November 2016 Archives

Artista and Atomik Street Art

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Street artist Artista (previously covered in my post here) has spent a lot of time painting various murals across London this year. Most of her street art murals feature her toast character. She has also collaborated with street artist Atomik at the beginning of the year. Earlier this year, she had an on-going theme on Blackall Street where she kept replacing the wall with a new toast mural, photographed below. I did not get to see every example because some did not last long, but I did manage to capture quite a few. Sometimes, getting a photograph of these was hard or impossible. The scaffolding was moved right up to the wall, making it impossible to stand back far enough to get a photograph. Another time, people were using the mural on the wall for a photography shoot. I hung around for awhile, but there was no indication that they would be leaving at any time soon.

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I also managed to see the famous toast on a bin.

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Also on Blackall Street, the artist painted her lightbulb character with the flowers. These are all common themes.

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I also managed to capture her work on Great Eastern Street and off Brick Lane.

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Off Brick Lane, Artista collaborated with street artist Atomik. Atomik is an artist from Florida who started in the 1980s and always paints her orange character, which is painted all over the world. The style is quite similar to Artista's own style.

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I also managed to capture one of Artista's work, with Anatomix in Nomad Community Gardens, off Brick Lane, which was a collaboration completed as part of a paint jam.

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The below one has been around awhile and is a collaboration with Saki & B_tches. I had never covered it, though.

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Dale Grimshaw's realistic murals of people can often be found in London. The newest addition to the street art scene are portraits on the Village Underground wall in Shoreditch. The portraits are set against a red background, and they appear to be keeping in with the same style of support for Papau New Guinea's citizens. Earlier in the year, Dale Grimshaw collaborated on a fantastic and eye-catching mural with Mark Hat on a high-profile wall off Brick Lane. The mural supported freedom of the citizens. Although he's not said it in any of his posts with the finished piece, Dale Grimshaw's newest mural does appear to be of the same style. Photographs of it can be seen below.

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Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar 2016

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The Liberty department store's beauty advent calendar is one of the best value-for-money beauty advent calendars available. I purchased one this year, and instead of waiting until December to open the windows, I decided to be a little unconventional and open them throughout the month of November. December is always a busy month, and this year has not been the kindest, so I needed a little pick-me-up! Also, Thanksgiving is on November 24 this year, so it can be a countdown to the holidays. So, if you don't want to spoil the surprise, do NOT read on.

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As in previous years, the advent calendar comes in a large box with small numbered drawers that can be opened to reveal the day's gift. Read below to see what I received on each day.

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Day 1: Aveda hand relief moisturiser: Peppermint and rosemary help to wake the senses and heal tired hands. Aveda's products use a blend of natural plant ingredients in their beauty products. The cold, dry weather at this time of the year dries out my skin, so moisturiser is always a bonus.

Day 2: Aurelia refine and polish miracle balm: This balm brings life back to dull skin and also helps to keep it looking fresh and moisturised. It is moisturised into the skin with a little bit of water and then left for a few minutes before cleaning off. The brand Aurelia use bio-organic ingredients to prevent anti-aging products.

Day 3: Bobbi Brown pot rouge in 'Powder Pink': This full-sized blusher is a dark pink-salmon colour that would work with most skin tones. It is an award-winning product that can be applied on the go and comes in a case with a mirror.

Day 4: Kiehl's Amino Acid Shampoo: New York brand Kiehl's is a popular skincare brand. Their shampoo has a light coconut smell and uses ingredients to protect hair while cleaning it. This product felt like it cleaned my hair without being too aggressive.

Day 5: JINsoon nail polish in 'Coquette': Jin Soon Choi has gained much popularity with nail products, and these polishes are free from harsh chemicals. The colour received is a safe bright red colour that has been named 'Coquette'. It dries quickly and wears well.

Day 6: Laura Mercier hydrating primer: This primer is used as a base before foundation is applied and helps to create an even foundation coverage. This product is a well-loved one, and Laura Mercier is a brand that focuses on skincare. 

Day 7: C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve balm: This rose-scented balm comes in a tube that is easy to apply to lips, elbows, hands, or anywhere else where skin is dry. The product has a rose fragrance. C.O. Bigelow is a New York-based company that use herbal healing products.

Day 8: Malin+Goetz Vitamin E face moisturiser: This facial moisturiser is a popular product in skincare, and it's one I've used before. It nourishes skin without leaving a residue.

Day 9: Davines Oi All in One Milk: This product is designed to be applied to hair after it has been towel-dried. It helps to moisturise and add shine. Davines is a cult New York brand that use natural ingredients.

Day 10: Marvis toothpaste (in mint and liquorish flavours): I received two small tubes of toothpaste in different flavours. The toothpaste has a refreshing smell and is not too hard on teeth.

