August 2014 Archives

Pretty Cuppa is one of the new shops that opened up in a new development under the railway bridge in the middle of Brick Lane earlier this summer. As I often passed by it during my lunchtime walks, I decided to nip in one day when I had a particularly late lunch. I was the only one about as the lunch rush had long gone, and I was not feeling particularly hungry so I decided to try a slice of cake and a couple macaroons. This was to be washed down with a bottle of rose lemonade.


When I asked what the cake flavour was, I was told that it was a Swedish sponge cake. It is similar to Victoria Sponge with a layer of jam, but the sponge is lighter. The cake was topped with a thin layer of green icing and was moist and light. The cake was delicious. But...disappointingly, the love ended there for me.

Although I was impressed with the Swedish cake, I did not like the macaroons at all; they were stale and dry. Yuck! Also, even though I had ordered a drink and said I was going to eat in, somehow they expected me to leave and boxed up my cake slice in a plastic box and the macaroons in a bag. Perhaps it was because I was on my own or perhaps because they knew the macaroons were stale. Anyway, I did eat in the cafe. My photographs of the goodies are below, but I'm sorry that they are not presented too well because they were not served to me on plates.


Despite the problems with the macaroons and the eating arrangements, I decided to give Pretty Cuppa a second chance a couple of weeks later. This time I ordered a cupcake. (I'm not about to give their macaroons another try because they were so horrible and I'm not confident in them being fresh.) I was told the cupcake was vanilla; in fact, it was lemon. That was a disappointment -- not that I don't like lemon, but I was expecting vanilla and prefer vanilla.

The photographs below were taken in the two visits I made to the cafe.


I won't be giving Pretty Cuppa another try, unless I see the nice Swedish cake in the window again. However, I do love the vintage cafe style, the bunting, the flowers, and the shelving. The cafe is also on a prime spot on Brick Lane for a lot of people-watching, and there's nothing better than watching unique fashion statements in this area of London. It's just a shame that the service and food did not live up to my expectations. Although this is located well on Brick Lane, there are many other cafes in the area. Perhaps they will survive due to location, tourist trade, or perhaps I have just been extremely unlucky. I do hope that they will improve.

It was not that long ago that I published an entry about Yarn Bombing (Yarn Bombing) with some of Agata Olek's recent work in London on Osborn Street near Brick Lane. More about the artist can be read here: Street Art: Olek's Crochet Art. Earlier this summer, the artist's work appeared in the Truman Brewery complex in Ely's Yard.


Unfortunately, the piece is now gone, but here's a close-up of it. The piece read: 

"Let's not get caught. Let's keep going."


Ronzo's Rainbow Street Art

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Last year, Ronzo was busy pasting up a lot of multi-colour pigeons and dinosaurs in east London (New Street Art From Ronzo), but the artist has been quiet recently until I spotted these recent paintings on Fashion Street off of Brick Lane. The pieces feature clouds vomiting rainbows with slang "sick" and "innit" thrown in the mix. I recently covered the artist here: Street Art: Ronzo.


These walls have graced the artist's work for awhile, but they had been being painted over quite a few times and were just looking old and in need of replacement. The last piece was a collaboration with Conor Harrington (covered here).


The artwork above on the shutter has been there for a longer time, but I never posted it, and the new one is right across the street from it.

Red Bull Air Race at Ascot

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A couple of weekends ago, a group of us went to the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot on the Sunday (Race Day) to watch the air race and to see displays by the Red Arrows, wing-walkers, Spitfire, and a helicopter. This was pretty fun, and despite some dark clouds and a downpour a little earlier (luckily, we were inside getting lunch when that happened), the weather was windy but fine.


Ascot was decorated in red, white, and blue.


We got our space in front of the grandstand as all the seats were taken, and the Red Arrows flew by. They did not hang around for long. They were on to another show somewhere, so we only got to see them fly by Ascot.



Next up was the helicopter, which does some pretty neat maneouvers considering its size. It could go straight up and down at a virtually 90 degree angle, and the cargo hold opened up with someone waving giant orange hands. There is no way that I would ever be the one standing outside the open cargo hold so high in the air. 


The Spitfire was next up.



Then, the Red Bull Air Race bagan, and we watched the Red Bull planes fly around a circuit. There are a lot of rules that they have to adhere to while flying through the course and between the inflatible cones, and they were docked points for failing to adhere to them. They were timed, and there were a couple of British pilots that everyone was cheering on.




After the first round, the Red Bull pilots had a break, which was lucky as the last pilot accidently hit an inflatible cone and they had to repair it. The wing-walkers were standing by to entertain us with their in-air acrobatics.



After awhile, the Red Bull pilots competed again to finalise te winner of the race.


We went outside to the front of Ascot and saw the winner with the second and third place standing on the podium to get their trophies and celebrate their victories.



That sums it up for Red Bull Air Race in Ascot in 2014. I hope that you enjoyed the photographs.

Whitecross Street Party 2014

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A couple of months ago, Whitecross Street in London hosted a street party. This is an annual street party, and activities, street food, and street art feature on the day. The street part, Rise of the Non-Conformists, began in 2010. I recently covered this at: Street Art on Whitecross Street. The festival always takes place around the middle or end of July. This year, street artists such as HIN, HenHarrierDay, Inkie, Teddy Baden, and Paul 'Don' Smith were a few of the street artists to take part. Below are several photographs that I took about a week after the street festival took place. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend it this year to get photographs of some of the other street art and artists at work.

Street art and market on Whitecross Street


HIN, Ves, HenHarrierDay

Sean Worral

Teddy Baden and unknown


Inkie and Mohammed Sami

Unknown 'take it from the chimps, graffiti is for chumps'


Artist Paul 'Don' Smith, who paints portraits around London and is well-known, contributed to Whitecross Street with a few new portraits, including model Cara and actor Stallone.

