December 2016 Archives

Goodbye 2016! Hello 2017

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I had such high hopes for 2016. I really did. At the end of it, I feel a bitter disappointment for the year that could have been and that nearly was a great year. It was very nearly the best year in a while. Let's go back to the beginning. The year 2016 started with uncertainty from the previous year as my contract came to an end. Soon after New Year's Day, the pieces started to fall together so well. I received my next role quickly and loved it as it allowed me to use a mixture of my skills to create an awesome application; I was working with some really good people too. Unfortunately, the uncontrollable Fates started to sprinkle their farts (which I will call the nasty people, politicians, etc.) around from the middle of the year. In the end, 2016 really turned out to be a stinker. It started out with a lost purpose, but that quickly turned into an awesome party, and that ended in a bad hangover with too many difficult people (though I'd like to call them something else) leaving a big stink and spoiling the great that there was. The end of the year saw some positivity and fresher air, but it was too little too late to redeem itself.  


I will cut to the chase now and and review the year.

January: On New Year's Day, the bloke and I went on The Seven Noses of Soho on New Year's Day walk. It was a Christmas gift for me and something that I had been wanting to do for a few years. Unfortunately, not many of the pubs were open for business as in previous years, but I imagine that there will be for next year's tour to drink away the year. We saw the noses and had a good walk around; it's a good tour. We also had a bit of bad news at the beginning of the year in that singer David Bowie died; I went to Brixton for the first time and saw the street art mural by JimmyC a few days after it happened.

Seven Noses of Soho

This month also brought two light shows to London: Lumiere London 2016 and Winter Lights @ Canary Wharf. I was lucky to go to both during the time that I had off before starting my new role. Both light shows were amazing and contained interactive and creative pieces. Lumiere London 2016 was held over four evenings, drew huge crowds, and contained some fantastic pieces; that cold January evening will remain in my mind for a long while.

Lumiere London

Last, but not least, I started my new role in the middle of the month and was able to use a mixture of skills to create an awesome application. I was the first developer on it, so I built the groundwork and first application, which was refined and built upon over the months. On the skills side, it was exactly what I wanted to be doing, and I liked my initial colleagues. The location was perfect for me as well as it was not too far from where I live.

February: February was a busy month. I still did not get to see the parade for Chinese New Year in London, but I did get to go to one of London's best restaurants, Yauatcha, to eat dinner and to celebrate the 'Year of the Monkey'. This was one of the best meals I've had this year, and I loved the cute 'Year of the Monkey'-themed macaroons.

Yauatcha macaroons

During Chinese New Year, I also caught up with two good friends, one of which is Chinese, to continue the celebrations by visiting the Magical Lantern Festival @ Chiswick House. The Chinese lanterns were in the shapes of animals, cultural scenes/myths and symbols, dragons, pagodas, and the Zodiac. We had such a good evening seeing the illuminations; the only downside is that part of the trail had been blocked off due to "safety" reasons because of a storm a few days prior to our visit. Half the way through, we drank delicious hot chocolates to keep warm and loved wandering around the trail taking photographs and enjoying each others' company. 

Magic Lantern Festival at Chiswick House

Valentine's Day was a pretty big one this year as I was lucky enough to have booked tickets for Valentine's Day in the 'Harry Potter' Great Hall @ Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Dinner was held in Hogwarts' Great Hall, and then we were given a couple of hours to explore the studio to see some of the newer exhibits that were not there when we visited a few years ago. We enjoyed drinks and Butterbeer while wandering around. Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday this year, so we had our 'Harry Potter' dining experience booked the day before because we did not want to be out late on Sunday as we had work the next day.

Dining in the Great Hall - 'Harry Potter'

On Valentine's Day itself, I surprised the bloke with tickets for a trip on London's Cable Car, also known as (Emirates Air Line). I pre-booked the Valentine's Day experience, and this included a glass of Prosecco and a small box of chocolates that we shared during our round-trip. My camera battery died just as we were about to board the cable car (I did have a spare but no time to change it), so getting decent photographs ended up proving to be troublesome while holding onto a glass of fizz and using my mobile phone. The trip itself was very quick; I wish they had slowed it down more, but the crowds were long for those who had not booked.

London's Cable Car Valentine's Day

March: One of the most memorable and important days for me this year happened to me in early March. After living in the UK for over twelve years, I finally received my British citizenship. I started the citizenship process last September as I had some interest in working in Europe. Early March was the date of the ceremony, which I had to attend in Basingstoke, Hampshire. I had to attend there because the process had started when I was living in Basingstoke, even though we had informed them that I was moving.

British citizenship in Hampshire

On the weekend, a couple of days after the citizenship ceremony, I met up with a small group of friends. We met up for a Sunday roast at the Waterwitch Pub in Odiham (near Basingstoke in Hampshire), and after that, some of us went on a walk along the canal to Odiham Castle. This was the first proper spring day, and we had a lovely walk along the canal chatting with friends and seeing the ruins of this castle.

Odiham Castle

April: April marked 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, and quite a few events were put on to celebrate the life of the bard. In March, I went to Shakespeare Son et Lumiere projections onto the Guildhall. Later in the month, I went to Antic Disposition's "Henry V" play, which was held at Middle Temple. However, the main event held over the anniversary weekend in April was Shakespeare's 'The Complete Walk' in London. This event consisted of a trail of more nearly 40 videos set up with 10-15 minute segments of different plays recorded by a range of actors and celebrities. The screens were arranged in a trail along the South Bank, starting from St. Thomas' Hospital and ending at City Hall by Tower Bridge. I completed the trail in a day, but the weather was freezing with intermittent rain.

Shakespeare's The Complete Walk

The month was also a big one in terms of street art with the paint jam Endangered13 at Mile End to raise awareness for endangered species. I visited on both days over the weekend to catch up on the progress: Endangered13 Day 1 and Endangered13 Day 2

Vintage car at Spitalfields, London

May: In May, we got to explore a local attraction for the first time since moving. We went to Ruislip Lido and Ruislip Lido Railway for its annual open day. This was the first sweltering day of the year, and this brought the crowds out to the lido. We took the train and wandered around the lake before having Sunday lunch and going home to do some work on the house. We just had the windows replaced, and we needed to do some work while the scaffolding was up.

Ruislip Lido

In May, I also crossed something off my London bucket list: the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I have been wanting to visit for a few years, but never really got around to doing it until this year. We visited it on its last day and had an early start in order to avoid the crowds. I loved the displays, but I wish we could have looked at the seller exhibits for longer to get ideas for our garden. The next day, we had the Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea @ The Dorchester, which was sadly booked up at the event itself. A couple of memorable displays were the 'LG Smart Garden' (pictured below) and the red poppies in front of the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

Chelsea Flower Show

June: This was the month that things felt like they had started to go downhill. The weather was not great this month, and I was feeling tired after the past couple of months as I had been working very hard. I loved what I was doing at work as I was able to use a mixture of my skills, but things changed when some difficult/challenging people joined, and I had to put in more work because they were inexperienced/junior and some did not have a great work ethic. It is amazing how adding the wrong people to a project and not managing it (I did highlight to management the issues because it was making me and others unhappy) can really screw up morale. I loved the team before, and I even considered going permanent there only just weeks before. The situation would continue to get worse because management did not take action.

