Warriors & Wizards, Drones & Dinners, Crafts & Chocolate

Me standing in the middle of a football field surrounded by many other people. I'm wearing sunglasses, and a white t-shirt with a colour logo saying All The Stations.

This past week has been a very busy one, as I’ve been to an audio described exhibition, an audio described theatre show, a football field for a Youtube project, a new social group, a craft show and a chocolate show. So Iin this post I want to summarise it all and bring my activities up to date.

Scythians Exhibition

First up, I went on an audio-described tour of the Scythians exhibition at the British Museum, which is all about a society of warriors from ancient Siberia. I’d never heard of the Scythians before, so that made it all the more fascinating. The tour was put on with in collaboration with VocalEyes, just like the Hokusai tour I’d been on previously.

First we had a handling session, where we got to hold and feel objects that were similar to those in the exhibition – not necessarily identical, but they gave us a very good sense of what to expect and helped to put things into context. And then we got a tour of the exhibition itself – this was after the general public had left, so we had the space all to ourselves. Throughout we had an audio describer and a curator of the exhibition, and together they explained things really well.

What came across very well is that the Scythians were very powerful, ruthless, intelligent people. They were also the first to mount horses and use them for riding, which gave them considerable advantages, and their weapons included arrows with poisoned tips. They also used lots of decorations to show their status, with women even having crystals on the soles of their shoes so they were on display when they were sat on carpets with their soles pointing outwards in front of them. And they had massive log coffins for their dead, one of which we saw there. Most of the objects on display are on loan from a museum in St Petersburg for the exhibition, so it’s a great opportunity to see them.

Human British Rail Logo

The day after that exhibition, I took a trip to New Eltham, for an event I had to keep a secret for a week – as did 100 other people. The reason being that we were taking part in a fun little project for All The Stations. For those who don’t know, this was a Youtube documentary project that ran over the summer, where  Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe travelled through every single station on the UK rail network, exploring the places, history and people on the way. It was absolutely fascinating, and I highly recommend you go through the videos on their Youtube channel (and the bonus content on Geoff’s channel, too). I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this project, as I explained when I wrote about visiting my adopted station a while back.

Vicki Pipe using a camera on a small handheld tripod to film Geoff Marshall in front of her, as they begin to walk down a shopping street, with a crowd of us about to follow them.

So, a group of their backers were invited along to create a human version of the famous double arrow British Rail logo, to be filmed from a drone. And that’s exactly what we did. Geoff & Vicki greeted us all at New Eltham station (which many of us had to reach via a bus replacement service that day), and we all walked up to Charlton Athletic’s training round together. And we spent over an hour filming a few things – we did a couple of promotional drone shots for Charlton Athletic as well (this was the deal for using their training ground), before doing the British Rail logo itself.

Me standing in the middle of a football field surrounded by many other people. I'm wearing sunglasses, and a white t-shirt with a colour logo saying All The Stations.
Image credit: James Buller

It was a great afternoon, everyone really enjoyed themselves. It was wonderful to see Geoff and Vicki at work, say a quick hello to them and actually appear in one of their videos! They were very friendly, cheerful and professional, just as they come across on screen. Being on the ground, it was difficult to imagine exactly how it would look, as we obviously couldn’t see the drone controller Geoff and Vicki were examining. But now we can all see the finished video, it looks amazing! And my tweet about the day has been featured on their blog of the day, so thanks guys!

It was well worth all the standing, waving, backwards walking and laying on the grass, it’s come out really nicely. So please do watch and share it, a lot of work went into it!

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

On Wednesday I spent the day at the Palace Theatre in London, because I went to see both parts of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child. I’ve enjoyed the books and films in the series, and this had rave reviews, so it was naturally high on my list to go and see. I had booked this particular performance because it included a touch tour and audio description for the visually impaired. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Large black hoarding with large gold lettering saying Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2. This is framed by large gold wings rising from the bottom, one on each side of the text.

The touch tour was an amazing experience. There were quite a lot of us there for it, so they split the group into two. So I was in the first group that went up on the stage, where we were able to explore and feel the set close-up, with the help of the cast themselves as well as the VocalEyes staff.