Day 11: Byredo Bal d-Afrique hand cream: Byredo create fragrances and skincare products. This hand cream is lightly fragranced and moisturises skin. It's another hand cream product in time for the drier winter months.

Day 12: NARS Mini Laguna Bronzer: The advent calendars came with this bronzer or a lip gloss. I don't often use bronzers, but this appears to be a standard one. NARS is a make-up company that pride themselves in using bright and wearable colours.

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Day 13: Blink Brow Night Balm: This product helps condition the brow and protect it during the day.

Day 14: Eve Lom Cleanser and Cloth: This cleanser for skin also acts like a make-up remover and leaves skin feeling soft. It comes with a cloth that can be rinsed with warm water and left on the face to open up pores. 

Day 15: ODeJo perfume: I received a generous bottle of this fragrance, which was inspired by stylist Jo Levin. The perfume is considered a cult classic and marketed as a summer scent. I actually dislike the scent as it reminds me of a certain summer insect that has a bad smell when I was growing up in the country. Every time I smell the perfume, it smells bad to me.

Day 16: Trish McEvoy Lip Colour in Pink Nude: This full-sized lip stick is a very wearable colour and has a nice consistency. I also found the colour to last.

Day 17: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant: I've previously tried this product. It comes in a powder form, and mixed with a little bit of water, it becomes a nice paste that can be applied to the skin to take off the dirt and exfoliate the skin. My skin felt cleaner after use.

Day 18: Votary Facial Oil: This product is made from seed extract to help nourish skin, and it has anti-aging properties. It is fragrance-free and suits all skin types.

Day 19: Skin Laundry Gentle Foaming Face Wash: This facial wash is suitable for problem skin and is a gentle cleanser. The company are known for working with problem skin and creating products for it.

Day 20: Kai Body Lotion: I've previously used this body lotion. It is also lightly-fragranced and a cult favourite. I'm generally not too keen on body lotions, however.

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Day 21: Dr Sebegh Serum Repair: This is a product that I have used before, and it's an award-winning product that helps to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Day 22: Surratt Blush: This is another cult beauty product in the form of a blusher. It is a wearable colour, and I can always do with more blusher. The brand pride themselves in creating bold but wearable colours.

Day 23: ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy: This mask helps maintain a hydrated, youthful appearance and conditions the skin. This brand are known for skin-care and anti-aging products.

Day 24: Le Labo Santal 33 perfume: There were two choices of perfume, and I received the Santal 33, which reminds me of pine trees and is a scent for Christmas. The scent is also long-lasting, and I found wearing it enjoyable.

Day 25: Diptyque Mini Candle: I've previously received this brand's candles, which leave the room with a light fragrance. I also like the design of the branding and its simplicity. The scent is fig (figuier).

After work, I went to the Queen of Hoxton rooftop bar with ex-colleagues. The rooftop bar at Queen of Hoxton has now been transformed into Viking village Skye Halla, complete with a Viking tent with shields and furs. The drinks are also all Viking-themed with names like "Blood of Loki" and "Thor's Courage". Outside of the tent were two fires with seats to sit around, and marshmallows were on sale to roast in the fire.

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I ordered the "Blood of Loki" and "Freya's Nettle Love Exilir" cocktails. The first one is made of whiskey, port, and lemon. The second is made with elderflower liquer, lemon, stinging nettle gin and honey. Both were a bit too strong and not really fruity enough for my taste.

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Have you been to Skye Halla on the rooftop of Queen of Hoxton?

Thanksgiving at The Jones Family Project

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Thanksgiving was yesterday. The last few years, I've taken Thanksgiving Day off in order to have lunch at home or to go out to a restaurant. This year, I just started a new role and the bloke has also been busy at work, so we decided to work on Thanksgiving Day this year and have a meal at a restaurant in the evening. I was actually planning to go to another restaurant this year, but the one in mind never replied to my request for information on Twitter nor Facebook. Instead, I found myself at The Jones Family Project in Shoreditch to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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The Thanksgiving Day menu could be paired with drinks, but the wine to have with the main meal was a red, and I'm not a fan of red wine. Instead, we ordered the most expensive half-bottle of white wine, and I'm sorry to report that it was a disappointment as it tasted flat, and we didn't like the taste of it. I was expecting it to be really nice because it was so expensive.

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However, we did opt to go for the special pre-starter drink, a cocktail named 'Wild Turkey Gobbler'. It is a strong-tasting cocktail and a good one if you like the taste of whiskey. This cocktail is made with Wild Turkey 81 bourbon, lemon, pumpkin button, and bitters. It was served with a dried apple slice and fresh mint on top.

