Walking – Why you should do both countryside and city walks…

So now I’m back from my travels and everything is back to normal, I’m realising a revival of two pastimes which I’ve always loved. Reading and long walks.

This year, the walks have become more prevalent and enjoyable. I’m fact, it was something I was looking forward to returning to, when gallivanting around the world. Walking with Oscar, through the cold, winter countryside. Yes, really. I do actually love where I live. Do you?

Also, amongst the wandering around my local area, I’ve gone walking with a walking group and a jaunt up to busy old London too!

The walking group went around East Malling and even though it was a cold day we were lucky enough to have some sunshine and it was quite glorious. Love walks like this because they are so invigorating and the English landscape is so flipping wonderful. It is good for the soul.

The London walk was from the book Walking London -Soho to Trafalgar Square. As much as I love walking around local farmland, orchards and woodlands, the London walks (or any interesting city) are gratifyingly fascinating too. Particularly, if you follow a written walk and it is a good way to investigate hidden city gems as well.

During the stroll, it became obvious Soho isn’t a red light district anymore but a cosmopolitan blend of cafes, fashionistas, theatre and quirky historical areas juxtaposed with modernity such as the BT tower.

On the corner of Scalia Street is Pollocks Toy Museum. Benjamin Pollock 1937, and is one of the last producers of toy theatre scenery. Strolling down the back streets, with pretty gardens, pubs and wine bars is great as you try aimlessly to imagine how unglamorous it would have been, just a century before.

Soho is now a busy place. The whole area has improved and it is great to see the busy emporiums amongst the historical architecture. We devoured coffee and cake and decided we must frequent Ronnie Scott’s club (below), before too long…

The main aspects of this jaunt included Berwick Street Market, Broadwick Street, birthplace of William Blake, Carnaby Street, China Town, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square.

China town is colourful with the red lanterns and leads you into the always manic Leicester Square.

Must admit to really enjoying a long city walk and looking at all of the sights. A self guided walk is the best solution to independently experiencing the city and even if you live near it, there will always be surprises in store for you. Also, places change. Soho has made radical changes during recent times. Walking and exploring is free, environmentally friendly and good exercise. Can highly recommend doing both countryside and city walks.

Nash’s Arcade (above)

 

 

 

Notting Hill, London

Notting Hill, London

There is nothing like a day out in London to restore your spirits. Apart from going to the carnival, I’ve never properly encountered the delights of Notting Hill. You know when you think you’ll arrive and recognise the place, well, that was me. However, I’ve never been before and it was a great place to visit.

During the day, I explored the Museum of Brands, Portobello Road Market, Beach Blanket Babylon bar and finally had a meal in the seafood restaurant, Bucket. Plus, I explored the general Notting Hill area, including some great shops and some stupid shops haha. What a fabulous, day.

The Museum of Brands

The Museum of Brands is a place to revisit the world of advertising and branding. The period of marketing begins during the Victorian era and ends up looking at recent advertising. The exhibition covers everything, including packaging, ads, fads, fashion, food, toys and games and how we’ve evolved as a society. It is like going back in time and fascinating to see. There are a lot of flash backs as you venture towards your own childhood advertising decade and the iconic brands. Certainly a trip down memory lane and great fun too. The latest exhibition discusses the future of packaging and changing from plastic to other options. Let us all hope they include the flipping supermarkets in their observations too!

If you want to go and explore the museum, the nearest Tube is Ladbroke Grove and then a minute’s walk.

Portobello Market

After this excellent experience, I went to Portobello Road and became absorbed in the hustle and bustle of the market. This was also an exuberant experience and although busy, very interesting. There are so many people selling and buying a vast array of Antiques, Bric-a-brac, fashion, food plus street performers too. The energy of the place is captivating and next time I shall explore more but by this time (1pm) I was definitely not up for eating the delicious looking street food because a sit down was needed!

After lunch, I looked around the shopping area and explored some fancy shops. Notting Hill is fashionable and has some beautiful property and people to match. It has to be said, I noticed people are somewhat stylishly dressed in this part of London and was fun to look at the quirky fashions. Must admit to being partial to a bit of people watching.

