September 2015 Archives

Those looking for a souvenir of London may be interested in Katie Bonham's sculptures of clay and brick houses using bricks and clay found in the Thames.The artist finds these items in the Thames and turns them into beautiful sculptures, such as miniature clay and brick houses and buildings as seen below.

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Photoraph from Katie Bonham

While visiting the London Museum a couple of years ago to see the Cheapside Hoard (which I blogged about here), a few of these beautiful clay buildings were on sale, and I bought one. It's my very own piece of London symbolising London's history in a souvenir form.

For more information about the artist, visit http://katiebonham.artweb.com/thames/209955_london-re-built-.html

When I first saw work appear by ALO in London in early 2013 (my first post can be read here), I instantly fell in love with this unique style. The artist has built up the technique since, and I've covered his work in the following posts 'ALO Part 2', 'ALO part 3', and 'ALO Part 4'. The artist had not been around London for a little while until earlier this summer. I noticed that several new portraits had popped up across the city, so I photographed all of the new work that I could find to include in this blog post.

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I love finding a new painting by ALO. Happy hunting.

Yolkin Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Yolkin sell ice cream macaroon sandwiches in London, and their products are made from free range eggs. The egg whites are used in the macaroons, and the yolks are used in the ice cream. The company started selling its ice cream sandwiches this year at various markets around London, and judging by posts on their Facebook page, they do sell out often. I had the opportunity to give them a try recently when I passed their stand in Soho, London.

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The flavours on offer during my visit were Kitchen Sink, Birthday Cake, HK Milk Tea, and Cantaloupe. Kitchen Sink included vanilla and chocolate ice cream with pieces of pretzels, merignue, chocolate chip cookie, peanuts, corn flakes, and popcorn. Birthday Cake contains vanilla ice cream with vanilla cake. HK Milk tea is made from ceylon and assam tea.  Cantaloupe is a melon-flavoured ice cream, as the name says.

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I tried the Cantaloupe flavour, which tasted as refreshing as it looks. The meringue was delicious and slightly chewy, and the combination of this with the ice cream worked well together.

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Have you visited Yolkin yet? Yolkin ice cream macaroon sandwiches can be purchased at Brick Lane market on Sundays or Street Food Union on Rupert Street in Soho from Thursday to Saturday. However, check the website for further information to avoid disappointment. Their Facebook page can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/yolkinmacice

I took out an annual subscription of beauty and skin-care subscription box 'Love Me Beauty'. When I took out the subscription, the product allowed you to select one of four pre-made beauty boxes. However, on my third month, they changed the format so that you could select your items. I preferred the old format, and I received more items than being able to select all items that I wanted. I also found several months to be lacking to find items that I really wanted to try as all of the items were the same (mainly all lip stick or mainly all nail polish). I was not happy with the subscription service, so I made sure that my subscription did not renew after the year. If I would have known that they were going to bring in these changes when I signed up, I would not have signed up for an annual subscription.

Reviews of the products that I tried are below and I hope that this will help you determine the selection of products available each month.

June

I felt that this month were a little more on track with the different types of products that I could pick up, but I have tried a lot of the products before. 

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Green People Gentle Cleanse & Makeup Remover: This product promises to cleanse and remove make-up, and it is an organic product for those who are conscious about too many chemicals. The product did the trick for me.

Lord & Berry Velluto Liner 'Steel Grey': This is a dark grey eyeliner, and I've got a similar pencil in a slightly lighter colour. I love the way this looks on me.

Lord & Berry 20100 Shiny Lip Crayon 'Replay': I do like Lord & Berry products, and I opted for this brown lip crayon shade, which is a colour that is wearable for me and not too bright. I also love that it's not too clumpy.

Nails Inc Gel Effect Polish in 'Hyde Park Place': I like the colour of this off-grey/natural nail polish, but it does take a little while to dry.

May

This month, I opted for more lip products as there's plenty on the website, and I also selected a mascara.

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OFRA Long Lasting liquid lipstick in 'Hollywood': This is a brighter shade than the same product that I purchased last month. Because the colours on the website images are not accurate, I had no idea what the shade would be like when it arrived. This is a little too bright for me, but I like the brand.

Mirenesse Mattifinity Lip Rogue in 'Rome': This is a lovely tan-brown matte shade, and I loved this product. I felt the colour suited me, and I liked the fact that it was a matte instead of high gloss.

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24 He Mascara 'Black': I liked the brush on this product because it contours to my lashes, so it's easy to apply and isn't lumpy like some other mascara products that I've used in the past.

April

This month's box turned up with three products that were all a similar colour, even though they did not really look similar in the photographs. I opted for two lip products and a blusher.

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OFRA Long Lasting liquid lipstick in 'Laguna Beach': The lipstick is a matte colour and I would consider trying out other products in the brand.

ModelCo Creme Rouge Blush in 'Just Peachy': This is a nice shade and I have no issues with the product.

ModelCo Lip Laquer Lip Gloss in 'Morocco': The shade suits me, and I like the matte effect of this lip gloss. It's also not sticky.

