21st Century Treasure Map App in Milton Keynes

Based on the fact that the average UK adult believes they live more than 5 miles from the nearest cultural artefact – such as public artwork, a monument or a site of historic interest.  MK Council has launched a free app to help residents and visitors locate 50 locally hidden gems from a ‘tree cathedral’ to a 1,000-year-old moot (meeting place) and a flood plain nature reserve.

National research [1] on behalf of Milton Keynes Council suggests we may be unaware of what is in our own back yard.  In fact, the average UK adult believes there are no cultural artefacts within 5 miles of their home – an area equivalent to almost 20 square miles and larger than the built-up area of towns like Swindon or Ipswich.  One individual guessed that the nearest cultural artefact was 160 miles away.

Based on public data from leading national tourism groups and The National Recording Project (NRP), the UK is home to more than 10,000 sites of national cultural interest [2] which doesn’t even reflect the total number of historical sites, listed buildings and public artwork at a local level.

A third of those in the study say they have never visited any local cultural artefacts – artwork, historic sites or buildings, or beauty spots.  Those in the North East are most likely to have visited local treasures (74%) where as people living in the South West are less inclined (64%).

When questioned on the closest cultural landmark to home, over a quarter of people think of the local theatre (26%), woodlands, parks or natural beauty spots (16%) monuments (15%), architecture (14%) followed by sculptures and other public artwork.  More than one in ten respondents could not think of any landmarks close to home.

A new and free to access app has been launched in Milton Keynes to encourage residents and visitors to explore hidden local gems.  Locations such as an idyllic tree cathedral, a 1,000-year-old moot, a peace pagoda (the first one to be built in the western world) and a flood plain crawling with wildlife are all within 4 minutes travel of well-trodden city areas.  With almost a thousand public sites and artefacts across Milton Keynes, visitors are unlikely to ever be further than 100m from the nearest.

The Discovering MK smartphone app encourages users to discover more about Milton Keynes.  Partly inspired by the Pokémon Go craze, the app reveals an interactive trail of 50 locations around the city.   At each point along the trail, users can unlock information about the landmark, take a mini quiz and upload a selfie to show where they are.

Developed by Arts & Heritage Alliance MK and MK21, the free app is available via Google Play and Apple Store.  It was developed to commemorate Milton Keynes’ 50th Anniversary and celebrates the unique and diverse city, which has 220 pieces of public art, 22 million trees and shrubs, 180 miles of dedicated bridleways, footpaths and cycle tracks and more shoreline than Jersey.  This project has been supported with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, MK Community Foundation, MK Council and Santander Cycles MK.

[1] Representative omnibus polling of 2,205 UK adults via Censuswide between 28th and 31st July 2017.

[2] Estimate based purely on publicly available data from English Heritage, The National Trust, Visit England and The National Recording Project (NRP) online database – August, 2017

East London Group returns with political focus

© A. E. Turpin Estate, 2017

East London Group returns with political focus

The Working Artist: The East London Group
curated by Michael Rosen and Emma-Louise Williams
East London Group paintings to be shown at their home in Bow, with a focus on member Albert Turpin – Mayor of Bethnal Green and leading political figure – with contemporary commissions highlighting sites around Bow and Mile End Road

This September, the East London Group returns to the Nunnery Gallery with a new collection of paintings, selected and curated by writer broadcaster Michael Rosen and radio producer film-maker Emma-Louise Williams.

Working during the inter-war period, the East London Group of artists were made up of ordinary working men and women, attending art classes and exhibiting their paintings alongside their day jobs. There were thirty-five members – including Walter Sickert, Phyllis Bray, William Coldstream, John Cooper, Elwin Hawthorne, the Steggles brothers, Brynhild Parker, Henry Silk and Albert Turpin.

