July 2016 Archives

Sculpture in the City 2016

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Sculpture in the City 2016 is a public sculpture trail around the City of London's Square Mile. This is the sixth year of the public art event, and there are many stunning new pieces on display this year. The artwork featured is from well-known and upcoming artists. For previous posts about past Sculptue in the City trails, see Sculpture in the City 2015Sculpture in the City 2014 and Sculpture in the City 2013.


Ajar - Gavin Turk
This sculpture of a doorframe with a door open ajar is a reference of the painting 'La Victoire' by Rene Magritte. The door represents a gateway through the imagination and is meant to be interacted with and to imagine possibilities. It reminded me of a doorway with a secret world on the other side, such as the wardrobe in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" books.


Fire Walker - William Kentridge and Gerhard Marz
This sculpture is actually formed out of several different frames pieces together, and it takes the shape of a woman when examined at a certain angle. The figure represents market workers, and the 'fire walkers' are the ones selling coal to the vendors.


Florian / Kevin - Sarah Lucas
These bronze giant marrows symbolise growth and the harvest festivals in the country. The sculptures have been polished to appear gold and show these organic figures in the unusual city location.  


Cadenetas - Lizi Sánchez
Lizi Sánchez creates paper chains using packaging and building materials to form the brightly-coloured rings. The art references more traditional styles of handmade decorations but places these in the environment as abstract sculptures that are waiting to be found if the viewer looks in the right place. Many of these small paper chains were discovered around the City.


Sunrise. east. July / Sunrise. wast. October - Ugp Rondinone
Twelve of these monolithic silver masks, names for each month, exist. The sculptures are made of bronze but plated in silver. They two masks appear cartoonish with their big grins. This makes them seem a little more human and likeable.


Falling into Virtual Reality - Recycle Group
This collective focuses on what our generation will leave behind for future generations and what will be discovered when we are gone. The artwork created is created out of recyclable materials and ideals. The subject of this art is a person falling into a virtual world while holding onto a mobile phone.   


Broken Pillar #12 - Shan Hur 
This sculpture was also on display last year. The artist incorporates discovered objects into the pillars. The objects are usually relevant to the location where the sculpture is placed. This sculpture features a pillar that has been broken open in one area to reveal a beautiful vase with a flower design.


Axis Mundi - Jürgen Partenheimer
These bright blue bronze cubes are stacked vertically and represent a spirally upward axis that lifts into heaven. This sculpture is meant to be observed spiritually, noting the energy and upward structure.


Of Saints and Sailors - Benedetto Pietromarchi
The artist joined a group of Filipino men on a transatlantic journey on a cargo ship. During the journey, he modelled each of the faces of the sailors out of clay. The busts were placed onto pedestals adjoined with chains and other metal pieces, making the figures appear almost like they are part machine. 


Solar|Relay - Petroc Sesti
The artist has previously collaborated with NASA and used footage from the SOHO space probe. The video shows the sun and its beauty.


Idee di pietra 1373 Kg di luce - Giuseppe Penone
This bronze tree holds several large boulders in its branches. The boulders appear as if they could fall at any moment, and the viewer questions how they got there. Did the tree grow around them and lift them up?


Magic Lantern Small  - Mat Collishaw
The Victoria and Albert Museum has a special installation from this artist in the winter of 2010, and this featured a large-scale effect of moths fluttering on the street below an oversized lantern. This is a smaller lantern, and inside, the insects can be seen in flight against a bulb.


Laura - Jaume Plensa
This is an ongoing series of portraits, and this sculpture is of a young girl. The image of the girl appears to be dreaming and involves being caught in a moment of time.  The perception of the sculpture is unique. It almost looks surreal as the scupture appears to be a flat image, but it can be viewed at other angles to see effects of perception.


Centaurus/Camelopardalis - Michael Lyons
These sculptures are a part of an ongoing series based on stars and constellations. These pieces of metal were discovered and then transformed into new structures, sometimes many times before the artist was happy with the result.


The Orientalist - Huma Bhabha
This bronze sculpture resembles a regal figure sitting on a throne. Despite the regal appearnce of the seated figure, the frame of the limbs look almost skeletal. The figure seems to suggest that the figure is only human.


Aurora - Anthony Caro
This sculpture was created from a floating buoy that was being scrapped. The two rounded figures were modelled to look like waves, and the artist struggled to pick the colour before being suggested to use a bright red.


Untitled - Enrico David
The artist created a surrealist bronze sculpture that depicts a head on top of a thin and nail-like stalk. The sculpture leans against a wall with the head propped up uncomfortably against it. This was a little difficult to look at but memorable at the same time. At first glance, it simply appears like a post propped against a wall.

I always enjoy seeing what is on offer for Sculpture in the City and hunting down the artworks. I must say that this year's line up is, without a doubt, my favourite so far. The sculptures will be on display until May, so see them when you get the chance.

Ben Eine is a street artist from the UK, and much of his work can still be seen in east London on shutters and walls. His walls feature type/typography using unique fonts. I originally covered the artist's work in this post, which covered many older pieces and some newer. The artist moved to America but returned to create some additional pieces in 2014, including pieces at the Olympic Park and in Shoreditch. Earlier this year, he re-painted one of his walls on Ebor Street. This post covers additional new pieces that have been painted this summer.


"Last Days of Shoreditch" is an ode to the area, which is suddenly being swallowed by gentrification and losing its identity. These buildings, where the street art is painted, near Old Street will also soon be gone. 


Last year, Ben Eine and another London-based street artist (known as Cheese) collaborated on a wall near Columbia Road, and I covered this here. Again, the duo completed another collaboration. This time, it's off Brick Lane.


I also saw this snippet of work near King's Cross. I assume it was part of a larger piece.


