June 2014 Archives

This spring, I had a trip to Dartmoor to go walking and completing a few letterboxing trails. (I covered my walk around Sourton Tor a few weeks ago here: Walking Sourton Tor in Dartmoor - Jenikya's Blog.) One of the walks was located around the vicinity of Little Links Tor. The trail stuck to the lower areas of the tor and did not go all the way to the top of the tors. Walking this area was difficult as there were several boggy areas.  The walk started at a public car park behind Okehampton Inn near Sourton. We walked down the trail and crossed a stone bridge in the stream.

The start of our walk...Arms Tor in the distance on the left

The trail took us around the west of Arms Tor, where we saw a railway bridge walkway (though we did not go too close to this). We also passed over a settlement of some sort, where we saw manmade mounds of dirt and a lot of large stones. Some of these had been half-buried by vegetation.


We also came across a couple of natural springs near the settlement, and the water looked quite deep. A lot of the area coming off of the tors was boggy, and we sometimes walked around as much of this as possible, though this was difficult to do. We were not wearing our walking boots as our feet had blisters from wearing them the previous day.

This may be Arms Tor

We travelled between Arms Tor and Great Nodden, a very large loaf-shaped brown hill that pokes up from the land. In the photograph below, Great Nodden is on the left. We are fairly high up on Arms Tor in this photograph.

Great Nodden from Arms Tor

Of course, we were hunting letterboxes. We had a charity letterboxing trail. The stamps were all designed as sheep.

Letterboxing stamp

A spring and Great Nodden

One of the areas around the tor (Arms Tor) had a spring, and I did not notice that the spring had carved out a large passage hidden underneath rock and clitter. My foot fell all the way down to solid ground. It was as deep as my thigh. Luckily, I did not get hurt. Now I know why people use walking sticks.

Views over Dartmoor

The views from the tor were pretty.

More views of Dartmoor

On one stop for the letterbox clue, we were not too far from Dartmoor ponies. They were a few hundred yards away, but it was still a little too close for my liking. We tried to hurry as they seemed to be a little curious. I suspect that they were hungry and wanted food, but something did not seem quite right. We then saw one pony run and attack another one. We moved on pretty quickly after that. After we were on our way, I looked back and the pony was sniffing the ground where we had sat to press the stamp in our book. I think that the pony was hungry and wanted to fight or warn off the other one. However, the pony would have been disappointed as we did not eat anything or leave any food.

Dartmoor ponies

Great Nodden and a spring

We have another trail that goes around the top of the tors here, but we did not get to complete it as we wanted to get going as we had to go to work the next day. I plan on going back to Dartmoor before autumn to complete a couple other trails. I am hoping that the bogs dry up a little bit; this was not my favourite place to walk as there are so many bogs.


On the way out, I took a photograph of Widgery Cross on the top of Brat Tor.

Widgery Cross on Brat Tor

We were lucky with the weather on Dartmoor again, and I am hoping that we choose a good long weekend next time we venture over to the area to complete some additional walking trails.

The Centennial of the Great War

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Today makes the 100 year anniversary of the start of Great War, prompted by the assasination of Archduke (Austria-Hungary) Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo. It was actually their 14th wedding anniversary. The assasination led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia and Germany agreeing to help Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary and Germany refused to settle differences peacefully, and this brought the rest of Europe into the war. (For more information on broad events and a timeline of the war, read: http://www.citynews.ca/2014/06/27/timeline-events-that-led-to-the-first-world-war .)

Lateiner Bridge, Sarajevo

I visited Sarajevo a couple of years ago and saw where the assasination happened (Lateiner Bridge) as well as some of the other places that Franz Ferdinand and his wife visited. To see photographs of my trip to Sarajevo, visit Day 9: Exploring Sarajevo in May in ... Snow?! - Jenikya's Blog.

