September 2016 Archives

A Visit to Bolingbroke Castle

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Bolingbroke Castle is an important historical castle and was the birthplace of Henry IV and was taken over by Parliament during the Civil War. The castle itself was surrounded by a moat and contained large towers and a gatehouse. It was white-washed, and traces of this limewash can still be seen on the stones on the outer wall. Bolingbroke Castle was made out of weak stone, however, and considered to be in a bad state in the early 1300s. (The lime may have been used to try to protect it.) Part of the wall collapsed in the mid-1500s.


The castle was built in the early 1200s and then owned by John of Gaunt, father to Henry IV. The castle was never used as a royal residence after Henry IV became king, but it was under Royalist control. The Battle of Winceby took place a couple of miles north of the castle, and the Parliament forces won and ruined the castle. A lot of the stone was later taken from it.



Part of the grassy mound that encased the castle remains was unearthed in the mid-1900s and escavated. The Great Hall and kitchens were buried again to preserve them.



Have you been to Bolingbroke Castle?

Newark was one city in England that I had never visited before this September. The main reason of the visit was to see Newark Castle, which is located in the centre of the city. Newark is a city in Nottinghamshire that has a rich history and was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, and there's a trail and museum dedicated to it in the city. While visiting the castle, we decided to walk into the centre of Newark to see what the town had to offer. I was already impressed with a few old buildings near the castle. The market square was sign-posted, so we followed these signs into the centre to take a look and to find brunch.



The side streets from the castle opened up into the main market square, which contained covered tents. The stalls were not very busy, and many of them were empty on the Saturday morning when we visited. We found a couple of vans selling cooked food in the square, and I had a cheese and onion toastie from one of them while the bloke has a bacon roll from another.



The market square also contains a water pump with an emblem of the city's coat of arms. Bear and bull-baiting also took place in the square until it was outlawed in the 1830s.



Many of the buildings in and near the square were very old. I wish we could have stayed a little bit longer for tea in the timber-framed building below, which appeared to be a popular tearoom.


The city also has an art gallery and small museum off the square, and these can be visited for free. There's also a few niche shops and the chain stores, but the city is quite a small one and can be visited with lunch in a couple of hours. (To visit the museums, do plan a little longer.) Have you ever been to Newark? What did you like the best?

A Visit to Newark Castle

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Newark was one town in England that I had not yet visited, but as we were staying the night in Rutland, we decided to drive a little further in order to visit it. Newark Castle was on my list of places to see, and we found parking across the road and paid the castle a visit. Although it looks imposing from the river, there's not much left of the castle after it was destroyed in the Civil War. The castle was free to visit.


The city of Newark suffered a lot in the Civil War as troops loyal to the king were stationed here at the castle and at private houses (thus increasing the size of the town), and the town only surrendered after the king did first. The town does have a museum and a Civil War walk.

The castle gardens were landscaped in Victorian times and opened in 1889. Additional landscaping was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Right inside the gardens is a model of present-day Newark, which was created in 2005.


Newark Castle was built in 1130 by a powerful bishop Alexander the Magnificient, but the site was the location for a timber and earth castle and was also used by the pre-historic, Romans, and Saxons. King John died at the castle in 1216 (possibly due to being poisoned), and early in October marks 800 years since he died.


As Newark was a strong loyalist centre, the castle became a stronghold. After the surrender, the castle buildings were destroyed and left to ruin. The stones were eventually stolen, and there's not much left of the castle itself except for the areas that are a little harder to reach. Damage by cannon fire can be seen on the river-side of the castle.


The main wall of the castle is against the river banks. On the side of this wall (in the picture above), timber-framed buildings were constructed which formed the Great Hall and Bishop's Hall. These contained the large windows to let a lot of light in, and the large windows looked over the river.



Tours of the upper rooms of the castle tower and the dungeon are possible, but these only happen on select days and times. Unfortunately, my visit was outside of those times.


I also had a wander across the river to get some photographs of the imposing-looking structure.


Have you ever visited Newark Castle?

'Lip Love' by So Susan is a monthly beauty subscription bag. The subscription contains four make-up items and comes in a useful make-up bag. The theme for September is 'I love autumn', and the front of the bag has an illustration of cats and a quotation from Albert Camus: "Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower." The products that I received are listed below.


Mesmer-Eyes waterproof liquid eyeliner: This long-lasting liquid eyeliner promises to survive rainy and sweltering days. I don't currently own a product like this, so it's a welcome addition to my make-up stash.

