February 2016 Archives

Last night was Oscar's night, so I thought I'd post some Oscars-related (and political-related) street art that I recently photographed in London. I have been rather busy over the past few weeks and have not dedicated a lot of time to my blog. My biggest news happened on the second week in January. I had an interview and job offer, so I was not out of work for long after my last role came to a close at the beginning of the year. You may have remember reading the update about the situation here, at the end of last year. The contracts took just over a week to get sorted, and I've been commuting approximately half an hour door-to-door. Not bad considering the long commutes I was doing before I moved. I'm really enjoying my new role as I'm able to use a range of my skills, which I've not been able to do in some past roles due to the way that the work was organised. I really hope to stay for awhile as it's perfect for me.

Angus - I got 99 problems but an O$car ain't one!

I've also set up a new blog to post my development-related posts to keep the blog themes separate. It's not quite ready to launch yet, though. When I originally started this blog, it was for development, visual design, my photography, art, and personal projects. It was a place where I would add inspiring work or interesting industry news. I would store ideas here that inspired me as many creatives do. (My instructors at university in the School of Visual Communications told us to always keep a copy of pieces that we discovered that inspired us, and I did that for many years.)

Code Street

In following with my love of art and its tie to visual design, I ended up posting a lot of street art as I was working in east London. (I also received minor degrees in fine art, creative writing/literature, and history. I don't have time now, but I used to paint/draw. At some point when life and the work on the house is settled, I hope to paint/draw again.) Since then, this blog transformed into a 'lifestyle blog' (for want of a better word). 

Because I've established this blog over several years to the state it is now, I decided to separate out my development items from the blog. Some of these were published entries, and some of them were unpublished or still in a rough draft state. Some of these posts attracted a lot of attention, particularly in one development area early on as there was a lack of documentation at the time. I still want to grow that area of my blog for my benefit (sometimes a quick reference guide helps) and the benefit of others.

Political and Oscar street art by Angus

The direction for this blog will not change, and I will keep up with it as much as I can. However, I do want to make sure that I spend a little more time on the other blog and other areas of my website in general.

I also have plans to add my own design to the blog, which was always my goal and at one point around 2007-2010, I didn't update my blog much at all because I wanted to get the design perfect first. I realised that sometimes it does not matter if it's not perfect and that it was best to just write for it and evolve it when I had a spare moment. So, I've used the themes that came with my blogging software in the meantime. I'm actually not ready to take a break from work in order to do my personal projects, except from a few hours here and there to create posts. I'm not ready to invest a lot of time over several weeks to do an hour here and there of something that will take a lot more time and dedication.

If you have any ideas of items that you would like to see me cover more or cover less, then comment below to let me know.

New Street Art Sculpture Work by Cityzen Kane

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Street artist Cityzen Kane creates sculptures inspired by tribal themes, and his work is unique to the streets in that it is sculpture as opposed to two-dimensional artwork. I originally covered his work here and here, and those posts contain some of his earlier pieces. I've also seen his work in Bristol last year and in Dulwich a few years ago. The most recent piece in London that I know about appeared a couple of years ago on the corner at Redchurch Street and features a beautiful black and red mural.


I came across these new pieces pasted on a board on Sclater Street a couple of weekends ago. These feature similar sculptures that the artist has created before. 





There's another Cityzen Kane mural in the Leake Street tunnel underneath Waterloo, and I will be posting that separately.

Be sure to check out his other work around the corner on Redchurch Street too as it's such a great piece. 

Street artist collective Broken Fingaz have recently painted a wall on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch. The group, originally from Israel, often paint in comic style with a range of common characters that are usually depicted in bright colours (green men, blue men, and so on). I have previously covered their work here with a lot of their work in London. The group also recently painted a shutter in Soho, which I covered here.


A few years ago, they painted some controversial explicit works across London in a series of murals featuring primarily women in compromising positions with skeletons and animals. I think I found three of them in total, and they were all tagged over and removed. Their recent work is decorative (instead of controversial) and also highlights aspects of good visual graphic design with the use of imagery and typography.


I enjoy seeing their work back to the original and inexplicit characters, so hopefully we will be seeing some more of their work around London in the coming weeks.

In the summer of 2013, you may remember my posts (Gromit Unleashed Part One and Gromit Unleashed Part Two) about visiting the charity art sculpture trail in Bristol known as "Gromit Unleashed",  based on the character of the Aardman Animations shorts "Wallace & Gromit". Gromit is the dog character, and he was the star of the sculpture trail, which ended up raising 2.35 million pounds in charity. The following year, they brought the sculpture trail to Hong Kong, but it failed to capture the attention that it had in Bristol, and a few of the sculptures never received a bid. These sculptures returned to Bristol at the beginning of the month and will be on display until the beginning of April for visitors to enjoy.


In addition to the Hong Kong Gromits, a super-sized four-metre tall robotic Gromit watches over the front of Cribbs Causeway mall in Bristol, where the "Gromit Unleashed" shop is. It is here that the Hong Kong sculptures can be seen. The shop opened in the summer of 2013 and was meant to be temporary while the sculpture trail was on, but the success of this sculpture trail and the merchandise has permitted it to stay open. It still receives many visitors and contains a lot of merchandise and collectable sculptures as well as events for children.


The large sculpture is based on the GRMT02 sculpture by Gavin Strange. The original was located in the Cribbs Causeway shop for visitors to see along with over a dozen others. Photographs of these unsold Gromits from the Hong Kong trail in 2014 can be seen below. The artist and information panels are unfortunately not on the website, and I'd have photographed all of the boards to get the details and information about them had I known this.













The final statue below was created similarly to an original on the Bristol trail in 2013. It states the facts of the original trail, including the amount raised for charity and how much it brought to the economy as well as other facts.


The Hong Konh Gromits can be seen until 10th April in the Cribbs Causeway "Gromit Unleashed" shop in the middle of the mall. The shop is open 9:30-9:00 Monday-Friday, 9:00-8:00 on Saturday and 11:00-5:00 on Sunday. It is free to see the scuptures, but a donation is suggested. We were not pressured into donations, but we did buy merchandise while we were there, and I believe that at least some of this goes to charity.

