On my recent visit to Belfast, we spent a day exploring the Titanic Quarter of the city. There are several sights to see here, including the SS Nomadic, the Titanic museum, and the Titanic Dry Dock and Pump House. Additionally, we walked past Titanic Studios, where the television series Game of Thrones is being filmed, and we caught views of the two massive yellow cranes nicknamed Samson and Goliath. We arrived straight from Belfast City airport and dropped our luggage off at the hotel on the far side of the city centre before walking to the Titanic Quarter and exploring this area of Belfast. 

The Titanic Museum and SS Nomadic in Hamilton Dock

One of our stops was to Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the RMS Titanic. The museum opened in 2012 and is a new addition to Belfast and explains the story of the Titanic and shipbuilding in Belfast. The exterior of the building is meant to mimic a ship, and it is placed between the slipways used by the Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic, and others refer to it as "The Iceburg". The height of the building mimics the Titanic's height.

Titanic Belfast

The bronze figure (pictured below) in front of the museum is meant to represent the figures that were placed on the front of ships. 

Titanic Belfast 

Inside the museum is a museum is an interactive ride through a fabricated shipyard that explains how the ships were built. There's also stories about some of the notable people aboard the Titanic when it sank. There's also a viewing gallery where you can see video of the wreckage, and just below this is a representation of how the Titanic currently looks on the bed of the sea, but there were some technical difficulties with this when we visited.

Viewing gallery (video of the Titanic wreckage)

There are also replica rooms for first, second, and third classes in the museum as well as the White Star Line cutlery and plates that would have been used in the Titanic. There's also a first class menu of the final meal that they had the evening that the Titanic sank. The grand staircase used in the 1997 Titanic film is also in the museum, but sadly general visitors cannot access this; it is only accessible with booked afternoon tea.

Menu, replica dishes and a first class cabin on the Titanic

Just behind the new Titanic museum is the Olympic Slipway, where the RMS Olympic was built alongside RMS Titanic. This whole area (known as the Titanic Quarter today) used to be busy with ship-building.

At least 4,000 men were involved in building RMS Olympic. Three White Star line ships were built here: Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Olympic was the first of the three. The Olympic was also a luxurious ship and contained a swimming pool, Turkish spa, a palm garden, and several different first class cabin decor styles.

We also visited RMS Titanic's little sister ship and the only surviving White Star Line ship, SS Nomadic. The SS Nomadic was based in Cherboug, France. It was used to ferry passengers from the harbour to cruise ships (like RMS Titanic) that were too large to come into the harbour. The ship was used to ferry passengers, luggage, and other items to the Titanic when it stopped to collect passengers at Cherbourg before heading off to its fateful voyage to America. (It also stopped in Queenstown, Ireland; Queenstown cannot be found on a modern map as it has changed its named to Cobh.) One of the famous passengers that boarded this ship for the Titanic in Cherbough was Molly Brown.

SS Nomadic

We had a guided tour of the ship and were told that the different classes never mingled in that day. First class passengers would never see third class, and even the third class area was considered grand for the time. First class used expensive floor tiles, panel decorations, and a grander staircase. 

First class passenger area

First class bar

Considering this ship was passed around and a restaurant and a casino at one point, it is amazing that it has survived as much as it has. They also had done a great job of restoring it and souring any bits that were missing from the original suppliers, such as the windows. The rennovation had taken awhile, and there was an exhibit on this, and the ship only opened to the public last May.

SS Nomadic

The decks were also separated for each class of people; we were told on the tour that different classes just did not mingle in those days. And the passengers would never see the crew working below the decks. We went up onto the deck and saw the wheel and Titanic Belfast museum.

On board the SS. Nomadic with Titanic Belfast in the background

SS Nomadic is moored in a dry dock, Hamilton Dock. It is near to Titanic Belfast museum. The dry dock's gate (known as a caisson) has been kept and detached and is also located in this dry dock and in front of the SS Nomadic. This was a gate that closed off the dry dock. It is shaped like a ship's hull and is hollow inside so that water can be pumped out of the dock once sealed or drawn back in.

We also went to see Titanic Pump House and Dry Docks, which is located about a fifteen minute walk from Titanic Belfast, and this is where we walked past Titanic Studios where Game of Thrones is partially filmed. The real name of this dock is Thompson Graving Dock, but the Titanic used this dry dock, and the name of the famous ship is used to publicise it. Visitors can imagine the scale of the Titanic by looking at the scale of the dry dock.

Titanic Pump House and Dry Dock

The Thompson Graving Dock was the largest dock in the world in 1911. The length of the dry dock is over 850 feet, and the Titanic and other large cruise ships used this dry dock when they were being fitted out. The pump house could drain the dock (23 million gallons of water) in about 100 minutes. The first ship to use the dry dock was the Olympic.

