July 2017 Archives

Sculpture in the City, 2017

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Sculpture in the City is an annual public sculpture trail centred in London's Square Mile. Sculpture in the City is now in its seventh year and has featured artists such as  Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei along with some newer and lesser-known artists. Workshops are also offered to schools and the community in addition to the public sculpture trail, and these promote inspiration through art. Last year's Sculpture in the City was the biggest success in the trail to date with a variety of wonderful works. This year's works also do not disappoint.


Temple - Damien Hirst

This 21-foot painted bronze sculpture shows a male torso. It appears to be a diagram out of a biology book with half of the sculpture showing muscle and organs and bones. The work is inspired by the artist's anatomical models and "Medicine Cabinet" series of artwork. 


4 Colours at 3 Metres High Situated Work - Daniel Buren

Daniel Buren's artworks explore outdoor light, movement of sun, architecture, and shadows. The colourful work above appears like a pagoda with semi-transparent colours attached, and these reflect to create a colourful glow. This is the most atmospheric piece, and the colours and glow create an ambience and a feeling. This is my favourite artwork for this year's Sculpture in the City.


Reminiscence - Fernando Casasempere

Casasempere works with ceramics, and he studies the landscape. Earth and clay are the materials used to construct the sculpture, which focuses on movement. The bricks appear to be made out of rolled-up textile, while others appear to be made of brick. The piece looks as if it is inspired by architectural ruin.


Black Shed Expanded - Nathaniel Rackowe

The urban shed is a common sight in London, and Nathaniel Rackowe previously had an installation for Sculpture in the City showing another deconstructed black shed. This time, the black shed has been expanded with a bright neon yellow glow inside. It appears to be caught mid-explosion. 


Synapsid - Karen Tang

This brightly-coloured sculpture appears to be a giant insect or alien creature. The bright colour and organic shape draws visitors to it, and it encourages interaction via its shape and openings. 


Envelope of Pulsation (for Leo) - Peter Randall-Page RA

An internationally-aclaimed artist, Peter Randall-Page (RA) contributes for the first time to Sculpture in the City. The sculpture is the artist's most recent, and it is carved from a rare block of granite from Blackenstone quarry on Dartmoor, England. The quarry is owned by the artist's friend Leo. The stone is worked to show movement and texture to the piece whereas the viewer can use their imagination. 


Untitled x3 - Bosco Sodi

These three rocks are escavated from volcanic magma from the Ceboruco volcano in Mexico. The rocks are glazed and fired at high temperatures for three days, and they create their own artwork. I found these shinny red stones mesmorising as I explored them in London.


Falling into Virtual Reality - Recycle Group
This artwork returns for its second year of Sculpture in the City. The collective behind this piece focuses on what our generation will leave behind for future generations. The artwork is created out of recyclable materials and ideas, highlighting consumerism and materials.


Dreamy Bathroom - Gary Webb

Webb's abstract scupture contains individual components that make up and form it. The result is a colourful piece with interesting shapes, textures, and pleasant colours. The items blend well together and play off each other in this work, which I enjoyed seeing from different viewpoints.


Support for a Cloud - Mhairi Vari

The artworks are hung in three different locations around the Lloyd's building in London. They feature honeycombed cocoons or nests, placed above the viewer. At a glance, they do not appear to be art but appear to be natural or a part of the architecture. I do wonder how many people will phone the exterminator by thinking it is a insect nest.


Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl - Paul McCarthy

Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl are a part of McCarthy's Hummel series depcited on a large scale. The German kitsch figures of a boy and girl are shown on an idyllic setting with an apple tree, but they are deformed and abstracted. The artist seems to send a message about how children can be conditioned to follow social norms.


Tipping Point - Kevin Killen

This work is inspired by city lights and recording the non-stop movements of the city. It is an artwork that constantly changes with the flow of its surroundings; the neon lights turn on and off to the varying sequences of the movement. 


Work No. 2814 - Martin Creed

This sculpture uses an existing tree, and plastic bags are hung from its branches to create an "everyday" but surreal installation. The artist's style is to merge ordinary materials and everyday situations into works of art.


Never has there been such urgency, or The eloquent and the Gaga - Ryan Gander

The subject of this artwork is an air-dropped parcel, which is suspended from a tree by a parachute. The contents of the parcel are located on a metal plaque near the installation, but it contains items relating to research and practices and the way that these are signified over communication.


The Black Horse - Mark Wallinger

This horse sculpture was partially created using scanning technology of a real racehorse named Rivera Red. The sculpture celebrates the horse as it is a much-loved creature and a creature that is a popular subject in art.


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

Previous years of London's Sculpture in the City are included below:

    Naked Dough - Cookie Dough

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    Naked Dough is London's answer to serving up unbaked cookie dough, which is safe to eat and does not contain egg. I have memories of licking raw cookie dough off the spoon when I was younger and my mother bake cookies. Cookie dough does contain egg, so it may not be safe, but I never got ill from it. The idea for selling raw cookie dough (made without eggs so that it is safe to eat) was created by the founder, who gave up her desk job and trained as a pastry chef before returning to the UK with various ideas for projects. Raw cookie dough was one of those, and this was inspired by the cookie dough craze in the USA.