This summer, there are a few events happening to remember the Great War. From the end of July, the Imperial War Museum in London will reopen with a new display on the Great War. There's also "Letter to an Unknown Soldier", which is a public contribution of letters inspiried by a statue of a World War 1 soldier reading a letter at Paddington Station. The letter submissions can be read here: http://www.1418now.org.uk/letter/

Another gallery showcases artwork and comics about the Great War: http://www.1418now.org.uk/whats-on/1914-day-by-day-cartoons/all/

Real stories about those who lived during the Great War can be read here: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org

UK National Elephant Parade 2013-2014

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From last summer, nearly 100 elephant sculptures have been on tour in various shopping malls in cities around the UK. The tour started in Watford, west London, and is due to finish at the end of July in Bromley, London. Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Norwich were other cities that the elephants visited in order to raise money for the charity to aid in elephant conservation. (For those interested, read my entry about the elephant parade in London in 2010: Parading Artistic Elephants in London - Jenikya's Blog.)

'We Love Mosha' by Diane Francis

I saw the elephants at Uxbridge, west London. Each of the fourteen cities hosted thirty elephants for approximately one month. I am assuming that different venues had a few different elephants while part of the herd was the same in all fourteen venues during their 2013-2014 tour. Unfortunately, the elephant parade's shop ran out of maps and postcards. Without this map (it was also not available online), I managed to track down 26 elephants, not including the smaller-sized elephants.

Various elephants in the 2013-2014 elephant parade

A few celebrities had a chance to design an elephant for the elephant parade. These included Rylan Clark, who appeared on X-Factor, the band Union J, who also appeared on X-Factor, and model Claudia Schiffer. Rylan's is the sparkly grey elephant above. Union J's is the larger image. Schiffer's is the dark green elephant with shadows of trees on it. 

elephantparade2014-02.jpg'Happiness is for Everyone' by Elaine Maher

This elephant parade was not restricted to one area of the UK, so many other cities could see the sculptures and learn about the charity, but this was heavily-focused to northern England, southern Scotland and the 'suburbs' of London area. 

'Red Arrow' by Richard Powell

'Stone Rosie' by Angie Rogers; 'Mega Nova' by Pete Fowler

Unlike other animal charity sculpture events, I did not see many people and families looking for the elephant sculptures, and my visit was on a sunny weekend when families would have been out. Although the sculptures were in one place, they were easy to see, but some of the fun and excitement was also taken out of this exploration as they are all located in a couple areas throughout a shopping mall. However, it was still nice to see them but I prefer the actual sculpture trails that often lead one to explore or walk other areas in town centres.

'An Elephant's Tale' by Katie Sollohub

'Razzle Dazzle" by Sheara Abrahams

'Sunday Best' by Anna Masters

The elephants will be in Uxbridge until this weekend. Afterwards, they will be in Bromley for a month before the tour comes to an end.

Have you managed to see the elephants on their UK national tour (well, excluding a large area of it)? What did you think, and which elephant is your favourite?

This post covers several street artists who collaborate on various walls to create brightly-coloured and fun street art. Generally, the artists paint in a similar style and have created their own personalities or characters. I will try to do them justice. They have been particularly busy at the end of 2013 and earlier this year, so far, so there are quite a few photographs.

"Lost Souls" is the collective name for the street artists StMitchell, SPzero76, Captain Kris, and Squirl.

Lost Souls

Artists at work

SPzero76: The skeleton figure with the helmet in the second photograph. The skeleton on the robot with the bullets in the fourth photograph.

Captain Kris: Larger human-like male figures. The figure with the red hair in the second photo below.


Another street artist who has collaborated with the above is Parlee. He creates robots and hooded/masked figures.


I find clowns creepy; the following clowns were by Captain Kris (right) and StMitchell (left).

St. Mitchell and Captain Kris

Captain Kris painted another obese-looking figure, and the one next to it is by SER.

SER and Captain Kris

A piece by Squirl is shown below, in between Edwin and Borondo.

Edwin, Squirl, Borondo

Saki (covered here: Street Art: Saki - Jenikya's Blog) also seems to have teamed up with a few of the artists to form "Lost Cause", who are in the middle of an international street art tour at the moment. Artists include Saki, SPzero76, and Captain Kris. "The Real Dill", who paints realistic birds, is included.





There are some more below...




And, the dog is by PMT and is a favourite by that artist.


Some more work by "The Lost Cause"...


Inkfetish and ALSO are popular street artists in the area, and their work pops up a bit.


More Captain Kris...




More Inkfetish...