Rosen and Williams have selected over 50 works for exhibition, with a special focus on little-known works by Albert Turpin. Turpin was not only a critically acclaimed artist but a prominent figure in local politics, as a leading force in the East End anti-fascist movement and Mayor of Bethnal Green. His works tell the story of the East End’s resilience through a turbulent time of war and peace and will be shown alongside sketchbooks and political pamphlets that haven’t been seen for 70 years, providing a vivid and contextual narrative to the paintings.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a series of new in-situ commissions by artists working in east London today, highlighting recognisable sites in the paintings surrounding the Nunnery Gallery. Walking tours of the local area will guide visitors around these new public artworks, finishing at Queen Mary University of London – who have supported the new commissions – where remnants of a mural painting by East London Group member Phyllis Bray can still be seen in the People’s Palace.

The patronage provided by the East London Group’s famed supporters – Sir Joseph Duveen, Samuel Courtauld and Arnold Bennett to name a few – led them to great heights, with their achievements contextualised in the press by the artists’ means of earning a living, a “window-cleaner”, “shop assistant” and “pipe inspector”. This exhibition, with its wealth of previously un-exhibited material, sheds new light on many of the characters of the group, who were accomplished artists – lauded by the art world – but also active war artists, heroes of east London politics and avid chroniclers of the changing face of the London of their time.

The exhibition coincides with a flurry of newly published books that encompass the Group and their stories, including an illustrated memoir from Albert Turpin himself: East End Vernacular, Artists who painted London’s East End streets in the 20th Century (The Gentle Author: Oct 2017); So They Call You Pisher! A Memoir by Michael Rosen (Verso: Sep 2017); The East End – My Birthright by Albert Turpin (Francis Boutle: Sep 2017); The Story of Titania and Oberon, with illustrations by Phyllis Bray (Pavilion Books: 2017).

© A. E. Turpin Estate, 2017

Of the focus on Albert Turpin, curators Rosen and Williams said:

“Admirers of the Group find themselves drawn more to one artist than another, and in our curation we’ve pinpointed the world of Albert Turpin. Turpin was an unstoppable sketcher, filling countless notebooks with drawings of his family, while bringing to the Group a Fauvist tendency to colour his East End in a robust and affectionate way.

“He was politically committed to the struggles of those around him and in putting this exhibition together we were delighted to meet Turpin’s daughter and granddaughters who were able to provide documentary materials to give witness to Albert Turpin’s commitment.”

Sophie Hill, Nunnery Gallery Co-Director, said:

“Then, just as now, population flux and insistent remodelling characterised the streets sandwiched between the City and what is now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Ordinary working men and women picked up paint brushes to capture the changing landscape.

“Highlighting the sites of our surrounding local area through contemporary artwork not only draws attention to east London’s changing architecture, but also showcases the talent of artists working in east London today – whose work is certainly inspired by our area’s rich political and social history which, as the East London Group demonstrates, has always had a long and poignant relationship with art”


Exhibition: East London Group
Dates: 29 Sept – 17 Dec 2017
Admission: Free
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun, 10am – 5pm
Address: Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ
Travel: Bow Road Tube Station, Bow Church DLR
Contact: +44 (0)20 8980 7774 / [email protected]

Traveling to London on a budget

Traveling to London on a budget

Summer in London is definitely a great season to be in this City: not overly crowded, not too hot to be outside but warm enough for an al fresco dining or to spend the day at the park. So, if you are planning to travel to London anytime soon, it’s a good choice timing and weather wise. However, London isn’t really the cheapest option, so here I am to offer you some tips on how to plan your trip to this City on a budget.

Traveling to London

There are a few budget airlines that fly into London, however, you’ll still need to book your tickets in advance in order to get better deals. You can compare your flight options using flights comparison sites like Skyscanner etc.

Weekly Travel Card – Oyster

One way to travel cheap would be to avoid taxi fares as they can get very expensive. There are few options available on the market like the Oyster Card, which is a prepaid ‘ticket’ for the zones you’ll be traveling to. You can either choose the weekly option or if you are staying for less than a week you can use the pre-pay option. It is valid on the bus and light rail systems as well. Using an Oyster Card is 50% cheaper than purchasing a normal ticket. Another option would be hiring a bike or simply walking around to explore the City at your own pace.

Free Activities

One of the benefits of a City as huge as London is that there are loads of free things to see and do. Another beautiful thing about London is that Museums are free for the likes of the National History Gallery, Tate Britain, and Modern, Saatchi Gallery and so on.

