Tate Modern & East London Canalside

london

I had a couple of nice days out recently that I thought I might share with you.

Last year Tate Modern; a famous modern art gallery, expanded with the new ‘Switch House’ wing.

One of the lovely things about Tate Modern is the location; a former power station. It provides a massive space for art and preserves a beautiful and iconic building.

The architecture of the new Switch House wing is quite striking and impressive both inside and out.

London is so full of interesting architecture that I think it’s difficult to create something which stands out, is different, yet is not ugly. I personally like this design, what do you think?

No trip to the Tate is complete without a walk along the Southbank. If you’ve never been the former power station is on the river side in central London.

Some shots of one of my other architecture favourites – The National Gallery and riverside scenes.

I also had a couple of lovely days out in East London recently. I’m in love with the canal walk from Kingsland Road (near Shoreditch); a fashionable bar, gallery, coffee shop area, which goes along past another cool area; Broadway, then alongside the huge and beautiful Victoria Park before arriving at the Olympic Park which has a couple of unique brewery bars in former industrial buildings.

It’s so beautiful there, the next time it’s sunny I’ll go out and take more photos. It’s especially nice to see the spring blossoms and check out the people living in houseboats on the canal.

 

 

Looking Back at 2016 Photos

germany, hong kong, japan, london, scotland, south korea, taiwan, thailand, Thoughts on Life

I thought it might be fun to spend one of the last hours of 2016 taking a quick look back through this years photos and picking out a few of my favourites by month.

2016photos

I took 6390 photos this year, that’s almost double what I took in 2015 and 2014. And I was a bit surprised to see that 2420 of them were taken in Thailand. It really is one of my favourite places to be.

There is a direct correlation between how I feel and how many photos I take. I was feeling pretty awesome in Thailand at the start of the year, but as the year moved forward I struggled to eat healthy and get into better shape; two big ongoing goals. And that coupled with difficult work meant my mood wasn’t great for the second half of the year.

I travelled quite widely, but didn’t really take full advantage of it. I’m glad I am thinking this through now as it’s now my main goal to improve eating, fitness and mood in 2017.

Without further ado, let’s take a look month by month through my pics of the year.

January

Only 55 photos taken in January and all in London. However there are a couple of nice ones including the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the New Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf. I was back to using my old D3100 and 50mm lens.

london-6771

scotland-ps1-6816

February

February and more London shots. I went around Soho / Chinatown / Shoreditch with a new ‘used’ camera. A D610 with the kit lens. I used this and my 50mm for the rest of the year.

shanghai nightline-6906

london-2411

london-2428

london-6927

I also went to Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation. Highlights were a great flight on Eva air with the nicest air stewardesses, the sunset at Bang Sare and the cocktail VW buses popular in Thailand.

thailand-2617

thailand-2749

thailand-2977-copy

I also started a collection of photographs to capture ‘motorbike’ life in Thailand, they are such an integral part of Thai culture.

thailand-2969

March

1152 photos in March. A lot of motorbike and beach shots. I also discovered the awesome Baa Hop Fang festival / market in Pattaya. At the end of the month I went to Bangkok and started working my way through a book of Bangkok walks.

Pattaya

thailand-3101

thailand-4142crop

thailand-3572

thailand-4085

thailand-4019

thailand-3343

thailand-3446

thailand-3953

Bangkok

bangkok-4509

bangkok-4580

bangkok-4732

bangkok-4833

bangkok-4878

bangkok-4995

bangkok-5012

bangkok-5030

April

April was another Bangkok month. I had a great time walking around the city. I think my best pictures of the year are from April; especially one shot of the Maha Nakhorn building. I also enjoyed Songkran; the Thai new year festival. That’s an unmissable experience!

bangkok-5160

bangkok-5982

bangkok-5878

bangkok-5268

bangkok-5449

bangkok-5494

bangkok-5525

bangkok-5770

seoul-6299

bangkok_5347

bangkok_6211

May

May was back to London for work. I got some nice spring shots in Shoreditch. I also went to Scotland to see family but got a chance to take some pictures in Edinburgh, Crail and my mum’s garden.

london-7104

london_7086

london-7644

scotland-6574

scotland-6619

scotland-6702

scotland-7000

seoul-6754

June

No photos! – My work project was managing the half year report for Standard Chartered so I can only guess I had no time at all to even think about the camera!