The "Engaging" piece was painted over an existing mural by Eine, who has had control over this wall for ages. In fact, the wall is a tribute wall for him to memorialise those who lost their lives due to crime.



Perhaps we will see more work by the artist before the end of the year.

The summer has come at last after a couple of months of cold and wet weather. We visited the pub at Titchfield (the Fisherman's Rest) for a third time. Titchfield is near Portsmouth; it is between Portsmouth and Southampton. We'd previously visited it with friends with the goal in mind to see the abbey after a Sunday roast. However, storms the day before at the end of June meant that the abbey was closed. We decided to try to visit it again, and we had wonderful weather and the grounds of the abbey to walk around in. 


The first time, we all had Sunday roasts, which were really yummy. I can vouch for the chicken fajitas too, except they set off the smoke alarm that we were sat under. Ops. On the third visit, we had the standard menu as this was on a Saturday. I was spoiled for choice and went with the chicken curry in the end. It was actually big enough for two people, and the only criticism was that the sauce was too thin (and marked my new shirt as it was impossible to eat).


After eating, we walked across the road to visit Titchfield Abbey. The premonastarian abbey at Titchfield near Portsmouth was founded in 1231. The 'white canons' (named that beause of their white robes) lived and studied here, and there were about 15 of them here at a time. They primarily worked for the community and helped to spread religious studies, and a couple of them were vicars for nearby churches. Of course, the monastaries came to an end after Henry VIII. Before this, Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Charles I visited.


After the monasatries were dissolved, Henry VIII gave the land to one of his loyal servants (Thomas Wriothesley) as a reward. He converted the building into an elegant mansion that he called "Place House". Some of the structures that formed the monastary were removed, and others were used for the mansion. For example, the cloisters became the courtyard and the abbey became the main gatehouse. Shakespeare was a friend of Wriothesley and probably visited and performed some of his plays here as one of the rooms is known as a 'theatre' in some of the plans.



Some of the tiles from its time as a mansion can be seen laid out inside the courtyard area.


Many of the gargoyles appear around the gatehouse on both sides, and some of them are in better shape than others.


One of our friends took his car up to the abbey for photographs. Classic cars and old architecture make a beautiful photo.



I also had a stoll around the grounds, and I noticed a few apple trees. Perhaps these apple trees are descendants of the original ones that would have grown here in the days when the structure was a monastary.




We couldn't have hoped for better weather. Have you ever been to Titchfield Abbey?

Last weekend, we finally got to go see both parts of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", the "Harry Potter" play that will be discussed so much this weekend when it opens to the public. Tickets for the pre-shows were on sale at discounted prices at the end of October last year, and I managed to get tickets despite waiting hours to successfully book. As mentioned, the play officially opens to the public on the 30th of July, but the first couple of months have been testing out the dialog and tweaks in front of a live audience with discounted tickets. With only a week to go until official opening day, the play must be nearly complete as to what will be shown. 


If watching the play at the weekend days, both parts can be enjoyed back-to-back (with an hour and a half for dinner.) The play can also be seen during the week on two consecutive nights or two different nights, but the cast cannot be guaranteed to be the same. The fact that the play is in two parts may put off some people, but I think fans of the books/films will still make the effort to see it.

I actually did not feel that it would live up to the books or films, but I was proven wrong. It's a brilliant story set in the future for the life of Harry Potter and his friends. Now, I am not allowed to say much or spoil the show, so spoilers cannot be found here. I will simply say that it's brilliant, and the little "magic" bits used in the show are real treats and filled me with awe. For those who do want to know more about it but have been unlucky with getting tickets, the script will be released at the weekend.


As mentioned previously, this was a whole day affair. We decided to make the most of it, so we headed over to Regent Street for the summer party in the hopes to get free ice cream, but they were setting up and we would have had to wait an hour (by which time, we'd have had to be in the theatre). We had breakfast at Balan's Soho Society around the corner from the theatre. The French toast really hit the spot. I have not had French toast since living in the states.


After we saw the first play, we had just over an hour and a half to kill. We decided to go to Chinatown (just south of Palace Theatre) to eat Chinese at (what I consider) one of the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Even numerous people of this origin love the place (and it's been a discussion with another friend of mine), so it must be good. They do cater for those with more Chinese tastes as well as the Anglo-Chinese tastes.


The place in question is Imperial China. We received so much food that we could not eat it all as the main portions are large. The bloke had the chilli beef, and I had the spicy chicken. I cannot remember the names of the dishes. We also shared noodles and beansprouts. 

Imperial China is located on Lisle Street, and if you look inside the door and at the back, you will see a little red bridge and some Chinese lanterns. The rest of the restaurant is behind this. There are huge goldfish in the little pond underneath this bridge, and that's a nice touch.

Balan's Soho Societ is located on Old Compton Street.

Have you been to see 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' yet? If so, leave your comments here. 

At the end of last month, I booked us a table for afternoon tea at Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield. I had seen good reviews, and I liked the 1920s art deco theme of the main room, so I decided to give it a try. Sometimes, I find a lovely venue and have a fantastic experience; other times, I don't. I have to say that the review of this is the latter type of experience. I am writing about it anyway because I think that it's important to keep my posts genuine and based on my own experience. I was not paid to visit. I paid for two afternoon teas, booked two months in advance, and this is my experience.


Crazy Bear is a brand of hotel-resort with a handful of locations in London, Oxford, and Beaconsfield (just west outside of London). I visited the Beaconsfield location, which was only about a thirty minute drive from where I live and in a beautiful town that I'd not visited before. There's not much parking but we parked down the hill outside of town, and it was only a couple of minutes to walk to the hotel.