March

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Cailyn Dizzolv'It cleansing balm: This product was able to remove make-up and dirt without too much hassle, and I would use it again. It feels better on my skin than wiping away with soap and water.

Organis Surge face mask: This facial mask made my skin feel refreshed and firmer after using it. I did enjoy using this product.

Nails Inc special effect polish: This is a high-glitter blue nail polish. I thought that it looked especially pretty, but overall, I was disappointed with the product because it did not last long before it started to chip away. It was also very lumpy, so I would not purchase it again.

Cailyn mineral eye polish: I really wanted the bronze shade, but it was unavailable when I placed my order (typical it was back in stock the following day). I purchased the pink shade instead. Pink isn't my colour. I like the idea of the product and the shimmer; it's just a pity that this is the wrong shade for me.

February

I struggled to find new products this month that I have not tried before. I ended up spending my credits on Nailberry nail polish, which I have not used before, but I liked the packaging design. These turned out to be really nice and all three dried quickly and were easy to apply with the brush.

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Nailberry polish in 'Baby Blue': This is a light blue-green shade, and it's trending at the moment. This was my favourite colour out of the three that I used.

Nailberry polish in 'Groseille': This is a light pink shade.

Nailberry polish in 'Strawberry Jam': This is a dark reddish-purple shade that does remind me of strawberry jam and summer. 

I-Tech liquid liner in 'Aesthetic': I really enjoyed the torquoise shade of this product that I picked up last month. This is a brown liner that is a liquid-based and easy to use to line the lids of the eyes. I'm not sure the brown colour is really my style, but there was nothing else that I liked the look of, so I was stuck with this one.

January

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BB Highlighting Pen (Almo): This is a decent highlighting pen and is a little thick to use, but it does the job.

Jessica nail polish in 'A La Mode': I expected this colour to be a grey shade, but it's actually a nude shade. The product glides on and it dries quickly.

Radiance Cream Eye Shadow in 'Velvet': This is a liner-shadow, and it's a nice colour, but I found it difficult to apply as the product seemed to be really dry inside. It almost seems that the product is faulty.

Color Perfect Duo Eye Shadow: These two shades compliment each other to be blended, and this is the perfect size of product to carry away for application on the go.

December

I had some additional trouble with Love Me Beauty this month. According to the website, my items were different and my box was not as ordered. Also, my box never arrived so they had to send out a new one with my items, and I only received it just in time for Christmas. I am hoping that this is the last of my issues with Love Me Beauty now as it has been something every month.

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S5 Balance Fluid: This is an anti-aging moisturiser. It is absorbed into the skin and does not feel greasy. I am not sure of the results because this would need to be monitored over some time.

OPI nail lacquer in 'My Little Petunia': This is a purple colour, and I like OPI polishes, so I decided to get this to replace a similar OPI shade that I have since thrown away because it was drying out.

Jamma Kidd eye liner in 'abstract': This is a pale turquoise colour, and I really like the product and do not have anything quite like it. The brush is a little too long, in my opinion, and it was a little difficult to apply.

Anatomicals 'never lose your cherry' lip balm: I love the packaging design for this brand. The brand always include witty sentences on their packaging. This cherry lip balm tastes like sweets. It's slightly sticky on my lips, but it's also nourishing. The lip balm also contains sun protection.

November

This was not a great month for Love Me Beauty, with the exception of a lot of new products added to their website that I was dying to try. My November order from Love Me Beauty was screwed up. Firstly, they did not send the complete order, and I had to contact them. I finally received my box at the beginning of December. Secondly, I did not get one of the products (a blush) that I had ordered, and they gave me a product that I will never use (a tanning remover sponge) in its place. As time goes on, I get less and less impressed with this subscription service. In June, I signed up for a year. Two months after signing up, they changed their subscription format to enable users to select the items that they wish to receive. It has gone downhill from there with products that I am not keen on and an over-abundance of nail polish products and the same brands month-on-month but little else.

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Anatomicals Spray Misty for Me Facial Spritz: This facial spritz makes my skin feel refreshed. This is the ideal product to take on holidays to use after a long plane flight as traveling on a plane dehydrates the skin. The spritz has a slight fruity fragrance.

Ciate Velvet Manicure (in Blue Suede): This nail polish uses velvet fabric pieces over the top of the nails to create unique nail art. This is a little fiddly and messy to apply the loose velvet to nails once they have been painted, and the hard work does not last too long before it wears off. This is a unique idea but it seems impractical to me.

Revitale Royal Jelly and Collagen Face Mask: This facial mask is slightly fiddly to put on. The mask comes in one piece and should be peeled off the packaging and placed on the face. There are holes for the eyes and nose area. The instructions inform that the product should be left on for approximately 15 minutes, but I left it on a little longer. This made my skin feel cleaner, but it was a little too fiddly for me.

Revitale Nose Strips: Similar to the face mask above, I found these strips to be fiddly to pull off the packaging. Charcoal and magnets are used to remove skin impurities around the nose area. Despite being initially fiddly, I liked the results. The product cleared my pores. I would use these again.

