St. Bartholomew-the-Great Church in London

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The City of London used to be filled with churches, but many of these had perished in the Great Fire and many more that were rebuilt at this time have long gone - damaged and destroyed by falling bombs during World War II or demolished to build up London's businesses. Visitors to London can see blue plaques on the sides of some buildings informing them that a church used to exist on the site and that it was demolished in a particular year. St. Bartholomew-the-Great is one of the oldest (built in 1123) surviving churches in London and it was lucky to have survived the catastrophes that brought down the other churches. 


One of the entrance ways to the church miraculously survived fire and bombs. In fact, a zepplin air raid caused damage to St. Batholomew's hospital, which is located right outside this gatehouse. The damage can still be seen on the walls of the hospital. This same air raid damaged the building work that covered up this beautiful Elizabethan timber-framed gatehouse. This small glimpse with more modern buildings around it gives a glimpse into how London would have looked in older times.  


Through the gatehouse is the main entrance to St. Batholomew-the-Great. If you stand with your back to the archway, the hospital is just to your left and the covered wholesale meat market Smithfield's is directly to the right. This contains a plaque to Scottish freedom-supporter William Wallace, who was killed here after he was captured by the English. (This area, along with Tyburn River - near the current location of Marble Arch - was a place of execution.) Directly in front is a green area in the middle of a roundabout, and this is where several Protestants were killed by being burned to death in fires by Catholic Queen Mary. Such a nice place is London!

This is the area of Smithfield Market (read more about the meat market at Smithfield Market), where cattle and other animals were brought to be butchered. As a result, the area was filthy with cow mess, stench, blood and innards which were not properly drained away. Complaints were often lodged against drunken herdsmen and stampeding cattle, which would sometimes damage property.

We saw an information historical board about wife-selling at Smithfield Market, in the days when divorce was not common and too expensive. Yes, men could sell their wives if they were unhappy, but both husband and wife had to agree to this. Some wives also wanted to be sold. More about the practice of wife-selling in old England can be read here:


After stepping underneath the archway, the church is directly in front. Some gravestones are lined up in the patch of green area around the church. The church was 2-3 pounds per adult to enter. The interior was altered a little bit as the area around the church changed, and at one point, the church was abandoned.

South aisle

We paid the entrance fee and entered St. Bartholomew-the-Great. We admired the brickwork and the tiles and the old age of the church. The church is also meant to be one of the most haunted, as this area of London is the most haunted.


Medieval floor tiles could be seen in one corner in the east ambulatory. Also, in the picture below, note the old brickwork inside the archway. 


St. Bartholomew-the-Great has been used in the following films: Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Right outside the church is the street named Cloth Fair, which was named after Batholomew Fair in the land outside and where part of the Smithfield Market is now built. (Note that the market building is a newer and Victorian construction; the market itself was open fields and land.) Bartholomew Fair was held annually by the monks to raise income for St. Bartholomew's, and it was essentially a cloth fair. It was the largest of its kind in Europe and attracted international merchants. The fair would attract street performers (wild animals, musicians, puppets, acrobats, prize-fighters, wire-walkers, freaks) and crime. The fair was held on St. Bartholomew's Day until 1855, and it was shut because of the public disorder. (More about the fair can be read here:

Alex Chinneck's Melting House

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Yesterday, I headed over to Southwark Street in South London to see Alex Chinneck's "A Pound of Flesh for 50p" (also known as "The Melting House") before it is removed at the end of the month. The artwork is part of the Merge Arts Festival this year. A week or so ago, I published another entry featuring the artist's work: Covent Garden Floating Building Art by Alex Chinneck.


The melting house has been in its location not far from London Bridge and near a railway bridge (40 Southwark Street) for almost a month now.


The building appears to melt over the course of the month as the bricks are made from wax and clay and engineered to melt, with some assistance (heat applied).


The importance of the wax used in the construction is historical. On this area of bankside was a candle-making factory.



More information on this artwork and additional artwork by the artist can be seen here: 

Blackfriar's Road currently hosts an upside-down house, which was a previous commission by the artist for the festival.

UK 2014 Glossybox Review: October

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In July, I subscribed to beauty subscription box Glossybox, and the last three months of reviews are located here: UK 2014 Glossybox Reviews: July, August, September. The Glossybox subscription box contains samples (and sometimes full-size products) of make-up, skincare, and other beauty items.