At the beginning of the month of June, I found myself spending a weekend in Birmingham. The bloke had an event to go to that weekend, so I decided to explore the city while he was at his event. Less than a week before, I had some work done on one of my teeth, but the dentist could not finish it properly as they did not have the correct equipment and gave me a temporary filling. The temporary filling came out within a week, and this exposed the nerve. I was in agony for the majority of the day in Birmingham. The bloke finished his event earlier than he expected and did not have to go back to the event on Sunday, so instead of spending our second day in Birmingham, we returned home. I was in a lot of pain and just could not find the energy to sight-see. On the first day, I also ended up fixing issues, answering questions, and helping colleagues at work on my laptop at the hotel instead of enjoying my time and having a weekend 'free' from work for once.

Birmingham canal

June is also my birthday month, so I had "Hello Kitty" Afternoon Tea at Cutter & Squidge. However, the experience was a nightmare, and that is putting it politely. The service was poor as they got the order wrong three times and forgot about us. The food was not as great as I had expected it should be; a couple of the items were good, but the rest were uninspiring. This is a shame as I've previously enjoyed my visit to this cafe. On top of that, the problems and lack of service meant that we only just received our food and had to rush it into our stomachs. Afternoon tea sittings are in two hour slots, and we only received our order half an hour before our slot was up. We had to rush because I'd booked my next reservation to factor in this slot and travel time, so we had no time to spare. 

'Hello Kitty' Afternoon Tea at Cutter & Squidge

The next reservation was to play the courses at the Brick Lane pop-up mini-golf, Junkyard Golf. There are three courses made out of bits salvaged from junkyards, and we played all three. The place was virtually empty, so we had it to ourselves. While it was fun, I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Half the way home, I realised that we left the leftovers from the afternoon tea at the golf course, and I had to go back to collect it. What a trying day!

Junkyard Golf

Because my birthday day did not go well, I suggested that we go out the day after. We visited Ludgershall CastleOld Sarum (Wiltshire, England), and Christchurch Castle & Norman House. This was a better day.

Ludgershall Castle

On the same weekend, London was celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday. This is her state birthday as her official birthday is actually in April. I went to central London on the Sunday to see what was going on for the Queen's birthday. The weather was still not great, but I still had a long wander around London to see how people were celebrating and to get photographs to document the event. I also had the special Queen's 90th-themed afternoon tea at St. Ermin's. This special afternoon tea should have been held in the garden, but the weather was wet. 

Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday

At the end of the month, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a move known as "Brexit". I covered this in my post here: That Was An Interesting Month.... June was not a nice month, and this event brought out the worst in people. People at work were cruel, and I saw/heard about others being disrespectful and intolerant. The cruelty happened on both sides. My opinion about some people changed because of how they were responding and their lack of professionalism, particularly as they made a point of not bringing up certain subjects in the past, which I found hypocritical. I dislike conflict and just wish that everyone would get along. Educated discussions are absolutely fine, and I love a good debate, but what I was witnessing was disrespect, intolerance, and unprofessionalism.

July: Leaving June behind now, the month of July (and the next two months) brought a lot of overtime and hard work; I spent a lot of my own time at work or working more than the hours that I was contracted to do. The amount of overtime after July actually got even more silly, and as a key developer, I was working 9-day weeks on average in order to complete the project in the tight deadline. (And yes, we would make the deadline due to our hard work.)

Work aside, the later part of July brought a few events that are worthy of a mention. The first was 'Star Wars' Celebration 2016, which was held in London this year. Readers may remember that I am a big 'Star Wars' fan. This event was very popular and crowded. I did not get to see everything that I wanted to; however, the most memorable and most unexpected was seeing Mark Hamill. It was the closing time for the event, and he had finished his day signing autographs and started to talk to a small crowd, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Mark Hamill at 'Star Wars' Celebration 2016

After a very wet summer, July finally brought the summer weather. We went to have lunch with friends at The Fisherman's Rest and had a walk around Titchfield Abbey, which was shut during a previous visit due to storm damage. We walked around the abbey to get photographs, and one of our friends ended up parking his classic car in front of it so that we could get some good photographs. Afterwards, we headed to the garden centre next door, and I ended up buying a couple of large plants that required a bit of effort in order to fit into my MINI.

Titchfield Abbey

Toward the end of the month, it was time to see the play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child". I was fortunate enough to book my tickets in October last year, and these were for the final practice shows before 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' officially opened to the public. The bloke and I saw both parts of the play on the same day, and this took up the whole day. We were both really impressed with the story and production of the play and recommend it.

'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

On the last weekend of the month, the bloke and I spent the day in Lincoln. Some of the poppies that were on display at the Tower of London in 2014 to commemorate the soldiers who died in the Great War were now on display at Lincoln Castle (Poppies at Lincoln Castle). We did not spend long here, but I thought that Lincoln was an attractive historical city. The only problem was that I wasn't able to fully enjoy it because I kept thinking of all the work that I had to do, which also meant that we could not stay long.


August: At the beginning of the month of August, I decided to take one weekend day off from all of the overtime that I was doing in order to walk the Zany Zebras Charity Trail in Southampton. I met up with a friend, and we walked the trail together. We had nice weather for it. This was a great way to catch up, and the day ended up being another one of my favourite days out this year.

Zany Zebras in Southampton

On the following weekend, the bloke and I went with a group of friends and family to clueQuest to escape Plan52 Escape Room in London. I got the bloke's brother a Christmas gift to go to this escape room in March, and we returned with an additional two friends to complete one of the other rooms. We had a fun day with ice cream at Ruby Violet, the escape room, a walk along the canal near King's Cross, and dinner before heading back home.

clueQuest ecape room

Another fond memory was visiting the newly-opened Camden KERB street food market shortly after it opened. I had been putting in so much overtime, but I decided to leave work on time on one day in order to visit the market as Camden and its food market gets too busy during the weekends. I was impressed at the quality and variety of food on offer and really enjoyed my visit, even though I went on my own. The weather was perfect, and the food was so good. I am craving the halloumi fries.

KERB Camden

September: September marked 350 years since the Great Fire of London (1666). To remember, the city of London arranged special art installations, events and walks. A wooden replica of London's 1666 skyline was created by an artist, and this was burned on a barge on the Thames. The dome of St. Paul's Cathedral had flames projected onto it, and another art installation featured toppling dominoes that followed the route of the fire. Free Great Fire of London walks also took place in the days leading up to the anniversary of the fire, and the Museum of London are currently exhibiting Fire!Fire!. However, my favourite of the events for the Great Fire of London was the Fire Garden in front of Tate South Bank, which was an art installation of metal frames, movement and fire. I went to this at the beginning of the month.