Recent Street Art by Zabou

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French street artist Zabou has recently painted several more walls in London, and some of these replace the artist's previous works. She is in town for the all-female art exhibition 'XX: A Moment in Time' at Saatchi Galleries, and I have already covered some work by artists ELLE and Marina Zumi. Many more female street artists are exhibiting, and I've still got more photographs to post of the excitement that has been happening to London's walls this month. It's already been quite a busy year with street art this year.

The last time I covered Zabou's work was at the end of last year when I started to see a lot more work by the artist throughout the year; you can see the artwork here


My favourite of the artist's new pieces is the one above. It features two children with paint on their faces in Native American fashion. It replaces an earlier piece with the same subject that you can see in my previous post about the artist here.


Next, the wall between Columbia Road and Hackney Road (Ion Square) was repainted with a new mural of a woman with roses. It's already been damaged, and the previous excellent piece (which I preferred) was tagged over a little while ago. It's a shame that this one has also been damged so soon.


This lady seems to peek out of a shutter on Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane.


A lady sticking her tongue out appears on Brick Lane. There's also another Zabou piece on Brick Lane a few doors down from this one.


The above image, which looks like it depicts a Christian religious symbol with a spray can abd paint brush, is painted on Commercial Road.



Last (but not least) is this colourful couple on Hackney Road with the quote "No future. But a beautiful present." This could represent a lot of things, but it probably represents how most people are getting priced out of London and out of the area and it's more difficult to live, but the people in power are not doing anything about the future except living in the present and living for themselves as there's so much greed and selfishness. At least, that's what I read into it. I think it could probably mean a lot of different things to different people. The above piece is also a replacement wall for another piece covered here, which was tagged over eventually.

I really enjoy seeing Zabou's work in London as her witty interpretations always brings a smile.

Last Sunday was Valentine's Day. For the past two or three years, I have been wanting to go onto the London Cable Car (also known as the Emirates Air Line) for Valentine's Day, but we never got around to it until this year. The Emirates Air Line has offered chocolates on Valentine's Day for the past couple of years in order to get people to use its services, and I am pretty certain that this did not cost anything extra. Last year, there was even a proposal! However, it's been marketed this year as a proper Valentine's Day event requiring tickets to be purchased in advance at the high price of £25.00 per person. For that price, you get four chocolates (two chocolates each), a glass of champagne each, and a paper viewing guide. Romantic music is also played during the trip, and the television screens show heart imagery.


As this was ticketed and I thought that the price could only keep going up next year, I purcashed tickets for Sunday (Valentine's Day). I learned a day or two later that all tickets for Sunday had sold out, and some of the Saturday slots had also sold out. At least I can tick this off my London bucket list.


We were asked to go to the North Greenwich side to take the cable car. This terminal is located a five-minute walk from the O2 and North Greenwich tube station. When we arrived, we got into the queue to take our journey. A lot of people were around, and there was an even larger queue for the public who wanted to take the trip in groups. Many people were asking about taking the Valentine's Day ride, but they did not realise it had sold out. We waited in the queue until someone came to get the groups of couples, two or four at a time. Each couple was led to the terminal to take a private lift to the top where the cable cars unload and pick up passengers.


At the top of the platform after we disembarked the lift, the bloke rushed me to get on the cable car for some reason (I guess because the staff person was there and the car was leaving), and that left me very flustered (I really *hate* when he does that to me). I rushed to the cable car, but as I arrived to get on the cable car, we were then called over by another staff member. We were given our glasses of champagne, viewing guide, and box of chocolates. I just remembered! No time to think being rushed around! It all happened very quick and too quickly for me to gather any thoughts and get any photographs. We were rushed into the car immediately. (As were were about to get in, my camera battery died too so I had to use my mobile to get photographs.) Talk about really bad timing!


We sat in the car and were whizzed into the air. I'm not great with heights, but everything was happening too quickly for me to think. We were whisked up in the lift, had to grab our champagne/guide/chocolates, and were rushed into the cable car. Feeling rushed and quickly in the air, I was a little too uneasy about getting photographs. I just remember the wind knocking the car and pushing it around as I was trying to hold onto my champagne and get my mobile out to use it as a camera. 


In the rush and fear of height, I managed to hit some button on my mobile which cast every photo that I took with a blue filter and I had to stick with the setting until I downed my champagne and could sort it out. I did manage to fix it after about fifteen photographs or so. I was also a little too afraid to really look at what was around me, but the bloke was telling me that he could see the Thames Barrier. I was too frightened of the height to look behind me at that time.


On the return journey, when I was relaxed with the height, I did see the Thames Barrier in the distance. If my battery had not have died, I would have been able to zoom in to get a better photograph.


We approached the other side of the river where the end terminal is located, and there was also a queue of people waiting on this side, but it wasn't quite as long.


We remained in our carriage as it went back the other direction and back to North Greenwich.


By now, I was very comfortable with the height and managed to look behind me and take photographs and actually move instead of sitting perfectly still in the car.


On the way back, we also opened our box of Godiva chocolates to share. Neither of us looked at the visitor guide because we wanted to focus on the view.



I saw some amazing views of the O2 and Canary Wharf. We even pointed out buildings in the City of London and the Shard.


Seeing the O2 made me think about when the O2 was "The Millennium Dome". Visiting it often brings back those memories of the summer of 2000 when I visited it, and at one time they did keep some old relics of the sculptures in the building. These seem to have been removed at last now as I have not been able to find them for the past few visits. I also thought that the next time I go back home, I will go through my photographs of my visit to "The Millennium Dome" and scan them. Yes, these were the days before digital cameras and mobile phones. Not everyone had a camera, and those who did have one were interested in photograph and/or tourists who were interested in capturing memories. Because cameras wrote photographs to rolls of film using light and chemical reactions, you only had up to 36 shots per roll of film. Hence, we did not take too many photographs. It was also costly to buy and develop film, and you also had to carry it around. I had my SLR (which took excellent photographs and was better to any digital equivelant), which I had to properly adjust the settings (speed and F-stop) for and click and just hope that the photograph turned out well.


