“Come lets paint the town yellow!”; conspired all the Amaltas trees in City Beautiful Chandigarh. Sure enough the city is bathed in a vibrant yet very pleasant golden shower of flowers on rows and rows of the beautiful Golden shower trees, also called Amaltas or Cassia Fistula. A feast for the eyes and a balm for the senses, the beauty of the flowers is a talking point and a much desired distraction from the intense summer heat. Flowering is at its peak from mid May to the beginning of June. The ornamental amaltas flower is much revered in the Indian subcontinent, especially in Kerala, where it is the state flower. Also, its the national flower of Thailand. For me , I’m just content to have several of these trees landscaping the wide roads of Chandigarh, adding to its beauty and enhancing the green cover. Here I share with you some pictures, clicked on a lazy summer afternoon which got a new lease of life with this view! Its almost as if the city is in a jubilant mood.
We are fortunate to experience varied seasons in our country. Currently, we are enjoying spring in all its glory. The days are longer and warmer. The evenings are breezy and balmy. These pictures reflect the mood on a busy street in the market place. Ice-cream, milkshake and juice are welcome along with long walks!
London is most definitely one of my favourite cities in the world. There are several reasons for this love. It is clean and it is green. London is packed with history and truly a heritage city, with every building in almost every nook and corner having a story to tell. The weather may be unpredictable, but for me being an Indian, I love the English summer as it is still pleasantly cold for me as opposed to a 40 degree centigrade temperature or above in my home town in peak summers. The food and the shopping are simply irresistible! The fact that it is fairly easy to commute also deserves a mention. London boasts of one of the world’s best underground railway or ‘tube’ network. Once you have gone through the tube map and understand the working nothing can hold you back from exploring the city.
Being fortunate to be able to visit London ( and several other beautiful places in the UK) quite often, especially during the summers, I suppose I’m in a position to be able to share my thoughts on what one must carry along and must do in London this summer! So here’s my list-
- Comfortable walking shoes : If you really wish to explore London you must have a great pair of walking shoes. Most of the famous tourist places , especially in central London are within stone’s throw of each other. But that’s figuratively speaking. You actually have to walk to move from one tourist attraction to another. For instance if you reach Oxford Street by car or tube, you may park the car and easily walk to either the British Museum or Buckingham Palace. (I may assure you that its much better to go by tube or cab rather than your own car because parking is difficult to find and will be quite expensive. At times one may have to pay congestion charges as well.) All the famed regular tourist places like Trafalgar square, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus may easily be covered by foot, provided you’re wearing great comfortable shoes, period.
- Selfie Stick/ Camera and Sunscreen: Ah! The london summer is beautiful! With roses in full bloom , the boxes of freshly picked deep crimson strawberries in street kiosks ready to be devoured; and with the sun casting an inviting golden glow all around, who wants to remain indoors? So pick up that DSLR or selfie stick to use along with your smart phone and click away to glory! After all you are creating and preserving memories that you shall cherish even long after the holiday is over. In fact I really understood the importance of the selfie stick on my recent trip. Along with my family, I was in front of the Buckingham palace gates at sharp 11 o’clock to catch the Change of Guard ceremony. But there was this huge rush at the palace and practically nothing was visible because of this big ‘human’ wall obstructing the view. Then I noticed that some people were really smart, waving their smart phones up in the air atop the selfie sticks higher above that human wall and recording the whole event! Soon there were almost as many selfie sticks as people around.
- Go off-Beat: If it is your first visit to London, then you may tread the usual route, that is visiting the usual tourist attraction places like museums, Big Ben, Tower hill. London Eye, Madame Tussauds, etc. Fair enough! But if this is perhaps your second or third visit to this capital city or even if you have sufficient time on your first visit why not go a bit off beat? Some suggestions would be to visit the beautiful gardens that London has to offer. Regent Park is breathtakingly fabulous with the most beautiful hyacinths, roses, and other seasonal flowers in full bloom. This time I just can’t stop going gaga over the most amazing St. James park ( one of the Royal Gardens) . a true nature lovers park, it is a sight for sore nerves, with a variety of pelicans, ducks and other water birds making it a very lively place. Another garden which i highly recommend is Kew Garden. Its sprawling, and to cover it I would need to write a separate piece. Other suggestions include going in for a tea-tasting experience , watching a play or if you are a foodie head straight to the Borough market.
- Shopping: London is a fashion capital, and by jove, Londoners are indeed quite fashionable. In london you are really spoilt for choice in terms of the variety available in clothes,shoes, handbags and cosmetics. You can also shop for world class home decor pieces and artifacts. Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street and Harrods are some of the popular places which tourists often throng to shop to your hearts content. You may go offbeat here too – London has some amazing shopping outlets which offer real value for your money, like the London Designer Outlet at Wembley and McArthurGlen which is tax free. There are some more places too, but I do like to keep some secrets with me. So this summer in London, do some homework before you go!
- Travel Insurance and Basic Medicines: Well this point is valid wherever in the world you may travel. Its for your own security and safety. Although some basic medicines like throat lozenges, painkillers, eye drops may be bought over the counter at times from stores like Boots. Sunscreen is a must. when you are are enjoying the summer sun, remember to be kind to your skin.
Your comments on this article are welcome. If you like this article please share some love!
All pictures are clicked by the author and her family , and may not be used without prior permission.
What could be a better start to the evening than a comforting and wholesome fig and corn salad garnished with fresh basil leaves. My sister has a farm close to chandigarh and I had to visit her today for some work. She insisted that I pick some figs to take back home. I really must thank her, because the figs were beautifully ripe, succulent and juicy, and immensely inviting in their deep purple colour. Along with these I also plucked some fresh basil leaves and the idea to make a tasty salad had already popped in my head. The result was just as I expected- worthy of sharing the recipe! God bless my sister.
The dictionary defines a salad as something that is served cold. But over a period of time the concept of a salad seems to have evolved and we can have salads that can be devoured warm as well as cold. This particular salad tastes great when it is warm! Besides being tasty and super quick to make its very healthy and packed with nutrition. Its a delicious salad to perk up your summer evening. So, here goes the recipe!
Warm Fig and Corn Salad with Basil (Serves 4)
- 1 large onion chopped into small pieces
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 cup of juicy corn kernels
- 1 large carrot peeled and cut into small pieces
- 5 figs, halved or quartered ( or more if you like)
- About ten to fifteen basil leaves
- Fresh coriander leaves
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Balsamic vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a pan, but don’t let it overheat. add the garlic
and saute for half a minute. Now add the chopped onion and continue to stir fry till they become translucent and just begin to caramelize. Add carrots and corn kernels (The corn kernels can be pre- cooked in a microwave with 2 tsp water on high for about 1 minute). Stir fry for about 1 minute more. Transfer the veggies to the serving plate. Now place the halved figs flat side down in the same pan. Add a few more drops of olive oil. cook for 1 minute and turn the sides and cook for 30 seconds more. Transfer to serving plate. Drizzle some honey over the figs. Garnish with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!