The 'Great Fire of London' Walk

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Three-hundred-and-fifty years ago on September 2, London burned for four days just a year after the Great Plague (Black Death) plagued the city. The city and most of its buildings, including St. Paul's Cathedral, was largely destroyed by the fire. This destroyed over 130,000 homes and 84 churches and left thousands homeless considering only approximately six people (that they know about) perished.

We know a little bit about the unfolding events from Samuel Pepys and his writings in his diary. Because this year marks 350 years since the anniversary of the fire, many events are taking place to commemorate it. One of the events is a free two-hour walk around the City, which takes place all week this week at different times. I decided to join one of the walks earlier today. I know this part of the City very well as I worked near Cannon Street and Bank Station.

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Our meeting point was Monument, the monument created after the fire as a memorial. It is a large free-standing column with a frieze on the side. The Monument can be climbed (as there is a staircase inside the column) and views can be enjoyed; I climbed Monument a few years ago and received a certificate. The location of the Monument is imporant because if it was laid down, the gold flame on top would meet the location where the great fire is said to have started.

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Thomas Faryner's bakery on Pudding Lane is attributed to the start of the fire and printed on maps after. He was the King's baker. It is thought that his maid forgot to put the fire in the ovens out, but something else may have set the fire off. The summer of 1666 was very hot and dry, so it may have been a spark or started by something else. We will never know. The maid was actually one of the few who is thought to have died in the fire. A plaque, gifted by the Worshipful Company of Bakers, marks the spot near where the bakery would have stood.

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The baker and his family did manage to escape. The buildings were built so close together with some of the top floors almost joining. They managed to jump out of the window and into the neighbours house and escape. 

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On the Monument, the frieze depicts London as a lady lying on rubble. The older figure to her left represents Father Time, and the two figures in the clouds represent peace and wealth. This means that London will rise again from the ashes. On the right side, the King and architects/scientists/other important people build the city up again.

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The flame on the top of Monument is plated with gold.

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From Monument, we headed down the hill and across the road to St. Magnus-the-Martyr. Just to the right of this church was the original entrance to the old London Bridge. I have previously covered this church in a blog post, and it's worth a visit to see the model of London Bridge. The walk was meant to go inside the church to see the model, but the church was shut. You can read more about London Bridge, the model of the bridge and St. Magnus-the-Martyr here.

After the visit to the church, we walked along the Thames and got to Cannon Street Bridge where we were told about the steel yard. It was actually a place for weighing wool, not for steel. It was owned by foreigners (we were told that they were mainly Dutch, French and German), and at the time of the fire, it was thought that the fire started here and anyone with a foreign accent was to blame and some suffered violence during and after the fire.

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We were also read passages from Samuel Pepys' diary. In the diary, he mentions Cannon Street and Walting Street. We walked around the area where Bow Church is because these streets follow a similar footprint to the original streets from 1666. 

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Bow Church looked lovely in the sunshine.

We then headed north across Cheapside, which was a wider street and the main shopping area. The fire managed to jump across the street here. We walked down Ironmonger Street.

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Near the Guildhall, I captured a photograph of one of the old buses.

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The Guildhall mostly survived the fire, but it needed a new roof. The fire did continue northward and further east and west.

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We then made our way down Gresham Street toward St. Paul's Cathedral. We stopped off at the candlemaker's livery hall, which is decorated well. Next door is the goldsmith's hall.

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We came to St. Paul's Cathedral. The original cathedral was destroyed by the fire. Actually, many years before the fire, another fire had burnt part of the cathedral. The scaffolding remained while it was being repaired, but this caught fire and the whole cathedral and its beautiful tower was destroyed. Christopher Wren constructed this new one with the second largest dome in the world. He is buried in the crypt.

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While they were clearing the burnt rubble from the original cathedral, they found the stone with the word 'resurgam' ('will rise again'). This had meaning for them, so they made a new stone with this word and a falcon rising from the ashes on top of it. Although London suffered, it did rise again from the ashes.

While the King and mayor were at a loss and not taking the situation seriously, Samuel Pepys was instrumental in coming up with a solution to tear down houses so that they would not spread fire.

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The 'Fire of London' walks take place all week this week in the lead up to the 350th anniversary of the great fire, which started on September 2. The walks are free and led by a City of London guide.

For more information about other events, visit http://www.visitlondon.com/greatfire350. Also, the Museum of London is holding an exhibition about the great fire until next spring.

'Lip Love' is a monthly beauty subscription bag from environmentally-conscious brand 'So Susan'. The subscription contains four make-up items and comes in a pouch. August's theme is 'I love my friends', and the front of the bag has a quotation from Charles A. Swindoll: "I cannot even imagine where I would be today if it were not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy." The products that I received are listed below.

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Fan Brush by So Susan Cosmetics: The fan brush is good for applying a small amount of bronzer to the face to give it an all-over glow.

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Praline Palette by Trifle Cosmetics: I love the colours in this eyeshadow palette. They look natural and offer a range of shimmery colours as well as standard ones. I've loved the ones that I've received in previous bags as well as they are so easy to wear and have cute packaging. This one's packaging was ice cream-themed. 

