March 2014 Archives

I headed over to Leicester Square on Saturday with a friend to indulge in a chocolate-themed afternoon tea experience. The experience and a number of workshops feature David Leslie, a well-known chocolate expert. The venue was located in Leicester Square, and the view here was perfect. We had pefect weather and could see many of London's famous buildings from where we sat. I pointed out the tip of the Shard, Monument, the City's buildings, St. Paul's, Nelson's Column, Big Ben, and the Eye. The Penthouse is a bar, and David Leslie's chocolate and macaroon-making classes are held here during the day.

choc-tea-01.jpg
A view of the City of London 

choc-tea-03.jpg
Leicester Square


Our experience started off with a glass of champagne or berry cocktail. We both had a glass of champagne.

choc-tea-02.jpg
Champagne

The desserts were brought over to us. We had one macaroon each, two chocolate-dipped strawberries, and two slices of cake. One slice of cake was praline chocolate, and the other one was raspberry with orange and white chocolate. The praline chocolate cake was not too rich; it was a subtle chocolate taste with perfect texture. I would have preferred it to taste a little richer. The other slice of cake (raspberry and white chocolate) was my preference. The chocolate-dipped strawberries were delicious, and I liked the mango (I believe this was the flavour) macaroon as well. My friend had a salted caramel macaroon.

choc-tea-04.jpg
Slices of cake, strawberries, and macaroon

choc-tea-05.jpg
Cake and chocolate strawberries in Leicester Square

While one group went to make their chocolate truffles, we were eventually given cups of hot chocolate. I was disappointed as I believed this would be pure melted chocolate, but it actually was not. It was a very watery hot chocolate. I have had much better hot chocolate, and I can cite Zaza in Notting Hill (Notting Hill Portobello Road Saturday Market) or even chain Cafe Nero as producing much nicer cups of hot chocolate. 

choc-tea-06.jpg
Disappointing cup of hot chocolate

When it was eventually our time to make the truffles (we were the last table), I felt that it was a bit rushed as we were the last to do this. We were told to put the flavoured cream inside the hollow chocolate. There were two flavours of chocolate to choose from: white or dark. The flavours of cream to insert into them were raspberry, vanilla, and salted caramel. 

choc-tea-07.jpg
Filling the chocolates

We were told to knock the chocolates in their plastic holder lightly onto the table to remove any air-holes inside and to top up with more filling if it was needed.

choc-tea-08.jpg
Filling chocolate truffles

After the chocolates were filled with cream, we were told to seal them with more chocolate, which we drizzled on top.

choc-tea-09.jpg
Sealed truffles

The final aspect of the chocolate decorating was to decorate our chocolates. This was all a little bit rushed for us as we were the last to go, and the tables who went earliest had more time. (This experience really did not seem to be organised too well, and the other tables had more time to make their chocolates and probably had the process explained to them because by the time we went up, we were rushed through in a fraction of the time as the others without really being what to do.) 

We were told to put edible shimmer onto the truffles with a brush and we were told that we could use the chocolate to drizzle some chocolate on top. We were not given a demonstration of this, though, and it would have been good to see examples of how to drizzle the chocolate to create nice designs.

choc-tea-10.jpg
Decorating truffles

When we finished, we had to let the chocolate dry as much as we possible before packing it away to take away with us. I had mine that evening, and they were delicious. The vanilla and raspberry ones were so good. 

choc-tea-11.jpg
Decorated truffles

Overall, the experience was alright, but it was a little chaotic. The staff were friendly, but there seemed to be some problems initially and we were told to go away and come back in thirty minutes. Also, the paperwork did mention filling and decorating macaroons as well, but we never did that and had only one macaroon each. (We did receive chocolate-dipped strawberries, though.) Our table was also rushed through the chocolate-decorating experience while the other tables had more time, so it was a little disappointing as was the hot chocolate. For the price of this experience, I would have expected a little more when comparing this with other afternoon tea and experiences. Judging by comments made by others online, it looks like others had the same complaints. 

The CSS1k Project

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Although we have come a long way from the days of modem dial-up Internet connections and optimising images to load quicker, it is still essential to ensure that our web sites are built efficiently.
CSS1k is a project aimed to see how much can be achieved in using only one kilobyte of CSS. (A similar project was achieved for Javascript: http://js1k.com/.) Users submit their CSS, and a design takes shape, similar to the Zen Garden CSS project, in which users complete their own designs using CSS.)
This project is worth a look to see what can be achieved by only using up to 1K of CSS. To view, go to: http://css1k.com/

"I Come to the Spot" Street Art

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I captured this photograph a year ago. It was located at the top of a sign not far from Stepney Green tube station and near to a church there, on Cephas Road. I was on my way to work on Brick Lane. The area is not too popular with street artists. I am not sure who is responsible for the piece. The piece has been painted onto a sign, and it reads "I come to the spot" and there is an image of what looks like a UFO floating next to the arrow. 

i-come-to-the-spot.jpg

If anyone knows who the artist is, please leave a comment.