I was happy at being able to appreciate the views now, but I wished that the ride did not come to an end and we could go around one more time.



But our journey was over. Boo. The journey was supposed to be a longer one of twenty minutes in total on the cable car (ten minutes both ways) and slowed down for us to enjoy the views. I don't actually think it was slowed down, and maybe they changed their mind because of all of the crowds that appeared on the day. It seemed to go very quickly to me, but I didn't time it.


Also, the price is a little steep for what it is, which I already knew when I booked it, I guess. I was very disappointed at not being able to go last year, so I wanted to do it. I've never been on the cable car, and despite the rush and so on, it was good fun. I just wish that we had not been rushed at the beginning and also wished that it could have lasted a little longer so that we could really enjoy the view. I am a little frightened of heights, and it does take me a short while to get adjusted.

After we finished, we did manage to get a seat at O2 Nando's for late lunch. We got there just in time as well because "Strictly Come Dancing" was on tour at the O2 and it was late in the afternoon. When we left Nando's, we saw a very long queue for it and the show had just finished. So, I guess we planned it right.

Originally, I was going to spend the day at Chinatown and also see the fireworks as the celebrations took place in London on Valentine's Day this year. I didn't get to do it, despite promising myself that I would for the last seven years. Next year is the rooster's year; it probably will not be as fun as the monkey, but maybe it will be the first year that I will see the Chinese New Year in London.

ELLE's Recent Street Art in London

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ELLE is a Brooklyn-based street artist who is currently in London for the 'XX: A Moment in Time' all-female street artist show at the Saatchi Gallery. While in the city, she wasted no time in securing a couple of walls to paint. Both walls are just off Brick Lane and feature black and white portraits of women using abstract shapes and colours highlighted with gold or bronze paint.


ELLE's style is unique in that she combines different mediums in order to create her artwork. These could be spray paint, acrylics, markers, and even three-dimensional mediums.




The exhibition 'XX: A Moment in Time', featuring ELLE's work and the work of several other female street artists, takes place until March 6.

While I was wandering around east London today, I discovered that Ben Eine had recently replaced one of his murals on Ebor Street. The street contains work by the artist down both sides with 'Tagonists' being replaced in favour of this new mural, which reads "Like Nothing Else". (The other side of the wall still reads 'Extortionist'; originally, one side read 'AntiAntiAnti' and the other read 'ProProPro'.) The letters are a mixture of bright colours with the artist's circus-like typeface as used previously on this wall. Eine uses different typefaces, but this is one of his most common and is also used a block away to spell out 'Old London'.


The last time we saw the artist paint a mural in London was last summer when "Cheese London" was painted near Columbia Road (covered in my Street Art of 2015 Round-up post). The artist is originally from London but moved to the USA a few years ago. He's quite a well-established artist now, and a few of his murals can still be seen in London on Rivington Street, Ebor Street, off Hackney Road, Plough Yard, and Club Row.



The work looks as if it has just been finished. Below is the full mural on Ebor Street.


Other photographs of work by Ben Eine in London can be seen here and here. The later of the two links has a photograph of the artist in action the last time that he painted that wall with 'Tagonists'.

New Pink Deer Street Art by Marina Zumi

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Street artist Marina Zumi was born in Argentina but lives in Brazil. She was recently in London as a part of the all-female show 'XX: A Moment in Time' at the Saatchi art gallery, which is currently on until March 6. While in town, she painted a couple of murals along with many other female street artists, and I will be covering some of this work by other artists later on. 


Marina Zumi's background was in fashion design, and nature is a prominent feature of her work. Her work often contains animals, flowers, and trees. These are often painted in bright colour, and her work brightens up the dull walls.


I had just arrived at the wall when the artist had just finished and was packing away the spray paint cans. It's a long piece, but I managed to capture most of it above. It features a pink deer standing in a stream with mountains on a clear night. The turquoise, blue, and pink look good against the black sky.


On the side of the scaffolding on Great Eastern Street (where this work is painted), the artist thanked those who put her in touch with this wall. 

It's a fantastic addition to London's streets at this dull time of year, and the colour is much appreciated. 

Contrast in Photography (London)

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Today's photograph features contrast. The small house is located in the shadow of the large high-rise buildings. It's also a contrast in style: the new meets the old. I actually took this photograph several years ago. I have fond memories of this place. It is located near where I used to work in the City of London next to St. Stephen Walbrook church, which has a Starbucks branch that is located as part of the church building. I actually dubbed it "The Starbucks Church". Across the street from it was a new office building (seen on the right) that was under construction at the time. Across the road from that was a development site and also the location of one of the old rivers of London and the Temple of Mirthas. They're building a new office building here and have found a lot of ancient pieces.


I've visited this area from time to time and miss seeing this little house nestled in between the buildings.

Crossrail Roof Garden at Canary Wharf

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A few weeks ago, I was in Canary Wharf to see the Winter Lights Festival and had a wander around the Crossrail roof garden. This roof garden is located above the new Crossrail railway station at Canary Wharf. The station is expected to be open in 2018, but it started construction in 2009. It will cost around £500 million to build. The roof garden looks atmospheric with a good mix of nature and architecture, and I noticed a few others walk through in the evening that I was there. 


The garden has an open feel to it, and it can also be seen outside the station. Some of the windows that create the dome over the garden are open to the elements so that it feels that it is inside as well as outside. There's also lighting and small pathways through the various trees/bushes. 


There were all sorts of trees and plants, including bamboo, palms, and ferns. The rooftop garden is actually quite large in area. When I had seen programmes on television about it, I did not anticipate that it would comprise of such a large area.


I believe that a cafe or restaurant will also be located here as soon as Crossrail opens.