Titanic Pump House

We took a tour of the the Pump House, which is Victorian in architecture, and watched the video shown inside it to understand how the Pump House works. The video also showed scenes of Titanic in the dock.

Pump House

Pump House

Thompson Graving Dry Docks would have been very busy, and when we walked around the docks, we could hear 'sounds' of an audio recording coming from the dock to try to get a feeling of what it would be like to be there when the docks were a working place.

Belfast was the fastest-growing British city from 1821 to 1901, and the city's population grew three times larger than it was to over 21,000. Linen manufacturing and ship-building were popular industries. In fact, the River Lagan's course was straightened in the 1840s, and this increased ship-building. 

The iron keel blocks that the ships would rest on while in the dry dock remain to this day and are on display. There was a sign next to them, and one block would weigh as much as three cars.

Thompson Graving Dock

There is another dock near to Thompson Graving Dock. It is known as Alexandra Graving dock. Inside this dock is another ship, the first World War cruiser HMS Caroline. It is the second oldest commissioned warship in the Royal Navy; the first is HMS Victory. She was the fastest ship ever built; it took 9 months to build. Most of her time at war was spent in the North Sea and Scapa Flow (Orkney islands) where she was in the Battle of Jutland and is the only surviving ship.

HMS Caroline

Have you visited Belfast and the Titanic Quarter? Let me know what you thought of it, and what was your favourite attraction?

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A Visit to Windsor Castle

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I first visited Windsor Castle in the spring of 1998 with a group of fellow university students and instructors from Ohio University where I was taking courses to get my Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications. Earlier this summer, my parents had come from the states to visit so we decided to make a visit to the castle as they had never been there. I remembered some of the rooms in my last visit all of those years ago, but I don't remember some of other areas and exhibits.

There was a little bit of a wait to get into the castle, and we had rain. We waited patiently under umbrellas as the queue slowly moved. (Yes, tickets can be booked in advance but I did not want to make a booking as I was not sure that we would visit as we also had the boat tour booked: A Boat Trip and Wanderings Around Windsor.)

Front of castle from the street

When we finally were able to get inside, there were views of the castle towers and gardens in the outer area. It was raining off and on, but it did not spoil our visit.

Windsor castle flowers

There are good views of the castle tower.


Around the tower were beautiful gardens with some nice views. We also visited a couple of other exhbitions, such as Queen Mary's doll house. The items are beautiful, and some of them are custom made and very expensive. The doll's house was built in the 1920s. Photographs are not allowed here, the same as in all of the other interior parts of the castle.

Gardens at Windsor Castle


We visited the cathedral within the castle walls, and this is where some of the royal family are buried. We could not take any photographs inside this area, though, or inside the castle. However, we saw views and saw the areas closed to the public where the royal family live, such as the the building below.

Royal family rooms

After the visit to the castle, we walked around the corner to 'The Long Walk' and snapped a few photographs of the front of the castle.

Windsor Castle from 'The Long Walk'

At the end of the day, we decided to have a drink and a snack. We opted for tea on the high street in "The Crooked House" as it was toward the end of the afternoon. We sat by the window and watched the reactions of many tourists who happened to just chance upon the leaning timber-framed house and then reached in their pockets or handbags their camera or mobile phone out to take a photograph of it. I had a hot chocolate and a Victoria Sponge Cake.

Hot chocolate

Victoria sponge cake

We had a fun day out, despite the poor weather, and we managed to see a lot in the castle and in the town. Windsor and Eton (Eton is simply across the river) is a pleasant place to visit. I last visited in mid-December of 2012 when I went to see the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime and explored the Christmas market and city/town of Windsor in snow (covered here: Wintery Windsor).

"The Girl Effect" Street Art

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On Sunday, Brick Lane and the surrounding area will host "The Girl Effect" (http://www.girleffectlive.com) to celebrate women. I captured the Village Underground mural, which I saw in progress earlier in the week. This mural displays "The Power of Girl" in bright colours. As my previous post stated, there is so much going on in London this weekend with Whitecross Street Festival taking place today and tomorrow and "The Girl Effect" taking place tomorrow. Both feature street art, festivals, and music. (JessieJ will be performing at "The Girl Effect".)

The Power of Girl

Unfortunately, I am not going to make it over to London this weekend to take part in the festivals or in any other events taking place at the weekend. (I need a break and commuting to east London every day for the past twenty months has worn me out and I have been feeling particularly exhausted recently.) However, check back for photographs of the aftermath as I will be snapping photographs of any new street art come Monday morning!