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I will note that the bloke did not like the Thanksgiving Day menu option. There was not a selection of substitutions, so he ordered bread to start, and steak for his main. Sides of triple-cooked chips and roasted broccoli and sprouts with a sesame seed and soy dressing were also ordered, and he had a selection of sorbets for dessert. I forgot to photograph his meals.

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To start, I had the chestnut, crispy kale and cream soup. This was served with a slice of white and brown baguette. This wasn't my favourite as I found the soup too bland without much flavour, and I had expected it to taste more like chestnut. The kale was good, and it was tender and did go well with the soup, but the soup was not good on its own.

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The Thanksgiving main was turkey escalope. It was stuffed with walnuts, cranberries, apricots and cheddar and wrapped in bacon. The turkey and stuffing tasted delicious. I typically do not have cranberry or stuffing, but this was very tender/juicy and mashed finely to fit inside the turkey meat. The turkey was served with brown butter mash, sprouts, broccoli, and gravy. This was delicious and the best meal I've had in awhile.

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Finally, we come to desserts. It would not be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. The pie came in a small tart-shaped item with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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It was not the type of pumpkin pie that I am used to as it had pecans on top, contained a lot of crust, and the pumpkin was more of a puree instead of a mixture with cinnamon. Regardless, it tasted amazing. The crust was flaky and had a nice flavour that complemented the pumpkin and ice cream. The pecans were also slightly carmelised.

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Despite the wine, I will consider this Thanksgiving day meal a success. Since I enjoyed the food, I do want to return to try other items on the menu. I don't work too far from this restaurant, so it is possible to visit it one day for lunch.

The Jones Family Project is located at the northern end of Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. It is located about a five-minute walk from Old Street station and a 15-minute walk from Liverpool Street station. It is located at 78 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JL. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit their website at https://jonesfamilyproject.co.uk

This year, I booked my Christmas party in for something a little different from the traditional afternoon tea that I have had the past couple of years. I had previously posted about having a meal at the Coy Carp in Harefield, near Uxbridge. (Uxbridge is outside central London on the Metropolitan line in Middlesex.) I'd been back a couple of times and picked up their Christmas season and festive menu during a previous visit and booked the festive meal for Sunday lunch time. I booked a taxi there (and back) so that we could drink. We were looked after well, and the staff gave us a Christmas card as we were the first festive meal booking that they had this year.

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I'd ordered the most expensive champagne on the festive menu, the Mercier Brut. It was a good champagne.

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Of course, the festive menu came with all the trimmings. This included a Christmas cracker each. We laughed at the bad jokes, and I received a bookmark, which will come in useful unlike most of what you get from crackers. The bloke received a card magic trick, which is something that I could care less about really.

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We had an option of four different starters, including mushrooms with chestnuts, pork and fig terrine and prawn and lobster cocktail. We both had the spiced roast carrot soup to start, and this came with two slices of bread and a generous helping of butter. It was very delicious. 

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After the soup, we had the roast. Slow-cooked beef rib, nut roast, or sirloin steak with a surcharge were the other three options that we could have. We both opted for the hard-carved turkey. It was served with roast potatoes, bacon-wrapped stuffing, sprouts, carrots, and parsnips. Gravy was served in a jug on the side. The meal was very good, and I managed to finish all of it.

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Next up - desserts! Christmas pudding, winter-spiced plum crumble, and a cheese board (with a surcharge) were three of the options that we could have. However, the bloke opted for the chocolate and orange torte. This was served with cream. I had a bit of this, and it was tasty. I'm just not a big fan of mixing chocolate with orange. The torte came on a crispy cookie base and the texture of the rest of it was very creamy but not too rich.

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I had the orange-scented crème brûlée, and this came with a mint and orange side and butter biscuits. This was delicious, and the butter biscuits tasted especially delicious.  

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The Christmas trees and other decorations were on display and made the pub feel very Christmassy, even though it is a bit early in the season. 

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The Coy Carp is part of the Vintage Inns group. The website is: http://www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/london/thecoycarpharefielduxbridge

Street Art: Dreph

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Last week, I happened to see street artist Neequay Dreph finishing his latest mural off Brick Lane. The artist has recently painted several murals around east London, which I've photographed below. The artist lives in London, but he was born in Nottingham and studied illustration. His work is a blend of 1980s comic books and photorealism, which he has coined "Afrorealism". He has painted all over the world.