Have you been to check out the roof garden at Canary Wharf in the crossrail station yet?

New NILS Street Art, Covering Eyes

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A couple of weeks ago, American street artist NILS (Nils Westergard) painted the high-profile wall on Pedley Street off of Brick Lane. (The left half of the wall remains unpainted as street artist Hunto will be painting there, according the NILS' Facebook page). The artwork features a young woman with her hands covering her eyes, and this series along the same theme has been painted by the artist.


The artist is from the state of Virginia, and he's been creating street art for eight years. He has  painted in Europe and Australia, and social unrest is one subject that he paints about.


The painting of the woman with her hands over her eyes still shows her eyes drawn onto the back of her hand. To me, this signifies how people like to turn away from what they do not wish to see, but a part of them still may want to see and are impacted by what is around them.  


The artwork has a stark constrast with the white, grey, and black paint used. It's also simple in design. It is made using blocks of colour and zig-zag lines for the texture and shade. I think it is a stunning piece, and I hope it lasts awhile.

This weekend is Valentine's Day weekend, and I managed to book tickets to a special Valentine's Day dinner in the Great Hall from the Harry Potter set at Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London. The event was held on both evenings at the weekend and was capped at 100 people per evening. That's fifty couples. It sold out in minutes, so we were lucky to get a place.


The evening started with a drinks reception with small nibbles, which included prawns, rice balls, and vegetable tarts. The drinks on offer included normal Prosecco, a red raspberry Prosecco (which was slightly pink in colour) or a cocktail made with Vodka, cranberry juice, tonic water, and other ingredients which was dubbed by staff as "Love Potion". After having a few of these while we waited for about an hour in the lobby, we were let into the Great Hall.





Harry Potter's bedroom at Privet Drive set in the lobby

The Great Hall was decorated for Valentine's Day with pinkish-purple lighting cast onto the walls and seating on both sides and down the middle of the hall. We were sat toward the front of the hall in the middle row with the Gryffindor and Slytherin costumes on either side. The tables were decorated with lights and white flowers.

Door to Great Hall




Slytherin costumes


Our meal included a white roll with butter, a starter each, a main course each, a trio of desserts to share, and wine and water that was topped up. The white wine was a good quality and easy-going wine, but I don't enjoy wine much anymore. The choice of meals were limited with a standard option and a vegetarian option. I had the vegetarian option, and the bloke had the standard option.  


The standard starter was salmon mousse, and the vegetarian one was grilled artichoke hearts with beetroot carpaccio.



The main courses were lamb rack with potato fondant, grilled asparagus and red wine jus. The vegetarian option was goat cheese and potato gnocchi and baked squash with pumpkin seed oil. Throughout the meal, we were served red and white wine which was topped up when required.




For dessert, we shared the following: classic lemon tart, champagne and strawberry  panacotta, and chocolate pave with pistachio crumb and Chantilly cream. I was not keen on the panacotta, but that was the bloke's favourite, and he didn't like the lemon tart, which I did enjoy. We shared the chocolate dessert, which was also nice.


We enjoyed our food, but I think they missed a trick with the desserts. They could have easily done some little touches for Valentine's Day and/or use 'Harry Potter' themes. It would have felt more special if they had.

The sorting hat

After we finished our meal, we went to the front of the Great Hall to look at the costumes and to see the sorting hat on display here. (The sorting hat was in the Dumbledore set last time we visited.) Then, we carried through to have a quick glance at the other sets, but I won't be posting many photographs here. (If you're interested, take a look at my blog post Off to Hogwarts...Harry Potter Studio Tour where you can see photographs.) A few areas toward the back of the exhibition had changed with the removal of Umbridge's office and the inclusion of an area about the Death Eaters and the long table used in the last films with Snape and Voldermort. The sets were all quiet, so it was great to walk around without so many people like on our visit in 2012.





Also new to the tour is the Platform 9 3/4 and a replica King's Cross with a working train. People could have their photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 and walk inside the train carriage sets that were used in the films. We spent some time here to have a look around and get some photographs taken. We also received a free drink in this area, which was the same that we had at dinner.



After this, we walked into the area where Butterbeer could be bought. Last time we visited, this was a small stand with a massive queue outside and open to the elements. They moved this around a bit and build a special larger area for guests to sit and eat. Our access included a freee glass of butterbeer and the cup it came in. We both agreed that the butterbeer tasted a little different this time and was not as nice as we remembered the first time we visited. 


After this, we walked through the outside sets, through the creature area, and we had Diagon Alley virtually to ourselves. We got a few photographs before walking toward the large-scale model of the Hogwarts castle. On the way, we saw a golden snitch.




At the model of the castle, we were offered teas and coffees and chocolates. I think they should have had a selection of chocolates instead of just the white truffle ones for those who dislike white chocolate. Unfortunately, we had to rush through this as the time just flew. We had two hours after eating our meal in order to walk around. We rushed through the gift shop and then picked up our wands. Each guest had the option to pick out a wand from one of the main characters. I got Hermione's wand, and the bloke got Dumbledore's.



Dumbledore's and Hermione's wands

Overall, it was a good evening, and it was great to see the tour with so few people around, however, I would have appreciated a little more time at the tour and a little less time waiting in the lobby at the beginning. I am glad that we've been before so we only needed to look at the new areas.

UK 2016 Glossybox Review: February

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I had enough reward points to receive a free Glossybox this month. Glossybox is a monthly beauty subscription box, and subscribers receive the box delivered to their door with approximately five beauty or skincare sample and full-size products. Last year, I received the February Glossybox and loved the items. (You can read last year's review of the February Glossybox here.) The Valentine's Day touch made it feel a little more special as well, so I had high expectations for this box. Unfortunately, I was left completely disappointed with Glossybox. I'm glad it was technically a 'free' box. As the previous month, I received repeat items. In fact, I received the exact same item as last February's box! (And it came with a card last year where there was a buy-one-get-one free offer, so I now have four of the same item.)


