Street Art Masks by Yazz

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A few weeks ago, reddish-brown faces started to appear out of the brickwork in London's east-end. Some featured eyes and nose. Others featured just the mouth and chin. They seemed to form out of the bricks, as if peeking out with their own expressions. These plaster masks are the work of French artist Yazz and appeared on or just off of Brick Lane in east London. Earlier this year, we had similar sculpture masks appear by French artist Gregos, which I covered here: Street Art Masks by Gregos.







The difference between the two artists is that Yazz's faces and torsos appear to be coming out of the buildings and brickwork. Certainly, his larger pieces based in other countries show the figures appearing to walk out of the walls.

For more information about the artist and to see more of his work, visit his Facebook page at:

Several weeks ago, I popped down to Adventure Bar in Covent Garden (London) with the bloke after work. I had seen a voucher for cocktails and decided to take advantage of it. A while had passed since I have stayed late in London, after work, to take advantage of the selection of pubs and cocktail bars. A night out was overdue, especially as I have been working so hard.


Booking was easy, and I sent a couple of emails back and forth with a lovely staff member who took my reservation and then rearranged it a couple of days later after the bloke told me that he had just arranged a series of medical treatments. I had then rearranged it for a Tuesday toward the end of July.

When we entered, there was a couple at one of the tables, and our reserved table was at the bar. We were told that we could sit anywhere. We had the place to ourselves.

The bar looks small from the outside, but it is actually in the basement and brick archways extend into the distance. There were plenty of seats. We kept out seats near the bar as that's where the action was, and more and more people were starting to arrive as the evening progressed. Actually, the voucher seemed to prove popular as others were visiting with it.


As it was a Tuesday evening, and Tuesdays are known as "Takeover Tuesdays" at Adventure Bar Covent Garden. We were told that we could have a try at making our own cocktails! This was fun. We also picked four songs to play as "Takeover Tuesdays" means that you can learn how to make your cocktail (with help from the bartenders) and choose the tunes to play. I choose to play, Britney Spears (with, Scouting for Girls, and Flo Rida. After some cheesey 1980s songs, they played my tunes. 

We were entitled to four cocktails each, so we got down to ordering our first drink (June Bugs) and ordered some bar snacks off the menu. We ordered rosemary chips, a beef burger, and a haloumi skewer. The food is made in the restaurant next door, and we were both surprised at how tasty the food was.

Next, we got busy with the drinking and cocktail-making. I ordered a couple of Woo Woos, a second June Bug, and the bloke had Long Island, Grounds for Divorce, and Any Given Sundae. Yes, he was more adventurous. Grounds for Divorce is a combination of fruit juices, apricot brandy and Jack Daniel's. Any Given Sundae combines ice cream, vodka, Bailey's, and Kahlua.

Loads of photographs of cocktails, cocktail-making, and the bar are below.


The atmosphere was fun. After my tunes played, a song from "Dirty Dancing" played, and the bar staff acted out the jumping embrace scene. They also got the guests involved.

The cocktail menu does offer a few surprises and quirky drinks. One of the drinks that you can try includes a real cricket. Eww! That one is not for me. Other fun cocktail items include shots infused with different types of British sweets (Skittles, Flying Saucers, Rhubarb & Custard, Strawberry Bon Bons, and Glacier Mints). Other types included a "Sharing is Caring" cocktail package. 

There were two packages we could choose from, but they also have a package for up to eight guetss. Ours were 2-3 guests, and we had no trouble having that in addition to the four cocktails we had already had. "The Poppy Horror Show" came with a vodka-based cocktail, popcorn, hand-cuffs, and lipstick. The other choice was "Popzilla", a rum-based cocktail served with popcorn, two fortune cookies, and a model plane. Both cocktails would be served in a large glass shaped like a popcorn bag.


We went with the "Popzilla" option, and we received a green-coloured cocktail. The bartender also put a slice of passionfruit on the top of it and lit it. We ate the caramel/toffee popcorn and built the little model foam plane. We also opened the fortune cookies. I got a free hug from one of the bar staff, and the bloke got one about "bad things happen when you party naked". Ops. I felt sorry and let the bloke have my free hug. 

Anyway, we had a fun evening. It always makes me wish that I had more time to have fun and that I did not have to live so far out of London...yet commute every day into London.

