Autumn in Epping Forest – Week 2

Sunday 22 November 2017 – Epping Forest.

I was a little disappointed with the finished product after last week’s photo walk in Epping Forest. I had some good compositions and had the light pretty much right in most cases. Two key photographic objectives made. Where I had let myself down was the crispness of some of the images. There were a couple I was quite pleased with that were just not sharp enough in the areas that counted. What really galled is that I had humped the tripod around with me for the entire three half hours, yet I only used it for about ten minutes. What a waste; and don’t ask me why I did not use it. I have no reason.

I decided to go out again this weekend, take the tripod, but actually use it. No proper walk planned. Just photograph near to where I park and take more time, but producing less output.

I left home a little later than last week, it was another cracking autumn day, crisp, but not cold, with little wind and a clear sky; perfect for everyone and there dog to go outside. The car park near where I had planned to check out was full when I arrived, damnit! I ended up driving to another location, one I am familiar with, but it was second choice due to it being close to one of the more popular areas of the forest.  I do like to do my photography on my own.  The forest is the one place locally I can let my mind run free, clear out all the garbage that comes in over a working week, then reset and prepare thoughts and ideas for the week ahead. I always feel refreshed when I get home.

I was amazed at how much the forest had changed in just a week, a lot of the leaves had gone and there are a lot more bare trees than before. Next time I come up there will only be tree skeletons left. I took significantly less photos than last week, I had given my self a lot less time, and I only strayed a couple of hundred metres from the car, but I did use the tripod and I did get much sharper images. 

Mission accomplished!

I love how this tree has managed to reconnect its roots and has survived being blown over.

I spent a bit of time trying to photography these two trees, I liked their shapes and their relationship and I liked the way the light plays on them and with their leaves. I just could not seem to get the shot I wanted. I took enough, and this was the best of an average bunch.

Perhaps this couple sitting nearby put me off.  I always feel restrained when others are around.

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My favourite image from the session.

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Autumn in Epping Forest – Week 1

Sunday 22 November 2017 – Epping Forest.

Last year I managed to pretty much miss the changing of the seasons in London. Autumn arrived quite late and the trees had not started properly changing colour until after I left for India. This year I stayed for the show.

I have not been to Epping Forest for a few weeks, and was really looking forward to this trip. I had a walk planned, batteries for the big camera charged and the tripod in the car.

On a normal trip to the forest I am looking for flat grey light, however today I was hoping for some nice low sun. Actually, what I was praying for was some dense mist, though I settled happily for the clear sky that I got.

I have a semi regular walking route I follow when I go to the forest, covering decent sized groves of beech and silver birch trees. The actual paths taken vary each time, and I often stray in to small blocks of trees that I have yet to thoroughly explore before. Blocks that feel remote, that are quiet; though always my new favourite block.

Though I took the tripod, I barely used it, something I utterly regret now as I do the edit, as most of the images are not really, really crisp. I was disappointed with that. I have no real explanation as to why I did not use the tripod much. I am blaming the fact I had planned too large a walk, for the limited time I had.

I am going to return next week and stick to one small area.

Here are the images I ended up with.  I must admit I took an awful lot, way more than I normally do, but the forest was utterly spectacular. So much colour and so much vibrancy. I will leave it to you to judge 🙂

 

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November 2017

It is now less than a month to Christmas. 2017 has been another really busy year and I am not really sure where it all disappeared to. But disappear it did. This year has been the first time in the six years since I left New Zealand (on my two year holiday) that I have not been back for a visit.  Mum did come to see us, which was fabulous, but that meant I missed out on seeing my two grand children.  I need to make sure that I return in 2018.

I have not taken a walking trip this year either, not even a couple of sneaky days away, again highly unusual, and another symptom of my busyness. I am going to try and squeeze a weekend away on my own in before the end of the year. Take some photos and do a little bit of walking.  My long term goal to walk the south west coast path have been thwarted, but there is no one to blame but myself, though at least I did visit the path a few times in 2017.

Though we have been busy, a lot of that busyness has been doing fun things, and we have been out and about for numerous walks and other activities. I have no cause for complaint, I just want to do too much I guess. Most of those activities over the year have been written about.