Bronze Buffer: Love Me Beauty messed up my order. Instead of the blusher that I was meant to receive, I received this tanning remover sponge. I do not use tanning cream, so this buffer sponge is useless to me. It can possibly be used for something else, but I am not sure what I will do with it. Perhaps it will be given to a friend.

October

I had an issue with my box not arriving this month, and I think that they had delays in sending the boxes out. They added two credits to my account as a result, so I will have an additional two credits to use next month!

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Percy & Reed Hair Shine & Fragrance Spray: This product promises to give hair shine and leave it scented. This hair fragrance has a floral scent, but I do not think that the scent lingered in my hair for too long. It did seem to give my hair a little bit of a shine, but I was not overly impressed with the product.

Weleda Calendula Massage Oil: This product claims to aid in the rebuilding of the protecive layer of skin. This is to be massaged into the skin and it left my skin with a slight fragrance. 

Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm: On the first use, the balm tasted like Mojito. After the product had been opened and after about three uses, the flavour completely disappeared. The product made my lips feel nourished, although it is sticky. I would not buy it again.

Visiting the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

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The Serpentine Pavilion was launched at the end of June this summer, and it is the work of José Selgas and Lucía Cano, known as selgascano. They started up in Madrid, Spain in 1998. The pair have worked on a lot of other pieces worldwide and have won awards. The Serpentine Pavilion is the most recently piece and is located in front of the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park.

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The architecture of the building contains different angles, colours, and materials. It changes colour depending on where the viewer focuses, and it also changes colour depending on different lighting at different times of the day.

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Fortnum & Mason, the department store, have set up a cafe and an ice cream shop inside the Pavilion. The cafe serves afternoon tea and sandwiches.

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A small ice cream shop also sells ice cream from Fortnum & Mason.

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Visitors can walk around the Pavilion and inside and outside, examining the architecture and the different colours cast by the lighting.

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The Serpentine Pavilion is open until October 13 next to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. The cafe is open until 18:00 in the evening. The Pavilion is also open in the evening for events and also hosts events at other times. For more information, visit the website at: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/serpentine-pavilion-2015

Last week, I went to see the new "Sinatra: the man & his music" at the London Palladium. The show is only on for three months and finishes in October. It celebrates 65 years since Sinatra sand at the London Palladium in 1950. I've always liked Sinatra's music, and this show featured several of his songs along with a brief documentary at various points in his life. The show also displayed rare video of the singer at various times in his life. The music was played by live orchestra with real recordings of Sinatra's vocals and stage acts with dangers.

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Before the show, we had a small bottle of champagne each while we waited to be let in to sit down.

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The show was good as a Sinatra tribute, but some of the songs were not played and the documentary was a little bit confusing. I love Sinatra's music, but I actually have not read much about him and his life, so a lot of the documentary and imagery was lost on me. The live orchestra was very good, and the dancers were good and also added to the performance. I would have liked to have heard some of the other songs. After the show, we went to check out the Serpentine Gallery and then we went to Gaucho on Sloane Avenue to eat dinner. 

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They brought out a selection of raw steaks to show the different options available to us.

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Bread was also brought to us, and I loved the cheese bread balls. 

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We also ordered cocktails, and these were a little too strong and not fruity enough for me. As we had had a small bottle of champagne and walked around a lot, I did not fancy wine or alcohol and got through quite a lot of water.

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I ordered the 1/2 chicken, and this came with a lemon and garlic to add additional flavour. We also ordered sides: green beans, fries, and roast potatoes. The bloke ordered steak, and the food was good. 

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I also opted for dessert, and I choose the fruit. This included passion fruit and pineapple and was very light.

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Would I recommend Gaucho? Yes, I would go again as I did enjoy the food. The only downside was the service was slow, particularly as the restaurant got busier later in the evening.

A couple of months ago, I saw signs of a new cat cafe opening up in London in Shoreditch, off Rivington Street. Lady Dinah's Cat Cafe already made news for being London's first cat cafe, and I was one of the first to visit it last March, covered in my post here and later on covered here. London Cat Village, London's newest cat cafe, opened up earlier this summer. The cafe is home to eighteen cats, but four of these are kittens and kept in a cage so that visitors can see them but not handle them. (Handling kittens and constant human contact is not great for kittens and it can give their eyes infections; I know this from growing up with many kittens and cats on the farm). The other fourteen cats are a mixture of breeds and ages from kittens to young cats. All of them seemed pretty social and wanted to see guests and play at some point.

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The owner of London Cat Village started this venue because he was feeling depressed and cats helped him to feel better. He wanted others to benefit from the experience that cats gave to him as not everyone is allowed to own or keep a cat in London due to renting regulations. The benefit of cats to help relieve stress and depression is well-known and accepted. Cats are fascinating creatures.

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In addition to cats, the cafe serves a selection of drinks and cakes. I had spent time walking around east London, so I looked forward to a tea and slice of Victoria Sponge. One sneaky little young cat named Ollie kept trying to steal the cream.

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At one point, the cats were fed, and they went crazy. There were about eight cats that dashed here to get the food. Pity too many legs were in the way, hiding some of the cats.