Adventure Bar is located at 20 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9HP. For more information about their hours, visit their website at 

In July, I subscribed to a beauty subscription box 'Glossybox'. Basically, I get a sample of approximately five or six beauty-related items to try each month. The items can range from skincare, haircare, or makeup. I try each item before I provide a rating for it, and sometimes I find a nice product. (You may have read my previous post about Birchbox.) 


So far, I have received three boxes. My first box was received in July, and I got my most recent box just last week. I have decided to rate the items between 1 (awful) to 5 (awesome). Of course, these are just my own opinions on the product.

September - Karen Millen

This month's box was designed by Karen Millen, and I love the watercolour-esque London skyline buildings. I have subscribed to Glossybox for three months now, and unfortunately, this box was my least favourite of the three:

Skin Pep Brightening Peeling Gel (x2): (4/5) This product removed dead skin cells. The sample came in a small sachet, and it's the most expensive item in the pack when considering how much a full-size product costs. The gel is massaged into the skin and then taken off after a couple of minutes (or longer, depending on how oily your skin is). I could feel the product making my skin firmer, and it also had a slight sting to it. My face does feel cleaner after using it.  

Skin Pep Dark Circle Eraser (x1): (1/5) This sample also came in a sachet, and it is meant to be massaged under the eyes to rid dark circles. I am not really a fan of eye creams, and although I used this, I did not see any results. I am not sold on this type of product. Perhaps a difference can be seen over time.

Nails Inc Matte Polish Topcoat: (5/5) This full-size product does exactly what it says it does. The product (matte) is to be used on the top coat of your polish, and it replaces glossy nail polish with matte nail polish. I tried this using the "Glossy Seal" nail polish that I received in the July box, and I compared the result. I am amazed. However, I would not really use glossy nail polish if I wanted a matte finish, unless I really liked the colour but did not want the glossy option. 

L'Oreal Mythic Oil Masque: (4/5) This hair masque provides conditioning to the hair. It did make my hair extremely soft and tangle-free. I have fine hair, and it tangles easily. The product did not make my hair look or feel greasy like some products have, but the product is costly. 

ModelCo More Brows (medium/dark): (3/5) This eyelash definer makes only a subtle difference, but I did really like the application brush. The brush is angled slightly and smaller, so it is much easier to apply to lashes. The larger application brushes are always a nuissance for me because getting the angles needed to cover all lashes is a pain. I liked this for the brush.

Vichy Laboratories Day and Night Cream: (1/5) I received two small sample-sized products of skin day and night cream. I have so much of these, and I'm not really a fan, but this product claims to defeat acne, which I do sometimes get. Unfortunately, after using the products for three days/nights, I got acne where I was using the product. This is a disappointment.

September Glossybox

August - Glossybox's Birthday Box

The August Glossybox celebrated Glossybox's birthday. Here are the contents of the August box that I received:

Kryolan for Glossybox (Highlighter in Cashmere): (4/5) This highlighter should be applied to the cheekbones or browbone to give a natural glow. The texture is creamy, but don't make the same mistake as I did when I first tried it and over-massage it into your skin. The highligher does brighten up, and I used it just above my eyelid.

Figs & Rouge Mini Hand Cream: (4/5) The shea butter hand cream absorbed into my skin without feeling greasy at all. I love the light sweet scent, and it reminded me of sweets/candy. I also loved the bright and colourful package design, which I'll describe as modern vintage.

Yves Rocher Nail Polish in rose: (3/5) This bottle of nail polish is the birthday bonus item. The colour is 'rose', and the colour is a pale shade of pink. The polish dries quickly, and it took between two and three coats to cover my nails. I believe that this colour would look best on darkly-tanned skin, and my opinion is that it does not really suit my colouring.

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer: (2/5) This is a pre-shampoo treatment, but it is a product that should not be used in a hurry as the instructions recommend keeping this on your damp hair for 20 minutes or more before resuming shampoo and conditioning. On my first trial, it had the opposite affect on my hair and made my hair look greasy and go "limp".   

Lalique L'Amour perfume: (5/5) This perfume has a soft floral scent, and I like the smell. I like perfume, and I cannot fault this product.

SkinPep Hydra Sun Defence SPF30 Day Cream: (1/5) This is a skin protector cream. I seem to get a new one of these with every beauty subscription box that I receive, and I am not really keen on this type of product. I was also not impressed with the product design as it looks "cheap".

