Cities – same, but different

Do you live or work in a city? What do you see on your day to day trip to work?

Last night after work I walked from my client office towards St. Pauls with a colleague. As we were walking I remarked, “doesn’t London have some amazing architecture?”. My colleague; originally from Bulgaria, replied that he loved the area.

This is the view we had:

London is an unusual place. It is a city. And a lot of people live here. But it doesn’t have big wide streets. And it doesn’t have one architectural style. From street to street you see a huge variety of design.

I lived in Moscow for a year and I remember the 6 lane roads that run through the city.

Or walking around Pudong in Shanghai the sheer size and scale of the new towers are remarkable.

More and more I realise how much the layout and architecture of a city influence the feeling of day to day life.

One special thing about London is that you can walk around most of the famous sights in half a day. From baker street and regent park down to oxford street, along to Hyde Park, then back to piccadilly, down to Westminster, along the south bank to tower bridge and up through the city to shoreditch.

Compare that to Tokyo. To visit many of the sights you can use the Yamanote line. But just to go around the Yamanote line once would take an hour on the train.

One of the things I love about London is how easy it is to stroll around and enjoy the buildings. The mix of new and old. I think you have to be proud of our strict planning permission that’s kept the number of eyesores under relatively good control.

Nothing illustrates the beauty of old and new design coming together than the view of the city sitting to the north of tower bridge. And beautifully framed we can see my favourite of the modern buildings in London – 30st. Mary Axe aka ‘The Gherkin’ / ‘Swss Re’

And below two favourites together, just to the left we can see the exterior of Lloyds – the original concept of Lloyds was having all the ‘functional’ parts of the building visible. It’s got such an industrial ‘futuristic’ vibe.

What is the architecture like in your city? Would you change it if you could?

Christmas in London – part II

I survived Christmas alone in London.

Actually; and I feel guilty saying this, it was delightful.

I missed my mum; it is a time when everyone is talking about family. However thanks to yoga, meditation, reading and learning I was able to keep a reasonable perspective. It’s just another day, I saw my mum recently, and I will see her again soon. The other matter; a girlfriend, hopefully I will meet someone I match with soon.

After I finished work at my client on Christmas eve I went to Wholefoods and treated myself to something fancy; sourdough fruit bread (ridiculous price), this was the first part of my plan for an awesome solo Christmas day. So next morning it came to be that I was lying cosily in bed watching a Xmas short animation with toasted fruit bread and coffee. Oh and my mum had sent me a gift to unwrap; a book, and I also had a box I sent myself; a new skateboard (uhm I am in my thirties in case you were wondering).

Afterwards I packed my camera, book and sketchpad. No transport in London on xmas day, but there are hire bikes. So I took one of those from my shared place in east London and went to holborn where part two of my plan went into action; to visit The Hoxton – a really cool hotel and have some food / coffee and a beer.

So technically I even exercised!

The rest of my day was spent walking, taking photos and enjoying a couple of beers on my part walk part hire cycle pub crawl around London.

It was rainy, but that’s cool, rain can give a nice shine to city streets as the sun goes down.

This was kind of enjoyable; way less stress than roasting a turkey and preparing all the trimmings.

First photos – covent garden:

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Regent street; where I was inspired to jump into traffic and crouch down to get the rear lights and side profile of an audi r8 in front of the xmas lights. The regent street lights this year didn’t look that great in focus, but came out really nice in soft focus:

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Just behind regent street, the famous carnaby street which always has beautiful decorations:

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As I was walking around Carnaby a lovely couple asked me to take their photos with their camera, I asked them if I could take a few with my own camera and they came out quite well:

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And on boxing day I got a few shots of the southbank:

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As I took photos and drank a couple of beers I felt really good. I just wish I could have shared the day with my mum and a special girl. But then, that’s an opportunity for next year. Hopefully I can arrange something like this together with people in the future.

It’s been a few months since I started this blog on WordPress and I had a bit of a break after the poetry challenge on writing 201 at the beginning. I’d really like to thank the WordPress community for their likes and comments and support so far.

I hope everyone here had a great Christmas day and that you are all enjoying your holidays.