July

I think I was quite busy in July too, only a handful of shots from city walks in London and another Scotland trip.

london-7391

london-7509

scotland-7409

scotland-7428

scotland-7472

August

With work coming to an end I went of to Tokyo with an unexpected layover in Frankfurt due to a Typhoon.

frankfurt-mobile-7840

frankfurt-7733

frankfurt-7742

tokyo-7874

tokyo-7931

tokyo-7932

tokyo-7908

September

More Tokyo where I enjoyed some of the best Karaoke nights out and a few visits to my local Maid Cafe. I then went onto Taipei.

tokyo-7958

tokyo-8257

tokyo-8293

tokyo-8496

Taipei

taipei-8735

taipei-8762

taipei-8784

taipei-8896

OCToBER

This was another good photo month. Some more shots in Taipei and then off to Hong Kong and Shenzhen before heading to Seoul.

taipei-9021

taipei-9064

Hong Kong

(I need to revisit the processing on these HK shots it’s not great)

dsc_9143

dsc_9171

dsc_9182

dsc_9284

dsc_9347

dsc_9403

dsc_9463-edit

Shenzhen

The highlight was OCT Loft

shenzhen-9503

shenzhen-9518

Seoul

seoul-9705

seoul-9717

seoul-9745

seoul-9763

seoul-9777

November

Last few photos in Seoul. Korea really has the most beautiful a palaces.

seoul-0064

seoul-0169

seoul-0255

seoul-0299

December

Back to the UK, and I had a lovely chance to finish the year with some pictures in Scotland and London.

scotland-0361

scotland-0478

scotland-0529

scotland-ps1

scotland-0641

scotland-ps1-0683

london-0884

london-0771

london-0826

That’s it, 2016 in photos. I do need to take some time to go through all the photos, there are some picks in their that haven’t been processed yet, but it takes a load of time to review photos.

I’m really grateful for the chance to see the places and people I have this year. On the other hand I know that I didn’t push myself with a positive attitude to get the most out of it. That’s my big goal for 2017.

So, watch this space, hopefully there will be a lot more interesting sights to come in the year ahead.

Happy Christmas 2016 from London – XMAS Day Photowalk

london

Happy Christmas to everyone here on WordPress and any others that have found their way to my blog.

Today I want to share a handful of pictures from my Christmas Day photowalk around London. Without further ado:

The area around Seven Dials (between Covent Garden and Soho)

london-0760

london-0771

london-0775

london-0786

london-0789

london-0793

Trafalgar Square

london-0805

Around Piccadilly

london-0810

Regent Street

london-0826

london-0837

Carnaby Street

london-0847

london-0884

london-0862

london-0866

london-0864

london-0878

As usual a huge variety of decorations around London and still some more to be seen. I plan to visit the Southbank and St. Pauls.

I would say that this years Regent Street decorations are much nicer than last years. The same goes for Seven Dials. I like the messages on the signs on Carnaby Street, but I think last years spectacular decorations were nicer.

Last Year

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/22/christmas-in-london/

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/27/christmas-in-london-part-ii/

Christmas in London 2016

london

Five days left until Christmas, I think it might be time to inject a little festive cheer into my blog.

Last year I spent Christmas in London, I had a fantastic time taking photos and enjoying the quieter than normal city.  A lot of people leave; presumably to visit family or take the opportunity for a short break. This coupled with the beautiful lights make it a magical place to be.

Last year my ‘Christmas in London’ photos turned out so nice – see part I and part II.

I went Christmas shopping on Sunday and I bagged my first two photos of a Christmas tree at St. James. One of which features ‘blurry Alex in a bauble’ (that would be the name of my Scottish folk christmas themed music band):

london-0698

london-0694

I also bagged a couple of other nice shots; not so Christmassy, but worth sharing. Was lucky to catch a Jaguar E-Type passing the Horse Parade / Cavalry Museum and London Eye:

london-0726

And a telephone box / Big Ben, I like the warmth from the lights. You can almost make out the star on top of a Christmas Tree at the bottom left in the grounds of Westminster / Big Ben:

london

China, Tai Chi and A Little Autumn Regret

china, london

I’ve done it! I’m so spontaneous (crazy?). In three days I converted an idea over a coffee into a shiny new Chinese visa and a new plan for the next month.