Impressions are made upon entering and the interaction of people you see and meet. Upon entering, the place felt chaotic. A lot of well-dressed people were wandering in and out of the hotel. The atmosphere and visitors and staff seemed a little pretentious. It actually felt like a place where you'd see WAGS (wifes and girlfriends of footballers) and fake people who may or may not be from a stereotypical Essex. We were not greeted. We had to ask where to go.


Okay, second mistake after the lack of greeting. The staff member led us downstairs into a dark room that is the Thai restaurant in the evening. Low ceilings and only one other lonely couple were seated down here, and the atmosphere felt horrible and out of the way. Not only that, but I'd particularly booked a space in the nice room upstairs. This is why I had to wait two months. After finding the staff member to discuss, we were finally seated upstairs. Also note that during our visit, not all seats were taken. Half of the room was empty.


Leather couches, silver tables and chandeliers, and exotic animals adorned the space around us. The exotic animals (which included zebra, giraffe, parrots, black bear, and antelope) on the walls were real and not replicas, and I have to say I'm not a big fan of taxidermy or putting these on display because there's been too many stories recently where wealthy people go on safari and hunt animals for sport. I know none of these exotic animals are endangered, but I've personally never liked seeing taxidermy. Despite the animal heads (for moral reasons), I cannot fault the interior design.


There were also parrots and a black bear with a beautiful chandelier and skylights.


And silver chintz was everywhere, including the acrobat below which doubled as a candle-holder.


We received our champagne first. It tasted a bit warm, unfortunately. It was served out of a bucket with other champagnes, and I assume that there was ice in the bucket, but the champagne tasted room temperature. Champagne doesn't taste very good to me unless it's ice-cold.


We then received our teas while we waited and waited for our sandwiches due to dietery requirements. Eventually, were then told that they were too busy to cater for our requirements. When I say eventually, this was over thirty minutes of waiting. I'd informed them well in advance (two months ago) when I had booked, and I'd informed them of the requirements so that they could prepare in advance. They failed to do so.


Our tea was not too bad, and it was presented well.


We ate our scones, which came with clotted cream and strawberry jam. These did not taste fresh.


Last up were the pastries. We received different flavours, including a mango and cheesecake, a lemon meringue, fruit tart, cupcake, fruit cake, and carrot cake. The cupcake was too sweet and rich, and the carrot cake and fruit cake was too dry, so most of these were left behind. The others did taste good.


After waiting so long for the staff to return, we got more annoyed. I needed my tea refilled with hot water, but that never happened. Then, we waited for the bill, and that never happened. I had paid up front, so we decided to just leave. On the way out, no one stopped us or wished us well, even though we walked by a number of staff.

I cannot recommend this venue because the staff were not interested and not helpful, and we did not feel like our custom was wanted. The food and drink was not great, and they would not cater to our needs, which were explained at the time of booking. Overall, I did not care for the pretentious atmosphere of the place either. I will not be returning to Crazy Bear venues.

Magnum Pleasure Store 2016

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Last year, I went to the Magnum Pleasure Store summer pop-up at Covent Garden (covered here). I enjoyed it so much that when I saw that they were returning to London with a new pop-up this summer, I knew that I had to go. This year's new pop-up is near Bond Street tube stop on South Molton Street. I was really lucky to arrive before the doors closed early for a special meeting on the day I arrived, and there were queues as usual.


This year, they are meant to be doing double-dipped (two layers of chocolate) ice creams, but the machine was broken. It costs 4.50 for the standard ice cream with choice of chocolate and three toppings and 6.50 for the double-dipped. I had to get the standard because the machine was broken.



Visitors can choose up to three toppings, and I was able to choose a little more of one other topping because I had the black lava sea salt as one topping, and they only want to give a little bit of this to to keep the nice flavour. In addition to the sea salt, I had pistachio (my favourite), cinnamon almonds (I love cinnamon), and the silver balls. All of these are put into a tin to mix up.


The ice cream was dipped in front of me in the chocolate of my choice. (Milk, white, and dark chocolate were on offer.) I had the dark chocolate. After dipping, the ice cream was covered in the toppings.


It was then drizzled with chocolate of your choice again before being topped with either a white chocolate or milk chocolate 'M' (Magnum) logo.


Due to lack of seating, I took mine outside to eat. Unfortunately, I discovered a hair half the way through eating it. (I think the hair was in the toppings as I notice they don't cover them.) This put me off eating the rest of it, and I threw about half of the ice cream away.



In addition to the pop-up, Magnum are sponsoring a fashion show as part of the 'Summer Streets' event, which takes place on a pedestrianised Regent Street throughout July. During the event, free double-dipped ice creams will be handed out, and visitors are encouraged to make their own.


The ice cream was not as good as I remembered it before, and finding the hair did make me feel sick and put me off. If this doesn't put you off, the Magnum Pleasure Store will be open until September 16. It is open from 11:00-9:00 from Mondays to Saturdays and open from 12:00-6:00 on Sundays.

The Serpentine Pavilion 2016

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Every summer, the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park builds a new Pavilion in the grounds to highlight architectural design and art. Last year, we had the colourful Pavilion with the light reflecting/refracting to create different shapes and colours. This year, it's more about form and less about colour. This year's Serpentine Pavilion was built by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, head of BIG, who have worked on Google's new headquarters. This year, the Pavilion has been nicknamed 'unzipped wall' as it looks like the structure is zipped up partially. Inside, its atmosphere resembles a cavern. The inspiration was to use basic components to create a structure. It stands 14 metres high.


I took a quick look inside and had a drink at the cafe, which serves light snacks, coffees, and fruit juices. The range was not as extensive as last year's, which contained afternoon teas and ice creams and a range of food from Fortnum and Mason. In that sense, it was a little bit of a disappointment. However, there were plenty of seats when compared with last year.


