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What a great weekend! From start to finish this was a highly enjoyable weekend spent with the best company.

Knowing that Saturday was going to be a bit of a long day, Shelli and I decided to have a quieter, lazy evening on Friday. We strolled into the village and had a very nice meal at Haweli. It felt like it’d been a long time since we last went out, just the two of us, for a meal and a drink. As ever, the food was tip-top and we had a great time chatting before walking the food off back up the hill home.

Saturday we were up reasonably early and headed to the station to get the train into London for a day of walking and snapping away with our cameras. The plan was to head down to Waterloo to see “The Tunnel”, stroll along the South Bank, making our way up to Brick Lane and on towards Old Street. Other than South Bank I guess you’re wondering why such a strange route was chosen? It was all in aid of finding some good examples of graffiti and street art, something I’d promised myself I’d do earlier in the year.

“The Tunnel” – our first stop after walking over the Thames from Embankment and past the London Eye – is a dissused road tunnel behind Waterloo Station which has been turned into a authorised graffiti area. I’d only read about it on Friday and I was excited to go and see what it was like, having seen pictures of some of the work there.

Okay, it being an area where people can legitimately go and spray-paint meant that the place might look different to the photos I’d seen but I was hopeful that there were going to be some nice pieces to look and and photo…and we weren’t disappointed. There were some great pieces on the wall, especially an impressive tribute to Brian Haw, the protester and peace campaigner who lived in a camp in Parliament Square from 2001 in a protest against UK and US foreign policy, who died earlier this month.

While we were snapping away a homeless guy walked by us and clearly thinking we were foreigners decided to give us a bit of a mouthful. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we were indeed British but to be honest I don’t think it would have mattered as he looked like he just wanted to have a go, regardless of who we were. I was tempted to say something but I suspect it would have ended up in a fight and that was most definitely something I didn’t want. We saw him a little later on along South Bank, begging for money. I made a point of NOT giving him any money!

We could have stayed in the tunnel a lot longer than we did as there was so much to look at, but having a deadline later in the afternoon to meet up with Andy et al for drinks, we headed off along South Bank toward London Bridge. It’s definitely somewhere I’ll be returning to on a regular basis to see how it’s changed that’s for sure.

I love walking along South Bank. There’s so much to look at even if it gets ridiculously busy at the weekend. We strolled along, snapping away as we went, until we came to Gabriels Wharf where we looked around and then popped into Studio 6 for a drink and some food seeing as it was gone midday by this point. It was nice to take the weight off, having been on our feet for the last couple of hours, and we both enjoyed a refreshing Leffe Blonde and a plate of haddock and chips – very scrummy indeed.

Fed and watered we carried on towards London Bridge, taking a little stroll along the beach under Blackfriars Bridge, the first time I’d ever done that.

As we were walking past we had a quick look round Borough Market but as is always the case at the weekend, it was so busy you could hardly move. Shame as it’s a great place to look round and take in the sights and sounds with a lot of great photo opportunities. I think a day off from work and a visit mid-week is now definitely on the cards to do another time.

The original plan was to cross the river using London Bridge but after a hunt for a cash machine we found ourselves at City Hall so we headed over Tower Bridge and made our way up to Brick Lane, the next stop on our street art hunt.

I’ve only ever been to Brick Lane once, on a pub crawl the other month, and as such had never had a good look round. We made our way along the famous road keeping a close eye out for anything worth photographing. I’m pleased to say we managed to find some really nice pieces, but being slightly distracted by an excellent piece by Alexandre Farto, aka VHills in Elys Yard (off Hanbury Street), we missed getting a photograph of Banksy’s “Pink Car” – another time!

Having been on our feet again for what seemed like hours we found a little coffee shop/cafe and sat and had a drink before making our way toward Old Street tube station. Along the way we took in Redchurch Street, New Inn Yard and Leonard Street – other good spots to find more street art – taking yet more photos before getting a very cramped, very hot tube up to Belsize Park to meet up with everyone else.

All in all, the small amount of research I did to try and make it a successful photography day paid off. There were some pretty amazing pieces by some well known artists. Here are some of the artists we spotted work by. There were clearly more but these were the ones I could easily identify.

And so, on to the evening’s fun and games…

Andy had planned a small pub crawl in honour of his Birthday, starting up new Hampstead Heath, hence the tube to Belsize Park. We were running a little late by the time we got there – longer walk to the tube than expected, the wait for the tube etc. – but by the time we arrived Andy and Marina had only been there a few minutes. Everyone else was there: Matt/Hazel and Neil/Pam, so the drinking and talking started in ernest. We had a couple of quick pints in the first pub and moved on to the next, repeated the couple of pints and moved on – and so on and so on. It was a nice stroll, even if Shelli and I had been on our feet for most of the day already, and the beer and company was great.

The original plan was to do six pubs but after leaving the Pineapple for the next pub, when we got there I checked the time and couldn’t believe how late it was. It was 10:30pm by now so we waited for the others to arrive and bid farewell to try and get to Paddington (a good 3 miles away cutting across Regent’s Park on foot) in time to get the train to Twyford.

We walked towards Camden Road tube but we soon realised that unless we ran we probably wouldn’t get a train to Twyford. Shelli spotted a black cab so we jumped in it and a little while later, and £18 lighter, we arrived at Paddington just in time for a train.

The train journey home was horrid. Bon Jovi had been playing in Hyde Park and the train was absolutely rammed. It was so hot and stuffy it wasn’t funny. Fortunately we had seats so we sat there, melting, while the train seemed to take forever to get us home. The journey took a turn for the worse when we got to Slough. We sat there going nowhere fast. Eventually the driver announced that someone had jumped in front of a train further up the line and we wouldn’t be able to move until it was sorted out. Great, that was not what either of us needed I can tell you as the heat on the train was beginning to hey unbearable. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before we were moving again and I think we eventually rolled in around 12:40am. Not bad really considering we were over the other side of London when I realised how late it was?

Three things I learnt from the wonderful day out on Saturday:

  1. I need to get myself a wide-angled lens! My 17-85mm lens is currently out of action as it needs a good service (keeps on giving me an Error when I use it) so my 50mm lens was the best I had for the day. It was okay but having something down at the 10-20mm range would have been a lot better. I can see a purchase coming very soon.
  2. When walking round London it pays to “look”, to look properly and not just at eye level either. We more than likely missed a lot of things but it didn’t take long to really start to look at where we were and what was around us, especially at ground level. It pays to be attentive!
  3. Drinking in north London makes it a very tricky, very expensive task to get back to Paddington for the train home, especially as all the tube lines are screwed every single weekend for the foreseeable future!

As you might expect after having spent all day Saturday on our feet, Sunday was most definitely a day of rest. The most energetic thing I did all day was drive us down the shop to get something in for dinner – sea bass with a prawn, avocado, mango and chilli salsa, very nice. Shelli on the other hand put me to shame by going for a run on the treadmill in the afternoon. It was way too hot for that! The heat and stuffiness of the day was almost too much to take so we just chilled out for the day, which was lovely.

And there you have it, another weekend over with. It was a great weekend and really good to catch up with everyone on Saturday. Thanks to Shelli for letting me indulge with the walking and photography on Saturday; it really was a great time. Thanks honey.

If you’ve not spotted already, there’s a new photo gallery with a lot of the photos I took on Saturday. I’ll say it again, if you’ve not got a login to look at the photos and want one, drop me a line through the contact form and I’ll sort one out for you. I don’t have the concept of “public” photos on here, unlike some of my other sites over the years.