November 2015 Archives

Thanksgiving at Balthazar (Covent Garden)

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This year, the bloke and I went to Balthazar restaurant (brasserie) for our Thanksgiving lunch. Balthazar is located in Covent Garden in London and is inspired by French dining, although the first branch opened in New York City. The interior reminds me of a cafe or restaurant in Paris with high ceilings and ceiling-to-floor mirrors and vintage chic typography. The restaurant offer a special Thanksgiving menu each year, and I enjoyed the Matthew Williamson fashion afternoon tea that I recently had so decided to try it this year. Last year, we went to Christopher's (also in Covent Garden about a block away) for Thanksgiving, but I was not impressed. 


Apologies for the photographs in advance, but I find it very difficult to photograph in Balthazar (or even touch up the photographs later) because of the lighting, and this makes the food look less appetizing than it was.



We arrived for our reservation at mid-day, and we noted that only a few other diners had the Thanksgiving menu. Others were having the standard menu, and the restaurant is always a popular one. When we left at 14:00, the restaurant had nearly full capacity.


We opted to try the special Thanksgiving-themed cocktail, which is known as 'Gingerbread Fizz'. It contained vanilla Vodka, gingerbread liquor, lemon juice, and egg white. The cocktails were easy-to-drink with a subtle taste that reminded me of winter. 


For starters, we both ordered the "spiced roasted butternut squash soup". This was served with corn bread, or it should have been. Similar to my experience last year at Christopher's, they forgot to bring out the corn bread and we finished our soup before it was brought out. The corn bread was spicy with hot pepper and did not taste like the corn bread from 'home', but it was still good. We both enjoyed the soup. The alternative to soup was a winter kale salad.


At last, the main course arrived. We both ordered the Thanksgiving turkey (in keeping with tradition), but the other option was cod with parmasan crust. The turkey was served with orange and chestnut stuffing, corn fritter, potato and butternut squash gratin, and parsnips. We were also meant to receive cranberry sauce, but the staff also forgot to bring it out. Neither of us are big fans of cranberry sauce, so we did not bother to ask for it.


I loved the corn fritter and the potato and butternut squash gratin. We also ordered roasted Brussel sprouts and chestnuts as a side. I actually struggled to eat everything. 


Desserts followed. I asked after simple pumpkin pie, but I was told that they did not have any. Instead, I decided to try the pumpkin cheesecake while the bloke had the pecan pie with maple syrup ice cream. I did not like the cheesecake, so we traded desserts. The pecan pie was very good.


After we finished our desserts, we were offered tea or coffee with petits fours. These consisted of coconut macaroons, dark chocolates, and a pastry tart. I'm not sure what the pastry/tart flavour was, but it tasted a little like maple.

I regret that I was not able to eat as much as I'd like, even though I did not have any dinner the night before. Would I go back? I would go back to Balthazar to try other items on the menu. There were a couple of problems, but overall, we had a nice meal and the service was attentive after initial problems at the beginning.

Amusing Pub Boards & Signs in London

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Today's post features amusing shop and pub boards and signs in London. When I worked in east London, I spent my lunch break wandering around. I would often come across a amusing board, which some of the pubs put out with a message o drawing written in chalk. Typically, the signs below are from the following venues: The Bell on Middlesex Street, Owl and Pussycat on Redchurch Street, one of the bagel shops at the top of Brick Lane, The Wheatsheaf on Rivington Street, and one of the shops at the northwest side of Spitalfields Market. Of course, these can be seen all over London. Below is a selection of the amusing signs.


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

"If you have a drink in The Bell and no one sees you really have a drink?"

"The Bell. You are NOT in Shoreditch. All hipsters must be accompanied by an adult. No fingerless gloves. No male cleavage. Any unaccompanied hipsters will be drowned in the mainstream."

During one of the tube strikes. "Don't care how you get here. Just get here if you can."

"Beers burgers and hot dogs"

"Love your bean"

This was about the photograph leak that involved many celebrities. "If you are also #livid about the nude photographs leak, come and show your solidarity by having a drink!"

"Dry January. Wet January. Boring. Fun"

"You have made it through January. Treat yourself!"

"F**K Love. All you need are shoes". (With an drawing of what looks like Grumpy Cat.)

A flow chart - "Sleep late. Wake up tired. Promise to go to bed early. Internet. Coffee"

"Is everything okay? No/Yes. Then come in and have a drink."

On a Monday... "Monday Blues 'n' Monday Booze"

It was a very rainy few days. "Rain. Wah!"

"Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder."

"I don't want to get technical or anything but according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution."

A drawing of the Ralph Wiggum Valentine's Day card (with the train) that appeared on The Simpsons "I choo-choo-choose you" 

"Something witty and thought-provoking (That's what my boss told me to write on the chalkboard)"

On a Wednesday - "If it's fun you seek, don't be a geek. Come in and wet your beak and celebrate the middle of the week."

"Finally a bloody well change in this psychotic season."

"Free beer. Topless bartenders. And false advertising."

"Bitches welcome (also male dogs)"

A drawing of a cat advertising pub quiz.

"Life support."

Have you snapped any amusing photographs of signs and boards in London?

Pizza at Franco Manca (Westfield Stratford)

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Franco Manca's pizza is one of London's pizzarias that gets raving reviews, and I've been wanting to visit. Its first restaurant was located in Brixton underneath the rail arches, and it did so well that it opened a further fifteen branches across London. I visited the branch at Westfield Stratford simply because I was in the area. 


