July 2015 Archives

Going to Bob Bob Ricard is not the obvious choice to celebrate Independence Day, but that's where I went this year. I have been wanting to visit the restaurant for awhile, and we planned a few months ago to go to London this weekend for another event with the bloke's brother. It ended up being an excellent choice, and the restaurant was not too busy at all.

Bob Bob Ricard is located in Soho and is a stone's throw from Carnaby Street and a short stroll from Piccadilly Circus. 

The interior's decor is art deco in style. There are two rooms decorated in different art deco styles - the blue room and the red room.

The restaurant's dining area is all booths, and each booth has a 'Press for Champagne' button. Apparently, this restaurant is famous for pouring more champagne than any other in London, and pushing that button is quite addictive. Pushing the button lights up the table number above the bar at the back of the room.

Of course, we had to press the button and ask for champagne. We ended up with a bottle as this worked out better in terms of cost.

And actually, we ended up having champagne instead of Prosecco. Until we polished off the bottle. Then we pressed the button again and ordered the cheaper Prosecco.

We would have liked to have tried the cocktails as well, but we did not try them this time as we shared two bottles of bubbly between three of us.

To start, we ordered a selection of bread to share. This was our breakfast as we had spent the morning getting ready, packing, and traveling to London. The bread was slightly warm and fresh, and we had a selection of white and brown with good-quality butter.

The food at Bob Bob Ricard is Russian and British in influence. I had the crispy chicken kiev, which was stuffed with sweetcorn mousse and tarragon and served with cranberry and red wine sauce. This tasted lovely, and the corn mousse was the most delicious.

The bloke ordered panfried fillet of seabass, which came on a bed of beans and tomato and salad.

And last but not least, the bloke's brother ordered Filet Mignon Rossini. This consisted of 28-day aged Scottish beef, foe gras, and confit apple. It was served with truffle gravy.

Sides were ordered separately, and we shared the following: crushed minted peas, summer greens (kale and spinach), and the blokes each had a portion of chips that I managed to nab a few of. The peas were nice, but I wish I had followed what I was going to order instead (the corn), but was told my  chicken had some already. I could have done with a lot more as it was that good.

After our mains, we placed the orders for the dessert. The bloke had a bowl of sorbets with Vodka. 

Bloke's brother had the dulce de leche creme brulee, which was served with orange drizzle and carmelised orange segments on the top. I had a bite of this, and it was delicious.

The signature dessert dish is called "BBR Signature Chocolate Glory", and it arrived in a golden ball of glory, surrounded by powdered gold. 

The waitress started to pour a warm chocolate sauce over it, which started to melt away the golden chocolate ball.

It started to break over, revealing the treasures inside. 

Inside the dessert is chocolate mousse, brownie, berries, and passionfruit and orange jellies. The dessert was not as rich or sweet as I thought that it would be, but it hit the spot. It is actually a light dessert.

We enjoyed our meals. Have you been to Bob Bob Ricard yet?

After our visit to Wicklow Mountains, we drove up to Trim Castle. I was curious to see the castle, which is in a state of ruin. The castle is also famous for being the location where some of the film Braveheart was shot in 1994. The castle was transformed into a set for the Mel Gibson film, and photographs can be seen here from this time. A lot of locals from Trim were also employed as extras. There's also a sign outside the north wall of the castle with some information and photographs of the set at the castle. I must say that I am not a fan of the film, but I found its role in the film interesting. 

The castle can be toured, and there's a guided tour of the keep. Before we went to the castle, we walked down the main street in search of a place to eat lunch.

We popped into a small bakery and cake shop, and I had soup and a slice of carrot cake, which was nice.

Trim is a small and attractive Irish town, but we did not walk too far as we wanted to explore the castle.

We entered the castle through the gate, which is over the moat. This gatehouse was rebuilt in the 13th century. Guard accommodation was within this gatehouse, and a prision is below. There's also murder holes above. The original gatehouse was built in 1180, but there was a timber-framed one before.

To the left of the gatehouse upon entering is the solar and the great hall. The solar, also known as Magdalen Tower, was redeveloped as private apartments. It was built to defend the ford just below it. 

Next is the river gate (or water gate), which is near the river. This area took boats from the river to bring supplies into the castle. A passage was cut through the rock to the door of the cellar of the Great Hall to take the boats. 

The interior of the cellar is above, and the boats would be kept in the harbour. The views from the Great Hall looked over the abbey of St. Mary's, which is located across the river.

A couple of other towers, in states of ruin, are along the river.

We then walked around to the Barbican Gate. This gatehouse has a rare design as it is built as a cylinder tower. There was a system of overhead traps as well as systems for lifting bridges and gates.

The tower also was designed for archers to defend it. The walkways around can still be explored, but there's not much of them left.

The castle replaced a wooden fort and was built in 1175. The town of Trim built up around it. We explored the keep, but all visits to the castle keep are guided. We learned a lot about the keep and the castle and its history, saw very old grafitti, and were told ghost stories. 

The castle is a fine example of a military stronghold. 

Not much exists inside the middle of the keep now, so we had to navigate from one area to the other via wooden walkways. We could explore the chapel and the quarters of the owners on the sides.

Some of the castle was still well-maintained, and we had to climb down and up some narrow staircases, but this was minimal.

We took in excellent views over the castle's grounds. In the photograph below, the ruins in the distance are St. Mary's abbey.

Before we left, we had a glance at a book that was filled with photographs during the filming of Braveheart. The castle was transformed into a set for the film.

This was a nice castle to visit.

Have you ever been to Trim castle?

