Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

bagels at Columbia Road

I love travelling, but I also love coming home to all things familiar. One of my favourite local things to do on a Sunday morning is to head down to Columbia Road market to have breakfast, before having a wander around the flower & plant stalls. The market has become popular with London tourists, so I have to get cracking fairly early to avoid the crowds.

~ Spotted Cow

Highbury Fields Summer Picnic

Summer bbq in the park

Good weather is worthy of yet another London summer in the parks post. Lots of people were out on Highbury Fields on the weekend, enjoying picnics and barbecues. It was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. There was the requisite ice-cream van and associated queue. And a nod to the Pokemon Go craze !

~ Spotted Cow

Summer picnics

Pokemon Go in the park

Ice-cream van



Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

We were treated to a whole week – an entire week ! – of summer sunshine in London. Of course, the underground & the trains were too hot. People who work in old buildings with no air-conditioning had a helluva time. You had to sleep with all the windows open and the portable fan on max. But I’m not complaining, given what we get in the rest of the year.

The other side to this is the London parks become your living room on the weekend. And you can get away from the masses, as I discovered when walking around Hampstead Heath on Saturday afternoon. This little trio had a whole field to themselves.

~ Spotted Cow

Nelson’s Column

Trafalgar Square

Yay, it’s a sunny day in the capital! London is a wonderful city made more marvellous when the sun is shining. The temperatures are heating up to Mediterranean standards. I walked past Trafalgar Square at lunch time and decided to record the day. I like how Lord Nelson is perched high up on his column, monitoring the proceedings of the streets below him.

~ Spotted Cow

Curiosity Cloud Room

Curiosity Cloud Room

Once a month, the V&A have their Friday Late event, each with a different theme and free entry in the evening until the museum is full. I went to the London Design Festival one last Friday and totally loved it.

My favourite was the Curiosity Cloud installation room. We had to queue for about 10 minutes, our excitement matching the soft whirring buzz we could hear in the room. When we entered, we were struck by the soft illumination of 250 glass bulbs suspended from the ceiling. Some of the globes had fabric moths inside them which whizzed around as you walked through the installation. I didn’t know whether it was motion- activated. Nevertheless, it made me think of the phrase “moths to a flame”. And I felt smugly cultured for the week.

~ Spotted Cow

Cycle ways

Cycle lane

How many times have you walked over a cycle lane symbol? One unemployed spring, I spent an early morning photographing cyclists wheeling their way to work through London Fields in East London. Most didn’t seem to mind that I was crouched with a tripod in the middle of the cycle path. I didn’t get knocked over … that would’ve been an occupational hazard.

~ Spotted Cow

St Paul’s at sunset

St Paul's Cathedral at sunset

View of St Paul’s Cathedral at sunset from the Madison Rooftop Terrace. Hmm, it’s making me think that I ought to do a series on London rooftops. That would be an interesting project.

B&W or colour? I’m going with B&W on this one.

Madison Bar and Restaurant, 1 New Change, London EC4M 9AF

~ Spotted Cow

St Paul's Cathedral at sunset

Beautiful day for a tube strike

South Bank, with Big Ben across the river

Thank goodness, it was beautiful weather on the tube strike day yesterday. Most people were in a decent mood in spite of the lack of public transport, although nobody had much sympathy for the strikers. I walked into work and discovered lots of cool coffee shops and interesting nooks. That was definitely the silver lining. That, and the after-work mood on the South Bank and people enjoying the Thames skyline & sunshine.

~ Spotted Cow

Summer lounging

Model layout of the Isokon Long Chair

The summer heat has arrived and I’ve been looking longingly online at sunloungers. I can tell you that the one I truly want is the Isokon Long Chair, designed by Marcel Breuer –although technically it’s a lounger rather than a sun lounger.

I saw it when I visited the Isokon building and gallery in Hampstead, North London. The building dates back to the 1930s and was an early experiment in busy modern living. The modular apartments included a set of furniture designed by its Bauhaus tenants, and the Isokon Long Chair was my favourite piece.