Christmas in London

Too busy to write. Just over 4 weeks ago I started a new contract. Despite quite a bit of experience I still feel nervous at a new client. That’s my excuse for not posting on my blog.

But I want to write. I want to post. I miss it.

I hadn’t taken any photos in 4/5 weeks. I was starting to feel as though losing myself. I finally woke up and took my camera out on Saturday, the thought in mind; get some Christmassy photos:

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It was such a long time between my last and current client that I had to sell my Nikon D750 and now back to using my Nikon D3100, it’s good, but I really feel the lack of low light capability (w/out flash).

In other news; I am in a fight with consistency these days.

My mind is full of good thoughts and ideas; be happy in the present moment, learn/improve yoga / tai chi / gong fu / pilates, treat people kindly, be confident, express myself, eat well, live w/out too much ego, read a lot.

But despite my intentions, on a day to day basis, I forget, and I am lacking the will power and minute by minute presence to go in the right direction.

Lately I succumbed to drinking too many beers; eating chocolate, chain watching TV, being a little moody and not exercising regularly.

I feel kind of embarrassed. And frustrated; I know that every time I miss the mark, I weaken my resolve for the future. Days are passing by and I am not actively living the way I want to moment to moment.

I have a couple of nice Christmas photos from last year taken at Holborn in London:

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Can you tell that these two photos were taken with a more expensive camera? The lens is the same and I develop / process my photos in more or less the same way.

What are you planing for Christmas?

I was originally planning to visit Edinburgh for a few days. Then drive to  see my mum on Christmas day. But now I can’t visit. Or at least I thought I couldn’t and cancelled my reservations. Instead I was thinking about a trip to Germany or Austria for a few days. Or should I just stay here and save money. I still need to pay off some credit card bills following my long period w/out client work.

2015 has been a strange year. It started out with the worst flu ever; which I aggravated by taking a 3-changeover flight from Scotland to Hong Kong. Then I had some adventures for a few months; but that was followed by a bad decision about a girl and then a super difficult time finding a client.

I’m unsure about 2016, but I think I need to be more structured and brave in committing to things. This year I missed a lot of opportunities through indecisiveness. It was a little strange as it’s the first time in my life I found myself struggling to make decisions. It was almost paralysis.

I realise now how important it is to be brave; take a leap of faith and take risks.

Walk Around Shoreditch

I’d love to take you on a ‘blog photo walk’ around Shoreditch; my favourite parts of East London.

Historically a poor area, with low rents it became a hub for creatives. As can happen the art scene attracted others, prices started to rise and some have been priced out. But, to my mind, it now has a good mix of artists and creature comforts; good apartments, cafes, bars, restaurants, independent galleries and fashion stores.

I say Shoreditch, but I really mean a larger area which includes the north end of Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton and Dalston.

One of the main attractions in Shoreditch is the street art. The following picture showing the girl with the apple is by the French street artist Alice Pasquini:

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I was lucky enough to capture a local artist at work, the following pictures is saki & bitches:

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There’s a lot of street art to be found hidden away on side streets and next to parks. Maps can be found online and some locals operate street art tours.

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The character on the green wall below at eastern curve garden in Dalston and is by a famous artist called Stik, you may have seen his book:

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The art below can no longer be seen now that this area has been developed into new apartments:

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In addition to street art, there are a lot of galleries and studios around Shoreditch. A lot of local businesses are to do with illustration, animation, graphic design etc. If you walk around you can see into some pretty nice offices.

Myartinvest pictured below is a concept gallery where you can buy a share in artwork. Good idea if you can’t afford to buy whole artwork yourself but want to get involved.

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A central point in shoreditch is the overground station. That’s where Boxpark is situated; a container complex with small stores and places to eat. It hosts a mix of smaller independent brands and larger brands trying to catch some of the creative market.

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There are some quite cool places in east London, take for example Shoreditch House – a members club / hotel in a converted warehouse opposite Boxpark. The motorbike in the picture is in front of Cowshed Spa which is in Shoreditch House.

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There are lot’s of good places for coffee / cake and chill out in the area. A couple that I like are Fix Coffee and Close-Up Cinema / cafe both pictured.