I generally take a camera most places I go, the ‘little’ Canon G16 is in my backpack most days, and if it isn’t, I at least have my phone with me the rest of the time. So, this post may be the start of a regular end of month wrap-up post of the random images I take that do not fit in to another narrative.

The only thread that remotely links even a small number of these images together is ‘Autumn’. I love autumn in the UK far more than in Auckland. Here, even in London, we get much more colour in the trees, and the dead fall on the ground. So I will start with some of those.

Most weekday mornings I walk from Green Park Station, down through Green Park, across the Mall and through St James Park to the office. I have really enjoyed watching the trees turn, it has been a beautiful experience and the walk is a good start to most days.

A couple of weeks ago, Eleanor and I walked to, and then through the recently opened ‘Walthamstow Wetlands’, Europe’s largest urban wetland area.  It is not the best time of year for urban wildlife; and the place was pretty crowded with other visitors, so we kinda just walked through from the Ferry Rd entry to the Copper Mill Lane entry, where I took this picture.

There were piles of leaves all along the end of the Copper Mill Lane, so I stopped to take a few photos of the brightly coloured leaves, drying and dying on the ground. The rich array of coloured leaves, all from the same type of tree is a constant reminder of how  amazing the natural world is.  I also tried a little bit of ‘Intentional Camera Movement’ photography to get this blurry, splash of colour, painterly affect.

On Saturday we went to Tate Modern to see the Modigliani exhibition, as members we got to  enter the exhibition an hour before the ‘public’. It was really good, I am not overly familiar with his work, but I particularly liked his early portraits. There was no photography allowed in the exhibition. However, I did quickly snap this picture outside, a scene I really liked, and one I am going to go back to to try and get a better image.

Along with this one of the wonderful silver birches outside.

El and I went separate ways after walking to Liverpool St Station. I was on a mission to a record fair at Spitalfields (unfulfilled), though I did find this wonderful light sculpture around Broadgate.

And this old shop front, which I surprised myself by never having seen before!

There are a couple of posts coming from two short photo missions I have made in Epping Forest over the past couple of weeks, and that will be a wrap of November 2017!

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A little slice of Devon Heaven

Sunday 29 October 2107 – Budleigh Salterton and Dawlish, Devon, England.

Up early again. On a Saturday. Again. This is becoming an unhealthy habit! El and I are off to Exeter to visit Charlie’s flat and drop a load of stuff off that he could not take down on the train. We were in the car and off by 7:30, stopping for breakfast and a coffee on the way. It was a good run down to Exeter and we were there by 12:00.

Charlie lives in a big old house; there are seven students in it, in a street full of big old houses full of students. We were lucky to be able to park the car pretty close to his front door and after unloading we were off to the student bar in the university campus to watch football and eat lunch. Not bad, nice food and cheap beer, but I was driving.

Once the game was over (a Tottenham loss to Man Utd.) El and I headed out of town to the very nice B and B I had booked for the night. We dropped the bags and carried on down to the coast. We passed through Budleigh Salterton on our July south coast road trip and liked the place enough to want to come back for a longer visit. I tried to find somewhere to stay the night there, but there wasn’t anything available, so we are staying in Clyst St Mary on the edge of Exeter. I parked on the sea front and we wrapped up and went for a walk; it is cold.

The light was marvellous as we walked along the side of the pebbly beach and up to the cliff top viewing area to admire the views.

The sea front at Budleigh Salterton is nice, we both liked it. However; when we walked into the small village to find somewhere to have a meal, it seemed to be all shut. Hmm, there were a couple of places open; but as a place to move to, well we need more choices for food. We jumped back in the car and headed to a pub near the B and B and had what turned out to be a pretty good carvery for tea. I haven’t done a carvery pub meal for ages. I enjoyed it.

We were back at the B and B really early, not long after 7:30. It was dark and cold and we were tired, so heading in to town was not really an option. As we arrived a great fireworks display started at, I am guessing, the local school. Even better was we could watch it from our room, which was very sound proofed !