I can imagine myself lounging on the long chair, reading a book in languid fashion. Its shape supposedly aids digestion if you choose to catch forty winks after a meal. That suits me right down to a tee.

The long chair’s design has been mimicked and copied many times over through the decades. In fact, we bought an Ikea bestseller – the Poäng armchair and footstool – for our Dad years ago. But I have to say that the Isokon Long Chair is far more elegant, with its smooth lines and tactile curves.

You can get one made for you at the Isokon Plus workshop, which as it turns out, has a sale on now.

~ Spotted Cow


Isokon design graphics

Isokon, Lawn Road Flats

It’s not over till the Fat lady sings

Fat Lady at Liverpool Street This is one of my favourite London statues – the fat lady sculpture in Exchange Square, out the back of Liverpool Street station. I don’t know if she has an official name. However, she lies languidly on the wall while bankers swirl around her eating lunch, having drinks and generally hanging out in the sun.

~ Spotted Cow



Whirlwind London

Buckingham Palace

Recently, I had some New York friends visiting and I took a couple of days off work to go round London with them. It was a whirlwind of tourist sites, markets and eating & drinking. I didn’t take my proper camera around with me, but I did snap a few images on my phone. I don’t tend to take pictures on my phone or on happy snappy cameras because I don’t like the lack of control. However, the few times that I do so, I can be pleasantly surprised at the results … even though it’s never going to perfect substitute for the big camera.

~ Spotted Cow

Columbia Road market bagels at Columbia RoadLondon EyeGoldfish detail on lamp

I wish it would snow properly

Snow in Leicester Square

It’s been very cold in London for the last two weeks and I wish it would snow properly like it’s doing in Scotland and other bits of the country. Like it did in the winter of 2010 / 2011 when the city turned into a magical white wonderland. At the moment, it’s just cold and what little snow we’ve had hasn’t settled. It’s a little bit unsatisfying. Hmph.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular

St Paul's Cathedral

When I read the Weekly Photo Challenge theme “Angular”, my first thought was to look for architectural image. I found this one of St Paul’s Cathedral, taken through a doorway installation on the street that frames the cupola quite well. I like how the “old” architecture sits within the “new”, which I took at an angle to fit in the cathedral spire and emphasise its height. Stacy at visualventuring told me that this technique is called a Dutch Angle.

~ Spotted Cow

Royal Opera House


If you remember back to my Goodbye Summer post, I said I was going to do three B’s this autumn. One of them was ballet at the Royal Opera House.

In fact, I was lucky to be at the Royal Opera House twice in one week.

Earlier on, I saw the Royal Ballet’s production of Manon, which was gloriously tragic. The costumes, the set and the dancers were all very beautiful. I am not a big ballet enthusiast and don’t go often. So, the night out with my friend, the Ex-Ballerina, felt very occasion-like. She told me that the ballet dancers work through a pair of pointe shoes a week when they’re performing! I thought it would be the toe bits that break, when in fact, it’s the sturdy arch support which bites the dust.

Later in the week, I went to a birthday afternoon tea with The Girls. The Royal Opera House started doing afternoon tea in the autumn, and it is a wonderful way to appreciate the building. I love the Paul Hamlyn hall with it’s mix of Victorian and modern architecture, and the oval bar running down the middle of the room. It’s the kind of place you want to stay longer to linger. I enjoyed the tea and the catch-up. The cakes and pastries weren’t overly sweet, which is how I like it. My favourite bits were the scones and plum jam. It’s definitely somewhere to take an out-of-towner.

~ Spotted Cow

IMGP4478Afternoon tea at Royal Opera HouseIMGP4461


Saucy Lamb at the India Club

India Club

The story goes that the India Club used to be the canteen of the Indian Embassy across the street on Aldwych. It isn’t fine dining. It’s formica tables, fluorescent lighting and nondescript décor. Not to forget, the atmospheric curry smell in the stairwell. I was told that I had to go at least once in my London life. So, I rounded up my foodie friends and we set off one after-work evening – me, the Fabulous Duo, and Very Stylish Neighbour.