Tizer (the figure on the left) is also a common character in the street art world.



And more by 'Lost Souls' from Squirl and Captain Kris.




Another one by Captain Kris...



"Star Trek" at the Royal Albert Hall

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Last month, I paid a visit to the Royal Albert Hall to watch a live orchestra of Star Trek music, played against the 2009 Star Trek film directed by J.J. Abrams. I love science-fiction, although I prefer Star Wars to Star Trek, but I enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek film when I saw it at the cinema. We booked our tickets well in advance, and my parents had come to visit, so I fortunately managed to get them a couple of seats. The last time I visited the Royal Albert Hall was many years ago now, and I went with a few friends to listen to music from the Lord of the Rings films. This was different to what we experienced with Star Trek because only clips of the Lord of the Rings film were projected onto a screen while the orchestra played.

'Star Trek' at the Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall had a special atmosphere; several of those who were attending the concert were dressed up in Star Trek costumes.

Royal Albert Hall exterior

Prince Albert statue in Albert Memorial across the road from the Royal Albert Hall

We had a few surprises on the night. First, Simon Pegg came out onto the stage. I have loved Simon Pegg ever since I saw him in the television series Spaced many years ago. He played Scotty in the new Star Trek films, and he gradually started to make a name for himself in film with Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Paul. Simon Pegg then introduced Michael Giacchino, the composer of the Star Trek soundtrack, and Ludwig Wicki, the man who was leading the conducting of the orchestra on the night. J.J. Abrams also came on stage and mentioned that he is currently filming in London for the new Star Wars films. I got a photograph of them below.

Pegg, Giacchino and Abrams

After the film, Giacchino came back onto the main stage area and mentioned the new Planet of the Apes film (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) that is in production at the moment. He is composing the soundtrack for that film at the moment and played us a little bit of it. Overall, it was an amazing night in a world-class venue.

Artist Bortusk Leer, who draws and paints monsters onto newspaper and pastes them around London, has returned in time for the summer. Earlier this year, he posted several monsters on Blackall Street in east London (covered here: New Street Art by Bortusk Leer and Phoenix - Jenikya's Blog). This time, his monsters have made an apperance in time for summer and the World Cup. The little monsters are supporting England. Unfortunately, maybe they did not support England enough! Other ones appear to be in a bright red London bus. 

Bortusk Leer

Another one looks happy and drooling with an ice cream cone.

Bortusk Leer

Bortusk Leer

In addition to the paper monsters, I discovered a clay and rock little monster face lurking in the shadows on Blackall Street. I'm not sure if it was created by the same artist or not.

Little monster

And, in addition to Bortusk Leer's monsters, a few jars of products by Bortusk Leers' alter-ego Rots Rulebek, have made an appearance on the same street. These always make me laugh.

Bortusk Leer

This summer has been extremely busy with new street art so far. I have several new posts to add over the coming weeks, so keep visiting.

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

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I recently went to Suka at Sanderson's hotel off Oxford Street (near Tottenham Court Road) to indulge in afternoon tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme for my birthday. The afternoon tea is known as "Mad Hatter's" to mimic the tea party scene in Alice in Wonderland. There were several surprises along the way, and this is certainly one of the most unique afternoon tea experiences that I have been to in London.

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

Our afternoon tea experience started out with choosing our tea from a selection of four small bottled samples placed on the table in front of us. (You can start out with one type but can switch this later on with another type.) The types of tea were all infused with a different flavouring, including: mint chocolate chip, strawberry and cream, apple pie, and rhubarb and custard. I tried the rhubard and custard first and had the apple pie one later, and these were both delicious. My partner stuck with the mint chocolate chip tea.

Flavours of tea

The first item we commented on when we arrived was the unique designs of the glassware. These were developed by London design agency Luna & Curious, and the plates and teacups completed the image when placed in the correct position. My plate included circus arobatics jumping to catch each other. My partner's had a circus zebra, and other table settings included a clock and an old-fashioned birdcage. The teapots were also designed; they reminded me of playing cards. One side contained an image of a king, and the other side contained an image of a queen. 

Tableware by Luna & Curious

The napkins were also wrapped with riddles, but we got two of the same one. I won't spoil it for anyone, though. 