Lip butter by Jelly Pong Pong in 'Hot Air Balloons': This pale shade of lipstick comes in a cute pink tube that is decorated with hot air balloons. I have recently received a couple of similar shades, and unfortunately it looks too pale on me.


Cheek Rethink blush duo by So Susan: This blush contains shea butter and leaves a subtle glow which also promises to give a glow that lasts most of the day.

Sweet Strobe by Trifle Cosmetics: This illuminator helps to define and illuminate areas where its used.

What did you think of this month's beauty subscription bag by So Susan? I liked the products but was not keen on the lipstick. This should also be my last bag in the subscription now. I have a lot of lipstick, blushes, and eye shadows to get through, so I will be focusing on using them up.

A Visit to KERB Street Food Market in Camden

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One beautiful and hot day toward the end of August, I left work in the afternoon to have a wander around London's newest street food markets, KERB market in Camden. KERB is chain of street food market vendors who currently sell at King's Cross and Paddington. Their newest venture opened in the middle of August at Camden, located by the canal and on the edge of the Stables market in the same space where there were previous street food vendors. KERB promise 35 street vendor stalls trading daily in Camden, and there are some real gems in the street food line-up.


When I visited, the market was busy, and this was a weekday and during time when many people would have still been at work. (I remember visiting this area on a Saturday at the end of last year, and it was too busy to even walk around.) In terms of street food, options are endless: pizza, Mexican, Asian/Indian/Oriental, middle eastern, vegan sweets, ice cream, lemonade, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, vegetarian, grilled cheese, game, salads, American/South American, steak, seafood, burgers, and more.


My first stop was to Blu Top. Blu Top sell ice cream, and ice cream wedged between cookies (an ice cream sandwich) is one of their offerings. I was lucky to get the last ice cream sandwich of the day. The milk used in the ice cream is produced from Jersey cattle in Ireland. The cookie was very good and went well with the ice cream.




Next up, Oli Baba's and their famous halloumi fries. I love fried halloumi. They were light and tasty and served with Yogurt, pomegranate seeds, mint, sumac, and chilli. I'm not a fan of yogurt, so I opted for the pomegranate seeds, chili, and mint, and the combinations with the hammoumi worked perfectly. These were so delicious that I am craving these again after writing about them.


Afterwards, I went to get a drink at Soda Bar, owned by Square Root. They are a Hackney-based vendor who create soft drinks. I had the raspberry lemonade, and this was delicious. Again, I am craving one of these right now.



Finally, the last stop was to The Mac Factory. They are famous for their different flavours of NYC-style macaroni and cheese (an American staple food) topped with parmesan, sourdough and thyme crumble. I had the original 'nastalgic' cheese edition, which was described as a blend of three different cheeses. This was good but very filling as the containers are large.


Visit KERB, and I guarantee that you will not go hungry as there is something for everyone here. I hope to visit again soon in order to try out additional street food, so watch this space.

The official website for KERB street food market in Camden can be visited here: 

Zabou's 'Cabinet of Curiosity' Street Art

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French street artist Zabou has been painting regularly in London for the past couple of years, and I have published a couple of posts with her work here and here. Her newest piece is titled 'Cabinet of Curiosity', which is located on Goulston Street (Petticoat Lane). This replaced a previous mural by the artist that featured Jack the Ripper. This new piece features a Sherlock Holmes-esque character with a magnifying glass.



In addition to the piece above, I managed to capture more work by the artist over the past few months.



The below is a self portrait of the artist with colourful splashed of spray paint and a mask.




I always enjoy seeing new work by Zabou as it's often clever, eye-catching, and some of her work is also funny. 

Street Art: St8ment

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St8ment is a paste-up street artist who has been on the London scene for awhile. In fact, the images below are from a few years ago. Like many street artists and paste-up artists, the information about him (or her) is not available. I do know that it appears that he/she has taken a variety of photographs of random people on holiday and pasted them around various places in London. They appear to be lost figments going about their own business in their own countries/cities and have been transported to the middle of London.


More work can be found on the artist's website at

Earlier this month, the bloke and I went to see "Charlier & the Chocolate Factory" at the theatre. Before our visit, we went to the Chesterfield Mayfair to try their "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed" afternoon tea. I still had my golden envelope from my Christmas visit last year that I wanted to use, and I was impressed with the afternoon tea on that visit; their afternoon tea is award-winning. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" are going to be going to New York next summer, but it has been shown in London for a little while now.


We were shown our seats, which was located in the main indoor part of Butlers restaurant inside the hotel. (Last time, I was in the conservatory of Butlers, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays.) The afternoon tea was accompanied with live piano music and ranged from classics to more modern rock music. 