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The newest mural features a well-dressed man with a beard wearing a hat, and it is located on Fashion Street. The artist posted the man's story on his Instagram account. In short, the well-dressed man is called Bunny Bread, and he was a west London grafitti writer known as "State of Art" who worked with the Non Stop art crew in the 1980s and painted Trellick Towers, which was respected by the community and lasted a long time. In the 1990s, Bunny was also involved and influential in musical movements (along the lines of jazz, hip hop, and soul). Those who wish to read and see more photographs are encouraged to visit the artist's Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/dreph_/

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On Commercial Road (around the corner from the above piece) is another man (TRoy) silhouette against a bright light. The background colour is eye-catching.

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In Star Yard (Brick Lane) and on Shoreditch High Street, the subject of the murals are both females on brightly-coloured backgrounds. The first is Carleen de Sozer, who is a street artist. She painted the mural to the left of her portrait. The second is a lady known simply as Mel. 

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Another excellent mural, which is also probably my favourite of these, is located on Hackney Road. It is of Benji Reid, an artist and performer.

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For more information on Dreph and to see more of his work, please visit his official website at https://neequayedreph.carbonmade.com

Also see more of my posts about Dreph:

New Street Art Portraits by Dreph

Bault Paints on Hanbury Street

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French street artist Bault visited London last month and painted one of the popular walls on Hanbury Street off of Brick Lane. Bault's work consists of illustrated characters or creatures. His work on Brick Lane features a pair of human-like characters with multiple body parts (limbs, eyes, mouths) with a crocodile-like creature. The artist had visited London during an exhibition of his work at Unit 5 Gallery, which was out until earlier this month.

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He has been painting the streets since 1997, and his work is colourful. He has studied illustration and graphic design to build on his imaginative style.

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For more information about the artist, see his official Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/bault.bault/

Italian-based street art installation duo Urban Solid have come back to London after a couple of years to paste up their newest work on the streets. I originally covered their last work for their last visit in this post. They returned old favourites "audio survelliance zone" casts to the street to bring up the topic of survelliance. These are brightly painted in neon paint. The heads inside the television sets (with the remote controls in their mouths) also returned to provide thought-provoking issues related to media and free-thinking. They also brought some new and refreshing work in the form of two humanlike casts pasted up on a popular spot on Brick Lane. These are nearly life-size and feature a man and a woman with clothes painted on and touristy/hipster outfits.

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Another features video game graphic art, and the last new piece features a face created from different body parts. 

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Unfortunately, a lot of their work seems to have been damaged in transit but is still recognisable. 

In June, I posted an update which was a bit of a rambling about social and political concerns. Earlier this month, we had the American election, and all of the feelings that I had at the end of June were re-surfaced. I think that generally, some people have been a bit miserable for most of this year and have taken out their unhappiness on other people. Again, I saw people being cruel and disrespectful to each other. That brings me to another point about people being mean, which I'll discuss later on in this post. I also have some good news to share, which basically means that I'll be able to keep more of an eye on the street art scene in Shoreditch.

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The contract that I started in January (read a little about it here) this year has come to an end now. The first part of this year was going so well, and I really enjoyed the work that I was doing. I even considered going permanent because I was really enjoying the type of work and the colleagues. I did notice a large turnover in staff, but I always keep my head down and just get on with work. I was the initial developer on the project so set it up and then moved onto the related product which were sales tools to help customers choose their new product. I loved building this framework, and it was a very busy contract. Not a week went by that I did not do at least one day of overtime. Most of that was unpaid as I enjoyed it, but we were asked to do overtime to complete a very tight deadline. I was doing nine-day weeks on average for a couple of months at least. I also did not take any holiday days; I have not had any for two years now.

Overtime was also easy to fall into because I had to use my personal laptop, and I installed software on my phone so 'work' was never far away. I got into the habit of seeing messages pop up from other colleagues and replying at non-working hours. I was even woken up early on a Sunday morning by a colleague asking me a question, and I logged on to help him. It was easy to fall into the trap of not being able to switch off from work.

As the year progressed, people who lacked the skills and needed a lot of guidance or who did not have the same strong work ethic were put onto the team. This meant that I ended up taking more on so the team could succeed. In the middle of the year, others were brought on board, and the culture changed again, but it was not for the best. I witnessed people being disrespectful and generally banding together against others and behaving unprofessionally. (Funnily enough, I later found out that others felt the same or had a very similar experience there.) Anyway, my point is that people have been so mean to each other this year, and it's really depressing. 

Based on what I have witnessed this year, my "thought for the year" is this:
Think of how far WE would come if gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc were ignored and everyone loved each other. I've said it before and I'm saying it again. Respect.

The focus on work was why I have not really been updating my blog as much (or with interesting content, in my view or I could just be feeling that I've let myself down in my social/personal life as I've had none this year) and why I've felt so exhausted this year. 

