Faces of the Olympics

We’re in the lull between the Olympics and the Paralympics, but there are still plenty of signs (literally and metaphorically) all over London of the events. Street artist Don has been adding to the collection of Olympics-inspired art on our city walls. Here’s a few pieces spotted on Hanbury Street in the East End and in the skate park on South Bank:

Bradley Wiggins by DonPhoto by Mickyh2011

Jessica Ennis by DonPhoto by Mickyh2011

DonPhoto by SReed99342

Little London Links: Weekend 2

According to my (usually unreliable) weather app on my iPhone, it’s shaping up to be a beautiful, hot, sunny, proper Summer weekend in London. Hurrah!! A busy Friday at work that culminates in a party at a very swish London venue followed by a relaxing Saturday with a  surprise at the end and a Sunday spent with a friend at the National Theatre seeing London Road. Have any of your seen it yet? What did you think?

So, as promised some London links to keep you occupied.

Lastly, not a link, but a photo by Maggie Jones of some British fans looking out at the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

True Brits.

Have a super sunny weekend!

Little London Links: Weekend 1

Black sand beaches, clear blue swimming pools, relaxing in tree swings, eating good food (and new food – like mojo – yum!), beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery (volcano, forest, cliffs, vineyards, banana plantations and colourful houses) and, of course, fun company. Yup, I’m back from the dream world of Tenerife. I know this is a London blog but can’t you just picture yourself having your tea on this lovely porch this morning, watching the sun come up over the vineyards?

And in London, the Olympics, I see, are in full swing. Exciting times, no? Did any of you get tickets to the Games? If not, what would you most like to see? What did you think of the opening ceremony?

Photo: Rings by SReed99342

All of this excitement and holiday stuff has got me thinking. After blogging here daily (with few exceptions – like holidays) since 2009, I’ve decided I deserve the weekends off! Selfish, I know, but someone has to made decisions around here. So, starting now, I’ll be posting Monday through Thursday as usual, and every Friday leaving you with a series of links to keep you well entertained through the weekend.

And oh look – it’s Friday already! So here we go. Happy Friday and have a fantastic weekend.

If you’re still bored, why not:

See you Monday!

Listen to a Londoner: Emma John

I came across Emma through an article she wrote on London’s East End in my favourite travel magazine, Afar.  Now her priority is the Olympics. She has been a journalist for 12 years, and lived in London for all of them. Her special interests include cricket, theatre, film and, most recently, bluegrass music; as deputy editor of the Observer magazine she tries to write about any or all of them whenever she can get away with it. 

LLO: You recently wrote an article on East London for Afar magazine. Did you happen upon any interesting little London discoveries whilst you were wondering around the area?
EJ: I’d never really ventured into that Hackney Wick/Stratford area of east London before so almost everything was new to me. I think my favourite discovery was Fish Island; the artists’ colony there is so hidden that you can actually walk around these streets of dilapidated old factories without ever seeing anyone. As soon as you meet one of the artists living there – I bumped into a knitter and a comic book artist – they start pointing out the buildings where there are good parties and dinners at night. They introduced me to the Counter Cafe, which serves amazing pies and has a great view across the canal to the Olympic park. They also pointed me in the direction of Imperial & Standard, the quirky antiques and vintage shop in Hackney Wick. Jamie, the owner, is wonderfully laconic. You can go in, browse, and he just says ‘hi’ then disappears into the back of the shop and you never see him again.

LLO: What are some of the advantages and the challenges of being a sports journalist in London? 
EJ: Right now, I guess the answer to both those questions is the Olympics! It’s a completely unique opportunity, it’s never going to come again in our lifetime, and we get to cover it. But then you start thinking about the logistics and you realise – hundreds of thousands of people are going to be trying to get to the same place that I am. Even though I live right on the train line in to Stratford, I’m having to research a load of backups in case I can’t actually get onto a train. You can’t just phone the desk and say ‘sorry, I missed the start of the game, it was a nightmare getting here…’

LLO: What has been your favourite article to write, where was it published and what was involved in putting it all together? 
EJ: Definitely the travel piece I wrote for Afar about my bluegrass trip to the South last year. It was published this month, a year after I made the trip, which is only partly because of their long lead times and mostly because I spent six months in total writing it. It was only 6,000 words but I had had such an incredible experience that I wanted to make sure every word was right.

LLO: Favourite London-based Olympic athletes and why? 
EJ: Well Andy Murray’s up there at the moment, but that’s because he just put in such a heart-stirring performance in the Wimbledon final. I’d love to see him win a gold medal. It feels like he deserves some sort of reward!

LLO: As a bluegrass fiddler, do you have a favourite spot to listen to live music in London? 
EJ: I do have a favourite spot to listen to bluegrass: the Monday night jam at the Hemingford Arms. The jam’s been going 18 years or so, and it’s run by Americans who were part of the original bluegrass revival in the 60s and 70s. It’s the most authentic stuff you’ll get to hear in the city.

LLO: Any tips for up and coming journalists who want to start a career in London? 
EJ: Find a magazine in a niche you’re interested in, and pester them till they let you come make the tea. Honestly, everyone is applying for experience at the newspapers, but you get a lot more experience and climb the ladder much quicker at a magazine with a small staff. Plus you’ll get to write about stuff you care about.

LLO: Best thing about living in your postcode?
EJ: Just the variety really. Islington is so varied, you get to meet and hang out with lots of different types of people. It’s really vibrant, there’s always something new going on, but there’s always something comforting and familiar round the corner too.

LLO: What’s your ideal way to spend a free Saturday in London? Is there anywhere you’d like to explore or visit in London that you haven’t gotten to yet? 
EJ: I haven’t really got an ideal day, but I do love taking a tiny area of London and spending a day just combing it. My sister and I started it as a little tradition between us – we’d take off a weekday when we’d normally be at work, and we start at the area’s best place for breakfast. Then we walk around the whole day on a contented stomach and just poke around into every little nook and corner we can find. So far we’ve done Fitzrovia, St James, Mayfair… I think it’s got to be Shoreditch next.

LLO: Tell us about a Londoner you know personally who is doing something cool worth talking about.
EJ: My friends Ben and John put on Shakespeare plays as a theatre company called Antic Disposition – they choose really clever and unusual locations, like the hall at Middle Temple, that give their productions a special atmosphere. Their last play, A Midsummer Nights’ Dream, got an amazing review by the Independent so I’m excited to see what they come up with next.

Thanks Emma!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Olympic Cash

The Olympics make for a whole new set of little London observations. Alex Ellison found this sign along the Regents Canal earlier this week:

Public Notice

What changes have you spotted in your area with the upcoming Olympics? Not too much down here at the moment, but upcoming Wimbledon has brought fake grass and lots of massive advertisements to Southfields station…