Franco Manca's pizzas are made from slow-rising sourdough bread which take 20 hours to rise. The pizzas are then baked in wood-burning brick ovens built by specialists from Naples, the birthplace of pizza. This type of oven ensures that the bread and crust is perfect and not soggy.


The Franco Manca stall is located on the top level in the foodcourt of Westfield Stratford, so it's a great place to visit as you're pretty much guaranteed a seat somewhere in the foodcourt. 


I ordered the cheese pizza, and the bloke ordered one with salami. I loved the pizza and there was the correct proportion of toppings and cheese to crust, which is a bonus. The crust was also very good; sometimes I leave my crusts, but the pizza was so good that I managed to devour the whole pizza. I would visit again, and I would love to visit one of the actual restaurants instead of the kiosk in Westfield Stratford.

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in America! I shall be celebrating the day as it is my favourite 'holiday' with its build-up to the season, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, good food, and family. Typing of good food with an autumn theme, I've decided to post about one of my best recent foodie discoveries in London. It is a small bakery known simply as Knead. Knead are located at Broadway Market's School Yard Market on Saturdays. They sell a range of baked goods, spreads, warmed crumpets and warmed English muffins. A perfect treat is to head over to visit them and have a warmed treat while browsing the market. So far, I have made two trips to see them.


Knead sell toasted English muffins and different flavours of crumpets. When I visited, two of the flavours of crumpets were cinnamon and pumpkin. I love both flavours. Muffins and crumpets can be bought to take away or warmed up and smothered with the spread of your choice. Spreads include different flavours of curd, peanut butters (chocolate, caramel, or plain), and maple buttercream. The maple spread was absolutely delicious with the pumpkin crumpet. I had the chocolate peanut butter on the other crumpet, and it was very good but I lost the subtle taste of cinnamon with the peanut spread. I also sampled the English muffin with lime and coconut curd, and it was also tasty.


I spoke briefly with the two ladies who were selling the products, and they informed me that all baked items are made fresh to sell the day before. Of course, this makes for busy days baking and then selling. 


On my second visit, I discovered the little pies for sale. I was told all of the different flavours, but I cannot remember what they all were now. I was interested in the pumpkin pie as I love pumpkin, but it's not really used a lot in baking in England. I also read an article after my first visit that Knead make one of London's nicest pumpkin pies, so I was happy to see miniature pumpkin pies available to buy on my second visit. I bought one and I can vouch for it as it was delicious and I wished that I had bought another one.


I was also given a sample of their pecan pie, which my mother would have loved. The pecan pie tasted delicious, though it's never been my favouirte type of pie. My mother is partial to them, though! I was told that the pecan pie is made with pecans (of course), chocolate and Bourbon. It was delicious, and it didn't taste 'alcoholic' at all with the Bourbon. 


Last but not least, Knead sell their popular peanut butters and curds at their stall. I bought the dark chocolate peanut butter, and I was informed that it was a best-seller.


Knead are a regular on Saturdays at Schoolyard Market (Broadway Market). They also sell to Selfridges and other cafes from time-to-time. The best way to see where they are selling is to look at their Facebook page here: or Twitter here:

Lush Christmas 2015

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Halloween had not arrived before most shops have put out their Christmas items, and I felt that it was too early to post about Christmas until November. I went to Lush at the beginning of October and had a wander around to see what was on offer in the Christmas products this year. To see Lush's Christmas offerings from last year, view my post here. I saw that some items from last year have returned, and there's a few new items. Overall, there seems to be more items on offer this year. I didn't buy anything this year because I don't have access to a bath in the new house and this has to wait until I can afford to get some work done to install one.


Above is the Peeping Santa Bubble Bar and Lord of Misrule shower gel. Okay, Lord of Misrule is actually from their Halloween range, but the bright green colour looks Christmasy next to the bubble bar. 


The purple Bah Humbug Bubble Bar and Yog Nog bath bomb are also on offer. The Golden Wonder bath bomb (shaped like a golden gift) includes two bath bombs inside it, which changes colour in the bath. 


The Experimenter is the multi-faceted bath bomb on the right, and it was inspired by films. Above is a pink flamingo bubble bar stick, and the last item is the Butter Bear bath bomb. Butter bear was a favourite last year with a lot of people. 


One of my favourites from last year was the Holly Golightly bubble bar, which is silver with holly leaves. In addition, the peppermint-smelling Candy Mountain bubble bar can be purchased. The 'So White' bath bomb in the background has appeared for the past few years and smells like crisp apple to me and is one of my favourites.


A new bath bomb for the season is known as 'Frozen', and the colours remind me of the animated film of the same name and the dress that one of the main characters wears. Next to it is the Halloween offering, the Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar, which I did try last year.


The Father Christmas bath bomb is back as well as Luxury Lush Pud, which is the multi-coloured bath bomb at the front. One of my favourites is the melting angel bath bomb, which appeared last year and is back this year. Star Dust is another bath bomb, on the other side, and this is new for this year. 


The Magic of Christmas is a stirrable bubble-bar which contains spices and an extra bit of sparkle. I wish that I could try this as it's a new one this year.


Another new offering this year is the gold shimmery 'Five Gold Rings', which are bubble bars on strings.


This year, the new Christmas soap is known as 'Old Father Time' and looks like a clock. The inside of the soap is colourful. 


Two soaps from last year also returned. Reindeer Rock soap returned, but it was designed a little differently this year. Yog Nog also returned. Fret not if you're also a fan of Snow Cake or Baked Alaska. These are my favourites, and I use Snow Cake all year around as I love the scent. These soaps were also for sale.


In addition, the peppermint-smelling soap pictured as the pink and green soap above (May Pole) could also pass as a Christmas product.

