Music never Lied to me.

January 29 2016 – Shoreditch.

It has been a really busy week, a small and frustrating project at work filled far more time that it really needed to. I have been really good this year and have not taken work home with me very often, working my allotted four days and not much more. Though, having said that, this project has spilled into today and I will probably do four or five hours on my day off. It has also been busy socially, El and I had a quick drink after work on Monday for our third anniversary, followed by a wine tasting on Tuesday and  last night we attended a talk in our local bookshop by legendary rock photographer Kevin Cummins. El worked with Kevin many years ago when she was editing 90 Minutes – an English football magazine. I often envy El her work in journalism! The talk was excellent, Kevin is an engaging speaker with some great stories. It did leave me deeply envious and with a plan to do more photography this year.

Even though I do not work Friday I was up early with El and got stuck into work as soon as she left, I managed to knock most of what I needed to do on the head by lunch time and decided I would go to Shoreditch and check out any new street art. I have only been out a couple of times in the past year or so, being a full time worker has certainly cramped my leisure time!

There is also a lot less happening street art wise now, the gentrification and citification of the area is well under way so sadly a lot of the old walls and hoardings have gone. It is the area’s loss in my opinion.

Though I have been to a few gallery openings lately and still keep an eye on my mate Plumms’ Instagram photos, I am really out of touch with what is going on and who the artists are. I have even forgotten the names of a few familiar painters as well. You will have to forgive me for having a few unknown artists below.

Like this one to start with! This photo was taken a few weeks ago as well, but I did not have anything to post it with and I really like it.


There is a huge amount of construction going on in the area at the moment, which means lots of hoardings around building sites. Some allow painting and some do not. Most seem to be covered in graffiti rather than street art, but there are things more to my taste around. Like this by an artist I feel I should know…


Good to see Dscreet still panting owls here and there.


Gent 48


This piece by Olivier Roubieu is fabulous.


Blackall Street was always a favourite place, loads of paste-ups and stickers, and I have never seen a Dale Grimshaw paste-up before so this was a cool find.


Savant provided this post’s title.


A new artist to me, Lapizola. As it is on a hoarding round a building site I suspect it will not last long.






Another piece by Unify.


Nice to see Jim Vision is still painting walls, he has done some great pieces on this wall off of Redchurch St over the years.


I am a big fan of Alo, and it looks like his style has changed a little since I last saw some of his work.


I do not know this artist either.


But I am very familiar with Dan Kitchener and was hoping he would paint in Walthamstow last year.


This Shepard Fairey has been here for a very long time, but I do not recall ever having taken an photo it. Given the rate that buildings are being knocked over, I decided I should grab one just in case!


I stopped in a Rough Trade to grab El a copy of the new Savages LP, ‘Adore Life’, and also grabbed a photo of this on the way past.  I like them both.


There is a new(ish) Otto Schade in Brick Lane, I think this a spot he has painted on before.


It started to rain as I walked down Brick Lane, the rain was not forecast and I was not prepared for it, so decided to call it quits and headed back to Liverpool St Station.

I was shocked to find the old London Exchange building was completely gone, I knew it was going to be demolished, I mean who needs old buildings when new glass ones are so much better. But the hole in the ground was a complete surprise, and an unpleasant one at that! Nice to see they kept the facade… 


It was good to get out and see some street art again, though I was mildly disappointed at how little there was, and at the lack of something that really wowed me. It is likely there is a lot more hidden away, and if wasn’t for the rain I would have explored a little further.

Thurston Moore and Steve Noble @ Wildcard Brewery

January 21 2016 – Walthamstow.

Yep, Walthamstow. The town/suburb/area where I live. Inside a 10 minute walk from home, legendary alt-rock/noise guitarist Thurston Moore played a gig. It never happened in Green Bay – my home suburb in Auckland. Living in London is very cool sometimes.

Thurston Moore was the one of the guitarist / singer / songwriters in US alt-rock act Sonic Youth. I was a big fan of Sonic Youth and they sit easily in my top ten bands of all time list. Sonic Youth were highly influential, mashing a range of ‘rock’ based genres with no-wave/noise and free jazz anarchy into complex guitar based compositions, there was no-one who sounded anything like them. Most, if not all, the bands I like in 2016 would site Sonic Youth as an influence.