Bristol Upfest 2015

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I have been visiting Bristol this weekend, and I went to Upfest yesterday (Sunday) in order to see some of the work (and work in progress). For those who do not know what Upfest is, it is Europe's largest street art/grafitti festival, and it takes place in Bristol each year and attracts many visitors and artists from the UK and overseas. This year, the artists painted primarily along North Street in the Bedminster area of Bristol. Many of these pieces are in progress with scaffolding obstructing the views, so I be posting again with the finished artwork. (Note that a few pieces below were previous pieces painted on shutters, so I've just included them here too.)

Olivier Roubieu

Guy Denning

Andy Council in progress - tribute to Wayne - RIP Wayners

Dan Kitchener (Dank) work in progress

An artist at work at 'The Steam Crane'

Guy Denning

Tizer and various artists on North Street

Artwork at 'The Hare' pub: Bex Glover, Parlee, :Si2:, Gnasher (Wallace & Gromit)

BraveOne and CHG




One of the pieces by Angus - 'Minions' cross with 'Pulp Fiction'


Stik & My Dog Sighs - Revenge of the Stik 

Unfortunately, the largest venue (South Street Park) was shut due to the rain. The site had permission from the owners of the land, a school, and they were told not to let visitors enter because they did not want the grass destroyed. A lot of people were disappointed. I was allowed to take photographs from the entrance only, but there were so many pieces here that I could not see. I recognised a couple of artists' names that I know from the Upfest directory for this location, so it is a pity that I am many others were unable to see these pieces. I did see some stunning pieces from the entrance when I zoomed in using my camera. I hope that these boards are put on display somewhere so that they can be enjoyed by the public and the artists can get the exposure that they want as well.

South Street Park

The Spotted Cow - Lex Luther, unknown, Beepmonkey, Yash, Object, Sinna One, Hardie, DinDin, Arrix

North Street: Unknown, Rob Lee, Bram, unknown, Gage Graphics, Bill Giles, InkFetish, Fabio Petani, unknown

North Street: Lemak, Hoshiko, unknown, Stephen Quick, Julie (?) unknown, Agent Provocateur and Korp, SMV, European Bob

North Street: SF80, 4ire, Skie, John Curtis and Alex Willmott, RAST, Zabou, unknown, Steek, Johnman, Canvaz, FKDL, Roots, Leeks & Fetch, , Carleen Desozer, Giusi Tomasello

Luckwell - Olivier Roubieu, Miedo12, Diogo Galvao, 45rpm

Hen & Chicken: Mr Dog Sighs, Miss Wah, Los Dave, unknown, unknown, Jody, Dr. Love

Angus, unknown, Masai, Inkie, unknown, Inkie, Stewey

Otto Schade

Tobacco Factory: unknown, Thierry Noir, Fake, Oli-T, Loch Ness, Hannah Adamaszek, Acerone, Andrew Burns Colwill

Vector seating: Karl Read, Unknown and Rolling People (?), id-iom, Jim Vision and Dan Kitchener, unknown, CodeFC, Julieta XFL, Rusk, Nomad Clan (?), unknown

Martin Ron

My Dog Sighs

Berlin Wall exhibit at St. Francis with Thierry Noir

Hen Harrier Day with Danielle Mastrion & Lexi (?), Masai, DAP (?) with RAW (?), Goin

Rising Sun: Snooty, Dice67, unknown, Decay, John Doh, Angus, Deeds, Annatomix, unknown, unkown and D7606, D7606, unknown with Lone Wolf, STX

Collaboration on Luckwell Road - Dale Grimshaw, Cosmo Sarson, Mr. Cenz

Mr. Cenz in progress - Luckwell Rd

Luckwell Road - Dale Grimshaw and Cosmo Sarson in progress

Voyder in progress on West Street

Let me know if you recognise any of the artists that I have labelled unknown (or got incorrect). I've had to rush to write this post as next week is going to be really mental for me and I am not going to have any time to spend on this blog. As always, I've covered a lot of the artists in previous posts, so just search my blog. Sorry I wasn't able to add any direct links like I normally would have done. I've just had a lot of material to get through and long weekend and a very trying week ahead of me (which I am very much dreading, particularly as I've got blisters on my foot from doing a lot of walking), and next weekend is going to be mental as well. Thanks for reading!

Lego Street Art

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Lego is an intesting media for creating street art. Over the past few years, I have seen Lego bricks used to create some beautiful pieces of sculpture and art around the city of London. I wanted to showcase these iconic brick toys in this post as I've noted its uses. This post will feature various sculptures and Lego used in street art.


Bright Bricks (http://bright-bricks.com), a company who has created various large-scale Lego sculptures in Covent Garden, encouraged the public to visit St. Mary's Axe (the Gherkin) in order to help construct a large-scale model of the Gherkin building last summer. 



Second, we have one artist, Jan Vormann, who uses Lego bricks in street art in order to repair or add to crumbling buildings and brickwork. The result is a colourful patchwork of Lego bricks and stunning artwork that blends into its environment. I would love to discover some of these pieces in London at some point.

Jan Vormann photo

Jan Vormann photo

Jan Vormann photo

Jan Vormann photo

Jan Vormann photo

Last but not least brings us to Brick Lane. Over a year ago, the streets around Brick Lane and Spitalfields acquired small trees made out of plastic Lego bricks. I am unsure who pasted them upon the walls and have not been successful in finding out who pasted them up and why. I thought that perhaps more of these would be appearing, but they never did. Sadly, many of them have been stolen from the walls now, leaving a tree-shaped void.


I also discovered some additional Lego and toys put into the concerete across from BoxPark on Bethnal Green Road. I'm unsure as to why they are there, but they have been there for awhile and trampled probably millions of times by now.


Let me know if you see anymore facinating work created with Lego bricks.