August Glossybox

July - Stars and Stripes

This was my first ever box from Glossybox. The box celebrates all things American and came decorated with USA 'stars and stripes'. Here are the contents of the box that I received:

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara: (4/5) This comes in a cute plastic case with a snakeskin effect. I could always use another mascara as I do not own a lot, and this seemed to do the trick. At the moment, I am quite partial to Mary Kay mascara.

Bellapierre Mineral Lipstick (in Manderina colour): (2/5) The lipstick is soft and glides right on. I am not really sure about the colour with my pale skin. 

Absolute New York Perfecting Eyeshadow Primer: (4/5) I have never used an eyeshadow primer before. The idea is that this is put onto the eyelid before eyeshadow. The primer acts like a highlighter when used on the crease above the eyelid, and the colour of the eyeshadow did seem to hold better when I used the product as a base, and it did seem to hold the eyeshadow better.

Color Club Nail Varnish (in Glossy Seal colour): (5/5) The colour of this polish is a bright blue and leaves a glossy finish. Only one coat was needed to paint my nails. The colour is bright, and I've had polish that takes at least two coats of a similar bold colour. The product smelled a little wrong to me, but I guess I did not get the strong 'nail polish' smell. It is a good product.

Carmex Lip Balm: (5/5) I have seen this product around before, but I have never tried it. It did make my lips feel soft and moisturised, and it has a minty taste. I have been using this product a lot and enjoy it.

July Glossybox

Do you subscribe to Glossybox? What do you think? What is your favourite item?

Days Out: A Visit to the 'Cutty Sark'

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Can you imagine England without its national beverage - tea? Tea first became popular after King Charles II's wife brought it with her from her home country of Spain in the mid 1600s. In 1669, the East India Company broguht its first shipment of tea from China, and in 1706, the first tea room in London opened. By the 1830s, teas are then shipped from India for the first time. The tea trade is actually what brought about an important part of history of the ship 'Cutty Sark', which was known as a 'tea clipper'. 

'Cutty Sark' below deck

In late 1869, the 'Cutty Sark' was launched. The ship was named after the cutty sark, the Scottish name for a short night dress that women used to wear. It was also said to be inspired by a poem written by Tom O'Shanter about a witch named Nannie who was wearing a cutty sark. The figurehead on the ship is supposed to represent the witch.


The ship made eight voyages to China. The quickest time to Shanghai in China was 89 days. The ship would usually stay about a month in China, so the ship would be on its voyage for about ten months. 


Tea was shipped in exotic and colourful boxes with Chinese writing on them. Replica tea boxes were located on the ship so it appeared that they were stacked in the ship and visitors could walk over them. How the tea was packed onto the ship was also illustrated.


As the ship is very old, a lot of restorative work has been done to her, including building on her steel frame. To inform people about which parts of the ship are new materials (and which are original), the original ship's metalwork has been painted white. In the photograph below, the evidence of the wear and tear of the ship is obvious.


Below deck are interactive exhibits and artefacts from the ship, including a star of India and the ship's bell. The exhibit also describes other items that were shipped on the boat, in addition to tea. These included other goods and items from the far east, sheep, and furniture. 


One of the interactive exhibits was to 'pilot' your own 'Cutty Sark' electronically using a mock ship's wheel and a map that detailed the currents of the ocean, and the objective was to get the ship back to its London destination in the quickest time that the 'Cutty Sark' achieved in reality (and without being ship-wrecked)!


The 'Cutty Sark' did not have too long of a career as steam-powered boats started to be in use to collect tea shortly after the ship was built. The Suez Canal was opened, and this cut the number of days it took to reach the east from Europe. The 'Cutty Sark' then turned to other trade, such as sheep and other goods and luxuries that were shown in the exhibition below the deck.


The top decks could also be explored, and these included living quarters, the captain's room, and other areas for the crew and captain. Cards next to the equipment on the deck told what the item was.


There are also some nice views from the top of the deck, and we were fortunate to have a beautiful sunny day. Canary Wharf could be seen from the deck. It is amazing that this ship is here, after its fate led it to different countries and places in the world as a working and tourism ship for some time, before eventually coming back to London to be displayed as a museum.


The shape of the hull is what made the ship so quick. It was plated with copper. In fact, the ship resting on the ground and gravity was beginning to warp the shape of the hull, so a lot of time and money was spent on suspending the ship in mid-air so that it does not rest directly onto the ground. This is why there's a large steel structure with buttresses around the ship so that visitors can walk underneath it. On this level is the ship's longest wooden plank. It is part of the original ship and is shown in its fragile condition. Burn marks can also be seen on this piece of wood from the fire that happened a few years ago. (After a large restoration project, the ship was finally reopened to the public in 2012.) 