The structure is made from fiberglass boxes, which appear to be the same size and shape. These are stacked on top of each other to create an illusion, and it is a real treat to look up once you are inside.


The different angles of the boxes also give a sense of movement, as you can see in the photographs below.



I examined the structure from the different angles.

Although one can walk around the structure, it is not as memorable and there's less to explore. Last year's was a hit because there was a lot to explore and interact with. I remember seeing children running around the structure and in an outside walkway that wrapped around it. I did see children this year, but interaction was not encouraged with this. This structure is meant to be looked at from a distance and close up and to examine the different angles, but it is less interactive and more about viewing.


There are also four summer houses to explore nearby, but I did not see these or know about them when I visited the Pavilion.

Have you been to visit the Serpentine Pavilion this summer? The Serpentine Pavilion will only be around for a limited time. It is free to visit, and it will close on October 9. It is open from 10:00 in the morning and closes at 6:00 in the evening.

'Star Wars' Celebration 2016

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Last weekend, I spent a long day at "Star Wars Celebration Europe". Readers of my blog may remember that I'm a fan of "Star Wars" and went to the "Secret Cinema" presents "The Empire Strikes Back" last year along the "Star Wars" theme. This year, the science fiction event was held in London at the Excel centre and covered a large area. Actually, there was no way that I could see everything because the day also involved waiting around in queues for a lot of the time. There were queues to see the props from "Rogue One", "The Force Awakens", gaming, virtual reality, the panels, and even the shop itself.


I did go to see the props from "Rogue One" (which will be released at the end of this year) at the end of the day where there wasn't a queue to get in. I also participated in the "Trials of Tatooine" virtual reality, which was really amazing. Headphones and glasses and a device that looks like a remote control are given to you, and the next thing you know, you're on the desert planet of Tatooine. You get to meet and interact with R2-D2, see the Millennium Falcon, and deflect laser shots back at stormtroopers with your lightsabre. It was surreal.


The cosplay was also amazing, and I saw a lot of great costumes like the ones above of characters from "Star Wars Rebels". 


They even had a full-sized TIE fighter and a small AT-AT walker.


The above are props from "The Force Awakens".


I didn't think I'd ever be able to catch a glimpse of Mark Hamill (my favourite character and crush Luke Skywalker), but I was so lucky. At the end of the day, I ran into one of the rooms to get some merchandise and he was right in front of me, talking to an audience that had gathered around. In the shot above, he was discussing the deleted original scene (which never made the final cut) in "A New Hope" where he meets up with his childhood friends Biggs (who does make it to the Rebel Alliance) and Cammie, and he shows a photograph of the characters.

Overall, that was the icing on the cake and nothing could top it. It was a really good day.

London Bubble Waffles @ Nosteagia

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

One of London's most Instagram-able foods is the bubble waffle from Nosteagia. Nosteagia started as a company selling bubble tea and Asian sweets in London on Brick Lane. The company combine English and Asian food, which is then served in an innovative manner. The bubble waffles are created in a waffle maker with a mould that cooks the batter into puffy air-filled waffles. These are then combined with cream and toppings. There are many flavours to choose from.


I decided to try one for myself a few weeks ago. Their permanent location is at Shoreditch High Street at PUMP, which is a former petrol station lot but is now home to a dozen street food vendors with a selection of different foods from all over the world.


I had spent awhile walking around Shoreditch, so a bubble waffle was on order. I had to wait around for fifteen minutes for them to finish getting ready for the day. (Even though it was noon, the vendors at PUMP don't open until about 12:30 on a Saturday as they are getting ready for the day.) They are open until 9:00 in the evening, and the evening is probably when they do most of their business.


I watched as the batter was poured into the waffle maker and then removed a couple of minutes later. (The one in the photograph above had a little too long, and they cooked another one without asking.)


Flavours include peanut butter and CocoPops cereal, marshmallow and chocolate, green tea and Oreo cookies, banana and Nutella, strawberry and cream, coconut, M&Ms and chocolate, and cookie. I opted for the Cookie Monster variety, which contained Nutella, cream, cookie pieces, and chocolate sauce.

The dessert was really delicious and filling, but it's not quite as rich/heavy as it looks here. It's perfect after a light meal or if a pick-me-up is needed.

Last year on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, the bloke and I headed out to Brimham Rocks. Everyone else had the same idea, and the rocks were busy with families enjoying themselves and participating in an Easter Egg hunt. This would have been an amazing place to run around if I was a kid again; this would have been right up my street. I could not help to feel a little jealous of all of the children enjoying such a wonderful place with large rocks to hide amongst and climb on/around.


We spent a long weekend around Harrogate, and I previously posted my visit to Harrogate, afternoon tea at Betty's Tea Rooms, Mother Shipton's Petrifying Well, Knaresborough, and Knaresborough Castle.

I explored Brimham Rocks for a couple of hours, enjoying the views from some of the rocks and climbing my way around/between others. The rocks cover a large area of ground, and there is a small museum and shop on location that explains how the stones were formed. It also explained that the rocks were visited during the Victorian days and people from Harrogate would come to Brimham Rocks for the day as an excursion. It was marketed to resemble the landscape of far-away lands, such as America.

Photographs from my visit to Brimham Rocks can be seen below.






















Have you ever been to Brimham Rocks?

Knaresborough is a town in Yorkshire located near Harrogate and on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Knaresborough is built around a limestone gorge (complete with the River Nidd at the bottom of the gorge). The recognisable viaduct, a railway bridge, is built on the banks of the gorge over the river. Stunning views can be enjoyed from the stairs to the top where the old town is and from the castle. Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well (the first recorded tourist attraction) is located in Knaresborough, and it's also home to Knaresborough Castle. I visited both attractions, starting in the morning with Mother Shipton's and finishing the afternoon off at Knaresborough Castle.