Pizza is one of my favourite foods. When I was growing up, my parents always got pizza on Sunday nights; this was then moved to every Friday night after our local pizza place was bought out by a major local company and they changed the recipe. We would relax and eat pizza once a week for as long as I can remember. I don't have it that often anymore, but I do love good pizza and have a preference for the thin crust (Italian style). 


Readers may remember my trip earlier this year to Pizza Pilgrims, which is a London pizza chain serving up delicious pizzas. I had the chance to give Homeslice Pizza a try recently, and I was not disappointed at all. I had only a slice of cheese pizza, but I could have had a lot more.


Homeslice is located in Neal's Yard, which is close to Covent Garden and Seven Dials. Neal's Yard is a hidden courtyard with a few shops and restaurants. Homeslice occupies one of these spaces, and there's several seats indoors as well as outdoors. The company began its life in an east London brewery, and they have perfected the pizza dough over the course of the past three years. Pizzas are cooked and heated up in a wood fire oven, which can be seen at the back in the photograph below.


Tap water seved in chilled bottles is free, and a slice of pizza is a little on the costly side. I would love to go back to share a whole pizza with someone. The pizzas are ideally made for sharing. A slice of pizza was just enough for lunch or a snack. The bread is quite light and I did not find it too 'heavy'.


I am looking forward to returning. 

Homeslice is located at 13 Neal's Yard, Seven Dials, WC2H 9DP. They are open Monday to Saturday until late and serve pizza slices at all hours from noon. For whole pizzas, the hours are noon until 10:30pm. Their Sunday hours are noon until 9:00pm. 

Joachim Paints Wall on Rivington Street

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Joachim is an artist from Belgium who has been involved in the street art and grafitti scene since the 1990s. The artist came to London nearly a couple of months ago and painted a wall on Rivington Street in Shoreditch (London) with his trademark abstract style figures/faces.


Close-ups of the piece can be seen below.



The artist's style reminds me of Italian artist Hunto. The artists also collaborated on another mural on a wall together.


For more information about the artist, see his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joachim/1454474741453602

I have a lot of photographs of street art that I've not published but that I think it worthy of some mention or documentation. Below are several pieces, primarily paste-ups, that have made their appearances in London during the past three years. For those who have done a street art tour of London or who have followed street art in London, some of these pieces may bring back some memories.
St8ment and Mr. Fahrenheit
High Five
R. Satz
St. Gentrifizian, St. Cargo, St. Spekulatius
Unknown birds on Blackall Street
Pezzy, Cartrain, HelgaAniorte
Skull at the Foundry
unknown and chinagirl
aliens and pipsqueak
Tribute to Flanders fields at the end of 2014 (the great war)

Anna Laurini
13 coins
Real Dill
Real Dill, Anna Laurini, Georgie
Corpse and Dotmasters
Three of these hanging fish turned up in east London. Artist unknown but read awhile ago it may be the work of Pablo Delgado
John Dolan with George the Dog

Last month, I mentioned that the month of June was my final for the beauty subscription company Birchbox.  However, they messed up in cancelling my subscription, so I received the July box this month. For those who do not know, Birchbox is a monthly beauty and skincare subscription box that sends between four and five samples each month. Instead of the box and drawstring pouch this month, the subscription came inside an envelope. Inside the envelope was a colourful plastic clutch. It is available in four colours: pink, yellow, orange, and turquoise. I received the turquoise colour. The contents are described below.


Unani aloe vera gel: This product should be used after getting sun. It contains aloe vera to help cool the skin and help it to recover from the sun. It does feel cool on my skin, and it's not sticky. I'll try to remember that I have this product the next time that my skin suffers a bit from the sun.

Indemne (eau de Genie): This product is a cleanser that contains grapefruit, tomato, lemon, and apricot extracts to boost the skin. It absorbs into the skin quickly, but it could take some time before I notice any results.

Soigne nail polish in 'fruit de la passion': The colour of polish that I received is a pale apricot or peach colour, and I love this colour. However, I did not care for the product. It took four coats to cover my nails, and the product took forever to dry completely.

POP Beauty eyeshadow trio in 'Peach Parfait': This trio of eye shadows can help achieve the smokey eye look. I love the bronze and gold shades. I am going to get a lot of use out of these, but I want to use up some similar colours first.

Benefit Cosmetics Dream Screen: This matte sunscreen protects the wearer's face. It is factor SPF 45. The skin absorbs it quickly. I do use a lot of Benefit Cosmetics products, so this one was not new to me.

Pura Vida lace headband in 'aqua': This hair band is a good idea and on trend. I'll have to research how to wear it, though.

I have (hopefully) managed to cancel my subscription sucessfully now, so this will be my last Birchbox review. I was just tired of getting repeat products and products that did not suit my needs. However, this box was okay for me this month, but it's not enough to keep me subscribed.

I visited Vintage Salt during my birthday weekend in mid-June, and the bloke and I ate here before watching the Saturday performance of 'War Horse', which I've wanted to see for a little while now. Vintage Salt is a restaurant on the rooftop of Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London, and it takes its inspiration from the Cornish coast. Over the winter, the restaurant (Le Chalet) took inspiration from a ski lodge, and I had the chance to visit.


The restaurant takes its inspiration from a Cornish coastal town with wooden floors and blue and white. The tiles near the bar featured drawn ship illustrations.



Other seaside items were featured inside the entrance to the restaurant, including ropes, benches, lifesavers, and buoys.


In addition, we received some facts about Cornwall.


When we arrived, we were seated near the entrance/exit, but I had a wander. Part of the decking area had beach huts in the colourful style that can be seen on the coast. Unfortunately, the weather was not perfect for the day; we did not have rain, but the roof was only partially opened in case we did get a shower.


The menu came with some British weather warnings.


We promptly ordered our cocktails. I had the 'Selfridges Sparkler' cocktail, and I believe that the bloke had the 'Tropical Punch'. 