To add even more of a quirky surprise, the menu for the afternoon tea was placed inside an old book. The menu is stuck behind two pages and placed in the middle of the book.

Menu in an old book

We ordered champagne first. Our tea came in the decorated teapots with paper crowns on top.

Afternoon tea

Another surprise awaiting us was the white box placed on the table. This is, in fact, a music box that plays the song "Over the Rainbow". The little ballerina twirls around as the music plays, and the box is filled with sugar cubes. The music played each time we got a sugar cube out. I really liked this idea.

Music box sugar cube holder

After a short while, our afternoon tea stand came, piled with sweet and savoury treats over three tiers.

Afternoon tea

The savoury snacks included the following types of sandwich: smoked salmon on dark rye, ham and mustard on a tomato and herb bread, egg on lemon bread, and cucumber on spinach bread. In addition, there was a mushroom quiche and a sweet scone and a savoury scone. The savoury scone included olives and came with a herb butter to spread on it. The normal scones included a small pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Savoury treats

The sweet treats included Victoria sponge cake decorated like a clock, a mango cheesecake with white chocolate coating, and a green tea and dark chocolate mousse. These tasted nice, but neither of us care for cheesecake, so we did not finish them. I noted that the mango sauce inside the cheesecake looked like an egg yolk and egg when dipping into the white cheesecake, and the mango portion of the dessert did taste nice. My favourite was the green tea and dark chocolate mousse.

Sweet treats - Mad Hatter's afternoon tea

Sweet treats - Mad Hatter's afternoon tea

After the second tier was finished, we braved the top one. The mushroom marshmallows were nice and light, and the meringue carrots were similar. The meringue carrots were nestled inside a teacup with peashoots so it looked like they were growing in a garden.

Mushrooms and meringue carrots

Mushrooms and meringue carrots

And last of all, we had a "drink me" potion in a little brown bottle to consume. This tasted of cream and passionfruit. 

'Drink me' potion

At the end of the afternoon tea, visitors could help themselves to jelly from old moulds. Pineapple, pear, and strawberry were the flavours on offer.

Jelly moulds

Have you been to Sanderson's Hotel and had the Mad Hatter's afternoon tea? If so, what did you think of it? Leave a comment.

ROA's New Giant Flea Mural in London

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While wandering the streets in Shoreditch at lunch, I noticed a new street art mural by Belgium artist ROA (Street Art: ROA - Jenikya's Blog). ROA creates primarily black and white large-scale murals on the sides of buildings that depict animals or insects. The artist was last in London a little over a year ago when he painted a group of animals on the side of buildings off of Bethnal Green Road and another for South Bank Festival that appeared on the South Bank last spring (Phlegm and ROA Street Art at South Bank - Jenikya's Blog).


ROA's new mural appears just off of Leonard Street (near Great Eastern Street) in Shoreditch, east London. The mural depicts a giant detailed and close-up image of a flea.

Close-up of the giant flea mural

I was happy to see ROA's brilliant murals returning to London. Perhaps we will be seeing more of his murals around the city. Unfortunately, some of the older murals have been damaged in the past few months, so I do not know how much longer they will last. I've been noticing several old favourites by other artists have also disappeared recently as soon as they get marked over a few times and not patched up quickly, including one by Stik on Redchurch Street.

Shot of the mural of the giant flea, including other street art

On a visit to the Museum of London three weeks ago, I noticed that new murals were in place featuring work from Thierry Noir, RUN, and John Dolan. The work seemed to have gone up a couple of days prior to my visit, and the John Dolan piece welcomed others passing by to add their own artwork to the mural. The artwork appears outside the entrance to the musuem with three main walls in the circular area being converted to mural.

Thierry Noir's characters, which have been popping up again recently in London, have been painted brightly onto one of the sections of the wall. Each face looks a little different. For more information and work from Thierry Noir, see my previous article here: Street Art: Thierry Noir.

Thierry Noir

RUN's recognisable faces and hands have also made an appearance onto one of the sections of the wall, and I have noticed some new pieces from him popping up recently. For more information about the artist, see my previous article: Street Art: RUN and New Street Art by RUN and the Rolling People.