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My favourite was this long-haired tabbey, which I thought was a Maine Coon but it's actually another breed. Notice the grey kitten's head popping out behind the wooden panel.

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Ollie was the most curious of the bunch, and he liked to try to steal human food. I had to guard my food from him. He also loved to play. He was very fond of my camera lens cap, which dangles.

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He got up and personal. These are such lovely and cute cats, and they loved the attention. I was surprised that they had so much energy as cats generally love to sleep.

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What a handsome kitten, and look at those stripes!

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Spending fourty-five minutes with the cats, and I wanted to take them all home. I miss the cat that I used to have. Note that I could have spent an hour. Bookings are hourly slots, and they cost £5.00 per hour. There are house rules, such as not to pick up the cats, and those who enter must remove their shoes. Slippers are provided if you do not wish to walk around in your socks.

London Cat Village also show films with cats every Wednesday evening, and cats usually feature in the film shown.

London Cat Village cat cafe is located on Rivington Street. It is open every day from 10:00am to 10:00pm except for Friday when it closes. For more information and to book a session with the cats, visit http://www.londoncatvillage.com/

Martin Ron & Jiant Collaborate on Murals

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Street artist Martin Ron has a new mural in Ely's Yard off of Brick Lane. The artist, originally from Argentina, has visited London before (last summer) and created some stunning artwork, including the break-dancing Royal Guard on Hanbury Street and a badger 'Badgergate' mural on the Village Underground wall. This summer, he was back in the city and painted a smaller wall in Ely's Yard.

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The mural features a man with burning hair, holding up a burning finger.

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Next to Martin Ron's mural is another mural by Jiant. The mural features a bear. 

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The artists also collaborated on a mural together in Hackney. I have not yet been able to check this out for myself, but photographs and a write-up of this mural can be read here: http://www.streetartnews.net/2015/08/martin-ron-jiant-collaborate-on-new.html

Joan Miró Sculptures in Amsterdam

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Joan Miró was a painter and sculpture from Spain. The sculptures he created were from objects that he discovered, and he was also fond of using natural objects and sensual shapes. These were nearly always cast in bronze, but some of them have been painted in bright colours. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam currently has twenty of these sculptures on display around its gardens, and they are on display until the end of September.

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The two largest sculptures are located in the fountain in a prime view in front of the Rijksmuseum.

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Miro's sculptures are abstract, and he used a lot of circular and feminine shapes. In some cases, such as the above sculptures, the objects can look like a bird or a woman.

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The above sculpture consists of objects that Miro discovered on walks: an ironing board, donkey's straw sunhat, a turtle shell, and a toilet seat. These were assembled to have a feminine appearance and painted in bright colours.

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Miro would often use objects discovered to create artwork. In the case of the sculpture above, the bottom part was created from an almond shell, which he enlarged and created with plaster. The 'head' is made from a pebble, which was similarly enlarged. These were then covered in bronze.

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The below sculpture was created with mannequin legs and a tap.

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The sculptures can be on display until the end of September around the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Street Art: NEVER

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Earlier this year, street artist NEVER, (also known as "Mr. Never Satisfied") from the US visited London and painted a couple walls in the city. The artist is from Atlanta and is known for creating images of owls, but he now lives in New York City. The murals are titled "Nothing to lose / nothing to gain / nothing to prove" and "they made me do it".

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The street artist took his name "Mr. Never Satisfied" based on the fact that he was not happy with his work and overly-critical of it. He doesn't need to be, because I think the work is brilliant.

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In addition to the two pieces I was able to photograph, the artist had also painted another wall on Hanbury Street in London, but it was quickly painted over.

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For more information about the artist, visit https://www.facebook.com/joyfulowls

Over the Bank Holiday Monday, I ticked an item off of my London bucket list. Last Christmas, the bloke got me an 'I Owe You' for BB Bakery's Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. Booking the afternoon tea bus is a little tricky. I had to book eight months in advance for a weekend (or Bank Holiday) and for a seat on the top deck. Booking had to be at least three months in advance for any seat. While I was at it, I figured that I should do the experience right and book the best seats on the top deck for an extra fee. I booked the right hand side seats on the top deck, facing the front. I hoped for nice weather, despite knowing that the country usually gets poor weather on Bank Holidays. 

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Unfortunately, we did have really nasty weather, which made it impossible to get any good photographs out of the bus windows. However, we made the most of it.

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Our vintage 1960's London bus turned up, and we clambered up the stairs to our seats. All of the tables were pre-made for the guests.

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We had a bottle of orange juice and a selection of sandwiches and pastries. Our tea or coffee orders were also taken soon after the bus slowly drove the streets of London. I ordered Earl Grey tea, and the bloke had English Breakfast tea. The tea provided looked like good quality in teabags, but loose leaf tea tastes much better. The cups provided had screw-on lids as you wouldn't want the boiling water to spill all over your body. Each table had a cup holder for the tea, and the plates were also attached to the tables so that they would not slide off. 

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Each table also had a book, and this mentioned some of the monuments along the way. Inside the booklet was a route map. However, we were provided with guided commentary along the way, which I felt really was not needed.

