Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures

The streets of London: If you go down to the woods…

If you live in SE London you’ll have some awareness of the remnants of the Great North Wood – that swathe of oak forest that contributed much to Britains maritime history, providing oak timbers to build ships at the Royal Dockyard in Deptford. Ancient names litter our geography: Gypsy Hill, West Norwood, One Tree Hill, names from the past which still inhabit our present.

Some small pockets of the Great North Wood still exist and can be visited today – one of these is Sydenham Hill Woods, home to a multitude of animal and plantlife, including the Brown Long-eared Bat

As part of the recent Dulwich Festival, Artist Louis Masai painted a large mural of these distinctive bats, which inhabit the woods and roost in the abandoned Victorian railway tunnel.

Brown Long eared bats artwork in Sydenham Hill Wood by Louis Masai

Brown Long eared bats artwork in Sydenham Hill Wood by Louis Masai

The bat is one of several that are found in the woods and use the tunnel to roost. Adding to the body of work that make up the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, this is a beautiful piece of contemporary art, that sits perfectly in the midst of such an ancient place.

©Chez l’abeille  2016


Seeing in black and white #2

Back out with the Pentax again – during my walk around Brick Lane some of the things I captured needed the full on colour of my digital camera but other images cried out for black and white film.

After the varied outcomes of the first roll and the mystery of the randomly unexposed frames, this time I had a few randomly over exposed frames…still working on that issue but so far no real clues. However, despite the fact that I now have to manage a viewfinder plus varifocals alongside the manual focus, I’m slowly rediscovering seeing the world in black and white, the feel of a manual camera, and the patience needed for slow photography!

©Chez l’abeille  2016




The Streets of London: Here’s looking at you

So. It was a sunny Sunday after a rather grim Saturday. What to do with a day with no prior engagements?

Inspired by recent postings by Inspiring City, I decided to go for a street art focused wander along Brick Lane towards Hoxton, armed with a digital camera and the trusty Pentax.

Having used up my camera battery and an entire roll of Ilford film which is now waiting to be processed, I discovered that most of the images I photographed today were faces. Large faces, small faces, skeletal faces and famous faces.

Here’s looking at you.


©Chez l’abeille  2016


Seeing in black and white #1

36 years ago as a rather penniless student, I made one of the most expensive purchases I had ever made til then – my much loved Pentax ME SLR camera (special edition, brown body, not black). This little camera travelled the world with me and took thousands of photos over the years, until more modern digital cameras pushed it off pole position.

“Black and white are the colors of photography.” Robert Frank

Recently, on a whim I had it re-conditioned and have been testing it out. I have realised how used to instant pictures I have become. The art of slow photography; not wasting a shot, filling up a full roll of film and then patiently waiting for the results, good or bad, has become rather passé. These days we carry cameras on us permanently, taking pictures on our devices in a moment and instantly deciding to delete or keep. With a 35mm camera you set out to look for pictures. So camera in hand I have been taking odd shots over the past few weeks to see how it still works.

First up: Nunhead Cemetery again. My favourite gothic gloom and headless angels. The light was very low as it was damp and dusky when I went there, so they are a bit grainy, but I think this suits the subject matter.


Cornishman Charles Simmons’ grave Nunhead

Angel, Nunhead cemetery

Angel, Nunhead cemetery

Nunhead cemetery

Nunhead cemetery

The second foray was to Broadgate Circus in London for lunch. Here I was looking at the tones, structures and shapes of the buildings. Continue reading


The streets of London: Art attack!

I was a bit early for a hair appointment in Chalk Farm so I wandered down towards Camden to kill some time. Just around Hawley Street I came across an explosion of previously unseen street art.

The “Made for Instagram” stencils by Dotmasters were a real favourite.

Suffice to say I was a bit late for the hair appointment!

©Chez l’abeille 2015

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In which I pop over to Paris: friends, food and pharmacies.

For quite a few years I have visited various parts of France with my old friends Mardi and Neil. This year due to various house purchasing shenanigans on their part and writing courses on mine, we have been a bit tight for free time but we finally managed to organise a fun and food filled weekend get together in Paris. Pourquoi Pas?

Friday: I arrived earlier than the others so took advantage of the time and had a walk around the quartier of Montparnasse. Then we regrouped and headed out to Frenchie wine bar in the 2nd, where we got in first, ate our way through most of the menu and were decreed “cool” by our lovely waiter! A full review of the evening was written up here, complete with the pictures of what we ate! Definitely worth a drool over. Curiously it was rammed with English speaking patrons but I guess most of the locals were en congé”. It is August in Paris after all!

Saturday: We strolled out on a rather cool morning after a heavy night’s rain and headed to the Hilton where a display of models “en Lego” was on offer. It also meant we got to use the Hilton toilets as well. Continue reading

Urban Art 2015 Brixton sign


Urban Art 2015

Martin Grover Urban Art notice

Martin Grover Urban Art notice

Today’s trip out and about started with a flier. It came from another favourite artist of mine, Martin Grover and in his usually witty style, this flier stood out from the mish-mash of stuff that generally arrives through the front door. I’ve never been to the Urban Art event in Brixton, as it has usually coincided with the annual Lambeth Country Show (as you may know, carved vegetables are a speciality art form which cannot easily be passed over) so a date shift made 2015 the year to go along and visit Josephine Avenue, SW2. Continue reading