However, leaving aside the people being cruel to each other...I do have some good news. I'm working back on Brick Lane again, so to readers of my blog, that means I am able to see new street art and keep updated on the street art movement. I've already seen a lot of new pieces being placed. I've also really enjoyed seeing great people that I used to work with in the past month and catching up with them as well as meeting new people.

Please be kind to others. I know that people are stressed and the situations this year have not been perfect, but I think it's of a much wider concern that has taken awhile to manifest in community. I'll leave with a quote by Maya Angelou:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Snowdogs by the Sea - Brighton

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Brighton and Hove are currently hosting 'Snowdogs of the Sea' charity sculpture trail to raise funds for Martlet's Hospice. The snowdog sculptures are inspired by the animated short "The Snowman™ and The Snowdog", which is a popular winter and holiday film featuring a little boy who builds a magical snowman and snowdog. Each one of the 45 sculptures on the trail has been painted or crafted by an artist. Newcastle and Tyne have hosted a similar set sculptures for their trail 'Snowdogs of the Great North', which I covered here. The snowdog charity trail runs until 27 November, and the sculptures will be auctioned next month.

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Patch the Unfinished Quilt - Judith Berrill

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Gizmo - anonymous

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Frank - Jane Anderson

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Newshound - Heidi Compton

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Snowman's Nightmare - Pure Evil

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Roodle - Isy Langhome

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Merry Go-Hound - Sean Sims

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Winter Lilly - Sarah Jane Richards

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Splashhound - Lawrence Art Supplies

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Process Pup - Josh for (The Osh)

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Bella - Chris Dawson

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Pebbles - Joanna Martin

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Disco Dog - Natalie Guy

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Seagulls of the South - Kathleen Smith

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Snowman and Snowdog sand sculpture

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Bone China - Gemma Compton

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Dave the Dog - Totally Dynamic 

I had so much fun tracking down these snowdogs! Unfortunately, I did not manage to see all of them because quite a few are spread out and not easy to get to by car. I did see most of them, and there are a few duplicates from the pack in the northern trail. The dogs will be on the trail until the 27th of this month. For more information about them and the trail, please view the official website at http://www.snowdogsbythesea.co.uk

Fanakapan Paints "Drunk Glass Elephants"

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Fanakapan has been painting street art in London for quite a while now, and his style has evolved over time from colourful candy creatures to colourful balloons to foil balloons and chrome items. I originally covered the artist's work in my post Street Art: Fanakapan. Past work includes a chrome headphones and mask, a collaboration with Louis Masai with balloon sharks, a chrome frog, foil balloon shapes collaboration with Cranio, more balloons, and balloon elephants. The artist has been recently experimenting with painting glass animals. The new work appears on Pedley Street off of Brick Lane and features, according to the artist's Instagram account, drunken glass elephants. 

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The elephants are pictured with green-blue marbles, wine glasses, and bottles. The piece was inspired by a video of elephants in the wild who eat fermented fruit and get drunk off of it.

Bonfire Night 2016 at Ruislip Rugby Grounds

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I watched the fireworks at Ruislip Rugby Club this November 5. The last time I went to a display was in 2014 when I saw Basingstoke's display. The Ruislip Rugby Club does not have a bonfire but did have a good display of fireworks, and it was very popular and extremely busy. Food and drink was available to purchase, but the queues were too long for us to wait. Luckily, we shared a cone of chips from the fish and chip shop at Ruislip Gardens while we walked down to the Rugby Club. Others had the same idea. The weather has turned very cold over the last week.

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I have not noticed as many personal fireworks this year like I did last year. I think that perhaps the cold weather meant that fewer people were having personal displays or keeping their personal displays to a minimum.

Twining's Tea Museum & Shop, The Strand

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At the end of October, I visited the Twining's Tea Museum and Shop, which is located on the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. Thomas Twining started out at the age of 31 in 1706 with one coffee shop, which became well-known and used by the likes of architect Christopher Wren. By 1708, he had two establishments. This location on the Strand was Twining's flagship shop since the early 1700s.

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Buildings were known by landmarks or imagery instead of addresses, so Twining had a golden lion painted above the door. It became known as Golden Lyon tea and coffee house in 1717. The shop was actually larger than it is currently because business was booming and the coffee and tea was sold by weight; the other part of the shop is now a pub next door.

Against all odds, his business was profitable in uncertain times of the UK (riots, heavy taxes, wars, etc), and he ran it for 35 years before he passed away.

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The front of the shop contains teas that can be purchased. There are loose leaf and bags of tea, and some of the tea is limited edition and comes in collectible tins. More expensive tea can also be purchased here. Some of these can be smelled before making the purchase.

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At the back of the shop is the museum and tea tasting bar. The museum held tea-related items and vintage tins, tea pots, pictures/illutrations, and china. Also on display were wooden boxes where the tea could be stored.