Street Art: Xylo

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Street artist Xylo creates small sculptures that are pasted up onto London's walls. The work often has political and social messages associated with it. The theme of some of the work is consumerism.

xylo1.jpg

The plaques depicting the golden frog focus on the endangered species of the frog. Another series depicts alien-like creatures with industrial themes. A third series of the work involved realistic-looking iPhones that were glued onto walls with suicidal images. These appeared at the time when the media was publishing articles about Chinese works at electronic factories committing suicide due to feeling stressed and alienated. Xylo contrasted the suicides with the consumers in London who are constantly on their devices and who queue for the new technology when it comes out (1). 

I've included a few photographs of Xylo's work below.

xylo2.jpg
Xylo and 616; various work by Xylo

xylo07.jpg
Xylo

I only discovered one of the iPhone consumerism pieces that Xylo put up in 2010. This was located on Whitecross Street. As this was several years ago, which is quite a while for street art, this seems to be the only remaining piece in that series.

xylo3.jpg
Work by Xylo, including a damaged and tagged iPhone from the suicide series

For more information about Xylo, visit his website: http://xylo.org.uk

1) Vartanian, Hrag. London's Xylo Creates Street iPhones to Highlight Chinese Suicides. http://hyperallergic.com/7815/xylo-iphones-london-suicides-china/ [6 July, 2010].

Over the past couple of months, I have been busy taking photographs of street art. While the winter was relatively quiet with new pieces, the spring has been exceptionally busy with new artists and work going up frequently. Here is a round-up of some recent street art, including a couple of pieces that look like they may have been around a little longer but I have only just captured. Enjoy!

pixelponcho1.jpg
Pixel Poncho

pixelponcho-2014-02.jpg
Pixel Poncho

zipper01.jpg
Zipper

shok1-2014-1.jpg
Shok-1 (Street Art: Shok-1)

jimvision-2014-2.jpg
Jim Vision

connorharrington-2014-01.jpg
Conor Harrington (Street Art: Conor Harrington)

lovepigs-2014-01.jpg
Love Piepenbrinck (Street Art: Love Piepenbrinck)

hunto-2014-01.jpg
Hunto (Street Art: Hunto)

dscreet-2014-02.jpg
Dscreet (Street Art: Dscreet)

saki-2014-01.jpg
Saki (Street Art: Saki)

ottoschade2014-02.jpg
Otto Schade (Street Art: Otto Schade)

rolling-fool-2014-01.jpg
Rolling Fool / Dr. Cream (Street Art: Dr. Cream)

grafitti-life-2014-01.jpg
Graffiti Life

robot-streetart.jpg
Unknown robot

ricardo-akn-2014-01.jpg
Ricardo AKN

benmurphy-2014-01.jpg
Ben Murphy

dank02014-01.jpg
Dan Kitchener (Street Art: Dan Kitchener)

2501-and-run-2014.jpg
2501 and Run (Street Art: RUN)

rollingpeople-2014-01.jpg
Rolling People (Street Art: Faith47, Cernesto, Rolling People, Edwin, and many more)

pang2014-01.jpg
Pang (Street Art: Pang)

airbourne-mark-2014-01.jpg
Airbourne Mark

xina-2014-01.jpg
Xina

deeone-2014-01.jpg
DeeOne

unify-2014-01.jpg
Unify

various-2014-01.jpg
Airbourne Mark, Mr. French, Rasta Rat, Neoh and others

Posting Colours with Pantone® Postcards

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A couple of months ago, I placed an order for Pantone® postcards. One of my hobbies is Postcrossing - sending postcards to random people in the world and receiving one back in return. I love Pantone®, and I've requested some (particularly my favourite colour of green) in return. A colour can hold so much emotion and feeling. For friends in America, I have sent yellow postcards so my friends do not feel cabin-fever after being stuck in blizzard-like conditions over the past couple of months.

I was glad to receive the postcards, and they are printed on thick card-stock. Overall, there is a nice range in colours available. These are nice cards. I've taken a few photographs below. Apologies for the poor Photoshop job in the first image below. The cards were laid out on the bedspread, and the natural lighting was quite harsh, and I didn't really dedicate much time to attempt to erase the background or reshoot. Besides, I've sent a few more of these since the photograph was taken anyway. But, you can get the idea...

pantone-postcards.jpg

If you are on Postcrossing and wish to exchange postcards (such as these Pantone® postcards), do let me know. 

