Working out West and living South West means East London often gets neglected unless I have a good offer or excuse to head over (cocktails, coffee, and Columbia Road Flower Market ranking highly). When Talented Talkers got in touch to ask if I fancied joining a group of bloggers on a Street Art Tour, with mobile photography tips and a trial of the Lumia 930, I was in. The meal at Pizza East had nothing to do with my acceptance…

I’m an Apple addict at heart, getting into the brand early on with a green Apple Mini and now owning a bit of an Apple collection including an iPhone. I’m well aware that the iPhone might not be the best mobile out there in terms of its camera and technology power, so I’m always keen to see what other phones have to offer. Nokia was one of my favourite early mobiles I had a 3310 (with changeable covers!) when I was about 15. I have to admit I forgot about the brand when the mobile market took off but with Microsoft behind the scenes they’ve refreshed its reputation with the Lumia range.

As for street art, I love how it catches you by surprise and have been known to snap the ones that cross my path. But my knowledge of what it means and who created it is so limited!

So with Karim providing the tour, Phil sharing the photography tips, and being with a group of lovely bloggers, I knew I was in for a fun night (even if it was raining at the time and I was optimistically wearing sandals and had no umbrella!).

We started at Braithwaite Street with something I’ll admit you could easily walk straight past.

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A creation by street artist Hottea (also known as Eric Reiger). It’s a form of non-destructive street art and whilst I wasn’t WOW’d by this, his other work is much more impressive and colourful.

The next piece certainly had more impact.

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Created by Gary Stranger and Lily Lou it’s an impressive example of their talents combined.

At this stage I was spending a fair bit of time getting used to the Lumia 930’s camera and realising it has SO many functions that make it more similar to a digital camera. The main feature being able to change its ISO settings and white balance with more accuracy, useful on grey days in the city. You might notice that the size of this photo is different to the others and that’s because it’s the original dimensions from the Lumia. When I came to uploading the photos I noticed they were quite different to the dimensions I now use on the blog, which meant I’ve done a bit of cropping on these pictures so they’re consistent. One thing with the Lumia to be aware of if you do use photos from your mobile!

From this point on I got a bit snap happy and started to focus a bit more on taking pictures than what I was actually taking pictures of (#bloggerproblems). The whereabouts of these photos are a bit of a blur but the next part of the route took us from Calvin Street to Grey Eagle Street.

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Karim explained the difference between street art and graffiti, with street art seen as a form of art and graffiti being about tagging areas with your tag.

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The following piece was one of my favourites from the tour. Painted on a gate entrance, I just really liked how Faith 47 blended the painting into the back ground. I also liked the appropriately placed ‘Shhhh’ sign!

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By this stage in the tour we’d had a good few tips from Phil, from thinking about things like is there any irrelevant stuff in the background or foreground to cut out and are there brightly coloured things that will grab a reader’s attention, to considering the angle you’re taking the picture from. Street art is definitely a good way to test these tips!

At Grey Eagle Street we saw a piece by Shepard Fairey.

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One thing I hadn’t really thought much about before was how famous some of these street artists are and a tour around Shoreditch is a little like walking around an outdoor art gallery when you know what you’re looking at!

From here we headed to Hanbury Street.

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And ended up at Brick Lane, underneath the unmissable Heron by ROA.

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Still on a roll, I took a few more photos whilst I was there.

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Before we moved on Heneage Street, Pedley Street and Cheshire Street.

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(I spotted this Space Invader piece en route and I then found lots of his work in Paris just a couple of weeks later.)

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With rumbling stomachs we finally arrived at Pizza East and I devoured a good few delicious slices.

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But before we made our way home we had a few more pieces to see and some night photography tips to pick up.

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My favourite piece of the night session was this one, which I think may be by Buff Diss.

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You wouldn’t know it from a distance but it’s made entirely of tape!

I headed to the underground with a mind full of street artists and photography tips (and a stomach full of pizza!).

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After an evening using the Lumia 930, I don’t think I’ll be exchanging my iPhone just yet. I thought the camera definitely provided good quality pictures (the only editing I’ve done is cropping) and the settings were helpful to enhance the pictures. But I realised that when it comes to my camera phone I like good quality photos but I like simple settings and prefer editing pictures after rather than changing the settings at the scene (a complete contrast to how I use my DSLR!).

If you’re more interested in the street art from this post and want to do the street art tour, you can book yourself on to Karim’s tour here.

I was invited by Talented Talkers to attend the evening and share my thoughts. I thought it was a great offer and as ever all opinions are my own.