It was a really special privilege to chat to the actors about their work on the show, while they showed me some of the secrets of the set. It revealed to me many things that I would never otherwise have been aware of, and it definitely enhanced my watching of the play later. There were no spoilers involved, but what they did show me really intrigued me for the show to come. My favourite aspects were the bookshelves beneath the staircase, which are really detailed and have quite a few special secrets, and the costumes for the dementors, which are delightfully creepy and feel great to touch. That’s just two of many things that we were able to see there, it was a really immersive experience.

Then our group went to sit in the auditorium seats, swapping with the other group who went up on stage. This second part of the experience involved some of the actors coming down to us, bringing props for us to hold and feel while we were talking to them, including wands, a broomstick and a time-turner. So that was really cool as you can imagine – the wands are really nicely designed, and the time-turner is very impressive. Again, it all heightened my curiosity for what I was about to see, as I had no idea what the story was about. Again, the cast were extremely friendly, and really seemed to enjoy interacting with us. The staff from VocalEyes and the Palace Theatre were also wonderful throughout the day, it must be said.

As for the show itself, I’m not going to give any spoilers away, I’ve said enough by mentioning some of the props above. But considering it’s a 5 hour play (with a 2 hour gap between the shows), the time didn’t drag at all – it just makes it seem all the more impressive considering how complex a production it is. The cast were superb, the set changes were wonderfully choreographed, the story was great and linked into the original stories very nicely, there was a good mix of tension, emotion, humour and action, the beautiful music complemented the action perfectly without getting in the way, the special effects were very cool, and the audio description was perfect at ensuring I didn’t miss out on anything. So I enjoyed it immensely, it’s really engaging from start to finish, and I highly recommend it. For me it lived up to all the hype.

South East London Vision Social

On Thursday I got to meet up with yet another social group – South East London Vision (SELVis). I’m already a member of East London Vision (ELVis), but met Jessica from SELVis at the British Museum a couple of months ago, and she said I could join up with them to. So I went down to their latest lunch social at The Partridge in Bromley and had a lovely time, chatting and drinking while having some good food (their Steak & London Pride pie is very nice). The SELVis members were very friendly and welcoming, and I even met a guy who used to live near my area of Devon, which was cool. So that’s given me even more variety of social things to do, as I’ll be attending more events with them in the future, which is great.

Handmade At Kew

This past Saturday I went to Kew Gardens for the first time since moving to London. I’m pretty sure I must have visited as a kid, but I don’t remember it. So I’d wanted to go and have a look around. Plus they had a special Handmade At Kew craft show on this weekend, with loads of people selling their handmade jewellery, ceramics, clothing, furnishings, etc. So I decided to have a look around that too.

I wanted to look at the furnishings in particular, to help us brighten up our home a bit. And I was delighted to find some very colourful and plump cushions being sold by a lovely lady called Mairi Helena. They felt really nice to hold and feel, with a velvety texture printed with artistic patterns of varying colours, and they’re filled with duck feathers. So I picked a couple of those – the Golden Blush Thistle Velvet Cushion and the Cobalt Blue Thistle Velvet Cushion. There is a black outline motif of a Scottish thistle on each one, hence the reference to it in the name. They look really pretty and are very comfortable to sit against, Mum was very impressed with them when I got them home. I got them for £50 at the show – on the website they’re £89 each, but even that’s worth it I would say. It’s very rare that we buy things like cushions, so they are an investment that should last quite a while.

Two cushions at each end of a brown 3 seater sofa. Both cushions are very artistic, with splashes of various colours all over, and a black stencilled motif of a Scottish thistle. The left cushion is mainly blue with a large white diamond shape on each edge. The right cushion is a mixture of red and gold colour, with a couple of white diagonal lines in the background forming a cross in the centre.

I also had a wander around some of Kew Gardens itself that afternoon, of course, finding The Hive (a big metal honeycomb structure with lights), the Princess Of Wales Conservatory, and loads of statues, as well as admiring the scenery in general. I’m currently posting some of my photos on Instagram, so be sure to check them out. It’s a beautiful park, and I was only walking around about a quarter of it at the very most. So I’ll have to go back again of course to see more, perhaps to see their Christmas illuminations later in the year.

A selection of round and curved flowerbeds, containing a variety of yellow and orange flowers, in front of a huge, long, arched greenhouse.

