Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 1 September 2016

Wedding eve!

I went to Kayla and Tony’s the day before their wedding to lend a helping hand and moral support as Kayla baked her own wedding cake and did the bouquets and floral arrangements. I, along with her maid of honour Jenny, did whatever Kayla needed us to do. Moral support, rice crispy cake layers, icing, the washing up, lending a hand with the baby. Honestly though, Kayla rocked all the wedding preparations, moral support wasn’t really needed, and it was a surprisingly chill day!

I tried to snap some photos throughout the day, behind the scenes.

Then a funny thing happened when I took one of the rolls out of my camera: the film wasn’t wound tightly on the spool, so all the photos on that roll would be fogged by light! As you can see, most people these days would think the photos had been filtered in an app or something!

So I loaded another roll in the camera and tried to reshoot a few things in case the previous roll was completely ruined!

I had a lovely day with Kayla, Jen, and Baby B. Couldn’t wait for Kayla and Tony’s big day though!

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Pentax Espio Mini 

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 31 August 2016

Another day without an itinerary or plan? Say it ain’t so!

Again, I felt guilty for photograph well-documented landmarks, but I did it anyway. Mostly because Big Ben is quite mesmorising to me.

Every tourist stops to have a photo taken in red phone boxes

Somehow managed to snap a quick photo of this little girl’s flower crown as we were all crossing the street

Boadicea and her Daughters“statue on Victoria Embankment

London Eye

Royal Air Force memorial, Victoria Embankment

The Goodship Benefit  – basically, a pink boat for women to eat, drink, and get beauty treatments on

Victoria Embankment gardens

The Playhouse Theatre (opened 1882)

I might not have had a clear plan for the day, but I did go to the National Portrait Gallery. I’ve been there before, but I didn’t stay long because I didn’t particularly care for paintings of the Tudors and other old British families. This time, however, I liked it much better! I tried to stick to seeing the more modern paintings (and some photos) they have there.

The Lady. If you watched Downton Abbey, maybe you’ve heard of it.

Found a good reflective surface for some self-portraits

The Coal Hole

Buckingham Arcade

After that, I decided to just walk along the river some, over a couple of different bridges. When I was on the Southbank, I ended up doing something I intended to do a few days earlier but never got round to: SO, I’d always wanted to see a film while in London, just because I thought it’d be a nice break from museums and the hustle and bustle of the city. Over the weekend, I was searching for inexpensive or second run cinemas, when I found out about the BFI (British Film Institute) centre at Southbank. They have something there called Mediatheque, where you can go to watch anything they have digitised in their archives. I would have had trouble finding it if I hadn’t happened upon it this particular day. I went inside to check it out. The woman in the Mediatheque room gave me a login that was good for a two hour session, and I was set up at a viewing station in a corner, where I ended up being able to sort of recline. I was really tired and beat when I went in, but being there for a little under two hours was just what the doctor ordered. I watched a couple of shorts, then a full length movie from the 30s called “Young Man’s Fancy.” It was SO cute! My mom would have loved it.

After I finished at BFI, I wanted to continue walking down the Southbank before heading back to the hostel. It had gone grey outside while I was watching the movie, but as I approached Big Ben again, the sun shone a little before it went down. It was so nice that I decided to keep walking instead of hopping back on the Tube near Big Ben where I had gotten off earlier in the day. I walked down Whitehall and past Trafalgar Square before catching the Tube near there. And that was my Wednesday in London!

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Ricoh FF-1

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 30 August 2016

Started most of my days at Caffe Nero near my hostel 

I had Kayla’s hen do that night near Piccadilly Circus, so I tried to keep my day simple in order to not overdo it before I had to see people that evening.

I think I have mentioned before: On this trip to London, I revisited tourist spots and photographed them, even though I have covered those things places well in the past. I felt like that was sort of wasteful for some reason, but I tried shooting them from different angles and with alternative film types to make myself feel better about it! I set my sights on Tower Bridge that day – a piece of civil engineering that has my heart. I had sworn off photographing it again this time, because I felt like my last photos of the bridge were what I would consider “definitive” (for me and how I like my photography)

Tower Bridge and its mirror image

BUT, I walked across Tower Bridge for the first time since 2006 (which was the first time ever I saw its face 😀 ) Walking across Tower Bridge is one of the reasons I fell in love with it!

I spy with my little eye: The Shard!

Trinity Square

After I finished in the area near Tower Bridge, I decided to walk toward Tate Modern for some reason. I used something called the Thames Path to walk part of the way. Along the way, I saw “The Monument” which isn’t a very specific title for a memorial, so it wasn’t until I followed the signs to it that I saw that it was about: it’s the monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666. I found out that that week was the 350th anniversary of that fire, so there were events going on in London to commemorate it.