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The tea bar at the back of the shop offers tea tastings. Visitors can have a taste before purchasing their favourite tea. Four pots of tea had been brewed for visitors, but visitors could also ask for any flavour of tea stored on the shelving on the back walls. When I arrived at the tea bar, one visitor (a tourist) had just asked for a cup of the Queen's 90th Birthday tea, which is a limited edition blend. The Twinings staff worker put the little crown on her head when making this special tea. (She and all of the staff were also dressed up for Halloween.)

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Russian Caravan, a green tea Long Jing, and another black tea were brewed and were on offer to visitors. I had a sample of them.

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Twinings Tea Museum and Shop are located at 216 The Strand and is open from 9:30am to 7:00pm weekdays and from 10:00am to 5:00 on Saturdays and 11:00 to 6:00 on Sundays.

Street Art by Kai Aspire

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American street artist Kai Aspire pasted up some street art across London. I found some of his work in Shoreditch, but King's Cross and the South Bank were additional locations where he pasted his work. Kai's artwork contains social themes of imagery, such as consumerism and technology. He creates his work in spray paint and crates plaster sculptures and framed imagery. Most of his work across London was the framed images. The below photographs are the artworks that I found around Shoreditch.

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The above image depicts peace with a man holding a flower and standing in front of a tank.

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Consumerism is an important theme with one person being bombarded with advertisements and another reaching out from a bar code to pluck a flower.

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Technology also features with a person trapped inside a mobile phone. The words "save urself" are printed on the phone.

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In the above image, the bag of money holds the person down from being carried away by a heart balloon. Money ties and weighs us down, keeping us from what we love and freedom.

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The above image features a business-person running in a hamster wheel. This depicts working hard and never getting ahead and never having enough time.

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I love the above image as it is a simple image that features two friends sharing a pile of books.  

Thierry Noir Paints New Murals in London

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Earlier this year, I discovered three new murals from the popular German artist who is attributed to becoming the first street artist for his paintings on the Berlin Wall, Thierry Noir. (I've covered his previous work here.) Both of the new murals are located in Shoreditch. One is a large mural that features the artist's colourful characters with a guitar. Normally, the artist paints just the faces/heads of his characters, so this one is a little bit different in that it shows the full body with another item (a guitar). The mural can be found just off Shoreditch High Street.

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The second mural is located at Old Street and depicts a large purple-pink head in the signature and colourful style. 

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The third is on Brick Lane and features another one of the portraits in a light blue colour.

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Thierry Noir's long-running exhibition at the Howard Griffin Gallery continues until the end of this year. 

In 1666, London was devestated by the Great Fire of London. This year marks 350 years since the event, so the city has hosted a range of walks, art installations, illuminations on St. Paul's Cathedral, a wooden replica of old London burned on the Thames, a fire garden, and other fire-related events across the city. In addition to these events, the Museum of London has a special exhibition on the Great Fire, dubbed Fire! Fire! I popped along at the end of last month in order to see it.

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Fire! Fire! has a range of exhibits for all ages, and some of these are geared more to younger visitors. The first mention of the fire was through predictions drawn by William Lilly in 1651. The drawings included a burning city and depictions of twins hanging under flames (Lilly was an astrologer and claimed that the star sign for the city is Gemini).

This room also showed how London's buildings used to look with upper stories leaning outward and over the streets.

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Tax record for Farrinor and an example of an oven

Next up was a depiction of the bakery of Thomas Farrinor on Pudding Lane where the fire started. In this room were images of bread and Thomas Farrinor's signature in a tax record. In those days, people were taxed on the number of fireplaces they had; they had to pay the king 2 shillings per each fireplace. Thomas Farrinor has five plus the oven. An smaller example of an oven similar to the one in the bakery was on display.

Another display featured an example of the Gazette newspaper, which published a morning paper about the fire. By later in the day, the newspaper office had burnt down. Letters written to others about the fire were on display, and these were recorded so that we could listen to them. 

The most interesting of the exhibition werre the items that claimed to have come form the fire (been saved) or replicas of items that were discussed in documents. Some of these were passed down in families. The items saved included books, expensive items, and wooden tally sticks that kept track of debts that others owed them.

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A trunk used to carry items; this would have been heavy and many people would have paid people to carry it for them

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This unfinished embroidery was saved from the fire; many girls from wealthy families made these, but it is not known why it was never finished

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This was an expensive item in the day and was similar to a piano; a writer described seeing one in four boats on the river carrying this item to safety during the fire

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This pair of curtains for a poster bed was saved

Another group of items showed tiles, bricks, and glass that had been melted and warped by the flames. Microscopes allowed visitors to look through to see what the ashes looked like close-up.