Posh shopping…

Although there are some lovely furniture/lifestyle shops in Notting Hill, I’m afraid I didn’t get the actor’s shop. Just seems an overpriced lot of nonsense to me and a bit daft. The ethical side is all very well but for me the place is an exorbitant ‘I see you coming’ sort of shopping space.

The charity/vintage shopping, on the other hand, is amazing. I just bought a thin cotton and wool jumper, but my companion bought a Calvin Klein dress, Hugo Boss jacket and Banana Republic blouse, all as new. This particular shop is like a posh boutique rather than a charity shop and so it is definitely worth nosing around the shops because you can get a designer bargain! Who can resist a bargain?

Bar – cocktails

Yep. It was late afternoon and I popped in one bar for a glass of wine, then discovered my online researched bar called Beach Blanket Babylon. So glad I did do some research online, because it was glorious. I had a Porn Star Martini and it was wonderful to sit and watch the world go by. This establishment is in a Georgian mansion in the heart of Notting Hill and known for its cocktails. I, of course, shall return for another cocktail or two at some stage.

Bucket Seafood Restaurant

This was the last stop and is a popular fish restaurant and very good. You can have a bucket of seafood, which is sustainably sourced or alternatively a normal meal. I had a yummy fish pie with sweet potato chips. The chocolate ‘soup’ with icecream and sponge was rather good too!

A great day out and highly recommended. Be prepared to wander miles, watch the glamorous people, eat and drink too much and go home very tired indeed. Also, don’t do what I did, and wear flat but slightly uncomfortable shoes. You will walk miles and miles so find some decent footwear before you venture out.

Things mentioned:

http://www.museumofbrands.com/
http://www.beachblanket.co.uk/nottinghill/
https://bucketrestaurant.com/

London, photography, food and shopping…

Chinatown, London

We caught the train to Charing Cross and walked towards The Photographers’ Gallery, just off Oxford Street. Yes, this was a ‘photography exhibition’ day out. Arrived to find a queue outside and duly joined the end of it. A group of people strolled up and walked straight into the building. Voicing my concern about why we were queuing, my daughter, Chris retorted, ‘Because we are British’ and walked into the gallery. The queue dissipated and we went to the first floor and started enjoying an exhibition about cross dressing. Yes, you read that correctly. Initially, the plan was missing it, but we were enticed by the historical element of the photography. Absolutely fascinating.

Me, looking at the photography at The Photograpers’ Gallery…

Cross-dressing

The exhibition is taken from the archives belonging to the collector Sebastian Lifshitz from the period 1880 – 1980s in Europe and the USA. The apparel and behaviour noted was traditionally observed in members of the opposite sex and often an expression of freedom and transgression. Both men and women wanted to deviate and explore different identities to rebel against mainstream society.

The Anti-Feminist Backlash

My curiosity derived from of the period of the forbidden pictures. Not only that, most of the interest was the cross dressing of women. The emancipation of women compelled them to dress as men in order to propel themselves into a male environment and temporary liberation.

According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement.

Feminism

What is particularly remarkable, is the reference to feminism. According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement. Women were accused of endangering the social order. Some professions became available to women but most were forbidden until the 20th century.

During the 19th century, women started to wear comfortable clothes at college. This was to embrace the new educational opportunities. They were even photographed in suits and smoking cigars whilst socialising. The photography is mesmerising because it is so unexpected. Europe had yet to see this new liberating cross dressing behaviour and it must have challenged the strict code of conduct of the period. Every generation thinks it breaks new behavioural ground, but of course, most of it has already happened.

Also, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography exploring visibility. Loved the black and white elements of contemporary photography and really worth a look.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography…

Lunch

After this excitement, we walked towards the Getty Images Gallery (just off Oxford Street) which had a cafe nearby suitable for lunch. I had located it online, Ethos Restaurant, and thought it would be somewhere different and, as it is a vegetarian place, an unusual option.

Ethos, the interior which is amazing…

Cannot tell you how impressed I was with this place. The decor is innovative and the food beautifully arranged and delicious. You help yourself, then go to the counter where they weigh the food and you pay by weight. All very clever and efficient. We were very impressed.

Veggie food – buffet style…

Next stop, was a look around the Getty Images Gallery. This was unexpectedly small but captivating. Again, the focus is on women, but in a more creative, modern way. The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events. It encapsulates women and is focused on recent sexual harassment scandals, marches and campaigns.