And, for those of you who do not know what Pantone® is... Pantone® is the company that publishes a book with their defined colours, each set to specific standards of measurement of the pigments that make up colour, for printing purposes. This is to ensure that when a company decides to print its brand, the colours always match so that the consumer can identify the brand. More on the company can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantone.

Street artist Best Ever painted one of the large walls on Hanbury Street off of Brick Lane. The image depicts a saint-like figure (with a halo), two greyhounds, and a homeless person dreaming of a home. Text on the top of the mural reads "I grew up all twisted.  I ended up running away. It's rough living in the streets. I've been attacked a few times."

jim-mcelvaney04.jpg
Best Ever

I am not sure, but the following images may be by the artist, but they are more sketches and not detailed. They feature saint-like figures or angels with halos, and one includes a flying white dove. (The pigeon painted on the ground looks like a different artist.) I added a couple of photographs of similar street art here: New Street Art: Christmas, New Year and more.

bestever01.jpg
Best Ever

For more information about the artist, view his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wearebestever 

Jim McElvaney

Jim McElvaney has recently painted murals on the sides of buildings off of Brick Lane. The artist's work often features sketchy portraits by troubled people (homeless) with their thoughts writen as a part of the mural. The following mural is located off of Brick Lane.

"Dad died. They tried to put me in car. That was never going to happen. We slept everywhere."

jim-mcelvaney03.jpg
Jim McElvaney

The following mural, which is painted on Bacon Street, shows a crude portrait with the following text:

"At the weekends I made myself scarace, mates sofas and one time under the railway bridge"

jim-mcelvaney02.jpg

jim-mcelvaney05.jpg
Portrait by Jim McElvaney

Last summer, the artist collaborated with street artist Ben Slow (Street Art: Ben Slow) on a large mural near Old Street. 

jim-mcelvaney01.jpg
Ben Slow and Jim McElvaney

For more information, view the artist's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jimmcelvaney 

On Board the Golden Hinde II

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A few weeks ago, we took a guided tour on the Golden Hinde II, a replica of the tallship that Francis Drake used to sail around the world and steal from the Spanish. Although the guided tour with a man dressed as a sailor was geared a little more for children, we learned some history about the ship and were taken to the various decks inside to learn about the conditions for those on board. The children helped to demonstrate the mechanism for pulling the anchors up and firing the guns on the deck below.

goldenhinde01.jpg
Exterior of the Golden Hinde II

The replica ship was built in the 1970s, and it has sailed around various parts of the world for various events and was used in filming. We saw the Captain's room and quarters (though we had to be quick and saw these on our own and not on part of the tour because our tour over-ran a little bit.)

goldenhinde02.jpg
The Golden Hinde II and a view of the City

goldenhinde03.jpg
The decks

goldenhinde04.jpg
Captain's room and carved heads

The Golden Hinde II is located in Pickford's Wharf, next to Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral and an interesting ruin, Winchester Palace.

Street Art Masks by Gregos

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Paris artist Gregos is self-taught and has created a series of masks that are placed around cities around the globe. The artist has been creating street art since the mid-2000s, and masks are one of the common; there are over 500 masks pasted up onto walls all over the world. The artist was in London recently, and a few dozen of these masks went up onto the streets within a day or two. However, many of these were removed/stolen very quickly.

gzergos11.jpg

gregos14.jpg

gregos20.jpg

The technology used to create the masks is 3D scanning with 3D printing and adjustment of wireframes before a plaster mould is created. These are then painted and pasted onto walls.

gzergos01.jpg

I have only managed to spot a few of these masks, but I have seen that there is more out there. However, some of those were taken immediately as I walked to some of the areas looking the same day or the day after they were pasted up. I had a lot of fun looking around Shoreditch and Spitalfields and discovering these.

gzergos02.jpg

Gregos' work reminds me of some pieces that appeared around London last summer. The pieces were by Urban Solid (See my published write-up here: Street Art: Urban Solid). 

gzergos03.jpg

gzergos04.jpg

gzergos06.jpg

gzergos07.jpg

gzergos08.jpg

gzergos09.jpg

gzregos10.jpg

Sometimes, the masks pop out because they are brightly-coloured. Other times, the masks seemingly blend in to their surrounding.

gregos11.jpg

gzergos12.jpg

gzregos11.jpg

gregos12.jpg

gregoz21.jpg

For more information about the artist and photographs of his work, see http://www.gregosart.com or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gregos-Art/118749327867

Please tell me if you know where more of the masks are located. I would like to track down all of these.