Paul 'Don' Smith

Books About Town Art Sculpture Trail

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London's streets are currently home to fifty book bench art sculptures; these have been on display from the beginning of July and will be removed on the 15th of September. The works of art will be auctioned for charity after this. The book benches are created for the National Literacy Trust, which is a charity that helps people learn how to read. The books celebrate reading and authors or books are picked based on London's literary connections. The money raised will allow the National Literacy Trust to continue their work in helping people to read (and to learn how to read). According to the National Literacy Trust website, 16% (5.2 million) adults in Britain are illiterate.

Fever Pitch - Sophie Green

I have been exploring the book trails over the past several weeks and managed to track down the books, so this post is photograph-heavy as there were so many of these that I liked (or liked my photograph of). I cannot choose a favourite because they are all so unique, but I did enjoy the two below. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was particularly nice because one side of the bench was a winter scene with the two characters from the book and the lion on the back. The sides also held hidden treasures. I also liked the bright colours used in the Peter Pan bench. Both benches are on the Bloomsbury trail.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Quad Digital Mandii Pope

Peter Pan - Sian Storey

My favourite trails were the Bloomsbury and the Riverside trails as there are so many great designs, and the settings were also nice for some of them. Greenwich was a little problematic for me to get to and required making several changes because it is difficult for me to get to, unless I want the O2 at North Greenwich, but the trail was located around the Observatory and the Cutty Sark.

Dr. Seuss - Theodore Suess Giesel (original) created by Jane Headford

I only had one slight issue with the book benches, and that was down to the artwork actually becoming a bench that could be sat on. Seeing the books in the City during my lunch break (even when I took a late lunch to avoid having to ask people to move so that I could snap a photograph) was particularly difficult. A lack of places to sit in the City and glorius summer weather at the start of the book bench art trail meant that every book bench in the City was occupied by at least one person, even outside the normal "lunch" hours. Except for one difficult person in Postman's Park, everyone asked did move, though a handful of those were reluctant to move when nicely asked and didn't understand the fuss. Additionally, I noticed that a couple of the benches had become worn where they had been sat on, and one looked particularly bad. 


The book benches in the tourist areas became popular, especially when the tourists noticed that I was taking a photograph of the bench. One large group of tourists walked by the bench outside the Globe previously. After they saw me photographing it, they became excited and crowded around to get a group photograph. This happened a few times when others took interest after seeing someone else take interest. Seeing the reactions of others is always interesting.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Helen Oxenbury (design) created by Gerard Strong

As with other art sculpture charity trails, I did see others specifically mapping out all of the books. I did not see as many families or people in general taking part. Perhaps they did, but I did not notice because the four trails were quite short and I completed most of them during the week.

The Railway Children - One Red Shoe

My favourite classic writer and favourite classic book is The Time Machine, so I had to include that book bench below.

The Time Machine - Di Ralston

Many of the book benches had an event hosted around them. For example, one event was for a world record attempt  for the largest number of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Others included book giveaways or a photo booth opportunity. I was going to try to make the James Bond book giveaway, but unfortunately something came up at work and I could not attend it to get a free James Bond book.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - Andrea Joseph

Without further discussion, I have included the remainder of the photographs below because there were quite a few that I liked or liked my photograph of. These also give a good view on the selection of different books and artwork.


Shakespeare - Lucy Dalzell

Noughts and Crosses - Oliver Dean

The Origin of the Species - Jane Callan

Elmer the Elephant - David McKee (original), recreated by Giles Boardman

Peter Pan - Laura Elizabeth Bolton

Captain Scott - Charles Bezzina

Gruffalo and Scarecrows - Alex Scheffler

How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell (original) - by Gerard Strong

Samuel Pepys' Diary - Michele Petit-Jean

1984 - Thomas Dowdeswell

Various bookbenches

To discover the trails, visit the official website for the book benches at:

For more information about the National Literacy Trust, visit 

Brazilian street artist DecoLife recently returned to London to paint murals on Brick Lane and Pedley Street. It has been awhile since the artist had created new work in the city, and all of the pieces completed originally had been painted over. Seeing new work by the artist was welcome. These new pieces are a slightly different style than the original geometric shapes that the artist used to paint. The geometric shapes and bright colours are still present, but there's more figures and less of the geometric patterns in the work. His older artwork can be seen here:  Street Art: Artista, DecoLife, Binty Bint, Ino, Irony, Pixie, SeaPuppy.






I have always been a fan of the Beatles, particularly their earlier work. In university and High School, I was inspired by the 1960s music, fashion, and freedom. When I came to visit and work in London for my work exchange internship for university, I made the pilgrimage to Abbey Road to see the famous crosswalk and the Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded their music and also sang on the rooftop late in their career. This was in the year 2000, and there was not really that much to see; I did not see any other tourists when I visited it then, and I did not see much Beatle-related grafitti.

Abbey Road crosswalk

Last summer, I made my second pilgrimage to Abbey Road as we had dinner at a hotel not too far away from it. The atmosphere was much different than all those years ago, and the area was particularly busy with tourists. The tourists were getting their photo taken at the famous crosswalk used on the album cover. I also saw a classic Volkswagen Beetle drive by, but I failed to get a photograph. It would have been great if it had been parked up as there was one of these parked up in the original album cover where the Beatles were walking across.

Tribute wall

Outside the Abbey Road studios, visitors now leave their messages and tributes to the Beatles and others who performed in the studio here. This was new as I do not remember seeing the grafitti in the year 2000 when I visited. I remember seeing some on an Abbey Road road sign, but that was all. I remember seeing a news article once about complaints related to visitors drawing on the signs.


I read some of the messages and watched many others walk by and read and contribute to the messages. The messages were left by people from all over the world. The wall is also painted over regularly so that others can add their own messages.


