Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate Photo Story

I recently spent the afternoon at The Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate in north London helping out and taking behind the scenes photos for a music video Nikolai has been working on for my dear friend Tawiah (I'll share it when it's ready, it's pretty amazing). 

I took the opportunity to have a little walk around the estate. Have you heard of it before? It's a pretty iconic piece of architecture and you probably know it from music videos and iconic photographs. 

Like the Barbican Conservatory I had always seen pictures of it but never really known where it was or how to get there.

alexandra & ainsworth estate

The Architecture lives up to the hype. It is the perfect representation of the ugly beautiful modernist architecture that was so popular in the 60s & 70s.

The structures are a little crazy and you wouldn't expect them to feel so beautiful but somehow they are whilst also being really imposing. I can't imagine how it feels to live there. Wouldn't you love to see inside some of the flats?

I feel like the community must be really interesting too. Most of the flats are still council housing but the privately owned ones are highly sought after by people who want to live in these iconic buildings.  I'm sure it makes for a mix typical of London's diverse population. 

All the way along the Rowley Way blocks there are these planters featuring brilliantly curated flowers. Slightly wild, and fantastically juxtaposed against the harsh reinforced concrete. The evening I was there the light was great, the overcast sky created a soft box of dappled even lighting. A photographer's dream lighting basically.

A lot of the time I find living in London pretty difficult. The fast pace, the pressure, the financial strain but finding spots like this and taking the time to walk around and appreciate some of London's unique beauty makes it a little easier to handle.

I'm also really grateful that I now work part-time so I can afford to use my free days to focus on some of my creative pursuits, like my photography, without feeling pressured to be "productive". That is a privilege I don't take for granted. 

Do you know any other hidden spots in London that are perfect for this kind of exploring? I know of a few spots out of London I'd like to visit, one that I've been meaning to go to for a while is Dungeness beach in Kent. Have you been?

Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments or share them on Instagram with me.

Slow Sunday at The Barbican Conservatory

Did you know that hidden on the third floor of The Barbican there is the most magical conservatory?

I've seen photos from this magical place over the years but I never really knew where it was in the maze-like structure that is The Barbican. At some point I actually just thought it was a myth. When I finally figured it out, I also found out it was only open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holidays. 

My usual Sunday routine includes doing housework and spending most of the day at church so I've never really taken the time to go to the conservatory, so very foolish of me. But, one of my besties is soon leaving the country to go study in Australia and we had been talking about visiting for months. So, two weeks back, we finally took a Sunday off and spent a bittersweet afternoon at the conservatory catching up and taking the time to be together for one of the last times before she leaps into her new adventure on the other side of the world.

Turns out the Barbican conservatory is the perfect setting for an afternoon of strolling around, chatting and making memories with your dearest.

With more that 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees, the conservatory is a visual delight. There is an inspirational collection of cacti and succulents, beautiful bamboo 20 feet tall and, plants and trees I've never seen before.

We spent time sitting amongst the trees marvelling at the strange contrast between the wonderful plants and the harsh brutalist architecture they are set in. It's a contrast that shouldn't work in theory but in practice is perfect.

I have a soft spot for brutalist architecture and The Barbican is one of my favourite iconic London buildings. I also spent a fair bit of my childhood there at music concerts with my parents, it holds a special place in my heart. Little did I know it housed this beautiful conservatory, the second largest in London.

Do you know where the largest one is? (Note to self: google that when I'm done here)

This has quickly become my new favourite spot in London and I will not stop talking abut it with everyone I meet.

Which has made it clear to me that I wasn't the only one who didn't know about it. So many people I've spoken to had no idea it existed. 

If you've never been I suggest you make plans to check it out one Sunday soon. 

(Before you do, check the website because sometimes they have funny closing times)

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Let me know if you make a trip and tag your Instagram posts #gowildlyandslow so I can see all your photos! 

Happy adventuring!

N x

Photo Journal - Misty Morning Walk on Blackheath

Last week the stars aligned to deliver me a Monday morning off from work, a marvellously foggy misty London and beautiful Blackheath and Greenwich Park right at my doorstep (well not my door but the door Nik's house).

Basically, a dream combination for a walk with my camera. 

Having a super nice camera which isn't attached to my phone has been such a blessing for me these past few weeks. It means I have a reason to go outside even if I'm by myself and that has such a positive impact on my mental health. And of course, I don't get distracted by Instagram or the internet like I do if I'm using my phone.