This post showcases two artists who work with sculpture: Isaac Cordal and Marcus Juncal. Both have visited London in the past and have left small sculptures around. I occassionally discover a new one that I have never seen before; they have been there for a little while now, and a lot of the work is looking weathered now.

Isaac Cordal is an artist from Brussels who creates and installs several ceramic/cement figures around city streets in a series of portrayals called "Cement Eclipes". The figures are placed in absurb situations to portray city life and interactions with the city around them. These can be on the tops of signs and buildings. Often, many people can walk past them without noticing them.

isaac-cordial01.jpg
Columbia Road

isaac-cordal02.jpg

isaac-cordial03.jpg
Various torsos

isaac-cordial04.jpg

isaac-cordial06.jpg
A series of cement figurines by Isaac Cordal

isaac-cordial05.png

For more information about Isaac Cordal's work, view http://cementeclipses.com/Works/ or http://www.flickr.com/photos/27963055@N02/ 

Marcus Juncal's work can be seen in a few places around Brick Lane, but it's fading quite a bit now as the work has been there for a long while now. They feature plastic dolls with McDonalds restaurant bags over their heads and bodies. The artwork seems to relay a message to the viewer. 

marcus-juncal.jpg

For more of the artist's work, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JUNCAL-Street-art-/121876764495608 

Colourful ribbons and floating robots have invaded Shoreditch with the help of street artist Nick Kuszyk (http://www.rrobots.com). The artist came to London at the beginning of this month to create the mural on the huge Village Underground wall. The work is certainly very colourful and adds much-needed colour to a cloudy and recently wet London.

nickkuszyk04.jpg

Nick Kuszyk is from Brooklyn, and much of his work can be seen there with pieces all over the world. The artist is mainly known for his robot characters, and they were features in a children's book "R Robot Saves Lunch", published in 2010.

nickkuszyk03.jpg

nickkuszyk02.jpg

I got some photographs a couple of weeks ago of the work in progress, which you can see below.

nickkuszyk01.jpg

An interview by the artist can be read here: http://rvamag.com/articles/full/16085/rva-no-9-nick-kuszyk 

New Street Art by Cyrcle!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Realistic-looking painted fabric and large orange and grey dots create upside-down figures on the side of a building in Shoreditch. The artwork is titled "Reign!". The artists are known as Cyrcle!, and they have some work on display in the city at the moment. I love the colours and the execution of this work. The fabric looks realistic, but the rest of the image is comprised of two main colours forming dots. The light and shadow is made from the proximity or size of the dots, and viewers need to stand back in order to see the image. In addition, the image is painted upside down. 

cyrle01.jpg
The mural by Cyrcle!

cyrle02.jpg
A close-up of dots and fabric that make up the image

When turned, the image reveals three figures in various embraces, and it reminds me of ancient Greek statues. (Two of the figures are in orange, and the other figure is in grey and is partially-wrapped in dark grey cloth.) See the photograph below for the image turned the right way up.

reign03.jpg
Image painted by Cyrcle! turned the right way up

For more information about Cyrcle!, see their website here: http://www.cyrcle.com 

A Tour of Big Ben

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Last summer, I had a tour to see the famous Big Ben, the bell inside the tower. Originally, the clock tower was named St. Stephen's Tower, but its name was changed to Elizabeth Tower last year in honour of the queen for her Diamond Jubilee. (A tower in the Houses of Parliament is named Victoria Tower, named after the Queen Victoria in her Diamond Jubilee as well.)

bigbentour.jpg
Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) before our tour

We arrived in the building across the street to begin our tour; access to Elizabeth Tower can be reached from a tunnel underground that connects the buildings with Parliament. We could not take photographs on the tour, but we climbed over 300 steps to the top. We stopped off at a couple of times. On the way up, we stopped off to have a look at the clock and bell mechanism and watched this when the clock struck a quarter to. We saw how the mechanism worked and saw old pennies on the weights to counter-act the machinery so that it keeps accurate time as changes in weather can affect it. We also saw the weights counter-act to ring the bells above.

Our last stop was to see Big Ben (the bell). The bell was cast at the same place as the American Liberty Bell (Whitechapel Bell Foundry). We listened to the bells and watched them as the struck on the hour. We saw the crack in the bell and the portcullis symbol engraved on it. There were excellent views over London from here.

On the way down, we walked around (behind) the clockface and were told about how the clockface was cleaned and about the gas lamps (now electric lamps) that used to light up the clockface.