    The cookie dough from Naked Dough comes in size flavours. Unicorn food contains sprinkles and marshmallows. Emoji poo is the traditional chocolate chip cookie dough. Mud bath is similar to Emoji poo, but the dough is chocolate. Hazel's Nuts is Nutella and Kinder Bueno bars. Ed Sheeran is salted caramel and honeycomb. Nutting Better is peanut butter.


    I visited their pop-up shop, based in Old Street station, twice. Cups of the cookie dough include two scoops, and they can be different flavours. On my first visit, I had Emoji Poo and Unicorn Food. On my second visit, I had the Mud Bath and Nutting Better. My favourite was the Unicorn Food because it contained a nice mix of marshallows and sprinkles, which were added to the top of the cup.





    Naked Dough will be based at the location in Old Street station until the end of 2017, and it is open every day of the week except on Sundays.

    Street artist Ben Eine, who is known for his typography style of artwork throughout London, has painted a mural for the victims of Grenfell Tower in Shoreditch on the Village Underground wall. The mural was painted last week, marking one month since the disaster of the fire engulfing the building and claiming the lives of at least 80 people (I personally think this figure is higher). It is a part of the Paint the Change group, which was founded by Maziar Bahari to help draw attention to social events and issues via the medium of art.


    The words are from a poem coined by Ben Okri, a Booker Prize winner in 1991, in the days after the Grenfell Tower disaster. The poem itself is 1,600 words long. The excerpt used reads "You saw it in the tears of those who survived."




    The mural was painted after the work by SER (covered here) graced the wall for several months over the spring and early summer.

    In the middle of this month, new ice cream pop-up shop "Soft Republic" opened its doors in Spitalfields Market. The ice cream pop up serves soft serve vanilla ice cream, which can be purchased in a cone, box, or choux bun. The "burger" and "hot dog" are two of the offerings made of choux pastry. They are filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a syrup and two toppings of choice.


    There are several different types of syrup to choose from, including strawberry and chocolate. There are also over a dozen toppings, including raspberry slices, fresh fruit, nuts, fruit pieces, chocolate pieces, popcorn, salted caramel, and marshmallows.


    I went for the "hot dog" option, which is a hot dog bun-shaped choux bun. I had chocolate syrup, pistachio nuts, and fresh strawberries. This tasted delicious.





    "Soft Republic" is serving ice cream for another six weeks, so sometime until mid-September. A burger or hot dog offering costs £5.00, and the cheaper options are £3.00.

    RAF Northolt Open Day - Nortfest

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    Today was RAF Northolt's Open Day. This event was only open to the local community via ticket sales, and it sold out quickly. The last time that RAF Northolt had a community open day was two years ago, and that year marked 100 years of the airforce base, which opened in 1915. RAF Northolt has one runway, and it handles a lot of private flights. I live near RAF Northolt, and although it's not that busy, I do see military and private aircraft use the runway. The royals and politicians are said to use it too. I've seen Spitfires do displays outside the base, the planes fly overhead after the Queen's birthday fly-past, and I've seen a VIP car with blacked-out windows and a convoy of additional cars and police (perhaps the queen?) stop the traffic and drive out of the base.


    RAF Northolt was the home of the Hawker Hurricane aircraft and the location of the Polish Squadron in World War II. (A monument called The Polish War Memorial commemorates them near the base.) The base is not far from Pinewood Studios, so it has been used in several popular films, such as James Bond and Battle of Britain. 


    Although we have been having beautiful weather, we did not have luck with that weather today. We walked to the base in the rain, although it rained off and on. I thought that the best plan would be to see inside the A400M plane as it was the largest plane on display. (I wish that more planes would have been on display.) The queue was already very long. 



    In the end, we waited for over two hours to get onto the back of the A400M. Most of the time we waited, we did not have to deal with the rain too much, and the sun did come out a bit. 



    After we got into the loading area of the plane, we had to wait another hour before we were at the front of the queue (on the left) to see the cockpit. As we had waited for so long, it did not make sense to leave.


    Finally, we got to see the cockpit, which was worth it. 



    After we finished, we headed over to the Chinnock helicopter.



    We had a look inside and peeked into the cockpit.



    While hanging around the Chinnock, we saw a Spitfire fly by a couple of times. (There was also meant to be a Dakota fly over at about 4:00, but we did not stay quite that long as the rain was very heavy.)


    We had lunch, and I had a Slushie and wished that it was a sunny and hot day.


    The main hangars were also open with one plane being repaired on display. The other areas were populated with some stands selling toys, collectibles, and other items. A lot of games and attractions were available to keep children busy, and RAF Northolt did a great job of organising this. I saw face-painting, clowns, video games, rides, racing cars, and timed attractions.


    Also on display were army vehicles, and a lot of these were packing up early due to the weather.