I’m a little surprised they are letting me back in. I went to China in 2014 and was obviously causing lot’s of trouble.

On my last trip I went to Yangshuo in Guilin to do some Tai Chi and Qi Gong Fu. I didn’t make much progress as it was a short stay; I also wanted to visit Shanghai.

I don’t know why, but I always feel nervous about applying for a Chinese visa and entering china. Despite my nerves my experience in China was quite positive. Not scary at all.

I think the nerves come from spending almost a year in Russia; which is not exactly happy happy la la la land.

I was browsing around the web a few days ago and I noticed there is a good Tai Chi teacher in Shenzhen who speaks English. I remember last time in Yangshuo most of us foreigners couldn’t really understand the Tai Chi teacher, he spoke English, but he would go into rambling stories in a strong local accent.

So I’m off to Shenzhen to have another go at Tai Chi.

I’m quite often tired and my digestion sucks which can put me in a little bit of a low mood. I think it stems from years and years of office work, electronic screens and not the best diet. In recent years I have improved my condition quite a lot through better diet, yoga and meditation. But when I’m travelling I can get fatigued quite easily which really throws a spanner in the works of being able to see lot’s of sights and experience local culture to the fullest extent. The blog is great at showing the beautiful days out, but doesn’t highlight the long lies and coffee shop days!

So my plan is to invest at least a few weeks in Tai Chi to see if I can get a bit of a reset on my system, balance out an increase my energy.

Let’s get into the ‘China’ mindset by taking a quick look at a few of my 2014 pics!

Yangshuo:

china-1598

Christmas in London – part II

london

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 (ridicoulsly priced), 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 an 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:

london-6529

Christmas in London

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:

london-6379

Freestate Coffee in Holborn, London have lovely decorations on their sign

london-6438

Asprey on New Bond street have beautiful lights

london-6455

Cartier on New Bond street have lovely lights and rich colours.

london-6482

The Neon store/bar/cafe in Soho is also pretty captivating

That’s all for now. I wasn’t too happy with the others.

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 excercising 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:

london-0543

Along the side of a well known hotel in holborn – lovely lights

london-0555

a christmas tree in the courtyard of the above hotel

Can you tell that these two photos were taken with a more expensive camera? The lens is the same and I develp / 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

london

Edit: 14th Dec 2016: Added some new photos from 2016.

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:

london-0211

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

london-4596

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.

london-4618

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:

london-4662

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

london-0180

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.

london-3859

london-3865

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.

london-3396

london-3836

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.

london-3384

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.

close-up-3867

close-up-3873

london-3914

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

london-0358

london-0365

london-3669

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.

london-4546

london-4555

london-4565

london-5033

December 2016 Update – Additional Photos From 2016

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

london_7036

A household goods store with a lovely tiled exterior:

london_7093

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

london_7086

Some more street art by Stik on Rivington street:

london_7026

A beautiful sky above Boxpark:

london_7100

One of the charismatic local Bar Staff at Translate:

london_7163

Inside the pretty well known Cargo nightclub on Rivington Street:

london_7188

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

london-6927

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

london-7084

Another Boxpark pic featuring the new Routemaster bus:

london-7104

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

london-7122

Boxpark during Olympic celebrations.

london-7639

One of the many custom bikes you can see around Shoreditch

london-7644

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!).

shoreditch-7096

That’s it for now.

Autumn Leaves and Haiku Thoughts

london, Poetry

perfect autumn tree

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

london, Poetry

tower bridge south view

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.

tower bridge side

tower bridge city view

tower bridge and shard

tower bridge bus

tower bridge kids

tower bridge sunset


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.

superficial city

london

image

dark reflections, an
illusion of perfection,
superficially.


I like to walk around the city of london occasionally, this is a picture of the gherkin / 30 st. mary axe. City architecture can be beautiful, however there is a juxtaposition with the reality of the imperfect nature of the businesses that occupy them. In some ways corporate architecture is like make up.