To view a virtual tour of Big Ben, see: http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/online-tours/virtualtours/bigben-tour/  To view photographs of the inside of the tower, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/sets/72157615971627846/ 

Recent Street Art in Early 2014

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I have been finally catching up with my backlog of street art that I have taken over the past eighteen months, so I will be featuring more recent pieces earlier than a lot of times in the past, as this also enables me to spot any new pieces and upload them. Last year's treasured finds for me would include meeting Paul "Don" Smith and getting a spray-painted image in my sketch pad (New Street Art and a Meeting with Paul Don Smith (the Banker)) and discovering street artist ALO's work (Street Art: Alo, Part 3). There have been other highlights as well, of course. 

Last year was a busy one for street art, and I am hoping that 2014 has a lot more in store. Here are a few that I have managed to capture so far this year, and this includes a few leftover pieces from later in 2013. 

Jonesy, (originally blogged about here: Street Art: Jonesy) added new pieces around. I captured this bull with human legs and missing arms high on top of a sign on Brick Lane.

jonesy2014-01.jpg
Jonesy

Anna Laurini (Street Art: Anna Laurini) was busy last summer, and I occassionally spot a new piece, such as the one below: "when the birdcatcher comes occupy the sky".

annalaurini2014.jpg
Anna Laurini

Cranio made a big impression on London at the beginning of 2013 (Street Art: Cranio), and there were quite a few of his pieces dotted around. Unfortunately, some of his work was eventually painted over, but he visited London again toward the end of the year and painted a new mural off of Brick Lane and fixed the tagged-over work on Rivington Street as well as work on some collaborations (Street Art: Cranio, Senna, HIN, and Mo) and pieces across London. I only recently discovered his pieces on the inside walls of Juno on Shoreditch High Street, but I assume that these were created during his visit toward the end of last year. 

cranio2014-01.jpg
Cranio

Millo, an Italian artist, visited London early in 2013 and left several murals and shutter paintings around east London. He visited London again toward the end of 2013 and collaborated with artist Hunto (Street Art: Hunto) on a piece before completing some crude drawings on the north end of Brick Lane and additional pieces on gates in Shoreditch.  

millo2013-06.jpg


millo2014-05.jpg

millo2014-01.jpg
Millo

millo2014-02.jpg
Millo

Early this year, new colourful mushrooms and some baby mushrooms sprouted up in east London. These are the works of Christiaan Nagel, whom I blogged about here: Street Art: London's Mushrooms and Baroque the Streets: Dulwich Street Art. Nagel's previous mushrooms have slowly disintegrated over the course of the past year, beginning with the colour fade and the top of the mushrooms being broken off slowly due to weathering. Since the old pieces have mainly disappeared, I have been happy to see some new pieces sprouting up. In addition, there are several baby mushrooms in clusters. The first batch was spotted on Rivington Street; it consisted of a cluster of red baby mushrooms with one single hot pink mushroom. Addition mushrooms sprouted in Dalston and on Brick Lane. 

nagel2014-1.jpg
Nagel

nagel2014-06.jpg
Nagel

Nathan Bowen created some work at the end of last year, and he's also been pasting up signs with his demon character throughout the summer and later part of last year. Orignally, I blogged about him and his work here: Street Art: Nathan Bowen. Since that post, I've captured a few of his signs. The artist was particularly busy at the end of 2013 with some new pieces appearing on Brick Lane and Sclater Street as well as on the railway bridge above Borough Market. 

bowen2014-1.jpg
Nathan Bowen

nathanbowen-2014-03.jpg
Nathan Bowen

Nathan Bowen also collaborated with artist Skeleton Cardboard. I remember seeing a couple pieces of his work near Stepney Green at the beginning of last year, but there was nothing major in east London. Skeleton Cardboard's work mainly appeared on Sclater Street with some skeletons appearing on the walls and drawn onto pieces of paper. Additionally, a piece was located at the southern end of Brick Lane, which was a collaboration with Bowen.

skeletoncardboard2014.jpg
Skeleton Cardboard

Dscreet was busy at the end of last year with a large mural painted on the Village Underground (New Street Art by Dscreet at Village Underground). I initially created an entry with some of his work, as there is a lot of it to be seen in east London: Street Art: Dscreet. Earlier in the year, he painted inside the art house in Dulwich. Some of his work was painted over in a popular spot on Bacon Street, and he reclaimed it twice with a new piece. The trademark owl's head appeared off Great Eastern Street.

dscreet20132014.jpg
Dscreet

Additional artwork appeared, including the pieces below.