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The sandwiches included were cucumber, chicken, quiche, and ham and cheese. I have no complaints about these as they were all tasty.

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We were also given a selection of pastries. These included a chocolate macaroon, raspberry cupcake, fruit tart, custard doughnut, and lemon meringue. I loved the custard doughnut and the lemon meringue. The cupcakes were also good, but I have had better. The chocolate macaroon was too sweet for me, and I did not care for the overly-dry base of the fruit tart.

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Overall, the pastries were a little under-whelming except for the two items that I mentioned.

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Half of the way through, we were each presented with a scone. This came with a pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream. This not the best scone that I have had. 

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We passed many of the familiar areas of London and looked out the window as we sipped tea and ate the pastries. I did get a few photographs, despite the rain. 

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Overall, the afternoon tea experience is unique, and there's nothing else like it in London. For the novelty value, this was well worth doing. The food and drink was a little under-whelming overall when compared to other afternoon tea experiences. I think we would have enjoyed the experience more had the weather been not pouring with rain and our clothes had not been wet.

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At the end of the tour, we each received a box to take home our leftover pastries in. I will admit that the afternoon tea felt slightly rushed as the tour took 1.5 hours, and it could have been slightly longer. However, the staff were friendly and accommodating to our needs. 

A Visit to Van Gogh Museum & the House of Bols

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I visited Amsterdam in the spring of 2010, but I did not visit the Van Gogh Museum during that visit. I was only around for a long weekend, and most of the time was spent on a canal boat ride, a cycle ride, and exploring the city. As I was recently in Amsterdam, I decided that this was my chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum and then see the House of Bols (liquor musuem) across the street. 

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The Van Gogh Museum took a couple of hours to explore, and it was extremely busy with a long queue, but we managed to skip the queue by purchasing advance tickets outside Rijksmuseum. Inside was also difficult to see the artwork and read about it, so we did not stay for too long. I did learn a little bit about the artists, and a lot of people were using audio guides for an extra fee.

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We headed to the House of Bols, which is literally across the street from the Van Gogh Museum, and we were told about the company's history and its invention - Genever. This is the original alcohol for the use of cocktails, and its popularity helped the English create 'gin', which is closely related. Today, the House of Bols is well-known for producing liquors for the cocktail market. I have purchased a few flavours myself, such as the melon and the banana, and I enjoy making cocktails.

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Additionally, the House of Bols KLM houses were also on display. I love these. A couple of our friends gave us a couple when they lived in Amsterdam for a short time. They are highly-collectable. The airline KLM gives a house (made of Delft blue) to its business or first class passengers. It contains drink inside it.

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The next portion of the tour was a room where we could smell the different flavours of liquor and try to guess what the flavour was. Some of these were easy, but some of them were difficult. We were then supposed to write down which scents we preferred so that we could try a free shot of it in the bar at the end of the tour.

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At the end of the tour, we used the screens outside the bar area to determine which cocktail we wanted. The tour included a free cocktail. I actually had a little bit of a difficult time choosing one with the flavours that I wanted to try while the bloke was happy to try a few. 

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I settled on Swizzle, which contained fruit-based liquors. The bloke opted for Bols Cheesecake, which contains Bols Yoghurt and a Bols flavour of your chosing.

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We had our shots first. I had the kiwi and the peach. The bloke had the strawberry, and I cannot remember what the other flavour was. 

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The screen where we selected the cocktails that we wanted to try also printed out the recipe so that we could make them ourselves. I received a plastic coin to try another cocktail for five euro. 

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I choose the Bols Summer Fruity Martini. The cocktails were nice, but they were a little too strong for me and I would have preferred more fruit or juice.

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Have you been to the House of Bols or the Van Gogh Museum? After our visit, we headed over to see Amsterdam SAIL 2015.

Amsterdam SAIL 2015

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SAIL is an event organised in Amsterdam every five years. The event takes place on the lake north of the city of Amsterdam and encourages nautical activities for all ages and interest in ships and Dutch maritime history. Boats/ships from all over the world participated in the event, including a working Dutch submarine and two Dutch warships. The event lasts for five days, starting on a Wednesday with a parade of ships (SAIL-in) into Lake IJhaven in Amsterdam and ends four days later on Sunday afternoon with a celebration of ships leaving Amsterdam. SAIL has been hosted every five years since 1975, and SAIL 2015 took place from the 19th to the 23rd of August.

I visited the SAIL event in the evening of the 19th and watched some of the tall ships sail in, but many had already arrived. The weather was perfect for the next four days, and I spent the day on Friday in Amsterdam sight-seeing in the morning and headed off to Lake IJhaven in the afternoon. I took a 2-hour boat cruise around the harbour where we sailed around all of the ships. After doing this, I decided which ships I should try to access the following days as many of the ships could be boarded.

The lake was busy with all sorts of boats, including boats owned by the public. The nice weather over the long weekend brought out everyone, and there were crowds. The SAIL 2015 event also covered an extremely large area from the main train station in Amsterdam to Java-eiland, an island north-east from central Amsterdam. 