The design of the box did not disappoint this month. The theme is "Love is in the Air" and has pictures of watercolour balloon hearts on it. The products this month are a selection of make-up and beauty accessories. Read below to see what I have received.


Nicka K New York 24hour Waterproof Eyeliner in dark brown: This product includes a little brush on the end to make it easy to achieve the cat-eye look. The tip of the brush allows it to draw a precise line and blend.

MUA Powerpout Glaze in allure: This gloss provides a subtle colour to the lips. Apparently, there were six random shades received. I would not normally have gone with this reddish-purple-pink shade, but at least I did not receive another bright red lip product.

The Vintage Cosmetic Company tweezers: I received the floral design of the tweezers, which has a vintage rose pattern on it. I like the design.

NAOBAY hair mask volume conditioner: I have used NAOBAY products before, and I've found them to be a good quality. This hair mask promises to condition hair and protect it. It contains organic ingredients.

Wilkinson Sword Hydro Silk Razor: This is the item that I received in last February's Glossybox. You can read my review there.

After the annual subscription I bought from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015 and a couple of odd boxes to use my reward points, I am well and truely done with Glossybox.

Magical Lantern Festival @ Chiswick House

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On Saturday, a group of friends and I spent the evening at the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House (London). The Magical Lantern Festival had only just launched on the Wednesday (February 3), so last weekend was the first weekend for it. This is the first time that the festival has been in the UK, and such festivals are ultimately a Chinese tradition. The Magical Lantern Festival celebrates Chinese New Year, which falls on February 8 this year. 


The festival contains approximately fifty lanterns and include monkeys, antelope, elephants, peacock, flowers, tigers, zebras, kangaroos, fishes, flamingos, mushrooms, pandas, a dragon, and various Chinese symbols and scenes. All of these were created in China and sent over to the UK. The main lantern is a large Chinese dragon, but a special Monkey King sculpture was also made for the "Year of the Monkey" this year. According to the website, some of the lanterns are interactive and accompanied by music and theatre.


Our access to enter the trail was at 5:30pm. When we arrived at 4:30, we were greeted with a long queue to enter the grounds. I thought that it may be a good idea to arrive early and to get some street food first. I didn't realise that the grounds only opened at 5:00, so we were waiting for a little while to get in. Originally and at the time of booking, Chinese food and gifts were meant to be on offer, but this was changed. I think they missed a trick as I am certain a small market of food and gift stalls selling Chinese items would have been popular. Instead, we had a choice of crepes or game burgers. I gave it a miss and we planned to visit Westfield for our food later.


That Saturday was very windy, and we did have sprinkling of rain, which made it annoying to take photographs but which luckily was not bad enough to prevent a nice time. However, due to the foul weather, none of the lanterns were playing music or moving. I have seen in the promotional video that some of them do move, but we were unlucky to see them in their full glory due to the weather conditions.


One of my friends is from China, so she told us about the sculptures. In the sculpture above, the symbols represent wealth and happiness. The red bag is a money bag, and the little boys on the left are carrying a large peach, which represents good health and happiness. Many of the sculptures around the festival had the peach symbols in them. 


After having a warm tea to warm us up, we started the trail. The trail bushed were covered with light netting with smiling stars on them.


Beyond this, the trail was covered with beautiful and colourful lotus flower lanterns overhead, which led us into the next part of the trail.


I think that these beautiful flowers are meant to move with music being played, but they were stationary due to the wind. The backdrop of the obelisk, pond, and little building at the back was a perfect and magical composition.


We passed by some beautiful flowers and illuminated peach trees before we came to perhaps the highlight of the evening: the Monkey King. The Monkey King sits on the mountain, and the bottom symbol in Chinese is 'mountain'. Other monkeys climb over a giant peach. This is the Mount Huaguo monkey, which was created for this year. This is a real place in China that is a popular tourist place and has connections with the monkey and has a waterfall.


A little further along, we came across these beautiful swans.


Next to the swans was a rainbow bridge, which we had to be careful walking on because the covering was slippery. From the top of the bridge, I saw a beautiful view of lanterns along the river. They reflected on the water - flamingos, ducks, flowers, and fish.


On the other side of the bridge, a beautiful and colourful mushroom kingdom with squirrels emerged. 


Then, I saw the pandas amongst bamboo lanterns. These pandas probably stole the hearts of so many people.


Behind them, I saw a safari of lantern animals. They included the kangaroo, monkeys, zebras, deer, antelope, giraffes, and other animals. 


The peacocks were further along the trail and looked beautiful.



After the peacocks, we came to the half-way point in the trail. In this area, we could stop for a hot drink and marshmallow. The weather was cold with light rain, so we welcomed a hot chcoolate from Beltane & Pop, which was essentially liquid chocolate. Flavours, such as orange or mint, could be added to the chocolate. There was also the choice between milk, dark, and white. I had dark chocolate with cream on top. They also serve eclairs, but they were out of them sadly. After  the hot chocolate, we went next door to The Marshmallowist. Here, we could buy marshmallows in different flavours (champagne & strawberry, raspberry & gin, toasted coconut, etc) and toast them on the fire pits nearby. I had the toasted coconut marshmallow, which was tasty. However, it did take an age to melt and it was a little difficult leaving the fire.


But, we did have to leave the fire in order to see the rest of the trail. Back on the trail again, we met up with giant peaches and a lot of beautiful flowers and plants.


These peacocks were pretty.


We also managed to look onto the opposite side of the trail that we had just come from to see the other side of the animals. I got some better monkey photographs.


This trail then led us along the river, where I captured a photograph of the pink flamingos, fish, frogs, and other plants.




A little further along on the river, I captured these ants/bees. We actually were not sure what they were - ants or bees - but they looked friendly enough. I think that they are also intended to move on their playground toy, and I imagine that there may be music as some of them are carrying horns.



The elephants looked stunning as well.


I also loved the green swan on the opposite side of the bank.


Finally, we started to see some of the finale lanterns on the other side of the bank. This gave us a taste of what was to come. One is the pagoda, and the other is the massive lantern dragon.