It was another glorious day on Sunday, we had a bit of a lie in with breakfast booked for 8:30. Full English, yum. We were not picking Charlie up until 1:30 so decided to take advantage of the sun and go to the other side of the River Exe and visit Dawlish. I have passed through Dawlish numerous times on the train but have never stopped there. This section of the railway was design by Brunel and runs right along the coast, across causeways and through tunnels, a wonderful piece of engineering. I have always wanted to visit, though parking the car was more expensive than London and made me a little grumpy 🙂 We parked at the station.

We walked along the sea front to the very nice Cove Cafe at the end. We briefly enjoyed sitting in the sun drinking the best coffee in days along with a piece of un-needed, but very much desired and enjoyed sweet cannoli each. It was a shame that the family with the loudest voices in the south of England were sitting right next to us.

I was hoping to be able to walk further along the train line, though had to settle for just looking and marvelling at the engineering feat that Brunel managed on this rugged coast line.

There was even a bit of street art nearby. I am liking Dawlish!

It is a lovely town, it has everything in my book, apart from being too far from anywhere, and rather ‘elderly’. It is clean and tidy, not too ‘seaside shabby’, has some marvellous views, and a seawall that would make for some excellent photographic opportunities in stormy weather.

The weekend was slightly ruined for me by the seven hour drive back to London. It was the last day of the mid-term school break and the traffic was mad, so many accidents, so much traffic. We went back to London via Oxford to avoid the snarl ups on the M4. It was tiring and horrible.

But the weekend made it pretty worth while.

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A walk around Norwich.

Saturday 14 October 2017 – Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Continuing our search to find somewhere outside of London to buy a house El and I decided to take a day out and visit Norwich. It is not a coastal town, so for me it has one immediate downside. However, it is not a major effort to get to the nearby coast, and it has a lot of positives. One of those positives it is only two hours by train from Liverpool St Station. This makes it far smoother to get to and from Walthamstow than with trains that terminate in Paddington.

By my Saturday morning standards I was up very early so we could catch the train, and we arrived in Norwich late morning. In a burst of unusual enthusiasm we had done some research into Norwich and had a loose plan for the day. Starting with following the River Wensum from the station around to the Last Wine Bar, where El had booked us in for lunch. Visiting the castle and the cathedral were also on the list; any town with a river, a castle and cathedral has an advantage in my book.

The walk around the river is really nice, with paths on both sides and plenty of interesting things to look at on the way. Norwich is an old city, with settlements back to pre-Roman times, though its mad boom period was in the 10th century when it was the second largest town in Britain; behind London. The Castle and the Cathedral were both built soon after the Norman conquest. The inside of the river was the site of city walls and there were a number of gated bridges controlling access, like the 15th century Pulls Gate.

Cow Tower was built in 1398 as an artillery post to defend the city against marauding local rebels and the perceived threat from France. Now it is a nice river side spot to have a wee late morning doze.

The river takes an almost 90 degree turn at Cow Tower and the path meanders past the edge of the cathedral fields. With lunch in mind we did not venture in to the cathedral grounds just yet.

The River Wensum, joins the River Yare just outside the city and the Yare flows to the North Sea at the busy port of Great Yarmouth. Norwich was a busy inland port and quite a wealthy city, this section of the river walk reminded us a lot of Brugge, very European in style. Norwich is a university town, so has a lot of students; which means a lot of cafes and bars, along with a youthful and outward look on life. It was not a Brexit supporting town in the referendum in June last year. This seemed to be reflected in how the city ‘felt’. Maybe having a row of houses that look European makes a place feel European?

We were early for lunch at the Last Wine Bar so took a walk round the immediate area, there were some nice little streets, and nice windows with reflections to keep me entertained as well.

Lunch at the wine bar was excellent, really nice atmosphere, food, wine and service, not cheap though. London prices as they say. However, we would go back.

After lunch we took a walk around town, heading into the old town, past numerous shops, bars and some nice looking cafes. It was pleasing to see that there were a number of non-high street brand stores, independent retail had a home in Norwich. I am liking it more and more.

We headed up to the castle, though did not go in; cost and time, prohibited it. Next time.

Looping around the castle we headed back down the hill, past the lovely old Anglia TV studio building, down towards the cathedral quarter.