October's box theme for Glossybox is "Pop Art", and the box came with some full-size products (such as SoSusan mascara and Ciaté nail polish) and sample sizes of other products. Each box contained a full-size NUXE product. I loved the box design this month. Each subscriber got one limited edition box design. (From what I can see, the illustrations are the same, but the "Pop Art" woman's shirt and hair are a different colour.) The cardboard box that this box came in was also decorated in "Pop Art" design.


Below are the items I received in October's Glossybox box. Overall, I am farly happy with the products this month. This box includes a nice range of make-up, skin care, and fragrance.

NUXE Crème Fraîche® beauty mask: This 24-hour moisturising mask is meant to soothe and freshen skin. I love the honeysuckle smell of this product, and it brought back childhood memories of summery June evenings. Honeysuckle is quite possibly my favourite fragrance. The product melted into my skin within the ten minutes.

Être Belle Cosmetics lip peel: This lip exfoliator removes dead skin to create soft lips. This is the time of year that my lips tend to dry out a little bit, so this is a welcome product in my box, but I prefer my Mary Kay (satinlips) brand that I felt is a little more effective in doing the job.

So Susan Flutter Mascara: According to information about the product, two coats of mascara give you dark, curly lashes. The changes are a little more subtle than similar products, and at least the product does not cake on (and then get onto my cheekbones or underneath my eyes when I blink). 

Ciaté London paint pot (in talent scout): The bright colours are inspired by pop art. The colour is thick, but I needed two coats of the polish to cover my nails. I am not too sure about the dark purple colour, but perhaps it will grow on me after a couple more days. I do think this goes best with jeans and a casual top.

Yves Rocher Queleues Notes d'Amour: This perfume came in the cutest little bottle, and it's a decent size for a fragrance. I like the scent and do not currently own a similar scent, which is slightly odd because I do have a small hoard of perfumes. The scent is damascus rose and guaiac wood, and I'm not sure if I could ever pick those scents out on their own.

Rimmel London BB Cream Matte: This facial sun protection cream gives skin a matte finish. I generally am not into this type of product, and the colour is too dark for my skin.

A Weekend in Belfast

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I visited Belfast at the end of May, and surprisingly, the weather was nice for the majority of my time there. Exploring the city was the first part of our nearly two-week long holiday (a road trip vacation) in Ireland. There's quite a lot to do and see here, and I could have spent about one more day here, but this holiday road trip was mainly about spending a little time in each place and seeing as much as possible before heading off to the next place. 

I have separated some of the attractions into various posts as there is so much to see. You have probably already read these, but if not, the list is below:

Belfast along the river from the Titanic Quarter

The first place we headed for after dropping our bags off at the hotel was the Titanic Quarter. Our hotel was on the opposite side of the city centre, so we walked down the main street and over the bridge, catching glimpses of several attractions along the way, including the tiled blue and white fish located on the banks of the river. This tiled sculpture is actually a salmon, and it is named 'Bigfish', and the artist is John Kindness. On closer inspection, the fish is made of tiled images and newspaper clippings that celebrate Belfast's history.

'Bigfish' by John Kindness 

'Bigfish' is located near Custom House Square. In the past, Custom House Square was a busy quayside and filled with moored ships; it was also used as a "Speaker's Corner" and attracted large crowds. Today, the square is a meeting-place where events are held sometimes, and it is an attractive place with jumping fountains, beautiful old pubs, a clock tower, and an attractive-looking Custom House (built in 1857 and the building which the square is named after). In fact, the River Farset lies underneath the road and under the jumping fountains. At the river's end of the square is Belfast's oldest drinking fountain, and it was used by people and horses.

Custom House Square

The clock tower, named the Albert Memorial Clock, is also located in Custom House Square. The clock tower was built in 1865 to commemorate the death of Prince Albert. As you may be able to see in the photograph below, the tower does lean slightly, and it has been corrected so that the lean does not get any worse than it already is!

Albert Memorial Clock

A small footbridge over the river leads to the Titanic Quarter, the site of Belfast's historic dockyard. The footbridge has many locks of love chained upon it. One of them read a lady's secret in that she planned to propose to her boyfriend in June and he had no idea! I wonder how the proposal went.

Locks of Love

From the Titanic Quarter and in many places in Belfast, visitors can always spot the two giant yellow cranes. They are a prominent fixture of the city. They are located in the Harland and Wolff shipyard, and they are named 'Samson and Goliath'. Unfortunately, I was not happy with my photographs of the cranes to include them, but I did get several photographs on the river banks. This was a pleasant walk along the river, and there are several tourist information boards dotted around to read up on Belfast's history.

