The Poppies at The Tower of London

The Poppies at The Tower of London

Dear Mummy, you were so glad you had an opportunity to go up to London last weekend and see the Poppies at The Tower of London before they were all taken down. You visited the major art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London, which marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

The poppy installation progressively filled the Tower’s moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. (extended until the end of November due to so many people wanting to see them) Famous people had visited the site too, including the The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister David Cameron, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry to name a few. They all planted a poppy and paid their respects. By the time it reached the 11th November the art installation was in full glory. Helicopters took pictures from the sky, it gained international coverage as the moat looked filled with blood, against the grey dull skies of London.

We started our adventure at London Bridge following the masses across The Thames, stopping to take quick photos as we’ve never been here before. It’s very crowded and we can see the Tower of London ahead, lots of people are looking over the railings to take photographs. People from all over the world have visited today to catch a glimpse of this historic art installation.

The Thames side of the Tower still has a sea of red filling its moat, however, on the city side, volunteers are busy at work carefully removing them, large wooden hoarding blocks the view from the city and queues of tourists fill the tube station and the roads.

 

Poppies at The Tower of London

We didn’t have time to see the installation in its full glory, all 888,246 ceramic poppies, created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. It seems after Remembrance Day everyone is here to see them! It’s very busy and crowds are drawn to The Tower of London to see the splash of red. We saw the remnants of them, half of them had gone last weekend, but it was still an awe inspiration sight. Stage designer Tom Piper who designed the installation did a fantastic job! Creating a waterfall of poppies cascading down from one of the windows (The weeping window) and the big splash, as my mummy likes to call it (pictured). The potters at Paul’s Cummins studio used techniques which were utilised by potters during the First World War to hand-make (Yes HAND-MAKE!!!) every single one of them! Woweee Mummy that’s a lot of man hours to create all those poppies! A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into making those ceramic poppies, but it couldn’t even come close the sacrifices of the servicemen and women those poppies represented. You see each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. Seeing them all in one place is truly shocking and sad, my mummy imagines the poppies as a sea of faces and gets scared to look at them for a time, brushing away her tears, while tourists were scrambling around her for a better view.

My mummy thinks it will be a sad day when the final one is taken out, however on the bright side these poppies have found loving homes with families across the world and they will be treasured like the people they represent. Berkshire cadet Harry Hayes, 13 “planted” the final poppy…She wonders who will be the person to remove the last one?

Tower-of-London

All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities. The BBC reported that it was thought the sales could raise in excess of £15m which is great news for the charities listed below.

Cobseo

Combat Stress

Coming Home

Help for Heroes

The Royal British Legion

SSAFA

The poppies encircled the iconic landmark and it was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration, even in all the hustle and bustle my mummy manages to bow her head in respect and take a time-out.

My mummy and Daddy are part of an estimated 5 million people who have seen the poppies so far..but don’t despair if you haven’t had the chance to see them! Thousands of poppies will go on tour before being permanently based at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester. So you may get a chance to glimpse and pay your respects.

For more information visit http://poppies.hrp.org.uk

A humbling day out.

Love Bella…..oh and Mummy & Daddy x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Soldiers’ Journey at Milestones Museum

Soldiers’ Journey at Milestones Museum

November 2014

Dear mummy, it’s not often that we attend a historical exhibition and this week we feel that we are really witnessing something special.

Every year we honour Remembrance Day, we hold our minutes silence, wear our poppies and remember the brave heroes that fought in the First World War for our country, however this year is different.

As it’s the 100th year anniversary of the First World War, people up and down the country are celebrating our heroes by holding events to commemorate our fallen.

The most famous of these is the Poppy Display at The Tower of London, an art installation to mark each and everyone that gave up their lives to spare ours by ceramic artist Paul Cummins.

Closer to home, Hampshire are commemorating the centenary year by celebrating across our county. Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914, is a website dedicated to showcasing events and exhibitions marking the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. It’s a great resource that lists local events and exhibitions taking place throughout 2014 and into 2015. The Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 website also shares personal stories that help viewers to understand Hampshire’s unique role in the conflict and provide previews of the forthcoming exhibitions.

Little did I know that Hampshire played such a critical role in the First World War, millions of soldiers headed to Hampshire to start their travels to join the conflict. Both my mummy and I wanted to gain a greater understanding of what people experienced during the war.  My mummy has watched war films, documentaries and attended the War & Peace Show but we wanted to immerse ourselves in an interactive experience. Bored of stuffy museums (which aren’t really child friendly) we headed to Hampshire’s Living History Museum, Milestones in Basingstoke. The last time we visited Milestone we saw the Lego Lost World down there!

Milestones is playing host to the ‘Soldiers’ Journey’ which is part of Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 – a series of exhibitions to mark the centenary of the First World War. Soldiers’ Journey is an interactive exhibition designed to help kids understand what it would have been like to live in Hampshire during the First World War. Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 had recommended this exhibition as family friendly, so we travelled back to the streets of wartime Hampshire at Milestones. To see Hampshire’s Home Front from a new perspective. Milestones is full of old-fashioned streets, vehicles and shops and is the perfect setting for this new type of exhibition.

Soldiers-Journey-1We follow two fictional characters, Tom and Emily, around the museum to help solve the mystery of a suspicious stranger…is he a German spy? On the way we meet soldiers from across the world and hear their stories via video and pop-up displays and life-size talking illustrations. During the school holidays and weekends live costumed actors talk to the public as well, which added to the whole experience. We even had the chance to play dress up too, by squeezing ourselves into old fashion nurses outfits and soldiers uniforms.

On entry to Milestones we were given a copy of Tom’s Diary which leads us through the war years, pausing at ‘story stops’ where we completed tasks and learnt about life in First World War Hampshire. We were also given pencils to fill in the worksheets in the diary, an audio guide and a map of Milestones.

We spent 3 hours following Tom and Emily around, occasionally stopping for a dance on the bandstand, a drink in the local pub and spend some pennies in the old-fashioned arcades. It’s a very educational and fun experience, perfect for attending this November. My favourite part was pressing the audio buttons on the displays and hearing the people talk and tell stories. Mummy loved the cardboard cut-outs of the characters and the drawings. Tom’s diary was also very easy and fun to follow and a lovely keepsake of the day.

Milestones Post OfficeAfterwards we visited Milestones old-fashioned post office, where you can dress up and post letters in their very own fully working store (You will need a key for this room from the information centre) they like to keep it in good working order. I enjoy listening to the audio description of the shops in the Milestones too! And wore the audio guide around my neck to listen to it. We finished off with tea and biscuits in the great little 1950’s cafe at Milestones and browsed around the extensive gift shop. My mummy bought me some stickers which kept me amused on the way home.

If you want to give your family a fun but educational overview to remember and celebrate the centenary year of the First World War, then we would highly recommend a visit to ‘Soldiers’ Journey’ at Milestones.

Soldiers’ Journey runs from Tuesday 5 August 2014 until Sunday 11 January 2015.

£8.95, Concessions £7.95, Child £5.25, Family £26.75

Love Bella x