Street art in action

Wednesday 20 February 2013 – Shoreditch

The past few days had been really quite warm, on Sunday I almost worked up a sweat when I walked into town and at one stage even took my jacket off. This ended today and there was a freezing wind blowing down from the Siberian steppes to remind me that February is still winter in England. It was back to thick jackets, gloves and a scarf when I finally ventured out of the house late in the afternoon.

I had arranged to meet a friend for a curry in Shoreditch; which was extremely convenient as one of my favourite street artists, Stik, was painting a wall very close by…

I decided to walk to Shoreditch as it is only a few kilometres from home and meant I could walk through the old business heart of London around Fenchurch St and Aldgate, an area I had to walk through, unexciting as it was !

But it did allow me to walk through Brick Lane an area I had yet to fully explore for street art. There was plenty to see and a few other people photographing it as well.

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I really like this Jana and JS piece, I am going to have to try and find some more of their work. I have seen two and both are fabulous.

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I love these huge arrows sticking out of the side f the building.

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The walls of the Village Underground are the site of regular organised art works and yesterday and today there was a joint painting project organised by Street Art London. Thierry Noir is a French artist who has been part of the street art scene for decades. He was made famous in the 1980s when he painted large sections of the Western side of the Berlin Wall – at the time a risky business as the East German government were very unhappy with people approaching the wall, from either side. Thierry was joined on this project by one of my favourite English Street artists – Stik. I really like his figures and this one from Brick Lane today is definitely my favourite.

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I stood and watched them paint for a while, had a brief conversation with Stik before moving on to a nice warm curry house for dinner.

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A run in East Grinstead

Saturday 16 February 2013 – East Grinstead

Last Saturday the running club I am a member of had another social run organised, this time in East Grinstead in West Sussex – almost directly south from me and an hour out of London on the train. Fourteen of us met at London Bridge station on another stunning clear English winter day and were soon on our way out of town.

There were a couple of guys on the train who have done and are training to do some serious multi-day off road ultra-marathons, one of the guys is training for the Marathon de Sables, a six day race in the Moroccan Sahara desert. The run is self supported so he was running today with ten kilograms of barbell in his pack. I struggled just running with half a kilo of water !

The first mile was through East Grinstead town, and Alan our guide pointed out CJ’s cafe where we were to meet after for refreshments. Soon enough we were at the trail head, the run was pretty straightforward – a there and back jog along an old railway line through some nice Sussex country side.

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This was a great run for me, an out and back meant I could run at the pace I wanted to and if I was dropped then I could just turn around and head back until I was picked up again. Which is sort of what happened 🙂

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I ran with the faster guys for the first couple of miles and then started to take a few photos of the old road bridges that crossed the path and soon got too far behind to catch up.

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This allowed me to run on my own for a while which I really enjoyed as I got to settle into a nice pace that suited me and I enjoyed just being able to run for a while. Yeah some of you know what I mean !

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At the hour mark I just turned round and headed back the way I came and picked up one of the stragglers heading back to the start. I ran with her all the way back to the cafe and to be honest I needed it. I was knackered, a two hour run after not doing anything more than fifty minutes for weeks was a big ask… I appreciated it when my companion wanted to take a couple of wee rests on the way back 🙂  Not sure what it was but my feet really did not enjoy running on the harder surface, give me mud !

It is hardly art, but someone has been using paint cans –  even out in the country.

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Back in East Grinstead town I stopped to take a few photos of some of the lovely old buildings, pity about the parked cars !

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After a very nicer lunch at CJ’s cafe we all caught the train back into town and a couple of us stopped for a couple of pints at the historic George pub in London Bridge.

It was a most enjoyable day.

No (Roger) mooring

Tuesday 19 February 2013

I have had a fairly hectic few days; in between the long lie-ins I have been out and about and seen a few of the things I have on my to-do list. I have been really lucky in that the weather has been very kind to me with almost no rain for most of the last few weeks, though there have been some cool days.

Last Friday I finally got around to visiting the British Museum. I have fond memories of the mummies and Egyptian collection and was keen to go back and have a look. Of course any visit to the British Museum is tainted with knowing that a lot of the exhibits were dubiously collected and really should belong in their country of origin. While I do like seeing these lovingly cared for and well displayed exhibits in one central location, a part of me would like them to be returned home.

The museum itself has changed significantly from when I was last there – I think. I certainly do not recall this amazing roof.


I really liked this crystal skull, it is a semi-famous as it was found in Mexico and supposedly pre-Columbian. However, tests proved that it was probably made in Europe in the late 1800’s. I love an artefact with a bit of a dodgy history.


As I mentioned earlier I do love the Egyptian collection.



And these bits stolen legitimately acquired from the Parthenon are very cool too.



Saturday I went for a trail run and I will write that up in a separate post.

On Sunday I was very excited to be able to go and see the Man Ray photographic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. As you will know I am not big on portraits, but I do like the work of Man Ray, especially the things he did in Paris in the 1920’s. An incredibly influential and innovative photographer. Living in 20’s Paris as an artist must have been incredible. The exhibition was fabulous, covering work up to his death in 1976. I really enjoyed it and if I had the time I would go back on a quieter day.

After the exhibition my friend and I had a couple of quiet whiskies in a whisky bar on Trafalgar square. Kilchoman is the first distillery to open on the isle of Islay in over seventy years and this was their first production, a six year old single malt. It was a lot lighter than a typical Islay malt, but very very nice…

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Monday was a glorious glorious day and even quite warm in the sun!


I had coffee with my old NZ buddy John near where he lives in Earls Court and then took a two hour meander back to my place in London Bridge, it was a great day to be out walking, but it definitely got cool out of the sun.

Tuesday started off very foggy !



So I went back to bed !