We headed around the river to get to the bridge. The below shimmery mushrooms (or jellyfish) looked pretty.


On the other side, we saw a spinx, Cinderella carriage, and more colourful animals and mushrooms.




This lantern was also beautiful, and it was one of my favourites. I think I read that it was made using real porcelain.




We continued to walk around to the main area where the dragon was, but they had shut this due to the winds. So, we gazed longingly down to the far side where we could see what looked like a terracotta army of lanterns and some bright colourful flowers and the pagoda.


The trail looped around underneath the archways, but it was closed off and no one could enter to see the beautiful display on the other side.


Through the other archway that we could not access, we saw a range of Chinese New Year zodiac animals. This was the best photograph that I could take.


I was able to zoom in to get a photograph of the dragon's head.


And I absolutely loved the flower pot lantern.


Everyone was directed to go down a different part of the trail, off to the side, which meant that we could not see the other lanterns. They were switched on, and the closest I could see is through zooming in on my camera at a side angel through a barrier. I also took a photograph of some flowers I saw in the distance, and there were a couple of Chinese fans. 


I also managed to zoom in to get some details of the beautiful floral archways.


The pagoda was well in the distance, and this was the best I could do using my zoom. It's a pity that we were not allowed along this finale of the trail in order to see these amazing pieces. Surely they could have had a queue so a few of us could go in and then a few more could enter after they had gone. 


After this diversion, the trail came to an end. 


Last, but not least, we entered another area where a cafe was set up and a small courtyard contained a "Love" heart lantern. As the Chinese New Year festivities happen on Valentine's Day in London this year, I think it was appropriate to have a heart for photo opportunities. The Magical Lantern Festival is also celebrating a special day for people who visit at the weekend. 


And that draws our time at Chiswick House Magical Lantern Festival to a close. We left in just the right time too as the rain started to get harder and pour down even more.

In total, we spent two hours walking around the trail. I will mention this because the website mentions 75 minutes is the recommended time. Of course, we stopped for photo opportunities and probably spend thirty minutes having the hot chocolate and marshmallows as we had to wait in queue for the hot chocolate. We could have easily spent another thirty minutes in the cafe at the end or if the other part of the trail had been accessible.


The Magic Lantern Festival is available to view at Chiswick House each day until March 3. Tickets can be bought from 5:00pm until 8:45pm, and it is better to book in advance to avoid disappointment. There is not enough available parking at the venue, and Chiswick House is not the easiest place in London to get to, but you can get there using public transport. For those who are a little more inconvenienced by the location of Chiswick House, there are parking areas near the venue or you can use a website to book a private space from an individual. (I used JustPark and was able to park at a school less than five minutes' walk from the main gate, but do make sure that you give yourself enough time as it took us longer than the 75 recommended minutes to get around the trail.) For more information or to book your place, visit: http://www.magicallantern.uk

Happy Pancake Day!

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This year, I was unable to see the Spitalfields Great Pancake Day Race as I have done the past three years. You can see last year's post here, which also has links to the previous two years before that. I also was not around any venues where Pancake Day races take place, so I had to settle for having an afternoon pancake lunch. I must say that this really hit the spot. By the time I got to go out for my lunch break, I was pretty hungry.


The venue that I went to was Balan's Soho Society in Westfield Shopping Centre (Shepherd's Bush). This is a chain, and they did have a special pancake of the day which included caramel sauce and rum. I opted for the traditional classic - pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. I gobbled them up as they were so delicious and not too filling.


I also tried two of their cocktails. The Texan Fruit is a vodka-based cocktail with raspberries, cranberries and kiwi. It was easy to drink. The second was a new cocktail, which I thought tasted of medicine. I mentioned this to the staff on exit, and they agreed that they didn't like it either. It's so new that I cannot even locate it on the menu, but it contained tequila. 

I enjoyed my pancake lunch and must give this restaurant a try in the future. Happy Pancake Day!

A little over a year ago, I went on a city break to Nuremberg, Germany. You may have already read my posts about Nuremberg Trials Courts and the museum at the former Nazi Rally Grounds. This post covers the main cathedral building in Nuremberg (St. Lorenz) and the National Museum. I spent nearly a day at the National Museum, and visiting St. Lorenz was done in about thirty minutes, but some people may wish to spend longer.


St. Lorenz is dedicated to St. Lawrence. It is a medieval cathedral and was damaged in World War 2. The building's artwork was donated by wealthy citizens and remains. The church can be visited daily from about 9:00am until 5:00pm with reduced hours on Sunday.  







If you are planning to visit the National Museum, I suggest picking the areas of the museum that you wish to visit first as it is not possible to see everything. You can make a day out of it, but it is a lot of walking and information overload. The museum is on several floors with some outdoor areas. I did walk through most of the museums, but there were some areas that did not interest me. The museum is built around a Carthusian Church. The collections range from paintings, musical instruments, armoury/weaponry, prehistory/ancient history, Late Middle Ages, Renaissance, science, medicine, fashion/clothing, everyday culture up to 1700, art, folk museum, middle ages, and toys.


I spent the most time in the prehistory and ancient history sections as I find it fascinating. These include ranges of pottery, stonework, and gold items buried in hoards, as well as items found in burials. After that, I did browse through the Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages and the Carthusian Church (which mainly contained sculptures). I am not really into religious artwork, but they did have a nice selection of books that were beautifully decorated and illustrated. One of the stars of the show was a gold ship.



I walked around the other exhibitions as well, including the art gallery and folk art. I enjoyed the folk museum section with its replica life-size German buildings filled with furniture. The art included everything to the modern day.


I didn't get to make it to the toys area, which is a separate building. The bloke was tired and the museum was a little bit like a maze; even with following the map, it wasn't clear where the exits to other exhibitions were. It took us a little longer than anticipated to find the way to the folk museum section, for example. However, this did mean that we were able to walk through most areas to get a flavour of the musuem. Of course, some areas I had zero interest in so could ignore them and spend my time in another area.