They split in 2011 after a 30 year career and Thurston Moore moved over to London. He has released a couple of pretty good LPs since. Last year to my surprise he performed a show at Wild Card Brewery, a very small independent brewer, (who make great beer!)  and are under 10 minutes walk from home. It sold out before we got tickets unfortunately, so when another show was announced El quickly grabbed us a couple of tickets.

El saw Thurston Moore with his band last summer in Hackney and really enjoyed it so we were both looking forward to this gig.

Tonight’s show was not a band performance, just Thurston and drummer Steve Noble. I know nothing about Steve Noble, just he is a drummer, a very very good drummer.

Due to me being a bit of an idiot about the timing we got there about half way through the set, the gig was a sell out and the small bar area was pretty full. I took my camera as I wanted to take a couple of photos but there was no way I could get close the front, so I snapped all I could of Thurston Moore – who is very tall and missed Steve Noble completely. I only got the occasional glimpse of his head!



The set was interesting, sort of half free noise/jazzy sort of thing and half Sonic Youth influenced rock. They are both fabulous musicians and I would loved to have been able to see them up close, watching them play would have made the whole experience much better, good as it was.

Like any good TV chef, I managed to prepare a couple of images of Thurston Moore earlier. Much, much earlier, from when I first saw Sonic Youth play the Powerstation in Auckland in 1989. These are just crude photos taken of the prints from that show.



House Hunting-The First Sequel.

January 15 2016 – Folkestone.

It is winter in the UK at the moment, which generally means a lazy time for me. This makes it a good time to look for houses and since my trip to Broadstairs, Margate and Deal I have been pretty busy doing that. Online at least. El and I have just booked a trip to Valencia for a long weekend, good friends of ours have recently bought a holiday home there and we are going to join them for a weekend at the end of Feb. It hasn’t all been house hunting!

After knocking my action list down to just Folkestone and Broadstairs when I came back from my trip last week I have made a further cut to the list and am now going to focus solely on Folkestone for a while. I like Broadstairs but Folkestone has a little more life to it than sleepy Broadstairs, and that suits me more right now as this is not a long term purchase. If I was retiring it would be a completely different story!

I was in luck again this week with another gorgeous looking day on Friday, I had booked myself train tickets earlier in the week, betting on the weather staying nice. One of the advantages of Folkestone over the other locations is that the high speed train goes there so it is a 55 minute trip, out of St Pancras. Broadstairs is slightly longer at 1:20. Trains out of St Pancras was a key factor in choosing the Kent coast over Sussex or further west. St Pancras is 10 minutes from work and 20 from El’s house, far more convenient than Waterloo or Paddington.

I had a small panic last night when I got home from visiting a couple of galleries and having dinner with my mate Daryl and discovered I no longer had my wallet. I rang the burger joint we had eaten in – Honest Burger off of Old St, and thankfully my wallet had been handed in, phew. It was a great burger too !! Almost as good was they opened at 9:00 today so I could get there, pick up my wallet and get to the station in time for the train I had booked at 10:30. Ample time really, it is only 10 minutes away.

I arrived at St Pancras with time enough to get a coffee and a muffin before heading up to the high speed platforms to wait for my train. It was a lovely, clear but very cold day.


The train I was catching originated in Folkestone and I was pleased to see it was really full with office workers and other city types commuting from there, or thereabouts. It was a bit comforting to know there were other ex-Londoners there.


I had spent a bit of time pouring over maps of Folkestone and noting a number of properties for sale that I could do a walk by. I do not know the area and wanted to suss out a few streets that looked OK and had properties I could afford. Luckily they were all on the west side of town, so it did not include too much walking. I had also organised my first house viewing in Sandgate. On the train I organised my day and made a bunch of notes on some street maps I printed out. I wanted to make real use of my time there. I had also arranged to meet a friend of a friend who lives in one of the areas I am interested in. Getting some local knowledge about the place was critical for me.

The train arrived on time and wrapped up warm I headed off from Folkestone West station to the north to check out, and write off a couple of flats on my list. One was sold and the other was on the corner of two major roads. Not for me at all!

