Nunhead, South East London – a wanderlust

If you’re looking for a mini escape in London, Nunhead offers the scenery and views for quiet reflection and gentle exercise.

Pitched on the hill between New Cross Gate, Dulwich and Peckham Rye, I’d recommend starting off at Telegraph Hill for breathtaking views of the City of London.

A short walk away, Nunhead cemetery offers grand Victoria architecture, in a lush green mini forest, open to all.

The oldest structures, weathered from the years, are classified as ruins and off bounds. They offer scenes from gothic eras, alike those filmed in Highgate cemetery for Dracula.

There’s a steep incline for a cardio friendly circular walk, offering many photogenic moments.

The thick foliage create an ideal temperature in autumn and summer.

The easiest way to get there from central London, is to get to New Cross Gate and walk up the hill

Hamilton Peak, Washington

Just opposite Beacon Rock in Washington there is a turn to the left. Next up the car park and from there a mere 13km round loop through the falls up to the peak.

We encountered a bear cub, on the tough uphill trail however the views over to the Columbia Gorge and the return through the cool breeze of the forest were all worth it.

Here some pics from the route.

Green list picking: Madeira

One thing is for certain. Summer in the UK has been a super mini version of hot summers we got used to in the past two years.

By August, and a very wet one, I begun deliberating when the next two hour slot of timid sun would pop its head through the clouds. Even on the lucky occasions work wasn’t tying me to the desk and I caught some of it, the cooling breeze and the inconsistency of it made the decision much easier than expected. I needed out.

After two years of no international travel and no proper holiday, I had to go.

So in all good pandemic manner of things, here I was looking at green and amber options.

Still too out of habit, Amber became the elephant in the room.. Will anyone notice and switch or do I risk it?

And no, my money and time were too precious to gamble so I made the safe bet.

Madeira

And what would have I known if I knew?

Stunning green covered volcanic mountains dipping straight into the sea, accompanied by plenty of flowy waters splashing on the roads from high up the dark and rocky walls.

In the Atlantic, sort of Portuguese sort of north African, Madeira was the humid medicine I didn’t know existed so close to home.

Mild temperatures, sun and warm waters make up a perfect hike to the beach, swim and hike up mix.

Locals are warm. Daily life is super affordable to many other European hotpots and I can’t think of a single thing that I miss.

If not convinced yet, take a look.

Plenty of cute little or the larger kind of surprises too

Of course, the local fresh produce offers loads of culinary delights.

Octopus and chips, dinner for two 18 euro, I think with the drinks it came to 22 euro

Faith, culture and iconic representation:

Whether early in the morning to start the day, or in the afternoon for a little pick me up, there’s another place where locals will be seen religiously. The cafe.

And of course, lunch on, there’s always time to taste the local ‘poncha’

Poncha with ginger
Poncha as it comes

I believe the Madeiran experience is made up of hikes, coffee, levada walks, fish dishes and poncha. For tourists and locals, living the moment is all about these flavours.

With the subtropical climate blending it all together, the Madeiran experience makes an irresistible ‘poncha’.

Go have a taste!

Christmas shopping list – let’s go!

OK guys. You must have had your November pay by now. We are only a few weeks away from the big X and the new year. It’s come around quickly hasn’t it?

We all know this will be a different one. And most importantly it needs to be a meaningful one. So pack away ideas to spend on more tat and cheap stocking fillers made by child labourers god knows where and emerge yourself fully into local vibes, as covid-19 prescribes, with wisdom…

GIFT SHOPPING

Shop gifts from online charity shops. There are loads out there, my favourite ones is RNLI for obvious reasons, but there are loads more. Been watching something that inspired you? Does your local air ambulance have a site? How about your local hospice? Go digging out some local gems or important self-funded services and do your bit. If you can’t get inspired locally, sponsor a small business entrepreneur or plant some tress here or abroad. Make your gift mean something tomorrow and for the next year and the one after too.

FOOD SHOPPING

OK everyone aims to eat senselessly this time of the year, and perhaps drink as much. With lockdown having saved you a few pennies, add a fiver or a tenner to your food shopping budget and buy some extra essentials like dry food, tins, cans, oats, pulses. Go searching again for your local food bank. Come on, it’s not hard to find one within 3-4km of where you are nowdays. They are popping up like never before. And we know why. So do your bit, take a bagful of goodies in person and drop them off. They will thank you and you will feel less selfish for sharing some of your food with someone who you may never meet. Isn’t that kind of super cool?

CLOTHES SHOPPING

You haven’t been out since March and you may have picked a few goodies online or during the time where shops opened for a time. Now you look back at your hoarding ability confused as to how you got to become that person. Slowing down does that to us, gives us time to reflect. You know that jumper you didn’t wear when it was minus 2, or that you wear on every other day. THAT jumper needs to get washed and go. If it has holes, it needs to go to the bin. If it doesn’t put it in the charity donation bank. That and all the other jeans, trainers, boots, unpacked and unwanted gift socks. Go go go. Someone needs them and it will make them think and adopt. Now I bet you there is a charity bank within a couple of kms from where you are too. Go there now, don’t leave it until after Christmas. After all everyone deserves something new or different to what they have and you can help with that as you start unpacking Christmas decor to go up, then pack your never or too much work stuff to go too. And your Christmas decorations if you don’t see a point in putting much up this year or don’t feel you need blink to lift your spirits up. Think that you can buy all new next year or treat yourself to something super local like decorative stuff from your local florist or hand made knik knaks from your local crafts stall, if you really need to shop – shop local. No Amazon for god’s sake!