In addition to these products, there were also some Christmas jelly soaps that I did not get to photograph. I am really looking forward to getting a new bathroom and bath in place so I can start to enjoy using bath products again.

Earlier this month, we went to Yorkshire for the morning to pick up Merlin. We left very early in the morning so that we could have a look around before our appointment. We certainly picked a dreary morning for a look around as the rain was pretty constant. We stopped off at Thorton-le-Dale and Goathland before driving through the moors to Whitby and then stopping off at Hutton-le-Hole for lunch. All of the villages are located in and near the North Yorkshire Moors.


Thornton-le-Dale was our first stop, and we arrived at 9:00 in the morning. The rain had eased off slightly, and we stopped here to have a drink and snack. The town has a small creek running along the sides of the main roads across through the middle of the town, and there's a very old tree in the middle of the town. We stopped off at Baldersons Cafe, which boasts a tearoom, cafe, and garden. The cafe is quite spacious inside to accommodate several diners, and a walk-in-bakery is also located next door.


I had an almond tart and rose lemonade. I loved the almond tart; it was so delicious. I would certainly visit again for a more substantial meal or afternoon tea. According to the information in the menu, this family business started in 1895 and are very popular in the area. In the second World War, they gave out tea and scones to soldiers.


There was plenty of seating available in the cafe. I assume that it does get quite busy on nice days.


After the snack, we had a quick walk around, but it was too early for many of the shops to be open. We walked over a bridge to a park area where we saw a pond.



Ducks were being fed, but they hurried away when they saw us walk toward them.




We headed on through the moors, and the rain was pouring down then. We decided to stop at Goathland, which is a beautiful area with many sheep and a hotel. There's a lot of walking trails here. I got soaked when I went out to get some photographs of sheep.



I didn't stay long getting sheep photos, and we were soon off to Whitby. We obviously did not have time to get out and look around, but I've been to Whitby once before and saw the abbey. That was thirteen years ago now, so it would have been good to have a proper look around but we just did not have time. I got some photographs from the harbour.



Our last stop was Hutton-le-Hole, another attractive village with creeks running through the town on one side and beautiful cottages. We had lunch here at The Crown pub and restaurant, and we enjoyed our meal. The rain was pouring down, and it was also very windy and cold. There was a nice fire inside while we enjoyed our meals. 


I had chicken with potato dauphanoise, and the bloke had a steak pie. The meals came with vegetables served in different dishes so that we could help ourselves.



For dessert, I had Eton Mess. This came very well-presented and contained ice cream, whipped cream, fruite puree, and it was topped off with chocolate and shortbread stars.


The sun actually came out as we were finishing up, so we were able to enjoy it on our short drive a few miles away. I got a couple of nice photographs of Hutton-le-Hole before we left.




Have you been to any of these villages in North Yorkshire?

Race of Champions 2015 London

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On Friday evening, the bloke and I went to see the Race of Champions in London at the Olympic Stadium. This is the first time we have been inside the Olympic Stadium, although memories were made when we had a visit to the Olympic Park during the Olympic games in 2012. This visit to the Olympic Park was very different. During the Olympic games, we were blessed with warm, summery weather. This visit, we had to wrap up warm, and even though I wrapped up warmly, I was still freezing.



The evening started with some warm-up laps and children's competitions.


I bought some macaroons in Westfield Stratford before the race, so we had these to munch on. 


Next up was the obstacles that celebrities had to do for entertainment.


Then, the cars with their countries and drivers came out to do a parade lap.



On the half-time, we watched motorcycles doing stunts.


After the semi-final, one of the drivers drove around and waved at the crowd.


The moon was also quite bright, and I could see some of the craters on it. This made me think of the 'Man on the Moon' John Lewis Christmas advertisement that is out this year.


We also saw a Formula1 car come out and do a few laps.


The United Kingdom team and the Germany team were in the final.


In the end, it was won by the United Kingdom team. I got a photograph of the interviews at the end of the race.


After the race, the action was not over yet as BBC's 'Top Gear' decided to put on a race for their upcoming series. The show is now hosted by Chris Evans, and he gave commentary and interviewed the drivers.


I hope you've enjoyed the photographs.

Street Art by Said Dokins & Oliver Switch

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As mentioned over the past few weeks, Mexican street artists have taken over London. I've already covered work by Stinkfish, Acaro and Mazatl and collaborations with Mazatl and Fusca. This post covers another Mexican street artist, Said Dokins. Said has been in London for a few weeks now, and I've noticed his work around the city in several places. His work is comprised of beautiful typography with colour to create works of art. The newest mural is on Hanbury Street and is titled 'Alive'. 



The same wall has changed frequently recently, and Ampparito was another artist to have his work painted up with an image of bait. The artist is from Spain, and his work only lasted a few days before it was painted over with the work below.


Street artist Oliver Switch also painted on the wall a portrait of musician Raury. I normally do not post advertising on this blog, but I thought that this piece was really stunning. This was replaced by Said Dokins' piece.



The work on this wall has not lasted long this year, so be quick to visit.

I received the "Enchanted Spells" Selfridges Beauty Advent calendar last year, and Selfridge's have a new one this year with similar products. I wanted to review all of the products before posting as I did not have time to try each new product each day, and I had to open up the first few days all at once after I had returned from holiday. Each window contains a secret "spell" as to what the item is, and I typically guessed correctly on each day what the type of product would be. The packaging for the advent calendar looks like a large book.