Just before "The Girl Effect" mural on the Village Underground was a mural by Woozy, a Greek street artist whose real name is Vaggelis Hoursoglou. 


The work did not last very long, and the work was left in an unfinished state. Anyhow, I have photographed this and a couple of other pieces in east London, and I also included one in the previous entry 'Meeting of Styles' London Street Art Festival 2014. One of the pieces (the last one above) below depicts the Athens Riots a few years ago.

Street Art on Whitecross Street

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Whitecross Street, near the City of London (not far from Bunhill cemetery) and in the borough of Islington, is another area where visitors can find street art. Each year for the past few years, the street hosts a summer street party "The Rise of the Nonconformists". This year, it happens at the weekend coming up (Saturday July 19 and Sunday July 20). Visitors can watch street artists at work, enjoy the street market and street food and enjoy the festival on Whitecross Street. More information can be found on the official website here: http://www.wxstreetparty.co.uk

Street furniture art by Teddy Baden and others

Teddy Baden, Saki, Ben Wilson, Inkie, and HIN are a few of the street artists who plan on being a part of the festival this year. Last summer, I was able to get some photographs of street art by Malarky, Conor Harrington, Teddy Baden, Ronzo, and Don 'Paul' Smith. (I did not attend the festival last year, though, but I saw the aftermath of it!) 

Nemo and Conor Harrington

Conor Harrington

Paul Don Smith

From top left: Ronzo; Nemo; Nemo, Malarky, Teddy Baden

Ben Eine


For those looking for something fun to do at the weekend, visiting the Whitecross street festival may be just what is needed. East London has quite a few events this weekend. Head over to Brick Lane and Shoreditch for an event celebrating women, "The Girl Effect". Have a great weekend!

I visited Aqua Shard to indulge in afternoon tea and appreciate the views. I had some visitors (my parents), and they wanted to go up the Shard to see the views. I suggested afternoon tea, so this was booked in advance to enjoy before we headed off to the Royal Albert Hall to see Star Trek ("Star Trek" at the Royal Albert Hall - Jenikya's Blog). Last year for my birthday, we made a visit to The View from the Shard (the top viewing platform), and pictures from the top can be seen here: 310m Above London: The View from the Shard

Aqua Shard

The views are good, but unfortunately they did not honour my request for a seat next to the window, so we were sat in the middle of the room and could not enjoy the views. That was the first failure. The second was poor service. I kept having to signal to the staff to take our initial order, for top ups on our tea, for extra water for the tea, and for the bill. (Note that it also was not very busy at the time as our reservation was toward the end of the afternoon tea sitting and tables were either empty of becoming empty.) 


We received the sandwiches and got a selection of salmon, chicken, ham, and cucumber. These were served with edible flowers (pansies) and looked pretty. The sandwiches tasted okay. We also had our tea, and I had the Royal Air Force tea. It was alright but not my favourite choice of tea and I wished that I had picked another type.


After sandwiches, we got the three-tier stand filled with scones, pastries and other sweets.

Afternoon tea Aqua Shard

The scones were fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The pasty selection included lemon meringue tart and fruit mille-feuille, and out of everything, the lemon meringue was my favoutie. The pastries tasted a little dry, and they were nowhere near the best that I have had during my visits to other afternoon tea venues.   

Fruit pastries

The main treat featured Shard-shaped opera cake, made with white chocolate and a flakey pastry. Also included were pots of chocolate-coffee with a mousse-like texture. Both of these sweets tasted like coffee, and as I dislike the taste of coffee, I could not finish them. They were disappointing but looked yummy. It's even more disappointing when the food looks nice but doesn't taste nice.

Mini Shard

Afternoon tea sweets

After the afternoon tea was finished, we went to the windows to enjoy the views. We did feel a little like we were intruding around others, but we did request a window seat when I made the original booking and we did want to enjoy the views; in fact many of the seats were empty by this time as it was the end of the afternoon tea sitting.


We also went to the toilets, and these are probably the best views from toilets that I have ever seen. The toilets were located on the south side, so we had views over the southern part of London.

Toilets at Squa Shard

Unfortunately, although the views and food looks nice, I do not recommend afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. We experienced poor service, less-than-average food, and they also did not honour requests when I made the booking. The afternoon tea is expensive for what it is (when compared to other venues), and I did not feel that it was good value for money when compared with other venues.

For those who want to visit to enjoy views, better value would be to go to the viewing platform on the top floor. (I will note that I would try one of the restaurants in the Shard, but I would avoid the afternoon tea and bar area at Aqua Shard, and judging by reviews on TripAdvisor, others have also noted the same issues with the service and the food so I am not alone in these thoughts.) 