Have you been to Nuremberg and paid a visit to the museum or St. Lorenz cathedral? What did you think?

Street Art Round-up: Winter 2015-2016

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I've not posted many street art posts recently as I've been busy with other areas at the moment, but I have made a couple of trips to east London since the beginning of January, and I thought that it was due time to include some good street art in a round-up on my blog. Hopefully, I will be able to keep more up-to-date with the street art scene this year, but it's not as easy as it was before last year when I was working with the street art on my doorstep. I post it because I enjoy seeing it and street art is only around for a limited time before it is replaced. I also love learning about the artists and identifying their work.



Olivier Roubieu is a French artist currently based in London. He has been painting a series of portraits with a splash of paint colour on their faces. According to the artist, the splash of colour adds another dimension to the painting. I also saw some of the artist's work at last summer's Bristol Upfest, covered here.


Hunto is an Italian artist who continues to paint in London regularly. His work is abstract and often features amourous people. Additional work by the artist can be seen in my post here



Size92 and Mask collaborated on the blue and purple piece and the black and white pieces above. 


NoMoreLies created this postal stamp with endangered species. This is a part in their series, but I could not locate any additional work from them in London. This piece highlights the cave bear.


Neist and Asebueno are the artists who painted the high-profile wall on Hanbusy Street recently. The work is a grafitti-style and a slightly different take on what is normally painted on the wall.


Otto Schade is always a firm favourite and adds a lot to London's streets. For more of the artist's work, see my post here. Someone decided to turn the artwork into a peace symbol, which breaks the message a little bit. The message displays a never-ending story about war or killing and how it loops back to the beginning. The artist always uses the circle with typically orange or purple to get his political and social messages across.


Squirl painted these whimsical robotic creatures. The artist paints often in London, and I've covered some of the work previously here.


I'm not sure who created this little sculpture, which reminds me of the doctors from the black plague.


Annatomix painted the above running horse. I saw the artist at work during Upfest in Bristol last summer (click to see my coverage of the work here). She paints animals using shapes, and they end up looking like oragami creations.


Waleska painted the above mural near Old Street, and it is titled "spreading the love".


Anna Laurini, an artist who studied art in London, has spent the past three years covering London in colourful positive messages and street art. I originally covered her work when she started to paint the streets back in 2013, and you can read more about her here. The work on the shutter reads "live fully, love fully".


Richard Wilson's tribute to singer Josh Milan is painted above.






The above works are by Artista. I love her cute and colourful work. She paints a lot of abstract and floral symbols but has recently expanded to create toast with legs and bottles with legs. I have covered her work previously here.


Giusi Tomasello has been busy so far this year. This is her second mural on Blackall Street; a few weeks ago, she painted in a paint jam with an all-female group of street artists. I covered her work in that paint jam here. This time, she pays tribute to David Bowie.


Gary Alford created the above murals; he is an artist from Margate.


Kapesex and Bismer One created the above mural. I couldn't capture the whole mural as it covers several parts of scaffolding on Blackall Street.


Float and Pang collaborated on the above mural. The most recent mural that Pang collaborated with was one with Nagel on Hanbury Street, which I covered here.


Mutiny uses street art to draw attention to endanged species, and this mural draws attention to the golden-shouldered parrot. The artist painted another mural in the same spot earlier in January, which I covered here.




PrefID has painted in this area of London before, and his pieces are fun because they form a phrase or a couple of words that you need to spend time trying to make out in two-dimension. This one says "say hi from me". The colours and style of the text helps to pick it apart.


Greek street artist SER has painted in London before, and this recent and colourful piece appeared a few days ago. I have previously covered a different style of work by the artist before, which you can read about here.


Saturno The Creator created the above piece.


Zina painted the above piece, which spells out "recognize".


Elno was another female artist who painted in the all-female Blackall Street paint jam in January, covered in my post.


In addition to the above, Rioter painted a new mural after her contribution in January.


I came across Jim Vision finishing a new mural in the location where he had previously painted (but had not changed for a long while). London's streets have seen a lot of his work over the past several years.


London Gdansk painted the above graphical lines, which reminds me a little of the technique that Dan Kitchener uses for his city scenes.


Dave the Chimp painted the above mural on the Village Underground Wall. I walked by when it was in its very early stages of conception. The artist highlights the importance of education, particularly in Iran where certain groups of people do not have equal access to education. 


Tizer, who often paints a more urban and grafitti style in London, painted this birthday tribute. I've previously covered some of Tizer's work here.


The work above is a collaboration between Artista, who I covered above, and Attai. 


Attai paints bird houses, and I covered the artist's work previously. The artist has painted quite a lot in London over the past year.

Rolling People




Neoh is well-known for painting ballerinas. I've previously covered his work here

The below works were taken over the course of last year, and I've liked them enough to include them here.

The Simpsons in Shoreditch

John Lennon 

El Jerrino

Rich Mix




Mark Airbourne

Leo el Duende

I was keen to see the recent Donald Trump artwork by Furia (whose work I previously covered here), but that has been painted over now.

Next weekend is Chinese New Year, and I celebrated early by visiting Yauatcha in Soho. Yauatcha, established in 2004, is the only Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant in the UK, and its founder also founded Wagamma's, Busaba Eathai and other similar chains. The main restaurant is located on the lower floor, and Yauatcha's Patisserie is located on the ground floor. The desserts could be seen through the windows, and they all look amazing; this would be the perfect spot to indulge. As this year is the 'Year of the Monkey', the restaurant have a special 'Year of the Monkey' menu with cocktails, desserts, and dim sum.


The restaurant decor is stylish and modern. The exterior walls were lined with inset flickering candle lights, and the black ceiling twinkled with tiny lights that reminded me of stars. The main feature, however, was the bar. The bar is transformed into an aquarium with dozens of tropical orange and yellow fishes. To celebrate the monkey year, several paper oragami monkey decorations were hanging around the restaurant and patisserie.