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Another area showed items from the original medieval St. Paul's Cathedral. St. Paul's Cathedral was undergoing building work at the time and had scaffolding around it, which probably helped it to catch fire and burn. 

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This lion's head probably came from a newly-added porch

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The charred remains of a tomb; I forget whose it was, but a book had a photograph of the whole tomb and wall settings

Other tombs in the cathedral had been burnt or had been opened by the fire to reveal the bodies of the dead. One of them was a Bishop of London, and his body was mummified and other Londoners flocked to see it. Another one had broken open during the fire, and the coffin was discovered. The body was close to 150 years old and the coffin contained liquid; the men who discovered the coffin tasted the liquid (why would you even do that?) and poked the body with a stick. 

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A description of the open tombs

The next part of the exhibition explained what types of equipment were used for fighting the fire. Even the King joined in and also paid people to assist in the fire fighting. The equipment for fire-fighting tended to be owned by the area church and shared in that community. Leather buckets were stored for throwing water; squirters were metal 'pumps' that could be used to squirt water onto the fire. Long poles with hooks on the end were used to tear down the buildings to prevent the fire from jumping from one building to the other. Dynamite was also used to demolish buildings to control the spread of the fire.

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The burning London skyline is interactive with a squirter and other fire-fighting equipment and costumes that children could try on

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This leather bucket was discovered in the cellar of a demolished building; it has the initials of one of the churches on it

There were also stories of how a bunch of children saved a good portion of one of the churches from being completely demolished.

The next area discussed the aftermath of the fire and the measurements put into place to prevent another fire. These included setting up a body to help with fires in the future and providing the necessary equipment. The below is a fire tank, and the wooden wheels and handles had been recently added because they were missing. One person would stand on each end and lift the handles back and forth to pump the water; it is an early example of what a fire engine can do.

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Early water pump

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Fire fighter helmet

Before this time, insurance also did not exist. That means that so many people lost everything and were displaced; this rebuilding and loss would have gone on for more than one generation and some of these people left London and never returned. After the Great Fire, firms were set up to deal with insurance. 

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The below marks can be seen on buildings in London; these are insurance marks

Another section in this room discussed who was accused of starting the fire. The fire was blamed on foreigners who were trying to weaken London to start a war. A local man man tried to claim responsibility. A young boy tried to claim responsibility for throwing flames into houses with his uncle. The different religious groups blamed each other. The religious groups also blamed London's gluttony and published sermons to bring the city back from sin. The foreign countries had their own theories, and some suggested it was punishment due to England wanting war with others.

This room also contained some items found in the fire, including a hoard of broken glass bottles from a glass shop. These were discovered in the cellar and had beautiful designs and colours. Another shop had a lot of broken crockery. Also scattered amongst the remains were loads of locks and keys. The fire was so hot that the locks had fused together, bubbled up, and rusted. Each of these locks/keys was on display with an X-ray image.

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Delicate glassware discovered in a cellar

The last room on the tour was dedicated to re-building the City. There were many alternative plans, such as using a grid layout with right angles or creating large avenues and focal points to mimic the stylish French cities. These alternative plans for re-mapping the city of London were not used because they would take too long. In the end, London used the old layout of the City and street names. 

Different bodies of government were set up to protect tenants who were being cheated out of rent or being expected to pay even though the building had burnt down. Rent outside the burned area of London also increased, and those who lost everything had a hard time.

The final section showed Wren's plans for St. Paul's Cathedral, including one example that he had for the famous dome. It wasn't the finished design for the dome, but it looks similar.

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Drawings of dome

Fire! Fire! is on at the Museum of London until April 17, 2017.

Bread Ahead, Seven Dials

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Bread Ahead is a London-based bakery created by Matthew Jones and Justin Gellatly (a former head baker at St. John Bakery). The duo use British ingredients in their baked goods and also have a range of cooking classes, focused on baking bread. It all started in 2013 with a stall at Borough Market and supplying their goods to restaurants and cafes. A couple of weeks ago in the middle of October, they have expanded and created a shop on Monmouth Street at Seven Dials. Sweet and savoury items are sold here.

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I popped into Bread Ahead in Seven Dials at the end of October. 

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Samples of brownies were being served up, and I had a taste. They are very good. In addition, they had the doughnuts. The doughnuts are one of the items that they are famous for, and I don't think I'd ever had one.

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Chocolate, salted caramel, blueberry, vanilla, and doughnuts withoutf filling were on offer. I opted for the vanilla one. It was filled with cream (which did make it a bit messy to eat), but it had just the right ratio of cream to dough.

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If you have not been to Bread Ahead, you must try their Instagram-worthly doughnuts.