eyer-streetart.jpg
Eyer

charlotteposner1.jpg
Charlotte Posner

Ben Wilson, an artist who paints bubble gum that has been tracked onto pavements, must have been busy in the autumn in east London. I saw him at work in Dulwich (Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 1), but I had never seen his work on the streets before. I was happy to come across one of his colourful bubblegum pieces on Rivington Street.

benwilson01.jpg
Ben Wilson

Ben Slow, famous for realistic portraits, painted a wall of a bakery in Dalston Junction. More of his work can be seen here: Street Art: Ben Slow.

benslow2014-01.jpg
Ben Slow

Artist Paul "Don" Smith painted in a couple of popular places just off of Brick Lane in the new year. One of the highlights of 2013 was seeing the artist painting using stencils and spray paint twice. (For more information about the artist, read New Street Art from Don 'Paul' Smith, including pieces from Whitecross Street). In addition to the artwork prompting visitors to give charity aid, the following figure appeared on Hanbury Street. 

donsmith2014-01.jpg
Paul "Don" Smith

Two tributes to Ronnie Biggs, from The Great Train Robbery, were located off Shoreditch High Street and on Hanbury Street.

pauldonsmith2014-02.jpg
Paul "Don" Smith

I will continue to post new artwork; I hope that 2014 is a great year for some new street art and graffiti pieces in London.

For my birthday last June, I was treated to a trip to the observation deck on the top of the Shard, currently the tallest building in Europe. The Shard towers over the other buildings in London and is one of the few tall buildings on the south bank of the Thames; it stands 310 metres tall and has 72 floors. The observation deck is located just under the topmost floor and is open to the public. The Shard was completed in the summer of 2012 and before the Olympics.

shard01.jpg
Tower Bridge with Canary Wharf in the distance

shard-20.jpg
The Shard

We arrived in the evening when it was still daylight, and we stayed and watched the sunset and watched the darkness settle over the city and watched as the lights started to twinkle. There are some great views of the City, Canary Wharf, and Tower Bridge. The Olympic Park could be seen to the east. Big Ben, BT Tower, and Bickingham Palace could also be seen, but these were further away.

shard02.jpg
Tower Bridge and City Hall

shard03.jpg
The Gherkin and east London. You can see the spire of Spitalfields (church) and the Truman Brewery smoke stack (next to where I work)

shard05.jpg
The Olympic stadium and sculpture

The Shard observation decks contain several interactive screens which show you real-time views of London. Visitors can zoom in and out of objects in the distance. In addition, visitors can view the same picture at night, sunrise, sunset, or during the day to see the difference in the view over time. I loved playing with this and looking at the different views at different times of the day.

shard10.jpg
Visitors in the observation deck

For those wishing to admire views from a lower level, there are now restaurants open on the lower floors. These are still high enough to appreciate the view but not as high as this. In some ways, I felt that the Shard was too high to appreciate some of London's beauty, and I am not the best with heights.

shard04.jpg
Borough Market below the rail lines and part of Southwark Cathedral

The lift (elevator) up to the top went very quickly and was very smooth, and you can appreciate how quickly it ascends.

shard06.jpg
The City: Tower 42, Walkie Talkie tower (being built), Gherkin. (A large part of 'the square mile')

shard07.jpg
The City and London Bridge. You can make out the gold point on Monument

shard08.jpg
Looking west. BT Tower in the haze, the Millennium Bridge and Blackfriar's Bridge

shard09.jpg
St. Paul's Cathedral

shard11.jpg
St. Paul's, Southwark and Millennium Bridges

shard12.jpg
London Eye and Big Ben (in distance)

shard13.jpg
The City

shard14.jpg
Zoom-in of Big Ben and London Eye and Waterloo Station

shard15.jpg
The City

shard16.jpg
Canary Wharf

shard18.jpg
Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf

shard19.jpg
St. Paul's

shard20.jpg
Blackfriar's, Millennium, Southwark and Cannon Street Bridges

shard21.jpg
Tower Bridge and London glowing at dark

Have you been up the Shard? 

Prepare for cuteness overload. Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium finally opened last weekend. I and countless others had been waiting months for this vision, by founder Lauren Pears, to become a reality. Over the past several months, the cafe has had a significant amount of press. The popularity of this venture speaks for itself as the cafe is fully-booked for the next couple of months; there could always be cancellations, so more slots could become available.

ladydinah14.jpg
Petra the cat has a catnap by the window

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium was a crowd-funded campaign for the first-of-its-kind cat cafe in the city of London. These cat cafes are popular in Asia, and there are a couple in England, such as Totnes Cat Cafe in Devon and Koneko in Brighton.