Visitors to the area are also informed that there is a webcam on the famous crosswalk, and they can visit a website to download their photograph taken in the crosswalk. When visiting, simply remember to look at your watch or mobile phone to check the time so that you know when you walked across.

I wonder how Abbey Road will change in the next thirteen years.

After an extremely gruelling nine-hour journey, which should have only been just over a three-hour journey from Basingstoke, we arrived in Liverpool. By the time we arrived, it was time to get some food and drink before heading off to our hotel. We stayed at Albert Dock, and so we were spoiled for choice with food and drink. For those who do not know, Albert Dock used to be a working dock but it now a thriving destination for visitors with museums and a Tate art gallery and plenty of places to get drink and food.


I last visited Liverpool in 2008, the year that it won Capital of Culture, as I was doing some work for 'The Number One Project' and got to attend their concert that was performed by several of Liverpool's artists that had a 'Number One' song in the charts. Sadly, I do not have those photographs. However, Liverpool and Albert Dock were in the process of being regenerated. Albert Dock had a handful of restaurants and shops, and the museums were opened, but the majority of the dock was still under development. Upon visiting it this time, the place has come a long way and there are several new shops, cafes, and restaurants surrounding the whole dock. 


We were spoilt for choice really, but we opted for "The Smuggler's Cove" restaurant as the menu looked quite nice. The main entrance to the restaurant is on the outside of the Albert Dock, though, so we were ushered there. We waited near the bar until we finally were able to get a seat. 


The restaurant is part of the company 'New World Trading Co' and they specialise in themed restaurants. (There's currently one called 'The Botanist' in Leeds, but I have not been to it, and they want to open one in London next year.)


The restaurant is decorated like the interior of a ship with large wooden tables or tables made out of wooden barrels, iron ceiling lighting, a skull on a mock fireplace mantle, a large 'ship in a bottle' decoration, wallpapered or dark-wood panelled rooms with pictures  and other nautical pirate/ship themeed items throughout the restaurant. The waiting staff were even dressed similar to what sea crew would wear in the 1800s and early 1900s. Our menus also looked like an old letter, complete with mock map imagery and a wax seal. They have obviously spent a lot of time on the graphic design elements.


Another booklet on our table informed us of the bottled drinks that we could purchase, and each one was illustrated with care with a hand-writing font to describe the drink. A few of these are pictured below. 


We opted for a couple of cocktails. I got the June Bug, which is one of my favourite cocktails because I love melon liquor. My partner got the 'Morning Wrays' which is a rum-based cocktail that came with a slice of pink grapefruit. 


I ordered the rotisserie chicken, and it came in a mock wooden barrel end as a plate. It also came with a small bottle of hot sauce. My partner had the steak, and he said it was cooked perfectly and was pink inside.


Time for desserts! I ordered chocolate mousse. It is one of my all-time favourite desserts. The mousse was very rich and creamy and is worth saving room for. It was one of the best I have tried, falling short of mousse that I once had in Lille, France. My partner had the strawberry and marshmallow kebab, which came on this cool iron skewer. The chocolate sauce, in a pot on the top of the 'device' was poured down the top and coated all of the marshmallows and strawberries on the way down. At the bottom was a small dish of vanilla ice cream.


At the end of the meal, we received the bill and comments, which were rolled up and looked like an old-style map or document. A nice touch.

After our meal and on the way back to our hotel, we stopped and got some photographs of the Liverpool Wheel. The Wheel was not built the last time I visited Liverpool as that area was still being regenerated, although the arena had just been built. 


We got some more photographs of the Wheel and then decided to go on it to see some nice views of Liverpool at dusk. The price was a bit hefty though, and I forgot to look at my app for some discounts as I knew that there were discounts. D'oh! It had been a long day.



There is a commentary in each capsul that describes the history of Liverpool and some of the attractions that can be seen while you go around. I got a decent picture of Albert Dock as the sunset was disappearing beyond the Mersey.


I also got some additional photographs looking at the main part of Liverpool, and the large tower is the Radio City Tower. I'd been up that once before, but they were with those photographs that I sadly no longer have a copy of. Taking photographs of Liverpool when the Liverpool Wheel was moving was difficult, and they are not so great. I am also not so great with heights, so that also did not help matters. 


Anyway, I hope you liked my photographs. For more information about "The Smugger's Cove" restaurant and bar, please see:

I recently watched a new piece of street art go up on one of the high profile walls on Hanbury Street. The artist of this piece is Eelus, who is based in Brighton, and this is his first piece of street art in four years! This piece is titled "An Angel for Ruby" and is dedicated to the artist's daughter. Unfortunately, there is a sad story behind this piece as the baby daughter passed away shortly after her birth earlier this year.


On his blog (1), the artist stated that he tried out some new techniques, and he wasn't 100% happy with the results as the wings and the shading on the face were a little rushed. However, this still is a striking piece of art, particularly the detail in the torso and the shading on the lower part of the face.


1) Eelus:

2) Facebook page:

This summer, South Bank hosts the "Festival of Love". This festival celebrates all aspects of love and romance, and the Same Sex Couple Act in particular. To celebrate, there is a group wedding taking place at the end of the month. Other events include music, art, poetry, workshops, burlesque, cocktail-making, caberet, and so much more. There's also the Museum of Broken Relationships. (The Museum of Broken Relationships displays items donated by the public that were a memory of a failed relationship.)


"Temple of Agape" is a wooden structure painted with bright colours and 1960s-1970s style typography. The artists behind this, Luke Morgan and Morag Myserscough, were inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.


There are also several brightly-coloured boxes made of neon ribbon along the river that offer a little bit of privacy.


A couple of slides also offer family fun, and these are located at the top of the South Bank area. The Temple of Agape can be used to climb up to that area instead of taking the stairs up and then back down again.