The queues for boarding the boats were very long, and the boats were not open all the time. The first boat we accessed was Zr. Ms. Zeeland (P841), a Dutch offshore patrol vessel. There was also a larger warship present, the F804 destroyer class ship, but we unfortunately did not get to board it. The Zeeland was commissioned in 2013, so it's quite a new vessel. It is a working ship, of course, and they had the control screens on and a helicopter on board. Staff were also on board to talk about the different areas, but this happened in Dutch, so I was not able to understand.

Another ship that we got to board, although we had to wait over three hours to do so, was the Zr. Ms. Bruinvis, a Dutch working submarine. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed, so I could not get any photographs. Although the queue was not too long when we arrived thirty minutes before the submarine was open to the public, the groups were ten people at a time for a guided tour. Unfortunately, the tour was in Dutch, but the sailor translated it for me when I asked. We got to look inside the working submarine and also use the pericopes to get some amazing views over the lake. Other screens showed all ships in the harbour with their names and positions.

The third ship that we got to go on was the Götheborg, a Swedish tall ship. This ship was modelled after an 18th century wooden ship that sank in 1745. The construction of the replica started in 1995 and was finished by 2003, and it is the world's largest wooden ship. People from all over the world can learn how to become a crew member on this working ship, and it helps young people gain important skills in team-working.

We had excellent views from the top decks of the ship as it was located in a prime position in the SAIL 2015 event.

I also wanted to get on two German ships dating from the early 1920s and the 1930s and the Europa ship, which has toured all over the world. However, limited time and large crowds prevented this, so we were only able to visit three ships.

Another interesting fact that I discovered is that many of the ships have their own rubber stamps to collect, so I was able to stamp my postcards with them.

On the cruise around the harbour that I took on the first day, I saw the Dutch singer on the canal. This guy is well-known for sailing around the canals in his wooden boat and sings traditional Dutch songs. He was hanging around the lake during SAIL 2015, and I saw him a couple of times, but this was the best photograph that I was able to get.

One other popular tradition during the SAIL event is seeing (or hearing first) groups of people sing or play musical instruments on the boats.

On the Sunday morning, we got to Java-eiland early and watched punters in the lake. The lake was fairly empty at this time.

We saw an amazing sunset on Friday evening on our way across the bridge to Java-eiland where we were going to see the fireworks.

The fireworks were beautiful, but these would have been better with the silhouettes of tall ships in the foreground. Seating areas had been set up on the location on the island so that we could watch the fireworks. The fireworks take place on every evening of the SAIL event except on the Sunday.

Have you ever been to SAIL Amsterdam? Overall, it was a good weekend, but there was so much walking and so many crowds. We also struggled to find a decent place to eat and many places did not take credit cards during the event, so cash was required and cash machines were a little rare in the area.

Street artist Don Smith has been exceptionally busy with creating and painting new street art around the streets of London this year. His work is always noticeable as he uses stencils to create vibrant pieces, which mainly feature portraits. Over the spring, I saw several new pieces pop up around Brick Lane, which I covered here and here. The artist has continued painting a new piece regularly, and the latest new piece is the largest that I've seen the artist create.

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The new piece is located on a high profile wall on Hanbury Street, just off of Brick Lane. The mural is an advertisement for the film "Legend". The film is about the Kray Twins, who were notorious criminals in east London. Luckily, this area of London was quiet when I visited on Saturday morning, so I managed to get an unobscured photograph.

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Close-ups of the mural are below.

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In addition to this new mural, I also discovered a few new murals by Paul "Don" Smith around east London. I've included these below along with others that I photographed earlier in the summer.

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Juliette Lewis and the Licks

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The Rock

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Alexander and Buephalus

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Wall on Hanbury Street

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Mary Poppins

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The Avengers

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The Banker

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Lewis Collins

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Gary Little, Rest in Peace - TerrySue and Patt

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'We are your friends' - Max Joseph & Emily

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Harry Potter

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Aragorn, the King - Lord of the Rings

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Blanchett 'Galadriel' and Aragorn - Lord of the Rings

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Gary Little; Zac Efron 'Max Joseph'

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RIP Terry Sue Patt

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'London Road' Hardy

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DeNiro

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Martin Luther King

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The Vision

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The Kiss, Poison

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Malala

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Don and the Banker

The artist is having a busy year this year when compared with the previous couple of years, so I expect to see more of his work appear. His work will certainly define London's ever-changing street art of the year this year.

The Cancer DNA Art Trail in London

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Over the later part of the summer, twenty-one sculptures of the DNA double helix were scattered across London. These were on display until the 6th of September, and I managed to see a few of them before they were taken off the streets. The trail is titled "What's in your DNA" and it aims to raise money for Cancer Research charity to build a new research centre.

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Thierry Noir

Several artists participated in the designs of the individual sculptures, and artist Thierry Noir was one of those to contribute. Thierry Noir was one of the first graffiti artists; he painted his colourful faces on the Berlin Wall. I've covered his work several times, including here and here.

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Michael Howells

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Darren Baker

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Jane Morgan

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Pilar Enrich

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Ian Callum

I wish I could have seen all of them before they were taken off the streets to be auctioned as some of them looked very good.