ladydinah08.jpg
Romeo snoozes next to Lucy

I first became aware of Lady Dinah's last spring (a year ago now!) through social media, but the crowd-funding had ended by that time, otherwise I would have donated. As I watched the progress materialise (on Facebook and other social media websites), from obtaining premises to planning permission to endless paperwork and red tape involved, I can see that this has been a trying experience and the owner has had to make some sacrifieces. All of the hard work has eventually paid off. 

ladydinah09.jpg
Artemis

ladydinah13.jpg
Romeo wakes from a nap and looks on

In fact, I was happy to see that the location (Bethnal Green Road) is literally around the corner from where I work. It will be a struggle for me not to make this a weekly habit once the opening period has quieted down a bit.

ladydinah03.jpg
Wookie looks amused

Visitors to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium can have a drink or something sweet, such as a selection of cake or cold savoury food. There is not a kitchen on site, so no cooked food can be served, but a selection of scones, cakes, and other sweets is available, and this selection changes daily. The tea is loose-leaf. I had a cup of Earl Grey and a slice of orange polenta cake while I watched a couple of other visitors dangle a stringy bit of cloth on a stick in front of a couple of the cats. 

ladydinah12.jpg
Tea and orange polenta cake

Visitors to the cafe can play with the cats. There are plenty of toys to keep the cats entertained. When the cats have had too much attention, they can simply retire to any number of 'nooks and crannies' or hide inside or behind furniture.

ladydinah01.jpg
Mue hides away on the top of a shelf

The cats are also well-fed with plenty of food and water dishes placed out-of-the-way and around the cafe for them to drink and eat from. In short, these felines are treated like kings and queens with a number of devices to keep them entertained and a number of places to explore or rest.

ladydinah04.jpg
Wookie drinks from a bowl

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is located over two floors. The basement area has comfortable seating arranged with a vintage map covering one of the walls, a large bookcase with various cat hideaways and boxes of toys for the cats. The ground floor area has larger tables and large street-facing windows for the cats to sit in and for visitors outside to admire the cats in the windows. 

ladydinah02.jpg
Lucy naps on a hammock above the stairs

ladydinah06.jpg
Wookie joins me for tea

Along the ground floor room are several shelving units attached to the walls for the cats to climb on and to sit up high on. There are also a series of podiums in the window for the cats to lay on top of and attract people passing by the windows. 

ladydinah05.jpg
Romeo is sprawled out on one of the shelves

ladydinah11.jpg
Romeo, Petra, Carbonelle and Lucy napping

The staff were knowledgable about the cats and knew each one's individual personalities. Many of the cats at the cafe are related to the mother, Mue (the Calico previously pictured). Loki and Adamska (two black kittens and not pictured in this post) are siblings. There were two of the twelve cats that I did not get to see or spend time with as they were asleep when I visited. The cats have been hand-picked for the cafe to bond together and for the right personality to enable them to cope with the attention.

ladydinah07.jpg
Artemis seemed to have a particular fondness for this window seat

The cats got tired out during the end of my session and started to snooze. They seemed to appreciate when a lot of people were around to play, but when the people started to disappear, the cats took the opportunity to nap. 

ladydinah10.jpg
Petra naps

One visitor commented on how the cats seemed to bring people together and that people were quite happy to talk to each other about the cats. I guess cats are excellent ice-breakers to having conversations with complete strangers. 

ladydinah15.jpg
Donnie sits in the window

I have another booking in April, and I am looking forward to seeing the cats again and being able to spend more time with them than I was able to do during this visit. The bookings are in two-hour time slots, with a break in the middle of the day to give the cats a rest. Bookings are more information can be found on the website: http://ladydinahs.com. 

ladydinah16.jpg
Petra joins me for tea

Have you visited Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium? What did you think? Do you have a favourite cat? It is difficult for me to choose a favourite, but it would be a toss-up between Petra and Wookie. I have always been partial to brown/black tabby cats, particularly Maine Coons. Petra and her siblings also have slightly longer fur, so they may have some Maine Coon in them. The cat I owned and shared over half of my life with at the time of his death (he lived to be 16.5 years old) was a brown tabby Maine Coon. Petra would look just like him is she did not have the white bits, except for a white spot on her neck, on her. Roll on April so I can get my next cat fix.