The scale and length of the 'Cutty Sark' is evident below. There is a restaurant here, and there's also a few more exhibitions, including how the alcoholic drink 'Cutty Sark' got its name; it was, of course, inspired by press about the famous ship. One of the most interesting exhibits on this level is the figurehead collection, known as the Long John Silvers Collection. This is the largest collection of ship figureheads in the world and was given to 'Cutty Sark' by Captain Long John Silvers (Sydney Cumbers). This collection and the 'Cutty Sark' is dedicated to the Merchant Navy. 

Figurehead collection

A plaque is located in the area to identify each figurehead; some of them are modeled after famous people. One was Abraham Lincoln. Figureheads were regarded as important, and the crew would always keep them clean and look after them as they believed that the ship's soul was embodied in its figurehead. Not all of the figureheads are human.


After our exploration of the 'Cutty Sark' ship, we went across the street to the Gipsy Moth pub, which we could see from the top deck of the ship. The restaurant/pub was busy, and all of the seats outside in the garden were taken, but we were lucky to grab a table and enjoyed our lunch. I had the chicken pie, and everything tasted nice.


Have you visited 'Cutty Sark'? What did you think? Leave me a comment.

London's Greenwich Foot Tunnel

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The Greenwich Foot Tunnel is located near the restored Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich Village, east London. The tunnel was completed in 1902 and it allowed people who lived on the south side of the river Thames to reach the north (by crossing in the tunnel under the river) where they worked in the docks. The entrance to the tunnels are large domes and can be seen on both sides of the river.

South side entrance

Green dome foot tunnel entrance with Canary Wharf behind

The tunnel is open 24 hours a day, and those that pass through can use the stairs or a lift. The lift is in the centre and can take several people and bikes. I took the stairs down, and it actually was not as deep as I was expecting it to be. I've climed up and down far more steps at times at various London underground stations. A sign near the entrance said that the foot tunnel is 33 feet deep at low tide and 53 feet deep at high tide.

Entrance and the stairs

Once at the bottom, the journey could be completed up through to the other side. The tunnel looked a little too worn and unwelcoming for my liking, though it has recently been under refurbishment. This tunnel was the only tunnel built under the Thames for the sole purpose of pedestrians. Even though the tunnel looks a little unwelcoming, there are CCTV cameras in operation. Still, I'm not sure that I'd like to be there at night.


The foot tunnels also have a list of rules for pedestrians, such as skateboarders and cyclists have to dismount, and busking and flash photography is not allowed. More information about the foot tunnel can be found here:

Dark Sugars Chocolates (Brick Lane, London)

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Dark Sugars Chocolates is a recent and welcome addition to Brick Lane. Their chocolate is really good, and I've popped in to get an after-lunch chocolate quite a few times. I visited several weeks ago and asked to get some photographs with my mobile phone. I love the presentation of their shop. The chocolates are colourful and come in many imaginative flavours. I have tried quite a few over the past several months, but my favourites are the rose chocolate and the toffee cups. The rose has a hint of rose flavour with a smooth chocolate and sugary (but subtle) rose petal on top. The toffee just melts around the solid chocolate cup, and they do look too pretty to eat.

Chocolates from Dark Sugars

Their bulk chocolates also come in many flavours and are presented in hollowed-out bowls made out of tree stumps. These are also delicious. The chocolates are soft and slightly chewy and dusted with cocao. 


The newest addition are the flavoured chocolate cups with flavouring added into small plastic tubes. I tried the passionfruit one. 

The chocolates here are so yummy, so do check them out next time you are in the Brick Lane area. These make such nice gifts too, if you can refrain from eating them. They can make custom gift boxes for you to take the chocolates away in.

Dark Sugars
141 Brick Lane
E1 6SB


Street Art: Bicicleta Sem Freio

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Earlier this month, Bicicleta Sem Freio painted on one of London's most famous walls for street art. Bicicleta Sem Freio are a group of artists and graphic designers. Their work features bright colours with dark outlines. The work was painted on Pedley Street, just off Brick Lane.  




Earlier this summer, the group painted a wall further down on Hanbury Street. It's a little off the beaten track and features bright orange, red, green and blue colours with dark outlines and tribal-style patterns. It also features a figure of a woman with flowing hair.


Check these murals out quickly because there's been quite a bit of tagging over street art in east London recently, and they may not last much longer.