'Fire Garden' with St. Paul's

The bloke and I also had afternoon tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair, which I'd arranged months ago. The afternoon tea was themed for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and we managed to get tickets to see the play of the same name in the afternoon.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Chesterfield, Mayfair

At the end of the month, the bloke and I had a long weekend away planned, which was a Christmas gift. We stayed in Oakham in Rutland, which is England's smallest county. We went to a couple of castles first, including Newark and Bolingbroke, before staying in Oakham (where there is another castle). One of the main attractions is Rutland Water, which we went to the following day. Luckily, we had lovely weather on that day, but the previous day (where we saw the castles) was dreary. Of course, our weekend away would have to be the one where we had rain; the weather had been gorgeous previously.

Rutland Water

October: After months of hard work, the overtime was meant to cease at the beginning of the month, but I still needed to do some in order to complete the final hurdle. One of my favourite colleagues who started at the same time as I did left the team, and I just continued to work hard. By the second week, things were calmer, but I was keeping busy by ploughing through the remaining work. The weekend of the 8th of October was the first one where I finally felt that I could relax. All of us had just been told that we would be extended, so I was feeling happy to have some down time and feeling positive that issues would be resolved. This weekend was also the first one that felt properly like autumn. I went into London to Hyde Park to see the event that was taking place to mark the anniversary of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. A camp of actors and participators were set up giving demonstrations about various topics relevant to this period of history. I remember this day well because I was feeling happy and not stressed; I was able to not think so much about work. 

1066 Battle of Hastings - pottery making demonstration

After seeing what I could see at Hyde Park with the Battle of Hastings event, I headed over to Shepherd Market to see Neon Legacy, a series of neon signs that were installed for a few days. These were created by the person responsible for "God's Own Junkyard" who created many signs for Soho and films, such as Blade Runner. Although only a few signs were on display, I really liked a few of these, including the one below.

Neon Legacy

A couple of days after that weekend, I was told that they would not be renewing all contractors, so my free time was then spent on starting to search for a new role before the market slowed down for the holidays instead of having some time to relax a little bit and reclaim my life from all of the overtime I had been doing. That weekend, I had previously planned a trip to Newcastle in order to sight-see and see the Great North Snowdogs. My heart was not really into the trip because my mind was focused on other things.

Tyne, Newcastle

November: I mentioned seeing the Great North Snowdogs in October. In November, the bloke and I drove down to Brighton in order to see Snowdogs by the Sea. We had beautiful weather, which was great due to the walking that we had to do. We did not get to see all of the snowdogs in Brighton because we ran out of time, but we saw most of them. I had never really been to Brighton before to browse much, but I loved what I saw and wished that we had more time to browse.

Snowdogs by the Sea

Early in the month, I left my old role and started my new one. I'm now back at a previous client in east London, so I am now able to keep on track the changes in street art. I am working with nice people, and that makes a big difference. I've also loved seeing the people that I'd worked with previously too.

Thanksgiving Day at The Jones Family Project

At the end of the month, we did not take Thanksgiving Day off this year as I had just started a new role. Instead, we had Thanksgiving Day dinner at The Jones Family Project, which is located in Shoreditch. The food was very good. We also had our Festive Dinner on a Sunday at lunch time at The Coy Carp in Harefield. We enjoyed this as well, and the restaurant gave us a Christmas card as we were their first visitors for the Festive Menu.

Festive Meal at The Coy Carp

December: The month of December brought some much-needed relaxation, friends, family, and additional changes. Building work on the house started, which has been a long time in coming. We moved at the beginning of October last year, and we had not even unpacked because we were waiting on the work to be done. I will be making updates in the new year about the progress. Early in the month, I visited London in order to see London's Christmas lights, and I look forward to seeing them every year.

London's Christmas lights on Regent Street

Also, the bloke and I went to the USA for the holidays. We got to catch up with friends and family and visit local attractions. The first attraction that we went to was the Ohio Amish Country Cookie Tour of Inns, which involved visiting twelve different hotels for a tour and a cookie. 

Ohio Amish Country Tour of Inns

We also went to Cambridge, Ohio to see the Dickens Victorian Village figures and the Courthouse Light Show. There's also many shops, a bakery, and a restaurant here; we spent the day wandering around the glass shops and antique shops. 

Dickens Victorian Village

Later in the month, we had two day trips. First, we went to Clifton Mill, near Dayton, Ohio. We ate at the mill's restaurant and visited a dairy down the road for ice cream before we returned to the mill at dusk to see the beautiful lights covering the mill and grounds. It was really beautiful to see. We also visited Oglebay Park near Wheeling, West Virginia to see their Festival of Lights. 

Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill

I spent Christmas with my family, and the world had more shock celebrity deaths. I'm just looking forward to the new year now, and I do hope that it is a much better one. I hope that all of my readers have a great 2017, and Happy New Year!

Artwork by Teconlene

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This month's featured artwork is by Teconlene. Sara Olmos is the creative behind Teconlene. She is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Rome, Italy, but she studied an art degree in Madrid, Spain. She specialises in children illustration as it encourages imagination and an imaginary world. A small sample of her work is pictured below.



For more information and to see more work from the artist, visit the Etsy shop here:

Nuremberg Castle

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A couple of years ago, I visited Nuremberg Castle. The castle is built on top of the large sandstone rock hill in Nuremberg, Germany. It is a medieval Imperial castle with castle walls; the walls have mostly been destroyed. The land that the castle occupies was occupied in 1000, but it was not until 1105 that the castle was mentioned in documents. During World War II, the castle was sadly damaged, and only the Sinwell Tower and double chapel prevented damage; the rest was rebuilt and reconstructed. 


The chapel (which escaped the bomb damage) was in the first building that I visited, and it is constructed over two levels with impressive stonework.


The signs at the castle were all in German, and there are guided tours but I cannot remember if these were in German only. The well room guide only spoke German, so information about the castle was scarace. Also, the staff here were miserable and rude, and I saw on Tripadvisor that others had the same problem. 

Besides protecting Nuremberg, the castle was also the place to visit for leisure and educational events. The moat was used as a training ground for crossbows, and it was also used as an observation point for viewing the stars as well as fireworks. 


The interior of the castle has some information about the different eras in English, and it also displays many objects, but most of these did not include an English description. The mid-1800s was a time of uncertainty in Germany with many revolutions. Some of Germany wanted the great empire returned as in the medieval days.


There were rooms dedicated to weaponry and armour, and other items were dedicated to living or religion, such as the two pieces above.





The Deep Well was probably built at the same time as the castle, although it was only mentioned in the 14th century. The well is 47 meters deep into the castle's rock. There are guided "tours" in the well room throughout the day, but as I mentioned, these were in German only. The guide speaks, and then he cranks down the bucket with candles. A recorded video is shown on the wall behind with the walls of the well and the depth that it is at when it is traveling, as shown as a chart on the wall. We could gather around and look into the well, but wells are something I am not keen on, so I was happy enough to watch the video on the wall! Also located on this wall was a cabinet filled with items, and I assume that these items had fallen into the well at some point and were recovered.


