Posts Tagged ‘London goes yellow in support of Marie Curie Cancer Care’

marie curie great daffodil appeal

daffodils for Marie Curie

Today dawned bright and early and I heaved a sigh of relief.  I was scheduled to do an hour’s stint for Marie Curie UK in Hampstead in the afternoon as part of the Great Daffodil Appeal, and I was thankful it wasn’t raining.   I have never done something like this before and felt quite excited.

At 12noon I headed off for the bus and in due course arrived at my destination in Belsize Park.  I had intended walking across the Heath to Hampstead and make my way from there, but for some reason I misread the map and thought I would not be able to get there in time. So used the bus instead. Of course once I was on the bus, I had a proper look at the map and realised I could easily have done it. Ah well.

I arrived full of the joys of spring and bounced into the fund-raising office where I made the acquaintance of the lovely Emma with whom I had previously corresponded.  The ladies in the office are lovely.  Then it was time to kit up and before I knew it I looked like a very poor imitation of old Mother Hubbard.

heeheehee!!! dont I look just marvellous!!! not! certainly not going to influence fashion in any way

Hahahaha! what a scream. The hat was way too big for my head and kept slipping down over my face, eventually I had to fold my ears over at the top to hold the rim!!!   Before I even left the offices I had tipped all my daffodils onto the floor.   Amidst gusts of laughter at my clumsiness we picked them up and then I started off; looking scary enough to make babies cry!

In no time at all I was in Hampstead and proceeded to tempt passersby with my wares.  What a great exercise in human observation.

First off I would like to say that people are really generous and lovely and I had some great interactions with folks who came over just to put money into my bucket with no expectation of return.  I was surprised by two young lads of about 13 years or so, who came over and contributed.  I got to chat to young and old alike, making many of them laugh with my exhortations of “can I interest you in a daffodil” or “step on over folks for the latest in spring fashion accessories….buy a daffodil” 🙂

It was great fun.  It was interesting being on the ‘other’ side of the bucket for a change, and I made many observations.  It pleased me greatly that many people came over, sometimes making a journey across the road just so that they could contribute and get their daffodil.  I would say about 70% of people were more than happy to contribute.  Some people just wanted to donate without wanting anything in return. Others were more than generous.  Some people just laughed at me and commented that they were sitting ducks, yet more than happy to make a contribution. One elderly gentleman looking very dapper with a bow-tie and waistcoat came over to chat, and another bloke stopped to show me the scar on his head from a brain op to remove a tumour.  One lady stopped to buy a daffodil and told me how they were fund raising for a friend who had cancer.

On the other side of the coin, so to speak, many people avoided eye contact at any cost. Many just looked right through me as if I had not even spoken, and others brushed me off with annoyance. Lots of folk went by with a ‘I’ll get one on my way back’ and never appeared again. Perhaps they went by after I had gone.  Others did indeed come back with change to buy their daffodil.  On the whole I would say it was a very positive experience and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Definitely something to add to my list of ‘things to do’ for the future.

If you would like to find out more about the Marie Curie Cancer Care organisation click here They do a brilliant job and I recall in 2003 they cared for one of my clients when she was dying. Not only do they support the patient but they support the families too.

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marie curie great daffodil appeal 2011

...And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.

So a couple of weeks ago I decided to participate in the Marie Curie UK ‘Great Daffodil Appeal’ that was due to launch on March 1st.  I love daffodils and they are my 2nd favourite flower after yellow roses, which is brilliant, coz here in the UK they are prolific at the start of spring.  A fabulous burst of bright sunny yellow to brighten even the darkest days at the tail-end of winter.
I usually buy a daffodil pin from Marie Curie each year (now have quite a few 🙂 ) and this year I decided that as part of my increased ‘contribution’ drive I would register to do a stint as a ‘Daffodil’ lady and be a ‘collector’.  My chosen patch is in Hampstead Village and I will be there on March 11th for an hour between 1-2pm 🙂   So cool, it’s gonna be great fun and I am so looking forward to the day.    I get to wear a yellow apron and a great big yellow hat too, so should look fabulous at fifty!! hahahaha. (Okay, okay dissenters in the troops, I know I am not 50 anymore……)

fab at fifty+

Anyhow, as usual I digress.  So back to the daffodils. I connected with Marie Curie on facebook and twitter and a few days later noticed a status update to say that in support of ‘The Great Daffodil Appeal’, London would #goyellow for one night only on March 1st!!!! whoo hoo. Get ya boots on girl!! However, since it is not easy for me to get time off, especially at night, I thought I would most likely have to miss it….again!!!  I have missed so many of this type of event the last few years, but lucky me…..as things turned out that night, I could take off and go #walkabout to get photos for my collection….awesome if I may say!

I had a fab time whizzing about and covered a large area within the two hours I had available to me.

I started my journey at London Bridge (quickly becoming another of my favourite places in London).  I arrived there at 6.31pm and spent a bit of time taking photos of the bridge and buildings in the area. I am totally loving Number 1 London Bridge, such a fantastic building.  From there I made my way along Queen’s Walk past amongst others, the London Bridge Hospital and Cotton’s Centre which looks totally gorgeous at night.

cottons centre southwark

the Cotton's Centre, Southwark

It’s such a great area to walk along and if you continued straight along you would reach Tower Bridge.

The night was by now quite dark and the lights glittered brightly on the water. I kinda took my time at this stage and felt as if I had the whole evening ahead of me!  There were lots of people about, striding along, strolling, meandering, standing tight in corners kissing and ahugging! 🙂

London is such a people city.

