June 2013 Archives

Previously, I posted photographs of Kirkwall, Rousay, brochs, cairns and stone circles on the Orkney Islands. I have yet more photographs to get through from my trip away in early May, so I thought I'd post some more. You can, of course, read my old entries here: Orkney Islands: Italian Chapel and KirkwallOrkney Islands: Rousay, Cairns, Mills and Farms, and Orkney Islands: Birsay, Gurness, Brodgar and Cuween Hill.

Today's photographs focus on the ancient Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, the coasts of Yesnaby, the village of Stromness and Ophir round church. 

We will start with Skara Brae, the best-preserved Neolithic settlement. The settlement was accidently discovered as high winds ripped the upper layers of sand and soil from the ruins. The settlement is located on the coast, looking out to the sea. Hard to imagine, but the settlement is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids. 

One of the houses at Skara Brae

The houses in Skara Brae had home furnishings, such as shelving (on the right of the photograph above). They also had holes, lined with stones in the floors for live bait (or keeping food fresh). The areas lined with slabs of stone along the walls were probably filled with animal skins and used as beds. All of the houses were very similar in layout and size, showing that everyone in the settlement was probably of equal status and conformed.

Another house at Skara Brae

Another view of a house with part of the covered street

Another important fact about Skara Brae is that a series of covered streets connected one house to the next.

After the visit to Skara Brae, I drove to Yesnaby, the western coast of the main Orkney Island. This coastal area has many high cliffs and sea stacks, and it is the perfect place to walk. (With better weather, it would have been nice to walk further to visit some brochs that exist on this stretch of coast), but two nice sea stacks are only a short walk from the main parking area.

Yesnaby coast 

A sea stack in the distance along Yesnaby coast

Eroded cliffs near the sea with impressive waves

A waterfall cascades down the cliff

This sea stack at Yesnaby was connected to the main land by a small strip of rock

Another view of the sea stack

Another view of the sea stack

A second sea stack with a hole in the base; it was nice to watch the water raise and enter this hole in the stone

After visiting the coast, I went to explore the coastal town of Stromness. Stromness has a picturesque harbour, and the town has history in pirates and smuggling. The Scapa Flow, the area of sea out of Stromness, is noted for many shipwrecks. As our visit was on a Sunday, unfortunately, many of the shops were shut.

Stromness harbour

A fishing boat moored at Stromness harbour


Looking out to sea at Stromness

Walking down the main street in Stromness

A lighthouse

The last place visited on the way out of Stromness was Ophir, the remains of a Norse round church. There was once a large hall here where people would come to have drink and food. A museum is next to the church and where the hall stood.

Ophir round church

I hope you've enjoyed the photographs.

Street Art: DALeast

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A few weeks ago, I saw a couple street artists painting a wall orange just off of Brick Lane (near Allen Gardens); curious to see what the result would be, I checked back the next day to see black and white "ribbons" forming a running tiger on a bright orange canvas.

The artist that I saw was DALeast, a street artist from China. He painted a few more walls in London over the span of a couple of weeks, including a popular wall on Hanbury Street, Rivington Street, and Sclater Street. His artwork uses very bright background colours and looks three-dimensional. Since the large mural I saw being painted off of Brick Lane, I've noticed several more appear. Some of these have already been painted over now, though. Below are photographs that I took of his work in London.



For more information and to see more from DALeast, visit the official website at: http://www.daleast.com/

Street Art: Olek's Crochet Art

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Street art can take the form of crochet or installation, as well as using traditional spray paint and stencils. An artist renowned for the crochet method is Agata Olek. Agata Olek was born in Poland, but she now lives in New York City. She recently had an exhibit in a gallery in London and has included some crochet items and messages for the public to appreciate in London and all over the world.
One example of her work is located on Sclater Street in Shoreditch. I took this photograph last summer, and the crochet looks a little more worn now than it did then. The crochet bicycle can be discovered on an old building above eye level.
For more examples of her work, visit her website at: http://agataolek.com/

Street Art: Dr. Cream

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

I have been noticing street artist Dr. Cream's artwork around Shoreditch for the past several months now. In addition to a handful of paste-ups dotted around Shoreditch/Spitalfields, there are many colourful resin sculptures stuck onto various walls. Often, these appear in small clusters. The sculptures are a little smaller than the size of a golf ball. 