The Sinwell Tower is a large tower on the grounds of the castle. "Sinwell" is a German word that means "round". It was built in the late 13th century as a castle keep of the Imperial Castle. The viewing platform at the top looks over Nuremberg, and I took a lot of photographs.





On the walk down from the top of the castle's rock, I also saw some excellent views. 


Holidays and Christmas Typography & Fonts

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Happy Holidays! This post features typography used during the holidays with samples on Christmas cards and other holiday advertisement. I've included a sample of the different holiday typography that can be used in various design projects. The selection of fonts includes vintage and modern pieces.


The typography used above includes: Dalle, Santa's Sleigh, Contribute, Faux Snow, Pacifico, Candy Cane, Lavanderia, Christmas Snow, Snow, Cocktail Bubbly, St. Nicholas, LP Snowflake, Frosty, Christmas Flakes, Angel Tears, Christmas Card, and Kingthings Christmas.




Here are a couple of links to photograph albums on Pinterest that include some examples that I have used above.

Earlier this week, my parents and the bloke and I took a day trip to Oglebay Park Resort, which is located in Wheeling, West Virginia. When I was younger, I had heard so much about this light display from others. We never went to it because it was always rumoured to be very busy. We visited earlier in the week, and although it was busy, it was not too busy. The light display starts at 6:00pm, but we found that many of the lights were on earlier. There are about six miles of lights with some along the loop road and others down the road in another part of the resort. Some of the lights were also along the main highway that borders the park.


We arrived earlier to avoid the crowds, and we wanted to take a look in the shops. Our first stop was to the glass shop, gift shop, and garden shop. There is also a glass museum and Oglebay Mansion museum here too. This area was decorated with lights in the shape of flowers. There was also a large nativity scene here, and this was decorated nicely. The shop in the garden house (Palm House) had a good view of the resort, and this can also be enjoyed outside.




After getting more information about the Festival of Lights and shops, we went to a Christmas shop, which was a short drive down the road. We saw many deer in Oglebay Park. 


Before it got really dark, we saw the most beautiful sunset.


We spent about an hour driving around to see the beauitful lights. These were all created in different shapes and moved. We saw running deer, children having a snowball fight, a moving ferris wheel and carousel, a skiier, a train, and so much more. There are tours as well; a trolley located at the main lodge runs tours. There are also coaches that come in. Both of these options have a tour, and I believe that there is a tour on the radio that you can tune in to as well for more information about some of the lights. We didn't do this. 






The Festival of Lights started in 1985, and it runs annually from early November until January 1st. To complete the tour, guests are asked to arrive for 6:00, but we found that the lights were being switched on earlier in most places, and they were being switched on just before dusk. I can imagine that weekends do get extremely busy.

One of the items on my list was to visit Clifton Mill, located near Springfield and Dayton, Ohio. I'd always seen photographs of Clifton Mill as it is very picturesque and used in a lot of photographs and calendars. I never knew where it was, but I happened to see it in a post about good Christmas lights to visit in various locations in Ohio. I convinced my parents and the bloke to have a day road trip with me in order to visit the mill for a meal and then to see the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill.


Clifton Mill was purchased by its current owners in 1988, and they put Christmas lights on the mill in 1989. Each year, the Christmas lights expanded to what it is today. It starts out at 6:00pm each night; the lights are turned on, and a light show begins the display with the covered bridge next to the mill becoming illuminated while being set to music. The rest of the grounds and the mill itself is illuminated with twinkling lights, some of them appearing to be moving water, and they light up the rocks along the creek below and the mill wheel. The photographs really do not do any justice as to how awesome and beautiful it looked.




However, it's not all about the Christmas lights. We arrived at Clifton Mill near mid-day after a two-hour car journey. In the winter, the Clifton Mill restaurant is not open for dinner unless it is a Friday or Saturday night. Instead, we stopped in to have lunch. Their breakfast menu is available all day, and my mother and I opted for breakfast while the bloke and my father had the hamburger. My mother had French toast (which was tempting and delicious), but I had the buttermilk pancakes with blueberries. Both were served with Maple Syrup. The portion size of the pancakes was huge. Apparently, those who can finish the two massive and thick pancakes get a third for free. I could not even finish one of the pancakes; they were the largest pancakes I have ever seen! The pancakes are the signature dish and are delicious; they sell them in three flavours (buttermilk, buckwheat and cornflower), and the mixes are sold at their gift shop. The pancakes and French toast could be served with pecan-syrup bacon. This tasted so good that I ordered another two rashers.

Raspberry lemonade


Blueberry pancakes

French toast


Also located next to the mill is an old gas station with a working pump, and this doubles as a museum. I believe that gas-related items can be seen at other times of the year, but in the winter, part of it is a toy museum. The other part of it is a Santa's room, but we did not visit that area. Santa climbs the chimney once every twenty minutes when the light show is on, and he waves to the crowd before descending back into his room. The building was only open during the light show.

Gas station

The covered bridge was also closed and only open during the light show, so we could not enter it. We could see the replica model village, though, but a few buildings and items were covered and not running; they only came to life during the light show hours. Model diners, a drive-in theatre showing movie clips, a train, and other replica buildings were on display.





After we ate our meals, we headed out to check out the village of Yellow Springs, which had the air of a university village. We went into a couple of shops before driving to Jersey Dairy, which is another attraction up the road from Clifton Mill. They have a nice gift shop, restaurant, and crazy golf course here. The main attraction is the ice cream. For the "flavour of the week", two scoops of ice cream are given for the price of one. The flavour was "Peppermint Stick", so I had this, and the ice cream was amongst the best that I've ever had. It tasted so good, and it was so creamy and smooth (with bits of peppermint here and there). 

Peppermint stick ice cream from Young's Jersey Dairy

Yellow Springs

After this, we drove back to the Interstate to have a wander for a couple of hours at the Central Ohio Antiques Centre. There are a few different antique malls here, and the one we visited was so huge that we did not even come close to seeing everything before we had to leave to go to Clifton Mill to see the Legendary Lights.



We arrived at Clifton Mill when the doors opened at 5:00pm for the Legendary Lights. The first light show takes place at 6:00pm, which we did not realise at the time. Refreshments were being sold with pulled pork, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, sugar cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, and mulled cider on offer. I ordered a hot chocolate, mulled cider, cookie and popcorn to share while we sat by the window in the mill and waited before grabbing some good spots for the light show. The temperatures were freezing again, so we watched the light show and did not hang around too long. I wish that the snow had still been on the ground in order to justify the freezing temperatures, at least.