We received an appetiser when we arrived, and it consisted of soy sauce and two other sauces.


We had the duck roll dim sum, which were very filling and quite large in size. The rolls came with the sweet plum sauce and were crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly. The duck was also not too over-powering, and the ratio of duck to vegetable to the crispy batter/coating was perfect.



To celebrate the 'Year of the Monkey', I ordered the gin cocktail flight known as "Monkey Flight". This contained three cocktails made using Monkey 47 gin. Each were created to be paired with the special menu (which we did not order any food from) and well-presented. The first, "Saffron Gin & Tonic" was created in front of me. The Monkey 47 gin was in the bottom of the glass, and the tonic water was poured over a strainer of saffron into the glass. The cocktail changed colour from clear to a pale gold. 


The second was a paler pink colour and known as "Pomelo Fortune". It contained gin, velvet falernum liqueur, pomelo, grapefruit, cranberry and orange, and mandarin bitters. This was the fruitiest of the three cocktails.


The last cocktail was a darker pink (almost red) colour, and it was known as "Pink Kumquat". It included sloe gin, rum, ginger liqueur, cranberries, and rice syrup.


The bloke, who was born in the year of the monkey, had the beef with black bean sauce and found it to be very enjoyable.


I opted to try the Thai style chicken, which was cooked with onion, mango, papaya, and chilli. The batter was crispy and tasty, but I should have asked for it to have extra spice as it did not taste spicy to me at all.


We shared egg fried rice with beans, and this was also delicious.


At the end of the meal, I asked for the six macarons that were created to celebrate the year of the Monkey. These are meant to be slightly discounted when ordering all six together, but the restaurant forgot to adjust the price for me. The flavours on the plate below included Camomile and buttercream, bitter orange almond, and (I think) juniper berry. I'm not sure on that last one because the macaron tasted like it had chocolate ganache on the inside, but I don't think I've ever eaten a juniper berry to know what one tastes like.


In the image below, I had the gin and tonic macaron, the rose macaron, and elderflower ginger macaron. All macarons were decorated beautifully.


The "Year of the Monkey" menu at Yauatcha will run until February 21. The branch of the restaurant in the City will also host cocktail classes with Monkey 47 gin on the 6th and 20th of February. The restaurant is located in Broadwick Street in Soho and Broadgate in the City.

I would like to return to the restaurant to try some of the other dim sum dishes and also to eat in the patisserie on the ground floor.

(Note that this review is my own and I was not asked to go to the restaurant to write a review.)

New Street Art by Mr. Cenz

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One street artist who was very active in the London street art scene last year is Mr. Cenz, and I previously covered this artist's work here. The newest mural by the artist was painted in Soho last autumn, and managed to photograph it last month. The work features the portrait of a woman in the artist's trademark grafitti-style with the use of abstract angles and bright colours. The green woman appears with blue sky in the background and covers quite a large wall.



In addition, I have used this post to show other photographs of Mr. Cenz's work to have appeared over the past year that I've not yet posted. The murals below appear were on the same wall on Curtain Road and replaced with a fresh piece (the top image). 




Off Brick Lane, the artist painted this beautiful green and purple lady with whimsical angles and shapes.



My favourite piece is one on a building near Shoreditch High Street Station that the artist refreshes now and again. The green portrait has an almost-cyborg resemblance with the woman's eye. This is a stunning work.



Another road off of Brick Lane also has a wall where the artist refreshes his work. 



I also discovered an early mural near Bethnal Green station.


The artist has also painted on scaffolding a lot last year, and I managed to capture the two images below before they were painted over.




I will be posting more work by Mr. Cenz when I find them on the streets of London.

UK 2016 Glossybox Review: January

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Glossybox is a monthly beauty and skin-care subscription box service. Subscribers receive a mixture of full-size and sample-size products in each box. I signed up to receive the February box, but instead, they sent me the January one, which I was not keen on (I saw spoilers of it beforehand) because I have tried three of the products and was not keen on trying another body lotion or primer product. (I wanted to subscribe to February and get March's box for free as I have enough for a free box.)


January's box had two sample products and three full-size products. The box came with the following products:

Royal Apothic body lotion: This body lotion promises smooth and hydrated skin. It has a floral smell and does not leave the skin feeling greasy. The lotion is absorbed. The product is a good one if you're looking for a lotion or hand cream. I am using it as a hand cream.

Emite Diamond Heart Primer: This primer claims to boost skin radiance and colour before applying make-up.

Bellapierre Mineral Lipstick: I received this bright red shade of lipstick, which does add colour and absorbs into the lips without leaving a greasy and clumpy feeling on lips. I already have this brand of lipsticks that I've received previously. I am not a fan of bright red lipsticks and feel that they make me look washed-out, so this one will be added to my stash of unused red lipsticks.

Nails Inc in 'Uptown': I've got a stash of different colours of Nails Inc products, and I am not at all keen on this shade of salmony-pink, which I seem to have received a tonne of. I'll be finding this one a new home.

Nicka K Airbrush Blending Sponge: This sponge helps achieve a flawless liquid foundation cover. I've used similar products. This one has a unique shape to work around the different contours of your face.

As said, the January box never wowed me at all. I am looking forward to February's box because it was a great box last year.

Amy Winehouse Sculpture in Camden

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In September of 2014, a bronze statue of singer Amy Winehouse was revealed in Camden Stables Market. The singer was from Camden and lived there until she died aged 27 from alcohol poisioning in the summer of 2011. The statue portrays a life-size Amy. It shows her with her signature beehive hair style and high heels. A real flower can be placed in her hair. When I visited, it was a red flower with a red band, but it was traditionally a rose when the statue was placed in the market.

Amy would have been 31 years of age when the statue was placed in Stables Market. The plaque at her feet commemorates a framed birthday photograph, and others have placed woven bracelets on her wrists and a flower at her feet.



I love her music and her death was such a big loss. I miss what other hits she could have made that I and others would have listened to. Rest in peace, Amy.


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