Some of the sculptures feature a snail-like figure wearing a jester's hat with the words "Rolling Fool". Others depict a portrait of a bearded man wearing glasses and a hat. Others contain words (such as "Jester Quest") that users can look for on YouTube and other websites to see short animations that the street artist has posted featuring these resin sculptures.

To see some of these videos, visit Dr. Cream's video channel on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/DrCreamFilms?feature=watch

I've photographed various sculptures below. Most of these were discovered on Brick Lane or Ely's Yard.


Have you noticed any of these dotted around Shoreditch or elsewhere in London?

Street Art: HIN

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
HIN is a street artist from Hong Kong who settled in England. His work is characteristic of superhero, celebrity, or poltiical figures with large heads and smaller bodies. These are usually in silly poses with painted backgrounds. HIN's work is light-hearted, and according to his website (1), his work strives to hold the inner child after dealing with difficult or traumatic experiences. More of his artwork can be seen on his website.
HIN was busy this spring creating paste-ups around Bethnal Green Road and Brick Lane. I also discovered some older artwork located off Redchurch Street earlier in the year. There has also been some new artwork put up on Sclater Street, Bacon Street, and Rivington Street.
Spiderman holds bug spray with baby Spiderman spiders; Arnie looks like he's out walking a dog; a masked man rides a bicycle; Kim Jong un is riding a missile.
These masked men appear to be joyriding in a police car, holding heart balloons and lollies.
This long panel on the bottom of a shopfront on Bethnal Green road was too large to post as a full image. It includes Batman riding a bike with Ironman, a cop, Catwoman on a tricycle, and colourful background scenery. 
Catwoman rides a tricycle.
New artwork from HIN
1) HIN's personal website with additional artwork: http://hin-art.com/

Street Art: Jana & JS

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Jana & JS are street artists from Austria and France who create artwork that mainly features themselves as the subjects of their artwork. These are then put in various cities across the world. The majority of their work had recently disappeared in London, but they have come back and added a few new pieces.

In addition to the new pieces that Jana & JS have posted/painted, I have seen the remains of two of their pieces in London that I was lucky to photograph earlier in the year. (These are now gone.) Another piece was too badly-damaged before I was able to photograph it.


The woman with a camera was a brilliant piece that has not disappeared.
Below are new pieces of artwork that popped up in the past week from Jana & JS. 
The above piece was a painting off of Great Eastern Street. 
For more information, visit the official website of Jana & JS at: http://www.janaundjs.com/

I previously posted the following articles about Orkney: Orkney Islands: Italian Chapel and Kirkwall and Orkney Islands: Birsay, Gurness, Brodgar and Cuween Hill. This entry focuses on the island of Rousay and the cairns (tombs), including a trip to an old water mill and farm on the main island.

One of the first stops for the day was a trip to the Farm Museum, which showed several of the rooms in a farm-house decorated as they would have been in the old days. This was a real house, so many of the items were authentic. The first room entered was the main room, which included the box bed in the wall, a fireplace and wardrobe. A peat fire was lit in this room with 'fish' hanging above the fireplace. This is what a traditional Orkney home would have been like.

Peat fire, kitchen area, and box bed in a traditional Orkney house

While we waited for the ferry to Rousay, we parked up near these fishing boxes and cages. Only one other car turned up to go on the ferry with us.

Fishing equipment at the harbour, waiting to board on the ferry to Rousay

A lifesaver on the ferry

When we arrived on Rousay, we enjoyed the nice views across to the main Orkney island. Rousay is a hilly island, and a circular road can be driven on around the island in about twenty minutes. The island has a population of approximately 200 people, and its nickname is "Egypt of the north" because of the historical ancient sites located in close proximity. 