I hate the cold, and normally you couldn't convince me to go for a walk on a frosty morning by myself. But with my camera? Yep, always, I'll be jumping at the possibility of capturing something beautiful!

I had so much fun walking around the heath and into Greenwich park snapping the eery beauty of the thick fog that morning and I'm pretty proud of the shots I got. I've been using 35mm film cameras for that last 10 years and I was so scared of using digital but I'm loving that I can take the photos and start editing and sharing them pretty much immediately. 

I'm going to do a full review of the Fujifilm x100t soon but for now, have a look at this photo journal from my morning walk.

Blackheath foggy walk
Blackheath Lamp Post
Foggy Blackheath Walk

What helps you get outside when its a bit cold and miserable? If you're on Instagram I'd love to see what inspires you to get outside when it's all bitter and cold outside. Share your moments with #gowildlyandslow 

In other news, I'm going to start sending out newsletters soon and alongside that, I'm thinking of running a little giveaway on Instagram. So watch this space (and sign up for the newsletter)

N x

Escape the city: Bewl Water day trip

Looking for a little wild travelling this winter? 

We've got no solid plans for any big far away adventures this winter so I'm staving off the travel urges with small adventures right here in the U.K. If you're looking for ideas for perfect weekend day trips that take very little planning and will still feed your desire for a touch of adventure stick around. 

First up head to Bewl Water in Kent for a short walk or a spot of water sports!

For the last few years on Boxing day I’ve dragged myself out of the food induced coma to get up and go for a short walk somewhere lovely. It lifts my spirits so much to get outside with friends or family and take in the quiet and stillness.

This year we went for a short drive to Bewl Water in Kent and it proved to be the perfect place for a winter walk. If you live in London its definitely worth making your way out there for an afternoon of walking.

The only set back is you have to drive there as it's pretty far from the nearest train station (You could probably bike there from Tunbridge Wells station though).

It was also the first proper outing for my new Fujifilm x100t (which I’m loving) and the weather was perfect for photos, I even got in front of the camera!

We got to the reservoir at about 2pm far too late to try and walk the whole 13 miles round the water! But plenty of time to have a nice walk through the surrounding forest and back along the water’s edge. 

As we headed back the sun was setting over the water, so we stopped to watch from the reservoir wall before we headed back to the car and then home for some dinner and a hot cup of tea. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to head to for a winter day out this is a great spot. Easy to get to (if you have a car) and easy going walking, (lovely for kids). 

There are toilet facilities at the car park (which costs £2) and there is a small cafe if you need to warm up after.

They also offer water sports facilities and a boat that runs in the summer which sounds like a lovely idea so I’m thinking its worth heading back in the summer too. 

Check their website for more details and driving directions. 

Happy walking 

Baking Sourdough Pizza at E5 Bakehouse

Last month Nik and I went to belatedly celebrate his birthday by taking a sourdough Pizza baking class at the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney. It was such a great evening and something I highly recommend trying out. 

I've seen lots of small cottage industry businesses like the E5 Bakehouse offering workshops and classes on all sorts of different activities and I really love it. I was particularly attracted to the idea of a sourdough pizza class as we both love us some sourdough pizza and I'm really eager to learn how to bake sourdough bread but I didn't feel ready to tackle a full on bread class (which they also offer). 

 Photo credit: E5 Bakehouse

Photo credit: E5 Bakehouse

How does it work?

You spend the first hour and a half learning what sourdough is and how to use it whilst making your own dough. We had a lovely guy named Luke teaching us, he had a wealth of knowledge on all things sourdough and a calm, relaxed way of teaching. The class size is small which was great and there was plenty of time for asking questions. 

After you've learned all the things and made your own pizzas you spend the last hour or so eating the products of your labour and drinking really great beer from the Kernel Brewery (a local London brewery). At the end of the night you go home with some pizza dough, all the recipes from the evening, and your own sourdough starter.

Since coming home with my sourdough starter I've been thinking about how sourdough as a process is really representative of slow living. When you're baking bread this way you can't be in a hurry, you just have to be present because there is certainly nothing fast about the process. 

 Photo Credit: E5 Bakehouse

Photo Credit: E5 Bakehouse

Have you thought about gifting an experience over a product? This was a first for me and I was a little nervous that it might not be that great. I was wrong. And now I'm really into it (maybe it comes down to my love of quality time).

As the (dare I say it) festive season is upon us and we start thinking about gifts for loved ones I'll be looking out for unique ways to gift people experiences instead of stuff. 

If you've got any ideas for good experience gifts please let me know in the comments or through the internets.