I also ordered a non-alcoholic raspberry lemonade.


We shared the 'crusty ancient loaf' of bread with butter. This tasted similar to the bread that we shared when the restaurant was Le Chalet in winter.


The meals do not come with sides (unless stated), so these were ordered separately. I ordered the truffled chips and wilted summer greens, which consisted of buttered kale and spinach. The chips had parmassan cheese and mushroom (truffle) on them.


The bloke ordered the fish and chips dish, which contained a pot of mushy peas. He assured me that the fish and chips was very tasty.


I ordered the chicken, which was marinated in a barbeque spicey sace, and this tasted lovely. The chicken could have had a little more meat on it, but the glaze was delicious. The image below shows my chicken with the truffled chips and the greens (sides).


For dessert, I opted for the 'chocolate burger'. This consisted of white and dark chocolate, jello (tomato) and cream (mayonaisse) as well as a sugary pastry. The 'fries' were sugared doughnut sticks that could be dunked into a melted chocolate pot. Genious, but it looked much better than it tasted. There's also a 'deconstructed sundae', which I would love to go back and try.


After our meal, we headed over to see the play 'War Horse', which I have wanted to watch for a little while. The puppetry work with the horses was absolutely amazing.


Overall, we had a good evening out, and that concluded my birthday weekend.

If I could move anywhere in the United Kingdom (without having to worry about a job), I would move to Salisbury. (However, I also like the Cotswolds, so that's a contender.) I fell in love with Salisbury in 2000, when a past boyfriend took me there to visit as he lived down the road in the New Forest and his parents worked in Salisbury; Salisbury was their nearest big city and the closest with a train station, and I'd find myself traveling down on the train from London on Friday evenings to see him every other weekend. I also worked there for a few months. I've visited the town now and again over the course of the last decade, so when I learned about the Baron's Charter sculpture trail last year, I knew that I'd be paying the city another visit this summer.

MC 800 Baron - Mark Elling

The Baron's Charter sculpture trail consists of 25 painted sculptures in the shape of a baron. They commemorate 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta (1215), a set rules/laws for society of that time, which influences current civilisation. Salisbury Cathedral displays one of the remaining signed Magna Carta documents. Only four of these are in existance today, and the others can be seen at Lincoln and the British Library. 

The Magna Carta Baron - Donald Brown

The trail is on display until the 6th of September. After it finished, the barons will be auctioned off for charity Trussell Trust, to provide food for those who need it. Below are photographs of the barons from the sculpture trail. 

Stained Glass Flower Baron - Louise Luton

Salisbury Market Baron - Lee O'Brien

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Druid - Mandii Pope 

Traditional Tribal Baron - Jake Cook

The Salisbury Baron - Jodie Silverman

Discworld Knight - Paul Kidby

Astro Baron - Jenny Leonard

Quintessentially British - David Graham

Baron Button - Laura Fearn

Additionally, we happened to visit Salisbury during an archaeology event. We were able to go into the Salisbury Museum, which has gotten larger since my last visit and is well-worth a visit with a large selection of prehistorical items. I'll be posting more on Salisbury at some point, but we saw some archaeologists that have been on television. I heard a thick Somerset accent (I used to work near Bristol) and the bloke recognised Phil Harding, who has been on Time Team and other shows. I took a sneaky few photographs. 

Phil Harding from Time Team and other programmes

The Baron's Charter sculpture trail will be in place until 6 September, so do go and see the sculptures. They are all within walking distance of each other and are centrally-based. (There are two that are accessible from the centre for those who wish to walk a little further.) For more information, visit: http://www.thebaronscharter.org.uk

UK 2015 Glossybox Review: July

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

My Glossybox arrived yesterday. Glossybox is a monthly beauty and skincare subscription box that sends subscribers four or five sample or full-sized products. This month's theme is 'Vive la France', and the products inside the box are French. The box this month has a nice illustration, and following competitor Birchbox, all subscribers received an illustrated plastic make-up bag.


This month, each subscriber received four products.

noxidoxi enhancing serum base: The product promises to protect and moisturise the skin. This product needs to be used over time to see the benefits. It is absorbed into the skin and does not feel sticky or greasy.

Lollipops lip balm: This lip balm is rich in vitamins and contains sunscreen. The scent reminds me of vanilla cupcake. This is a brilliant product and made my lips feel nourished and soft. A little bit of this goes a long way. 

Teoxane Cosmeceuticals skin refiner: This product promises to hydrate and make skin appear plumper. It feels slightly tingly on the skin at first use. 

Yves Rocher 'Comme une Evidence' eau de perfume: This perfume is described as a musky but floral scent. I enjoyed using this product and like the scent. It's also in a generous size that will last a little while.


This was my free box for completing surveys for the past year. I may subscribe for a couple of more months so that I can redeem another free box.

Basingstoke Live 2015

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

This weekend, I listened to music at Basingstoke Live. Basingstoke Live is a free event held in Basingstoke each year, and it marks the end of the Basingstoke Festival, which I covered a few weeks ago. The event hosts art, music, dance, drama, and various rides. Some of the artists are local, but there's also international acts and different styles of music to cater for every taste. I was unable to attend on Saturday late afternoon and evening, but I could hear the last act from where I live, and they sounded amazing. Instead, I went on the Sunday, which had a chilled-out atmosphere. The headline act that evening was Mungo Jerry, who created the 1960s hit summer song "In the Summertime". I managed to get an autograph and meet him after the concert. Photographs of Basingstoke Live are below.