I found the light show to be beautiful and recommend it. Do note that it is popular, and we visited on a Monday and it was still very busy. To see the lights, it costs $10.00 per person to enter the grounds. We found this a little steep when considering that the refreshments were also costly; it was $3.00 for one of those small styrafoam cups filled with hot chocolate or mulled wine. However, I do think that the maintenance and cost of installing the lights is very expensive. Also, make sure to get there early and grab a good spot to see the light show projected onto the covered bridge as there is not a lot of room. Unfortunately, they have boarded up the windows on the covered bridge and on the opposite side of the bridge so that you are unable to take any photographs in the prime locations and have to settle with an angle of the mill. I wish that we could have taken photographs from better angles, and this is my main criticism.

From the first of November until the beginning of January, the Courthouse Light Show takes place in Cambridge, Ohio. The light show is projected onto the courthouse and snychronised with Christmas music. The lights change colour and blink on and off to reveal different shapes, which relate to the music being played. Cambridge, Ohio also offers the Dickens Victorian Village figures on display along the main street and around the courthouse, and you may have seen my previous post about this: Dickens Victorian Village


I previously went in 2009, and that was another very cold and wintery day with snow on the ground. That year, we opted to watch the display from the car. On cold days, the light show can be watched from the car while tuning into a particular radio station. However, I survived thirty minutes of the light show in the cold this year, along with another group of people who were there before we arrived. 


The courthouse was built in 1881. The light show consists of over 55,000 lights and three 20-foot Christmas trees and 60 animated displays. Traditional, children's, and contemporary Christmas songs are played. There are four different light shows that are between 8 and 12 minutes long each. I watched half an hour of the show.



















Cambridge's Courthouse Light Show takes place daily from 5:30pm until 9:00pm. It plays until 11:00pm on its extended days, which include Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, Christmas eve, New Year's day, and New Year's eve. The courthouse is located on Wheeling Avenue, which is the main street through downtown Cambridge.

A lot has been happening over the past week with cheese and wine and tours to Cambridge to see Dickens Victorian Village and the Courthouse Light Show. We also visited Newark, Ohio. A few days ago, the bloke and I caught the first showing of "Rogue One", the new "Star Wars" film. I wasn't too disappointing and I enjoyed it overall. I won't be spoiling it for anyone who has not seen it.


One of the places we visited in Newark was Buckeye Winery, which is located on the courthouse square. Newark's courthouse is always decorated beautifully for the holidays, but they have had a break this year while they restore the building and its clock tower. I covered Newark's courthouse Christmas lights in a previous post from 2013. Buckeye Winery has a large selection of wines and gifts, including the slushie flavoured wines that have a sweet taste. Pizzas can be purchased from the pizza place (Christy's) a few buildings away, or they can be ordered in. Their pizza is good! This time, we ordered the cheese selection. There are several types of cheese to choose from, but I got the sharp cheddar and the smoked cheddar to keep everyone happy. The cheese came with crackers.


We ordered peach, Santa's Punch (described as a red wine), and strawberry wine slushies to have with the cheese. The very cold weather did not prevent us from ordering these!


Afterwards, we walked back to the car and had a look at the restoration work on the courthouse. We also saw the new murals, and some of these were painted from historical photographs. The murals were historical scenes with some of them mimicking old shop fronts.





Another attraction of Newark are the Indian (native American) mounds. These stretch for miles, and a lot of them have been destroyed a long time ago. The local mall takes its name from these burial mounds. Some of the preserved ones stretch through this park, and as far as we know, they are not arranged into any shapes like the Serpent Mound in southern Ohio.



Last, but not least, we learned that astronaut/politician John Glenn died. He was from New Concord, Ohio. This isn't far from Cambridge, Ohio, so there were tributes to him and a lot of flags were flying half-mast around our area. My grandmother went to school with him and knew him; he was a year older. Apparently, he wasn't that great at school but did so well afterwards.


London Christmas Window Displays (2016)

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Each year over the holiday season, I enjoy visiting London to see the Christmas lights, the decorations, and the window displays. I posted a couple of weeks ago about London's Christmas Lights for 2016. This post is about London's Christmas window displays. I cover Fortnum & Mason, Liberty, John Lewis, and Selfridges. I don't often make it to Harrods to see their Christmas window displays. The clear winner this year was Liberty department store. 


Liberty Department Store's display this year featured "The Nutcracker". This type of window display was similar to the ones that I had previously seen on a visit to New York City, which I thought were done very well and had a very Christmasy theme. The pieces also moved with a man in a cape spinning around and a ballet dancer. There were also toy soldiers and mice that moved, and the mice fell down when 'shot' by the soldiers.



John Lewis's department store on Oxford Street used their theme with the woodland creatures and dog from the advertisement this year. The dog is above ground, looking into a hole, and most of the scenes take place underground with squirrels on moving trains full of gifts and hedgehogs and foxes with other gifts inside the underground tunnels.



Selfridges department store's window displays featured Santa and other costumed figures in different poses, such as on a ski lift, with a giant polar bear, in a hot tub, outside of a plane, and parachuting. In each display, Santa and the other characters are surrounded by gifts. In the large corner window, a giant item that looks like a Christmas cracker with a lot of sparks (made with neon lights) flying out of it is on display.




Fortnum & Mason's display featured characters, such as a wolf and turkey in festive poses. The wolf blows on a trumpet with sheep singing in chorus near him, and the turkey helps a characterised knife remove a cork from a bottle of bubbly. The windows on the side also feature their Christmas hampers. All of the pairings are unlikely as the characters join together for the festive season. The store used the tagline "together we're merrier" in order to bring people together after a difficult year.




Some of London's previous window displays are below:

2015 Christmas ligths and window displays

2014 Christmas window displays

2013 Christmas window displays

2012 Christmas lights and windows

2011 Selfridges Christmas window display

Last week, I visited the Dickens Victorian Village at Cambridge, Ohio. This is not too far from where my parents live. The last time we visited and walked around to see the statues was in 2009, and you can read my post about it here. The Dickens Victorian Village is an exhibit that has taken place since 2006 with local businessman Bob Ley creating the figures and dressing them in Victorian fashion; Ley's business was in men's clothing. The Dickens Victorian Village and the light show at the courthouse (I'll cover this in another post) draw crowds over Christmas, and we saw at least one bus in town on the day we visited. 


There are now over 180 life-sized figures in 93 different scenes on the main street of Cambridge, and a bronze plaque next to each one gives interesting facts and information about Victorian life. Some of these are in shop windows, and others are out in the streets. Mimicking our 2009 visit, we had heavy snowfall the day before; we'd planned to visit that day but were snowed in so planned to go the following day. The snow was on the figures and over some of the bronze plaques. (We took care to walk the pavements/sidewalks as it was very cold the day we visited and any snow that had started to melt had turned to ice in places.) 


Cambridge's main street has a lot to offer in terms of craft shops, coffee shops, supermarkets, specialist food shop, bakeries, antique shops, and restaurants. There's also an old-style theatre, and it had just finished a production of "A Chrostmas Story", based on the film. Cambridge is also known for its glassware with local companies Boyds (now closed) and Mosser glass. Some of the glass is sold in local stores or at its location a couple of minutes drive from the main street. It's also sold in the Discovery Center, where you can learn more about the Dickens Village. We did visit Mosser's and bought some nice glassware.