View from Rousay across to the main Orkney island

There are three main cairns (chambered tombs) on the southern side of Rousay, besides the large one at Midhowe. These are Traversoe Tuick, Blackhammer, and Yarso. We visited all three of these. The first two were located a short walk from the main road, but Yarso was higher on top of the hill and required a longer walk with breath-taking views. 

Traversoe is a unique cairn because it is built on two levels. There is an underground level as well as the chambered level above it.

Traversoe exterior

Traversoe Tuick interior

Yarso cairn, located further up the side of the hill, has impressive views

The interior of Yarso, with the chambered areas used for storing bones

The most impressive cairn was Midhowe because of its enormous size. This surely held some significance or importance because the other cairns were much smaller in size when compared to Midhowe. Midhowe has a structure built on top of it to protect it from the weather, and it was impossible to get a complete photograph of the cairn. Apparently, it was 70 meters in diameter. Near the cairn is Midhowe broch, a Bronze Age settlement. 

Midhowe broch main entrance

Interior of Midhowe broch

Other places to visit on the Orkney mainland include Click Mill, which is an old water mill that is still working and in use today and the earth houses, thought to be ancient settlements. The best one is Grainbank Earth House, located on the edge of Kirkwall.

Click Mill

Grainbank Earth House

Street Art: Dede

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Recently, Israeli street artist Dede has been painting and pasting up artwork in Shoreditch, London. I located the following paste-ups in various places around Brick Lane, Spitalfields, and Shoreditch. A lot of the artwork seems to feature dark/bold-outlined illustrations of heads/faces and animals (farm animals).



One of the murals exists in railway arches just off of Great Eastern Street. (Sorry about the quality of the photograph; it was difficult to photograph in the sunlight.)


For additional work by street artist Dede, visit http://cargocollective.com/imdede/Dede or https://www.facebook.com/im.dede. For an interview, follow this link: http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/2013/04/18/dede-paints-tel-aviv/#.UbOZw444TmI 

Street Art: Cityzen Kane

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I've been exploring Shoreditch recently as I am currently working in the area, so this gives me an opportunity to share the street art that I come across and that the rest of the public seem to enjoy. I've come across some three-dimensional clay wall art pieces by Cityzen Kane, also known as CZK. Each one is unique and detailed, and many of them have cultural influences (Africa/Asia). Many of them appear to have faces, coming out of an intricate design or detail.
According the the artist, he was inspired to create his sculptures from the late 1980's music revolution and thought of it as a spiritual enlightenment; he envisioned organic shapes and colours (1).
Additional artwork from Cityzen Kane can be found here: http://globalstreetart.com/artists/cityzen-kane-uk
1) Sadler, Stephanie. Street artist interview Cityzen Kane. http://streetartlondon.co.uk/blog/2011/02/14/street-artist-interview-cityzen-kane/ [14 February 2011].

Castles: Castle of Mey in Scotland

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Castle of Mey, built in the late 1500s, is located in Caithness in northeast Scotland. The castle was home to the queen's mother, and she spent a lot of her time at the castle. Gardens and a petting zoo can be seen at the castle. There are also daily guided tours, and the guide that we had told us a lot of interesting information and insight into the royal family and the queen's mother.

The castle lay in ruin for many years before it was discovered by the queen's mother and purchased, and she regularly visited until her death in 2002. 

Castle of Mey

Castle of Mey daffodils in the wooded area in front of the castle

Castle of Mey garden daffodils

Castle of Mey, view of the front of the castle

Street Art: Broken Fingaz Crew

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Broken Fingaz Crew are a collective group of Israeli artists, and I've posted a few of their artwork that I found on the streets in Shoreditch over the past few months. Their work features almost comic-book style imagery and figures, often of mens' heads and skeletons. Bright colours are often used, but a series of their artwork is simply black and white.

I saw the artists painting a mural just off Brick Lane at the end of May. One of these featured a skeleton and a woman on a motorbike; this is the one I saw them painting. Another similar one appeared on Bacon Street. The titles of these are called "Supersex" and "Supersex Vol.2". 