Mungo Jerry

Rides at Basingstoke Live

Sugarman Sam and the Voodoo Men

Devout Skeptics

Devout Skeptics

Fish Hook

Fish Hook

Groove Republic

Groove Republic

After the visit to Glendalough Monastary Settlement in the Wicklow Mountains, our next stop was to Powersourt Waterfall. First, we had to drive there from Glendalough, which did take a fair amount of time as the Wicklow Mountains are a little larger than I expected them to be. We were not disappointed with the waterfall, and this is the largest one that we saw in Ireland.

Wicklow Mountains is an national park south of Dublin. The area is very barren and there are peat fields, flat areas, and mountain views. The scenery was not my personal favourite, and the drive just seemed to drag on for awhile. However, this park is popular with Dubliners at the weekends as it is so close to Dublin.

Eventually, we found our way to Powerscourt Waterfall, near the Powerscourt Estate. This is Ireland's highest waterfall at over 120 meters high. There are also giant redwood trees (native to California) planted here, but they are still young. 

When we drove up to the waterfall, we were in awe at the size and height of it. We then walked below it to get some photographs and climb on the stones.

After we had enough of the beautiful waterfall, we headed out of Wicklow Mountains and around the road around Dublin. On the way out, I noticed these peat bricks at a petrol station that we stopped at.

Our next stop would be to visit Trim Castle, so keep checking back for my last couple of posts of the Ireland road trip.

A little over a couple of weeks ago now, street artists Alexis Diaz and Elian collaborated together on a new mural on the popular wall at the corner of Hanbury Street and Brick Lane. I covered Diaz in the summer of 2013 when he painted an elephant-octopus on the same wall and in the summer of 2014 when he painted an eel-skeleton on a wall on Bacon Street. Diaz likes to blend different objects into a single object, using black hatch-marks to create light and shadow. The subject of thie piece seems to feature a heard with an eye and an arrow. Elian is responsible for the brightly-coloured background. Both artists are in London for an exhibition featuring Latin American artists at MYA Gallery. 


Elian Chali is from Argentina and paints abstract geometrical pieces using bright colours. Alexis Diaz is from Puerto Rico.


This is a striking new piece and one of the best murals this year so far. I've included some close-up photographs of the piece below.



This will probably be one of the best pieces of street art this year as Diaz's murals always make a lasting impression. As mentioned, you can see the artwork at the corner of Hanbury Street at Brick Lane.

Everyone loves seeing MINI cars. I used to go to many MINI events (in my own car with friends) until I had to start commuting to London. This year, I've gotten a little back into it as I do not have the commute, and I managed to do one event in the winter at Brooklands MINI Action Day. One of the summer events is taking the MINIs to Poole Quay (Dorset, England) to park them up, and this is an organised event. In fact, this event used to be once a month during the summer months (three times a year). The MINI day is only once a year now, but they do have other different types of car on the other Fridays. Every Friday during the summer is a different car. I have not been to this event for several years now, so this year was a little bit of a treat.

Poole has an attractive seafront where you can buy fish and chips, get a drink at the pub, or go shopping. During the car events, the public can look at the cars, and here always seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for the MINI. 

Here are a few more photographs of my day. The day was sunny, but the cloud came over when we arrived in Poole. There were not as many MINIs this year as I remember from the past events. I remember that there were many more cars, and our own circle of friends with MINIs was much larger then. We'd meet in one of the car parks and would take up half of it with our cars while we waited to go to the seafront.

We met up with some friends that we have not seen in ages and went to the Italian restaurant. I had pizza, followed by Key Lime pie. 

I got some more photographs around the quay as it started to grow dark. There are fireworks on the beach in the later summer months, but this week was too early for them. I believe that they start at the end of this month. After one of the MINI Poole Quay events several years ago, a group of us watched the fireworks on the beach.

While we were standing around and talking, we noticed some very strange cloud formations. I'd never seen anything like them before. I believe they are known as Mammatus Clouds and could bring bad storms, though we did not have any bad weather that day or the day after.

The event 'Quay For My Car' takes place in Poole every Friday afternoon/evening in summer. Each evening is a different type of car and can include sports cars, convertibles, Porsches, Italian cars, American cars, Volkswagens, Lotus cars, and British cars.

More information can be found here: http://www.pooleview.co.uk/CarQuay.html

Earlier today, I headed over to Overton, a village in Hampshire outside of Basingstoke. This weekend marked the bi-annual scarecrow festival. I remember seeing the scarecrows in Overton on two occassions in the past a long while ago now, but this was my first proper walk and drive to see as many scarecrows as we could find. This weekend marks the festival with games and other activities for adults and children. It's also the weekend of Basingstoke Live, a free live music festival. Pity about the clash of dates for two major local events as I also want to enjoy the music, but I'll have to go tomorrow instead.

This one mentioned '50 Shades of Hay' as a play on words for the book

The Overton Scarecrow Festival gets the community involved in creating scarecrows around a theme, but this theme is optional. The theme this year was books. The community could create their own scarecrow and put them up in their garden or attached to the front of the house. Local businesses also participated by creating their own scarecrows, which were mainly themed around their service to the community - butcher, vet, restaurant, charity, grocer, beauty, etc. 






Restaurant waiter serving champagne

Two scarecrows looking for a sunny field in the estate agent

Scarecrow beauty 

Another shot of the butcher's


We did notice a common theme with the 'minion' characters from the film "Despicable Me", who have now appeared in their own spin-off film this summer. I believe that we saw six separate houses that had scarecrow 'minions'.

Minion family

Minions with cross-over to 'Toy Story'

This Minion looks like he is really holding it in

My favourite scarecrow with the theme was the creative "How to Train Your Dragon"; this featured the characters Hiccup (the main human boy character) and Toothless (the wounded black dragon). The dragon was perched on top of the house's porch with Hiccup below. 

The other good one, which did not look like a scarecrow at all, was a knight. We were told by someone passing by to go and see this one. 