Started in 1095 the construction of the cathedral was completed in 1145, the spire was completed in 1148 and is the second tallest in England. It is a marvellous spire and I marvel at its age and the skill and vision of its builders.

The streets around the cathedral are equally lovely, especially on this glorious, early autumn day. Cobbled lanes, big old trees, a mix of Tudor and newer buildings, bright colours. What’s not to love?

Maybe the Bear Shop was a step too twee.

It was a slow stroll, back around the river path to the station.

  

Another great day and a town now high on the ‘should we buy here’ list. Nice one Norwich.

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Thetford Forest YHA Weekender

Sunday 1 October 2017 – Thetford, Norfolk, England.

Our local group of friends, AKA ‘The Walthamstow Lot’ have been holding an annual weekend away since the children were very young. The YHA Weekend. El used to go along, though she stopped going before we met. Last October we went along for my first YHA Weekend experience, this weekend we returned for our second. Last year we stayed in Brancaster Staithe on the north Norfolk coast, this year we stayed in a hostel in Thetford Forest, also in Norfolk. There were 26 of us, split fairly evenly between parents and youth. Ranging from 17-24 years old, it seems unfair to call them the kids.

We drove up after work on Friday, it was not a bad journey, mostly driving in the dark, not something I have done a lot of lately and it was quite strange. A small amount of drizzle did not help much either, but the traffic was light! The hostel is really nice, big and airy, clean and new looking. Friday night was quiet, sitting around talking rubbish over a few drinks. I was really tired so went to bed well before everyone else. Not that it meant I was first up on Saturday.

Saturday is activity day on the YHA Weekender, the group were off to ride bikes in a different part of the forest to where we are staying; about 15 minutes away by car. One of our friends invited me to take the wheel of his Maserati sports car, I think it is the Levanti. I wasn’t going to say no…

I have never driven such a powerful and solid car, there was so much power under my foot, it was almost scary. Though a bit nervous about getting nicked for speeding, or even worse, damaging the car in some way, I did enjoy driving it, and it does sound very cool!

There were four of us not riding, with such a nice day we were not going to turn down the opportunity to go for a walk in the trees, and I wanted to take a few photos while we were there, and I had lugged the big camera along for the ride. After farewelling the cyclists we sat down for coffee 🙂

I took a lot of photos of trees. It is a working pine forest, but I love the clean straight lines and order to a pine forest, a counter to the rambling, meandering wildness of Epping Forest.

It was a great walk and the cyclists were finished before us, much to our surprise. 

Back at the hostel I went for an early evening explore of the immediate area. I am very much enjoying the photography of Al Brydon, and wanted to experiment with his underexposed, deeper, darker images. I set the camera phone to manual mode and had a bit of a play.

I snapped the front of the lodge on the way back for dinner.

After dinner there was a bonfire and a bit of a sing-song. Normally I do not go in for the sing-song thing; though sitting around a fire in a forest, drinking wine with friends it just seemed to be the right thing to do. I actually enjoyed it as well!

Another good weekend away, they just keep on coming!

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Edinburgh

Sunday 24 September 2017 – Edinburgh, Scotland.

In a rare show of organisation El and I planned to take my mum to Edinburgh for the weekend ages ago. Mum was going to spend a few days in Northumberland with her brother, so we thought we would tack Edinburgh on the start of that visit and drop mum in Alnwick on the way back to London. However, in my usual style I did not do anything about it until quite late, so we ended up paying too much for a pretty terrible hotel, though the train tickets did not seem to be any more outrageous than they normally are.

I started this post about three weeks ago, and the detailed memories of the trip are fading as fast as my brain is filling up with work projects, other activities and thinking about the pending festive season, and maybe a trip back to New Zealand next year. I feel a head cold coming on and I am really tired after a few sleep nights of disturbed sleep. This may well be a short post, and I am determined to finish today. I am glad I completed photo editing soon after the trip; at least there is a prompt for my ramblings.

As mum was not travelling back with us I had to buy her train ticket separately to us, though we did manage to sit together for a while. I took a few photos out of the window as usual, starting from Newcastle station, where the train journey gets more interesting.