Located on the south side of the Royal Festival Hall where the South Bank market is located are several streamers, known as Tanabata Fukinagashi decorations. These commemorate the Japanese festival of stars. The story is about two lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair, who are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month by crossing the Milky Way.

Tanabata Fukinagashi


There's various works of art with love associations that can be found both inside and outside the buildings on South Bank.


More information about South Bank's "Festival of Love" can be read here:

This weekend marked a birthday celebration, so I was off to the OXO Tower (a Harvey Nichols restaurant and brasserie) to celebrate with "Not Afternoon Tea" and cocktails. I had previously been to the OXO Tower a few years ago in a night that I will not easily forget. A group of colleagues and I had reserved a part of the balcony area, and in order to do so, you have to spend a certain amount of money on drinks. That was a good night. The views are the best in the city of London; St. Paul's and the large skyscrapers in the City are just across the river.

Not Afternoon Tea - OXO Tower

Fortunately, the weather turned out to be pretty nice after we got caught up in a downpour whilst waiting for our mid-day reservation at the OXO Tower. We had been sitting on a bench in front of Gabriel's Wharf, watching the people and cyclists returning from their cycle race and watching the hide tide on the river splash up against the wall, when we noticed the grey clouds moving in the distance. Pretty soon, we could see the rain obscuring the view of Centre Point and the BT Tower and we could start to hear it, so we ran to the OXO Tower. Of course, we were about twenty minutes early then, so we sat at the bar and shared a cocktail.

Raspberry Gin Daisy cocktail

We had the 'Raspberry Gin Daisy' cocktail. It is made with London Dry Gin, raspberry and soda. I sometimes find the cocktails here a little too strong for my liking, and I was saving for the 'Not Afternoon Tea'. This was a good start to our experience.

View from OXO Tower

We were shown to our seats next to the window, as I requested when I reserved. We had a really nice view of St. Paul's cathedral and the City's buildings. As it had been raining, the outside balcony area was closed.

MOËT ICE champagne

We had a choice of four different "Not Afternoon Tea" plates. "Berry Frozen", "Penny's Herb Garden", "Chocolate Bars" and "Blooming Lovely" were the choices on offer. Each choice comes with a plate of four small desserts and a cocktail. The cocktail for each choice is suited to the desserts. Choosing was a bit difficult as I liked various options from most of the plates, but the "Chocolate Bars" was the least appealing one for me. In the end, it turned out being a toss-up between "Blooming Lovely" which boasts floral desserts and a floral cocktail and "Penny's Herb Garden", which boasts herb flavours. I choose "Penny's Herb Garden".

Menu - OXO Afternoon tea

On top of the "Not Afternoon Tea" cocktail plates, an additional experience could be added. There were a choice of three, and we choose the "MOËT Ice Exclusive". In addition to our original selection, the extras in this experience is a glass of MOËT Ice, mixed berries with Limoncello, and a bag of treats to take away.

Champagne and Limoncello berries

The MOËT Ice was served with a glass with ice and summer fruits (strawberry, blueberry, and raspeberry).


The Limoncello with mixed berries came with a slice of shortbread. The Limoncello is chunks of jelly served in a shotglass with the fruits underneath. The fruits included mashed strawberry and raspeberry and whole blueberries. After drinking the champagne, I could not taste the Limoncello, but I could taste the berries. 

Limoncello jelly shot with berries and shortbread

The "Not Afternoon Tea" plates were then brought over after the Limoncello shots were devoured. The "Chocolate Bars" one is photograhed below. From left to right in the image below:

  • Blonde chocolate and butterscotch parfait
  • White chocolate coconut cherry mousse
  • Milk chocolate peanut nougat
  • Chocolate raisin hazelnut crisps bar

Also included on the plate are roasted nuts and chocolate-covered honeycomb pieces. The cocktail served with this plate is called "Not For Boys", and it contains coconut rum, normal rum, coconut milk and dark chocolate liquer.

"Chocolate Bars"

I was allowed to try a little bit of the "Chocolate Bar" sweets. The peanut nougat and the coconut cherry mousse were delicious.

Not Afternoon Tea

"Penny's Herb Garden", the plate that I had ordered, was brought out on a wooden board. The items on the board below, from left to right include:

  • Lemon verbena and sour cherry mousse
  • Thyme panna cotta, apricots
  • Mint cake, blackcurrant ice cream
  • Peach and bay leaf trifle

This was served with the cocktail "An English Summer", which contained wine, elderflower liquer, green tea and hibiscus liquer and bitter lemon.

"Penny's Herb Garden"

The desserts were nice. My favourite was either the mint cake with the blackberry ice cream or the trifle. The blackberry ice cream was delicious. Each of my desserts had a slight herb taste. The lemon and sour cherry was not as strong for my liking, however, but the others were spot on. These complemented their accompanying cocktails well.


The "An English Summer" cocktail was served in a copper cup, which I absolutely loved. I really wanted to take this home with me. The "Not For Boys" was served in an old-fashioned milk glass with candied coconut slices on the top. I loved my cocktail and it accompanied the herb taste so well. I was not too keen on the sip I had of the "Not For Boys" cocktail, however, as I am not a big fan of rum. "An English Summer" was not too strong at all, and I could have happily had another.

"An English Summer"

At the end of our meal, we were presented with our "pink chocolates to take away", which consisted of three different types of truffle tied with pink ribbon.

Pink truffles

But, that was not all. When I went to the washroom, I mentioned to one of the waitresses that it was my partner's birthday, and I left a message for her to include on the birthday dessert plate. She was really nice; in fact, all of the staff that I interacted with were friendly and helpful. After a short wait and attempted to deflect several badgerings from my partner to ask for the bill, the birthday plate was brought out. My partner was surprised!

Happy Birthday

Of course, no visit to the OXO Tower is complete without obtaining a few photographs. I managed to get out onto the balcony and take a few photographs.