A free activity that I recommend not to miss if in London for the first time is heading to Buckingham Palace for the historic Changing of the Guard, there, you will witness a military band playing during the swap. Charming. A fun and historical event that will cost you nothing.

Also, there are few apps that will help you sort out your activities like Dojo, Time Out, Yelp etc. These are great resources for local events and festivals. Or you can wander aimlessly in the streets of London—there’s always something going on.

Southbank. Photo By Roman In London


Outdoor Cinema. Royalty free images.


London cuisine is a truly diverse experience that will be able to please all types of the palate.  A common habit for Londoners during summer months is having a picnic in the park: just buy your food of choice and grab your favorite spot on the green and you’ll feel like a true Londoner!  There are also few local markets like Borough Market or Broadway Market that offer plenty of fruits, veggies wine, cheese, and a bottle of olives make for the perfect picnic in one of the city’s many parks.

Broadway Market. Royalty free images


Get the London Pass

London Pass is a tourist card that will grant you access to 32 attractions and free public transportation.

It includes many of the most famous London landmarks, such as Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Britain at War Museum.

Home from Home

London can be quite expensive in terms of accommodation costs even at the lower end of the market so you can hunt on Home from home for accommodation. There are lots of options available you just have to look around.

Also, finding an apartment with a kitchen for stay at home nights is a great way to save money.

London Houses. Royalty free images

Airport Transfers

There are a few ways to get into and from the airport. You can go either via Tube (London Underground) otherwise, you can arrange for a taxi, minicab to meet you upon arrival.

London. Royalty Free Images

West End Tickets 

You can find good bargain tickets for west end shows in Leicester Square or a good idea would be to buy them in advance.


Best London’s Bottomless Brunches

Most of us all definitely know what a brunch is: a combination between breakfast and lunch, usually eaten at late mornings or early afternoons. But not that many (I suppose) know what a Bottomless Brunch is: add all above but with unlimited booze on top and the menu is served!

London, as many other cities now, offers a wide array of restaurants, cafes’ and bars that claim to serve the best bottomless brunch in town. But let’s see what people actually think. For this purpose, I have a collected a few opinions on the matter (around a dozen folks in total) amongst friends, colleagues and Londoners basically, and these are the results of my little survey:

(Note: the order is random)

       1.  Jones and Jones, Dalston

Unlimited amounts of prosecco, Bloody Mary, as well as all-you-can-eat food. You can choose from the likes of a full English breakfast, avocado on toast with a choice of poached egg or bacon and Belgian waffles with banana, toffee and honeycomb ice cream. Only downside: you’ll need to book well in advance.

Price: £34

      2. Asia de Cuba, St Martins Lane


Brunch shouldn’t be limited to weekends only, especially when it looks as good as this…

Un post condiviso da St Martins Lane, London (@stmartinslanesocial) in data:

Situated inside St Martins Lane hotel, Asia de Cuba’s offering doesn’t feature what’s on every brunch-lovers radar.

Each Saturday and Sunday from 12pm-3pm the restaurant runs a Cocktail Brunch and/or a Champagne Brunch with bottomless Perrier-Jouët champagne. The food has a Cuban Influence but apparently, it’s the dessert that stands out: tiny Mexican doughnuts served with Thai chili-chocolate dip. A must try!

Price: £45 Cocktail Brunch

Price: £70 Champagne Brunch

      3. Big Easy (Covent Garden)

Unlimited BBQ Breakfast OR a selection of lobster dishes: plus bottomless beer, wine and prosecco.Why Not?

Price: £29.50

    4. Forge and Co, Shoreditch


Amazing value for bottomless prosecco and a full English breakfast

Price: From £4 plus £10 for a glass of prosecco with refills.

      5. Drink, Shop & Do, Kings Cross

A unique venue, well renowned for their creative and bizarre events: such Robot lego wars, swing classes and so on. Every Sunday they host a boozy brunch with unlimited booze and bagels. Ah! I forgot to mention: Bottomless Bloody Marys are included in the deal!