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Lip Butter by Jelly Pong Pong: This bright pink-purple shade of lipstick is not that bright when applied, although it can be layered to appear brighter in colour. The lipstick formula itself makes lips feel moisturised. I love the seashell design; the package design reminds me of similar products from Trifle Cosmetics, who also supply to So Susan subscription bags.

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Lip Sorbet by Trifle Cosmetics: I needed another lip exfoliation balm, so I was happy to receive this bright red one. It leaves a reddish tint to lips after use and has a sweet smell.

I believe that I've got one more of these subscription bags coming to me. Do you subscribe to So Susan?

Pigs Gone Wild in Ipswich

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Dozens of pig sculptures have invaded Ipswich for charity. The pig sculpture canvas represents Suffolk's and Ipswich's agricultural heritage. The sculptures are on display in and around Ipswich until the end of the month, and they can all be seen in one place in September before they are auctioned off. The charity that the pigs are raising money for is St. Elizabeth's Hospice. There are nearly 40 larger pigs and several smaller ones that have been painted by the community and schools.

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Pig-Geswyk - Lois Cordelia

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Frankenswine - Mark Reeve

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The Swinions - Anne-Marie Byrne

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The Trotter's Pig - David Graham

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Pig n Mix - Lynsey Brecknell & Keiron Reilly

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Ipswich Blue - Julia Allum

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Little Sewn Sow - Matt Reeve

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Ed Sheer-ham - Martin J Wall

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Pigs Can Fly - Ross White

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Porkman Road - Emma Graham; Elvis Porksley - Stephen McKay; A Pig's Got to Travel - Nick Murley; Piggy Stardust - Allan Williams; Clover - Joanne Crane; Pepper Pig - Susan Webber; The Haminator - Gabriella Keating-Fedders; Stymante - Martin J Wall

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Pretty Penny - Mik Richardson

For more information about 'Pigs Gone Wild', visit their official website at: http://www.pigsgonewild.co.uk

Thierry Noir is a German artist who started the street art movement by painting his characters on the Berlin wall. I first covered his work in Street Art: Thierry Noir. The artist has been popular in London in recent years and has painted his bright characters on London's walls and exhibited his work. Shoreditch Food Village, a small area of covered street food vendors, is one of the locations where he has painted in London. This is a few doors down from a gallery where he has been exhibiting for the past year. 

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The walls of Shoreditch Food Village have been covered with Thierry Noir's colourful people. I have taken several photographs below.

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In addition to Thierry Noir, I have also captured another work here by street artist Paul 'Don' Smith. I covered his work in a post here.

Pizza St at Shoreditch Food Village

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Shoreditch Food Village is located on Shoreditch High Street virtually opposite the overground station. The area is set up with several street food vendors and seating. Burritos, Lebanese, pizza, and alcohol are some of the cuisines on offer. The steak sandwiches and shwarma are two of the popular dishes here from the street vendors. I decided to try PIzza St pizza, which cook traditional-style pizzas.

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The pizza was good, although it is not the best that I've had in London. Shoreditch Food Village is open from noon and closes late. The area is a covered courtyard and has plenty of seating.

A London Ice Cream Visit to Ruby Violet

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Earlier this summer, I walked around London to see the BFG Sculpture Trail (covered here). At King's Cross, I discovered a little ice cream parlour called "Ruby Violet", and I decided that an ice cream was in order as the day was fairly humid. I'd only just begun a long day of walking, so I decided to have a refreshing sorbet. In the end, I had a scoop of lemon (you cannot beat a classic) and a scoop of melon/canteloupe. 

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The ice creams and sorbets are a little on the costly side, but they are good. I received a cup with a wafer and sat near the canal to eat it. 

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Each day, the parlour has new flavours. They are made in small batches using organic products. Ice cream can also be purchased from a tub here to take away. The company's products are made in Tuffnell Park, where they have another shop.  They also have a book and classes and can create products for special occassions, and these are not limited to ice cream.

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I enjoyed my refreshing sorbet so much that I recommended to friends that we pay a visit on our way to solve the next ClueQuest puzzle! I had sorbet again; this time, I opted for lemon and watermelon and mint (which they did not have last time). I was also told by my friends that had purchase ice cream instead that the ice cream was also delicious.

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Ruby Violet will definately continue to be an ice cream and sorbet stop each time I am in the King's Cross area. Ruby Violet is located near the Waitrose and the univeristy illustration building (near Granary Square) at King's Cross. The address is Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, London N1C 4BZ. For more information, visit http://www.rubyviolet.co.uk

Escaping Plan52 Escape Room @ ClueQuest

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The beginning of this month was exciting. A group of us decided to use our free ClueQuest Game. (For those who are not regular readers, we'd booked our first game of ClueQuest only to be told on the morning that they had somehow double-booked and we could play another one of the games but not the Plan 52 one that we'd booked; we received a free game out of it.) We booked into the Plan 52 room and set out to solve the mystery and escape the room (and save the world at the same time). ClueQuest now organise three games: Plan52, Operation Blacksheep, and Revenge of the Sheep.