We walked up and down the street so that we could see the figures and had a meal at Theo's restaurant, which is a popular and recommended restaurant on the main street. After getting warmed up, we headed back outside to catch the Courthouse Holiday Light Show, which I will post about later.




















Dickens Victorian Village runs from the first of November until the 2nd of January. For more information, visit their official website at Worth a stop is Kennedy's Bakery, one of the best bakeries in the area. I love the Chinese tea cakes. Also do not forget to visit the antique shops (Penny Court) and Mosser's glassware (a short drive away), and stay for the light show on the courthouse in the middle of the main street; it starts at 5:30pm.

Lego "Let's Build Xmas" in Covent Garden

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Every year for the past several years, Lego have unveiled a new sculpture for the holiday season at Covent Garden. This year, the sculpture was a little late as the new large Lego store opened up at Leicester Square. This year's sculpture is Santa's workshop and is a little building made out of Lego bricks and includes several other items (elves, Santa, gifts) and official kits that you can purchase on display.


The Santa's workshop comes with a fireplace and several Lego models, as well as wallpaper and pictures hanging on the wall, all made from Lego bricks.






The Lego exhibit will be on display until the beginning of January. Visitors can also get their photographs taken with it as done in previous years with the Lego sculpture. Last year's Lego sculpture was a Lego steam train. In previous years, Santa and his reindeer, a large snowglobe filled with London monuments made from Lego, and a large Lego advent calendar which was opened daily. Visitors could sit inside the sleigh and have their photographs taken and were encouraged to use social media to upload them.

On Saturday, I went to the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns in Ohio's Amish Country. This is an annual tour that involves visiting twelve inns/hotels that make part of the trail. Different hotels sign up every year, but hotels on past tours also sign up to generate interest. At each stop, visitors look at various rooms that the hotels have to offer, and the hotels and rooms are decorated for the holidays. Snacks and drinks are also available at each stop, and visitors pick up their free wrapped cookie at each. 


The guide book that came with the ticket and contains information about the hotels on the route also contains a recipe for each cookie and information about the hotel. The theme for this year is "Songs in the Air, Christmas in My Heart" and is based on Christmas songs. I went on the tour a few years ago, and you can read about the 2013 Christmas Cookie Tour here. Continue reading to learn about this year's stops.


The Barn Inn: The Barn Inn is located near Millersburg, Ohio. It is a restored barn and serves bed and breakfast and where stories about the Amish are told at breakfast time. The hotel was decorated for the holidays with the rooms decorated. Also decorated was the breakfast room, which had the tables set with festive decorations and cookies created in the shape of vintage Christmas cards out of edible paper. This year, a goat dressed in festive dress was also present and at the entrance of the hotel. The rooms and decor here are are traditional. (Cookie: Oreo Cheesecake)



Guggisberg Swiss Inn: Guggisberg Swiss Inn, located near Charm, has 24 rooms and overlooks a valley. Horse and carriage rides are on offer, and breakfast is included. The inn resembles a Swiss chalet with high ceiling in the lobby, carved wooden cuckoo clock, and wooden bear. A few years ago, the hotel started a vineyard and creates its own wine, which can be sampled at the hotel. The rooms here are vintage-modern. (Cookie: Coffee Toffee Treasures)


Berlin Resort: The Berlin Resort, located in Berlin, has 77 rooms and a swimming pool, sauna, fitness centre, cinema, golf green, and trail. The rooms have a modern feeling, and we were able to explore a couple of the different types of room, including the bridal suite. (Cookie: Monster Marshmallow)


Comfort Suites: Comfort Suites is located in Berlin, Ohio. The hotel is a modern one with rooms that are decorated in a modern style. The lobby was decorated with a Christmas tree, and we got to see a couple of decorated rooms; blue was the colour used this year. (Cookie: Red Velvet Sugar)



Berlin Grande Hotel: The Berlin Grande Hotel, located in Berlin, is a four-storey hotel with modern urban design. The rooms were decorated for Christmas with modern-but-traditional decor. One room was dedicated to the cardinal and decorated with imagery of the bird. (Cookie: Rudolph's Chocolate Cherry Bar)


Carlisle Country Inn: The Carlisle Country Inn is located near Berlin and is a large house with seven rooms. Each room has its own unique style. The lobby has high ceilings, and a large tree and carol singers were amongst the decorations. (Cookie: Mocha Chip)


Garden Gate Get-A-Way: The Garden Gate Get-A-Way is located near Millersburg, Ohio. It is one of the newer hotels on offer in the Amish country and features two single cabins and additional rooms in the main building. We were able to see inside one of the cabins. (Cookie: Heavenly Ginger)


Oak Ridge Inn: Located in Walnut Creek, Ohio, is Oak Ridge Inn. Each room has a different wooden theme and colour. There are good views over the valley, and we were informed that the hotel is very popular. Due to limited parking, we parked at the Wallhouse Hotel and had a horse and carriage ride to the inn. The decor of the rooms vary, but they are traditional. Good views can be seen from some of the rooms. (Cookie: Chestnut Chocolate Chip)


Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek: This hotel is located at Walnut Creek and was decorated nicely for the holidays with plenty of Christmas trees and festive decor in the rooms that were open to visit. Each room has its own design. The rooms featured are more traditional in design, and they offer good views. When we were leaving, they put a horse out front with a sleigh of gifts. The horse and carriage rides are located near the hotel (Cookie: Chocolate Raspberry)


The Inn at Walnut Creek: This hotel, located near Walnut Creek, offers a selection of rooms in its main building or three larger jacuzzi rooms. The hotel is modern in style, and all rooms are on a single ground floor level. (Cookie: French Butter Madeleines)


The Inn at Amish Door: This hotel is located in Wilmont, Ohio. On location is a large and popular Amish restaurant and shops. The accommodation is modern-traditional and the rooms were decorated well for the holidays. The lobby is beautiful with high ceilings and a large tree. (Cookie: Bell Linzer)


Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek: Located in Sugarcreek and also close to another popular Amish restaurant is Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek. The rooms are modern-traditional and each have a balcony. Each room has a different style. (Cookie: Cinnamon Roll Sugar)


For more information about the tour, visit

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval town in Bavaria, Germany. The name of the town means "Red fortified settlement on the river Tauber". The city retains its medieval walls and largely escaped damage in World War II because of its beauty. Its castle was built in 1070, although it was settled before this. The city walls were completed in the 13th century, and they are pretty complete today. We visited the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a day, and one of the items on the itenary was to walk the walls.


The city walls are about 3km long with about twenty places of interest along the route. The walls can be joined at a variety of locations. Before embarking on our long wall walk, we had lunch at one of the hotels in the town. I had chicken, which came with dumplings. 





After eating, we walked through the town to join the walls. We joined at Sieve Makers' Tower and Ruckseer Tower. 





The Spitaltor Gate and tower is one of the locations we visited next, and this contained a bastion and the hospital and an area where victims of the plague were housed. 