We arrived in Edinburgh early on Friday afternoon, it was not a bad day, a bit windy and a bit cool. we were staying in the ‘new town’ and decided to check out that side of town first, saving the old town for a full day on Saturday. The ‘new town’ is hardly modern, mostly built in Georgian times. There are some lovely buildings.

We walked up Calton Hill, with its great views of Edinburgh and out over the Firth of Forth. The Nelson column, pierces the sky from the top of the hill and can be seen from all over Edinburgh.

The nearby National monument was started in 1825, and was to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, funds ran out in 1829 and building was stopped. Never to be restarted. It is a monument to Scottish soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars. It is quite popular.

Walking back down towards Princes St, we walked into the Calton Old Burial Ground, a place I thought about visiting last time we were here. The entrance is through a gate in a high wall, hiding a bigger space than I expected, full of old gravestones and monuments. It is a lovely place, and I quite enjoyed walking around. I will definitely go back next time we visit. Maybe even take the big camera and spend some proper time there.

We all went our separate ways after the graveyard, I went back to the hotel for a rest and mum and El went and did some shopping. Meeting up again late afternoon to walk, almost as far as the castle, to the famous Witchery Hotel for dinner. Walking anywhere in central Edinburgh is wonderful; as was the meal we had.

After dinner it was a slow stroll back down to the hotel, for a not particularly good night. I had to complain to reception at 4:00 am about the noisy neighbours.

Saturday morning we started our exploration of the old town. First walking down the Royal Mile; past a couple of interesting shops.

We did not pay for the tour of Holyrood, I took a photo through the gate and we stopped for coffee and cake.

There is a long day of walking ahead, something I kept forgetting, and that mum is a wee bit older than me. She is very fit, but she is not longer 75….

We then headed back up the long and reasonably gentle hill that is the Royal Mile.

At the top of the hill is Edinburgh Castle, we were thinking about visiting, but it was so crowded up there we did not go in, but we did admire some of the views from that side of town.

With lunch time approaching we walked down the side of the castle to Grassmarket and stopped for more coffee and a snack in a small cafe. Mainly because it had somewhere to sit down!

A rest and some food gave us a new burst of energy to head up the hill to the National Museum, there was a crowd gathered inside the entrance to Blackfriars cemetery so we decided to go in and have a look. A wise choice. Inside was a small display of owls who were either found injured on born in captivity. I love owls, though have never seen one in the wild in the UK. I must add that to my to do list! It was great to be able to get up close to these lovely birds.

It was also time to check the final result of the West Ham v Tottenham football match, the smile suggests who won. Tottenham, El is wearing her Poch coat, which almost guarantees a Tottenham win.

The statue of Blackfriars Bobby was on the way from the graveyard to the museum. I love how his nose is so shiny from the decades of hands touching and rubbing it.

We were knackered by the time we reached the museum, so only had a very cursory look around the ground floor, we will definitely come back here next time we are in the city, the building itself is worth a visit, and the museum does look interesting.

It was another early night, we were lucky to get an early table in a pizza restaurant quite close to the hotel. More sleep was had, though the same noisy neighbours came home late again, though this time there was no singing or loud voices till 4 am. Thankfully.

We checked out of the hotel after breakfast on Sunday morning, and took a slow stroll to the National Gallery, which I thoroughly enjoyed, along with a far better coffee than we had with breakfast. Thank goodness for gallery cafes I say.

After the gallery we took an even slower stroll to the station through the gardens.

We were quite early for our trains, though better to be late than never, and Edinburgh station is always busy.

Mum’s train left a few minutes before ours, so once we had mum safely on her train to Alnwick we were settled into our first class seats for the journey back to London.

It was not a bad trip either. I do love Edinburgh and if it was not so expensive, would consider it as a city to move to. London of the north when it comes to house prices.

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When mum came to stay.

Friday 06 October 2017 – London.

We had the great pleasure of mum coming to stay for a few days over the past month. Mum turned 80 in May and my sisters and I conspired to buy her return ticket from New Zealand as a present. Mum had not been here for (I think) seven years, and was not sure if she would come back, so our birthday present was a welcome surprise!