Titanic Belfast

The Titanic Quarter has been regenerated recently, and there are some new flats and a large entertainment complex known as Odyssey. More plans with offices and housing seem to be in the pipeline, and in my opinion, the area could use restaurants to cater for the tourist trade. A tourist can easily spend a whole day in this area of Belfast, and after our time there, we opted to locate a restaurant in the complex for supper, but the few restaurants that are located there were shut. 

The Custom House (left) and Belfast

After no luck with restaurants in the Titanic Quarter, we walked back across the footbridge and opted for the closest restaurant that looked reasonable with the help of our mobile phones. The restaurant, McHughs Bar & Restrauant, was a great find. It is located in the Custom Hopuse Suare that we visited earlier and is one of the oldest buildings in Belfast. The food was great (pity about the pint glasses being dirty with the previous drinker's lipstick though!). 

Chicken and steak on a hot stone

The next morning, we explored the city. Belfast City Hall was one of our first stops. It is a beautiful building. This building started to be built in 1889 on the site of a smaller city hall building. The population of Belfast had quickly increased in the late 1800s, so the new and much grander City Hall took its place.

Belfast City Hall exterior 

Belfast City Hall exterior 

Belfast City Hall exterior 

Unfortunately for us, there was an event or something taking place in the City Hall, so we were turned away. However, the interior pictures we saw online later looked amazing. It is a pity to have missed seeing it for real. However, we continued to look around the gardens around the City Hall.

Queen Victoria statue in front of City Hall Belfast

A memorial to the Titanic, designed in 1920 by Thomas Brock, is located in the grounds of the City Hall. Near the Titanic Memorial Statue is the Titanic Memorial Plaque, which bears the names of all of those who perished in the tragedy. According to an information board at the memorial, the lives lost included 124 first class passengers, 166 second class passengers, 530 third class passengers, and 692 crew (not including the captain). We read the names of those who did not make it, and this was sad to see whole families had been obliterated. One of these families had several children.

Titanic memorial by City Hall, Belfast

After this quick stop, we walked to George's Market and the Botanic Gardens and explored them before continuing to the Ulster Museum. The museum has several exhibitions covering history, science, and art. Human history throughout the ages in Ireland was one area, and we saw tools and artefacts that early humans used as well as information on burials and the chambered tombs. This led into Christianity and medieval times. Included were hoards of gols that were discovered. There was also a room dedicated to the Spanish Armada ship treasures that was sunk off the coast of Ireland. In the entrance area is a celtic cross, and other areas were dedicated to natural history and science. We saw meteorites and fossils and gemstones.

Ulster Museum - gold hoards, celtic cross, pottery, museum exterior

Queen's University Belfast is located in near Ulster Museum, and the area is filled with trendy-looking restaurants and cafes. We walked back to the city centre via Sandy Row to have a look at some of the murals, and we passed the university before heading onto Sandy Row.

Queen's University Belfast

After visiting the murals on Sandy Row, we continued walking up the street and came across one of Belfast's most famous pubs, The Crown Bar. The Crown Bar is unique because it maintains its 19th century "gin palace" interior. 

The Crown Bar

Stained glass, intricate wood carvings, decorated ceilings, and individual private drinking booths make up the interior of this pub. Unfortunately, the pub was extremely busy on a mid-afternoon weekday (too many other tourists), and we were unable to find a seat to enjoy the atmosphere of this pub. However, I did manage to capture a few photographs inside it.

The Crown Bar pub

After the pub, we wandered around Belfast and walked to the Cathedral Quarter. Many of the streets around the Cathedral Quarter have nautical names, relating to the history of Belfast. In the older days, the river ran down the current location of the High Street, and boats would moor upon the banks of the river. The river was moved underground but some of the street names along the way retain nautical past. The Cathedral Quarter is one of the trendy areas in Belfast and is filled with pubs and clubs, and there is a lot of street art around the area. The Duke of York pub, down a narrow street off of Hill Street, gets a lot of business.




We walked back toward the centre of Belfast after a walk around the Cathedral Quarter. Belfast was once filled with narrow streets, known as "entries", off its major streets (such as the High Street). These were used for trading and connecting major streets. The taverns inside these entries were frequented by sailors who had moored their ships upon the High Street when it was once part of the river. (We had dinner one evening at McCracken's pub in Joy's Entry.)


History was made in the "entries" as well. Joy's Entry was the site of the first English-speaking newspaper. Wilson's Court was the location of "Northern Star" political newspaper, which was destroyed by the British to stop their publications.

Joy's Entry

After dinner, we made our way back to our hotel. By this time, the shops were closed. Belfast main shopping centre at Corn Market seems to be the place to go for the youth of Belfast to hang out.