    Overall, we had a good time. The weather spoiled it a bit because the rain made us very wet and people were leaving early due to it. I do wish that there had been an area to see more about the history of RAF Northolt and to read more about it; there was a lot to do for children but not a lot for adults. I also would have enjoyed seeing more grounded planes and fly-pasts. I understand that the 2015 event was a larger one, and they did put on an air show as well. Everyone seemed to have a good time, even though others were also waiting awhile to see the A400M plane. Well done, RAF Northolt for putting on a show and also allowing me to tick a visit to RAF Northolt off my bucket list (since I live so close to it).

    Street Art by Tito Ferrara

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    Brazilian artist Tito Ferrara has created artwork for games as well as street art. The artist commonly paints portraits. He can paint stylistic or realistic portraits, and many of them have a pop of colour. The new series that the artist is painting contains an illustrated style with gold decoration. I was able to photograph two murals by Tito Ferrara that appeared in east London. The latest, the artist's last work in London, is located at the end of Hanbury Street and depicts a girl with gold decoration/typography.



    The first one that I captured was located on Great Eastern Street. (I'm not sure if it is still in place.) It features a side-view portrait of a woman with similar gold lettering.


    Both murals are well-executed with realistic-yet-stylised representations. More of the artist's work can be seen on his Instagram page at: https://www.instagram.com/titoferrara/

    Roman Town Verulamium, St. Albans

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    Recently, I went to St. Albans and posted about my visit to the cathedral and the town itself. In this post, I discover the Celtic and Roman town of Verulamium. Mosaics and parts of the wall and buildings can be seen here, and a museum near also contains important information that is worth a visit. The town was escavated in the 1930s.


    Verulamium was located just southwest from the current town centre of St. Albans, which is now in a park called Verulamium Park. It was surrounded by walls, and there were four gates connecting to major roads out of the town to other parts of England. London Gate was the name of the gate (pictured below) that was the entrance from London with the road from Dover to Chester. Colchester was linked via the gate on the east and Silchester via the southwestern gate. The four passageways (two for carriages and two for pedestrians) can clearly be seen in the footprint of the old London Gate.


    There are only small sections of the old Roman wall in Verulamium Park, and from parts of these walls, there are good views of the cathedral here. Of course, the cathedral did not exist at the time of the Romans. Now, it takes a good portion of the skyline here. The site of the cathedral and lake in front of it were actually the Roman cemetary, which was just outside the city walls. The necropolis was always outside of the walls by law.


    One of the most important aspects of Verulamium Park that the Romans left behind, which can be seen today, are in-situ mosaics. This huge floor formed one of the largest town houses of Verulamium. It was 2-storeys high and had 33 ground floor rooms. A building has been constructed over the mosaic in order to protect it, and a part of the floor has been taken away to reveal the heating system. Under the floor were channels made using terracota bricks which would channel the air from a furnace room to heat the floor. This house dates from the 3rd century, when Verulamium was in its prime as a rich town that relied on trade. 


    When the Romans came in 34AD, they were careful to gain the respect of the local Celtic tribe, known as Catuvellauni. They believed that the marshes (from which the town was given its name, "above the marsh") and bodies of water are sacred places, and the Romans allowed them to practice their ceremonies. However, Boudicca hated the Romans and managed to burn Verulamium, along with other Roman towns. Verulamium was rebuilt in 140AD, and a new theatre was put on the site of a temple.


    I went to visit the theatre, which had a concert event taking place at some point where people had been set up and practicing. Unfortunately, this took away from the atmosphere, but the seating area and inner circle of the theatre could be seen. The theatre could hold 7,000 people. Most Roman towns had a theatre, but this is the best-preserved one; I remember seeing one at Silchester too. 


    The other popular feature is the presence of the columns on the stage, which would have been painted. The columns were made of sandstone, and only one exists, replaced to its location, today. Bullfights, swordfights, and executions also would have been expected to take place here. Greek and Latin plays may have also been performed, but it was more likely that it in this part of the Roman Empire, pantaminus (where the word 'pantomimes' comes from), which was the word for a silly play with a lot of dancing and music.


    The theatre was associated with paganism and probably declined when Christainity spread. Many temples were built near the theatre. Outside the theatre were shops that probably would have sold trinkets of gods and goddesses and other items. The shops were blacksmith and bronze shops. Oil lamps may have also been sold here as well as glass jars and any items that would have been put into them.

    After visiting the theatre, I went to Verulamium Museum, which is an award-winning museum located across the road from the theatre. It was built on the site of the Roman Forum. The Roman town was one of the most important ones in England. It was escavated in the 1930s, and many of the foundations were re-buried. 


    Many clay pots and coins were found at the location of Celtic Verulamium. It had its own mint. The Catuvellauni were known as experienced warriors. They would have settled the ground nearer Wheathampstead first as earthworks and pieces of pottery were found here. The Romans must have regarded them as important as they traded with them and there seems to be a sign of respect instead of completely conquering them.

    Cremation became one of the burial practices (from France), and urns were filled with pieces of bone as well as pieces of prized possessions. On a hill not far from the town was a burial for a king, whose name has been lost. A temple was later constructed here, but it is clear that a large event took place on top of the pyre before the temple had been built. This also explains that Romans did respect the people and this king, who would have had the support of his people.