The Monument

Really cool building next to The Monument

I was stood outside a church near The Monument, and an elderly lady told me it was worth going in to take a look. It is called St. Magnus the Martyr. I did snap a couple of photos, but as I had not asked anyone if that was permitted, I didn’t want to press my luck or be disrespectful. Inside the church was a small group of young people who were burn victims, who seem to be in London with a group for burn victims. It was sad. I bet they were there in conjunction with the anniversary of the fire.

From St. Magnus the Martyr, I just continued walking until I finally arrived at Piccadilly Circus!

Thames Walk

Carrying on my tradition of photographing bikes chained to fences in London

Smoke break

Forest of metal trees,” Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

I intentionally arrived early to Piccadilly Circus because I wanted to…paint my nails. I laughed at myself for sitting on the steps of the Eros statue and painting my nails in the middle of a major road junction/tourist spot!

Piccadilly Circus

The hen party took place at a restaurant called Grace Bar. It was great! We did a kimono party (where we were all dressed in kimonos, obviously) and had a delicious dinner! I think we all came away with some fun memories from that evening.

Guest of honour at the hen party

Kayla and her little niece at the end of the kimono party

Me at the kimono party, with the fan I decorated during the craft portion of the party

I had a lovely walk to the Tube station after we all parted ways at Piccadilly Circus. I was so happy to be a part of Kayla’s pre-wedding girls’ night out!

One last Piccadilly Circus shot before I left…of a woman taking her little girl’s photo in front of the illuminated signs

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Pentax Espio Mini 

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 29 August 2016

What I wrote to my sister about this day in England started out with:

“TlL: just go to the ticket booth!”

Brighton was a major item on my “to do” list for England this time, and since much of my week was booked up with events and occasions relating to Kayla and Tony’s wedding, I decided I should take a train to Brighton that Monday. It happened to be a bank holiday Monday (basically like when we have national holidays on Mondays here.)

I found a round trip fare (or a return fare, as they call it) for £10.60 on the National Rail website. I wasn’t sure about buying it on my phone, so I went to London Bridge rail station (where the fare I found was to depart) and tried to buy it at the ticket machines. It wouldn’t show me that cheap fare! All the fairs were more like £27!  So I looked on my phone again, and that cheap ticket was still available. Tried to purchase it, in hopes of picking it up will call, and it said I couldn’t buy a ticket online within two hours of the departure time. So I spent awhile trying to figure out if I could buy a ticket that price in advance for Wednesday, but the cheapest ticket it showed was £17. Still not ideal. I was praying, “Lord, please let me get that cheaper fare!” So, about five minutes before the next train was to leave, I went to the ticket booth and said “I found a ticket to Brighton for today for £10.60 online, but it won’t let me buy it.” In about one second, she had the ticket pulled up and allowed me to purchase it. Seriously. Within a second, the stes I’d taken that morning to try to buy that ticket could have been solved in one second at a ticket counter with an actual person at it! I was asking what platform the train was on, could I still make it in time, etc, and she basically said “Yes, if you stop asking questions and go NOW, you can make it!” I started laughing and said I am American, and I couldn’t help myself. She laughed and said she was the same way. So, I ran to the entrance to the train platforms. It was 12:39, and the train was leaving at 12:42. Would you believe that I RAN up the escalator? Well run my be a strong word. “Walked more briskly than normal, and walking at all really being a feat because obvs I usually don’t walk on escalators.” Got on the train just in the nick of time!

A family got on the train, and there was a kid in a stroller (probably 3 or 4) who was crying and whining. Her dad kept asking her over and over if she wanted a bit of chocolate. She cried and refused over and over again. I hadn’t had lunch yet, so I considered volunteering to take a bit of chocolate since the little girl wasn’t having it! One of the little girls from that family was sat behind me singing “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. It was hilarious and adorable.

Now that that story is over with, I suppose you’ll be wanting to see some photos from Brighton? I guess I can oblige!

Actually, I am excited to share the photos from Brighton. Before I went to Brighton, I had it set in my mind how I wanted to photograph the town, and I’m glad to say that the photos are just the way I wanted them to be! The photos from my 2016 trip to England might not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but they have the feel I wanted them to have.

Hello, Brighton…

Too many photos of the cafe where I had lunch?

Lucky for me, Brighton is a great place to just walk around and take random photos. I went through a shopping district called North Laine (yes, spelled that way,) and took a lot of pictures. I was cursing myself because the “big camera” I brought had black and white film in it, which I could not WAIT to find a way to finish up, because Brighton was not made for black and white photography (I had a second camera with color in it, of course, which I used, as you can see.) Oh, and I got stopped by a couple on the street who asked me about my Instax camera, and we chatted and I told them about my project with Instax this year.