I strolled along the promenade and then voila! There she was…. HMS Belfast at her moorings, looking ghostly and  surreal; bathed in a yellow glow.

hms belfast

HMS Belfast moored on the River Thames, London

I faffed around taking photos, sending a twitpic and a tweet to say where I was when suddenly I heard the chimes of the hour!!! 7pm already!!!   What?   I only just got here!   This also meant that I was now 15 minutes behind schedule and it was time to get a move on!
Making my way back from whence I had come, I strode along with purpose towards Southwark Cathedral which was looking ethereal in the night light, albeit not bathed in yellow.

Southwark Cathedral, London

I am so loving this part of London, the cobbled lanes and alleys of Southwark – lined with buildings that crouch brooding in the dark, lamp-posts cast pools of flickering light that dance and chase the shadows, dark corners, ancient ruins, riverside pubs, historical and modern side-by-side creating a tapestry of mystery and excitement.  This ancient area is a mix of very old and very new, neighbours that span centuries, comfortable together in their present incarnation.

modern buildings like phoenix rise.....

The scenery along this part of the Thames Path is wonderful and along the way I passed some of our iconic bridges and buildings, enjoying the night lights dancing on the Thames.  The Thames tide was out and the air icy cold.  By now my fingers had begun to curl with the cold and standing in one spot to type up my tweets was an exercise in restraint……the temptation to pop into the warm welcoming doorways of the riverside pubs and cafes was huge.

St Paul's Cathedral - ethereal in the night light

As I strode along I kept my eye on the profile of St Paul’s looming larger the closer I got.  It is such a beautiful building and looked quite ethereal and mysterious from afar.  The Millenium Bridge now faintly visible in the night light, a beautiful structure and the latest of the Thames bridges crossing from north to south, a gateway to St Paul’s Cathedral from Bankside.

the Millenium Bridge gateway to St Paul's Cathedral from Bankside

I finally passed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, then Tate Modern after a brief diversion onto Millenium Bridge to take a couple of photos of St Paul’s and the river.

St Paul's Cathedral viewed from the Millenium Bridge

Took a  few minutes to send a tweet….despite the cold.  By now I was way behind schedule!   I do wish I could just walk and not get diverted by all the gorgeous things I see along the way.  Under normal circumstance the Thames Path runs pretty much right alongside the river through London central, with the occassional flight of stairs to ascend, a road to traverse, then a descent back onto the path, that mostly runs beneath bridges and in the open along promenades both narrow and wide.

along the Thames Path

So the idea last night was to do just that.  I made good progress till……..disaster! Blackfrair’s Railway Bridge; currently under refurbishment; and unbeknownst to me, the stairs were sealed off!  Urgh!!

Blackfriar's New Bridge November 6th, 1869

 With no other choice but to make a long diversion at a very fast pace, my toes protesting mightily, I finally got back onto the path, now seriously behind time, but I knew that just around the corner was my next goal The National Theatre and then EDF London Eye.

Whizzing along now at great speed my eye on the clock ticking merrily away, I finally reached The National Theatre.  I could see the great granite block all lit up but sadly could not find a suitable position to make a decent photo.  However, I did what I could, sent off a pic and a tweet, and then without further ado I scooted off round the corner to the London Eye, my next stop 🙂

the London Eye....yes it is a bit blurry...I was shivering with cold!!

What a sight; it looked fabulous. The photos I took at the venue were sadly quite blurred, but in my defense it was really chilly and despite the fast pace, I was shivering.  Nevertheless as I made my way across Westminster Bridge, Big Ben enticing me on, I stopped briefly for a view that is truly one of my absolute favourites…..and looking back……there it was looking brilliant, bathed in yellow; the London Eye in all her glory, stealing the limelight from the London County Hall crouched just beside.

London Eye and London County Hall bathed in yellow

By now it was 7.52pm

7.52PM - Big Ben

and I was seriously running out of time….I had to be on the train home by 8.30 and I still had Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus to get to.  Thankfully the route along Whitehall is a relatively quick walk between Big Ben and my next stop……Trafalgar Square! Wow! The fountains were uplit with yellow and looked absolutely splendid.

fountain at Trafalgar Square - the photo doesn't do it justice

I quick-stepped up the stairs, sent a pic and a tweet, then at an increased pace made my way past the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and into Leicester Square, thence to Piccadilly Circus!

Hooray!   At just after 8pm I finally reached my final destination…. Piccadilly Circus. 🙂

There on the board was the bright yellow of Marie Curie’s logo and details.

Piccadilly Circus and the Marie Curie 'Great Daffodil Appeal' 🙂

Sadly I missed the 7pm switch-on when the whole of the board was lit up with yellow, but I would never have made all of the stops if I hadn’t started at the other end of town at 6.30.

I had just enough time for a few photos and then back to Leicester Square for the train home.  Piccadilly Circus was vibrant with energy, a kaleidoscope of colour, the endless flow of traffic, a mix of locals and visitors either milling about, rushing along or lingering, taking photos, sitting on the steps chatting, a swirling pool of noise and laughter filled the air.  A fine end to a fun evening.

Then a quick walk back along Leicester past the Trocadero, the Prince of Wales Theatre, through Leicester Square, the garden area now boarded up and ‘Getting Ready for 2012’ (and the London Olympics) and so to the tube and home! (p.s. and it took me longer to prepare this blog than the whole #walkabout!! 🙂 )

leicester square getting ready for 2012

Leicester Square - Getting Ready for 2012

So there you have it, and in my defense…..my mother did drop me on my head when I was a baby. 🙂           
You know of course that you are either born mad or get dropped on the head…..mine was the latter! (Seriously!)

What a great life!!  And just to finish it off, I have included the wonderful poem by William Wordsworth:

“Daffodils” (1804)
I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

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