London 2 of 3: Kingston Rock

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2 weeks in and the only band that was playing soon, that I knew, was Enter Shikari. They were playing the Rose Theater in Kingston on January 18th, and so a copped a ticket from Banquet records about a week into my stay. A metal show is never a bad way to kick off anything. This was the Enter Shikari cd release party, so I knew I was in for a good time.

DSC_0443Turned out Kingston was a great place to visit. The concert was on a Sunday and the bus service couldn’t get me back to Ottershaw that night. I decided to snag the last room at a B&B called The Hermes. It was alright, a bed, shared bathrooms and toilets, and a proper English breakfast that I was stoked about Monday morning.

DSC_0448I had a view of the River Thames, and that’s pronounced Temz, I got laughed at proper for how I pronounced it. The Thames cuts through Kingston not unlike downtown Spokane, GU district, and it almost made me feel like I was back at home. However, as the friends I made in Kingston informed me, Kingston is a very posh city.

DSC_0452Downtown Kingston has insane shopping and street vendors. I swung through to do some recon on the local shops. It was pretty sick and thick with pedestrians. Plenty of street side store fronts and a 4 story Mall. Seemed like you could find anything you want in Kingston, but I really wasn’t interested in the shopping. I snagged myself some lamb and some cheese from a street vendor and headed west toward the Thames to watch the swans and the sunset.

DSC_0475The sun was checking out and I decided to try and find the deer park to kill some time. I figured at very least I could impress Johnny with some sweet deer photos. Figured I could catch them bedding down and get some great shots, I wasn’t disappointed. The deer were rather docile. I suppose that’s what happens when you live in the city and don’t get hunted. They would let you come within about 10 feet before walking away. Think how easy that hunting would be Johnny.

DSC_0482_01The sun went down and I decided to retire my Camera back at the Hermes. No use for a DSLR at a concert even if it would have been nice to snap some pictures of Enter Shikari. The Rose Theater was a great place to see a show. It was a small venue that made for a very personal experience. There were 2 balconies that sat directly over the pit and stacked vertically allowing for a nice close up view of the bands even if you were in the rafters.

Well that’s it for this weeks installment of shit I did. Like always enjoy the rest of my photos and if you’re in England definitely check out Kingston.

Also I may be heading over to Apocheta Artisan Designs to blog for their wonderful organization. Apocheta is a Fair-Trade organization that works extensively with the women’s co-ops in Peru. Go check um out and I’ll see you next week. http://www.apochetadesigns.com

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London Tourist Pt.1 of 3 (Let’s Call It the Abridged Version)

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Alright, Alright! It’s time to talk about London. London is honestly one of those cities that have something for everyone. Epic buildings, sick skate parks, chill jazz clubs, and dirty dive bars, at least that’s what I took away from my first trip. I think anyone can have a good time here, though it may end up costing you, not unlike most big cities. Every time I swipe my card I just close my eyes and try and remember how much drinks cost last time I was in Hollywood.

DSC_0261Zones 1-6 will get you a train ride from Woking to Waterloo for£10.50, one way. Now if your 26 and under you can get a cheaper ticket, but I would suggest just getting yourself an Oyster card once you hit Waterloo. Load it up with some quid and you don’t have to bother with those pesky terminals. This is rather useful at 1 a.m. when your hammer faced and stumbling to your train while hoping all that gluten you drank doesn’t come back up.

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The sights are the sights, right? And yeah, they’re magnificent, especially when you start thinking about how old all this stuff is. Big Ben is the largest standing clock tower in the world at a height of about 96m. When the bell tolls the hour you can hear it across the city, which is convenient if you’re like me and still haven’t picked up a cell phone or a watch. What time did my camera say that last photo was taken?

DSC_0288The Palace of West Minister that houses Big Ben is more impressive. The Palace has three towers in all; the Victoria Tower, which is the big square one; the Elizabeth Tower, also know as Big Ben; and the Central Tower, which is essentially an enormous spire. Now I’m not about to give you a history lesson on these, because honestly, I don’t know. And I’ll be damned if I cite anyone on my blog.

DSC_0291The architecture is beautiful with spires and towers littering the walls that house parliament. The walls are decorated with hundreds of sculptures of what I assume are biblical figures. As stated before my history on this subject is nil; however, I would highly suggest you pay close attention to what is carved into the walls of parliament because that is where the real beauty is.

DSC_0301Westminster Abby was also wonderfully impressive with its gothic architecture and impressive stained glass windows. The artist in me could lie out and postulate on the sheer beauty of the sculptures that line the Abby walls. There is no photography allowed inside, so I was unable to snap many pictures of the stain glass; however, I found a little maintenance sidewalk toward what looked like a side door, that no one else was walking down, thatDSC_0305 got me into shooting distance of one window. Should have bought me a better lens for Christmas, because it’s only a matter of time before I get myself into trouble trying to get close enough to effectively use this 55mm. Just kidding mom, I love ya!

So that’s what I have to say about the touristy shit in London. You probably learned nothing and may be dumber now for having read this, but I hope you enjoyed yourself. I still need to tell you about the South Bank, which is London’s Venice Beach, CA. So hopefully I will get around to it. Until then, enjoy the rest of my photos.