To celebrate the opening of V&A’s ‘Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900’ exhibition later this month, Ping Pong have collaborated with the museum to bring diners a special cocktail menu inspired by artworks featuring in the exhibition. As someone who enjoys cocktails and loves the V&A you can imagine I was pretty excited to hear about the collaboration! Then when the kind people at Ping Pong offered a giveaway of three tables for two, plus tickets to the exhibition and a V&A Masterpieces of Chinese Painting book for runners up, I snapped up the offer.

If you’ve not heard about the exhibition yet, the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900 will bring together Chinese paintings from the beginning of the 8th to the end of the 19th century, many of which haven’t been seen here in the UK before.

With eight restaurants around London, Ping Pong are pretty well-known for offering tasty dim sum and a menu of clever cocktails and unusual teas. Available now, you can find a little culture with your cocktail as they’ve added a some special editions to the menu.

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Here’s a couple to give you a little flavour…

Plum And Liquorice Sour – Kishu Monogatari plum wine, liquirizia, fresh lemon juice and angostura bitters topped with a fine liqourice dust

A deep purple short drink with plum fragrances and intense liquorice flavours, inspired by Wang Mian’s ‘Fragrant Snow at Broken Bridge’ from the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368) which feature his distinct style of painting plum blossoms. Wang Mian’s painting has been especially brought to London from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for the exhibition. 

 

Smoked Apricot And Spicy Almond– Apricot juice, smoked water, lime and spicy almond

A spicy, nutty long drink with an underpinning of soft juicy apricot flavours. The drink is inspired by Apricot Peel Water, a popular drink in Dunhuang, a remote region in Northwest China which was the gateway to the ancient Silk Road, from which the V&A has drawn silk banner paintings made for religious rituals  from 700-950.

 

Alongside these cocktails with a historic twist, Ping Pong have launched a limited edition V&A set menu which includes some of their signature dim sum, as well as new additions like delicate steamed squid dumplings wrapped in translucent pastry (for £20 per person).

So the exciting bit, what’s on offer in the giveaway! Ping Pong have offered readers and followers of This City Life three tables for two (up to £30 per head) at one of their London restaurants, plus 10 tickets to V&A’s Masterpieces of Chinese Painting exhibition AND one V&A Masterpieces of Chinese Painting book.

I’ve chosen the meal at Ping Pong as the main prize, 10 runners up will receive one of the exhibition tickets, and one runner up will win the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting book. To be in with a chance of receiving a prize all you have to do is complete one of the following!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(email subscribers may need to click through to the post to view entry requirements)

The giveaway will end on at on Monday 28 October. Winners will be picked at random and contacted directly to arrange collection of their prize.

Good luck!!!

The foodie – “a person with a particular interest in food”, according to the Oxford dictionary. Possibly applicable to anyone who likes a good meal, which is surely everyone right? But from the little I know about the London foodie scene, it’s the particularity which sets apart the pro from the amateur. I’d like to think I’m of the aspiring foodie kind, I really don’t know a lot about food and I don’t cook properly or eat out that often, but I do have an interest in putting together and enjoying a tasty meal.

I’ve recently got into reading a few food blogs in an effort to improve my foodie status. The best thing about them? You get honest reviews, can find great recipes, learn all sorts of tips and drool over food photography without having to pay the cost of a cookery book. As the ultimate cookery challenge is around the corner, and I assume there might be a few more aspiring foodies out there, I thought I’d share four of my favourite food blog finds.

Rocket & Squash – is all about food. It’s the blog for anyone who wants to read about great London restaurants, meals cooked at home, food themed books, food blogs and food-related TV programmes.

Spoon Fork Bacon – I was introduced to this blog by the Dream Find Do team for its great blog design and food photography. After a few posts I’m hooked and I can confirm it’s definitely a blog to follow. Recipes for everyone and photography that will make your stomach rumble.

My baking addiction – I’m not sure I’m quite at the stage of addiction but I do love baking. The great recipes and brilliant photography on here will make anyone’s sweet tooth ache.

Melissa Loves Food – Melissa shows her love of food through posts about restaurants and her thoughts on the London foodie scene. Top tips and honest reviews, written with a good sense of humour.

Some other worthwhile blog visits – Smitten Kitchen, The Londoner (Recipes), Mondomulia, A Cup of Jo (Food & Drink).

Would you class yourself as a foodie or an aspiring foodie like me? Do you follow any good blogs that you’d recommend?

We’ve been having a pretty grey time of it recently haven’t we? Grey skies, rain and more rain.  The best thing to do on these days is to find fun indoors so I spent the whole weekend with Dream. Find. Do , learning all the tips and tricks of the blogging world.

 

You may remember that I wrote about the launch of Dream. Find. Do. earlier in the year, a blogging masterclass (and a blog full of tips) by two successful UK bloggers – Rebecca Norris and Michelle Kelly.  They had their first masterclass in Manchester that unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend, but according to instagram and this lovely post on A Little London Wedding, it went down a storm.  So as soon as they announced their London masterclass at The Hoxton Hotel I checked my diary and dug out the funds to sign up.