Corn Market

Have you visited Belfast? What did you think? I felt that we needed about one more day in the city to see the remaining sights that we did not get to see (and to prevent being rushed). We arrived in Belfast at about mid-day due to a delayed flight and had one full day after that. I think Belfast can be rushed in approximately two days, but three days would have been better.

Belfast Street Art

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I discovered quite a bit of street art in Belfast, and I am not including the murals that I have already covered in my post Belfast Political Murals. Although street art can be and is often political, it is in a different category to the murals that I've captured in Belfast. Some of the work I recognised from artists who had painted in London, including Malarky and Conor Harrington. 

Yarn-bombing seems to be quite popular in Belfast, and I saw various trees and statues that had been yarn-bombed and knitted over. The trees below were discovered near Queen's University.


I also saw statues that had been yarn-bombed. These two women sculptures, depicted to celebrate the working woman, had bracelets, ear-rings stockings, and other items knitted around them.


I also discovered some street art by Lucas and Malarky (Street Art: Malarky, Mr. Penfold, Billy and Lucas) in Belfast. Anyone who has been to east London and Brick Lane will have seen some of their work on shutters.


I also discovered several pieces in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast, but I am not sure who the artists are.


The Cathedral Quarter in Belfast hs a lot of street art and murals. I was happy to see a large wall painted by Conor Harrington (Street Art: Conor Harrington), whose work I have seen in London. It features three figures, one watching on while two others sword-fight.

Conor Harrington

Additional art in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast includes a sculpture known as "The Calling" that features two sculptures of figures high upon posts calling to one another.

The Calling

This weekend, the Truman Brewery hosts The Other Art Fair and the Monkier Art Fair. I received a ticket through my workplace, so I went along to view the artwork during my lunch hour. The exhibition (art fair) was quite busy when I visited it on the Friday. For those readers looking for something to do this weekend, have a browse of this exhibition. There is a price for tickets to enter, but you can see some great pieces of work and buy a piece if you like it enough.


The Other Art Fair showcases work by emerging artists, which has been picked by famous artists. The work is on display and on sale at the fair. I saw illuminated pieces by Rocco Wonderland, sculptures made from books by Alexander Korzer-Robinson, photographs, sculptures, pottery and clay, and artwork made of wire.

(For more information about The Other Art Fair, visit the official website at


A craft beer bar had been set up in the gallery, so visitors could sip a beer and admire the artwork.


Another section of the Truman Brewery warehouse, next to The Other Art Fair, hosts the Monkier Art Fair. This fair celebrates urban artists and is in its fifth year. I actually preferred some of the artwork in this section and did recognise several of the artists' work because some of them do create artwork on the street. Benjamin Murphy, David Shillinglaw, and Shephard Fairey were among some I recognised. There were some other pieces I loved, such as the painted stormtrooper helmets (known as Art Wars) by Ben Moore, a series of images made with Lego figures, and various other pieces that I did not photograph.


One of my favourite displays was David Shillinglaw's, which I took photographs of and posted below. He had a large section of wall in a prime area near the craft beer bar.


For more information about the Monkier Art Fair, visit the official website at


As I left the Truman Brewery warehouse and the exhibition, I saw this painted MINI car parked right outside the door.

After Books About Town Art Sculpture Trail, I've waited all summer for charity art sculpture trails, and then two come along at once! This autumn, the "Year of the Bus" is celebrated by Traffic For London (TFL), and the streets around Westminster, the Olympic Park, and the City will host approximately fifty painted bus sculptures dubbed BusArt. At roughly the same time and to celebrate the new Paddington Bear film, fifty Paddington Bear sculptures will be waiting to be discovered throughout London at various locations.

This morning, the BusArt sculptures (Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail) launched in Trafalgar Square. Unfortunately, the sculptures were only available to view from 8:30-10:00 this morning. I was hoping that they would be available to view at about 7:00-8:00, before I have to get over to work in Brick Lane, and I was planning to get in to London really early to see them. I found out the actual times late last night and realised that it was not possible for me to see them due to the timing. I will just have to wait for them to be placed on their trails. The sculpture trail officially starts on Monday, and it runs until early December. I know that I will be doing a lot of walking over the next few weeks.

Here's a sneak peek of a couple of the buses in Trafalgar Square, courtesy of Transport For London's Twitter feed. [EDIT - added later in the day.]