St. Paul's

And the Dazzle Ship (Dazzle Ships Commemorate World War 1) is 'parked' below the OXO Tower, so there was a nice view of it from there.

Dazzle Ship

St. Paul's

We had a really nice "Not Afternoon Tea" and I would visit again. Have you visited the OXO Tower for "Not Afternoon Tea" before?

Street Art: Cosmo Sarson

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Londoner Cosmo Sarson painted a couple of murals in east London this summer. A new mural appeared on Bacon Street off of Brick Lane this spring, and another one appeared on Pedley Street. Cosmo Sarson has been compared to Banksy, and his interests as a child were in grafitti and breakdancing. These had inspired his work, such as a breakdancing Jesus in Bristol, and depictions of student rioters in London a few years ago.

The artist took a break from street art for most of the 2000s and late 1990s, and he also paints film sets and works as an art director.

The most recent London piece by Cosmo Sarson was finished just after the "Meeting of Styles" event last month, and this features a street fight that portrays the individuals as looking like gladiators. I even caught the artist finishing the piece on the Monday morning after the event (below).


His murals seem to be influenced by the Romantic style of painting but with a modern twist. The one below appeared on Bacon street, and it features a subject seen in Romantic-style paintings with the inclusion of modern technology. The figure, wearing a toga, is holding up a severed head and taking a selfie with his mobile phone. 


For more information about the artist and to see more of his work, visit

It was just over a week ago that the high profile grafitti artist 'King Robbo' passed away. The street artist is well-known and loved around London and got even more attention for a spat with Banksy. This led to street art rivalries between certain street artists. The rilvary started when Banksy painted over one of Robbo's pieces of street art that had been on the wall for a long time. Banksy perhaps did not realise that painting over the older piece would cause offense because street art gets painted over all the time; however, it kicked off a rilvary between the two street artists. 


Robbo, often referred to as "king" was busy tagging and creating grafitti in London from the 1980s. Since then, one group has sided with him and another has sided with Banksy's work, which has gone more commercial. Perhaps this is one reason for the resentment. Perhaps another is that street art belongs on the street and is meant to be uncensored. Whatever the reason, there are different viewpoints about what street art and grafitti is, and this can be quite a personal subject.



Of course, we do not know Robbo's real name or any personal details (similar to Banksy) as he could get into serious trouble. 


Robbo was ultimately involved in an accident and unable to bring his artwork to the streets, and according to his Team Robbo website, he passed away on July 31st due to health complications.


This blog entry shows just some of the street art tributes that have been appearing in east London over the past several days after the news was announced.


There are quite a few of these about, showing that Robbo is still loved in the street art community in London.




For more information about Robbo, visit the Team Roboo page:

Some of the rilvary street art between the two can be seen here:

Based on a comment on social media from one of my friends in the states about the monthly beauty subscription box Birchbox, I decided to sign up to see what the fuss was about. (I hope that he got referral points!) My first box was the June 2014 box. For those of you who are not aware, Birchbox is a beauty box subscription service and its members get between five to eight sample-size beauty-related products each month to try. Members can rate the products and earn points. There is a monthly fee, and there is a short questionnaire when you sign up so that they can gather information about products that would best suit your skin type and colouring.


Overall, I do enjoy the element of surprise each month when the box arrives, and I would have never tried most of these sample-size products. The result is that I either find a really nice product that I want to buy or I discover another product is not for me. My August box just arrived yesterday evening, so here are my three reviews from the last three boxes: June, July and August (2014) in reverse chronological order. 

August 2014 Birchbox (UK)

This box is inspired by summer getaways. Actually, I was not inspired by this box when I opened it and saw what was inside. My box was mainly all skin-care products with one hair product and a beauty product. I already have and use different brands for most of these products (exfoliator, sun-protection cream, and conditioning hair-spray). I've seen other subscribers get eye shadow and perfume. I love perfume, so it would have been great to sample that. This is the second month where I have preferred what other subscribers receive, so I am going to see if changing my preferences in my questionnaire helps.

Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect: This is conditioning hair-spray that protects your hair against sun damage. I already use a different brand when I style my hair, so I am not sold. It does leave my ultra-fine hair feeling soft.

Chella Highlighter Pencil: This highlighter pencil is to be used on the brow, corner of the eyes, and other places where the wearer wants to add some light/dimension when applying make-up. I did find this one to be useful and have wondered in the past if there was a product for this. Turns out there is! This is my favourite product in the box.

Nude Progenius Omega Treatment Oil: This nourishing oil hydrates skin and is to be used in the morning and in the evening. I have tried this on a couple of dry patches on my skin, and it did clear those up and left my skin feeling fresh. This product worked on those dry patches where other products failed. I recommend it, and based upon continued use, this may be a joint favourite product in the box.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: This exfoliator is to be massaged into damp skin 3-5 times a week to give the appearance of a refreshed face. The product seems to do the trick and does not seem hard on my skin like some exfoliator products that I have previously tried.

Supergoop! Daily Correct SPF 35 CC Cream: This is a sun-protector cream. I received a similar product in my June box, and I still have some of that remaining. However, this one is tinted to match skin tone. I received the "light to medium" colour. This product confused me. Is it foundation and sun-protection cream in one? I would use it but would use my standard foundation on top as this cream was too dark for my fair complexion.

A chapter of the book "The Proposal" by Tasmina Perry: This is a chapter of a book. While I love to read, I dislike reading only part of a book and cannot get excited about that. How can one judge a book by one chapter? Nonetheless, I did read the chapter on my way to work already, but I would never purchase any book by reading one chapter of the book. A complete book would have been nice, as sometimes magazines give books away.

This month's products also came with a cute summery plastic make-up bag with popsicles (ice lollies) on it. 