We received a welcome drink, which was a combination of popping candy and a sweet fruit juice. It came in a cute bottle, and I loved the taste of this. I was then able to open my golden envelope to reveal the prize - two glasses of champagne.



We selected our choice of teas first. I selected the "Willy Wonka Tea", which is a blend of black teas and cocoa to provide a sweet aftertaste. The bloke ordered one of the flowering teas. The flower bud was placed into a clear teapot with hot water poured inside. We could watch as the tea was infused from the flower.



The "Charlie and the Chesterfield" afternoon tea includes the following sandwiches: honey roast ham with mustard and tomato chutney, roast chicken with mustard and almond, smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg mayonnaise.


These were then followed by a selection of scones; we received two chocolate scones and two fruit scones. Clotted cream and strawberry jam were included with the scones. They tasted fresh and were crumbly. I find scones to be filling, and the scones served are in smaller sizes. (Visitors can ask for more scones.)


The pastries included the following: blueberry macaroon, bubblegum eclair, fruity tart, Oompa Loompa cupcake, Fizzy lifting cake, white chocolate golden egg with mango, and a crispy Wonka chocolate bar. I really liked the chocolate bar and the fruity tart. The bubblegum eclair was different. White chocolate lovers will love the golden egg filled with a mango sauce.


At the end, we could pick a large ever-lasting gobstopper from a Willy-Wonka hat and two new golden envelopes that could reveal a prize. We were also told to take some of the sweets away by the exit, and we were given a few items to take away as we were in a little bit of a rush to go to the theatre.

Turning up at the theatre last-minute was great for getting a great bargain to see a show. We had top seats for just under half of the price if we had booked in advance. The seats at the Theatre Royal (Drury Lane) are not as staggered as other theatres in the stalls, so smaller viewers may struggle to see. The set design was amazing and done cleverly in some places.

Adnate Street Art in London

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Adnate is a street artist from Australia who is inspired by works of Renaissance painters and who started out as a grafitti artist in order to create artwork using spray paint as his medium of choice. His paintings often use bright colours and feature portraits. He recently painted a couple of murals in London, which I have photographed below. His work is stunning and realistic, catching the eye of visitors who pass by it. The first work is painted on Sclater Street, and the other piece is near Bethnal Green.




The artist had also previously been to London and left behind additional artwork, which does not exist any longer.


Street artist Hannah Adamszek often paints in London, and I've captured some of her work in the Leake Street tunnels, Whitecross Street, Camden, in Shoreditch and off Brick Lane. Her most recent contribution to the streets of London is on Great Eastern Street where she painted one of her colourful female portraits with flowers and wildlife in conjunction with street artist Saroj.


Hannah paints female portraits and focuses on the beauty, and she's also been known to paint wildlife, such as the fox below. Saroj's work features the illustrated and coloured flowers, insects and birds. Both artistic styles are very complimentary.





Capturing the whole piece was awkward and impossible due to the construction and road work going on in front of it and a couple of guys who were employed to make sure people do not get too close to the work, but I managed to get a large part of the wall.

Mr. Cenz Paints Hanbury Street

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Mr. Cenz is one street / grafitti artist who has been painting the streets for a long time. He started painting in the late 1980s and is a regular of the London street art scene with many of his pieces around Brick Lane, Shoreditch and further afield. His work mainly features female subjects with bright colours, and they are often painted with a grafitti style. More of his recent work can be seen in my post here


Recently, one of the high profile walls on Hanbury Street became a canvas for the artist with a purple and blue female face and arm. I'm happy to see this new piece on the wall as it has not had the best artwork in the recent months.


New Jana & JS Street Art

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Jana & JS are a duo of street artists from France and Austria who feature themselves as subjects in the artwork that they paint in different cities. The last time that they were in London, if my memory is correct, was in the summer of 2013 when they painted a large-scale piece and some smaller pieces in Shoreditch. You can see their work in my previous post Street Art: Jana & JS.


The duo had returned to London for an exhibition and left three new artworks, which I was able to track down along Brick Lane. 



I enjoy seeing work by these artists as they are unexpected little treasures with clever placement in the locations that they are painted in. At the time of writing this, the piece directly above has been painted over.

Big Smoke Street Art

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The weekend before last, I took a walk from Bethnal Green down Hackney Road and came across a few new street art pieces. A street art collaboration has recently gone up in Ion Square off of Hackney Road. The work is by Pref and Gary, both of whom use typography in their street art. Pref often creates phrases in limited space by using different shapes and colours that are then overlayed on top of each other. This recent large-scale piece is a collaboration between the artists and reads "Big Smoke". The word "Smoke" is in grey lettering and in the back and over the top of the orange and gold "BIG".