Sir Scare-a-lot

A couple of the scarecrows did look 'creepy', and some of them were funny. I noticed one sitting on a garden wall of a house with a lot of empty bottles around him. There was another sitting at a bus stop, which apparently confused the driver of a bus (according to someone on Twitter), and I loved the police chasing the criminal up the scaffolding.

Scarecrow police and criminal

Below are many photographs of the scarecrows.

After we'd had a little bit of a walk around, we popped in to The Red Lion pub/restaurant for lunch. This scarecrow was outside the pub, offering jugs of Pimms drink.

The restaurant was fairly quiet when we arrived, but it did get a little busier toward the end of the lunch hour. The restaurant is light and airy inside.

We ordered our meals. The bloke had a hamburger with fries, and I had chicken pasta with creole. The pasta was good and had a lot of flavour and a little kick of spice. 



Chicken pasta with creole sauce

For dessert, the bloke had raspberry sorbet with Vodka, and I had raspberry and white chocolate creme brulee.

Raspberry sorbet with Vodka

Raspberry and white chocolate creme brulee

The Overton Scarecrow Festival continues tomorrow with new events and a concert tonight if you want to head over to Overton (Hampshire) to see it.

My Afternoon Tea Home Delivery

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A couple of weeks ago for National Cream Tea Day, I had afternoon tea delivered to my door from online shop Delimann. The occassion was afternoon tea day, and Wimbledon was on, so I managed to have afternoon tea for lunch and watch the tennis. The afternoon tea came delivered in a box, perfect for a picnic. (Okay, brewing a cup may be slightly difficult but not impossible with insulated cups.) I was curious to see what the home delivery afternoon tea experience was like, and I was not disappointed. Below is a photograph of what arrived.


The afternoon tea box came with two plain scones and two fruit scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, tea bags, Luscombe Damascene Rose bubbly, dark chocolate truffles, and a vintage-design tea tray. The box arrived with a card to explain how to get the best out of the afternoon tea. All products included were locally-sourced from Devon.


The Luscombe brand rose bubbly (non-alcoholic) tasted of rose and was best served ice-cold. This was a small bottle, and I got a little over a wine glass out of it.


Next up was the tea, which is advertised as a west country tea. The tea was okay, but I do prefer loose leaf tea. There are more than enough bags of tea provided.


I had a fruit scone and a plain scone, and these were slightly warmed in the oven before I spreaded the clotted cream and jam onto them. They did taste very nice, and I was surprised that they tasted as good as they did. I was worried that they would taste mass-produced, but they did not and were very yummy.


The clotted cream and strawberry jam were also sourced from the west country, which is the traditional home of the cream tea.


To follow were dark chocolate truffles, which taste divine. The chocolates are slightly soft and dusted with cocoa powder. I am storing these in my fridge and letting them thaw before I have one, but they have been lasting me a long while. Sorry for the photograph; this was a very large bag filled with chocolates but difficult to photograph.


I was surprised at the quality of the order and would order from the company again. (I ordered these on my own and have not been paid to say this.) Afternoon tea delivery can be purchased for several different events or just as a one-off in order to have a picnic or as a treat.

Crosstown Doughnuts

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Crosstown Doughnuts is a London doughnut pop-up shop, and they can be found in several of London's markets. The doughnuts are handmade and sourced from local ingredients where possible, and they do not contain trans-fats. They came on my radar at the beginning of May 2014 when I saw them advertise on Twitter, but I was unable to try the doughnuts as they were only available on Leather Lane market during work hours. Luckily, a pop-up market at Bishopsgate in the City in 2014 meant that I could finally try one last summer. Since then, they've been expanding their business quickly. The gourmet doughnut seems to be very much in-fashion at the moment.


Crosstown Doughnuts eventually set up a shop in Piccadilly tube station, which has now been moved to a larger location in Soho. In addition to selling from their truck at markets and other pop-up venues and at their own shops, I have seen their doughnuts for sale in Whole Foods and in Selfridges. They are currently trading at Broadway Market (in the school yard) and Leather Lane market. I visited the market a couple of times and have tried their douhnuts: a cinnamon one and a chocolate one. Both were good. 


For more information about Crosstown Doughnuts, visit their website here: http://www.crosstowndoughnuts.com/

Street Art Round-Up to July 2015

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I've compiled a lot of photographs of street art over the course of last year and the beginning of this year. I've included these in this post for a round up of various pieces of street art that appeared in east London over the past several months. This weekend (July 11 and July 12) is the "Meeting of the Styles" street art event, so some of the walls around east London will be painted over.


Neoh has been busy painting London this year. I've covered the artist in more detail here.


The popular wall on Pedley Street recently became home to two new pieces, which I have added below. I am not sure who the artist is for the first one.


Nathan Bowen's characters have made appearances in many places this year. I covered the artist in more detail here.



Birdseed is a street artist who has produced a lot of work in London over the past several months.


I am unsure who painted the following.



Edwin is a popular street artist based in London. He often puts up hand-drawn stickers around London and also paints some walls with various cartoon-style illustrations.


Last autumn, he painted a high-profile wall on Hanbury Street with airmail stickers.



Eelus was the previous occupant of the space that Edwin took over on Hanbury Street, and this piece (you can see it in my post here) was his first piece for awhile after the artist lost his daughter. The piece below appeared in the autumn. 


Jim Vision is another artist who is always adding his artwork to London's streets. The image below appeared off of Curtain Road last autumn. I originally thought that it was a piece by David Walker.


David Walker's piece was painted over in 2013, and the artist finally visited London again to recover his space on Rivington Street last summer.


I liked this colourful face by Jaycaes.