Apologies for the poor lighting on this month's products; I get home late and the weather was stormy.

August 2014 UK Birchbox


July 2014 Birchbox (UK)

The Birchbox is inspired by summer, and a lot of the products are made travel size and to take away in the summer months. This box's items were a mix of ones that I have tried previously and new ones, but I was not wowed. I preferred what other subscribers got.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream: I simply do not use eye cream or could see myself using it in the future. I sampled the product around my eyes, and it does make the area around my eyes feel more revitalised for a time. The sample size is a good size, considering that only a grain-sized drop is needed.

LAQA & CO Sheer Lip Lube in Bees Knees (Coral): A very light lip colour and a slight hint of peppermint taste. I do not think this suits my colouring at all, and I was not impressed with the way it felt on my lips. The application seemed a bit lumpy to me. 

Gilchrist & Soames Mineral Bath: This can be added to a bath or used as a shower gel. I tried a little bit in the shower, but it did not lather up so I used the remainder in the bath. The product does smell nice, but other than its smell, what is it meant to do? It left me confused as my skin did not feel any different (moisturised) after the bath.

Whish Three Wishes Lavender Body Butter: I love lavender; it reminds me of my holiday to Hvar, Croatia a few years ago. This product smells and feels lovely. It doesn't smell much like lavender, and the scene does remind me of cinnamon - Cinnabon rolls (for some reason). It was not greasy and thick. It melted into my skin. I would buy this, but I have a lot of body lotion to use up. This was my favourite product that I previously had never used.

Benefit Porefessional: I have used this product and other Benefit products before. The product allows foundation to be smoothed over your face evenly. I like this product.

The Chia Co. 'Chia Shots': Instead of growing furry green plant sculptures, these chia seeds are made to be added to your breakfast or salad (a tablespoon a day) and they add vitamins to your diet. They do not have much of a taste and can be used on salads or on cereal.

July 2014 UK Birchbox

June 2014 Birchbox (UK)

The Birchbox was inspired by the World Cup, hosted by Brazil. The bag that the products came in was decorated in Brazil's colours of blue-green and yellow, and it came with a branded Birchbox and World Cup sandal keyring. Here is a little description and review of what I have received in my first ever Birchbox:

Aromatherapy Associates 'Relax or Revive' Bath & Shower Oil: There was just enough in the tiny bottle for one shower (or bath), and I used this in the shower. The smell was grapefruit, and I liked it. It made my skin feel soft and kept it scented.

OPI Brazil Collection (Nail Polish): I have used OPI nail polish before, and I've always found it to be a good product. The nail polish that I received is the green-blue colour; when dried this matches the colour of the Brazilian flag (the same shade as the Birchbox bag). The polish dried quicker than my older OPI polish that I own, and I like the shade. The polish does not tend to chip like some brands do, and this is always a plus. I hate chipped nail polish; it looks so tacky and I have a habit of picking at it when it has started to chip before it should.

Jane Iredale 'Just Kissed' Lip and Cheek Stain (in Forever Pink): This was my favourite product in the box. When I saw the colour, which is very pale, I did not expect it to do much of anything on my pale complexion. However, I was surprised to see in the mirror that it coloured my lips a nice shade of red. The product adapts to everyone differently and uses body chemistry to create its colour to suit each individual. I loved this product and will be buying the full size sample.

Silk & Honey 'Shea Butter Hair Mask': There is enough of this product for two washes, and the instructions recommend using it once a week. This product is meant to work as a deep-cleansing hair conditioner. I used the first sample, and it left my hair looking (and feeling) extremely greasy, so I will not be using it again.

Caudalie Vinoperfect SPF15 Day Perfecting Fluid: Ignore the fancy name. This is a sun cream moisturiser for your face, and it is meant to "brighten and correct and retexturise skin", according to the label. I have used other brands, but this is a product that I do not use regularly.

June 2014 UK Birchbox

A Visit to St. George Market in Belfast

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While visiting Belfast in late May, we visited St. George's Market, a Victorian Market built in the 1890s. St. George's Market beat other popular UK markets to become to best indoor market earlier this year, beating popular markets such as Spitalfields and Borough Market in London. The market is opened on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. (We visited it on a Saturday, which is the food and craft market. There are slightly different themes on the other two days with Sunday focusing more on crafts and Friday focusing more on food and antiques.) 

St. George's Market

During World War II, St. George's Market was used as an emergency mortuary and over 250 bodies were taken there to be identified. Many could not be identified, so there was a public funeral with Catholic and Protestant services. The market was refurbished with lottery money in the 1990s. Today, Belfast City Council runs the market.

A fishmonger at St. George's Market in Belfast

As soon as we entered the market (from May Street), we found ourselves in the fish section. I always love looking at the fish section because they are so exotic and different (even if I have to hold my nose because it is not the most pleasant-smelling part of the market). I grew up in the middle of the country, and fish were not a common sight. Crabs, squid, lobsters, and octopus were among the finds. I even saw some (crabs or shrimp/prawns) moving. The cold ice just sedates them. I feel a bit sorry for them.


Fish, squid, octopus, crabs, oysters

Bread is another common find in markets, and the Irish have their own special types of bread that we do not get in England/Scotland/Wales. Soda bread is common in Ireland. We saw some homemade pot bread and soda bread and also these other loaves. 

Irish soda bread

I also saw a stall selling several (about fifteen) different types of pizza breads with different toppings. 

Pizza breads

Baked goods were also popular at St. George's Market, and there were pastries, fudge, cupcakes, chocolate, brownies, cookies, flapjacks, and so much more. There were a couple of stalls only selling cupcakes in many different flavours. However, I opted for these small fairy cakes pictured below from one of the stalls selling a variety of baked goods.