1. Yves Saint Laurent Opium perfume: This perfume is described as having a spicy Oriental scent, and it is a blend of various spices (clove, bay leaf, coriander, pepper), floral (jasmine, rose), and wood tones (sandalwood, cedar, myrrh). This perfume is not something that I would typically wear as I do not tend to use spicer tones, but it is nice and is a strong scent.

2. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser: This facial cleanser claims to clean make-up off skin and provide deep cleaning without drying out the skin or stripping the skin of its natural oils.

3. Lancôme's Rénergie Multi-Lift cream: This anti-aging cream promises to create a youthful complexion. It absorbs into the skin and does not feel greasy. I like the product when compared with other similar products.

4. Lancôme Galatéis Douceur: This is a facial cleanser and make-up remover. The product has a nice scent, and it left my face feeling soft and clean. It isn't too harsh, and I used it to remove my eye makeup without it stinging my eyes.

5. Shu Uemura Skin Purifier: This skin purifier promises to clean and moisturise skin while supporting collagen production.


6. Lancôme's La Vie Est Belle perfume: This is a sweet and powdery scent, and it's not too over-powering. 

7. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream: This facial cream promises to moisturise the skin. 

8. YSL Forever Youth Liberator: This is an anti-aging serum that helps the skin appear younger and firmer. The product has quite a lot of good reviews and it is costly. This felt cool on my skin, but I need to use it more to see if it does what it claims.

9. Armani Code perfume: This is a light and powdery, slightly floral scent and described as being an Oriental scent. It is made from orange, vanilla, and jasmine. This is a floral but sophisticated scent and would be good for office or going out for a nice dinner. I loved this and would purchase the full size.

10. Lancôme L'Absolu Rouge 6 lipstick: This is a pale pink lipstick which would look good on most skin tones. I liked the product and did not find it to be too lumpy in texture.

11. Lancôme Mascara: This mascara is not too clumpy, and it has a subtle result. The brush is quite a good one, which is important for mascara, in that it separates the lashes before coating them.

12. Armani Diamonds perfume: This is a floral scent with rose, lychee and raspberry notes. Although categorised as floral, it is a grown-up scent and a scent that I'd wear to the office or on a night out.


13. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery: This is an anti-aging product designed to work while you sleep. I've not yet managed to test the product, but Kiehl's products get a lot of praise, so I expect that it does the trick.

14. Lancôme Hypnose Drama Mascara: This is the brand's best-selling mascara and covers the lashes without too much effort with an angled brush.

15. Yves Saint Laurent eye liner: This is a black liner, which is easy to apply and is waterproof. I like the product.

16. Lancôme Genifique Yeux Light Pearl: This product has a metal 'pearl' applicator that is dipped into the cream and massaged onto the eye area. The applicator feels cool to the skin, which refreshes the eye area. I found that the application was slighly difficult and clumps of the cream ended up in my lashes. 

17. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion: Primer helps maintain the colour of eyeshadow before it's applied, and this product delivers.

18. Lancôme Visionnaire: This product promises to smooth the skin and make pores and wrinkles appear smaller in size. I've not had the chance to try the product yet.

19. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb perfume: This is a very flowery and powdery scent that contains jasmine, orchid, fressia and rose. The scent is a delicate one and not over-powering. I felt that it did not have the longevity as other similar floral perfumes. I'm not overly impressed with this.

20. Lancôme Bi-Fical: This product is a remover for eye make-up. This product worked really well at clearing off mascara and eye shadow, and I loved that it did not sting my eyes. For me, it's a better product than the Galatéis Douceur product that I reviewed above because it seems to do a better job at removing eye make-up. I may have to purchase this when I run out.

21. Lancôme Lip Lover gloss (in 'bright berry-pink'): This lip gloss is a pink shade, but it's not overly-bright. This seems like a colour that may work well for most skin tones. It is not a sticky gloss and seems to wear well, but it just isn't for me.

22. Lancôme Advanced Genifique: This product promises to make skin appear younger. It's another anti-aging product that I have not yet tried.

23.  Lancôme Lip Lover gloss (in 'framboise etoile'): This is another lip gloss similar to the one behind the #21 window. This is a bright reddish shade of lip gloss. I found that it was too bright for me, and I did not care for it.

24. Kiehl's Creme de Corps: This body cream promises soft skin if used for ten days. I used this on my hands, and it did seem to make a difference, but I was a bit underwhelmed with the product. 

Bom.K's Green Mural on Pedley Street

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French street artist Bom.K is not a stranger to painting in London. In 2012, the artist painted on a high profile wall at the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street, and this was a collaboration with Liliwenn. This year, Bom.K was in London during the Monkier Art Fair where artists exhibit and sell their work. I visited it last year (covered in my post here) but did not get to this year, but I recommend going. 


The new mural is on Pedley Street in the middle of Brick Lane and features a sickly green-like figure and oxygen mask. The use of spray paint and style captures the light and shadow in a unique way, and this is one of the more stunning pieces to grace the same wall this year.


When I walked by this piece a couple of weekends ago, I overheard one of the street artist tour guides telling the group that the mural glows in the dark underneath the street lamp. I don't have any photographs of this, but hopefully one of my readers can confirm.

New 'Star Wars' Street Art in Shoreditch

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At the moment, I don't think anyone can escape 'Star Wars' as we have just under one month to go until the new film is released. I've been a fan of the 'Star Wars' universe for many years, as you may have read in my postings about 'Star Wars' Secret Cantina and 'Star Wars' Secret Cinema. So, when I saw the new 'Star Wars' mural off Brick Lane, I was impressed.