A larger section of wall was drawn on by John Dolan, a Shoreditch-based street artist, who has recently been getting a lot of attention in the art community. I've seen him a few times drawing the cityscape and architecture with his dog sitting on the pavement on Shoreditch High Street, and I think his work is good. This piece has had several additions by the public and by other street artists. I noticed Stik and PureEvil and Thierry Noir add to the work. (Oh, and the large yellow fingers are by RUN.) Notice the Stik addition with the billboard in the image with the Battersea Power Station.

John Dolan

I do not think the work is going to last long at the Museum of London, and it may have already been removed, which is a pity because it is not really enough time for people to enjoy it. I was lucky to see it myself as I'd stopped by the museum with visitors from out of town on a trip to visit the museum before going off on a long holiday.

Morning Visit at Okehampton Castle

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I visited Okehampton Castle on a wet and rainy Easter Sunday. I had the castle to myself for the time that I was there. We were briefed in on a history of the castle and had an audio tour. The castle is also rumoured to be haunted, and the ghost story probably inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write the Hound of the Baskervilles. Okehampton Castle is located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in southwest England.

View of the High Tower from the main Gatehouse - Okehampton Castle

I walked up the cobbled road past the main Gatehouse, learning about the castle from the audio tour as I walked around.

Okehampton Castle Gatehouse

The castle is ruins, and with a little bit of imagination and drawings on boards around, I could envision how it used to look. The Great Hall is one of the ruined rooms, and this led through to a hallway through to kitchen rooms. 

Service room and the Great Hall area

There are three main kitchen rooms. One of these contained a hole in the ground, which was used as refridgeration. (This can be seen in the photograph below.) The kitchen room at the back contained the ovens for cooking. The larger oven can be seen in the foreground (circular stone area) in the photograph below. The smaller oven was used on a day-to-day basis, and the larger oven was only used when there were plenty of guests.

Okehampton Castle Kitchens

After viewing the kitchens, I started to climb the steep hill up to the High Tower. From here, I could see the ruins of Okehampton Castle more clearly. In the photograph below, the chapel remains can be seen on the right. Behind those are lodgings for guests.

Okehampton Castle chapel and lodgings

A view higher up from the High Tower

The views from the High Tower were stunning, even in the foggy and wet weather. The High Tower remains are left in a strange formation as the remaining wall pointing upward looks like a splinter. It is impressive.

High Tower

High Tower doorway

I walked around the High Tower. The grounds, which were used for hunting in the older times, contained small creeks and woodland. Guests to the castle can walk around the woodland trails and have picnics, but it was quite wet, so I did not do this.

Woodland from Okehampton Castle

In various places throughout the castle, the remains of the latrines were still visible. The latrines emptied out the exterior of the castle, such as the one below on the High Tower.

Latrine exit - Okehampton Castle

After descending the High Tower, the tour continued to the chapel remains. The chapel was rennovated and used as a kitchen a long time ago (1600s), after the castle was abandoned for some time. A mill was also put on site. However, some remains of the building's original function was noticeable in the typical large windows and a small chapel built into the wall. I could almost imagine the stained glass window panels that would have filled the windows.

Okehampton Castle window

I had a quick look at the lodgings for guests, and in one of these rooms, the latrines were more intact although the floor and ceilings were no longer in place. The holes for the latrines and a washbasin could be seen inset into the wall. 

After the lodgings, I walked back down the castle walkway and had a quick look up at the castle from the garden area where there are picnic tables. Of course, no one was going to have a picnic in the weather on that day. I was the only one at the castle at the time, but a small family turned up just as I was leaving.

Okehampton Castle from the grounds

I was happy to see the trees starting to obtain their leaves after the really wet and harsh winter that we have had in England. 

Tree buds with raindrops

Have you visited Okehampton Castle? Let me know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below.

Street Art in London by Zio Ziegler

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New street art appeared in London in a popular place on Hanbury Street at the end of May. The street art, by California-based artist Zio Ziegler, features an abstract figure in greytone painted with a red, blue and cream patterned background. The figure looks contorted and is upside-down. It is certainly eye-catching. This art replaced work by artist 'Best Ever': New Street Art by Jim McElvaney and Best Ever.