The town of Knaresborough has a High Street and a market square, and it has one of the oldest chemist shops in the UK. Historic buildings are also located along the river. St. John's Parish Church is one of these. Visitors can also hire/rent a rowboat on the river.


Another one of the historical buildings along the river is The Old Manor House. The Old Manor House was a hunting lodge built for King John in the early 1200s around an old oak tree. Oliver Cromwell would have come here to sign some documents after Royalists were defeated nearby. Over 400 years ago, King James I had a mulberry planted inside the courtyard, and it still grows and flowers each year.


The Nidd Gorge is the lowland where the river runs through Knaresborough. The sandstone and limestone rock was carved out by the river over 16,000 years ago. 'Nidd' is probably the Celtic word for 'hidden' or 'covered' as the river disappears underground further upstream. Knaresborough was settled very early, and it was mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book. 


Mills were built on the river to pump water to the town, create paper, and to create textiles in the industrial age.



The viaduct is the most famous symbol of the town today. It was built in the mid-1800s. The bridge constructed just before had actually collapsed into the river just before its opening. 


Further along the river are a set of stairs that ascend to the top of the gorge where the main streets of Knaresborough are located. The stairs go past Knaresborough Castle, and the views on the way up and from the castle are amazing.


After reaching the top, we had a wander through the town to browse a few shops and the Market Square. 


We also had lunch. Before visiting the town, I looked online for a few recommendations. One of the recommendations was McQueen's cafe, located on the High Street toward the station. The cafe do cooked meals and lunches with soup and sandwich, and they do pastries and coffees too. I opted for the soup and sandwich, which was really yummy. The bloke had a steak pie with mashed peas and chips. I also had a scone (which came with butter, as I assume they prefer that 'up north'), and this was also tasty.



I found Knaresborough to be a charming village, and it's packed with things to do and see.

'Lip Love' is a monthly beauty subscription bag from environmentally-conscious brand 'So Susan'. The subscription contains four or five items. July's came with four items with the theme 'I love summer days', and the front of the bag has a quotation from Henry James: "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." The products that I received are listed below. 


Creamsicle in 'Acerola' by Trifle Cosmetics: This is a bright purple-red shade of lip and cheek stain. The stain can be layered to achieve a brighter colour. I've previously tried another colour in the Creamsicle range.

Neopolitan Palette by Jelly Pong Pong: This brand's packaging is very cute, and I love the shades in this eye shadow palette (pictured below) that range from gold to bronze-brown to dark brown. All three shades are very easy to wear and can be combined to highlight the eyes.


Moisturizing Foundation by So Susan: This sun-protecting foundation is a bold move to include in a make-up subscription bag, particularly as there's no questions about skin tone when you subscribe. Luckily, the colour goes on thinly, so it's not too noticable as it isn't the correct shade for my pale skin. I use this as a base and then add my normal foundation on top.

Blush&Glow in 'Rose Rust' by So Susan: This salmon-coloured powder adds a little bit of blush to give cheeks and skin a subtle glow.

This month's bag was a little bit of hit and miss for me. What did you think? 

Spanish artist Peijac created his first installation in London a few weeks ago with "Downside Up" off of Bethnal Green Road. The artist's first solo show takes place in London at the end of this month, and these pieces give an introduction to the artist's style with using familiar objects to communicate a message. "Downside Up" features familiar shoes tied at the laces and hanging from lamp posts. Instead of the shoes hanging, they are suspended into the air by the laces.




To see more from the artist, visit his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pejac.es/

Street Art: Alaniz, Desi Civera & Gomez

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

This post features artwork that I discovered a couple of years ago in London but have not had the chance to post until now. All three artists paint a similar style of portrait in a realistic/impressionist manner. The street art features portraits, and the artists come from all over the world. Alaniz is from Germany, Desi Civera from Spain, and Gomez was born in Venezuela but lives in Italy.

Alaniz is a street artist from Germany who creates artwork in Berlin (on the wall) and has a knack for creating portraits of people in emotive states. The paintings inspire discusion and also exhibit political or social themes. Two works were painted in London.



Next up is a piece by Luis Gomez de Teran, a street artist from Venezuela who now lives in Rome. He painted a couple of walls previously off of Brick Lane, and I loved the realistic style of his work. This piece, near Ely's Yard on Brick Lane, features three women holding a chain.



Desi Civera, an artist from Spain, creates portraits that show a lot of expression of people caught in different emotions or situations. She also collaborated with artist An Wei. The below portraits feature a series of people.



Desi Civera and An Wei collaborated on the next piece, and this seems to feature females that appear as statues or trophies.


Although these photos were taken awhile ago, I'd love to see more work from these artists.

Afternoon at Knaresborough Castle

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Knaresborough Castle (located in Yorkshire and not far from Harrogate) probably started construction in 1066, and it was extended in the 1200s by King John. He used it as a hunting base when he wanted to hunt in the Forest of Knaresborough. The ruined structure seen today actually dates from the 1300s, and this was built by King Edward II. Upon his death, it went to Queen Phillipa, and she spent a lot of time here. Some of her possessions are in the museum next to the castle.


The castle is currently owned by the Queen. It was under Royalist control during the Civil War, but it had to surrender to Cromwell in the 1640s. Cromwell planned to destroy it, but it was saved because the townspeople of Knaresborough asked for it to be kept to be used as a prison. I'm glad this happened because so many castles were completely destroyed by Cromwell.

The ruins, courthouse next door (which doubles as the museum), and underground tunnels can be visited.