The mural is created by Jim Vision, who seems to be painting exclusively on this wall for the past several months now. It features a lot of the characters and subjects from the 'Star Wars' original trilogy: the Death Star, TIE fighter, Luke in Rebel pilot gear, Luke with a lightsabre, Obi Wan Kenobi (x2), Boba Fett, Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, C3PO, R2D2, Princess Leia (x2), Han Solo, and Chewbaccca.




For the duration of the year, the wall has been graced with Terry Pratchett's portrait and his universe. The wall was a tribute to the author who passed away.



This is not the first time that 'Star Wars' has inspired street art in London. Earlier this autumn, 3D Joe and Max created literal street art (using chalk and the pavement) in the pedestrian tunnel underneath Southwark Bridge. It features an X-wing fighter in the Death Star trench. I was unable to see it in real life as I was moving house.


I'm happy to see the wall refreshed as it's a key street art area in east London in an area where many of the walls are starting to disappear as gentification takes place.

Street artist Louis Masai, who is known for creating murals for endanged species and animals in general, painted a large wall on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch this summer. The piece was created in conjunction with Synchronicity Earth to highlight to coral reefs and the diversity of plants and animals that live in them. The project also had another engaging dimension with Masai asking on social media about which animals should be painted.


The mural took shape over several days where Masai would add a couple of new animals and plants each day. Those passing by could see the work take shape and see the artist at work. I did not get any photographs of the work in progress, but the photographs below show the finished mural.





This is a beautiful and stunning piece that highlights an important cause. To read the interview with Louis Masai on this mural, visit

Street Art: Stinkfish, Acaro & Mazatl

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This month has been popular with Mexican street artists in London due to an exhibition at Hoxton Gallery. Several days ago, I already covered a collaboration with artists Mazatl and Fusca in Shoreditch. Mazatl also collaborated with artists Stinkfish and Acaro. Stinkfish appears to have been in London for a little while as quite a few of his colourful portraits have appeared over the summer.


Stinkfish's style of portraits are easy to identify as the faces are bright yellow with the rest of the body painted black, signifying that the portraits are important. Bright geometric lines of colour are used around the portraits. Stinkfish was born in Mexico but lives in Columbia, and the subjects of his portraits are strangers that he photographs (without them knowing) while traveling. 


His largest work in London is located in Bethnal Green. I was able to photograph the nearly-finished piece, without Mazatl's contribution to it (see below). The finished piece is above.


Mazatl, who I covered in a previous post, added a snake to the portrait. This is a stunning collaboration with the high-level detail of the snake and its scales to the colourful boy's portrait and geometric shapes around the figures.


I captured a few of Stinkfish's artwork around London, although there's a lot more to be seen.




Another collaboration is between Acaro and Mazatl, and the black and white mural below appeared on Hackney Road. The fox is by Mazatl and is similar to the one painted in the previous post. Acaro is another of the Mexican artists who is exhibiting at Hoxton Gallery. He uses black and white paint, and animals and animal skeletons are a favourite subject. His work reminds me of artist ROA, whose work I covered here. He painted a skull and bird-skull creature in the collaboration.




In addition to the collaboration, Acaro also painted his own mural in Shoreditch on scaffolding. It features a bird with a skull-head, which seems to be a popular subject for the artist.



Mazatl also pasted paste-ups in London, and the below one features a lying buck with a couple of deer inside it.


London was lucky to see some very good new artwork by these artists, and I hope that they will soon return to paint more artwork in the city.

On Halloween morning a couple of Saturdays ago, I planned a visit to Broadway Market. This was my first trip into central London since moving, and it has been several months since I last visited the market. I wanted to have a quick browse around the market, and I also stopped at vendor Eat'n'Mess to try their sweet treats. The market had an autumnal feel with pumpkins, squash, and guords on display. The trees in London Fields were also in colour.


I arrived at the market about half an hour before it opens. The market officially opens at 9:00 in the morning, but I've always found that many of the vendors do not set up until later, and 9:45 is a better time to visit it. The other alternative is to arrive early and have breakfast or brunch in one of the many cafes. That is what I did. I visited El Ganso Cafe, which is near the top end of Broadway Market. The cafe do serve cooked breakfasts with free range eggs being a popular option, but I was not too hungry, so I had a simple pain au chocolat and Earl Grey tea. The pastry was delicious and the staff were friendly, so I would visit this cafe again.


My next stop was to Eat'n'Mess at Broadway Market, and I photographed the treats they were selling. Eat'n'Mess is a regular vendor at the market, and they are known for baking gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods that taste great. They are based in Sevenoaks in Kent where they have a shop but also sell in Chiselhurst.


I was told that the cookie sandwich (photographed above) is peanut butter and salted caramel. The cookies are peanut butter chocolate chip, and these are sandwiched with a layer of cream with salted caramel in the middle. I am not a big fan of peanut butter and salted caramel, but I had to buy one. I did not even realise the products were gluten-free, and they certainly do not have a different taste. They were so delicious.


Carrot, lemon drizzle, and red velvet were the selection of cakes on offer. Also, brownies and caramel shortbread (I believe that is what it was) was also on offer. I ordered a slice of carrot cake to take away as I was intrigued about the pistachio crumble on top, and I do enjoy carrot cake.


Bakewell tart was another sweet treat for sale at Eat'n'Mess, and it looks delicious. 


After the purchases, I had a wander around the market and took several photographs of the produce stands and autumn pumpkins, squash, miniature pumpkins, and gourds.





On the way back to public transport, I stopped by Violet. I've purchased their baked goods before and always find their products to taste and look good. (See my post when I visited their shop in Hackney and in a previous visit to Broadway Market.)