In 1973, mum and (my late) dad emigrated to New Zealand, taking me and my sisters along for the ride. I am very glad to have mostly grown up in NZ, a fabulous country to be boy and young  man in, and something I will be for ever grateful for. Mum has two brothers and other friends and relatives in the UK, some of dad’s family are here too.

Mum stayed with El and I for half of her time in London and was out and about with her brothers visiting friends for the rest. If I had not recently started a new job I could have spent more time with her. I was lucky enough to be able to take a few days off here and there, and have the odd ‘work from home’ day.

Mum arrived on Saturday 2 September after 27 hours of travel with Singapore Airlines, she was glad it was over! I took a couple of days off work so Tuesday mum and I went for a drive out to Southend, a place mum had been to a number of times over the decades. After faffing trying to find a place to park we stopped on the west side of Southend and decided to go for a walk towards Westcliff, before turning back for a traditional fish and chip lunch on the waterfront, followed by a gentle post lunch leg stretch and then a Rossi ice cream.

I parked as close to the centre as I could, near a tiny section of virtually empty sand.

We headed westward, towards Westcliff, and view on to London. It was not a hot day, nor was it cold, some where irritatingly inbetween. It was windy and quite cloudy. A bit grim, bit not terribly so., which probably sums up Southend.

Soon after starting our walk, it started to rain, not heavily, though the drops were big and solid and the promise of a windblown downpour was strong. We had coats but chose to turn back, skip the walk and go for lunch instead.

By the time we were half way back the threatening rain had been blown away and while the sky stayed heavy and full, it did not rain on us again. We walked along the seafront, past the pier and the entertainment area.

We were looking for somewhere reasonable for lunch. Somewhere on the sea with a view over the water; and somewhere selling fish and chips. We found that somewhere, and lunch was excellent, we chose the right place. It was full, with small groups of retirees also eating fish and chips, if is full then there has to be a reason. After a large lunch we waddled back to the car, stopping for a famed Rossi ice cream on the way. It was good day out.

On Saturday we took a trip in  to central London to visit the Tates. None of the special exhibitions were of interest to mum at Tate Britain so we took a walk around and perused the general galleries. There are no photo restrictions in the free galleries which was fab.

I am not sure who painted this massive piece but I really like it,  you will have seen similar in some of my photos; A tiny stretch of beach/land and a massive sky taking up most of the frame. The colour reminds me of Turner.

Speaking of JMW Turner, Tate Britain has an exceptional collection of his work. For a long while I was not a fan, art is very subjective, and I just did not get him. Even though he was active during my favourite artistic period and certainly has a lot in common with the impressionists I love, I just did not get him. Over the past couple of years that has been changing and the more I look at his work and think about how it could influence my photography the more I have come to appreciate what he has done. This work from Lausanne from 1841/42 is a great example of what I want to be able to do with my camera. I am not quite there yet.

It was a nice day so mum and I took the opportunity to stroll the south bank of the Thames to Tate Modern. I love the Thames, it is such a nice walk;  history, space, views, city, what more could you ask for; though there are places where the crowds are just maddening. We were lucky in that it was still not too busy, yet…

The office building next door but one to mine!

I took mum for lunch in the members lounge in the new extension to Tate Modern, the view over south London, and up and down the river is just lovely, and worth the members fee alone. The extension is magnificent, a wonderful concrete and steel construction on the side of an already brilliant space.  They should offer afterhours photography tours of the building. Though having the odd person in the shot does give the scale of the building some perspective. 

We had a walk around the Giacometti exhibition, it was really busy and quite hard work, being able to stand back and read the signs and take  a decent, broad view of the pieces was impossible. I am not really a sculpture person, but I do love his mid-period tall skinny people work, fabulous. Hopefully El and I will get an opportunity to go back and take a longer look; at a members only session Smile

Mum stayed with family for most of the next week, coming back to stay with us for a few days when Meliesha was visiting on her way from Bristol to Austria. It was great that mum and Meliesha could hang out for a few days together in my neck of the woods. 