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I don’t have pictures of all my favourite cafes and bars, but here is a list of places to check out:

– Jaguar Shoes Collective
– Attendant
– The Hoxton
– Ace Hotel
– Cream
– Barbour & Parlour
– Brick Lane Coffee
– Strongroom

It changes pretty quickly though, so expect new places to pop up and old favourites to close.

Around shoreditch and further up towards Dalston you also have vintage fashion stores and vinyl stores such as Love Vinyl and Blitz

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Cafe, bar and art aside one of the best things about this part of London is the traditional architecture; warehouses and town houses that can be found around brick lane for example.

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December 2016 Update – Additional Photos From 2016

Rivington street; one of the streets with a lot of art and cafes:

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A household goods store with a lovely tiled exterior:

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An extremely expensive chocolate shop, but with a beautiful window message:

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Some more street art by Stik on Rivington street:

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A beautiful sky above Boxpark:

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One of the charismatic local Bar Staff at Translate:

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Inside the pretty well known Cargo nightclub on Rivington Street:

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Jaguar Shoes Collective; my favourite bar which doubles as an art gallery and is disguised as an import fashion store:

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Do people buy their bikes to match up with local street art:

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Another Boxpark pic featuring the new Routemaster bus:

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The pizza often at the recently opened Homeslice. Best single slices of Pizza ever!

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Boxpark during Olympic celebrations.

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One of the many custom bikes you can see around Shoreditch

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Recently closed; Brick Lane Coffee, was one of the well known coffee shops around Brick Lane area, but the owners now run Jonestown Coffee just around the corner (I did the photos on their website!).

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That’s it for now.

Autumn Leaves and Haiku Thoughts

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as autumn leaves us,
so do green leaves, goodbye with,
a final flourish.


I’ve been on an unnoficial search for the perfect autumn tree. I was starting to lose hope following a couple of weeks of pretty cloudy flat grey skies – that kind of weather just doesn’t bring out the colours. But alas today was bright and blue and I went to Green Park in West London. I found this beautiful tree. I think this is one of the prettiest I have seen in terms of colours.

I recently finished bloggingU writing201 poetry; my first foray into poetry. And the first form I learned was ‘haiku’. I came across a book in the Japanese language section of the bookstore on ‘haiku’ accidently yesterday. I read a few pages.

I’m almost at intermediate level in Japanese. The first thing I wanted to share with those that may not be aware of it is the pronunciation. Japanese doesn’t have consonants and vowels and syllables in the same way we do.

So for ‘haiku’, we could mistakinly think it’s close to hi-ku. But the sound is really ha-i-ku and that ‘i’ is like our ‘ee’ in cheese. So pronounce it in three parts; ‘ha – ee – ku’ at an even speed and tone.

That may not be the perfect instruction, but just to give you an idea.

Some observations from the bookshop. The haiku syllable counts 5-7-5 were never syllable counts, they were counts of the japanese sounds, which don’t match syllables, so you don’t really need to get exact syllable counts correct if you are writing in english.

The other thing is that haiku were supposed to have a positive message or thought traditional; oops – so far some of mine were about sad things!

Tower Bridge

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Stately stone towers,
Stand over the Thames river,
Watching years go bye.

An iconic sight,
That sighs when misguided types,
Say “it’s London Bridge”.

Remember ’Tower’;
London’s majestic lady,
And favourite Bridge.

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Tower bridge; often mistaken for London bridge, is one of the most popular sights of London. The bridge itself is extremely central just south of the city and right next to the Tower of London; from which it takes it’s name.

Standing on the south side you can see the shiny modern glass buildings of the city through the bridge; what a contrast.

When you get up close you can also see the beautiful detail of the stone and metalwork.

I included a few haiku that I wrote. I was trying to think of a good metaphor or simile for the bridge, but I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.

When I think of the bridge, I think of it being over 120 years old, and I think of how it must feel watching all these modern glass buildings grow around it. At one point it would have been the tallest thing in the area, but now it’s dwarfed by behemoths like the shard.

And most days it’s constantly photographed by tourists, I suspect the bridge is ‘bemused’ with modern life.