I've included the newest artwork with some of the older pieces that I've collected below.



For more information about this group of street artists, visit their website: http://brokenfingaz.com/

My previous post about the Orkney Islands focused on Kirkwall and the Italian Chapel. In this entry, I've posted photographs of the Broch of Birsay, the Stone Circle of Brodgar, Gurness Broch and Cuween Hill cairn.

In the winter months, the Broch of Birsay can be visited without paying an admission fee. Visitors must wait until low tide in order to walk across the causeway to see the broch. When I visited, low tide was from 8:00am until mid-day. I arrived at 8:00am to walk across the causeway. The sea was rough on the northern side of the causeway, and we saw several massive waves crashing against the stones. The causeway was a little slippery with the seaweed, so we walked carefully. In places, the causeway had been washed away, but visitors could walk onto the larger stones or the sand. 

Views from the causeway at Birsay

Views of pools of water on the side of the raised causeway at Birsay

Birsay beach on Orkney

I enjoyed seeing the causeway after the tide had just gone out and looking for shells, creatures, and the small pools of water left behind.

Once we arrived on the other side of the causeway, we walked up a small slope that led to the broch. This was originally a tunnel that led up from the beach to the village, and it was wide enough to bring boats up. However, part of the village has collapsed into the sea as the slopes have eroded, but it's not clear how much of the village has been lost. The origins of the village are Celtic and Norse. 

This land was probably first settled in the 5th century by missionaries. In the 7th century, it was a Pictish fortress before being taken over by the Norse in the 9th century. A carved Pictish stone (replica) can be seen here, and some of the Norse buildings have drainage and under-floor heating. One of the Norse buildings is a sauna. In the 12th century, a church and monastary was built here, and the ruins can still be seen. 

Broch of Birsay settlement with ruins of walls and under-floor heating.

After visiting the Broch of Birsay, we drove to the Neolithic stone circle, the Ring of Brodgar. The stone circle is built between two lakes and is in a picturesque location. The stone circle is stunning. While walking around the Ring of Brodgar, we felt like we were entering four seasons (sun to rain to hail); the weather can change so quickly.

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar

Another ancient site on Orkney is the Broch of Gurness, an Iron Age settlement. The broch is surrounded by houses and is separated by a dug trench. Part of the settlement has collapsed into the sea due to the erosion. While I was waiting for the broch to open, I saw a tern sea bird flying above the broch.

Pieces of a Roman amphora was also discovered in the broch, which shows significance to the Roman empire at this time.

The sea next to the Broch of Gurness.

The entrance to the broch would have been grand in its day as a status symbol, and it would have been guarded. The door was made of stone and rested on a pivot stone, and this can still be seen just inside the broch. For access to the village outside, the visitors would simply use one of the side 'streets' before the door to the broch.

The entrance to the broch

The settlement located just outside the broch

The settlement outside the broch, with the broch to the left in the photograph. A circular pivot stone for a doorway can be seen in the photograph

A 'street' with houses on either side.

One of the houses has storage areas built inside the walls.

The entrance to the broch. It's possible that guard dogs were in this area, in the alcove on the other side of the large stone slabs which formed a small waiting area before the door.

The entrance to the broch

Another place to visit, close to Kirkwall, is Cuween Hill cairn. A cairn is a chambered tomb, built inside a hill or covered with earth. Thousands of these exist, but only a few have been escavated, and many more are probably waiting to be discovered. These cairns include a few human bones, such as skulls and larger bones as well as possibly the remains of a particular type of animal. It is possible that different communities had their own cairns and affiliated themselves with a particular animal. In this cairn, the animal was the dog. Human and dog bones were found here. Cuween Hill has beautiful views as it's on the side of a mountain. The tomb itself is free to access, but it is a tight fit as the passage is very narrow and muddy. Visitors must crawl through it, and unless you're very small, you need to crouch/crawl very low. This is one of the most difficult cairns to access.