During most of the same weeks, the buses will be joined by the Paddington Bear Trail. This trail covers a larger area and is ideal for those who are not afraid to cycle in London. All of the bear and bus sculptures are painted by local artists to raise money for charity, and in the case of the Paddington Bears, some are designed and painted by celebrities. Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Emma Watson, Michael Sheen, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Beckham, Guy Ritchie, Ant & Dec, Jonathan Ross, and mayor Boris Johnson are among the celebrity list. The Paddington Trail begins on November the fourth and ends at the end of December.

I know that I am going to get into shape over the next two months while I track down all of the sculptures.

Find out more:
Paddington Bear:
Year of the Bus:

UK 2014 Birchbox Reviews: October

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My October Birchbox arrived last week without any delays or problems. This month's theme is "Work It!", and Birchbox is partnered with Coppafeel (a charity that helps raise breast cancer awareness) as October is breast cancer awareness month. Keeping in line with the theme, the box and lifestyle accessories are pink. The card inside contains useful tips and a checklist to help with everyday life as we continue on our daily grind each day. A pink lipstick pen (the lifestyle extra) is provided for us to tick off these everyday tips.

For those who do not know, Birchbox is a beauty subscription box that is delivered to your door each month. The box contains a random sampling of beauty and make-up products.

All items this month came inside a handy pink make-up bag. The makeup bag will come in extrememly useful to me as my current one of this size contains camera cards, batteries, and other accessories. I have been wanting a second one of the same size for a long while.


October Birchbox - UK

Balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm: This natural cleanser and exfoiliation cream contains oatmeal powder and natural ingredients and is suitable for different skin types. The product smells nice, and it massages into skin well. It left my skin feeling a bit cleaner but it did seem to dry it out slightly.

KMS California HAIR PLAY Dry Wax: This dry wax for hair allows hair to be styled to give it extra volume and texture. It can be applied on dry hair or sprayed on damp hair and gives a matte finish. This did add volume to my hair, but my hair is long, so it just made it look messy. I have watched a YouTube video of a girl with short hair trying it out, and it looks really good on her. I got the same results, but it doesn't suit my hair style at the moment, so it will go into my beauty hoard until a time comes when I can use it.

Shaveworks(TM) 'The Cool Fix(TM)': This cooling gel helps relieve ingrown hairs or rashes after hair removal. I did try it after shaving, and I'm not really sure about this product as I did not notice any results. 

Pixi by Petra (Shea Butter Lip Balm in 'Honey Nectar' colour): This lip balm contains shea butter and has a hint of colour. Honey Nectar is a light brown colour. The product softened my lips, and I like the colour and smell.

Meaningful Beauty(TM) anti-aging wrinkle smoothing capsule: The product targets fine lines for smoother skin and is endorsed by model Cindy Crawford. The sample pot contains seven individual capsules for one-time use. I actually do not have any wrinkles yet, so I tried this out underneath my eyes where I do have some fine lines (out of tiredness) and used the remainder of the product on my face. My skin felt a bit firmer after using the product, and the lines underneath my eyes did disappear. I will keep the remainder of the capsules when I do need to use them. This is another one to add to my hoard for products to use later in life. I actually am skeptical of anti-aging products that promise to get rid of wrinkles and believe that the best way to keep skin looking younger is to use sun protection creams and drink plenty of water.

Pink Lipstick Pen: This item is the lifestyle extra. The pen is a black one, and it's shaped like a tube of lipstick. It is cute.

Overall, I did enjoy the products in this box, and I may buy a couple of these products in the future if I continue to get on with them.

This autumn, Bristol's streets are host to an award-winning art installation, "Shadowing". The installation is the work of Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier and is available until the end of October from dusk until dawn every night. The installation is set up at selected street lamps around Bristol, and your shadow's movements are recorded and played to the next visitor. The art installation encourages people to interact in a time and space. 


This installation will go world-wide after its time in Bristol. It has won the Playable City award. If you're in Bristol between now and the end of October, check it out.

For more information about "Shadowing" and to see the locations across Bristol, view the official website at

For a video to show what it looks like, visit

Phlegm's Mural on Hanbury Street

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Artist Phlegm (Street Art: Phlegm), from Sheffield, finished painting a new mural on Hanbury Street at the weekend. I had the pleasure to see the artist at work on his new mural on Friday. His style is instantly recognisable with black and white figures that appear to come from a dream. A year and a half ago, he was busy creating murals in London, and only one or two of these survivce. 


The work that appears on this wall is normally a striking piece, so I was glad to see Phlegm's work appear here. It replaces an equally nice piece featuring astronauts by Fintan Magee, which remained on the wall for several weeks over the summer.


The mural is located at the junction of Brick Land and Hanbury Street.

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