    One of the temples in the town was called The Triangular Temple because it was in the shape of a triangle at the crossroads. It was for the goddess Cybele, who was the goddess of wealth and growth of cities. Another temple was located near the theatre. A church was constructed near the site afterwards, showing that the religion of the people changed over time. Near the temple, the small figures of gods, goddesses, and other figures were discovered and these would have been bought for the shrine that people had in their homes.


    Little charms have also been found, and people would wear these or use them as offerings. Coins bearing symbols or phallic symbols were for fertility or to ward off evil. Others were symbols of feet or legs, which may have meant that they prayed for these body parts to be healed.


    Inside the museum were items traded from across the Roman Empire. The above glass jug was found in a coffin with a skeleton with a couple of other glass jugs. Other items traded included wine, olive oil, and other liquids that were put into different types of amphorae from across the Roman Empire.


    Another important item discovered was found in the cellar of a metal-worker's shop. It must have an interesting story; perhaps it was going to be repaired or cleaned. Anyway, it would have probably had the pride of place in a private temple. It is a statue of Venus holding an apple. Mercury was the most popular diety on display in Verulamium because more of the god had been found than any other. 


    Also, Celtic figures to represent fertility, wealth and livestock were also common.


    One of the most important parts of the museum was seeing the mosaics, which were recovered from different houses at Verulamium.


    A room decorated like a Roman house was also included in a part of the museum. This area demonstrated the different trades of the people of the Roman city. 


    Another area showed how the people regarded animals. Several paw prints from animals were discovered in drying clay. People lived with cats to catch rodents and dogs. There was also information found on the types of tools used to harvest the land. Verulamium was popular because of its success at farming and agriculture.


    The last part of the museum was an area about death. It included information about cremations and burials. Cremation took over as the most popular burial by 250AD. The best items were actually found in graves so that the dead could use them in the afterlife. Items included food, pottery or glass jars, shoes, clothing, and other trinkets.

    One of the items on display was a child's coffin with tiny bones; a toy box was placed at the foot of the child decorated with seashells from the Mediterranean. A single coin was also included for the journey to the afterlife.


    Another skeleton had a bronze bust above it, and it was created by examining the skull of the deceased. 


    A couple of other skeletons were on display in their stone coffins, which were cased with lead. They are of a man and wife, and they must have been rich to have this type of burial. A couple of skeletons of babies were also on display. Babies could be buried inside the town's walls as long as they were younger than 40 days old.

    That concludes the trip to Verulamium. I recommend a visit to see the mosaic floor and the museum, which was very good. If this interests you, may also be interested in my trip to Silchester, which you can read about here: Pub Lunch at Mattingley's 'Leather Bottle' and a Visit to Silchester.

    London-based street artist Ant Carver has recently painted a new mural on Hanbury Street. The artist normally pastes up paste-ups on London's streets, but this time he has painted a wall. He uses spray paints with oils to create an illustration of a portrait in black and white, which is then finished off with bright strokes of colour to create a perfect design illustration. The new piece is photographed below.



    I have previously covered Ant Carver's work here:

    Street Art: Ant Carver
    Ant Carver Pastes New Portraits on East London Streets
    Ant Carver Portraits of Models

    The Friday before last, I wandered over to Dinerama after work. I've been to Dinerama with colleagues at lunch earlier this summer when we took advantage of the beautiful weather, and those were some of the best lunches that I've had this year with colleagues. Dinerama is located near Shoreditch High Street and a short walk from the City; it's at the City end of Great Eastern Street. Dinerama includes several pop-up restaurants selling various street food and includes a few bars selling drinks. During lunch, less venues are open. 


    There were a couple of places that I wanted to try that were not open during lunch, so I headed over after work. I couldn't get any of my colleagues to tag along, so I just went by myself. 


    I wanted to try Fundi Pizza and You Doughnut. Fundi Pizza sells a small selection of pizzas with different toppings, and they have a pizza oven on site.



    I had the cheese pizza. Although the pizza did taste nice, it does not surpass my "best pizza of London". Sorry, Fundi. The pizza itself tasted a bit bland with the underside cooked a little too much. (They had to bin the first one they made for me because it was worse.) I still prefer "Franca Manca" and "Pizza Pilgrims" with a slice of the cheese Homeslice being a third.


    I got the wine slushie from "Big Bar" on the ground floor. It was made with rose wine, and it tasted fruity. 


    For dessert, I tried You Doughnut! You Doughnut! sells fresh doughnuts, which can be made into a sundae with ice cream and other toppings. I had the vanilla doughnuts with ice cream and malt chocolate biscuits.


    Dinerama is open from Thursday to Saturday from noon until late. If visiting after 19:00, a fee is charged. I visited at about 17:00 on a Friday. While Dinerama was fairly busy, I can imagine that it is packed later on and at the weekends, so finding a seat may be difficult and waiting in queue for food may be a bit time-consuming. 