Heading back the way I came I arrived at Sandgate Rd just behind the Metrople Building, which does have a flat I am vaguely interested, I love the building, but am not sure I could live in a converted hotel. I will try and get a viewing next time I am down. It looks a lot better from the front.


I walked down Sandgate Rd to the village of Sandgate, at the bottom of the hill, and right on the sea front. It is quite a nice spot, very close to the sea – too close when I saw a photo of a wave breaking on the houses…. I was here to look at a top floor flat in the orangey coloured building.


Last week I registered with one of the big estate agencies, taken my first step into the painful world of unwanted phone calls, texts, emails and probably a lot of frustration. But it has to be done, and to be fair after the early rush it has been OK since. I just know I am going to have to register with a load more before I find the place for me. I sort of liked this flat, but it need a lot of work, and to be frank, I am lazy. I have closed the book on Sandgate for now as well. The risk due to flooding and storms just seems too high, when there are good opportunities at the top of the cliffs. But as a place to visit, on a day like today, lovely. Apparently the path goes all the way to Rye, way down the coast. Something for some long flat runs.



I walked the path back up to Folkestone for my meeting with Eugene. The amount of beach on the path definitely helped in my decision making, there are now houses here, but the houses back in Sandgate are not far off being this close to the sea.


There is a lovely park stretching along a section between the sea and the cliff, with paths winding their way up to the top. A good spot for getting some hill reps in.


At the top of the cliffs is The Leas, a wide section of grass and path for walking and relaxing, a legacy of when Folkestone was in its heyday back in Victorian times. There are a number of flats around here which I am interested in, nervously so as it looks all a bit too nice to be true, especially when the sun is out. I am going to try and have a look at a flat in here. Which I subsequently found out is too good to be true as it is over the road from a hotel how being used to house families that have been kicked out of council housing.



Eugene lives around here and I stopped in with him for a cup of coffee and a chat about the area, he has been here for two years and quite likes it, though for family reasons is heading back to London. At least the streets seem quiet and safe, both day and night, a couple of points I really wanted to have Eugene clarify.


After receiving some great advice I headed off back down the Zig Zag Path to the sea front, a continuation of a lovely walk.


You cannot see it here, but I promise you on that horizon sits the coast of France and I could clearly see the cliffs.


I made my way along to the harbour arm, passed this lovely terrace on Marine Parade and the not so lovely old and unused railway station.



The harbour arm is closed at the moment, but last summer it was the scene for pop-up bars and cafes and all sorts of things, so looking forward to that opening up again – if I do choose to buy here before summer time.


I walked up through the Old High Street and the Creative Quarter, which is one of the key things that attracts me to Folkestone. The Creative Quarter is set over a couple of streets leading up from the harbour where most (all ?) of the properties were bought by a trust set up by Sir Roger de Haan back in 2002 as part of an creative based regeneration of the area. Sir Roger was the owner of Saga a large employer in the area and when he sold the company he chose to reinvest in the town. The area is cute and full of small shops, galleries and cafes. I also came across one of the less charming sides of these up and coming towns as I followed a family up the hill where the adult male who was obviously drunk was swearing and talking loudly at the kids and his partner. Lovely chap.


At the top of the hill was my second to last destination for the day, and a good reason to want to buy in this particular town. Hot Salvation records, what a cool shop, pretty much specialising just in the music I like as well. I didn’t buy anything today as I was planning on meeting El in London when I got back, but I could have…


I stopped for a very late lunch at 3:00 at one of the cafes nearby before walking back along The Leas, stopping to take a last couple of photos of the setting sun before heading up to the station for 4:00 train back to London.



I had to make a bit of a fast walk to the station and a quick run into the loo before the train arrived. I don’t think it was something I ate, El had been sick earlier in the week, but I am very glad I made it. Apart from the end it had been a good day of checking out properties and locations and I came away feeling better informed and keen to come back and actually view some properties next weekend.

P.S. I am writing this a couple of days later and have been unwell all weekend, fortunately not with anything vile, just horribly tired and a bit achy. I was in bed by 9:00 both Friday and Saturday nights and suspect I will be heading back their again before 9:00 tonight, Sunday. Work tomorrow, where I am sure I will be perfectly well!

P.P.S. El and I have just booked holiday to New Zealand over Easter. Yahoo!