When entering the castle from the Market Place and High Street of Knaresborough, we were welcomed by the old gated entrance to the castle. On the ground in front of the gate are historical moments in the history of the castle, from the first fortification built around 1066 to its extension in the 1200s, to Queen Phillipa living here in the 1300s after King Edward II passed away, and to its partial destruction and surrender in the Civil War.


From the gates, the castle grounds can be walked across. It's just flat grassland now, and the two structures are the courthouse and the ruin of the castle. The ruin is called "King's Tower" and makes up only a small part of the historic castle. It was a fortified residential area. Part of this tower can be climbed to visit the garderobe, and a dungeon is below.


This arch is the remains of a room, and it is though this was a waiting area for people who wanted to visit with the king.



We had a quick visit of the tower. The dungeon area had stone balls on display, and these could have been catapulted at enemies or placed on the tower chutes to roll down to crush people. We also saw pieces of stone with carved letters on them.


The garderrobe could also be visited. Clothes would have been stored here to keep the moths away. The garderobes could be breached by sending up a small boy up the chute to open the door. The garderobes also had to be cleaned every now and then, and someone was paid to do it. 


The grounds of the castle were beautiful and planted with spring flowers. From here, a wonderful view over the River Nidd can be enjoyed.







The eastern sallyport (underground tunnels) can be visited on a guided tour for a small cost, and I believe that tours run roughly each hour. There's also a western sallyport, but these cannot be visited. The tunnels are located in the castle grounds, and a tunnel descends through the earth and exits on the outside of the walls and into the moat. We were told that the tunnels was built so that a quick escape could be made on horseback, although I am not sure if there would really have been enough room for this. The exit on the other side of the castle walls was not suspecting because this was a dirty place where the waste and rotting items would be discarded. 

In addition to quick escapes, the sallyports could also be used for men to leave in the night to attack unsuspecting enemies.


The museum located in the courthouse was well worth a visit and covered a variety of topics and showed many items on display. One exhibit was the interior of how the courthouse looked in Tudor times. This is also the oldest part of the building, and the courthouse dates to 1600s.

Information about local famous residents, such as Guy Fawkes, 'Blind Jack', and Mother Shipton, could also be read. Queen Phillipa's belongings, such as a chest, can also be seen. 


Knaresborough Castle and the museum are well worth a visit for the fascinating information and displays.

Last Easter, the bloke and I went to Harrogate, Yorkshire (England) to enjoy a long and much-needed weekend break. I was not expecting good weather because the weather is usually not good when you want it to be. However, despite this first day in Harrogate, we did have great weather. Our first day was a wet one driving up to Harrogate. When we arrived, the weather was gloomy with showers, but we did not let this put us off making the most of it. 


We stayed at Old Swan Hotel, a classic hotel with a lot of history. I'll go into more later.


Harrogate's claim to fame is that it was a fashionable Victorian town and known for its spas and sulphur springs, which were thought to heal a variety of problems. The Royal Pump Room was the strongest sulphur spring in Britain in 1626. It was built in the mid-1800s, and water was dispensed by the same lady (Queen of the Wells) until her death in 1843. Today, it is the Harrogate Museum, which opened in 1953, and the sulphur spring was still open for use then.


Thw town of Knaresborough (up the road from Harrogate) was a larger town built around a castle and river. In 1571, the well with medicinal powers was discovered at Harrogate, and the small community grew. More wells were discovered and opened. The healing powers of the wells drew people in to treat a variety of problems, such as scurvy, epilepsy, ulcers, sores, and skin conditions.

As visitors increased and the rich visited the town during Victorian times, hotels, ballrooms, and luxury shops were built.


The first well, 'The Tewit Well', was founded in 1571. Many additional wells were discovered after this across Harrogate, and there were around a dozen of these. The common wells had to be extended and more treatment rooms included on them to separate the men from the women and to cater for different illnesses. I learned a lot of important facts about these wells and the history of Harrogate in the Harrogate Museum. Below is a model of how it would have looked in the mid-1800s.


The Harrogate Museum also has an amazing Egyptian collection that is worth a visit. (Photographs are not permitted, but this was interesting.) In addition, the old sulphur well can be seen from above, and there's also a section dedicated to war heroes.


After our wander around the museum, we went to our reservation at 'Betty's Tea Rooms' in Harrogate. I previously covered my visit to Betty's Tea Rooms in a post published last year. By now, it had started to rain, so there was a queue for the cafe. I was glad that I had booked it in advance.


After the afternoon tea, we continued to have a wander around the town. We saw the statue of Cupid & Psyche. The statue was carved in the mid-1800s for the spa, but they were put into storage and forgotten about when the gardens at the spa were removed. They were only re-discovered about fifteen years ago.


The gardens of Harrogate are beautiful, but they are more beautiful in the sun.


Before calling it a day, we wandered around the Harrogate Valley Gardens. We were nearly half the way around the gardens when it started to rain harder. I still managed to photograph the gardens. I remember visiting ten years ago at Easter, and I remember the flowers being out in bloom a lot more. I was also lucky with the weather then.





The Wishing Well in the park at Harrogate was designed to look like the familair wells. This wishing well takes coins, which are donated to charity.


We saw some ducks in the stream that ran through the lower part of the gardens. Of course, it was weather for ducks.


The path around the gardens was named 'Elgar Walk' after an Edward Elgar who took regular walks here between 1912 to 1927. The walk received the name in 1989.


We headed back to the Old Swan Hotel. This infamous hotel was constructed in the 1800s for the wealthy visitors attending the spas. In the 1920s, it became famous for another reason. Crime/mystery fiction writer Agatha Christy was found here after she disappeared for eleven days after having a breakdown due to her mother's death the previous year and finding out that her husband wanted a divorce so he could marry his mistress. 