Zio Ziegler

A few weeks ago, I paid a visit to Inamo restaurant in Soho, London. The restaurant has interactive tables that have an image projected onto them from above and an interactive menu that can be navigated using a mousepad built into the table. Visitors place their food and drink order by using the interactive menu system, and there are also a number of other features available. The interactive tables and ambience can be customised to display a variety of images or patterns with a choice of different colours.

We experimented with a variety of patterns and images throughout our visit. The image below shows two examples and shows an example of the interactive menu and ambience selection. I liked the flowery patterns, and there was also a Union Jack pattern.

Chosing an ambience for our table

Alcohol, sides, set meals, starters and mains can be selected and ordered through the interactive ordering system. While browsing through the menu, the food and drinks are projected onto the plates to help you decide what to order.

Ordering food and drink

The food and drink starts to arrive fifteen minutes after the order is placed.


The interactive system also allows the visitor to explore the restaurant, view webcams of the kitchen, play games, and see how to get home. (Bus and tube information and the ability to call for a taxi is included through the interactive menu.) We played a few games while waiting for our order and after our dirty plates were cleared. There is a choice of puzzle games, and the two-player game that can be played is "Battleships".

Play games while you wait for your food

This is a unique experience, and I found the interactive ordering experience to be easy to use and I like the concept. However, I was disappointed in the food and the variety of the food. Also, the staff were quite rude upon entering, so i would not recommend it as a venue to get good food or service. 

Walking Sourton Tor in Dartmoor

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I visited Dartmoor this spring and went on a couple of charity letterbox walks. (For those who do not know, letterboxing is basically like a treasure hunt; clues are given to find plastic boxes containing stamps that finders collect. I scanned some of the better stamps and wrote an article here: Letterboxing Rubber Stamp Designs). The charity letterbox trails are a short walk around 2.5 to 6 miles long in Dartmoor. 

The first walk completed this year was nearly five miles long and covered the area around Sourton Tors. The walk commemorated a couple of plane crashes that happened in World War 2. The stamps featured World War 2 planes.

Bottom of Sourton Tor

The walk went up around Sourton Tor, Branscombe's Loaf, and Corn Ridge before heading back down Sourton Tor. Before climbing too far up Sourton Tor, there is a gentle walk up through pasture with several small springs and streams.

I found one of the letterboxes near a tree. (For those interested in the charity walk, I can provide the information where you can send off a couple of pounds for the clues. Note that charity walks typically remain on the moors until the autumn, and there are new walks every year.) The rubber stamp is inside the pill box, and I took a break to get my coloured ink pads out so that I could make a stamp in my book.

A letterbox on the moor

I walked further up Sourton Tor. There are amazing views here with a lot of rocks. The majority of the rocks are at the tops of the hills. There are so many places to hide letterboxes.

Sourton Tor

The walking can be steep in some places. Make sure that your boots are very comfortable; mine were not comfortable or flexible enough for me so I got a couple of blisters on my heels where shoes always tend to rub. 

A steep path up Sourton Tor

There are sheep and ponies roaming the tors on Dartmoor, and new lambs were walking around with their mothers. The sheep pose no problems, but I am a little bit wary of the ponies as they can be unpredictable. 

Sheep and lambs on Dartmoor

I stopped to enjoy the view over the hills from Sourton Tor. Below is a photograph of Sourton church.

Sourton Church

When arriving to the top of the tors, suddenly there's a little bit further to go to get to the top and the next large pile of rocks.

Sourton Tor

Ponies scattered across the moors and tors make a pretty photograph with the countryside and lower hills in the distance.

Pony on Sourton Tor

Dartmoor Pony

The walk continued around a steep valley between Corn Ridge and Sourton Tor, and we walked around this to Branscombe's Loaf. In the distance we saw Yes Tor and High Wilhays, and a couple of the plane crashes happened near here.

Branscombe's Loaf gets its name from an old story about Bishop Branscombe who was walking on Corn Ridge and was stopped by another traveller who offered him bread and cheese. Branscombe noticed that the other traveler had hooves for feet (and hence the devil), so he threw the cheese and bread on the ground. The cheese and bread turned to into the granite rocks known as Branscombe's Loaf.