Price: From £15

Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern

Politically charged Tate Modern’s new Exhibition “Soul of a Nation” is currently on display until the 22nd October bringing together, from various parts of the World, 150 pieces of “black art”.

Definitely one of the must-see exhibitions of the Year, it displays works that have been created during 20 years (from 1963 to 1983) of raw Political times that created a strong emotional impact on the black lives by looking back at American Black Art in the Age of Civil Rights Movements.

Benny Andrews
Benny Andrews Did the bear sit under the tree. Photo Credits Tate. From the Collection Estate of Benny Andrews

Each of the 12 rooms focuses on an urban artists’ group or kind of art, with artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Romare Bearden and Lorraine O’Grady with the aim of looking at different artists’ groups throughout America.

It starts, firstly with the Spiral Group – a group of African American artists –  in New York and with the March on Washington (when Marthin Luther King gave a speech at a crowd of 200,000 people) and ends with a performance by Lorraine O’Grady.

This exhibition makes you wonder what meant to be a black artist during that period of controversy, but also, what forms of art would have made the right impact by giving – at the same time – complete and full freedom of expression. Whether the chosen medium was music or abstract works or paintings, it must have been absolutely hard to communicate freely and being listened to at the same time.

As an example, AfriCOBRA (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), that formed in Chicago in the late 1960s, who made portraits of Malcolm X, incorporated text from his speeches.

“This exhibition traces the aspiration – in an incredible, heart-wrenching way – of what represented black America in the following two decades as King’s dream gave way to disillusion.”

Below an inspirational playlist that you can listen to on your way to the exhibition 🙂

MARK GODFREY is the senior curator of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is co-curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, with assistant curator Priyesh Mistry.


Tate Modern


12 July – 22 October 2017


£16.50FREE for Members

Adult £16.50 (without donation £15)


The best “Investment bags” to buy

When it comes to Women’s Accessories, not an entire blog would be able to fulfil the scope of explaining the different nuances each pair of shoes or bags have (at least for how I see it.) So, I decided to start from the basics and to describe what – in my humble opinion – are the top essential bags that will last you a lifetime and, therefore, worth the investment. (In case you needed an actual reason)

Bags are for me a piece of home when I’m away, a reassurance that all I need is safe (and with me) and, of course, a complement to my outfit. Therefore, having a bag that stores all my things and at the same time looks good is a priority for me. My ideal handbag? Both practical and stylish. But let’s see what the market has to offer for all the other tastes:

1 The modern Backpack

Leather backpack
Leather backpack


Over the last couple of years, backpacks were amongst the hottest trends. A shoulder bag may seem like a stylish option, but having back pain is not a good look. From soft leather bags to canvas styles that can take a beating we tend to look for durable bags that would hold day-to-day essentials, without compromising on style.


2 Tote Bags

Bags that we wear on the weekends or in the evenings can be small, fun and stylish, really anything that suits your mood! However, bags that we use every day have to be first of all functional. Those can be used for work and – perhaps – a neutral, large tote is the perfect solution for what’s required in our professional lives.

The go-to tote is usually a leather tote for many reasons but mainly for their quality and durability. This is definitely what we can call an “investment piece” since will supposedly see you through a lifetime of wardrobe crises.

Tip: “The texture, smell and strength of the leather should be obviously superior. If the stitching is uneven and different sizes, it’s an indication that it could be a fake.”

Tote bag


3 The “Neverfull” Bag


One of “hardiest” bag out there can fill up to 3,5 KG, accessible to a wider audience. Practical and timeless. High marks for functionality and comfort and looking great all the same with its famous LV pattern and red striped fabric on the interior. It has a large zip pocket on the interior, and also comes with a small pouch to prevent your small items from spilling out all over the bottom of the tote.


Into Halal Food? The Festival is back to London!

The London Halal Food Festival returns this year and is set to become the biggest showcase in Europe for Halal Food – giving those attending a tantalising Halal journey of delicious food and drink from over 100 international exhibitors.

Taking place on 19th and 20th August, at London’s historic Tobacco Dock, the festival is the only one of its kind and attracts visitors from across the UK who want to discover new and exciting international Halal cuisines.