Fairy cakes


One of the most colourful stalls was selling spices. There were three tables filled with colourful containers with different types of bulk spice in them. (Let's hope none ever drop onto the ground because that would be an expensive mess.)


Many stalls sold craft items, clothing, photography/artwork, and jewellery. I did not photograph any of these stalls.


There were a handful of stalls selling produce as well. Some also sold beverages or meats. We bought a bottle of spakling lemon squash to mix with water.


The middle area of the market had several stalls selling cooked food, such as burgers and curry. In this area there was also a small band playing traditional music and chairs to sit on and watch them perform.

Also in the middle of the market is the market clock. I was not unable to get a good photograph, but it was made in Clerkenwell (the place to buy clocks in the 1800s) in London. It was originally the Belfast Fish Market's clock (Smithfields), and parts of it were badly worn but restored.


St. George's Market is not as large as Borough Market or Spitalfields. (Spitalfields does not sell food items except for some baked goods and it specialises more in fashion and crafts and antiques.) The market is comparable to Borough Market except that Borough Market specialises in food items more. However, Borough Market is nearly always too busy to properly browse anymore (even during off-peak times, and it is especially busy with tourists anymore) and we found St. George's Market to be quieter with less tourists.

I did not even know that Bishopsgate Market existed until I saw it advertised through Crosstown Doughnuts on my Facebook feed. I suppose I avoid walking through the City as much as I can as I already walk (or get the bus) from Bank to the middle of Brick Lane every work day. The City is always busy, so I simply avoid wandering into it during my lunch break and opt for something in Shoreditch as it's not quite as busy as the City. However, I was a Crosstown Doughnut virgin and I really wanted to try one as they look so good. I already wanted to head down to see the poppy display at the Tower of London, so I headed off to 100 Bishopsgate in the City of London.


Bishopsgate Market opened in the middle of July and will be opened throughout September. It is really easy to find. For years now, that area on Bishopsgate near to the Gherkin has been a building site. That's where the market is located. There's a little entrance, and the market is enclosed and fenced off in this little area. It's literally right in the heart of the city, and there's plenty of wobbly picnic tables set up and a few vendors. There's not much shade, though.


I grabbed my Crosstown Doughnut (a chocolate one) and then saw The Cheese Truck. What an excellent idea for street food. I love grilled cheese sandwiches and it was my staple diet a few years ago. I got one of those (cheese and onion) and a lemonade from another truck (local Hackney lemonade brand Square Root) and ate it there. Only I was not so hungry; I am never hungry in this weather. I managed to eat most of the sandwich, and it was good. (The Cheese Truck has their own Facebook page here:



Since I was not too hungry and could not even finish the whole sandwich, I took the doughnut with me. By the time I had my wander around Tower of London and walked around the City in the heat, the doughnut had actually melted and this would not have made a great photograph. It oozed chocolate and the chocolate top stuck to the paper (thankfully it is wax-coated paper, so no chocolate was wasted). It still tasted great, and I'll be back this week to try another one. The chocolate doughnut basically contains chocolate sauce inside it as well as a thick layer of chocolate on top. Thinking about it is still making me droll as it was so good.

Bishopsgate Market is only opened on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, however, and it ends at the end of September. It opens from 11:45 to 14:15, so if you want to grab lunch there, be quick. When I visited, there were places to sit and it was not that busy, and I assume the hot weather put people off from sitting outside.

100 Bishopsgate 
(at the corner of Bishopsgate and Camomile Street)

Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 11:45 - 14:15 

World Cup Street Art

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I know that the World Cup is over. I have so many photographs and posts to post that I forgot about these lurking, and I still wanted to share them, even though England went out early (which is not a surprise) and the games have been over for a month now. I previously mentioned street artist Cranio's World Cup mural (Cranio's Mural on Great Eastern Street), which did not last long. He was not the only one to be influenced by the games. Artists Martin Ron (New Mural by Martin Ron on Hanbury Street and Martin Ron's 'Badgergate' Mural) and ALSO were also inspired by it.



Martin Ron painted a brightly-coloured crowd of chanting or shocked apes. They look like they are watching the game, their expressions watching the same direction in awe or shock, clutching the blanket underneath them. The colours mimic the colourful flags of the teams. The artwork does not claim to be inspired by the games, but it turned up at the same time as them and reminds me of a group of people watching them. It is located in the outside bar area in Ely's Yard.


On Hanbury Street, the building that hosted the pop-up drinks (Lucky Juice) this spring also hosted a World Cup social media tie-in. This included several thousands of small green, yellow, and blue ribbons that were restocked each day, each with their own message related to the World Cup. Visitors are encouraged to take one ribbon. The ribbons are printed with World Cup social media posts. I took one that said "I wish I was a WAG". The definition of a WAG is "wives and girlfriends" and it's always related to girls who are dating sports/football players. (Actually, I don't really wish I was a WAG of course.) 

According to some information on the wall next to the ribbons, they are good luck charms and each measures 47cm, the length of Christ's arms in a small church of Senhor Do Bonfim. The poster informs takers of the ribbons to tie the ribbon around your wrist in three knots, and when the ribbon falls off, the wish comes true.


And last but not least, this scene of a boy playing football (or soccer if you are American) while a woman chases after him appeared just off of Brick Lane. The painting is by ALSO.

Puerto Rican artist Alexis Díaz's new mural has been on display for about a month now. Visitors to my blog may remember his work last summer of an octopus-elephant hybrid that appeared on Hanbury Street (just off Brick Lane) and remained there for some time; there's a chance many have seen it in real life. (My original post can be read here: Street Art: Alexis Díaz.)This summer, the artist came back to London and created an eel-skeleton-tree-octopus hybrid. 


As last year, I caught the artist at work. I also discovered the gradient-painted blue to green to yellow wall first and wondered what was going to go up there. Then I caught the sketch and the mural beginning to take shape over the top of it. This time, the artist painted the gradient background directly onto the wall first. The sketch was then completed and the background colour outside of the sketch was painted over in white. This technique is opposite to what the artist completed last time as this time, the gradient background is a part of the sketch.