#WallsProject Brings Street Art to London

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This summer has been busy with new street art appearing on a regular basis, and I've struggled to keep up with adding photographs and write-ups to my blog because so much has been going on in the street art scene and in life in general. The #WallsProject was one of the street art events that took place this summer at the end of July, around the same time as the 'Meeting of the Styles' street art project, which I wrote about here: Meeting of the Styles London Street Art 2014.


Artists that featured in the #WallsProject this year include Himbad, Zadock, Jim Vision, 2Rise, Inkfetish, Roes, SeedsOne, Pang, Hunto, Vanessa Longchamp, Core, Thieu, Captain Kris, Airborne Mark, and Amara Por Dios. A lot of the work appeared on the scaffolding around the Leonard Street car park, where it seems that they are tearing the old buildings down. (I think that further gentrification of the area is not good news for the creative street art that often appears in this area and behind it in Blackall Street as this are is now a building site.)


The below art is by Askew One, Himbad, and others.


In light of the building work that keeps happening in east London, it seems that more and more walls for street art are disappearing in east London...

Belfast's Botanic Gardens

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After a visit to St. George's Market, we walked to Belfast Botanic Gardens, located near Queen's University and Ulster Museum. The gardens consist of a Palm House, rose garden, Tropical Ravine House, and grounds. The park was popular with tourists, students, and office workers on their lunch breaks. This was one of the highlights in my trip to Belfast, and the weather was perfect for exploring the gardens.


The Palm House foundation stone was laid in 1839. The structure, designed by Charles Lanyon, is one of the earliest examples of curved iron with glass. The ironmaster was Richard Turner, and he constructed this before the Great Palm House at Kew Gardens (London) in the 1840s. Today these gardens is the most visited gardens and visitors can get private tours. The displays change with the season. 


After walking from the City Hall, we sat down for a few minutes in front of the beautiful Palm House. The weather was lovely. Once we had rested, we wandered around the Palm House, and I took several pictures of the plants.











The cooler part of the Palm House contains flowers, and the hotter central area contains tropical plants and larger trees. I saw an orange growing on one of the branches in the tropical area. The cool area was filled with house plants (pictured below). 


I tried to capture the height of the Palm House.


There was also an ugly plant toward the back and central area of the Palm House. It had a name like Henry or Harry, but I cannot remember which. I am not sure what type of plant it was, but it looked ugly, and I thought I had a photograph of the sign but I could not find it. A photograph of Henry or Harry (or whatever his name is) is below.


Outside the Palm House, we walked around the gardens that were filled with rhododendrons in all sorts of different colours. I love these flowers as they are always so colourful.


There were bees attracted to some of the flowers.


After a quick wander, we came upon the rose gardens. Unfortunately, only a few roses were out in bloom in the rose garden in the Belfast Botanic Gardens. I can imagine that it looks equally beautiful as Regent's Park rose garden when they are all out in full bloom. We were a week or two too early.


We walked down from the rose garden and came across another hidden area that was completely unexpected. Different areas of the grounds were secluded with trees and a small spring.



We followed signs to the Tropical Ravine House. The Tropical Ravine House is another conservatory in Belfast's Botanic Gardens. Instead of mingling with the plants, visitors walk up above them and look down onto the smaller plants or directly at the larger branches of the trees. The trees were dense here and very tall, so I did not get many good photographs, but there is one below of the interior of the Tropical Ravine House.


After all the walking around, I had one of the fairy cakes that I bought in St. George's Market.


Have you been to the Botanic Gardens in Belfast before?

Hippo in the Thames

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On my visit to Battersea Power Station to see Battersea Fire Garden by Carabosse about a week ago now, I took a walk to pay a new visitor a visit. Courtesy of the Totally Thames Festival, a large wooden hippo turned up and made London his home. The sculpture has been created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who is famous for the giant rubber duck that appeared in some Asian countries. The hippo, named 'HippopoThames', is residing in the Thames at Nine Elms and will remain there until the end of the month, when the Totally Thames Festival finishes. The artist was inspired by the river's history in the creation; these animals were once common in the Thames.


The Totally Thames Festival celebrates the river, and in the past, it was simply branded as Thames Festival. It is the last London festival of the summer.

To visit HippopoThames, the nearest station is Vauxhall. Walk down to Nine Elms Lane, along the river, and follow the riverside walk. It is signposted. There's a small garden on the embankment here, and the hippo is located in the river here. Access is free.

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