After watching the Spitalfields Pancake Race just off of Brick Lane last year (Spitalfields Pancake Race 2013), I put the date in my calendar for this year so that I could watch the race and get some photographs. The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race is located just off of Brick Lane on Dray Walk, literally opposite the office where I work. Perfect!

pancakeday2014-22.jpg
Pancake-flipping fun

Live music was being played before the race. The costumes did not disappoint this year. This year, there were two groups dressed as construction workers, strawberries, friars, red hats, cow masks, and cutlery. (I thought that the cutlery costumes were brilliant, but it was the strawberries who nabbed the "best costume" award.) There was also a group celebrating a milestone 60th birthday.

pancakeday2014-07.jpg
Birthday girl

The Spitalfields City Farm dressed as strawberries, and there was a lion and a cow thrown into the mix. They had a banner.

pancakeday2014-01.jpg
Spitalfields City Farm Pancake Day Race

The four cutlery girls made hats of cutlery (fork, teaspoon, table spoon, and a knife) and wore pretty Cath Kidston aprons.

pancakeday2014-02.jpg

pancakeday2014-03.jpg
The cutlery girls suss out their competition

pancakeday2014-04.jpg
A group with painted faces waits for the races to begin

pancakeday2014-05.jpg
Construction pancake flippers

The two guys dressed in colourful clown costumes were there again this year, and they demonstrated the rules of the pancake race. The race was back-and-forth, with one member of the team running with the frying pan (with pancake) to the other side, and the team member would take over. There are two lines on the course, and when the line is approached, the pancake must be flipped before continuing.

pancakeday2014-26.jpg
One of the clowns

pancakeday2014-06.jpg
Demonstrating the rules

When the races began, it was every person for himself/herself. It seemed that everyone had a good time watching and participating in the race. I took a tonne of photographs of the race. Prizes were Cath Kidston merchandise and sweets.

pancakeday2014-08.jpg

pancakeday2014-09.jpg

pancakeday2014-10.jpg

pancakeday2014-11.jpg

pancakeday2014-12.jpg

pancakeday2014-13.jpg

pancakeday2014-14.jpg

pancakeday2014-15.jpg

pancakeday2014-16.jpg

pancakeday2014-17.jpg

pancakeday2014-18.jpg

pancakeday2014-19.jpg

pancakeday2014-20.jpg

pancakeday2014-21.jpg

pancakeday2014-23.jpg

pancakeday2014-24.jpg

pancakeday2014-25.jpg

pancakeday2014-27.jpg

pancakeday2014-29.jpg

The Great Spitalfields Pancake Day race raises aid for London Air Ambulance. The winning team (this year, it was the Aldgate Towers) receives a special engraved frying pan and other goodies. Teams must apply to participate in the race in advance.

pancakeday2014-28.jpg
The winning team is announced and given an engraved frying pan

Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, takes place a few weeks before Easter. This day was the day before the fasting began (and ended for Easter), so milk and eggs and other products would need to be used. The day was a 'half-holiday' at one time in England. Pancake races were a tradition and held in villages and towns. These events are not so common anymore, but there are a couple to be seen around London.

Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I enjoy reading history, and Bethnal Green is not too far from where I work. Bethnal Green has a lot of history, but it is most famous for a sad story that happened during World War II.

Seventy years ago last March (3 March, 1943) in the evening, the worst civilian disaster happened during World War II at Bethnal Green tube station. A plaque and memorial commemorates the 173 people who lost their lives when a woman and her child tripped and fell on the third step from the bottom on their way down into the air raid shelter (now tube station) stairs next to the monument when the sirens sounded.

As others from above rushed into the shelter in a panic amongst the sounds of sirens and anti-aircraft guns (which they mistook for bombs), unaware of the disaster happening below, people ended up tumbling over each other. The bodies piled up, several deep, and they ended up suffocated. Most of those who lost their lives were women, closely followed by children. Those who were wounded or involved suffered trauma; I'm sure this trauma lasted their lives.

bethnal-green-tube-disaster.jpg
Bethnal Green memorial and tube station

At the time, the disaster was kept secret from the public in order to protect the nation's morale. Those involved were asked to keep quiet.

This disaster is sad, and so many lost their lives due to panic. A first-hand account of the disaster from one of the survivors can be read here: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2010/02/11/alf-morris-survivor-of-the-bethnal-green-tube-disaster/ 

Street Art: Sbagliato's Doorways

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Artist Sbagliato creates realistic doorways on building walls to give an illusion that it is more than a wall. I caught some of his work before it was tagged over too much in east London. The doorway is a painting that looks like a stone archway protruding from a plain brick wall.

bricklane17.jpg

The artist is based in Italy, and he is known for painting doorways and windows on plain walls. More of his work can be seen on his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SBAGLIATO/132466230162786

His work reminds me of a story that I read in a London history book about architects who added a painted window to a side of a building to make it look more symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. I think the building in question was near Smithfield market at St. Batholomew's.

I would love to see more of this artist's work in London.

http://blog.vandalog.com/2013/07/borondo-sbagliato-and-romeo-in-tuscany/

Archives

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