The Arboria Luminarium

24 November 2019 – Arboria Luminaria, Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.

I have had a very good run of being able to spend Friday working at the flat, as well as being able to do a couple of Thursdays as well. For the past couple of months I have been there once a week, which is a lot more than I expected. I am quite happy with this. I will get back next weekend, but that will be it until Christmas when we have the week off and will spend most of it in St Leonards.

El and I both worked there on Friday, even managing to be at the same table for the entire day and being quite productive. It was the start of a nice weekend.

We had planned to meet some friends back in Walthamstow at lunch time on Sunday so we were on the 9:53 train from St Leonards and back in London with enough time for me to nip down to the supermarket for a couple of provisions.

On the way I took some photos of the trees of Lime Tree Walk outside Walthamstow’s mall. There is a plan to massively expand the mall and to add at least two very tall residential towers on top. This plan has doomed the lime trees in the square by the front of the mall. This has upset a lot of people, us included. These are beautiful trees, and provide a lovely shaded walk from the mall to the station in the summer. Less so as winter approaches!

Our friends came round soon after we got home and sorted and we all walked to nearby Lloyd Park, home of the wonderful William Morris Gallery, to see Arboria.

I am not quite sure how to describe Arboria, a luminarium designed and built by Architects of Air. I will quote some words from their literature. “ARBORIA is inspired by the beauty of natural geometry and by Islamic architecture. It features winding passages of small domes inspired by the repetitious forms found in the bazaars of Iran.” Does that help ?

It is a series of large ‘tents’ sealed and pressurised to maintain shape, the tents are joined by a series of passages and made from a coloured material that allows light and shadow to play inside. It was free and very family orientated, there was a huge queue and a lot of kids. We had a priority booking which meant we skipped the queue, thankfully. This was a perfect place for kids to be running about and having fun, and I did not mind them one little bit.

After taking our shoes off we enter through one door into an ‘airlock’, before entering through a second door into the pressurised Green Dome. It was pretty wow in there. Amazing light, hot air is pumped in causing a small amount of humid mist, it was not very obvious inside, but photos show fuzziness around heads.

There were a few people in there, impossible to get a photo without people, but it wasn’t over busy, and people, especially the young kids running through the tunnels, made it more enjoyable.

There are three domes, red, green and main, and three trees, red, green and blue, all connected by short passages. I had taken the camera and was very glad I did!

Red Trees. I liked the nooks for sitting in.

Main Dome

Red Dome.

We both took photos of each other.

After an enjoyable 30 minutes or so we left the luminarium and wandered up the road to the Collab for vege burgers and beer. A great end to a very good day.

Hey Colossus Supported by Mullholland @ The Piper, St Leonards.

06 November 2019 – Hey Colossus with Mullholland @ The Piper

Hey Colossus are a bit of an odd beast; a sort of noise/droney/experimental/metal with a bit of pop, band. They are impossible to accurately describe, and each album is a little different to the previous. They are resolutely low-key. I had not heard of them in NZ, yet they have been around since the early noughties, releasing records and touring. They released a new LP, ‘Four Bibles’ in May, and it sits very high up on my album of the year list. I was pleasantly surprised that they were playing a gig in St Leonards, and for a paltry £5.50. OK it was a Wednesday, but now I have discovered I can work from a Hastings office a Wednesday is not as tricky as it could be.

After a busy day at work in London I had a fairly stressful drive down to the flat. It was as busy as you would expect for rush hour. I am not a big fan of driving in the dark, off the main highways the roads are crap and I don’t drive often enough now to be totally comfortable on the road. I am becoming one of those slow and overly cautious drivers I hated being stuck behind when I was in NZ. I am seeing the other side now.

Arriving at the flat not long before the gig started, I dumped the load of stuff I brought down, and headed to the pub almost immediately. Rushing  didn’t help the stress levels. I really like The Piper, it is a new pub, having opened since I have been in St Leonards. They have bands, most of which I like, the music in the pub is often really good, and they have a really good house red at a decent price. [*note; 3 weeks later, the good house red at a decent price seems to have ended.]