I noticed the pumpkin whoopie pies, and I just had to have one as I do like pumpkin. I bought a miniature pumpkin whoopie pie to take away. A whoopie pie is essentially a soft 'cookie' with a cream filling. I bought a miniature one partially because I was not sure that I would like the cream cheese filling and I'd already bought the sweet treats from Eat'n'Mess. However, when I arrived home and had this, I wished that I'd bought a larger one. 

Have you tried baked goods from Eat'n'Mess or Violet, or have you been to Broadway Market in autumn?

Welcome, Merlin the Kitten

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The bloke and I picked up a kitten last Saturday. Now that we have moved, we could get a pet. The last pet that I owned was my cat named Bells. I was nine years old when he was born and raised him (with his mother's help, of course) from a tiny baby. He was born on March 13, 1988. When he died at the end of May in 2003, he was just over 15 years old. He grew up with me, and we were very close. I still miss him.


Merlin (originally named 'Fred' by his first owners) came to live with us on Saturday. We had to drive quite a way to get him, and it was very late when we got home. He settled in well over this week and prefers company as he has never had to be on his own before. His previous owners had other cats and dogs, so he's had to learn to be on his own and appreciate the quiet at times. At times, he is full of energy and just wants to play. Luckily, he isn't adverse to being cuddled and looking cute while he sleeps.


He is a brown tabby Maine Coon breed, and that's what my previous cat was. Well, he wasn't a pure Maine Coon. His face looks like my previous cat's. Merlin has a white neck and belly and white socks, whereas my previous cat just had a white dot on his neck.


We named him 'Merlin' because he looks like a little wizard. I won't bore with too many photographs. This has been my first pet for thirteen years now.

Recently, I discovered a stunning wall painted in London on Great Eastern Street where scaffolding has been placed up. The work features bright colours and has a 'folky' style. It is a collaboration of three Mexican street artists who are in London at the moment. The artists include Cix Mugre Krew, Spike Spaik, and Libre HEM. The past couple of weeks have been busy with Mexican street artists who are over for an exhibition, and I recently covered work by Mazatal and Fusca.


Cix Mugre's piece shows colourful masked creatures and two human figures reaching out to a globe.




Spike Spaik's contribution shows creatures heading toward the globe, running with luggage.




The final piece is Libre HEM's contribution, featuring two deer who look made of houses and buildings. Some of these appear to be burning.



Libre HEM's Facebook:

Spike Spaik:

Cix Mugre Krew:

A few months ago, I noted that street artist Chinagirl Tile, who lives in Germany, was planning a trip to London to install a large-scale mosaic. The progress of the tile was documented on her Facebook page, and she finally made it to London to install her work earlier this autumn. Chinagirl's work is one-of-a-kind in that her medium of choice (clay tile) is rare in the world of street art. The tiles take time to produce and paste up, so many street artists opt for painting. 


Chinagirl has been to London before, and her portrait of a lady sweeping money (titled 'The Lady'), which was installed on White Church Road, was her first large piece. In 2013, she installed a fake security camera. This year, she installed two pieces in London.


The small-scale piece is titled 'My Little Phoney'. On the artist's website, she mentions that her inspiration is the 'My Little Pony' brand, which featured a range of plastic toy ponies in the 1980s. These ponies are making a come-back, but the artist noticed that their bodies are too thin and eyes are larger today than the 1980s breed. This is a concern about health and beauty.


The second piece is a large-scale piece featuring two foxes, and it is titled "Salt & Pepper". I believe that the piece is located in Camden Town, but I have not seen it yet. The images above are from the artist's Facebook page. 

To visit the artist's website, go to, or go to for her Facebook page.

Last month, street artist Tellas painted the London Underground Wall behind Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. The artist is from Italy and often paints naturistic works using black lines with colourful backgrounds. The piece on the Village Underground wall is subtle, fading from pale dark blue to pale green to pale yellow. 


It is a stunning piece, following a few short-lived pieces that I only somehow seemed to capture in the first phases over the past few months (and were being repainted in the next visit...I'd not timed it well).



For more information about the artist, view the Facebook page here:

London Bridge & St. Magnus-the-Martyr

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I have always been a little fascinated by London Bridge. I first knew about it when I was very young and I had won a music record as a prize through school (although this was in the mid-1980s and cassette tapes were available, records were still in use) with children's songs on it. One of the songs on the record was "London Bridge is Falling Down". It was a little catchy tune, and the song has quite a lot of history as it was a children's playing game going back centuries.


For a long time, London Bridge was the only bridge across the river Thames. The old bridge was built in 1176, but short-term wooden bridges were in place at various times until its construction. To cross the river, many used boat services to take them from one side to the other. The water traffic would have been far greater and congested then than it is today. In those days, London Bridge would have also been very busy and required tolls to cross. In addition, the bridge had buildings built upon it on both sides. The below image of an engraving shows what London Bridge looked like in 1616, and criminals' or traitors' heads were placed on spikes on the gatehouse on the bridge as a warning. These can be seen in the below engraving.


The current London Bridge is actually a modern construction built next to the old London Bridge. The old bridge was torn down in 1831, and its location was originally next to the church St. Magnus-the-Martyr. Those entering or leaving the city of London did so directly past this church. A blue plaque commemorates this. Can you imagine this fairly quiet area being bustling with so many people entering and leaving the city?


 St. Magnus-the-Martyr was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but it was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. The courtyard of the church contains some relics worth noting. One is a piece of weathered wood from a Roman dock. The other is stonework from the old London Bridge.