    Street Art by Helen Blur

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    Street artist Helen Blur has recently returned to London and painted a new mural on Redchurch Street. I saw the work in progress earlier in the week and popped over on Thursday in order to get a photograph of it. Helen Blur (abcdefghelens) often depicts people in unfortunate circumstances. The new mural shows a man carrying a small house on his back. This may represent the cost of housing and that people in the area are being pushed out due to high prices or immigration in general.



    Helen Blur collaborated with Wasp Elder on a mural on Hanbury Street this spring, which I have covered here. She also created another mural on Pedley Street, which did not last long. The work on Pedley Street I had captured while it was in progress, and it shows a figure of a larger person controlling smaller people as they walk from one tent into another, all dressed in white with colourful outfits hanging between tents. This looks to me like a description of slavery. Perhaps the conforming people in white, which look tired and controlled, are modern-day slaves forced to create new clothing. 


    Previous posts:

    Wasp Elder and Helen Blur, Victims of Circumstance

    Last weekend, I visited St. Albans, a town in England which is just north of London and one of the commuter towns. The purpose of the trip was to attend a tour of the cathedral, followed by cream tea and to see what the town has to offer. In fact, St. Albans does have a lot to offer. It has so much to offer that I will be writing two posts about it; the second one will be about the Roman settlement here, which was called Verulamium. Before the Romans, the settlement was known by the same name and inhabited by a Celtic tribe who minted many coins and traded openly with the Romans. More about the Roman settlement will be covered in another post. 


    I arrived in town in time for lunch and went to Hatch, a local burger cafe. I ordered a chicken burger, and this came with fries. The food was delicious, and I loved the taste of the fries.


    After eating, I walked back up the hill to the middle of St. Albans, where I discovered the clocktower. It was build in the early 1400s, and it was built at a time when clocks were rare in England. Near the clocktower was St. Eleanor's cross and other medieval structures, but these were later demolished. The clocktower also had bells, which were used by the market and as curfew.


    The clocktower was also used as a shutter telegraph in the Napoleonic Wars (from 1808 to 1814) to communicate with the fleet at Great Yarmouth and Westminster, but it only worked in certain conditions and until electronic telegraphs came into use in the 1840s. The clocktower's lower floor was a shop, and the room and room directly above were rented out together. In the room above, there was just enough room for a garderobe (toilet) and bed. 

    The three rooms above the shop and room were used for the clock. The second from the ground was the lodging for the family of the clock-keeper, and it would have smelled from the garderrobe below and had the weights from the clocks hanging down into the room.


    The clocktower was open, and for £1.00, I could climb the narrow and winding stairs to the top. There is only one set of stairs, so I had to sometimes wait for a few minutes until everyone coming down had passed, but there are the rooms mentioned above to stop off at. 


    The Victorian clock (which is on the lower level) was installed in 1866 when the tower was repaired. The larger clock is Market Clock, installed in 1729. Goods could not be sold before the bell rang, and dealers could not buy until a second bell so that the average people had the chance to buy first at better prices.


    The big town bell is called Gabriel, and it was cast in Aldgate by William and Robert Burford in the 1700s. The bell was used to wake the town and signal curfews; it was also used to warn about fires, bad weather, and wars.


    Finally, I reached the top and had it to myself for a few seconds. I caught a nice glimpse of the cathedral, where I would be visiting later for a tour and cream tea.


    A couple of the gargoyles on the top of the tower were still intact, but others were worn away and had broken off.


    I also saw the market from the top of the clocktower, so I went to have a wander after descending the clocktower.


    The market had a variety of food and craft items. Fish, meat, olives, baked goods, pies, and cooked meats were on offer. I also saw crafts, soaps, chutneys, sewn products, and jams. The market was relatively empty, suggesting that it operates earlier and does a good business.


    After walking back to the clocktower, I noted the old pub. St. Albans was a stop on the coach service to London, so it has many inns. This one was the Fleur-de-Lys. King John of France was captured at this site in 1356. The inn was built in the mid 1400s.


    I then walked around and walked to the cathedral. Beautiful gardens filled with holly hocks and lavender were lovely...



    The cathedral is another attraction in St. Albans, and it is currently under renovation. The town of St. Albans and the cathedral was named after British saint Alban. In Roman times, Christianity was forbidden, and those who practiced were put to death. Alban met a priest and turned to Christianity; the priest became his guest and he protected him by wearing the priest's robes when the Romans called in. Alban was executed for this (saving the priest's life), so he became a saint. The cathedral is built where he was executed.



    The voucher implied that tours were held at certain times, so the idea was to have the cream tea first and then go to the tour. However, the voucher was misprinted. The last tour started at 2:30, so we were half an hour late. We did manage to find the tour and the guide inside the cathedral, so we did get to hear half of the tour. 


    The ceilings are beautiful in this part of the cathedral, and we learned about the building and how it suffered due to collapsing. It was originally a Norman building. Part of the cathedral is older than the other side, which had to be rebuilt in a different style. Apparently this land was one of the first places where Christianity was worshipped in England. 