At the end of last year and beginning of this year, the large Village Underground mural was painted by Ian Stevenson and Russell Brand. This piece features a Mickey Mouse character with the words "the revolution is now".


Himbad is another London-based artist that has been busy in the past year. The piece below appeared at the start of this year.


This was then replaced by a baby's face from artist Empty Belly, an artist who seems to be well-traveled and who has painted in Berlin and Lisbon.


DESX was another artist who was busy last spring and summer, and I saw a lot of these characters (the one being chased by the gigantic wasp) painted around.


Spzero is another busy London-based artist. I covered some of the work in my blog post here. Sclater Street was a popular spot.







David Shillinglaw also painted a few pieces, and I covered some of his work with Malarky recently. The pieces below appeared at the start of this year.



Senna, an artist from Brazil, painted the streets of London in 2013. I covered his work here, along with some collaborations. The artist came back for a visit and painted a couple of pieces in London at the end of last year.


Lily Mixe is a graphic artist from Paris based in London, and she's painted in London before. I liked the whale pictured below.


Meme painted a monkey off Great Eastern Road. This appeared at the beginning of the winter season last year.


Millo and Ben Murphy painted the pieces below. I covered Millo in a blog post here. Ben Murphy creates his work using electric tape. You can see some more of his work in my post here.


Masai is another famous artist, and he often paints animals. This bird made an appearance toward the end of last year. It's located off Brick Lane on Pedley Street.


Lister was one of the first artists I covered in my blog as he had just visited London and left a few pieces around. He must have returned to London at the end of last year because I discovered this piece off Curtain Road. You can read my original entry about the artist and see more of his work here.


Nemi Uhu is another artist who pastes up tiles around London, and an example of one is pictured below.


Last spring, NDA (a street artist from the USA) painted the high-profile wall on Hanbury Street.


I had already covered some tribute pieces to Robbo, a popular street artist in London who sadly passed away last summer. See more pieces in my tribute to Robbo street art blog post.


Rone is another artist that I've covered. More pieces can be seen here, but the piece below appeared last year.


I really like Alice's work, and the following appeared toward the end of last year but did not last long. I covered her work here.


The Krah painted the piece below on Sclater Street.


Tizer is another popular London-based artist.


The Toaster Crew had not painted anything for awhile, but now they are back. I found the following piece off Brick Lane. I originally covered some of their work here.


Txemy painted the colourful piece below, which really brightened up these cloudy days in early 2015.


Here's a piece by IconTrust.


Cardboard Skeleton, based in London, painted the piece below. He's also been quite busy in the past several months.


I do not know who painted this piece, but it appeared right after the Scotland vote when some wanted independence.


I loved this piece. It reads "always and forever" if you look at it correctly.


I am not sure who the artists are for the pieces below. Drop me a message if you know.













Bren da


Captain Kris


At the beginning of February, I was still working on Brick Lane. A colleague and I decided to head a few blocks down Brick Lane to Chez Elles. He had been there the previous week and enjoyed it, so we decided to give it a try to see if it was consistent. I knew at this time that I would be leaving Brick Lane, and that was weighing heavily on my mind and his too as everything was 'up in the air' with plans, so we both felt that it was good to get away from the office. It had been a busy few months, and I did not take my lunch sometimes.


The restaurant is Chez Elles, and it's a French restaurant. Most people assume any restaurant on Brick Lane will be Indian/curry, but there are actually a few non-Indian restaurants, even at the southern end of the street where the majority of the restaurants are curry houses. The interior is stylish with floral and feminine displays, bird cages, and vintage posters. It felt welcoming, and the waitress was friendly.


We had the restaurant to ourselves until toward the end of our visit when a group came in and sat at the back of the restaurant and proceeded to actually get quite drunk and loud quite quickly. I turned down the wine from the beginning as the day was a busy one! I also decided to stick with a main and order a dessert. I ordered the chicken with pasta, mushrooms, and mustard sauce. Unfortunately, there was not much meat on the chicken as it was the wing bit, and I did find it quite bland.


I was still hungry, so I decided to order a dessert. For dessert (pictured above), I had the creme brûlée made from vanilla and pistachio. I love pistachio, and I will say that the creme brûlée was excellent, even if I was a little disappointed with my main meal.

Would I be back? I would not rush back. I did not care for the main meal that I had at all. I would return for creme brûlée or other desserts. Note that I am sure that the other meals are really nice, and my colleague had a fish meal, and he enjoyed it. I think I just had the wrong meal, but I was not keen on the other meals on the menu.

A new mural was recently painted on Hanbury Street featuring the work of Cekis, a street artist from Chile. The artist is currently in London to support his work in exhibition 'Entre Muros' for Latin American artists in MYA Gallery. Cekis, whose real name is Nelson Rivas, currently lives in New York City. He painted the streets of Chile in the 1980s, focusing mainly on murals with a political mesage and inspiring other artists. The colourful piece features bright green, purple, pink, and orange trees/bamboo and leaves/vines. The natural aspects of this mural appear to be fenced in, and fences was a subject/theme that the arist covered a few years ago. Fences are made to keep things in (or prevent things from getting in or out), so perhaps this mural does have a message as well as providing colour to this area of London.


Cekis' mural is located at the popular street art spot at the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street, and I checked it out last week. The wall across from it was also updated with a new mural, which I will also be covering in the next few days.


Below are more close-ups of the mural.



To visit this piece, go to the corner of Hanbury Street and Brick Lane.

Our first stop after our night in Kilkenny was to drive to the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin in Ireland. We would be stopping off at Glendalough Monastic City, a large complex here, before continuing our drive into the mountains. Glendalough is one of the most important sites in Ireland, and it was founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. Many of the buildings that we saw date from the 10th-11th centuries.