Mum, El and I had a weekend away in Edinburgh, and I will write about that next. On the way back south Mum stayed ‘oop north’ for a few days with one of her brothers and visited some old friends. All too soon it was back to us in London for a few days and then off to Heathrow and back to New Zealand.

It was great having mum over to stay, hopefully there will be at least one more visit before mum does not feel able to travel such long distances again; though maybe we could meet half way for a catch up some time! Love you mum xx

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Aberdeen

Thursday / Friday 31 August / 1 September 2017 – Aberdeen, Scotland.

El and have been considering a visit to Aberdeen for a while, finally rejecting the idea to add this to our planned trip to Edinburgh when mum visits us in September. One of the reasons for going to Aberdeen was to meet El’s Scottish family and see the places El visited when her parents were alive and living there.

Sadly one of those relations, El’s aunt, passed away last week after a short illness. El managed to visit her in hospital last week, so fortunately she got to say goodbye.

We are going up for the funeral on Friday morning, not a reason we envisaged for paying our respects to the Granite City. To compound things, my mum arrives at Heathrow on Saturday afternoon so we cannot even stay for the weekend. Seven and half hours on the train on Thursday, repeated when we return to London on Friday. Fortunately I quie enjoy long train rides.

We left London mid-morning. I must admit I actually enjoy train journeys in the UK, though fortunately so far I have never been on a journey of any distance where I have had to stand up. Being in first class also helps a little too!

I always try to take a few photos out of the window as we go, usually unsuccessfully; too many reflections and too much track side furniture getting in the way. Reflections aside I was quite happy with these two. I love rail side England; all the rolling hills, the fields of wheat, the grass, the farrowed land.

My favourite part of the journey north is once we have passed by Berwick and the train runs up the coast to Edinburgh, watching the sea always excites me, and it is what I miss the most living in London. Sometimes just seeing it is enough; though I did get this photo sort of wrong. Virgin should clean the windows of their trains.

We arrived in Aberdeen late afternoon, after what had been quite nice weather on the way up, it was cloudy and the rain came as we walked to our hotel.

We did not do a lot after checking in. The plan was to walk around the immediate area, check out some of the sights, absorb a bit of Aberdeen atmosphere and then have a meal and a quiet drink. The rain put paid to that. We walked about a hundred yards up the road, found a nice cafe that was open for evening meals – and a bit of street art. We retired early and watched TV in bed. Dinner was good, but boy, Aberdeen competes with London on prices!

The rain broke overnight and Friday started nice and bright, a shame that we had a funeral to attend. It was a small affair at the nuclear bunker-like Aberdeen crematorium. El’s Aunt Margaret had no children and there was not a lot of the wider family left. It was a short and gentle farewell.

We had a few hours before the train back to London, so after some quiet post funeral chat with other family members El and I check out of the hotel and went for a walk around. Back in the spring Nuart came to town and there was a bit of street art added to the grey granite walls of central Aberdeen. I had taken a look at the map before we left for our walk, but didn’t really expect to find much of it as it seemed quite scattered. Surprisingly I did find some as we went; so here are some pieces by,

Mr Cenz,

Alice Pasquini,

The wonderful Hera, half of the Heracut duo,

And some from artists that remain unknown.

Nice, I love coming across street art in different towns, I know a number of these artists are well represented on the walls of London, but that makes that familiarity even more special.

There are a lot of churches in Aberdeen, and I mean a lot. It seemed apparent that a lot have been converted into very un-Presbyterian dens of iniquity. Maybe the church needed the money. Bars and casinos seem to be the main theme. I am not a religious person, but found this lack of respect for these old buildings a bit of a shame. Maybe it is just the cheapness of the frontages I hate.

We had a good walk around, I liked Aberdeen, I loved the dark grey graniteness of the town, I liked the feel of the city, that it isn’t flat, there are alleyways and steps and it is not all square and straight and ordered. I would love to have explored more and to have had some time to understand its history and its famous characters.

Returning to the hotel, we picked up our bags and headed back to the station for lunch before getting on the train for the return seven and half hour journey. I confess to spending most of the journey slumped into my seat, listening to music and drinking red wine. It passed quite quickly.

The return had the same photographic opportunities as the originating journey.

With a stunning sunset as a bonus!