    This rose window is a modern one, and it was unveiled by Princess Diana in the 1980s. It was designed to look like coins and is sometimes known as the bank window.



    The statues here signified Alban and other popular religious people. The cathedral was the monastary before they were dissolved.


    This is the Lady Chapel, which dates to the 14th century and dedicated to Mary. It became a school for boys at one point.


    Lastly, we looked at the shrine that holds the relics. It was damaged in Victorian times when they attempted to restore it. It has been corrected with a metal frame in more recent times and is meant to hold some of the bones of St. Alban.


    After the tour, we went to Abbot's Kitchen to have the cream tea. This is the cathedral's cafe, but it's currently held outside in a tent as the building is under renovation. The cream tea consisted of a choice of plain or fruit scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. We were also given tea, but it was really too hot for tea, and the temperatures were not the best inside the tent. I ended up drinking as much tea as possible and then getting a fruit ice and cold drink to take away.




    I had lovely weather in St. Albans. I took one last photograph of the cathedral after the tour and tea.


    Have you ever visited the cathedral or town of St. Albans?

    Empties Early 2017

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    This blog post is inspired by the "empties" reviews that I have seen on other blogs. I think this type of post is useful because it details the beauty, make-up, and skin-care items that have been finished up and if they qualify to be useful enough to re-purchase (or a purchase in the case of sample sizes). This post contains several items that I have finished recently (now that I have unpacked most of my beauty items) as well as items that I finished a few months ago. 


    Finishing some of these products is satisfying because many of them last forever. Go ahed and read on to see what I think about the products or if I would re-purchase them.


    Rituals Ta Chi shower gel: A little bit of this gel went a long way, and I actually took this away on travels with me. The soft gel foams up very quickly, and it has a calming smell. Would I buy it again? Yes, I would buy it again as I loved the product, but I have a lot of other shower and bath products to use up.

    MONU spa Rosewood reviving mist: I used this product in the morning as a pick-me-up. The product did cool my face and make me feel more awake with its nice scent; it also seemed to calm my problem skin and felt extra-nice in the warm weather. I did not realise at the time, but it could be used to set make-up too. Would I buy it again? I currently am getting through a similar product, but I did enjoy using it. I'm just not sure that it's something I would integrate into my schedule long-term.

    Malin+Goetz vitamin e face moisturiser: This moisturiser just sinks into the skin without feeling greasy or too heavy. Would I buy it again? No; I did not see or feel the long-term benefits.

    Eslor firming collagen day cream: This day cream has a lovely scent, and the product is absorbed into the skin. Would I buy it again? If I was looking to buy a day cream, I would look at re-purchasing this.

    Indemne Eau de Genie: This product is a facial cleaning product to remove make-up and to prepare your skin so that the next skin-care products are absorbed into the skin. Would I buy it again? No; I did not see or feel the benefits.

    Essie pink nail polish: This bright pink nail polish was a sample size, and it did go on and dry fairly quickly, but it did not last long before it dried out. Would I buy it again? No. Even if I did not have a lot of nail polish, I would not have purchased this colour.

    L'Oreal Mythic Oil hair masque: This nourishing hair masque made my hair feel soft and kept it untangled. I also really loved the scent of the product. Would I buy it again? Yes, because it is one of the better hair masques that I have used, but I need to use up what I have first.

    Clarins gentle foaming cleanser: This product helps to clean skin and remove make-up. It lathers up quickly, so a little does go a long way. Would I buy it again? Yes; I've already purchased the full size.

    Molton Brown purifying grapeseed anti-oxidant shower gel: This was one in a sample shower gel selection box that I purchased many years ago for my then-boyfriend, but we broke up, so I thought that it was time to use it up instead of hoarding it. The shower gel has a great scent that is perfect for men and women, and it's a very grown-up smell too. Would I buy it again? I love Molton Brown products, and it's a good scent, but I have so many other bath/shower products to use up.

    ModelCo Power Lash: This mascara promises to enhance the lashes. It does make the lashes bold with minimal effort. Would I buy it again? No; I found that the product clumped too much and dried out quickly. Also, a lot of the product was wasted because too much came out on the wand and was too tight to go back into the container, leaving a lot of mess around the lid.

    Soap & Co mineral peeling gel: This product promises to remove dead skin. It is applied, left to dry for a short time, and then the excess can be rubbed off. Would I buy it again? Absolutely not. I felt that this product has no benefits. It is just 'plastic' that is applied to the top layer of the skin that dries and then rubs off. It didn't feel like it penetrated the skin. I found it messy, and I felt that it did nothing for my skin.


    Bath & Body Works cucumber melon body wash: Cucumber Melon was one of the signature scents of Bath & Body Works. It was my favourite scent for years but was discontinued. The scent is fruity and inspiring scent, and I also used it in soaps and body sprays. Would I buy it again? Yes, but I would rather have it as a hand soap.

    L'Oreal Colorista 1-day colour in pink: This temporary hair colour does create an instant and bright colour. It is designed to be sprayed on and washed out. Would I buy it again? No. It rubbed off too easily when my coloured hair touched my skin and clothes.