Hey Colossus were supported by Mullholland, a young instrumental duo from the Channel Islands, now living in Brighton, I am guessing there is not much of a music scene on Jersey. I thought they were brilliant, they have released a couple of albums, which I had listened to at work, but they were very much a live band. I took a few photos, and am looking forward to hearing the next, pending, record.

Hey Colossus are a six piece guitar, bass and drum band. A bit too big for the stage at The Piper, and too big for the 20mm lens on the GX800 (basically a 50mm lens on a normal camera). I could not fit all of them in a single shot. This is the first gig on a European tour, they are from London and the south west, so I guess this was on the way to the ferry to France. There had been no sound check, it was at times a total wall of noise, at others the sound was crisp and clean. Either way it was pretty damn good. The vocalist was standing directly under that hideous purple spot light, so I was forced to convert these to black and white.

When they hit the stage I am fairly sure they was more band members than audience, something I was pretty upset about, though it did fill out a little once the the music started. I know this is small town coastal England, Brexit country, small ‘c’ conservative, and yes Hey Colossus are never going to be Ed fucking Sheeran, but they deserved a much bigger crowd than this. They are innovative, noisy, talented, though to be fair I doubt they gave a shit. Small audiences are what they are used to I guess.

I was mesmerised by the vocalist, he does not look like his voice. Maybe it was the ‘tache.

I loved them. My ears less so, they were still humming well after I got to work on Thursday.

I posted  couple of photos on Instagram on Thursday night and Mullholland asked if they could use them, which was very nice. My photos on their Instagram feed get more likes than any photos on my feed!


Sunday 03 November 2019 – Epping Forest.

Sunday turned out to be a much better day than Saturday, no stormy weather, no high wind, no rain and very little cloud. It was almost lovely. El and I took the opportunity the weather presented us to take the car up to Chingford and go for an autumnal walk in Epping Forest, hoping to see some colour changing in the trees.

We didn’t really see a lot of tree colour, very early into our walk we took an interest in the fungi that was growing in the damp conditions. This is prime fungi season, though there is a complete picking ban in the forest, which has led to there being a vast amount of fungi, of all different shapes and shades. Wonderful. I took a lot of photos.

We did a fairly short loop, probably only a couple of miles, but it took a good couple of hours to complete, mainly because we walked stooped low, looking at and photographing mushrooms. The variety of colour was quite something.

Though occasional photos of trees were taken.

This log with a massive family of small mushrooms was he highlight for me.

I had brought the new Lumix GX800 camera with me with a fixed 20mm lens. It worked well enough, but looking at the images it was not focusing exactly as I thought on all occasions which was a little disappointing, but overall I was happy with what I captured. This is my favourite photo from the walk.

Once I had uploaded the photos to my laptop and started to edit them in Lightroom I realised how difficult a touch screen is to focus with any precision, especially with stubby fingers. This was the moment I realised that I was not going to be truly happy with this nice little Lumix GX800 camera. It is a nice bit of kit, has great low light and pretty good tone, but it is not as crisp and it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right. I went on to eBay and bought myself a second hand Canon 5d Mk2 body to replace the Mk1 I broke. Looking at its Wikipedia entry I see it was announced on my birthday, in 2008. It is hardly a new camera, but it is for me. I am very excited about it. I just need to get a new 50mm lens now 🙂

A stormy sea front walk.

31 October 2019 – St Leonards.

I had arranged to meet the electrician at the flat on Friday. After trying to secure a date for him to do quite a list of small tasks, I reduced the list just one urgent thing, install a Hive central heating controller. The Hive allows me to turn on the heating remotely using my phone. I need this, the flat is cold now that autumn has sent in. We want to spend some winter time here, planning to do Christmas, and the last thing we want is to turn up of an evening and have a freezing cold flat. It works well, I love technology. Sometimes!

I came down on the train after work on Thursday, it was a nice night so I walked the 30 minutes to Hastings old town. There was a day of the dead thing happening, but it didn’t happen too much in front of me; and I was not engaged enough to get any decent photos. At least there was something happening though, good signs for a healthy nightlife in a fairly deprived coastal town.