Yes Tor and High Wilhays from Branscombe's Loaf

Walking further around Branscombe's Loaf and Corn Ridge, there are nice views of Meldon Resevoir and this bridge (below) near it. I've walked around this area in the past. Near the area is The King's Way, an ancient road that linked Okehampton with Tavistock.

Looking toward Meldon Resevoir

I walked around the other side of Branscombe's Loaf, and I captured the following view of Corn Ridge and Sourton Tor.

Sourton Tor

Dartmoor Ponies

After completing the walk, I drove back to Belstone and had a well-needed drink and meal at The Tors Inn in Belstone. I often stay in Belston when I visit Dartmoor. It is easy to get to and the tors are not far. In fact, Belstone Tor is simply a quick walk away from here (behind the pub in the below photograph).

Belstone Tors Inn

Belstone has a few historical buildings, such as this "Telegraph Office" and iconic red phone box and in-wall post box.


I took a photo of some beautiful tree blossoms.


Belstone cottage and moors

Have you walked around Sourton Tors or in any of these locations mentioned?

These empty alcohol bottles have been upcycled by having a painting of portraits of people and animals on them. They appear in the window of the Far Rockaway Bar in Shoreditch (http://www.farrockaway.co.uk). 

The bar has attracted artists and commissions them to create artwork for the bar, and there are several examples of street art painted onto the walls and inside the entrance of the bar. Yvonne Wayling created these faces of people and cats on discarded alcohol bottles. 

Yvonne Wayling's bottles

Several street artists have their work on display here. (More photographs can be seen here: http://inspiringcity.com/2013/10/09/the-unique-art-extravaganza-of-the-far-rockaway-bar-in-shoreditch/)

For more information about the venue, visit their website: http://www.farrockaway.co.uk

A couple of weekends ago, I took a walk from Haggerston overground station along the canal to Broadway Market. It was a Saturday morning, so I decided to take a peek around the market. For a Saturday, it was quite early, but there were others who were also up as well and cycling or running along the canal path. 


I passed underneath a couple of arched bridges with pieces of street art on them. Some of the walls along the canal are covered with mosaics featuring aspects of the area of London.



I took a few photographs of the canal and various canal house boats. I wondered what it must be like to live in a canal boat moared on the canal.


A little further along and near to the exit of the canal path (to Broadway Market) are locks. I did not see any boats passing through the locks.


I took another photograph of the locks last summer when I visited the area and caught some rowboats on the edge of the canal. Although it was not as sunny or warm this time, it was still a lovely walk.


On the top of the locks are a couple of houses. I am not sure that I would personally like to live near a canal, but it is alright for a view, and this must not be too common in London.


Not long after I started walking along the canal from Haggerston station, I noticed a large building covered with fading portraits. This is the "I Am Here" art project.

"I Am Here" Art Project

Not too far from Haggerston station and along the canal is a housing estate. A series of photographs have been placed in the windows by a group of artists (known collectively as Fugitive Images) occupying flats in the estate. This estate was managed by Hackney Council, and when tennants left the property, the council simply placed orange boards over the windows of the flats that were not occupied. This made the building look like an abandoned eyesore, but the artists photographed portraits of the residents and placed those over the orange boards. "I Am Here" challenges themes of urban decay and aspect of 'home' and 'living'. See the below photographs of the estate.

"I Am Here"

I was fascinated with oast houses since I first saw them in Kent, England a few years ago. Oast houses were used for drying hops to make alcohol. There are not many of these left, but they were once common in Kent. In older times (early 1900s and 1800s), people from London used to go to the Kent countryside to pick the hops to earn some money, and it was a holiday for them. Whole families would go to pick hops in the summer months.

Oast house

When venturing to Kent during the last trip, we stopped off at The Playden Oasts Inn in Playden, which is near to Rye in Kent. The oast house has been converted to an inn and restaurant, so we had a meal here. It was nice. We were the only ones in the restaurant.


The interior retained a rustic feel, and there were plastic hops covering the timber frames along with various tools for picking and drying hops on the walls. The rooms were circular in shape. 


I took a photograph of what we ate. I had chicken with leeks and a stilton cheese sauce. The other meal was a steak pie with vegetables and chips. 