    Beauty Protector 'Protect and Detangle' leave-in conditioner: This product conditions hair and sorts out tangles. My hair is prone to tangle, and this product painlessly resolved tangles and well as kept my fine hair free from frizz. I also loved the scent. Would I buy it again? Yes. I'm currently using a similar product too.

    Whish bronze shimmer shine: This is a body cream that leaves skin feeling scented but also with a bronze glow. The product is so light that it absorbs into skin instantly, and it has a coconut milk scent. Would I buy it again? I'm mixed about this one. I loved the bronze glow, and I love the scented creams (I've previously tried lavender) that are in the Whish brand. I just was not keen on this scent.

    Superdrug Colour Effects: This semi-permanent hair dye only takes five minutes to colour hair. Would I buy it again? Yes, and I have. This is one of my staple products because I have developed an allergy to a chemical used in most hair dyes (PPD). This is free from PPD, so it is one of the limited options that I have.

    Soap & Glory Mist You Madly: This body mist has a professional musky scent. Would I buy it again? No, I found that the scent would wear off quickly.

    Kueshi Foot Care Cream: This moisturising cream has tea tree oil, which gives the cream a slightly mint scent. Would I buy it again? No, I did not see the benefits of using this product.

    Regenerate advanced tooth paste: This toothpaste promises to reverse enamel erosion, which is a little mis-leading. (Worn enamel cannot be healed, but what this product is doing is creating a barrier to work with the enamel to prevent further decay.) Would I buy it again? I am not sure about this one. I'd need to consult a dentist, but I have other toothpaste that does the same thing at a cheaper cost.


    The Body Shop aloe soothing day cream: The cream was absorbed into the skin without feeling greasy. Aloe Vera is one of the ingredients, and it is marketed at people with sensitive skin. Would I buy it again? Although there was nothing wrong with the product, I wouldn't purchase it.

    The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil: This product promises to help clear blemishes and soothe problem skin. Would I buy it again? Yes, I have already purchased the full size product.

    Organic Surge deep cleansing face mask: This facial mask helps to soothe and detox skin. Would I buy it again? Yes. The product left my face feeling firmer and cleaner, but there's another product (REN) that has the same benefits, and I also use one-use face masks. 

    Garnier Pure Active 3 in 1: This product doubles as a facial cleanser, a scrub, and a facial mask to clean the skin and protect it from blemishes. Would I buy it again? The sample product was too small to really get a feel for the benefits, but it seemed like a good product.

    CK One 'Summer' perfume: CK One's special fragrance 'Summer' comes out for the summer months only, and it was in my "want" list several years ago after I was talked out of buying it at the airport, and then it was discontinued for the winter. I was only able to purchase it in 2015, and it was the summery scent that I have been using in the warm months since. It has a fresh coconut/citrus scent. Would I buy it again? It's a nice scent, although it did not linger long, but I have a lot of other perfumes to get through first. I would need to see if a similar scent lasts longer in a different brand.

    The Body Shop Calm Water (room & linen spray): This room spray could be sprayed for a fresh smell in a room or on linen. Would I buy it again? Yes, but this particular scent has been discontinued. I have already purchased other scents from 'The Body Shop'.

    Fanakapan Paints Water Pistols

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    The "Meeting of the Styles" street art event (covered in a previous entry here) takes place off Brick Lane each year, and this means that many of the walls on Pedley Street are painted with new work. Street artist Fanakapan painted the high-profile Kinkao wall just off Brick Lane. This time, the artist returned to his colourful balloon-inspired creations instead of chrome/foil. The subject of the work is perfect for the hot weather days we are having; it depicts two semi-transparent water pistols and a water balloon with water droplets.


    The mural was started at the weekend but not finished until later last week.


    Previous work by Fanakapan that has appeared on this blog can be seen by looking at the below links:

    Fanakapan Paints Peace for Manchester
    Fanakapan Paints Shoreditch Clowns

    Chrome Balloon Dog in Star Yard

    Fanakapan Paints "Power Tools" on Village Underground Wall

    Fanakapan Paints "Drunk Glass Elephants"
    Fanakapan, Horror Crew, & Jerry Rugg
    Louis Masai and Fanakapan: "Freedom?"
    New Chrome Street Art Mask by Fanakapan
    Balloon Animal Street Art
    Cranio & Fanakapan
    Fanakapan and Horror Crew

    London-based street artist Airborne Mark has been painting street art inspired by Origami, the paper-crafting artwork that comes from Asia. Airborne Mark started painting street art in 2005 in his home country of Poland before coming to the UK.  His latest range of work is called "Origami Riots". The last one was inspired by African masks, and the newest addition is located on the same wall in Star Yard and is a Greek Mask, according to the artist's Facebook page. It only appeared last week.