Before we arrived at Glendalough, we stopped off at a couple of places in the Wicklow Mountains on the way in order to take some photographs. We also passed through a small town called 'Hollywood', which was nothing much more than a few sheep grazing on a hillside with the 'HOLLYWOOD' letters on the hill above. We were driving, so I could not get a good photograph of it, but it made me laugh.


After Hollywood, we entered Wicklow Gap and pulled over to get some photographs. We were not far from Glendalough. We saw some picturesque views over the mountains, including a small lake formed at the base of the mountain. We read a sign here that pointed out the ancient pilgrimage road to Glendalough, called "St. Kevin's Way". 


We arrived at Glendalough by mid-morning, and it was already busy with a couple of tour buses. However, we managed to find a place to park in order to explore the area. The locals were already out in force, selling souvinirs and food from concession stands and singing their traditional songs in front of the large stone gateway entrances into the Monastic City.

The first architectural feature that I noticed is the Round Tower. The round tower contained the bells to gather the monks together for prayers. The day before, we had climbed the Round Tower at Kilkenny, which is one of only two round towers opened to the public that can be climbed in Ireland. This particular round tower is a hundred feet high and used to have six levels made from wooden floorboards, which no longer exist. The round tower was built between 900-1200. The entrance would have been above ground level, and a ladder would have been placed in order to climb to enter (and then pulled up) so that enemies could not enter.

I saw some excellent views over the mountains from the graveyard.

The next stop was to visit the cathedral, which was the largest structure at Glendalough and would have been one of the largest churches in Ireland at its time.

The priest's house is a small building in the middle of the grave area. 

We also got some beautiful views of this church, which was locked but appeared to be in good condition. 

After we had seen enough, we headed out through the main gateway. Unusually, the gateway is a double-gateway, and this is the only example of such existing. The second gateway did have a tower built on it. The gateway would have been built between 900-1200. Just inside the gateway is a stone with a cross carved into it.

There is a visitor centre nearby, but we actually failed to notice the signs for this and did not visit. We left to continue on our exploration of the Wicklow Mountains. Not far away, we came across a beautiful waterfall named Glenmacnass Waterfall.

The road winded around to the top of the waterfall, where we were awarded with beautiful views. We managed to find a place to pull over to get some photographs.

We continued on our journey through Wicklow Mountains (Sally Gap) in order to visit another waterfall - Powerscourt Waterfall. Keep checking back to see photographs of our visit.

Birthday Visit to Lymington (England)

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

My birthday was in the middle of last month. This year for my birthday, the bloke and I decided to go to Lymington. We had a treasure trail walk to complete, and we expected the New Forest to be fairly quiet on a Wednesday, which it was. We were lucky to have decent weather with sunshine (and some cloud), and the rain stayed away. We had a little over two hours to enjoy here while we walked around to solve the clues to the treasure walk.


The first stop of the day was to Toby Carvery in Basingstoke, a restaurant chain that is famous for its carvery meals, and we had breakfast. I had toast, bacon, tomato, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, potato (mixed with onion and bacon), and a giant onion breakfast Yorkshire pudding. This was delicious, and I really liked the potato and Yorkshire pudding. This was a great start to the day.


We drove down to the New Forest afetrwards. Despite living in the same county as the New Forest, we rarely ever visit it. We should visit it more as it's not that far as it is a wonderful place to visit. I guess we are caught up in our busy lives.


We walked past the Sea Water Baths, which I did not know existed. These were founded in the 18th century for health benefits, similar to the spas at Bath and Harrogate in England. They were not open when we walked past. Lymington was also famous for its salt production in the middle ages.


We continued to walk down the side of the harbour. There are a lot of boats here, and I really wish I owned one of them. 



We walked around the edge of town and saw some beautiful houses and gardens.




The High Street and the church in Lymington are attractive, but it's a pity about the scaffolding on the church.


Lymington's High Street also has a gold postbox. These were painted gold for Olympic gold medal winners in 2012.


We also popped into a small ice cream shop in order to get an ice cream. The ice cream was alright, but it was not as creamy as I would have liked, even though it was advertised as 'gelato', which I think of as a creamier version of ice cream.


With our ice creams, we walked down the most picturesque cobble-stoned street near the middle of town and near the harbour before heading back to the car and driving back to Basingstoke for the afternoon. Plenty of photographs of these streets can be seen below.







We left Lymington and headed back home to Basingstoke. Our first stop in Basingstoke was to visit the Parlour Tearooms, which I have written about before. I had my birthday cupcake here. The tearooms were quiet as it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday. It was nice to be out without worrying about the crowds.


Overall, this was a relaxing day and it went by much too quickly. 

The Parlour Tea Room, Basingstoke

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I recently made a visit to the Parlour Tearoom in Basingstoke. The Parlour Tearoom sells sandwiches, cakes, and afternoon tea. I had made a previous visit. This first visit was over a year ago, and I had a toasted cheese sandwich, Victoria Sponge cake and a cupcake, which I took away. I visited with my parents, and they also had sandwiches and different flavours of cupcakes. All of this was very good. Unfortunately, all of my photographs of this visit somehow got lost, and I've not been able to return until recently.


The Parlour Tearoom is located in the Viables area of Basingstoke outside the town centre. This area is also home to large businesses, and I used to work there until the end of January 2010, but the tearoom was not around then. The Parlour Tearooms are located in converted stables or workhouses, and many more of these now house local businesses selling crafts, jewellery, sweets, and food.


The interior has a vintage-inspired design with bunting. 


During my most recent visit, I had a pot of tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream, and this tasted delicious.


This was followed by a vanilla cupcake.



Other flavours of cupcake are on offer for taking away or eating in.



I recommend The Parlour Tea Rooms in Basingstoke for a visit. The cakes and cupcakes are delicious. 


Recent Comments

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