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We had so much fun solving the puzzles, and we actually had 11.21 spare on the clock by the time we 'escaped', which we were told was really good especially since two of our team of five had never experienced this type of experience before. I cannot say anything more as it would spoil the surprise if I did.

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Afterwards, we headed back to King's Cross and stopped off at Lighterman pub on the canal on the way to have dinner. I've heard that the food was good, and we had lovely sunny weather. 

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Most of my friends had a burger of some sort, but one of us had pork and I had chicken. I also got a side of carrots and shared a few chips. The chicken and chips were very tasty. However, despite the first thirty minutes, the service became slow or non-existant. They managed to get my partner's order wrong and things went downhill in the service department after that. Which is a pity because the food was excellent and we were all getting a bit bored of waiting. It took 45 minutes alone to ask for the bill.

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I also wanted to order the dessert because they had chocolate mousse, which is a rarity. The mousse had a sour taste instead of a chocolate taste and tasted very much of yogurt, and I dislike the taste of yogurt. So, this won't be a dessert that I have again.

Overall, we had a fun day. I hope all of us can get together to plan another escape game.

USA-based street artist Pyramid Oracle has come back to London for a solo exhibition. During his visit, he pasted up a few paintings/artworks in his traditional illustrated style. The artist visited at the beginning of last year and pasted up several pieces across London

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Pyradmid Oracle is currently in London to support his show 'OCULUS' at BSMT Space in Dalston, which begins on August 18 and ends on the 24th of this month. I've included the paste-ups from his recent visit to London's streets in the past week.

An Afternoon at Lincoln Castle

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We visited Lincoln at the end of July, and we explored the city and looked at the poppy installation in the grounds of Lincoln Castle. While in Lincoln, we also decided to take advantage and see Lincoln Castle. We paid to enter the Victorian prision (located inside the castle walls), walk along the castle walls, see the Magna Carta and listen to the audio guide. The Magna Carta, a document dating from 1215 specifying liberties and freedoms to citizens, is currently outside of Lincoln Castle to be shown with its counterpart at Salisbury and two at the British Library. The Magna Carta at Lincoln Castle is only one of four in existance. A replica can be found at the castle until the original is returned later this year. Because it is currently not on display, we had our entrance tickets marked so that we could return to the castle to see it for free.

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The castle itself dates from the 1000s, and it was built on the site of a Roman fortress. The town was a popular strategic centre and market town, and it is built on two mottes (raised earth). It is one of the best examples of a Norman castle.

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The walls are Norman, and we walked around them. Along the walls are information panels about each area, but I listened to the audio guide. 

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At Cobb Tower, over-looking the cathedral, hangings were held above the trap door into the tower. This tower was used as a prison. When soldiers were stationed here, they drew grafitti. Most of these were crosses, but there were figures (probably of saints) drawn as well.

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Further along the wall walk is the old location of one of the mottes, and this is now a cemetery inside the walls with large trees. The graves are of prisoners or their children.

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We also saw one of the other exist gates, which suffered from damage due to a property developer.

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The last part of the castle tour consisted of visiting the prison (the red brick building below). The prison was separated into a men's prison and a smaller prison for women. Actors and actresses played out the prisoners and their victims, and the rooms could be visited to see the living conditions. Many of the rooms also contained interactive elements for children.

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A museum with World War memorabilia was also inside one of the larger rooms to coincide with the poppy exhibit. There was also another part of the prison that houses artefacts discovered on the grounds of the castle, such as a skeleton.

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The prisoners also had the benefit of a church, but there were panels between the prisoners so that they could listen but not interact with each other.

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This prison was one of the first to be regulated and also took an overflow of prisoners from London. The rooms in London would hold several prisoners to a room, and many would get the wrong connections or be in danger. The number of prisoners to a room would be limited and modest. 

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We did not have long before the castle closed, so we rushed through the prison. However, we have the ticket so that we can return again. Have you been to Lincoln Castle?

Street artists Fanakapan and Horror Crew have collaborated on additional street art in the past week, along with work by USA street artist Jerry Rugg. Fanakapan's artwork in the past few years has been all about chrome items and foil silver balloons. I love seeing his work pop up to add colour and dimension to the streets of Shoreditch. Star Yard (off Brick Lane) is one of the artist's usual haunts. The wall at the back of the yard is usually painted with his work. A recent collaboration with the artist and Louis Masai with foil sharks gained much attention earlier this summer. 

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Fanakapan's work this time features a chrome frog. Or is it a toad? I love the detail.

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Horror Crew painted their first in a new series of birds on a wall next to the chrome frog. These two artists often collaborate together. Additional work from them can be seen here.

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Last, we have a new piece from Jerry Rugg, an artist from the United States. It depicts a red cobra. The chrome crown was added by Fanakapan.

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I hope to see more work from these artists around London in my walks.

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