What caught my attention? Well I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and whilst I’ve got the gist of it, there’s definitely room for improvement.  I don’t have the time (or patience) to rummage around Google for tips, two days of group learning is much more my style. In this masterclass, Rebecca from Florence Finds and Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams, combine their years of experience, creativity and passion for a collaborative blogging community to share with eager students looking to develop their blogging skills.

What can you expect if you sign up?

Day One started with the basics, Rebecca took us through effective blog designs, the importance of your blog ‘about page’, reminding us that ‘content is king’.  They set us tasks and got us to discuss our thoughts, which definitely got me thinking about the changes I should make.  We moved on to how to improve traffic, and Michelle took us through our blogs as brands, calling on her experience as an events and wedding planner.  Rebecca then went through the final topic of the day, advertising and monetisation, it certainly seemed like there was a lot to consider if you wanted to go down this route!  The top tip of the day – consistency, and they really demonstrated this in their presentations and gorgeous stationery (as you can see).

We were fuelled throughout the day by water, tea, a sandwich lunch and even delicious ginger cake made by Erin ( Love from Cornfield ).  We celebrated the end of a successful day with a cocktail at The Hoxton Hotel bar, followed by a two-course meal ( which is included in the fee).

I headed home, ready for a good night’s sleep to prepare for the next day, which promised to be filled with photography and photoshop fun.

Day Two began and Rebecca took us through key photography skills, helping me get away from the all-too-comforting auto mode on my DSLR.  We set about the stylish Hoxton Hotel to test our new knowledge.  I love the ski-lodge style of The Hoxton Hotel, woolly rugs and burning fires, a great place to take a few snaps and spend the weekend.

After we’d had a little practice we got back to business and Michelle took us through Photoshop.  You’ll see on Pocketful of Dreams that they’re mood board pros and it was so great that Michelle was willing to share all of her secrets.  I definitely learnt A LOT of new skills and not only did we get all of this put together in a stylish manual to take home, we got a whole load of mood board templates to use too.  As you can see I got a little excited about my new skills in this post 🙂 .

If all this new knowledge and a take-away manual wasn’t enough, we also got a pretty lanyard from Pimp it Pretty, a canvas bag from Alphabet Bags (highly recommend checking out their site, great gift ideas!), plus moreish homemade cookies from Rebecca.

Overall a brilliant weekend, I’ve definitely taken away some great tips and new skills whilst having met some lovely bloggers who I hope to catch up with in the near future.  It’s a perfect masterclass for anyone looking to start or improve a blog .

 THANK YOU Rebecca (right) and Michelle (left) for your time and energy!

If you want to know about the next workshop, be sure to keep an eye on their website – dreamfinddo.co.uk, and get day-to-day updates @DreamFindDo

Watch this space for new blog developments!!

Hello Readers! I’ve been thinking recently that it’s about time I introduced a different style of post, something which shows why London is such a great city from the people who live here and love it.

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Image credit: wemadethis.co.uk

I love reading short interviews and I’m hoping you do too as this is the direction I’m thinking of going! I’ve got two ideas and it would be great to know which post you’d be most interested in reading. All you need to do is choose one answer for the following question:

Hello! It’s going to be a quiet week on the blog this week as I’m finally on a week’s holiday in Croatia! Woohoo! But it’s a bit grey this afternoon so whilst we wait for the sun to return I thought I’d have a little go at seeing how mobile blogging works and play around with my new app addiction – PixFx! So here are the latest snapshots from somewhere I think would make a great city break!

It was an early flight out from Gatwick to Dubrovnik but on the upside you get to enjoy a pretty morning sky from the plane!

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Just over a two hour flight, an hour or so bus journey and a ten minute taxi journey, we arrived at our hotel. It’s a bit of a budget booking but it’s clean and the view from our hotel room is pretty lovely!

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Although we’re outside Dubrovnik in the neighbouring area of Lapad, as the coast faces the west you can enjoy sunsets on the sea.

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Lapad is also only a 15 minute bus journey from Dubrovnik Old Town where you can climb up to the tops of the city walls…

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… And ramble amongst the cobbled streets at night.

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Drink Piña Coladas (best drank overseas in my opinion!).

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And as much ice cream you can fit in!

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Whilst also squeezing in sunbathing on the beach.

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And strolling around the coast!

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I’ll come back with all the details next week, so for now I’ll leave this city escape post…

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(P.S. for any wordpress bloggers out there it turns out the iPhone app is pretty easy to use if you’re not hoping to do anything too fancy 🙂 )