Telmo Miel "Glove Loves" Street Art Mural

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Dutch collaborative art group Telmo Miel recently painted at Upfest in Bristol before going to London to paint up a high profile wall on Pedley Street at the corner of Brick Lane. The artwork, titled "Glove Loves" features a hybrid panda and human girl with a giant blue glove around them. The actual names of the artists are Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann, and they met and started to collaborate on their creative endeavours in 2007.

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Their work is characterised by hybrid-subjects and gloves. Plastic gloves feature prominently in their work, and they have created a series of artworks based on them. The piece on Brick Lane is a fantastic addition to London's street art scene, and I'd love to see the duo create larger and more-detailed pieces.

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For more information about the artists, visit their website (http://www.telmomiel.com) or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TelmoMiel

One new technique for street art this summer is creating murals that glow in the dark with ultraviolet (UV) lighting, and Amara Por Dios' new mural on Great Eastern Street is the fifth (that I am aware of) to be created in London. Oliver Sweet created a pair of glow-in-the-dark owls in Camden, Dan Kitchener created an ultraviolet street scene mural in Clerkenwell, Replete created a glowing lantern on Redchurch Street, and Zina created a glowing portrait on a building on Great Eastern Street. I have not been to Clerkenwell or Camden, but the Replete lantern and Zina pieces have sadly since been painted over. You can read about the Zina piece and view photographs on Inspiring City in a new browser window here.

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This "glow in the dark" ultraviolet artwork phenomenon has kicked off due to a marketing campaign by Sony Experia in conjunction with Global Street Art. The campaign is part of the #ICan response, which seems to be aimed at promoting the smartphone's camera (#ICan see in the dark, #ICan see underwater, etc).

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I mentioned the Zina ultraviolet mural above, and that was painted on the building opposite the wall where the Amara por Dios mural is painted. On the same building is a contribution to Amara por Dios, but it does not glow. In fact, Zina and Amara por Dios have collaborated before, and Amara por Dios helped Zina with the large-scale piece.

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Unfortunately, Zina's piece looks like it has been recently replaced with an advertisement for the film "Legend". The film is about the Kray twins who were notorious criminals in London's east end.

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To see the Dan Kitchener ultraviolet mural, go here: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/13423507.PICTURES__Dazzling_artwork_only_provides_smartphone_photo_moments_at_night/

To see the Replete mural, go here: http://londoncallingblog.net/2015/08/18/new-replete-uv-work-singularity-in-shoreditch/

New Balloon Animal Street Art by Fanakapan

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This weekend was the first time that I have had the opportunity to get to Shoreditch to look at street art for at least two months, and so much has changed that I ended up spending quite a few hours walking around and getting photographs. Don't worry - I still love street art and want to continue to feature it on my blog. I've just been busy with work and a lot of other bits and pieces, which I'm dying to say but cannot say just yet. 

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One of the newest pieces, which looked like it was freshly painted, was by Fanakapan. This new piece, featuring balloon animals, replaces his "Rise & Shine" piece, which was painted early in the summer and which I covered here.

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The subject of this piece are silver foil balloon birds and elephants.

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The work by Fanakapan always brings a smile to my face. To see it, head toward Pedley Street off of Brick Lane.

Miffy Art Parade in Amsterdam

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Miffy is a rabbit character based on a book by an author from the Netherlands, Dick Bruna. He wrote the first Miffy book in 1955. Miffy is sixty years old this year. To celebrate Miffy's 60th birthday, the Miffy Art Parade sculptures are available to view in a few areas of the Netherlands and in Tokyo, Japan. The partnership charity is UNICEF.  A few of these Miffy sculptures were available to view outside of the museums (the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum) in Amsterdam. These were extremely popular with tourists. A Miffy Parade shop had also set up in a kiosk near the sculptures.

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The Miffy Parade statues are only on display for a limited time, and I believe that they will be removed early this month.

Covent Garden has recently been given a new art installation, which will be displayed for a month inside the market. Last year, the floating house installation by Alex Chinnek was on display until the end of October. 'Heartbeat' is an installation by French artist Charles Pétillon, and it is made out of 100,000 white balloons that slightly light up in places to create a 'heartbeat' effect, but I did not notice this effect or the shift in colour/shade of the balloons. The artist is known for his creation of artwork using white balloons.

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It took 25 people over five nights to blow up the balloons for the installation.

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According to Pétillon (1), the market buildings represent a heart of of the area of London and has a rich history, and balloons are a simple idea and also a well-known subject that cross borders and boundaries. 

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The artist also has an exhibition in Covent Garden next to the Royal Opera House.

1) CNN. 100,000 balloons beating in the heart of London. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/28/arts/charles-petillon-covent-garden-balloons/ [August 28, 2015].

I saw that Birchbox had launched in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London at the end of this month, so I went to pick out my own samples. The box cost £15.00, which is slightly more than the monthly subscription fee and postage. The box came in an exclusive Selfridges design with pink and purple stripes. (Sorry for the poor photograph below as the box suffered in the torrential London rain.) Only two months ago, I had cancelled my monthly Birchbox subscription because I was not getting the samples that I wanted to try and was receiving repeat samples.