The subject is equally as strange as the elephant-octopus last summer. However, this time, bits of the mural look like tree branches, and other areas look like bone, octopus, and eel. A couple of close-ups of the mural are below.


As usual, I enjoyed seeing this artist's work pop up on London's streets.

Yesterday I had a browse around Lucy Sparrow's "Knitted Cornershop", which just opened next to Columbia Road in east London last week. The cornershop is a result of crowd-funding and is open until the end of this month (19 Wellington Row, E2 7BB). After a month in London, the cornershop will then be moved to Brighton in October.


The Cornership displays items that one would purchase in a cornershop, except that they have all been knitted and are made of felt. Bubblegum, sweets, crisps, frozen foods, sandwiches, milk, laundry/cleaning products, medical products, newspapers/magazines, alcohol, cereal, fruit/vegetables, cheese, canned goods, sauces, jam, toilet paper, cheese, and biscuits line the shelves and racks.


The chilled items are presented in a cooler, and the frozen foods are presented in a small freezer. 


Outside, the shop looks like any non-suspecting cornershop. Imagine coming across the new shop for a pint of milk, only to discover that it is actually made of felt. The shop also has a sweet machine outside the door where visitors can put in a coin for some sweets.


The felted sweets and chocolate bars are in front of the counter, showing off their beautiful felted packaging and branding. These are a great likeness of the real item/brand.


There are some additional photographs of inside the show below.


The Cornershop is open daily until the 31st of August. The hours are from 10am to 7pm. Note that the items cannot be purchased from the shop, otherwise the shop would be empty, but visitors can look at the items in the shop and buy them online or fill out an order form in the store. They can also speak to Lucy Sparrow, who was there when I visited and was chatting to another customer. 


Actually, there are a couple of non-felt items that can be purchased in the shop. I bought a packet of shortbread; this comes in two pieces and is delicious. I also bought a packet of postcards that has some of the felt items on the front.

"The Cornershop"
19 Wellington Row
E2 7BB

Hours: 10am - 7pm every day until 31st August

The shop's website is:
Facebook page for Lucy's company 'Sew Your Soul':

Today marks 100 years since Europe (and later America) and other parts of the world were caught up in the first great war. To remember this, everyone in the UK is invited to turn out their lights from 10:00pm-11:00pm or to leave a single light or candle lit. This is called LightsOut, and it's currently being publicised on social media (Twitter hashtag #lightsout). I will be well and truly asleep by that time, but there are also events going on and more information and videos can be found on the official 14-18NOW website for those who do not need to get to sleep as early:

The Tower of London commemorates the fallen of the first World War in a new installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red', which features a field of ceramic poppies. The installation is in place until November 11. Paul Cummins is the ceramic artist, and the stage and setting designer is Tom Piper. The last poppy will be planted on November 11. I took a walk to the Tower of London to see the red poppies being planted in the moat at the beginning of last week.


A total of 888,246 ceramic poppies will be planted. The number represents a British or Colonial soldier that was killed during the Great War. (I'm not sure how they know the exact number here, but that is quite a large number, and seeing all of those poppies really invokes the scale of the number of lives lost in just British and Colonial soldiers. Imagine how many more soldiers of other countries and civilians were killed.)


During the installation period, names of those who served and died during the first World War will be read out and a single bugle call will play. Names can be nominated to be read out. For more information, visit


After the end of the installation, the poppies will be sold for £25.00 each after the installation, and the amount is raised for military-related charities. For more information and to register your interest in purchasing a poppy, visit

Throughout the month of July, Greenwich Village in London hosted a charity sculpture trail of 32 animal sculptures based on well-known UK creatures. These includes owls, cows, pigs, horses, and frogs. Many of the shops and Greenwich Market contained one or more of these animal sculptures on display. Books About Town, another sculpture trail, also had a couple smaller-sized books on display as a part of this trail. 


The sculptures were painted by Corelli College students, and they were painted to raise money for various animal charities. The sculptures were also meant to engage and inspire visitors to use social media to share their photographs. 


Unfortunately the animal trail has ended now, but more of these animal sculptures can be seen on their Facebook page:

Save the Bees Street Art

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"Save the Bees" street art went up in London toward the end of May. Artists Masai and Jim Vision were a couple of the artists who painted bees on several walls in Shoreditch. They used the hashtag #SaveTheBees to draw awareness to this issue that if bees become extinct, so will we. Several murals of bees with the campaign were painted on London's streets, and I managed to photograph several of these before they were later painted over.

'Save the Bees' on Sclater Street

Brainwaithe Street (Wheler Street)

Vallance Street

Hackney Road

Shutter art

New Street Art: Luis Gomez de Teran

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One of my favourite pieces of new street art to appear recently in east London has been by Luis Gomez de Teran. I love the classic style of his paintings with figures. The artist, originally from Venezuela, now lives in Rome. He visited London this May and June, and two pieces were painted just off of Brick Lane. The later piece featured three models of women with text. Two of the women are touching hands and have flowers in their hair and are wearing drapery. The shadows and light and drapery is done quite well, and I love the bright flowers in the hair against the darkness of the background. The interaction of the girls shows emotion and delicacy. 

The third woman, with her long back and red drapery, looks a little bit out of place in the scene and her back and angles do not look quite right which is a little bit of a shame, but I love the shading of her face and her shoulders here. 


The first mural by Gomez was painted near to the second. It is no longer there, but it was on Pedley Street. The image shows a dark-haired girl peering over a ledge. It looks like she may be peering into her reflection because you can see a reflection of her hands and knee. Again, this is a stunning piece.



For more information about the artist, see his Facebook page at:


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