Cuween Hill cairn entrance

The Dulwich Arts Festival took place at the beginning of May. One of the features of the festival was the creation of large street art murals by street artists and a house taken over and decorated by street arts. (I published two entries about this house:  Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 1 and Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 2.)

The street art was created by ROA, REKA, Dscreet, Thierry Noir, RUN, Phlegm, Remi Rough, Conor Harrington, The Rolling People, Pablo Delgado, Christiaan Nagel, Liqen, and others. The artists re-envisioned and re-interpreted artworks from past artwork available to view in the Dulwich gallery.

Conor Harrington. These duelling figures are from the Regency period, when the Dulwich Picture Gallery opened.

A mushroom installation on Dulwich High street, Christiaan Nagel

A mushroom installation on Dulwich High street, Christiaan Nagel

Remi Rough and the System. Based on 'A Girl at a Window' by Rembrandt and 'The Triumph of David' by Poussin.

A mushroom installation on Dulwich High street, Christiaan Nagel

Pablo Delgado

A work in progress by Nunca.

From top to bottom: various depictions of Stik. The first one is based on "An Unknown Couple" by Gainsborough. The second is based on Adam and Eve. The third is based on 'The Linley Sisters' by Gainsborough.

Alfred Hitchcock by AP. Phlegm's interpretation of 'The Triumph of David' by Poussin.

From left to right: MadC. Stik - 'Mrs. Moody and Her Children' based on Gainsborough. Stik -  'Elizabeth and Mary Davidson' (Tily Kettle).

RUN also painted the side of the house that was used by the street artists, and this was based on "The Triumph of David". There's already a photograph of this at Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 1

Did you make a visit to the area to see the street art? Let me know what you thought of it.

Tea near Hyde Park

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A few Sundays ago, I invited a friend out and we headed over to 140 Park Lane to have afternoon tea and cocktails. This restaurant is located in the Marriott Hotel on Park Lane. (I previously visited a year ago, and you can read about that here: Afternoon Tea and Cocktails at Park Lane, London.)

The afternoon tea and cocktails included a choice of tea, cocktail, and a selection of sandwiches and pastries. The cocktails were gin-based, and we selected a fruity one. We were provided with a selection of sandwiches, pastries, a scone, and a crumpet each. 




After tea, we had a browse around London and went into some shops. We walked to Seven Dials and ended up having drinks (cocktails) there. It was a great day.


Illustrations by Karolin Schnoor

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Karolin Schnoor is a German artist and illustrator who is currently living in London. Her range of artwork consists of feminine and colourful imagery as well as flowery patterns, and I enjoy this style. (Some of these patterns are features in stationary and greetings cards.) She has also worked with larger companies and agencies on producing illustrations, and some of her clients have included large newspapers (The New York Times, The Telegraph), books, Nokia, and magazines (Computer Arts, Creative Review, Harper Collins).
Karolin sells her artwork online at various shops, including at Poketo and Etsy.
More examples of her work can be found at:
View Karolin's shops:


The Orkney Islands is a small group of islands located approximately ten miles off the north-eastern coast of mainland Scotland. These islands are rich in history and natural beauty, and those that lived here traditionally and settled here were from Scotland or Scandanavia. Visitors to the islands can arrive by ferry or by plane into Kirkwall on the main island.

In early May, I got the Pentland Ferry across from Giles Bay (not far from John O' Groats, the northeastern tip of Scotland) to St. Margaret's Hope on Orkney's mainland. I stayed for nearly a week, which was enough time to see what the main island had to offer and to spend a couple of days visiting two of the other islands.

On the way back to our bed and breakfast in Kirkwall one afternoon, we drove up Wideford Hill. This hill overlooks the town of Kirkwall, and there are excellent views from the top if you can brave the high winds. The summit also seems to be a hang-out place for locals. At the top of the hill is a trail about a mile long to walk down to Wideford Cairn, a chambered tomb. (There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these tombs on the islands.)