Below is a view of the tower and Pig's Tower, which was the next stop. 


One of the buildings could be walked around in, but it was very dark in here. We saw antique equipment and cannons. The bastion can be explored, and it covers four floors with a bridge adjoining onto the other parts of the walls. Or, you could walk below the walls. 


We headed toward Lime Tower where we saw what looked like the ruins of an outdoor theatre. Along here were also plaques from visitors who visited all over the world and donated money to help maintain and restore parts of the old walls. 





The next area we came to were the good views over the valley and the vineyards. Kobozeller Gate is one of the gates where you could descend into the valley.



The good views from here are pictured below.


Looking straight ahead, where the walls continue around, we could see the tower of the castle gate and the castle grounds.


We finally arrived at the old castle grounds. Most of the castle is gone, but the gate remains.


The face in the wall of the old gate had hot tar poured down it to fall on people below that they did not want here.


To continue walking around the walls, we could not access them directly as the buildings backed onto the walls directly. We walked along the street that followed the walls. 


We came to the Prison Tower and Klingetor Gate.


We continued along the walls, and we had good views along the northern part of the walls. We joined again at Powder Tower, where the walls continued again.






Along this part of the walls, we also saw more plaques from people who donated to help maintain the walls, and some of these included the figure donated.





I loved walking the walls at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and this is such a beautiful city. It took us over three hours to complete the wall walk because we did stop off and take photographs during our walk around. 

Street Art: Nerone

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Today's post features street art by artist Nerone, whose work I have seen in London over the past year. Nerone is a grafitti artist from France who has had an interest in hip-hop culture and has been painting since he was 11 years old. The artist worked as a graphic designer before focusing more on his street art collective Le Coktail. The work he creates often has an illustrated graphic design effect using bright colours, and the subjects of his work tend to be people partying or mingling at a party. Selections of his work over the past year can be seen below.






Most recently, the artist has painted a tunnel of scaffolding off of Great Eastern Street with his colourful floral designs. A couple of these can be seen below.





JimmyC Redchurch Street Heart

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Street artist JimmyC's artwork has proven to be popular this year when his portrait of David Bowie in Brixton got media exposure due to the people who came to visit it after his death to leave flowers and notes. He recently painted a portrait of Shakespeare on South Bank. Another one of his most recent murals is a simple heart, located on Redchurch Street. This is a reminder that we all need a little bit of love after the difficult times.



JimmyC's artwork is colourful, and two of his murals are located around the corner from this heart. These have never changed and have never been tagged over, which I think shows respect for the artist's work.

Forest on the Roof @ Selfridges

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I recently visited "Forest on the Roof", a restaurant and bar located on Selfridge's rooftop. "Forest on the Roof" is the latest theme for the rooftop bar, which turned into a ski-lodge last winter and was named Le Chalet. Over the summer, it was known as Vintage Salt and was inspired by the typical British seaside town. This winter, the woodland winter forest inspired the decor of the restaurant with bright pink and purple neon lights and silver disco balls complementing the woodland theme. The festive Christmas and winter season fits the woodland theme very well.


The restaurant is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails.  





I visited for breakfast and had the "Candy Cane" cocktail, which contained a mix of lemon, lime, Koko Kanu, cream, egg white, orange bitters, and pumpkin puree. It came with a peppermint candy cane and photographed very well. It doesn't have much of a strong alcohol taste, which I enjoy. Blue sugar was put along the rim of the glass. 


I ordered the cinnamon French toast, and this was served with cream. It was very tasty.




I enjoyed my visit. For more information about visiting "Forest on the Roof" at Selfridges, go to

London's Christmas Lights 2016: A Trail

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Last year, I published an article about where to see London's Christmas lights. This included a map and a trail of London's Christmas lights. This year, I closely kept to this trail in order to see this year's Christmas lights. This year brought some new Christmas lights to London, but I felt some of the areas were a little under-whelming when compared to previous years, but a couple of areas that had not impressed me much in the past I thought were better this year. 


I must start by saying that central London was the busiest that I have ever seen it. It was impossible to sit down to eat food or visit most shops anywhere in central London due to the sheer number of crowds. Walking was next to impossible; I managed to get around crowds by walking along the side of the street most of the time as the pavements/sidewalks were packed with people slowly heading in both directions with bottlenecks in some places (really, I don't think buskers should busk along Oxford Street). Quite a few tourists were out due to the cheaper pound; I'd like to know what the tourism percentage is now compared to last year at this time.

The map of the area that I cover in this post is below, with each number point as a stop-off to see Christmas lights. I started my journey in the mid-afternoon at the Covent Garden/Seven Dials area and finished at Selfridges department store at about 5:30. Note that I didn't take time to sit down to eat nor shop as the sheer number of crowds made this impossible. (I did actually arrive earlier with a view to get food, but every single place that I tried to get into had a queue out the door.) However, if you wish to start a bit earlier, make a reservation for a restaurant near to Covent Garden. Covent Garden's lights and decorations can be enjoyed before darkness sets.


1. Seven Dials

Just north-west of Covent Garden is an area known as Seven Dials, named after a roundabout with six points and a column in the middle (pictured below). For a few years, their Christmas lights were a colourful set. Last year, they introduced some new ones with white roses. This year, they've taken on a woodland theme with a mixture of colourful birds, foxes, bears, wolves, and other wildlife to turn the area into a woodland.





2. Covent Garden

For the past three years or more, Covent Garden has used their mistletoe light decorations inside the Covent Garden market and on the exterior of the building. This year, I also noticed the mistletoe decorations on the streets that meet at the four corners of the entrance to the market. Their Christmas tree was back again this year, but overall, it was disappointing with favourite decorations missing. The giant silver reindeer and the Lego sculpture was missing this year. The giant reindeer was missing due to a new restaurant being constructed on Covent Garden, and I assume that the people who were responsible for creating the Lego sculptures in the past have spent their time building for the new Lego store in Leicester Square. The live reindeer are also not on display (although they probably got tired/stressed of being looked at and petted). However, I did see a couple of nice displays in front of a couple of restaurants in the Covent Garden area. (At the time of publishing this, a Lego sculpture has been added to Covent Garden only a couple of weeks ago and after the new Lego store was open in Leicester Square. I will be posting about it at some point.)








3. Leicester Square

Leciester Square now boasts a giant Lego store along with the M&M store, but the queues to get into the new Lego store were long. I did not bother. For the past couple of years, Christmas lights were hanging from the trees in the square itself. This year, the square was boarded up with a Christmas market and circus inside. On the outside of the square, wooden boarding was put up. This was decorated by illuminated drawings that school children had submitted featuring festive scenes.


4. Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street:

The lights between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are the same lights that have been in used for at least a couple of years. The statue of Eros in the middle of Piccadilly Circus used to be decorated festively, but it still has boarding around it. I do hope that they remove this. The road looking north onto Regent Street is worth looking at here. There's a good view of the Christmas lights on Regent Street, which are arguably the best in London this year with the past few years being a disappointment. The Christmas lights feature angels.