Getty Images Gallery…

The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events.

After this, we wandered around Oxford Street and enjoyed looking at the new fashions. I bought a couple of vibrant, cotton shirts for myself and during this time we went back to Ethos for cake, drink and a break.

Cake break!

Later wandered around the Oxford Street area, stopped for a glass of vino, as is necessary on these trips and then made our way to the french restaurant which was booked for 5.15pm because nothing else was available. Now I have frequented the restaurant, I can see why.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb. What luck we had, that day, with the eateries. This place has a large dining area and when we arrived it was not particularly busy. By the time we left, it was packed which is always a good sign. We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine and lemon meringue for sweet, also splendid. The food and ambiance is beautiful and I shall certainly return.

We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine..

During the day we took copious photos because it was such an brilliant day. Our travels took us all over the West End, including Piccadilly, Oxford Street and around the Charing Cross area. Can recommend this day trip to anyone who loves London and photography, as I do.

Piccadilly area…

Finished the day with a bottle of wine and a hilarious, merry natter at a pub called The Chandos, near our station. What a fabulous day it was. Nothing like a day out to cheer yourself up. We chatted and laughed about everything and cannot wait for our next day out.

Walking towards the pub and Charing Cross Railway Station, London…

Will this be the year of walking and photography?

Unfortunately, I’ve been poorly for much of January and only just getting back to normal. To be honest, it has made me feel low and lethargic. Hence, the lack of posts lately! However, one thing I have enjoyed is copious amounts of walking, as I’m recuperating.

This year seems to be the year for walking, as a form of exercise. The weather can be cold and grey, but it has also been sunny, cold with some beautiful sunsets. Walking is a great way to explore places and become fitter.

If you mix it up a bit, it becomes fun too. For example, you can go to local parks, countryside walks, town or city walks or go around a National Trust place.

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

 

London walks are enormous fun. You can discover squares, alleys, lanes, parks, heaths, gardens, palaces, rivers and so on. The variety of terrain is fantastic for the urban investigator and as well as historic areas you can view the visually spectacular as well. Certainly a different way of exercising and seeing the capital!

Another way of making walking even more interesting is to do them in conjunction with another hobby. I’ve recently participated in a photography course which although basic, provided a wonderful insight into the world of photography. So sometimes the camera 🎥 comes with me and I stop and take photos.

Yesterday, I went to Haysden Park and snapped away. The blue sky and sunshine was very uplifting and I was impressed with the improvements made to the paths and area. When we arrived, I was furious to see you had to pay to park which is ludicrous. Yes, I know it may go towards the upkeep, but can’t help feeling it’s a bit ‘brave new world’ when one day, we will only have a few green places left to go to, and will have to pay to enter and enjoy them. Sorry, 😐 got a little creative there, but paying to enter green spaces is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

The park was busy, probably because of the glorious weather. The lake is beautiful and we loved seeing all the birds, particularly the graceful swans. Two swans had a noisy fight, literally a few feet away, which was captured with the Nikon (just).

The benefits of walking are tantamount to other exercise, especially if you do 10,000 steps per day. Rather a tall order to achieve daily, but a worthwhile challenge. If you are not used to exercise, it is the safest form of exercise, a way to lose weight and radically improve your health. 150 minutes per week of exercise, is the recommended amount we should all be doing and walking is something fairly easy to slot into life.

For me, I’ve been enjoying local parks, group countryside walks and solitary dog walks through local woodland and orchards. What I do fancy is some more city walks because it is great to explore new areas. Sometimes I just snap away on my phone rather than take a camera, but I’ve enjoyed wandering around the countryside and recommend to all. Take a good map so you don’t get lost and walk at a brisk pace. The speed you should be walking is 3 mph and be able to talk but not sing.

A great source of ideas is the internet because you can find some simple circular routes near where you live. To pass the time, I sometimes listen to a podcast or music, but this is rare, as I like to enjoy the surroundings in peace. All very tranquil and relaxing, particularly if you are having a stressful time.

My latest passion is putting a few of my photos on Instagram and a great way to learn from other professionals and decide what makes a good photo. Plus, it is somewhere to file your photos and receive opinions/comments from others.