Because of the wet weather, we decided to eat at the hotel. I had the soup to start and chicken. The bloke had salom. For dessert, he had chocolate brownie and I had creme brulee.



I do hope to return to Harrogate and book time at the spa. (I tried to book it in advance, but there wasn't any availability.) The Old Swan Hotel also have themed nights and murder mystery events. I would not mind returning.

I went to Birmingham a couple of weeks ago and came across the build-your-own Birchbox beauty subscription box in Selfridges. I saw a few products that I have not tried before but that I was interested in trying, so I decided to purchase a box. The box is a little more expensive than the subscription cost per month, but you can choose your own products. We could choose two make-up items, a skincare item, a body care item, a haircare item, and a beauty treat. See what I got by reading below.


Lord & Berry Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil in 'Black': This eye pencil is easy to apply. I've previously received this product and enjoyed using it; as I had tried all but one of the other make-up items, I opted for this.

Laura Mercier lip gloss in 'Nectar': This is a peach-coloured gloss.


Philip B. light-weight deep conditioning rinse: This product promises to nourish hair by sealing split ends and adding shine. The sample received was large enough for two rinses for my hair, and it made my hair feel soft and I enjoyed the fragrance.

Eve Lom Kiss Mix: This lip balm promises to hydrate as well as plump lips so that they appear fuller. When applied, the product leaves lips feeling tingly. I do not have a similar balm that offers this, so it is a good find.


Rituals T'ai Chi foaming shower gel: I enjoy the products created by this company and enjoy some of the fragrances on offer. This fragrant shower gel goes a long way and made my skin feel softer.

When Glamour Base Travelmate sheet mask: This sheet mask promises to add nutrients to the skin. I've tried other sheet masks, and I prefer masks that do not include the sheet. I find them too fiddly, and they never lay well on my face. My skin did not feel any different after having used this product, which isn't the way with other masks.  

Last spring, I planned a trip to Yorkshire (England) with accommodation in Harrogate. (You can read about my time in Harrogate here.) In the morning of the second day, I visited Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well. This tourist attraction was first recorded in 1538, but it was known for its petrifying properties much earlier. It is the oldest recordered tourist attraction in England, and it is located in the town of Knaresborough (near Harrogate). To find out more about this Petrifying Well (and what it is) and who Mother Shipton was, keep reading below. I found my visit fascinating, and this story has started so many legends and stories that date to popular culture today.



We arrived just before the attraction opened in the morning. The main gated entrance allows cars to enter to drive through and park along the banks of the River Nidd. The patrifying well and cave is then a short walk through the woodland. The petrifying well can be seen from the river if hiring a boat on the river, but you would have to leave the boat unattended and we wanted to look around and enjoy ourselves. Also, parking is included in the fee and there's quite a lot to see in Knaresborough.


The walk through the woodland is a pleasant one. The beech trees and woodland were planted and sculptured in 1739 and dubbed 'The Long Walk'. It was planted for the visiting gentry. Along the way, there were information boards and sculptures made of wood. I saw many sculptures and faces carved into the wood, and one large fallen log was pounded full of thousands of coins. A close-up is above.


All along the walk, we followed the river and took in excellent views as we climbed the hill. On the other side of the river from here is the Old Mill. It was built in 1791 and was a cotton mill, but a paper mill was located in its place previously. In the early 1811s, it manufactured excellent-quality textiles for the royal family. It closed in 1972, and it was converted into flats.


Finally, we arrived at the top of the hill and above the Petrifying Well itself. The water from a spring on top of the hill (pictured below) has trickled down, creating pools of water on the top before it cascades into a waterfall below. According to the information boards, it has taken 6,000 years to create the petrifying well, and the formation is similar to that of a stalactite that forms in a cave. The 'Dripping Well' was its first name, and it has been famous for centuries. In 1538, it was written about by Henry VIII's staff, who would have been well aware of it and knew of the powers of the water turning items to stone.

The spring on the opposite side og the footpath runs underneath the footpath, and this is where the magic starts. The spring is from an underground lake and travels about a mile away before breaking the surface along a porous layer of rock called 'Aquifer', which contains the minerals (calcite) that are taken with it. The minerals are then deposited, creating this large mound of pools and allowing the water to trickle down into a waterfall, carrying more calcite with it.


On the other side of the mound, the hill descends and splits so that we could walk underneath the mound of rock that we saw above. We looked on in awe at the rock-face and waterfall as it cascaded down onto items that were in various stages of pertification. This, of course, happens over time. The water trickles down and deposits the minerals onto the items hanging in its path and eventually covers them in stone.


The bicycle was the first item to be noticed. I tried to identify other items hanging up too. Many of these had been here for awhile, and some were recent additions. The strands of rope with many items on them were stuffed teddy bears. These are changed regularly and left to turn to stone, and they are sold in the gift shop.

The Petrifying Well was regarded by the townspeople of Knaresborough as a magical place, and they would not go near it for fear of turning to stone. Perhaps someone noticed that items around or near the pool of water had become stone. By the 1600s, the water was examined by someone in the medical field and deemed to carry healing powers.


In 1630, the attraction was sold, and it was opened to the public as the first tourist attraction. Their items were left to be turned to stone, and some items are visible in the shop. Others have become a part of the large rock-face. In the image above, the mounds sticking out from the rock-face were traditional hats or bonnets of the time. The Victorians were obsessed with the Petrifying Well. They would also petrify dead animals. These items became sought-after curiosities.


I identified skates, a sock, a cap, a trophy, a hat, a cup, a watering can, and a lobster. I could not identify all of the items.






After visiting the petrifying well, I walked along the back where there is a small cave and a spring. This is known as the 'wishing well' and visitors make a wish. The well has been credited to making wishes come true. Mine did! The wish must be made properly and according to the instructions. Many people return to make another wish.