5. Picadilly Street for Fortnum & Mason:

There aren't any lights along Picadilly Street, but there's a nice market, bookstore, and Fortnum & Mason's. I like to see what the shop fronts look like and attempted to go into Fortum & Mason's, but the crowds inside were unbearable. These shops are worth a visit if it's not too busy and you have time.

6. Carnaby Street:

Carnaby Street has new Christmas lights every year in a unique design, and this year's features positive words of encouragement after what has been a difficult and disappointing year. Love, Hope, Wish, Joy, Kiss are some of the words formed in banners above the street. The centrepiece features the Carnaby Street name with "Carnaby Christmas Revolution" with birds and a design that reminds me of vinyl. Of course, Carnaby Street was made famous in fashion in the 1960s, so the design of the Christmas lights this year seem to be a throwback to that.

Don't forget that there are many nice restaurants/cafes/pubs here, and around the corner is Coccywoccydoodah. They always have a fascinating display of chocolates. The Liberty building is also worth a visit, and it's chocolate store is around the back (and Choccywoccydoodah is just around the corner from here.) Also, don't forget the window displays at Liberty.






7. Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus is a great spot to enjoy the view south down Regent Street (to see the angel lights mentioned above) and to see Oxford Street's lights. The past few years, Oxford Street have used silver and blue bauble lights. This year, their lights are joined by small stars in the same design. The NSPCC (children's charity) are raising money for charity for the lights. I always walk down Oxford Street toward Bond Street here in order to see the lights on the department stores. Also, don't forget to stop off at St. Christopher's Place to see the Christmas lights. It's a little hidden narrow street off the northern side of Oxford Street (a block from Selfridges). 






8. South Molton Street and Bond Street

Near Bond Street station, I take a diversion to walk down South Molton Street and see the lights at Bond Street, which are the diamond and peacock feather designs that they have used for the past few years. South Molton Street has replaced its purple arch lights with pillars of twinkling white baubles, which were a bit disappointing. 


9. Selfridges

After seeing the lights on Bond Street, walk back to Oxford Street and make sure to check out Selfridges Department store for nice window displays and the lights on Marks and Spencers across the street. Sometimes, Selfridges do have lights above the main entrance, but they don't this year.

Lora Zombie Street Art in London

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Last month, I caught a glimpse of Lora Zombie finishing her newest mural off Brick Lane and one of her friends photographing the finished piece. Lora Zombie is a self-taught artist from Russia who gained momentum in the early 2000s and now exhibits her artwork all over the world. She considers herself as a grunge artist, creating beautiful artwork with an edge. She painted three new murals in London, and according to her Facebook page, the last time she was in London was ten years ago (1).


The first mural features a punk-grunge girl with a similar pose to the title character of the comic "Tank Girl", complete with weaponry, barbed wire, gloved hand, and buzzard wearing a top hat. The comic bubble reads "coffee dreams and zombie screams" and is an excellent and colourful piece.




'Heartbreaker Kid' is another piece just down the road from the above mural. It features a little boy running to kick a cartoon red heart. The mural is painted in blue with the illustrated form of the boy in blue instead of using black/white for the outline and colours. This creates a striking image with the red heart in focus and against the blue.



The last mural is located on Redchurch Street and features a masked figure with a group of crows in the background, against a glowing red halo. It is a striking image with the black and red.



I loved seeing Lora Zombie's work in London, and I've never registered her work before. I've enjoyed looking at her work on her official website as well. For more information about her or to visit her website, go to

1) Lora Zombie Facebook page: 

This year, Cannaught Hotel have called on artist and sculptor Antony Gormley to create their Christmas tree. Last year, their Christmas tree was designed by Damien Hirst and contained medical equipment as decorations. Antony Gormley is a well-known sculpture whose work has been displayed all over the world. I recently posted about his famous 'Angel of the North' sculpture, which I visited last month.


The Christmas tree looks like a large pine tree with a white column of light shooting up through the trunk. Gormley says that the inspiration is from breaking from the norm of decorating the outside of the Christmas tree and (instead) illuminating it at its core (1). 



To visit the Christmas tree, head over to the Cannaught Hotel in Mayfair.


Bisser's Pig Mural on Bacon Street

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Belgian street artist Bisser left a mural in London over the summer while he was exhibiting some of his work in a gallery. Bisser studied animation at Ghent and got into the grafitti scene thanks to his brother, who was inspired by comic books. Bisser followed his brother's hobbies. Cartoons and a French grafitti magazine were additional inspirations, and Bisser started to work on 3-dimensional murals, especially letters, and abstract work. The artist became popular after being mentioned as one of the top street artists at Bloop Festival in Ibiza, Spain. His tag (Bisser) comes from the verb 'blissen', which means "to resist your year at school." The name was chosen during his year at animation school and dedicated his time to animation, 3D, and music.


Bisser painted a mural of a pig on Bacon Street, near the pig by ROA. The pig has a cartoonish form and is 'broken' up by dotted lines as if it's a butcher's diagram. 



This is a fun piece on the street, playing on the name of the street and next to the ROA pig and butcher girl by Saki and B.

Street artist Fanakapan has been busy painting in various locations in London recently. "Drunken Glass Elephants" was the name of one of his recent murals on Pedley Street (off Brick Lane). The artist was known for starting out painting colourful balloon animals and sweets before switching to foil silver balloons last year. This year, the artist has continued to experiment using a chrome and glass style of painting and continues to refine this technique. His latest piece is the large wall on the Village Underground. 


The new mural features a glass gun, old-style telephone, glove and globe. According to the artist's Instagram page (1), the piece is about "power tools" and distraction/destruction. The gloved-hand appears to be tossing the glass globe in the air, and the glass gun points toward the hand. Does the hand drop the globe to answer the phone? Is the phone a distraction from the destruction taking place? And why did the artist use an old-style phone as opposed to a mobile phone or cordless handset without the dial?






Fanakapan also reclaimed the wall off Brick Lane and painted a new piece of work in the shape of a star foil balloon. The star is probably a tribute to the fact that the location is known as "Star Yard".


Earlier this year, the artist also painted a skull near Hoxton Square.


I've enjoyed seeing these new pieces from Fanakapan, and I like the Village Underground piece. I'm also interested to see what is painted next and what Fanakapan paints next.


Advent Photographs in Numbers

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Today is the first of December. The countdown begins as the first day of advent. I've had a long and busy week, and I cannot wait to have a few days off later this month. I actually have had a migraine all day today. I am going to take a bath and go to bed early. (That's the plan, at least.) Over this year, I've been taking photographs of numbers from 1 to 25 to post a special "advent"-themed blog post with the photographs of different sets of numbers on signs, doors, shop windows, clocks, in street art, packaging, and anywhere else where I could find a number. My gallery of the advent is below.


























Which is your favourite? I can't believe that it will be December 25 in less than 25 days now. Enjoy the countdown.


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