The church interior is worth a visit, and it also has a couple of interesting finds, such as four shelves near the door that contain loaves of bread. In old days, the bread was meant to be distributed to the poor after Sunday's service. 



Also inside St. Magnus-the-Martyr is a four-metre wide model of the original London Bridge in its heyday in about 1400. It was created by liveryman David T. Aggett and donated by the Worshipful Company of Plumbers in 1987. 

I paid the church a visit to see the model of London bridge on a Thursday during a late lunch break. The church is normally open Tuesday-Friday in the afternoon. The website for St. Magnus-the-Martyr will contain more information about its visiting hours. The website is


The model shows the buildings on the bridge and figures. Henry VIII can be seen entering the south side of the bridge, and apparantly, a modern-day policeman can be seen amongst the figures.

King Henry II commissioned the stone bridge that would become the London Bridge in the model. The bridge was built up with several buildings and a chapel, known as St. Thomas-on-the-Bridge, and this chapel was frequented by those going on pilgrimages to Canterbury. The chapel was the starting point for the pilgrimages. The bridge took 33 years to complete, and although plots were sold on the bridge for shops and homes, this wasn't enough to recoup the cost of building, so "The Brethern of the Bridge" imposed tolls.


The bridge was 26 feet wide and 800-900 feet long. It had a drawbridge to allow tall ships to pass and a gatehouse on both ends. In the mid-1300s, it had 138 shops. Public latrines hung over the bridge to empty waste into the river.


The bridge did suffer fire damage multiple times and the buildings on top probably changed quite often and needed to be replaced when the archways became too weak due to the load on the bridge, but London Bridge was not damaged in the Great Fire of 1666.


In Tudor times, over 200 buildings were on the bridge, and some of these were seven stories high and overhung the bridge by seven feet and the road, creating a dark tunnel for traffic to pass. The result was that the roadway was only 12 feet wide and divided into two lanes that were used simultaneously by carriages, horses, livestock, and pedestrians. When it was busy, it could take an hour to get from one side of the bridge to the other.


Scottish rebel William Wallace was the first man to have his head appear on the gatehouse in 1305, and placing the heads here became a tradition for nearly 400 years. Sometimes thirty or more heads would be placed up at a time.

In the mid-1700s, all buildings on the bridge were demolished, and the arches were rebuilt to improve the water flow under the bridge.

I would have loved to have seen the real London Bridge in its heydey, but like most of the old buildings and city walls/gatehouses and churches of old London, it has been lost to time.

Mural by Low Bros off Hackney Road

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Street artists Low Bros had painted shutters in east London in the past, but I had not seen anything new from them for several years. I originally posted some of their pieces on shutters, which were concentrated around Bethnal Green Road. The artists have recently come to London for an exhibition at Stolen Space Gallery. During their time in London, they painted a large wall off of Hackney Road. The painting features what looks like a square tiger face wearing sunglasses.


Low Bros are a duo of German artists who combine the use of two-dimension and three-dimension artwork. They tend to use a lot of colour and geometric patterns. 


For more information about the artists, visit their Facebook page at

Well, it is now November and almost time for the dreaded C-word. Last year, I purchased the "You Beauty Discovery" Beauty Advent Calendar. Beauty advent calendars are currently on offer for this year now, and I wanted to give you a peek at what last year's was like. It also gave me enough time to try all nearly all of the products. I would recommend this beauty advent calendar because I found a few gems.


1: Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser and Muslin Cloth: This cleanser is gentle on skin, and people who do have problem skin can probably use this without any issues. The product made my skin feel clean, and I love the fact it comes with a facial cloth. I would purchase this again.

2: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer: I received this primer in a beauty box previously, and I like the product. It smooths the skin and makes the foundation easier to blend and provides a more 'finished' look to my make-up. This is a product that I would continue to use and purchase again.

3: Molton Brown Orange and Bergamot Body Wash: I enjoy Molton Brown products and have used this scent of body wash previously. Although it is not my favourite scent from the brand, the orange scent in this product possibly makes it one of their most festive scents.

4: Essie nail polish in "lots of lux": Each calendar had a random colour from the Essie 'Encrusted Treasures' range, and I got the colour "lots of lux", which is a shimmery bright blue colour. You can see this in the photograph above. I like the colour. I've only used Essie polishes once at a nail salon, and I was greatly disappointed as the polish flaked right off my nails, so I previously disregarded this brand. 

5: Caudalie body lotion: This brand uses grape seed extract and other natural ingredients to make skincare products and supports charities to help the environment. I have tried a few of their products and I am just not keen on them. Body lotion is also not something I am excited about. 


6: Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask: This facial mask contains red clay, which is good at cleansing the skin and making it appear more radiant. This also made my skin feel firmer, and I enjoyed using it. I would purchase this product and really liked the results. 

7: Aromatherapy Associates: This aromatherapy candle promises to aid in relaxation, and I did feel more relaxed after I had this candle lit for awhile. It was very soothing, and it made me want to fall asleep! I would be interested in looking into more relaxation and non-candle products from this company. 

8: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer: I've used this product previously but was not keen on the results. It promises to add volume to hair. The first time I used it, it seemed to make my hair go limp. The second time I used it, it did as promised. I'm still not won over by this product.

9: Teeez Desert Metals Mascara: This black mascara claims to be smudge-proof and long-lasting. This is a good product and did as it claimed. I did not have any issues with it.

10: Burt's Bees Almond and Milk Hand Cream: I loved the smell of this hand cream and the cute packaging. The cream is very thick, and a little goes a long way.