Flat hunting-early days.

January 07 2016 – Broadstairs, Margate and Deal.

Happy New Year !

If you have been following my blog over the last few months you will have noticed that I am looking to find myself a flat somewhere outside of London. I am looking for somewhere I can set up with my things and it can be a bolt hole for both El and myself. I want to be on the coast so I can smell, hear and see the sea. Last year I looked at a couple of towns with properties that I could afford to rent and then decided that renting was a waste of money. I have some funds in New Zealand from when I sold my house four years ago. There is not a huge amount left, but I have decided to transfer it here to the UK when the term deposit matures in February, and it will make an OK deposit on a cheap flat. It was time to change my search parameters from ‘rent’ to ‘buy’. It is all a bit scary!

To make life easier, and ultimately cheaper I made the decision to restrict my searching to the Kent coast, from Folkestone, up and around Margate and further along to the more genteel Whitstable.

El and decided to take a day trip out to Broadstairs between Christmas and New Year, a friend has family in Broadstairs and we stayed there a while back and quite liked it. I did some online research and found a few properties to walk past for a quick look see. I am not ready to do house viewings yet, I want to find a town/village/area that I feel comfortable in first and then focus my attentions there – though keeping my options open as well.

We wrapped up well as it was a windy day and we had a bit of walking to do. Our first stop was in a small area outside of Broadstairs and as we walked up from the station and out in to the countryside I was getting quite excited. Sadly once we got there we found the flat had been sold. First lesson of buying a house learnt. Just because it is showing on sale on the property websites doesn’t mean that it still is. Bummer! I would have bought it without going inside as I loved the look and the location.


We walked back into town along the cliff tops. stopping to check out a few places on the way. I really like the fact there are cliffs here, albeit small ones.


We had a coffee and a look around a number of streets in the centre of town that had flats for sale. We liked the look of Broadstairs, even on a windy Saturday in late December it was not overly quiet. We had decided to walk along the front to Ramsgate, into the teeth of a really strong head wind. Scenery wise it was nice, looking down over the (off) white cliffs and sandy beaches, but the wind and then the rain made it a rather unpleasant walk.



We arrived in Ramsgate, which I was sort of interested in. In has a really good music venue, so would definitely be more lively than Broadstairs which appeals to an older crowd. After a late lunch in pizza express, and with clouds low down and the rain getting heavier and heavier we decided to call it quits and head up to the station. The walk was not the nicest unfortunately.

Some ideas were formed tough, so it was a very worthwhile, though tiring day out.

Over the next couple of weeks I completed a lot of research on locations, prices, crime and other social statistics and looked at loads of properties on line. Being winter and the festive season there was not a lot of action on the property boards, but I did build a list of every possible shape and size property in my price range.

Two weeks, and what seemed like two seasons later and into 2016 I hired a car and headed back out to Broadstairs, this time with a plan to drive up and around to Margate. The sky was clear, and there was not much wind but it was quite cold. I parked the car just off the high street and had a much broader look around, being a Friday (I do not work Friday) there were a lot of older folk around and teenagers on lunch break from school. There were very few people in between old and young, I took that as a good sign of employment. The beach was glorious, under a very blue sky. It is quite an old fashioned beach, beach huts and spade shops. Lovely…



The drive to Margate along the coast is really nice, some really cool looking surf beaches, almost remote, and all quite appealing. I have read and heard good things about Margate coming up, and it has the lovely Turner gallery as well as a nice little old town. I spent a bit of time driving around trying to find somewhere to park, there were a lot of people around, a lot of ‘youf’ on the street and not a lot of parking choices. I was about to park on one street when I saw two teenage boys just casually riding their bikes along checking out the contents of the parked cars. I decided to keep going – and going. Not finding anywhere else to stop I drove on out of Margate.

It was still early in the day, I had not had lunch yet so decided to carry on looking and headed south to Deal. I have been fascinated by Deal since El and I went there. It is a nice little town, and I thought the same again today. The weather helped of course, but it is flat and small enough to walk around and the old part behind the sea front is quite cute, and very much like a flat St Ives, plus it just seemed to have a nice feel about.

I walked out along Deal pier for a short distance to take a couple of photos up and down the pebbly beach – no smooth sand on this part of the coast !