We will be back.

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Reconnecting with street art

Thursday 17 August 2017 – London.

I have settled nicely in to my new job, I have a good team, everyone has been really welcoming and has made me feel at home. A good start. The best bit is there have been no stressful days, hopefully that will remain. I work in a fabulous bit of London, not far from the Houses of Parliament. I expect I will be taking the camera in when the days start to get shorter and sunrise and sunset more closely bookend my working day.

I have not been on street art run for months, so I was really looking forward to seeing my mate Daryl after work and going to check out a bit of street art. Daryl still goes out most weeks and still posts the best bits on Instagram, he is the right man to show me around.

We met at Liverpool St station, I was 20 mins early so stopped in for a swift pint with the city types, nice pint of something I cannot remember. The first stop was some new boards that have been put up by the front of a new tower. A tower that is part of a complex built on the ruins of the warehouses, shops and businesses that lined these streets only a few years ago.

Mr Cenz is one or a few artists to have painted where I live in Walthamstow in NE London, in fact he painted a side wall of a snooker hall at the end of my street. Sadly the wall, along with the entire hall has recently been demolished so a new (and probably hideous) block of flats can be built. Mr Cenz has been painting in London for a few years, though this is the first time I have seen a piece that is largely monochrome. I liked it.

Another artist to grace the walls of Walthamstow is Carne Griffiths, I particularly liked this piece of his.

Daryl and I did not have much a plan, short of finding somewhere later on for a drink and maybe something to eat. In the end we stuck to a fairly traditional path and headed up towards Great Eastern St. This area has changed a lot since I first came here, buildings have come and gone, hoardings have come and gone, and a lot of the painting spaces have disappeared along with them. A pub that used to be pretty much deserted after work on a Thursday was now heaving with new city types and the younger, hipper, wealthier crowd that has moved in to the area. There were a couple of things I liked. This by Loreto,

and a traditional, old school work from Dscreet, which did not quite fit in the frame. It was good to see that as much as things have changed, Dscreet has remained true to his art.

Daryl was keen to show me a new bar that had opened in an old police station, the reception was a bottle store and the cells down in the basement have been converted into a cocktail bar. It had a very nice whisky menu, so it would have been rude to walk out without sampling some of the product. On the way we passed a more traditional and colourful Mr Cenz piece and a Fanakan, in a style that he has developed since I last saw some of his work.

It turned out that having one whisky was not enough to form an opinion on the new bar, so we had a second before heading back out again to explore a bit more of the new work around. It seems that the big global artists are not coming to London as much these days. There has been a big surge in the popularity of street art around the world, and around the UK, so there are now festivals in a whole bunch of new, and sometimes obscure places. Good for them, not so good for us as there is not a  great range of big and interesting work to see. The upside to this is loads of small paste ups and painting on the old walls. I quite enjoyed exploring again after such a long time.

There were a couple of pieces by Kai, the first has been tagged,

some C215,

and a bunch of stuff by artists whose names I can no longer remember, though I am sure Daryl pointed them out to me at the time.

In a yard near Truman’s Brewery there were a couple of large pieces, one by Conor Harrington, who I have blogged about before; he has also painted in Walthamstow before.

I do not know who painted this, but I like it.

The light was starting to fade as we got to Hanbury St, always a good location for bigger pieces and bigger name artists. First up was a traditional Dale Grimshaw piece.

With a fairly traditional Alex Senna opposite.

The far end of the street has a couple of newer walls, I really like this large piece, though again I cannot remember the artists name!

Ant Carver had the wall at the end of Hanbury Street.

The light had dropped too much to be able to take a decent hand hold shot so we decided to head off and find something to eat. We passed a new work by a recent visitor to London, Falko One. He had caused some controversy by painting one of his signature elephants on to the bottom of an old piece by Stik. This was deemed, and I sort of agree, as some form of artistic vandalism. Though to counter that argument, street art should be transitory, and in my mind nothing should last forever. Though, if some artists work should last forever, Stik should be one of those artists!

I had a really good time, it is always good to catch up with Daryl, and it was great to rediscover a bit of street art again, it was almost like I had not been before.

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