It was nice to see this unexpected artwork on this wall, which had been neglected for awhile but which did previously contain some street art.

Earlier this summer, street artists Louis Masai and Birdo collaborated on a large-scale mural of birds near Bethnal Green tube station. Louis Masai has painted quite a lot in London (where he lives), and he's recently collaborated with artists such as Fanakapan during 'Meeting of the Styles'. His work showcases animals and environmental causes, and he was one of the masterminds of the Endangered13 Paint Jam, which I covered in detail near the beginning of the year and raised awareness of endangered animals. One of the styles that he has used often is the quiltwork pattern with bright colours, but he also creates more realistic depictions of animals. He painted the bird heads and the bird on the left.


Birdo, also known as Jerry Rugg, is a Canadian street artist; he was in town in July to paint at Bristol's annual street art festival Upfest. He painted another piece off Brick Lane, which was a collaboration with Fanakapan and Horror Crew. He painted the body of the bird on the right, using the bright colours with geometric shapes.



This is a beautiful collaboartion of two complimentary styles.

Street Art: White Canvas Project Artwork

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There are four canvases on Great Eastern Street, across from the Village Underground, and these change regularly to feature a new work of art approximately every week. This is part of the White Canvas Project. Over this year, I have been eagerly awaiting to see what will come next. I've included a taster below of some past pieces.


This panels above are single panels taken earlier this year, which I combined together to see the variety of artistic styles painted here. The White Canvas Project changes into a new masterpiece approximately each week. In the photograph above, we have Italian artist Hunto. The other panels are (in order), Krio, Zadok, and Riot.
One of the most interesting was the artwork by Animaux Circus. They painted a proposal early this spring: "AG, I love you so much. Will you marry me?". A few days after this was painted, an answer was revealed on the side of the wall that read "She said YES". 
Animaux Circus use colour, illustration, and typography in their artwork. More examples of Animaux Circus can be found on their Facebook page here:

Animaux Circus

Hughs Odgers


Another inspiring project that appeared early this spring was "I am grateful", which combined the use of Twitter (#IAMGRATEFUL), visitor interaction, and art. The four panels were transformed into a large 'whiteboard', and markers were provided for those passing by to leave a message about what they were thankful for. Photographs are below.


Advertising also plays a part of the work that is painted here. I have seen food products advertised on these walls, albums, and films advertised here. In addition to street art and advertisements, grafitti taggers also paint on the wall. You can see more artwork with these themes below. In particular, I think that combining street art with advertising is unique. I have seen several examples of this being done in east London. I wonder if it does influence sales.




Vova Zomb, Himbad, MyneandYours, Ant Carver

Unfortunately, it's more difficult for me to see what is painted on these walls now as they change so often and I am not working in the area anymore. There's been some stunning pieces over the past year that I have seen photographs of but have not been able to photograph. 

London's annual festival dedicated to the river Thames (Totally Thames) always brings art and culture to the city, and each year is an installation piece placed in or on the river. In the past, there has been statues that submerge when the tide is high and an inflatible hippo. This year, one of South Korea's most prestigious artists, Ik-Joong Kang, has created the installation 'Floating Dreams'. 


'Floating Dreams' is an illuminated lantern made using over 500 drawings, and it symbolises those who were displaced during the Korean War and hopes for peace and reunification for North and South Korea. The drawings and writings were created from the people who lived through the Korean War and who were asked to draw and remember their hometowns and those places and people that were lost.


A little boy in a yellow jacket stands on the top of the illuminated cube, turning and shining a torch/flashlight into the night as if searching for something. His school bag is located at the base of the cube.



'Floating Dreams' by Ik-Joong Kang is on display next to Millennium Bridge until the end of the month. It is illuminated at dusk each night.

Quite a few walks, presentations, exhibits and art installations have taken place at the weekend and in the run-up to last week to commemorate 350 years since London burned in 1666. I've got quite a busy schedule at the moment and have not been able to see all of the exhibits that I wanted to see, but I did do a few. This post covers the art installations that were shown for the Great Fire 350 event held.


Fire Garden at Tate Modern: The French company Compagnie Carabosse are known for their art installation featuring fire and metal structures. I've seen them before, and they were in the grounds of Tate Modern on the South Bank for four nights.

Martin Firrell St. Paul's Cathedral Flames: Flames are projected onto the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral for four nights. This is the work of Mark Firrell. The original St. Paul's was destroyed in the fire before Christopher Wren built the new one we have today, which luckily survived other fires and World War II.