Bread Ahead
1a Monmouth Street
WC2H 9DA
Hours: 7:30am - 8:00pm

This spring, street artists Amara por Dios and Flesh031 painted a mural on Chocco Matte in Soho. The project took eight days to finish and is named 'Urban Jungle'. It is a green mural with winding vines, tree trunks, and ferns. Amara por Dios is a Swedish street artist who has been living in London since 2013; she is inspired by South American Inca patterns and art. (I've covered previous work on the Village Underground and for International Women's Day here.) God's Flesh Flesh031 paint in a more traditional grafitti style.

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This mural is in a popular location in Soho and is quite eye-catching.

Lush Holiday 2016

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I recently paid Lush a visit to see their holiday (Halloween, Bonfire Night, autumn, and Christmas) offerings, and it looks as though they have pulled out all the stops this year and brought back some original favourites, new products, and well-loved favourites with a twist. I will be covering their Halloween/autumn/Bonfire Night products and then taking a look at their Christmas products. 

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For Halloween/autumn/Bonfire Night, we had a mixture of old favourites and new products. 

Autumn Leaf: This is a new product. This bath bomb is shaped like a leaf and coloured green, orange and yellow. The scent is grass-like and fresh and a beautiful colour is created with spirals of colour when placed in the bath. I bought one of these as I really loved the fresh scent. 

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Fireside soap: This is a new product this year, and I loved the spicy scent of it so much that I had to buy a small bar. The soap has the appearance of a single flame - layered with red, orange and yellow. Clove and vanilla are the primary fragrances.

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Lord of Misrule: This bath bomb made an appearance last year and has a spicy and herbal smell. When it is placed in the water, the popping candy crackles and it turns the water a green-pink colour. 

Goth Fairy shimmer bar: This soothing melt adds a slight shimmer to skin. 

Monster's Ball: I think this was a new product for this year's Halloween collection. This bath bomb is made using a blend of lime and neroli oil as well as other scents. The bath bomb looks like a little monster with tiny pointed ears and a single 'eye'. It creates a bath of pink and blue colours.

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Magic Wand soap: This is a new product this year, and I thought that the soap had a slightly minty scent.

Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar: The sparkly orange pumpkin bubble bar is back. I covered this last year.

Pumpkin bath bomb: This year, Lush have released a bath bomb shaped like a pumpkin (jack o' lantern). The pumpkin has a slight spicy smell with pumpkin scent. I had to buy one because I love pumpkin.

Boo Bath melt: This bath melt is a new product this year. These cute little meringue-like ghosts help sooth skin and smell beautiful - sweet but with a slightly spicy/crisp autumn scent.

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Now, I'll cover the Christmas range.

The Father Christmas bath bomb, Golden Wonder bath bomb, Christmas penguin bubble bar, Baked Alaska soap, Luxury Lux Pud bath bomb, and the Magic of Christmas bubble bar stick were some items in the shop that I recognised from previous years. I will be covering mainly new items or items that I had not noticed before.

Santa's Postbox soap: This soap is shaped like a postbox. It has a refreshing and pleasant scent, and I had to buy a bar of it. 

Shooting Stars soap: This new soap has a refreshing lemon scent. 

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Snowcastle soap: This year, my favourite Snow Cake soap scent has been transformed into a snow castle. I was told by the shop assistant that Snow Cake has been improved. It smells the same with the almond scent, but it makes skin feel cleaner and softer.

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So White bath bomb: This is my favourite bath bomb scent, and this year has been updated to have a stronger crisp apple scent, and it also has a small green leaf design added to it.

Shoot for the Stars bath bomb: This bath bomb is blue with shimmery gold stars. The bath bomb has a citrus scent.

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Snowie Bath Bomb: This David Bowie-inspired bath bomb has a citrus fragrance. The white bar has the iconic red and blue bolt on it.

Mistletoe bath bomb: This is a new product, and I loved the colour and design of the bath bomb, but the scent really put me off for some reason. It is meant to have a floral scent, but I could not really detect that. 

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Igloo soap: Igloo soap is multiple bars of brightly-coloured and frosted soaps that have been arranged in the shape of an igloo (as snow bricks). The bars actually remind me of Turkish Delight candies or hard candies with the powdered sugar coating. The soap smells like lemon.

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Santasaurus bubble bar: This new product is a bubble bar is shaped like a dinosaur with a Santa hat.

Reindeer soap bars: Last year's Christmas soap was reindeer soap. This year, the rainbow soap is being sold in bar form. The bars remind me of river rocks with primitive etched reindeer designs on them.

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Do you have any favourites this year in Lush's autumn and Christmas range? I have bought a few, and I am hoping that the new Snowcastle lives up to Snow Cake.

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