I enjoyed my visit to the oast house, Playden Oasts Inn.

Breakfast at Kopapa in Seven Dials

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I had breakfast at Kopapa with a friend who visited London last summer. I enjoyed the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of bacon and egg on toast. The restaurant/cafe is located on Seven Dials, near Covent Garden and Leicester Square, and we sat at one of the tables outside with a nice view of Seven Dials sundial.

Kopapa breakfast sandwich

A Morning Walking Alpacas

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A few weeks ago, the bloke and I spent the morning walking alpacas with a small group of six others -courtesy of Alpaca Annie's in Kent, England. I had originally booked this for February, but we had terrible storms so our walk was cancelled. It worked out in the end because we had nice weather for our walk, even if it was a little windy. It also just happened that some friends in the area were available and wanted to meet up in the evening, so it all worked out perfectly for us.

When we arrived, we had a browse in the alpaca shop and the farm shop on site. There was a cafe on site too, but it was not open due to refurbishment. The shops are all located on and around the farm. When everyone in the tour had arrived, we were led into the farm enclosure and walked through one of the fields with young alpaca. The young alpaca were nosey and friendly; they approached us as we walked through their field. 

A group of alpaca in all sorts of colours

An extremely friendly and cheeky young alpaca

When we arrived and waited outside of the alpaca fields, we were told a bit of information about alpaca and the farm. We were shown the different pens for the alpaca, such as the one we had just walked through filled with the young alpaca and their mothers in a further pen. We were introduced to the alpaca that we would be walking, all of which are males, and we were told that they had been settled into these walking tours as alpaca can be a little bit skittish. We were briefed a little on the safety and what to do or not do while we were walking our alpaca. Each alpaca also had its preference in placement in the walk; some preferred to lead the way and others preferred to stay behind. We were briefly told about each alpaca's personality when we each got to take our alpaca. 

Our alpaca wait for walks

I got to take Toby out for a walk, and my partner took Fennel. All Toby wanted to do was eat while Fennel simply watched on and played 'the watchman' for the herd. Toby kept eating and eating and would have happily just stopped to eat the whole morning. He was also the first to need the toilet, and after he had gone, all of the others behind him decided that they needed to go too. 

Toby eats while Fennel looks on

While we walked around the field, we were told alpaca facts. I did not hear many of these because we were in the middle of the queue, and the alpaca in front was slow to keep up at times. We were told that the owner wanted an alpaca, and the name "Alpaca Annie" comes from that, and the alpaca in front was the son of the first alpaca, and his name is "Legacy". We were also told alpaca history and that the Mayans had bred alpaca and that their wool was much more advanced/perfect than today's, but this has been lost through time. Breeders are now striving to get the quality back, and alpaca generally cost a lot of money but buyers must beware that the alpaca is pure alpaca and not bred with llama. There seems to be a fine art in alpaca raising.

Our guide talking to use while Legacy, the alpaca in front of me, eats

We stopped at our half-way point, and we got to feed the alpaca chopped carrots. The alpaca seem to sense that this is coming. Toby loved his carrots, and he ate them out of my hand. 

Toby gets his photograph taken

After the carrots, we walked back toward the farm. It was a quieter trip back, but we were still told alpaca facts and history, and others were asking questions. The walk went smoothly, and no one had any problems with their alpaca. They were all well-behaved.


Fennel and others

Toby, Fennel, and other alpaca

At the end of the walk, our alpaca were herded back into their pen one at a time. For the first time, Fennel seemed to be interested in eating the grass, so I snapped a photograph of him eating. 


Alpaca walks

After our alpaca were safely in their pens, we were taken to the female alpaca enclosure, and the guide told us which alpaca were related to the ones we had walked. We were each given trays filled with chopped carrots so that we could feed the mother alpaca and the young alpaca in the pen next to them.

Alpaca go crazy for carrots

Alpaca herd

After we fed the carrots to the alpaca, we walked back to the farm building and were given our certificates to state that we had completed walking with the alpacas. The certificates had photographs of all of the alpacas, including the one that we walked with. 

This was a fun day out. Have you had a walk with alpaca? Did you enjoy it? Leave me a comment.


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