 

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Lumiere London – Review

Liberty’s

 

I was so pleased to see the City AM email about the Lumiere London Festival. Great excuse to go to London for a fun day out.

Carnaby Street

 

It was an absolutely fabulous adventure seeing this free light festival, which brings together the world’s most exciting artists. First, we sauntered down Carnaby Street and ended up at Liberty’s. My husband, who has not been to the famous store before, was eager to explore. What a fascinating place it is and such a beautiful old building too. We looked around the whole store including clothes, ornaments, objects d’art, furniture, and of course, what they are famous for, the fabrics department. Great fun and we did every floor!

Afterwards we frequented Carnaby Dishoom for a curry which was delicious 😋 and then ventured out towards Regent’s Street.

Here are the pics…

Origin of the World Bubble
Miguel Chevalier (France)
Oxford Circus

 

The ever changing ball was the best part of the show. Surreal and so effective. It’s about the movement and division of cells and ever changing universe. This installation is suspended above Oxford Circus and a wonderful feast for the eyes.

We walked along and saw the Umbrella Project, which entailed a choreographed performance piece using LED umbrellas. I found the performance quite bizarre and good fun.

We walked further and saw Frictions, Mader Wiermann (Germany) which shows a building appear to twist and buckle and return to the original shape. Then onwards to the Piccadilly area to see Voyage Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France) which was again, a wonderful journey through time and space. It shows, by a moving format, the works of time and marks a changing world. Very clever and innovative.

Voyage
Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France)

 

Then onwards to Spectral which is a colourful cord construction and illuminated with different colours and a striking and unusual spectacle.

Spectral
Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Stugocki (Poland)

 

Another favourite was Love Motion by Rhys Coren (UK) in the Royal Academy of Arts courtyard. Wow! This was a remarkable animation of two people dancing and kissing. It was projected onto the facade of the RAA’s building and so effective and moving. You felt like you’d had a hug after watching this!

Love Motion
Rhys Coren (UK)

 

By now, we had walked miles and was ready for a pint. We made our way to Leicester Square Gardens to observe the amazing Nightlife by Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK). This is an illuminated nocturnal wonderland, bringing together the garden and animals and the relationship between them. Wild spaces and urban life reflecting a celebration of the natural world. Brilliant and a masterpiece.

Nightlife
Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK)

 

Finally, just before grabbing a quick pint we viewed the installation called Child Hood which consisted of luminous spheres flashing on and off whilst moving in the wind. Quite mesmerising.

Collectif Coin (France)

 

We also saw some small installations but I’ve concentrated on the magnificent ones, here. So glad we went on this adventure as we had no idea what to expect. My idea of bliss is finding an excuse to walk around London. A lot of the major roads were shut so it was a truly, surreal and magnificent occasion. Next year, we may try to see more during several evenings.

For more photography, film, comments and stories visit the Mishmash Media Blog Instagram. Thank you.

Andy 🙂

More photos…

Leicester Square – Nightlife

Off Carnaby Street

Harmonic Portal
Chris Plant (UK)

 

#London Adventures… Art, Decorations, Curry and Beer…

Enjoyed a busy weekend which included a trip to London and a sunny and cold walk on Sunday. The decision was made. Go to London for a day trip, but what to do?

The website https://www.timeout.com/london is an excellent source of inspiration and I soon spotted an art exhibition that will interest us… Dali Duchamp at the Royal Academy of Arts.

After suffering the train journey which was expensive, late and crowded, a soup and sandwich had to be consumed in Pret. Ok, I’m well aware the skeptical could go on about a marketing ploy, but I love the way they care and don’t waste food at the end of the day. See the pics at the end of this post!

After relaxing with my warming soup and sandwich, we ventured forth to the exhibition which was very interesting and informative on a variety of art movements (Dada, Surrealism, Readymade, The Surrealist Object, Eroticism and Paranoiac-Critical Theory). My only complaint was that it only kept us quiet for about two hours and unlike other exhibitions you pay for, there weren’t any free exhibitions in the same facility. Never mind, it was a magnificent glimpse into the legendary Dali and included paintings, drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photographs and historical film. You can submerge yourself in their subversive work and satisfy your curiosity about Dali’s friendship with Duchamp.

Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp maintained a bond of mutual admiration despite having different artistic endeavours. Ultimately, it is clear, from this fascinating display of their work, that they shared absurdity and cynicism which subsequently led them to challenge conventional art. Duchamp’s legacy was often hailed as the father of conceptual art and his friendship with Dali, who was flamboyant and dramatic, puzzled Duchamp’s admirers. However, upon examining the juxtaposition of their work, you can see common ground because of their experimental and philosophical associations. Both are quite bizarre but absolutely fascinating. Highly recommended.

Afterwards, we wandered over the road towards Fortnum and Mason to gaze at the glorious, colourful window displays. Then, of course, I could not resist a look around the store. It was packed full of shoppers, mingling amongst the impressive Christmas decorations. Good grief, bit early, isn’t it? Not even December yet. They do this, in case you are wondering, because everybody shops in November now, to miss the crowds (hahaha). If you go up the magnificent staircase, you can visit the cook shop, ladies department and the posh men’s accessories too. Lots and lots of leather. The food hall is downstairs where you can by miniature bananas and other stupid things, normal people don’t want. The glamour and grandeur may be over the top, but it is London and amusing to visit.

Upon arrival at Kings Cross we popped in a pub called The Betjeman Arms for a quick glass of Beavertown IPA. Delicious! We sat outside overlooking the amazing arches of St Pancras. Yes, there was heating, thank goodness and it was a relief to sit down. Next time, we will go to London during the week. What was I thinking?

Next stop, was Kings Cross for the curry. Although not a big curry fan, I had heard about the restaurant, Dishoom, and wanted to visit. The restaurant at Kings Cross, was featured on Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, Channel 4, UK. We arrived at about 4.30 pm and it was packed. There was me thinking the place will be empty! Nobody eats curry at that time, right? Wrong!

It is based on:

“THE OLD IRANI CAFÉS of Bombay have almost all disappeared. Their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.

Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Now, fewer than thirty remain. Their loss is much mourned by Bombayites.”

So the food is traditional curry and encapsulates quality food without fuss. The service was excellent as the waitress skilfully guided us through the menu which was useful because it is quite different from your usual curry establishment. Again, I can recommend this immersive experience. Be warned though, it is very popular. As we left we passed a long queue outside! Everyone must have been freezing.

Overall, a great day out viewing superb art, shopping (although I didn’t buy anything), eating and drinking. Oh, the beer was good too! Dishoom IPA, oh yes.

 

 

Other photos of bits which I found interesting. Good intentions from Pret and art on a building (Kings Cross)…

 

The Ivy, Tower Bridge – Part 2

After the blogging event, we jumped on the Tube and went to The Ivy, London Bridge. It is near the station and the bridge so easy to find. The restaurant has a large glass window front with a magnificent view of London Bridge. We crossed the bridge to reach the restaurant and was able to take some wonderful night time views.

When we located the place we had trouble finding the entrance as you have to walk around the corner to actually find it. We arrived and was taken to our table. A lovely place which was exceedingly busy with lots of people having animated conversations about life and enjoying the delicious food.  We were asked if we would like still or sparkling water and my daughter firmly said ‘tap please’. I love the way she doesn’t worry about what people think, although nor do I nowadays.

The staff were friendly and told us all about the menu, but we couldn’t hear because it was soooo noisy. Unfortunately, this does seem to be a problem, but I could see that the problem would not last and many people were finishing their meals and had come from work so would probably depart which is, exactly what happened.

I had duck pate to start, lamb for my main course and then this most amazing chocolate bomb. I decided to have a beer because I had to drive home from the station, in a few hours time. Unfortunately, the glass was completely inappropriate for a female as it was large with a handle and the rime was about half an inch thick. I tweeted them about it, but was positive apart from complaining about the glass. The food and service were superb. The chocolate bomb was incredible and the highlight of the meal.  The waiter poured hot caramel sauce over the smooth mound and it all collapsed into a kaleidoscope of beauty and gorgeousness.  Oh, the  decadence of it! Yum! We are still dreaming about it. Quite sublime.

Can recommend the experience and it wasn’t too pricey. Not really. It is what life is all about really, isn’t it?