An estimated 18,000 people will attend over the weekend and around three tonnes of meat and poultry will be consumed as people spend close to half a million pounds trying out Halal burgers, freshly prepared dishes, culinary delights and alcohol-free cocktails – before finishing off with tasty sweet treats in a dedicated dessert section.

There will also be live performances from celebrity chefs in a special cookery theatre, including a live demonstration from MasterChef Champion, Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed. Other highlights include a dedicated Italian Halal Zone and a Man Vs Food competition open to visitors. Other companies present will be taking advantage of the huge crowds by promoting their new and latest line of halal products – including baby food, convenience meals and home-delivered Halal meat.

Waleed Jahangir, London Halal Food Festival Show Director, said

“The Muslim Halal market is booming and during the Holy month of Ramadan, supermarkets estimated to make around £70 million from Halal food offerings alone.

“British Muslims are the most diverse in the world; they have bigger households, they spend more, eat out more often and cook in more volume – which is estimated annually to be worth a whopping £10 billion. That’s why we’re seeing more and more brands reaching out to Muslim consumers and the London Halal Food festival is a fantastic opportunity for both businesses and consumers to come together and learn more about each other.”

The word Halal translates to ‘permissible’ and is frequently applied to food, especially regarding the slaughtering of animals according to Islamic requirements. However, its meaning in terms of dietary requirements can also represent core values such as free-range, organic and sustainable (fair trade), which are standards that are becoming more important for the millennial Muslim.

Waleed adds:

“Traditionally, the past few generations of Muslims could only eat what was cooked at home, but now they can finally try the food they couldn’t have when growing up. The festival looks to breakdown this barrier by bringing in all types of food, from all over the world, with just one condition, that everything in the show remains Halal.”

The festival was recently placed in the top five of London Food Festivals to look forward to in 2017 by lastminute.com and with over 100 exhibitors, it’s set to be a great weekend of food and fun for all the family.

Tickets are still available from £10 with exclusive packages still available online. To find out more information about the festival, or to book your tickets, visit www.londonhalalfoodfestival.com

The Giant Immersive BeeHive at Kew

This Summer you might want to head to the Kew Gardens to visit the’Hive’, the new installations from the UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress, originally created for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and now residing temporarily in London.

If you are indeed planning to go there for a proper bee-themed treat or are just curious to know more about it, here’s some useful info.

The Hive is an immersive sound and visual experience, it’s 17 meters tall and constructed from 170.000 aluminum parts and with 1000 LED lights. The intensity of sound and light is controlled by the vibrations of bees in an actual hive at Kew that is wired to the sculpture. The artist says:

“I want visitors to feel enveloped, wrapped-up and involved in the experience, rather than adopting the position of an external observer.”

There are two entrances of the Hive: one at the bottom where you can learn about honeybees while for example biting sticks that are inserted into a conductor to sense the vibrations when upstairs the stage is actually wired up and controlled by the activity of the bees. So I suggest to just simply sitting there and observe the surrounding ‘activity’.

But how does it work? 

Honeybees communicate with each other primarily through vibrations, therefore, the artist put an accelerometer in a beehive at Kew which is connected to the installation. But what is an accelerometer? Accelerometers are basically vibration sensors. This accelerometer picks up vibrations from activity of the bees and these vibrations are sent in real-time to The Hive.


BeeHive at Kew. Photo By Roman In London


BeeHive at Kew/ Photo By Roman In London

 The importance of bees

Photo by Roman In London


This artwork also serves the scope to highlight the importance of honeybees: HoneyBees pollinate 70 of the most important crop we eat, including fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds.

Pollination is the transfer of the pollen grain from the stamen (the male part of the flower) to the stigma and egg (the female part of the flower). It is through pollination that plants are fertilized and able to produce the next generation of plants, including the fruit and crops we eat.

 Buttress also says:
“I opened a bee hive for the first time two years ago and it gave me a different outlook on life and how humans are connected to nature. We are in danger of losing that vitally important connection, especially in cities.”

Festival Checklist: What To Take To A Festival


It’s official: festival season is in full swing! Whether you’re chilling out at a local festival or heading to some of the big players like Glastonbury or V, packing is essential. If you like to leave things to the last minute, don’t fear! Here’s a handy festival checklist; pack your backpack full of these and we guarantee you’ll be set whatever the weather!