Our waiter persuaded us to have the Set Menu. Great value, he said, at £14 a head for a variety of dishes – pappadums with pickled lime, coconut, sliced onions, and chutney dips, deep fried onions and deep fried chillies (burning hot!!!), masala dosa, lamb bhuna, chicken curry, dhal, naan and rice. Very Stylish Neighbour said she wanted a wet curry rather than a dry one and the waiter promised he would get the cook to make the lamb “more saucy”, just for us.

Verdict. The food was variable but good enough. The starters were as expected. Of the main plates, the lamb and chicken curries were delicious. The curry sauces had some depth, especially the “saucy lamb”. But the dhal was watery and tasteless and hardly eaten. And we thought that the vegetable curry tasted like it came from a can.

We had an enjoyable time, catching up with each other’s summers and making eating plans for the coming months.

We might come again to the India Club, although not in a hurry, and probably for lunch rather than dinner.

India Club, Hotel Strand Continental, 143 Strand, WC2R 1JA

~ Spotted Cow

Curry dishes India Club map

Goodbye Summer

Summer Holidays

I’m hanging onto the warmth for as long as I can. London has had a fantastic summer this year and I’ve been on three (!) holidays, which is very indulgent.

There was the May week to my friend D’s remote village of Esparragosa de Lares in Spain. Then, two weeks on a Turkey photography tour in July. And finishing off with a super hot August Seville flamenco and eating week. They were all very different trips and I thoroughly enjoyed the variety. Click on the tags to read the posts.

Since I’ve taken all my annual leave in the summer months, I am now chained to the office desk until Christmas when I see my family. However, not to worry. There’s plenty in and around London for weekend diversions. Coincidentally, there are 3 B’s on my list – Brighton (sea air), Bletchley Park (code-breaking, espionage and Enigma machines) and ballet at the Royal Opera House. Stay tuned.

Out-of-town readers, if you fancy a London weekend, they’re giving one away on the London’s Autumn Season video on the Visit Britain website. Come visit !

~ Spotted Cow

Soup Dumplings

Soup Dumplings

Shanghai soup dumplings or xiao long bao are truly one of life’s eating pleasures. I indulged when I went to dim sum at Dumplings Legend in London’s Chinatown.

The dumplings are filled with meat and broth and there is a particular way to eat it. If you bite straight in, you’ll end up with a mouthful of very hot soup and/or a drippy wet chin. Neither is a good look.

Very Stylish Neighbour is our resident foodie and self-proclaimed soup dumpling obsessive. She demonstrated. You place the dumpling in the Chinese soup spoon which already has some vinegar sauce in it. Then you bite off the tip and suck out the soup, before proceeding to eat the rest of the dumpling. Lots of slurping noises and giggling ensues. One of the Fabulous Duo commented on the other’s slurping technique, “ohhh, that almost looks pornographic !” I’ll leave you with that thought.

~ Spotted Cow

Dumplings Legend, 16 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JE

Dumplings Legend

Dumplings Legend location

Summer Exhibition at the RA


My London summer to-do list usually includes the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts. It’s usually a little bit mad because there are so many pieces of art spanning the spectrum of traditional, alternative and 3-dimensional media. And they’ve been running this big open entry exhibition for 250 years. That’s just amazing.

To start with, when you walk into the Wohl Central Hall, you are greeted by a life-sized sculpture of a man balancing a dozen cakes on his back. It made me smile and it wasn’t the quirkiest piece I saw that evening. Several of the rooms were hung with wall to wall, floor to ceiling pieces of art in a jigsaw of frames – so many that you don’t know where to look first. You need to go to the exhibition more than once to take it all in properly … although I’ve never done that.

The best thing about the Summer Exhibition is that it is accessible. There is £20 art and there is £20,000 art, but it doesn’t matter. As long as a piece speaks to you in some way, it has made its mark.

~ Spotted Cow

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Red Dot art Bathing beauty artCut-outsMan with dozen cakes sculpture