As the sun started to peek through the clouds I decided I would head off and walk one of the parts of Regents Canal that I have to walk, the middle section from Kings Cross to Camden Lock. To make the walk more interesting I decided to walk to Kings Cross as well, naturally I got a bit mis-placed on the way so it was a longer walk than planned, but another great day for it.

I really like walking the canal, I would love to live near it, but man, sooooo expensive…

For a country that is in the economic doledrums, building is booming in London, there is mass construction everywhere, it will be a different city again in two years time.

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I just loved this simple addition of “Roger” to this sign, some times graffiti can be extremely clever. – I accept not everyone is going to agree with the sticker though.

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I had lunch by the canal in Camden, a Thai chicken curry – the first meat I have eaten in the best part of a month, I think I needed the protein. I have not consciously chosen to go almost fully vegetarian, I was always partially so, and the horse meat scandal was not a factor, I have just not bought any lately.

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Amy Winehouse was a regular in the Camden area.

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And the day ended completely differently to how it started.

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Where it (almost) all began.

Wednesday 13 February 2013 – London Bridge

Awesome sunrise this morning !


I have spent most of the past few days coming up with a plan that eventually gets me back to New Zealand. A plan that I can afford; a plan that has some interesting and challenging things to do; and a plan that has some relaxing under the sun. After a few iterations I am very happy with what I have organised for myself and I am now committed as most of the flights are booked and paid for!

I leave London on March 9 and spend almost a month in Sri Lanka; I will get my fill of Buddhist and Hindu temples as well as elephants and other wildlife. I am really looking forward to re-uniting myself with some temples!

On April 5 I fly to Singapore where I meet the 36 metre yacht Infinity. We sail from Singapore to Semporna in Malaysian Borneo arriving there on May 10; visiting a load of amazing dive spots on the way, hopefully this will include a dive at Sipidan, as I have been dying to dive there.  From there I fly to Sydney and eventually on to Auckland some time in mid-May.

With a departure date in mind I will now try and see as much of London as I can.  I will have to leave the rest of the UK until I come back, and I will definitely be back, probably sooner rather than later. There is unfinished business here.

So, with my leave date in mind I finally got around to visiting North Cheam in the London borough of Sutton. I lived in Windsor Ave in North Cheam from the age of two until my family emigrated to New Zealand in 1973. The last time I did a walk by was in 1986, so it was time to revisit. I have really good memories of living here.

The internet has made ad hoc visits to places like North Cheam so much easier, maybe less fun – jury is out on that one. Transport for London has a fantastic website for working out how to get places by all manner of transport and from the final bus stop I GoogleMapped the way to my old home and school and drew myself a map on a piece of paper. I am not all technology…

North Cheam was pretty much as I remembered it. It has not gone up or down market, just a typical lower middle class London suburb, clean and tidy and lived in.

I do not really remember what 177 Windsor Ave looked like in the 1970’s but I doubt it has changed a heck of a lot since then, maybe a few licks of paint.



One of the great things on being a sixties kid in the suburbs was being able to play in a local cul-de-sac and Frogmore Gardens was mine, only a few metres from my front door, this was my after school and weekend football field and games area. Too many cars for street ball games now !


I did remember the alley at the end of the street that led back to a side street cut through to the main street, and I even remembered a lot of the old street names. I surprised myself.

The one thing that had changed was my school, Cheam Park Farm. I recall it was all brick and the white extensions on the front were not there – along with the big fence !


The one thing that had changed from when I was a child was how long it took to walk from home to school, I was sure it was a lot longer !!!


Friday 8 February 2013 – London Bridge

Well, it has been ten days since I last scribbled anything. A fact I find quite remarkable since my life has not been dull and boring, yet seemingly little has happened that is blog worthy. Maybe my interest in the blogosphere has finally started to wane – for now…

I have some news that is sort of worth sharing, and I guess moving house is of some vague interest to some.

Yesterday I moved from Shepherds Bush/West Kensington in west London to London Bridge in south east London, back to a flat I have stayed in a couple of times before. This time I am here for a month rather than just a night or two. I really enjoyed my stay in W14, though I am looking forward to exploring SE1 now. Politically and spiritually (I do hate that word, but right now cannot think of anything else) SE1 is more “me” than the west. Though it is changing rapidly around here and will soon be a place I could never afford it still has a little element of grunge that I do like.

Big thanks to Phil for letting me use his room while he was away, it was very much appreciated and I loved staying there !

I had a brief walk around some of the neighbourhood today, following a route I was shown yesterday that ended at a Banksy painting. Today I took my camera….

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I have also been photographing the closed pubs that I see when I am out, something I never expected to see in London!

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I am really looking forward to exploring this part of London.

I have failed to find myself a contract, I have applied for a few roles, though as my BFF pointed out, probably not as hard as I should have. I was talking to a recruitment agent last week and they get hundreds of applicants for all roles, so my competition is tough. So, to cut what could be a major waffle short – I have given up. I gave myself till I left Phil’s to find a job and now I have left Phil’s I have officially stopped looking for work. This means I will head back to New Zealand where I hope to get work a bit more easily, at least I have contacts there I can harass – be warned !

I have been looking at a raft of options for a return trip and it is kind of getting bigger and longer and the idea of a quick flight home has well and truly gone. I have not committed to anything yet so I will not reveal plans just yet, but hopefully it will involve amongst other things; diving, temples, elephants, sun, sea and a boat…

I have done a few walks recently so here is a little bit more street art. The wonderful Phlegm pieces on the walls of the Village Underground building I posted on January 22 have been replaced already. One of the things I love (and hate) about street art is that it can be so temporary… This is now the back of the Village Underground, I did not have my wide angle lens on!



A ROA, I havent found many of them, but they are all cool.


A Jimmy C – or three.




And I just like this.