  • Dry shampoo — you might be in the middle of a field, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have great hair!
  • Sunhat — the British weather is interchangeable, so pack a hat for when the sun’s out to avoid sunstroke.

  • Umbrellas — rain is synonymous with festivals. Don’t forget your brolly — one like this from this designer range will definitely stand out from the crowd.umbrella
  • Wellies — an obvious one, but essential none the less!

  • Waterproof jacket — keep dry and pack a waterproof jacket for when the heaven’s open.
  • Reusable water bottle — festivals usually provide water stations, so you can dodge those high prices and fill up for free.
  • Torch — finding your way back to the tent can be difficult; a torch will help.
  • Tent & sleeping equipment—pop-up tents are great for taking the hassle out of pitching. You’ll also need an airbed or roll mat, sleeping bag and pillows.
  • Sun lotion — make protecting your skin a priority and pack an SPF.
  • ID — Festivals are tough on under-age drinking, so prove your old enough and take along your ID.
  • Toilet roll—don’t rely on those portable toilets
  • Wet wipes — perfect for freshening up after a day of dancing.
  • Phone charger — how else are you going to share all those photos if your battery dies? Most festivals provide charging points.
  • Towel — if the heavens open during the last act of the day, a towel will help you dry off before bed.
  • Camping chairs — more comfortable than grass, pack some if you’re camping at a festival.
  • Earplugs — noisy neighbours be gone!
  • Sunglasses — a festival must-have that makes it easier for you to catch all of the on-stage action.
  • Bin bags — throw a couple of bin bags in your backpack to collect your rubbish during and after your festival fun.

With the essentials in place, you’re all set for having the time of your life, whatever festival you attend!

Hiking trip in Otford, Kent

Hiking is a different and healthy way to spend your spare time, especially when you live in the UK and you can take advantage of the many beautiful spots that the Country Side has to offer just at your door step.

In this post I’ll let you know about the hike I did a few days ago In Kent: Starting From Otford Station via Darent River to the ruins of the Ancient Roman Villa and back to London Victoria from Eynsford Station.



Pretty House in Otford Village. Photo by Roman in London

The tranquil Darent River flows from the hills near Sevenoaks down to the River Thames at Dartford.

It is a 19-mile walk but there are different paths or walks that you can choose depending on your level of expertise and endurance, my walk from Otford Station to Eynsford was a good 3 hours long, although we were a big group of around 40 people and took many ‘photo breaks’ as well as a lunch break in the meantime. As a first-timer, I must say that it wasn’t a particularly difficult trek, although a lot of it depends from the fastness of the pace.


Medieval House in Otford. Photo By Roman In London
In this route, there’s a  narrow but picturesque footpath that you can follow, which runs parallel to the river that flows through the valley. Definitely a nice change from the usual daily hustle and bustle of London!
Photo by Roman In London
Deep Green. Photo By Roman In London


A nice Pony cheered us along the route. Photo by Roman In London


Photo By Roman in London


Photo By Roman In London



Once you get to the Lullingstone visitor center, you can also visit the Lullingstone Roman Villa which is open to the public but you’ll need to purchase a ticket for that, I haven’t got the time but I’ve been told that it’s definitely worth a visit, well… perhaps next time! Apparently, the remains of the villa, which were discovered accidentally by workmen digging holes during the mid 18th century, include several very well preserved mosaic floors.
Continuing to the path you’ll pass through the nine arched red brick Eynsford railway viaduct that was built in 1859 (pictured below).
Photo By Roman In London


Photo By Roman In London.

The Darent Valley Path directs you away from Eynsford but I would recommend you make a diversion away from the path and take a look at the very picturesque and historic village itself.

Eynsford. Photo By Roman In London

Continuing along the path and approaching Eynsford, I came across the ruins of another ancient villa.


Ruins of Roman Villa. Photo By Roman In London

It was an absolute fun and made few friends along the way which is definitely a plus! Let me know if you have any questions in case you are thinking to try it x