing! And while other fashion-lovers may be looking to the red carpet for the latest trends and freshest looks, to me award season is the perfect time to revisit all the glamour of the past. In such a trend-driven world, there’s nothing I like more than referencing the past- and wearing a vintage look can command far more attention than wearing any temporal trend.Impeccable Class
Although Zuhair Murad may be a popular modern designer, his black gown seen here is perfect for a ’40s-inspired outfit thanks to its sleek and glamourous design. A faux-fur shawl automatically evokes Old Hollywood and is very event-appropriate; the Oscars are, of course, held in Los Angeles, but they take place in wintertime nonetheless! The fantastic detailing of the vintage purse adds interest to this look, and the rich metallic tones of the Lanvin sandals and vintage jewellery ensure that this ensemble won’t be overlooked. Perfume from a seasoned yet relevant fashion house such as Burberry, and classic red nails, finish this look with an enviable combination of class, modernity, and vintage glamour.

Always On My Mind…

I’m sure that every person has something close to their heart, that is with them every day and that can sometimes be hard to live without. For me, that thing is England. Over the past ten years, I’ve visited England eight times; and that, combined with my British heritage, has influenced a deep love for the country in my life. I’ve been there so many times and I identify so strongly with British culture that it seems I’m always yearning to be back there- I much prefer grey English days to the freezing Canadian winter, and even English food is much more comforting to me than its Canadian equivalent.

Fortunately, even though I’m not in England right now, it’s not all angst and longing. There are numerous things in my Canadian-based, British-inspired life that remind me of the homeland and keep me going on the tough days! I thought that I’d share some of these things with you today.

Crumpet and Cushion

My dog Crumpet is a crossbreed, but he looks like a perfect English spaniel- and a patriotic one at that!

Laptop

Because of my laptop wrap, I’m in a British mood whenever I sit down to blog

Telegraph Page

The Daily Telegraph is my go-to website for British and international news!

Coronation Mug

Most posts on Keep Calm and Remember are fuelled by a good old cup of English tea

Bunting

My room is full of references to the UK- the wall colour in particular reminds me of England, because it’s similar to a colour used in a Cambridge cottage I stayed in

Lanc Bomber Beer

On weekends- if it’s my brother’s turn to drive us to the hockey rink- I like to enjoy a traditional pint. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine that I’m sitting in a pub…

World Cup Nails

If I’m really missing England and feel especially creative, I often create a patriotic manicure. I wore this St. George’s Cross design during the 2014 World Cup

Union Flag Top

Taking fashion cues from Rose Tyler always reminds me of the UK

M&S Top

One of my favourite tops I’ve ever owned was purchased at Marks and Sparks on Kensington High Street. It’s not terribly posh in origin, but five years later, I still love it!

English Earrings

I never return from the United Kingdom without one (or two, or three) pairs of new earrings! I also collect shopping bags from various British shops…

England is always on my mind, and always in my heart. Although I do believe I’ll be there someday, perhaps permanently, it is hard to be away for the present. Thankfully, there are endless things in my life that remind me of England; and so I don’t feel like England is ever out of reach.

 

The Pioneer

Nothing captures my imagination more than aviation does, and one of the most appealing images of fashion also stems from the breathtaking pursuit of flight. In the 1930s and 1940s- my favourite historical period- aviation was truly beginning to move forward; and at the same time, women were starting to make names for themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields. As aviation progressed, women like Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, Marina Raskova, and Nadezhda Popova contributed to advancements in the field- while also wearing the distinctive and stylish fashions of the day!The Pioneer
The Pioneer by adairjacobs on Polyvore
The defining piece of this aviation pioneer’s look is the on-trend (and historically appropriate!) Burberry shearling coat, which can keep aviators and earthbound civilians alike warm and fashionable. A prim collared blouse paired with a military-style pencil skirt also conjures up images of the ’40s. Practicality is a necessary feature of any aviator’s outfit; and cute vintage-style heels, a leather satchel, and Ray-Ban Aviators fit the bill in this ensemble. But although female aviation pioneers were efficient and capable, they were also always chic- so I added a vibrant Art Deco-esque scarf from Hermes and vintage gold jewellery, plus burgundy nail polish as a finishing touch.  Everything about this ensemble alludes to the early days of aviation, and to the capability and style of the women who advanced this amazing field.