After staring at the items being turned to stone, we listened to commentary about Mother Shipton near her cave. In the image below, my back is to the petrifying well, and Mother Shipton's Cave is located on the left. The cave isn't much except a shelter, and it contained a dummy Mother Shipton. Mother Shipton was born in the cave in 1488, and she was named Ursula. The mother had the baby out of wedlock and would never tell anyone who the baby's father was, so she was kicked out of Knaresborough and lived in the cave with her baby and drank from the waters here.

When Ursula aged, she became regarded as a legend and a powerful witch. She is said to have forseen the Great Fire of London in 1666 (as it was recorded in Samuel Pepy's diaries). Many of her prophecies are deemed to have come true, and there's a prophecy that the world will end if the bridge into Knaresborough falls in. (There's actually a pub on the other side of the river called "The World's End" based on this prophecy.)

Mother Shipton was regarded to be hideously ugly, even as a baby. The traditional 'witch' appearance with the pointed chin pointing upward and crooked nose almost meeting her chin actually started with her. 


After looking at the cave, I walked down this beech-lined walk to the museum.


Unforunately, some of the beautiful beech trees had been damaged. This one became a wooden angel.


The museum is at the end of the walk. The museum had examples of petrified items and also had sections on local history, including one on Guy Fawkes who lived near Knaresborough. The petrified items on display in the cases were interesting to note as many had famous connections, and others were very old. Below is a parasol dating from the 1890s and made with beautiful lace.



In the case above, the different types of rock around the petrifying well are included. The item near the foreground is a twig that had turned to stone without human help, and people a long time ago would have come across items such as this or a dead animal.


Queen Mary's shoe is pictured above with other items. Also on display in one of the cabinets were items by modern-day celebrities and the souvinir bears. One exhibit shows the bear at different lengths of petrification. After three to five months (depending on the water flow), the bears were totally petrified. This means the waters carry so many minerals.

Have you visited Mother Shipton's Cave or the Petrifying Well? If not, I recommend it.

That Was An Interesting Month...

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

June was an interesting month and a month that I am actually glad to see the end of now. June was a celebration of my birthday and the Queen's official birthday on the same weekend; this meant that it was super busy. I've felt exhausted a lot of the month and it's as if I have not had the chance to catch up and take a break. Many have also been focused on the European Cup (football). In addition, we learned that a week ago, the United Kingdom (as a whole) voted to leave the European Union. This started a spiral effect of negativity, which I have witnessed first hand on the day of the results and in the aftermath. It shows a nation divided, and this is not good. 


I don't care how people voted because we're all in this together. I think that some things needed to change, but the country still is in Europe and has to play a part due to its geography. What I did not like was hearing people being accused of being 'racist' or 'uneducated' due to the way that they voted and labelling everyone who voted a particular way with a word and lack of research or understanding of what they voted for. I know many people were undecided because of all of the political propaganda surrounding the issue, and many people I know (who voted for either 'remain' or 'leave') did their research. They are not uneducated, ignorant, irrational, nor racist people. As you may know, I do not have a lot of time as I keep a busy life, so I only associate with certain people and do not have time for people who are intolerant nor uneducated. (And 'uneducated' does not mean a degree or a lot of education; it simply means that someone is interested in the world around them and knows how to make decisions.)

I also don't agree with 'punishing' certain countries in the European Union. Germany gets too much bad press based on its history, and the people claiming that 'Germany needs to pay' is absolutely wrong. These people need to read up on their history. In fact, crippling Germany with so many sanctions after World War I was one reason why people were fooled by a charismatic leader who offset this blame and went on to start another war. I suggest these people read up on why World War I began, too. For what it's worth, I think that (as a nation), the Germans do work hard and they are efficient. I've heard both 'leave' and 'remain' sides blaming Germany. Boo.

I think less of the people who got worked up and started to brandish around harsh terms for everyone who voted a particular way. Last Friday, I lost respect for some people who were brandishing about these labels in a negative and unproductive way. It was unprofessional. In my view, what I witnessed was equivelant to the bullies that have come out to verbally or physically attack other people over the course of the week (or even prior to this political shambles). I don't think that anyone should be bullied for their views (within reason), their religion, their gender, their appearance, or for any other reason. Every person is different, and that is what makes this world unique. 

I am very sad to hear about the horrible stories where some people have been bullied and told to "go back home" and singled out. This is unacceptable. Everyone who entered the country legally has a right to be here. Many of the people born in this country actually came from other countries and their ancestors came from other countries. In fact, some of these ancestors would have forced their way here. Perhaps everyone should complete a DNA test to realise how diverse they actually are.

What has happened has happened, so we (as a nation) need to show leadership and unity. Even if roughly half of us do not agree with the decision. What is done is done. 

Now, I am going to blame the politicians. These events just prove to me even more that the politicans are weak and really do not know what they are doing and really are out of touch with the people. I have not seen much leadership happening, and the prime minster seems incapable or unwilling. The British political arena is a shambles. Surely this country must have people who are able to bring the country together under leadership and sort out this mess. That is what they are being paid to do. One needs to step up and work in the interest of the United Kingdom and its role in Europe (and as a separate identity). So far, it's been a cringe-worthy laughing-stock of unprofessional and priveleged people who don't want to or seem incapable of leading. This is really what is hurting the image of the country.

I hope that everyone can stick together and be friends. I hope the bullying stops. I hope the politicians sort themselves out. Right now, we need a true leader. I don't know who it will be, but so far I've not been impressed with the politicians, and they have a lot to answer for. Remember that we're in this together. The politicians are the ones with the money and the power. Do we really even have a vote, or was it already decided? Right now, we need to stand strong.


Recent Comments

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