11: Vita Liberata Luxury Tan: I am not a big fan of using tanning products, so I have not yet tried this. However, it is billed as a non-toxic and organic product that gets decent ratings.

12: GlamGlow exfoliant mask: This facial mask tightens the skin shortly after application, and it is meant to be left on for ten minutes. The product was developed for the entertainment industry to get the face ready to be photographed without drying it out. Unfortunately, the sample size was awkward as there was not quite enough for two trials but too much for one. I ended up applying it all at once, even though only a thin layer is needed. I really liked the results, and the product has a nice smell. I am tempted to purchase this.

13: Sally Hansen Nail Rehab: This product can be used as a base coat to protect damaged nails. I needed a product like this as my nails had some damage and discolouration due to some glitter polish that I had been using. I liked this product and I would purchase it in the future. 


14: John Freida Volume Blow Dry: This product promises to add volume to the hair when it's blow-dried. I have not managed to try it yet, but I do use John Freida products and always found them to be good products that deliver.

15: Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier perfume: This scent is inspired by the fig. This is a fruity scent, and I really like this. I may be tempted to purchase this once I run out of the sample.

16: Eyeko Lash Curler: This product seems like a gimmick to me. I'm not sure I really need these as my lashes are already quite long. I tried it, and I did not see any results. I am not keen on it.

17: Rodial lip balm: I was not keen on the branding product use of the word 'stemcell' and I did not want to use the product as it sounded dodgey. However, the stemcell refers to cells of a specific Alp plant and its renewing properties. I have yet to try it as I am using up other products.

18: John Masters Organics (shampoo and conditioner): This separate bottle of shampoo and separate bottle of conditioner detangle and clean hair. I found that these products made my hair feel soft and untangly.

19: Benefit Porefessional: I've previously used this product and like it. It makes skin look fresher and minimises large pores.

20: James Read Sleep Mask Tan: This sleep mask gives the skin a tanner complexion. I tried this for a few nights, and it was only after a few nights that I noticed a result. The product left my skin looking blotchy as the tan was uneven. This was one of my least favourite products in the advent calendar, and despite the claim the product is unscented, I actually did smell a 'tanning lotion' smell.

21: BioEffect EGF Serum: This serum promises to improve complexion and remove wrinkles. I am never sure about this type of product as it would take time to monitor it the effectiveness.

22: Rituals Fortune Body Scrub: This product smells delicious, and the beauty advent calendar smelled like this product every time I went to open a new window each day. 

23: Maddi Alexander Rose Bath Oil: A few drops of this rose-scented bath oil in the bath will make skin smell like roses. I've been using up other bath products and am currently without a bath in the new house, so this will have to wait.

24: Sleep Plus+ Pillow Spray: This was one product that I was keen to try because I do struggle with my sleep, and I've tried a couple of products that did not work for me. This product uses lavender and other aromas and is meant to be clinically proven to improve sleep. I have tried this product, but similar to the other products I used previously, the scent does not linger.

Did you try this advent calendar last year or any others that you recommend?

Mural on Old Street by Kaes and Core246

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I have noticed street art from Core246 and Kaes in London before, but the largest-scale piece from them that I have seen has been a mural on Old Street that has appeared on RED Gallery. The subject of the work is Japanese American performer Ayakama. Her work explores the relationship between photography and performance.




More about the stunning piece from one of the artists can be seen here: Around the corner form the new mural is another small mural on scaffolding.


The artists' Facebook pages can be found here and here

New street art by Fusca and Mazatl

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Mexican street artists Mazatl and Fusca are two of the artists currently exhibiting their work at Hoxton Gallery in the dis/sappear exhibition. The duo also collaborated on a mural in Shoreditch. The subject is a female figure intertwined with what looks like a boar-fox creature. The fox-boar creature was created by Mazatl, and Fusca created the human-like figure.




Mazatl's Facebook page can be seen here:

Fusca's Facebook page can be seen here:

Sometimes I walk past something in London that I have never seen before, even though I have walked past it dozens of times. Last weekend, I was in Holborn (near where I used to work and get the bus to Waterloo) when I saw a sculpture on the side of one of the buildings on Kingsway. The sculpture is called "Square the Block" and is by Richard Wilson. I thought that the sculpture was new as I'd never seen it before (admittedly I normally walk on the same side of the street), but I discovered that it has been there since February of 2010. 


The sculpture blends into the architecture of the LSE's (London School of Economics) academic building at the corner of Kingsway and Sardinia Street. It seems as though the building is in a state of transition from the stone it is constructed from and pushed around.


This is a permanent sculpture, so it can still be seen. Have you ever wandered past a place that you have dozens of times before and only just noticed something new about it?

Etsy Artists: Jewel Renee and LouiseArt

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Today's Etsy shop inspiration comes from LouiseArt and Jewel Renee. First up is LouiseArt, an artist based in the Netherlands. She prefers painting in watercolour and enjoys nature and abstract paintings. Her paintings are bright and colourful.

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

The second artist is Jewel Renee, and she paints animals. One particular cute character is a stuffed elephant that she creates images of. Some of her other work is more realistic.

For more information about her work, visit

Street Art: Kyle Hughes Odgers

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Toward the end of the summer, Kyle Hughes Odgers painted a wall off of Brick Lane featuring three figures dressed in brown with one figure carring a large jar with a plant sprout. The artist, originally from Australia, has created street art and public artwork all over the world and has become quite successful with his artistic career. He has also published books that feature his artwork. This mural is the first work from him that I have seen in London. 




The figures and style of artwork is the artist's style. For more information, visit the artist's webiste here:


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