Last weekend was the street art event "Meeting of Styles" which saw several street artists paint new murals across several locations in east London. Locations included Pedley Street, Sclater Street, Redchurch Street, Hewett Street, and New Inn Yard. "Meeting of the Styles" takes place in several cities worldwide and is an excuse for street artists to get together and paint and meet each other. Over the weekend, the walls were transformed with new work. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there during the event but I managed to capture several photographs of it on Monday.


Lost Souls, Ryan Kai, XI Design and others transformed Sclater Street.  


Core, Kaes, Masai, BraveOne, Chu and Inkfetish painted the walls on Pedley Street just off of Brick Lane. Some of these, including the one by Inkfetish and Chu, did not last very long. In fact, Inkfetish was annoyed and left a message in response to his work being so quickly painted-over by Graffiti Life. I thought that this would create an outrage as the piece did not last long, and I was actually surprised that Graffiti Life did not wait a little longer to paint over this piece. However, this is the nature of street art. Sometimes even really good pieces do not last long at all. (I do find the one by Chu to be a little offensive, so that is possibly why part of it was painted over.)


The large wall on Pedley Street was painted on with a collaboration of artists (Gent and Vibes and others).


Also on Pedley Street appeared work by Cenz, Rolling People, and others.


Redchurch Street saw new work by Jim Vision, Zadock, and Zina.


Some work was painted off of Great Eastern Street and in a car park there.


I also captured the above on Hewett Street, including a couple of pieces that have been there for a bit longer that I had not captured yet.


Lost Souls also painted, in collaboration with others, near Redchurch Street.


The site of Shakespeare's theatre in New Inn Yard was also a location, and Cenz, Dank and others painted there.


On the Monday morning after the event, I captured the above work in progress.


Brainwaithe Street near Shoreditch High Street station saw a lot of new pieces by various artists.


And the car park on Sclater Street saw some new work painted onto its walls.

New Lion Street Art by Faith47

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Artist Faith47 was in London recently and painted a couple of new street art murals new Brick Lane. Exotic animals feature often, and last summer she painted tigers near on of the current spots. I covered this here: Street Art: Faith47, Cernesto, Rolling People, Edwin, and many more. "Marauders - the strong and the weak" is the title of one of the murals. Both feature male lions.


New Street Art by JimmyC

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New artwork by JimmyC (more of his work can be seen here: Street Art: JimmyC - Jenikya's Blog) appeared in London this year. One piece appeared near Petticoat Lane Market on the side of a pub. It is made using coloured dots of paint lumped together to create light and shadow and other features. One of the most famous pieces by the artist appeared in 2012 with a portrait of Olympic runner Usain Bolt.


Several of the new pieces around east London included splotches of paint drops. Some of these were shaped as hearts (as the one photographed below) with the artist's name underneath some of them.


DumDum Doughnuts (Shoreditch, London)

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Located in Shoreditch's Box Park is a donutterie (a shop that sells doughnuts). (Note that I prefer the spelling 'doughnuts' as opposed to the lazy spelling 'donuts'.) These doughnuts are baked instead of fried. The shop's website is: http://dumdums.co.uk. I wandered in, lured by the display just inside the door of a selection of doughnuts. 

Wimbledon Cronut

Not only do DumDum Doughnuts sell doughnuts, but they also sell cronuts. Cronuts are the doughnut/croissant hybrid. I tried one of these last year as there were only a couple of shops selling them in London at the time as they were new, but I was not too impressed. I decided to try one of the Wimbledon cronuts, pictured above. They look delicious, and the cronut had layers of cream and strawberry jam inside it with a strawberry on top. The pastry is slightly flakey and made well, but this was a mess to eat. Unfortunately, I still do not understand the cronut craze; I prefer doughnuts or croissants (separately).

DumDum doughnuts

I also tried the cream-filled doughnut. The doughnut tastes heavier and the cream and pastry was lighter and not as sweet as fried doughnuts. The doughnuts were fresh and good quality, but I felt myself wanting them to be a little sweeter. I know I am craving sugar at the moment, which isn't a good thing, and when I do cut sugar out of my diet and have something sweet again, I find it overwhelming and too sweet. I think I'd give these doughnuts a try again once I have weened myself off of the sugar overdose that I've been having for the last couple of years.

Brazilian artist Cranio (Street Art: Cranio - Jenikya's Blog) recently painted the popular wall on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch with a mural of his blue 'Indian' characters. The artist was in London earlier this year and painted a few walls before disappearing for a few months. This time, he was back in time for the World Cup and ended up painting the mural or Great Eastern Street twice. The first artwork shows his characters in their village.


The second is a mural about the World Cup. Unfortunately, this one was tagged over very quickly before I could get any close-ups. It also was unfinished as the last panel in the four was left unpainted. 


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