The sun was just popping into the clouds as I walked past Deal Castle, so I grabbed a last photo of the day before heading back to the car and off home to London.


It was a good day out, informative. Over the next few days I did more research and reading and worked on tightening my list of what I want from a property.

I really like Deal, but I cannot afford the parts of town I like. There has also been two weather related incidents in the past couple of weeks. A storm has damaged the sea wall outside of Dover which has forced the closure of the train line from Folkestone to Deal, almost cutting it off from public transport. That storm also saw some localised flooding in town,  so sorry Deal, I have had to drop you from my list, much as I like you.

I have also dropped everywhere else except Broadstairs and Folkestone, I am planning on visiting Folkestone next week. Whitstable and Herne Bay and the stretch along to Margate do not have the sort of sea I want access to, too tidal and calm. Margate and Ramsgate are just not quite up and coming for my needs. Broadstairs is staid and quiet, but with a plan to only keep a property for 3-4 years, I need to know it will sell. Broadstairs still sells. So Sorry Thanet too.

However, if I see the right flat then anywhere could be back on again!

Wonky Houses and Tall Spires.

Wednesday 30 December 2015, Lavenham, Suffolk.

I cannot believe that the year is almost over, another one gone. On the 27th I celebrated the 4th year of my 2 years away from Auckland. When I was considering leaving home all that time ago I was just thinking of travelling and seeing the world, taking some photos, enjoying different cultures, experiencing new things and challenging some of my fears and concerns. What I was not expecting was to meet someone, El, and settle down into a life more ordinary. It is a good life.

We have had a lot of fun, and yesterday and today was another of those fun times. A few weeks ago we decided to have one last 2015 trip away and booked a night in the lovely medieval Swan Hotel in Lavenham, Suffolk. I had not heard of Lavenham, but El has wanted to visit for a long time. As you will have gathered, my road tripping obsessions generally takes me southward, so I know virtually nothing about Suffolk, apart from that it is not so far away. For this trip I decided to rent a car again, though I did not like the Skoda I had as much as the Audi!

I picked the car up early, and we were on the road out of Walthamstow, and then London, by 9:00. The great thing about travelling north from Walthamstow is that it does not take too long to get out of the city and into the green belt, and it always seems like a weight has been lifted from my soul once I am out in the fresh air. I do love London, but one of the things I love about London is being able to leave it – and return again.

It was an uneventful, albeit slow drive up to Lavenham. We took the A12, as it was the most direct route out of the city, but the most direct is not always the fastest, so it was a bit of a slog for a while. Once off the main roads it is a nice country drive, though the car was vastly underpowered so not quite as much fun as it could have been.

We arrived in Lavenham around 11:00, far too early for our hotel room to be ready, but we parked in the hotel car park – some nice cars there, and then checked in before going for a walk.


Our first stop was for some brunch in one of the cafes, and I was very happy with the sausage sandwich I had. English brunches are the best.

There has been a town at Lavenham since before Norman times but it really hit its stride in the 15th and 16th centuries when there was a boom in the wool trade. Lavenham became a major trading town and at one point was one of the richest towns in England. It all went downhill from the middle of the 16th century when Dutch refugees settled in nearby Colchester and started to produce cheaper and better quality cloth. The downturn was quite rapid and by the end of the century the town had lost its reputation as a major trading post.

From my perspective the rapid decline was a good thing! It meant that the wealthy families were suddenly not that wealthy and were unable to keep up with modern architectural designs and building methods and their houses remained much as they were when they were built 500-600 years ago.

Lavenham was the village used in the final two Harry Potter films and its other claim to fame is that in the 1700s, the poet Jane Taylor while living in the town wrote the poem ‘The Star’ – from which the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ is taken. It is also rumoured that the crooked buildings may have been the source of the ‘Crooked man’ nursery rhyme as well. That is my third nursery rhyme town in two weeks !!

It is a small town, and just lovely, we walked around for a couple of hours, enjoying the old homes, which are mostly still lived in. I loved the wonkiness of it all. I expect when these houses were built no one imagined that that they would still be homes so far into the future.




We walked up the main road to the northern end of town, and then back down one of the outside roads. We crossed over a small stream to try and access one of the many country paths, but it was really muddy on the far side so in the end we decided to stick to the road and paths of the town.