    For those interested in seeing more form the artist, I previously covered some of Airborne Mark's work, in with a round-up of other artwork in early 2014 here, a round-up in 2015 here and here, in early 2016. In addition, see the below:

    Airborne Mark Paints 'African Mask' - Origami Riots
    Airborne Mark Paints "Paper Sprite" - Origami Riots

    The artist's official website is here: http://airbornemark.com 

    Meeting of the Styles 2017

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    This year's street art paint jam, "Meeting of the Styles" took place last weekend. The annual paint jam, which takes place in the Nomadic Community Gardens off Brick Lane, was held in July this year instead of in May. The paint jam centres around the Nomadic Community Gardens and the walls on Pedley Street that lead up to the community gardens. The gardens are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I was only able to get around to see the work inside the gardens today.

    Maikel Walkman

    One of my favourite pieces this year was the urban fox walking on railroad tracks with a London-esque skyline. The main piece on the large wall inside the gardens was a collaboration between Jim Vision, Dr. Zadok, and additional grafitti-style artists (possibly Neist). Jim Vision painted his fantasy figures and creates,and the fantastic gold border was painted by Dr. Zadok.



    Jim Vision & Dr. Zadok


    Carleen de Sozer

    Candie Bandita


    The Real Dill


    Stedhead and Captain Kris




    Tom Blackford

    Jim Vision and others



    Bron12 & Poer

    meetingofstyles2017-15.jpgThis One




    Jellystone Studios



    John D'oh




    JimmyC (James Cochran) is an Australian street artist who paints Impression-inspired murals using the 'dot' or 'line' technique with spray paint. The dots and lines are added in different colours in order to create a texture and highlights/shadows. JimmyC's work is global, and the portrait he made of David Bowie in Brixton has probably made him even more popular. 


    JimmyC painted his heart design on Redchurch Street at the end of last year, and he also painted a Shakespeare mural on the south bank to honor the special year for the bard. The newest addition to his work in London is located on Brick Lane and titled "Mick's Hands". According to his Facebook page (1), the subject is known as Mick Taylor, who lived in the Brick Lane area for fifty years.


    More artwork by JimmyC that I have posted about in this blog are:
    JimmyC Redchurch Street Heart
    JimmyC Paints Shakespeare on South Bank
    Street Artist JimmyC Paints Caledonian Road
    RIP David Bowie & An Afternoon in Brixton
    New Mural in Ever-Changing Shoreditch by JimmyC
    New 'Spring Offering' Mural by Bailon and Sliks (JimmyC, Zadok Sonar Uno)
    New JimmyC Mural on Joe's Kid (Cafe), Fashion Street
    JimmyC Street Art - New Inn Yard, Brick Lane, Hackney Road
    New Street Art by JimmyC
    Street Art: JimmyC

    1) JimmyC Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Jimmyc.artwork/photos/a.149449778559495.1073741828.149436871894119/778571468980653/?type=3&theater

    After a tiresome week, I booked the bloke and I into free-flowing (bottomless) champagne afternoon tea at The Melody Restaurant in Hammersmith. This is the first time that I have had afternoon tea in awhile as I missed making a reservation for the place that I wanted to go for my birthday last month. The Melody Restaurant is part of St. Paul's Hotel, and this location was used in the cult film "Melody", which I understand is a story about youth and first love. (I have never seen the film, but I now feel that I should watch it.) The hotel became St. Paul's School, which was used in the film. It was directed by Warris Hussein, who was the director of "Dr. Who", and it was produced by David Puttman, who directed "Chariots of Fire" and "Midnight Express". (I've also not seen either of those films.)


    The hotel and restaurant is located in a beautiful red brick building and is not far from Hammersmith tube station and Kensington Olympia. We entered the side gate through the archway, which opened into a green courtyard.


    The hotel was fairly quiet with a couple of people hanging around, and we were taken into the small parlour, which was decorated for afternoon tea. We had the room to ourselves, and jazz/swing music was playing for us. The views of this room were over the courtyard and a footpath that dog walkers and runners were using.


    We were poured our glass of champagne, and the attentive staff kept topping them up for us.


    Our three-tier afternoon tea was promptly brought out with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. We also ordered our own teas. The bloke opted for a strawberry-flavoured tea, and I had Darjeeling.


    We had a selection of sandwiches, including cucumber, roast pepper, cheese, and salmon. (We did ask for them to be plain as we are not a fan of mayonnaise, mustard, or sour cream.) The sandwiches were all delicious.



    After the sandwiches, we tucked into the scones. Fruit and plain scones were provided with plenty of clotted cream and strawberry jam.


    We then finished with the dessert, which came in the form of small pastries. They included a chocolate mousse, Victoria sponge cake, carrot cake with macaroom, and strawberries and cream. All were delicious. The Victoria sponge was very light. The carrot cake had a very nice flavour, and the icing was perfect, but I did find the cake itself to be a little too dry. The macaroons were a nice touch; we had a mango one and a chocolate one. The mousse was light and rich, and the strawberry cream was also tasty. I thought that the strawberry cream would have been much better as an Eton Mess with lashings of meringue and strawberry/raspberry coulis mixed into it.


    I really enjoyed my visit at The Melody Restaurant, and I really do not understand why it was so quiet unless everyone decides to go into central London for afternoon tea. (Like the other times in the past, I paid for my afternoon tea myself, and I was not paid to write this review.)


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