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The Graffiti Tunnel

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My first trip to London was wonderful, and like any tourist, I decided to take in every sight possible. Hopefully, the next time I come this way I wont have to bring my camera, and my next trip to London can be me, a skateboard, and a Southwest train to Waterloo. There was so many sights to see, and so much to talk about, that I have decided to break this weeks post up into installments. So, this post is going to be about the things Joe loved and the subsequent posts will cover the more touristy attractions.

DSC_0265Big Ben and the Abby were great but if your talking to me you can keep um. I like the dirtier side of life, and if your in London looking for Joe Figg you can bet you will find me on the South Bank shredding it up with all the other DGKs or kicking it with the artist in the Graffiti Tunnel.

The graffiti tunnel was truly epic and fully my kind of art gallery. No stuffy museum types or over pretentious artists and consumers, just the smell of paint fumes and a gritty atmosphere that beckons the cities greatest taggers. A short walk southbound out of Waterloo and you’ll find yourself on Leake Street looking down this tunnel of beauty and color.

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The best part about the art here is that it changes everyday. Everyday these artists come in and paint over the old murals. The beauty and spectacle that is the graffiti tunnel is constantly changing. This is art at its rawest, truest form. No fame, no fortune, just a myriad of artwork that will soon be gone, like a fleeting glance, or a setting sun, the beauty is captured in the moment and the art ever more special for this reason.

DSC_0279The beautiful is unmeasurable. The artists not only create flawless original master pieces, but they are forced to use a canvas that is naturally riddled with imperfections. Broken concrete is viewed as only another challenge for the better artists as they incorporate these flaws into their designs. This portrait was one of my favorites because the imperfections in the wall were used in order to create the visual imperfections of this women’s skin. Even the depth of the shoulder bones were given life from the crumbling wall in which it was painted on. The sheer imperfection of the canvas gives this painting a truly human feel.

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Marvel seems to be a phenomenon that reaches across the pond, and the Marvel Universe is as popular in England as it is in America. The tunnel was littered with artist renditions of their favorite super heroes. From the X-men to Ironman, you were likely to find your favorite super heroes immortalized in spray paint among the walls of this beautiful tunnel. This was a rather nice surprise, as I have found that the Marvel Universe is a great place to start conversations if your trying to find common ground while breaking the ice with some of the local artists.

The Graffiti Tunnel is a must see for anyone traveling to London. With its ever changing art, The Graffiti Tunnel is certainly one of the spots that is worth checking out every time you come through. Most of these murals you see on my page will surely be gone by the time you make it there; however, If they are still standing you’ll know that this artists work commands a lot of respect from his peers.

*Here’s The Remainder of The Photos I Took While in the Tunnel*

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(Plenty of Classic Tagging in the Tunnel)

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(Artist Laboring Over the Days Mural)

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(Some Classic Skulls)

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(This One is My Personal Favorite)

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Visiting Family in Southern California

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December marked the end of a great quarter at Easter Washington University and signaled the approach of my new employment in England. While the Pacific Northwest is absolutely beautiful, my sense of adventure was luring me away for a little relaxation prior to employment. Ottershaw was on the horizon and I felt the need to escape the cool mountain air in search of warmer weather. California has always been good to me, and family and old friends would make this the obvious conclusion for my December vacation.

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A cheap flight with long layovers would get me to Orange County, where surf and sunshine awaited my arrival. I managed to miss the much-needed southern California rainstorm, which, upon my arrival, brought lush greenery to the desert beach hills of Laguna Niguel. The surf was up, the sun was out, and palm trees perched on green rolling hills that cupped the ocean between crests and valley.

70-degree weather, 60-degree water temp, and me the only one in a spring suit at San Onofre State Park, the locals wore their full suits. It had been 2 years sense the last time I sat in a line up waiting on sets, but fortunately, remembering how to surf is like riding a bike. During the peek of the swell the waves only came in around 3-4 foot; however, being able to catch some waves with my grandfather is always my favorite thing to do.

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New Years day came and we took the motorhome out to Capo Beach. The swell had come and gone and now the ocean was flat, but we made the best of it by playing bocce ball and watching the Rose Bowl. Days end left us with a pristine sunset that set out across open water. The tangerine sky backlit maroon clouds and the sun turned red as it tucked away under the Pacific beaming its crimson reflection across the waters surface.

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Southern California has a lot to offer and one thing I never miss out on when I visit is the food. The authentic Mexican cuisine, and of course everyone’s favorite In-n-Out Burger, are something I don’t get enough of living in Spokane, Washington. My last night in town I stopped at my favorite spot in San Clemente, Hapa J’s, for some Kalua Pork Nachos. Some delicious pulled pork and local micro brews are always a great end to any vacation.

As my time in California comes to an end I look eminently on the future. I look forward to the possibility of new friends and life experiences. I will be arriving in Ottershaw, England on January 5th, and starting work at the Meath School soon after. The Meath School is a school for children with communication disorders, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with this organization. Whatever 2015 holds for me, I know it’s going to be full of great friendships and exciting new life experiences.