MERRY CHRISTMAS LOVELIES<STAY COOL<DO GOOD!

Lockdown urban London photos with people

Well here we go again, only this time things are a bit different.

In London, there are noticeably less people out after dark, but shopping malls and cafes are still serving take outs and grocery essentials.

This means the earlier photos from the lockdown in spring bear a significant difference to the way urban landscapes look now.

For example, there are a fair amount of labourers and cleaning staff going out and about their business as usual. Spaces look less derelict and more like Sundays before London got crowded millennium onwards.

In urban green spaces, people don’t consider being in fairly crowded conditions, a threat from covid anymore. Benches are open and cyclists have equal access to parks.

The level of interaction with larger crowds is a personal preference.

On a recent cycle with Simon around trendy Hackney Wick and guardian reader pretentious Hackney on Victoria Park, the crowds were heavily dense in many public play areas and entrances.

Away from the long queues outside to pick up coffees and take outs in places where some think it’s important to be at, our was certaintly picking a fish and chips from a good old reliable affordable local chippy just east of Victoria Park to the Wick.

No queues, no wait, no hassle. After a five minute walk, we were enjoying dinner on a bench in the park.

In my next blog I will write about meaningful ways to spend preparing for Christmas holidays and Christmas day itself.

Many get carried away with meaningless cultural traditions, missing the point. Culture can be as oppressive as American culture’s cultural non existence, when it adds no experiental reflection or mindful rest.

In a time of self reflection I couldn’t be luckier having met four days after landing back from a two month trip away early August 2019. And here we are still are today.

Back in the park, we sat watching the lowering sun introducing the mist, the temperature drop, the sensation of colours struggling to define themselves in this new reality.

I suppose this time, it is also the first time of the year’s season under covid for our urban neighbourhoods too. Well I say, we can only pay homage to this another new reality for the family albums to come.

Really, what’s there to complain about? And why not to?

Autumnal English hews

Noticing the small changes in the way the air’s scent carries cooking smells, perfumes and sound vibrations…

The light moisture chilling the edges off living things…

The light mist flowing through the land, thickening and lightening as it absorbs the wind.

Victoria Park, London

Wood burning in the city, logs burning in the fireplace, smoke climbing up from canal boat chimneys into the gaps of the urban air channels.

The yellowy orange with blues of the sunsets and the sunrises. A sun blessed season eclipsing into the vibrancy of the next. Nature signalling for a final celebration before it returns next year in spring.

Leafy kisses, giggles in the air

The cozyness of the orange, greys, dark purples, bronze and blacks decorating cozy corners energised by alchemy, alcohol and warmth.

What converting Hagia Sophia into a functioning mosque really means

10th July 2020, a Turkish Court order approved Hagia Sophia’s convertion from a museum to an operational mosque.

For many Christians around the world, aborting a historical monument that represented the centuries of Byzantine Eastern Orthodox with Ottoman faith-inspired culture in the region, to having it reclaimed as a faith space for Islam, is a vilifying act of disrespect. The region has been affected by territorial tensions for millenia and many in the Balkan and Western Asia Minor, have experienced relocations, marginalisation, faith based extradition, torture and incarceration.

It is a non surprise western Turkey struggles with their record on human rights abuses, and corruption has been developmental to the Greek economy even in modern times.

Looking past the historicity of the region, and the unsettled air Erdoğan’s latest move has created, I can attest to the following:

– Erdoğan has three years left before the next election.

– The Hagia Sofia move was his check mate to Europe beyond the Greco-Turkish spats.

– Erdoğan doesn’t want to join EU (and all the monitoring and regulations), the EU will not have Turkey as it is today, but to make sure they don’t interfere, he needed to growl over his territory.

– Putin will turn a blind eye, despite Russia’s Orthodox Church affinity. Faith is only useful when it serves one’s interests by masking transparency. Christian links to the European church history are problematic for Putin’s and Erdoğan’s dark and underhanded populist and divisionary operations.

– Unmonitored, anyone challenging Erdoğan like the Kemalists, will end up in jail or dissappear.

– Turks in Turkey, Germany and the UK love Erdoğan. He took power and water to the favelas. He is making profits from the Syrian refugees that have no labour rights but plenty of will to do whatever yet not get paid or paid scraps of peanuts when they do (a 10th of the Turkish labour rates according to reports).

Noone wants drama on their doorstep. Turning adversity to positive stories is a way for populist governments to get away with the uttermost abuse of human rights.

Minorities and culture are the capital nasty regimes use for political coercion.

Coercion to domestic opposition, and coercion in international relations contexts.

Threatening securities makes vulnerable populations anxious and puts actor resources at high risk and alert. This costs actors money and make populations more predatory between them. Double win.

Hagia Sophia is the starting line of an incredibly narcissistic performance we will expect to see from Erdoğan in the next three years.

I can only hope there will be limited loss and blood lost in the process, but not set on having any hopes at this point.

In the middle of a pandemic, reclaiming a museum to a faith institution is a bold move.

To be continued…

May to the summer solstice

It’s been a while since the last post in the midst of Covid-19 which has become the constant, a bunch of close ones and I have followed the doctor’s advice.

Stay healthy, maintain the distance, and make sure you make memories.

Making memories is what differentiates today’s reality from psychological isolation.

With that, I discovered the invaluable constant.

Through my eyes, a number of things materialised over the past few weeks…

The comfortable space of just being, without obstructions from noise.

That comfortable space on the sofa, the giggles, the awe, the excitement, the unexpected dance, the beer out of the bag, the bag of chips, the walks, the SUPs, the sculls and the steers.

This is the story of the past six weeks.