Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter solstice 2016 & sunrises

The winter solstice is on 21 Dec. This is the shortest day and longest night of the year.

The winter solstice is also called 'mid winter'. In meteorology terms in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is the entire period of December through to February. Confusingly though the solstice is the astronomical start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

On 21 Dec the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. The sun's path has reached its southernmost position.

So 21 Dec 2016 is known as midwinter as well as the start of winter!

21 Dec was cloudy in London and the sunrise was not visible. However there had been some nice sunrises a few days before -

08.08 am
07.50 am

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Monday, December 12, 2016

A few Christmas lights in London 2016

A few of the Christmas lights in central London in 2016. Starting in Oxford St. Some of these photos I took 9th Nov, when the lights were already up -

 NSPCC is the charity partner

I was quite disappointed by the Selfridges windows. They were too modern for my liking, showing Father Christmas with very modern scenes. See more on Selfridges www.

The other shops looked nice -

 The Oxford St 'theme' is snow-like decorations -

Moving on to Piccadilly -

The Regent Street lights were only turned on 17th Nov. They featured 'The Spirit of Christmas', each with a 17 m wingspan -

The Hotel Cafe Royal had a hologram of Santa climbing up the building and then Merry Christmas appeared in several different languages.

The Strand lights are London's greenest lights, being powered by a biofuel from cooking oil from London restaurants -

I also saw the traffic lights for Gay Pride 2016 -

See also the tree at Trafalgar Square.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square

The huge Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square in London is an annual tradition. The tree is put up at the beginning of Dec and stays until 6 Jan.

The tree is a gift to the people of Britain from the city of Oslo in Norway. It is in gratitude for British support to Norway during the Second World War. When German forces invaded Norway in 1940 the ruler of Norway, King Haakon VII fled to Britain. In London he established a government-in-exile, which enabled Norway to retain its sovereignty and provided a base for the Norwegian resistance movement.

It was only when I went to Norway this year, 2016, that I realised the connection between Norway and Britain (Alesund visit).

A tree has been given annually since 1947.

It is quite an interesting history of the tree. In November a suitable Norwegian spruce is chosen in Norway. It is cut during a ceremony attended by the British Ambassador to Norway, the Mayor of Oslo, and Lord Mayor of Westminster. The tree is then shipped to Britain and put up in Trafalgar Square.

The tree is usually 50-60 years old and over 20 m tall. However in 2016 the tree was  bigger and older - 116 years old and 28 m high. The lighting ceremony is on the first Thursday in December, which this year was the 1st Dec.

The tree is decorated in traditional Norwegian style, with 500 white lights. This is the tree from 2015, photo taken on Boxing Day -

This year the tree has 900 lights. The tree looks quite slender compared to the ones people have in their houses, but this is a traditional Norwegian fir.

The tree provides a focal point for groups of carol singers collecting for charity. When the tree is taken down around Twelfth Night, the tree is recycled by being chipped and then used as compost for the Parliament Square flower beds.

There is always a crib in Trafalgar Square -
 The National Gallery -

And a few more lights from Central London.