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I was surprised to see quite a selection of products to choose from. Visitors could select two beauty products, one skincare product, one hair product, one body care product, and one lifestyle item. Each selection was four options, except for the beauty option which was a selection between eight items.

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I had actually tried all of the make-up items except for two, so I choose those items. The choice was a little straight-forward on the other products, except I did have a little problem with the body care product.

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Here's what I selected to try:

Stilla blusher in Lillium: This is the lightest shade of the blusher to give a hint of colour on my pale skin. A close-up of the colour can be seen below.

Wild about Beauty gloss in Louabella: This is a nude summery shade of gloss. The other options were too bright for me, and I have similar bright colours which I don't wear often and don't think suit me. This is a subtle colour, and it is not too sticky.

Embroylisse creme concentrate: This product promises to hydrate the skin, and it does seem to do the job. The product is absorbed into the skin and does not feel greasy or heavy, so I am a fan of the product.

Trilogy Everything Balm: This is a classic balm that is an all-rounder. I could not go wrong in picking this product to use on my lips or anywhere on my body that needs some extra TLC. I like this product as it is multi-purpose.

Philip Kingsley geranium Elasticizer: I was not wowed by the hair products as I've tried them all before, but I decided to give this product another go as I did not do well with it previously. However, this has the geranium scent, and I had not tried that before.

Regenerate Enamel Science toothpaste: I had the choice between two lavender sleep sprays, but I have tried them before without success. I decided to try this enamel-building toothpaste as the last three years, I've not been too kind on my teeth. This seems like a well-forumated paste, so I hope it makes a difference.

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Have you been to Selfridges to pick out your Birchbox items yet? 

A new sculpture has appeared in a roundabout near Trafalgar Square. The sculpture, a pair of white fingers pointing at each other, is called "You" and was created by Mexican artist Jose Rivelino. Apparently, the scultpure represents "the highly significant issue of equality between human beings", according to the artist (1). Despite the rain, I saw a few tourists lining up to photograph the piece, which I can believe will be extremely popular to photograph in better weather.

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Evening Standard. Giant Fingers By Mexican Artist Go On Display in Trafalgar Square. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/giant-fingers-by-mexican-artist-go-on-display-in-trafalgar-square-a2919441.html [23 August 2015].

I had a quick trip to London on a very rainy and wet Bank Holiday Monday. (Anyone who lives or has ever lived in the UK knows that it nearly always rains on Bank Holiday Mondays, and the one at the end of August is normally wet.) I've been wanting to try the "create your own" Magnum pop-up shop that has been in place most of the summer with hashtag #MagnumLDN. I'm not currently based or working in London at the moment and am finding making a trip to the city to be a difficult in the past couple of months as I've also got to do some travel outside of the country, so a lack of warm and sunny weather was not going to stop me from creating my own ice cream.

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I actually arrived at the pop-up shop at 10:35 in the morning, and I had to wait a little while for it to open at 11:30. When I arrived, a man and a child were already waiting for it to open. So, I took my space and waited. Actually, despite the weather, quite a queue formed. I saw what I could see through the windows, including some sculptures of Magnums that were made of crystals and London typography at the back of the shop, which was made out of the wooden sticks.

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When the doors finally opened, I was asked to pick three toppings. They had everything: almond pieces, coffee, brownie pieces, coconut shavings, strawberry pearls, silver and black pearls, rose petals, dried raspberries, pistachio, hazel nuts, meringue, sugar-cinnamon, and so much more. I picked the cinnamon-sugar and the silver/black pearls, before being punched in the legs by the tenth time that morning by the impatient and unruly child behind me, and I just blurted out 'strawberry pearls'. I wished I'd had the coconut, but nevermind as the strawberry pearls tasted nice, although I already had the silver/black pearls. Nevermind.

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These items were placed into a shaker, and I walked around the counter to where the staff asked me if I wanted chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I opted for vanilla and watched as she opened a Magnum ice cream in its wrapper, but the ice cream had yet to be dipped in chocolate. I then choose to have the vanilla ice cream dipped in dark chocolate. My photographs of this turned out to be blurry. 

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After the chocolate was dipped, the toppings in the shaker were placed on top of the Magnum. I was then asked which kind of chocolate (dark or white) to have drizzled on top, and I opted for white chocolate.

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I was asked one final question about which branded 'Magnum' chocolate button I wanted, and I opted for the milk chocolate over white chocolate, and this was carefully placed on top of the Magnum ice cream with a pair of tweezers.

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I was told to wait about a minute before eating the Magnum so that it could be left to dry into the perfect ice cream. I did wait, and I enjoyed my Magnum ice cream in the shop. I would love to visit the pop-up again before it leaves, but I am not sure that I will be able to do so. There's a close-up of my "create your own Magnum" below.

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The Magnum ice cream pop-up shop can be visited until the middle of September. It is located in Covent Garden and is next to the entrance to the Royal Opera House. It's open from 11:30 in the morning.

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