Of All The People in the World: I was unable to see this, but grains of rice were weighed out to represent the number of statistics in the world, such as how many people perished in an event or how large a poplation is. The artistic group behind this installation is known as Stan's Cafe. This was held at Inner Temple.

Dominoes: I've already covered this but was gutted that I was unable to go. This art installation featured trails of brick dominoes set up across the City of London, which toppled. It shows the effect of the fire. The group behind it is Station House Opera.


Holoscenes: Created by Los Angeles-based 'Early Morning Opera', this installation features the conflict that we have with water in today's world. It shows the performers put into a cube of water to complete day-to-day tasks, which require adapting to the water.

Quite a few exhibits and events are being held this weekend and in the run up to this weekend to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which burnt most of the city. One of these took place on Saturday evening. The art installation featured lined-up blocks across the city of London which were toppled. The group Station House Opera organised the event, which came to a finale near St. Paul's Cathedral involving piled-up blocks and fire. This art installation was created to mimic how the fire spread throughout London 350 years ago.


Unfortunately, I had to work on Saturday and was not able to go to see the event as I had originally planned, but it looks like it was quite popular. I followed some of the photographs and videos on Twitter, which featured some of the dominoes actually going inside of pubs and churches. I really wish that I could have seen it in person.

A 17th century replica of London's skyline was designed by US artist David Best with help of young people in the communities around the City of London who are not in education, training, or employment. The sculpture of the buildings in made of wood and features the iconic churches, such as the original St. Paul's Cathedral. The wooden London skyline art sculpture was put onto a barge on the Thames between Blackfriar's and Waterloo bridges. (It is actually close to Blackfriar's bridge.)


Earlier tonight at 8:30, the sculpture was set alight to burn like the London skyline did in 1666. Because of limited space, the burning was broadcast live. (I actually turned up at 4:00 to see people who already had their spaces at the front, although queueing was expected to happen from about 6:00, but there was still space with good views at the front at this time.) Below are some photographs of the sculpture earlier this evening before it was burned.




This weekend marks the anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which happened 350 years ago. As a result, several events are taking place as well as art installations and walks. On Thursday, I went to Fire Garden in front of Tate Modern, and at the beginning of the week, I went on a Great Fire walking tour. Most of the events are happening this weekend. One of them is the projection of flames onto the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. This was created by artist Martin Firrell.


The medieval cathedral of St. Paul's actually burned to the ground in 1666, along with the majority of old London and its timber-framed houses. A new cathedral rose from the ashes, created by Christopher Wren. This new cathedral is what we have today. Below are some of the photographs that I took of the illuminated flames on St. Paul's Cathedral.







The flames projected onto St. Paul's Cathedral will happen each evening at dusk until the end of the day on Sunday. 

This weekend marks 350 years since the great fire burned through the City of London. As a result of this anniversary, London is hosting events this weekend including an artistic fire projected onto St. Paul's dome, a burning street on the Thames, toppling dominoes across the city, and a fire garden at Tate Modern on South Bank. Fire Garden is the work of French arts group Compagnie Carabosse, and it is an art exhibition made using fire and metal sculpture. I previously visited one of their Fire Garden installations at Milton Keynes during 2012 and again a large-scale fire garden at Battersea Power Station a couple of years ago. The installations are truely one of a kind.


The fire garden was held in the grounds in front of Tate Modern on the South Bank with views over St. Paul's Cathedral, which was lit up with flames projected on the dome later on in the evening.


We arrived a little early and watched the fires being lit and waited until the dusk and darkess fell before we received the full effect of the flickering lights and the smell of fire. The white shirts were used as lanterns above.


The above contraption was new, and it consisted of several pipes with flames emitting at different angles, water, and steam. 



The human-like robotic kinetic sculptures were also back and casting amazing shadows onto the walls of the Tate. A couple of new ones were present, acting like trapeze artists and cycling back and forth on a highwire with flames underneath.


The giant orbs burn slowly, creating unique shapes and colours in the coals inside.


The above contraption was one that I've seen at the other events. It is manned with someone turning a wheel to adjust the heat and pressure of the flame. Every now and again, the flame soars into the air with an almightly burst.


The long pipes with symbols are harder to photograph, but I managed to capture a decent photograph of the fire garden.




In addition to the different firey sculptures, music was also played to the crowds. The music set the theme of the fire garden. Beer and BBQ food could also be purchased, and the event is free. It is open from 20:00-11:00 each night until (and including) Sunday. It is well worth a visit. I visited it on Thursday, and the crowds were not too great, but it may get busier when word gets out.


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