Last time I was in Brighton, I just about had a fit when I saw something called the Royal Pavillion. Because it looks like an Indian palace. It’s amazing. The Royal Pavilion was built by George, Prince of Wales, beginning in 1787.

But first, I looked at (but did no go TO) the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which is in the style of the Royal Pavillion because it was built to be a part of the pavilion (it was supposed to be a tennis court, but that didn’t happen.)

Pretty window in the art museum

But on to the main attraction: May I present to you the Royal Pavilion?

Isn’t it beautiful and amazing???


Victoria Fountain, Old Steine Gardens

I saw the sign for Brighton Pier when I was at the Royal Pavillion, so that is of course where I headed next.

It was crawling with people because everyone brought their kids to Brighton for the bank holiday. Something crazy happened there though: through the sea of people, I saw two faces I recognised. Not people I know, mind you, but people I recognized. It was the singer from my favorite band mewithoutyou, and his brother who is also in the band. I have met the singer before briefly and chatted with his brother briefly before, but not in a way they would remember all these years later. I didn’t say anything initially, then I thought, “What are the odds of them being on this pier, at this spot, in England at the same time as I am??” So I doubled back. Luckily, I had a little bit of an in, which I used to make me feel less awkward about it: they know my friend Drew from years back. I mentioned him and said that I just couldn’t believe I had seen them there. They were nice and let me take their photo with my Instax camera. Nothing else even mattered after that because I was in such a daze!

I did manage to get the black and white film finished and get the film l’d ENVISIONED using in Brighton loaded into the camera. But like I said, between the amount of photography I had done and my running into Aaron and Michael Weiss on the pier, anything else was just icing on the cake.

Pretty sure these kids were trying to fight to sea

Brighton is a pebble beach – really difficult to walk on!

Okay. I don’t recall the water coming ONTO my shoe, as it appears to be in this photo. Because I think I’d remember something like having a wet shoe, right?

The train journey home was SO crowded with the bank holiday coming to a close, but I didn’t mind. Visiting Brighton again was wonderful. One of the best decisions I made that week! Other than photographing Kayla and Tony’s wedding, my time in Brighton was the most photographically fulfilling day of my England 2016 holiday.

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Pentax Espio Mini 

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 28 August 2016

Mmmhmmm. I photographed my coffees in London. So typical.

I am going to admit here and now that I will be showing you more tourist-type photos from my 2016 trip to London than I had planned on, because I revisited more tourist spots than I intended to this time. Such as going back to Trafalgar Square. Granted, I always go there to photograph what’s on the Fourth Plinth, since it’s been something different every time.

(Also, I’ve come to realise that I basically turned my real cameras into toy cameras by shooting a lot of expired film in London.)

Fourth Plinth sculpture: “Gift Horse” by Hans Haacke

When at Trafalgar Square, one goes to the National Gallery. Normally I wouldn’t have visited the National Gallery again, but I must admit that the fact that they’d begun to allow photography in the museum (which has not been the case any time I’ve been there, dating back to my first visit in 2006) lured me in. Once I got there, I realised that the lighting wasn’t all that great for photography (especially since I was using expired film for the most part haha) but I did some anyway 😉 I normally try to keep track of which pieces I photograph so I can link to info about them once I blog about my trip, but I didn’t do a great job on this visit to the National Gallery…

Whistlejacket by George Stubbs  

Large painting in the middle: “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Guido Reni

The real reason I keep going back to the National Gallery: DA VINCI
The Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo da Vinci

Finally, some shots for my “People in Museums” series!

After leaving Trafalgar, I sort of just walked for awhile. My plan was to eventually make it to the river, but I never managed to get there. I did find Soho and Chinatown though, places I have never been before.

M&M’s World, Leicester Square

Ed’s Easy Diner, Soho

Then there was more aimless wandering (fascinating details, Amanda!) until I found Carnaby Street, which is a hip shopping district in Soho. I did my good deed for the day there again by taking a photo of a family who were trying to cram all members of the party into an arm-length selfie. They were appreciative for the help. I hope I at least got some good photos there myself, since it’s quite a colourful part of town.

 Not much else to report for the day – I hadn’t slept well the night before, so heading back to the hostel after a day of walking was a fitting end to the day!

Photos taken with my Pentax Espio Mini and Fuji GA645i

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 27 August 2016

I honestly just slept in on Saturday, seeing as I had been up over 30 hours straight after my travels. Cool story, huh?

This was the day when I, thankfully, got together with Candace! She herself had just flown in from New York that morning, and she was kind enough to take me out on a walk in a part of London called Shoreditch. Usually, the days when I hang out with people while I’m in London don’t turn out to be photographically productive days, but Candace was clever enough to basically take me on a photo walk in London’s East End.

Liverpool Street station, where Candace and I met up

Known occupants of this site, for over 850 years 

Candace took me to Beigel Bake. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for their bagels!

The “New Orleans” frozen daiquiri bar…

Kahaila Cafe

After Candace and I bid each other farewell, I decided to go to St. Paul’s. I have photographed St. Paul’s enough in the past, but I needed to take some particular Instax photos around there (more on that later.)

This is a school of some sort…but I don’t remember exactly! 

I walked across the bridge to Tate Modern.

The River Thames

Tate Modern exterior

A sculpture called “Planet” by Emily Young

And then back to the hostel to rest! Not a bad way to spend a Saturday in London, I must say!

Photos taken with my Ricoh FF-1 and Fuji GA645i

Leave a comment

Amanda Goes to England, Vol. 4: 26 August 2016

Finally, I have arrived in London!

I like to report on my UK Border Control experiences each time I fly into London, and this time was actually really easy. I don’t know why, but immigration was completely deserted. I usually have to queue up foreverrrrrr, but I literally was the only person there that day. You’ll hear no complaints from me on that though!

I stayed at the same hostel where I’d stayed during my 2012 and 2014 visits to London. The neighbourhood is familiar at this point, and I have no stress trying to find my way to it when I travel back and forth on the Tube. That is a major asset, in my opinion.

I dropped my things off at the hostel (where I changed into my Union Jacks shoes in the left luggage room – thanks Melissa!) and I pushed myself to do some walking around to take photos (to make myself feel productive.)

I will always photograph tiles!

I liked it because it says “haircutters”

Union Jack shoes from my sis

So, on the day I arrive in London, I like to find something to see or do that I haven’t experienced in previous visits to that city. When I left for my main outing that afternoon, I was standing on a pavement (that’s sidewalk to us Americans,) using Google Maps on my phone when a British woman with a toddler stopped and asked if I was going to the Freud Museum. I guess she thought I, like she, was looking for it and trying to find directions on my phone. I said, “I didn’t know there was such a thing. I am just trying to figure out what I want to do with my day.” She said, “You should go to the Freud Museum then.” So I followed her to it on a whim. Want to hear another strange coincidence?? After awhile of walking behind her, I realised the woman had on a DOLLYWOOD shirt. I mentioned it to her, and she said she and her kids went last fall. SO RANDOM. Especially considering the fact that I would be going to Dollywood again a few weeks after I got back from London.

After walking a bit, we did find the museum. I found out that the museum is the house where the Freud family lived after fleeing Austria in 1938. Sigmund Freud died the next year, but his daughter lived there until her death in 1982.

I usually do things that are free when I’m in London (as there are MANY free things to do in London,) so I had mixed feelings about this museum because it cost £7 for entry,and I paid £2 for the audio tour. The whole museum basically consists of only five rooms in the house! I will say that, if you live in London and/or really love Freud, the admission price gives you a one year pass to visit the museum again, so there’s that. Oh, and I did not go through the museum with the woman who had suggested I go there. That probably would have been weird.

Freud’s study

This was trippy – a mirrored ceiling in Freud’s study

Sketches of Freud by Salvador Dali

“Das Ich Und Die Abwehrmechanismen” (The Ego and The Mechanisms of Defense) by Anna Freud

Garden at the Freud Museum

Blue door at Freud’s house

After leaving the Freud Museum, I meandered around the neighbourhood before supper whilst taking some photos. As you would expect.

The site of a strange jacket potato experience I had for dinner…

Now, after I ate, I did something unusual: I went shopping!

I wanted to go to Primark on Oxford Street to see if I could find something I might wear to Kayla’s wedding (I did bring a dress but wasn’t really satisfied that it was the right choice!) Plus, I knew the area where Primark is located might make for some good photo opportunities.

Inside Tottenham Court Road Tube station

Outside Tottenham Court Road Station

I had good luck on my shopping trip and found a new skirt and some booties that I was happy with (a detail people care about?  haha) It was such a nice night that I fancied walking around Oxford Street and Regent Street before returning to the hostel, even though I had been awake nearly thirty hours at that point.

One of the vintage London red double-decker buses used for tours

A church off Regent Street called All Souls, Langham Place

At that point, I decided I had pushed myself a little too hard by staying out to take extra photos that night, so I returned back to the hostel and had a hot shower (hey, that’s an important detail because I don’t think any of the showers I’ve taken at that particular hostel during previous stays have ever been hot!)

Photos taken with my Fuji GA645i and Pentax Espio Mini