There is plenty to see even though there are only a small number of streets, it reminded us of Brugge a little bit. Being winter it was also pleasantly un-crowded, though the hotel and its restaurant were very busy.






The main square houses two museums, though they were both closed for winter, and the square is a car park which meant no wonderful panoramic photos…




We carried on up to the Church of St Peter and St Paul on the southern edge of town.



The church was built at the height of the town’s prosperity and was largely funded by the Spring family and Earl of Oxford. At 141 feet the tower is the tallest in the UK, it looks magnificent!


We had a good look around inside, I particularly liked the wooden ceiling and the carvings on the Spring Chapel which contains the tomb of the major benefactor who died in 1523 was really nice too.



Mid-afternoon saw us walk back into town again and stop for a drink in this fabulous looking bar .


We only stayed for one drink as it quite busy, before heading back to the equally stunning Swan Hotel, where we finished the check in and headed up to our room.


The hotel is comprised of three buildings joined together and our room was down a crooked passage, with very low doorways, small steps up and down and it was almost fun navigating our way backwards and forwards.



I was hoping to get a sunset as the day had been quite nice, cold, but clear. We decided to walk back up to the church and have a drink in the nearby pub and watch for the sky to change colour.



Naturally it didn’t! We waited until dark and then wandered back to the Swan, stopping to take a couple of pictures here and there on the way, we did take the long way around, past the front of the old guild hall.


And the front of our hotel. There are lots of Christmas lights up, giving the town a nice welcoming glow, under a waning moon.


We had dinner in the hotel, ate too much as usual. The wine list by the glass was superb, so much better than most anywhere else we have stayed, so it was nice to be able to chose a wine that best matched our food choices rather than just get a bottle for sharing. For a change we had a dessert wine as well.

We were in a ground floor room, it was a little noisy in the night and the lorry that dropped some road work signs off outside at 5:30 AM were not overly appreciated. I did enjoy lying in bed listening to the creaking and groaning of the floorboards as other guests walked to, from and around their rooms. For a change the noises added to the charm of the place. Though I was a little concerned at the amount of damage to some of the ceiling beams!


The following day we decided to take a slower route back to London and visit some of the ‘Constable Country’ towns. The artist John Constable (1776 – 1837) was born, raised and painted in the area around the Suffolk and Essex border, and his most famous works come from there. It is said the light was different to other parts of the country and today it was quite different. Maybe it was the lack of pollution, or being so far inland that there was no reflection from the sea, but the light did seem to be different to that seen in London and Cornwall. I had a few attempts at trying to get a photo that captured the feel of it, but not really with much success. Being relatively flat the skies certainly seemed to be big.

Our first stop was the village of Long Melford, where we were hoping to be able to wander around, or near some of the great halls, but there was nothing open. This strikes me as a little odd, I know it is winter and the Christmas / New Year break, but surely as it is the Christmas / New Year break and loads of people are out and about this would be a good time to have things open. Just saying, as they say.

The Holy Trinity Church was open – as always. It is very similar, though smaller to the church in Lavenham and like that church was paid for by local wool merchants.




Though what it does have over the Lavenham church is a really nice collection of brasses on the floor. There are a few brasses remaining in the church including the lovely Clopton family collection from the 1400 and early 1500s. They are wonderful things.


The Martins, from the 1600s, are a smaller collection, but nice and close together. The detail is quite amazing, given their age and that they are (roped off) on the floor of the church. There are numerous sections of flooring in the aisles where you can see other brasses would have been located, sadly a lot have been stolen over the years. Even more sadly, theft has not left the church in recent times and swathes of lead piping was stolen in 2008 in a spate of church robberies all around Suffolk and Norfolk.


I also really liked this alabaster of the Adoration of the Magi from around 1350 – before the church itself was built. It is a stunning piece.



Our next stop was to be Castle Hedingham, but the castle and its grounds were closed, so this was as close I got to it….


Though it was only early afternoon we decided to head on home, so from Castle Hedlingham I took the direct route to the M11 and flew down there back to London, so much quicker than heading up the A12.

It was another excellent night away, I am so lucky to live in a country that is easy to explore, with someone who is happy to go exploring with me.