Local boys walking on the road on picturesque Wideford Hill

Large clouds and a steep view of one of the sides of Wideford Hill

A view of Kirkwall from Wideford Hill

There are a few interesting historical places to visit in Kirkwall. These include St. Magnus Cathedral, Earl's Palace, and Bishop's Palace. All three are next to each other. The Orkney Museum is also near all three monuments, but it was shut for refurbishment. 

Earl's Palace with St. Magnus Cathedral in the background

Although Bishop's Palace is next to Earl's Palace, the current lord at the time did not wish to live in Bishop's Palace and had Earl's Palace built. The palace has been in ruins since the 18th century. It's not too difficult to imagine the grandeur of this palace.   

A view of Earl's Palace.

One of the rooms in Earl's Palace

Bishop's Palace, next to Earl's Palace, is in a worse state of ruin. The main hall is completely in ruins, but it's worth visiting the palace to climb the tower. The views over St. Magnus Cathedral are brilliant. 

A view of St. Magnus Cathedral from Bishop's Palace.

St. Magnus Cathedral exterior and interior stained glass windows

The interior of the cathedral contains the tombs of famous explorers, writers, and other important people in history. The cathedral's founder's bones are also inside the cathedral in ones of the pillars, marked by a plaque. A lot of the tombs in the cathedral use skull bone or skeleton imagery.

Skeleton figure in St. Magnus Cathedral

While driving around Orkney, and its many pastures of sheep, I came across adorable lambs in orange plastic jackets. These were cute, so I could not resist taking several photographs of them. Lambs are cute as they are, but they are even cuter when dressed up in little jackets.

I enjoyed seeing these lambs in orange jackets.

Two black-faced lambs wear cute jackets while their mother looks on.

One of the other interesting buildings on the Orkney mainland is the Italian Chapel. This chapel was built in the 1940s on an uninhabited island, which is now a part of the mainland. The chapel was built by Italian prisoners of war (World War II) while they were stationed here. The prisioners also constructed bridges to link two parts of the mainland, called the Churchill Barriers, which prevented ships from accessing the Scapa Flow and attacking the UK's defenses held here. The area is filled with shipwrecks, and you can see many of these. Some of the ships were deliberately sunk at the barriers. 

The Italian Chapel is a beautiful little chapel, and the paintings inside on the walls and ceiling and the woodwork is amazing.

Jesus wood carving above the main doorway

The Italian Chapel interior

The bed and breakfast I stayed at looked out over the Kirkwall harbour, which I photographed below.

Kirkwall harbour

Summer has been late to arrive this year. I took a trip to Weston-super-Mare (in southwest England) this spring, and it was unusually chilly this day. Despite the weather, the sun was out and others were braving a trip to relax on the beach, even if they were not swimming or sun-bathing. Of course, hot drinks could be purchased on the beach to take the edge off the cold weather.

I was happy to see that the new pier had been rebuilt along with a new gaming area and areas to get food inside.  

weston2013-1.jpgVictorian beach shelter with the aquarium in the distance.

weston2013-2.jpgWeston-super-Mare's new pier

Coffee and tea on the beach is a great idea when you're feeling chilly

Donkey rides on the beach

Fish and chips down by the new pier

Another view of the pier

Horse ride on the beach

Hotdogs on the pier

Walking down the new pier in Weston

weston2013-10.jpgA view of Weston's beach from the pier

A sign for donkey rides on the beach


Recent Comments

  • jenn: Thank you. read more
  • Murge: Amazing post. read more
  • Herbert: good post. site read more
  • Frank Quake: Hey, This is great when you said that I had read more
  • Chappy: You mention peptides here? I have had first hand experience read more
  • jenn: Thanks! I love the work. I have got more recent read more
  • Fanakapan: Thanks for the write up. This was some of my read more
  • jenn: Yes.... but that's only for the islands. Mostar and Montenegro read more
  • jenn: Hello, the code is not mine to hand out. I'll read more
  • pantich: More info about the best day trips from Dubrovnik can read more
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID