My London…

Whilst on my way home last night I was clearing the work brain reading (or more browsing) the Evening Standard, when I found myself reading a section called “My London”. I’ve read it before, I think, but recently I’ve been appreciating where I live and the ease of access I have to things much more than usual.

With such a great respect for how lucky I am to live in such an awesome city, I thought I’d share my favourite parts for others to agree, disagree or add to, in much the same way as the Standard does:

The day starts in…
Greenwich (well actually Deals Gateway, an oddly named pocket between Blackheath, Deptford and Greenwich) – For me ideally situated, close to my favourite areas and with transport links to everywhere

Magical market - Greenwich

The grindstone
CTO @ (Tangent Plc), Great Portland Street, London – I absolutely love my job, enjoying every minute of it. I have the best team and we’re innovating and expanding all of the time!

Coffee fuel
Kaffiene, Great Titchfield Street – Amazing vanilla lattes and laidback atmosphere

Breakfast munchies
Scandinavian Kitchen – Just up from Kaffiene, the staff here are awesome.. They have a kind of boardroom area where I occasionally run our Scrums

Lazy lunch
Roka – It’s just cool

Favourite park
Greenwich Park – The place is tranquil amongst the chaos, and the view from the top by the observatory always impresses

Where I like to wander
Regents Canal – A walk up from Limehouse to Broadway Market on a Saturday, taking in Victoria Park and boating lake on route, endearing

Fun dining
Duck and Waffle, Heron Tower – Partly for the view of course, over-priced food but tasty and with delicious cocktails!

Favourite hotel
The May Fair Hotel – swish and pretentious! Really want to try out the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch though, potential to knock this one off the favourites list

Riding House Cafe – Semi-celebrity hangout, but this isn’t why I like it, it just feels good

Gig venue of choice
O2 Brixton Academy – This proves that size doesn’t matter!

Cinema experience
Everyman, Hamstead – The whole cosy feeling and table service make this an easy choice

Magical market
Greenwich – Again! I know most would say Camden or Notting Hill, but I love the size of this place coupled with the artistic influence and the boutique shops that surround it

Place yet to visit
Dulwich – Always told this is cool place these days, must head over and check it out

London pub
The White Horse, Parsons Green – Unfortunately don’t get over there much these days, but still love the vibe of the place when I do, especially in the summer when the crowds spread to the common

For now, that’s it… Any requests for other topics, let me know and I’ll do a part 2!

The Year Of The Horse.. What Does It Mean?

This morning whilst chatting to my amazing girlfriend, I randomly said that we should be out in Chinatown getting involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations, stating “it’s the year of the horse”, to which she replied (and after agreeing this would be fun to do!) “What does it mean?”. “I don’t know” I returned, with it suddenly occurring to me how uncultured that is! Remembering that I was born in the year of the snake and being someone that loves information, I immediately started researching whilst on my way to the shop for groceries.

ShiraLikesToDraw Chinese New Year 2014 Horse

As I was reading I realised how many horse-related things I’d been involved in over the last 24 hours…

Yesterday morning I was busy sorting through paperwork and filling in some forms for an impending (and life changing) future. One of the things requiring my attention was an update to the Council Tax registration. I couldn’t find the paperwork, but I knew I had saved a PDF of it fairly recently so opened the Mac and searched for “522”. I generally have a good mind for numbers, and knew that this was the last 3 digits of my account number. On seeing returned results, indeed there was the PDF (amongst a hell of a lot of other stuff), but interestingly right next to a photo I took recently of a horse (below)!

Horse in a field

Afterwards, I headed out for some lunch. Whilst wandering around Greenwich market, and being aware of my girlfriends (immediate) need for new shoes, I stumbled across a lovely little shop called The Shoe Embassy, the logo as you can see on their website is of a horse. At the time, I thought nothing of it!

With my delicious market food in hand, I continued my usual meander around the Old Naval College and along the Thames. Plenty of thoughts running through my little head, I questioned whether I would bump into anyone I know on my travels (it often happens) and wondered if this time it could be my lovely ex-colleague Lorraine who lives in the area. I remember thinking strangely and for no apparent reason (other than maybe a subconscious understanding of the Chinese celebrations going on elsewhere) that she once spent a Christmas horse-riding in Croatia!

As I arrived at Waterloo station at the start of a fairly drunken night out with the best mates a guy could have, I was walking through hearing “The next train to leave platform 8 is the blah blah blah to Reading via Ascot” and seeing many guys and girls dressed to the 9’s presumably returning from a day out placing bets on horses!

Following this and whilst being impressively insulted over my choice of beer (lager or piss as he described) by the owner of the The Kings Arms, I noticed the “proper” beers he was trying to persuade me onto all had taps of horses! Of course because the rest of the decor was of hunting… The subliminal messages go on…

This morning, one of the first posts I read on my Facebook wall was by an old school friend and fellow technie now residing out in Melbourne Australia. On what looks like some form of stag do activity, he posted his antics and entitled it “Riding with the boys”. Thankfully this was accompanied by pictures of them all on horses somewhere in the outback!

The meaning…

The year of the horse, is apparently actually the year of the wooden horse. Wooden horses are thought to be strong, stable and possess great social charming skills in their interaction with others. Like our zodiac signs, the years and animals related to the year are birth signs, the children born under these are assumed to grow up with those characteristics. To Chinese people, the horse is a symbol of absolute happiness.

I’m not going to write about the whole meaning and philosophy behind this here, like me, you can find it anywhere on the Internet, but all of a sudden the year of the horse means a lot to me. The weekend wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t spent with whom I’d have preferred it to be, but it was full of nice little memories, a lot of progress towards a goal and some wonderful conversations, all of which have added to the way 2014 has begun for me. The only thing left to do now is to find a good stable to learn how to ride!

As this is my first post of 2014, Happy New Year in every way, bring on the year of the horse…

Illustration by shira likes to draw, horse photography by Lee McIntosh :)