I did take a few photos in Bottle Alley as I walked there and back home again.

I worked from the flat on Friday, I get a lot done when I am working here, no distractions, and importantly I am close to coffee and the stereo. It was a very productive day. I will do more of them. I walked down to the supermarket at lunch time, via St Leonards Park, which is round the corner from the flat and is a scenic and largely car free way to get to the seafront.

I have started working on a photo project to document the ever shifting beach along this stretch between St Leonards and Hastings. Every time I walk along here it is somehow different. I love how the beach furniture is slowly disappearing into the stones. It was not the best of days, a good one to be working inside.

On Saturday I was returning to London, the weather was really bad, with high winds and at times horizontal rain. High tide was as at 14:30 and looked to be a big one soI decided to stay until then and get down to the sea front and try and get some photos of the sea crashing on the wall. I also wanted to finally get to see what the sea is like is when it strong enough to push stones over the lower boardwalk. My original plan was to walk to the station via the sea front, but as high tide approached the rain was very heavy and I did not fancy 90 minutes on the train soaking wet. I just went for a walk instead. I got soaked.

The sea was pretty wild, the wind was howling, probably one of the strongest I have experienced. I walked down to the beach straight down the hill from the flat, near the Azure bar. There are often stones on the path here, so it was a place to see some of the waves coming right up the beach.

Almost immediately I was experiencing the waves, luckily they were quite slow and I did not get sea wet, though I did have to make a few sudden runs to jump onto a seat or step. I did get very rain wet though. Less fun, but just as cold.

I see how the stones get there now…

I walked along to Goat Ledge Cafe, which was open and had a few visitors. I took a warming coffee, though I was tempted to sit with a glass of red and watch the sea through the window, but I was pretty wet and didn’t want to sit down for long. There were a surprising number of people out considering the conditions. Though I guess they were so bad that they were almost good.

Leaving Goat Ledge I walked to the nearby shelter of Bottle Alley, the wind was blasting through but at least I was free of the rain.

I stopped to take photos in one of the bays, and BOOM, a massive wave burst against the side, I was leaping back and snapping the shutter at the same time, expecting to get a complete drenching. Not the best quality photo but the timing was good!

What actually came through was a mere trickle of the wall of water that hit sea wall. Luckily.

Thankfully I stayed completely untouched, though it was a good reminder of how strong and unpredictable the sea can be. I waited for a few minutes to see if another boomer came though, before walking along to the pier end of Bottle Alley. I wanted to get a bit closer as waves were breaking over the end of the pier.

Annoyingly I only had a 20mm lens on the GX800, the effective equivalent of the 50mm on the big camera. Not the best for close up photography when it comes to wild seas, but good enough for the closer images.

I was hoping to get some shots of the sea breaking onto the sea wall at the end of the pier. The beach is really close to the wall at this point, so I was expecting some decent wave action, and I was not disappointed at all.

There were a few others taking photos, or just watching this magnificent wind blown sea crashing on to the land, none of us get wet when this wave came to say hello, much closer than the last one!

I was wiser after that one, so the next was less of a surprise for me.

I have taken a number of photos using the pillars of Bottle Alley as a frame, today was such a good day to use them to show off that lovely wild sea.

It was getting to be time to go home, it had stopped raining, so worth taking the walk back to the flat, get changed and get back to the station before the next wave of heavy, cold and horizontal rain arrived.

I walked back along the front, the path was reasonably dry in most places, but past the slight bend in the beach just before Azure it was really wet, ankle deep in parts and I was lucky to avoid wet feet, finally giving up and taking some steps to the upper boardwalk.

Now knowing what the sea looks like when the beach stones are pushed up on the path, and seeing another wall of rain coming, I turned up the hill and walked home. Missing the downpour by seconds.

It was fabulous out there today!

I have since bought a replacement big camera. Finally acknowledging to myself the Canon 5d was an absolute gem. After two years of thinking about upgrading the mk1, and 6 months since I dropped it, I have now picked up a second hand Mk2. No way could I afford the £2400 Mk5!

I am looking forward to using it.