The Chocolate Show

A whole show dedicated to chocolate in various forms – who could resist? I certainly couldn’t! I’ve never been to the Olympia exhibition centre before, so this was the perfect excuse to pop along on Sunday. It’s massive and packed with people, as I’d expected. And there were loads of stalls showcasing all sorts of chocolate products, including chocolate bars, fudge, marshmallow, flapjacks, brownies, boxes of chocolates, truffles, hot chocolate, champagne and other alcoholic drinks with chocolate involved, and more. You could try little samples of pretty much everything too.

Trays of square chocolate brownies of various flavours and designs.

There were also clothes made out of chocolate (or made to give a chocolate appearance), which were pretty cool. And there were various demonstrations and sculptures and things that I didn’t get around to seeing, there was so much going.

Mannequin wearing an ornate brown chocolate jacket. It's covered in round chocolate decorations, and has 2 large thick spikes on each shoulder. The jacket is slightly open to show a dark blue skirt and pink top beneath, which also have round chocolate decorations on them.

So I went around plenty of the stalls, and ending up buying quite a lot! Partly because I wanted to get a variety of different things to treat Mum and I. And also because many of them were doing multibuy offers like 3 for £10. It’s impossible to refuse with that kind of temptation! So I ended up getting quite a few things:

  • Marshmallow Heaven – A selection of flavoured marshmallow pieces.
  • Sloane’s Hot Chocolate – The Ecuador Milk 39% variety.
  • Bad Brownie – 4 different flavoured brownies. I can’t remember everything I selected now, but I know Ferroro Rocher one caught my eye, so I picked that. They also included a loyalty card which can be used at their counter in the restaurant in Selfridge’s, whereby after making 10 purchases you can get another brownie for free!
  • Urban Village – Chocolate bars in vanilla, raspberry and mint crisp flavours.
  • Flapjackery – 3 differently flavoured flapjacks, again I can’t quite remember which ones! But they’re from Devon, my old home,
  • Duffy’s – Guatemala Rio Dulce chocolate bar, as I liked the sample I tried at their stall.
  • Yum Yum Tree Fudge – 7 packs of different flavoured fudge, as if you paid £20 for 7 you got a free large jute bag with it, which was rather useful for carrying all of my purchases in! The flavours of fudge I got were mint chocolate chip, Belgian white chocolate, Belgian dark chocolate, sea salted butterscotch, Madagascan vanilla, double ginger, and strawberry & cream. They also gave me an “Emergency Fudge Line” business card, which you can ring to order (or go via the website) for next day delivery.
  • Chocolate Cards – A few greeting cards that contain a big slab of Belgian Chocolate with a variety of messages and images on. They do these for all sorts of occasions – birthdays and Christmas of course, but much more too. Just like the cards you get in any card shop really, just in chocolate form here. They also have smaller pieces of chocolate with people’s names on as    well. I just thought it was a really cool concept, and the designs on the chocolate are very nicely done.

Box containing 3 large rectangular flapjacks. 2 are white chocolate coloured with a brown or raspberry coloured design, while the other is brown chocolate dusted with white powder. The card in the box says the flapjacks are made in Devon and can be delivered by ordering online at flapjackery.co.uk.

So I’m really looking forward to trying all of that bit by bit, and I’ll try and let you know what I think later. I’ll also be posting a few more pictures on my Instagram soon. But I think it’s all going to be nice to be honest!

Update: They were all nice, as expected! I wouldn’t rush out to buy all of them in future, sure, but they were well worth trying. The Yum Yum Tree Fudge was my favourite of the lot, I enjoyed their selection of flavours. The marshmallows weren’t far behind though, and the brownies were very filling. You can see my Instagram pictures here, here and here.

I also gave the Chocolate Cards, an Urban Village bar, and a couple of packs of the fudge, to Emily Davison at Fashioneyesta, to congratulate her on passing her Masters Degree and to thank her for being such an amazing and supportive friend. You can see her reaction on Instagram and Twitter – I think she liked them!

And that’s it for this post. As I said at the start, it’s been quite a busy few days lately, whereas this week is going to be relatively quiet (which gives me the chance to sort out some important bits and pieces). So it felt like a good opportunity to do a catch-up on things. I’ve got more fun things planned for the weeks ahead too, as is par for the course these days, which is good. And in the run-up to Christmas in particular there will be loads to do and explore I’m sure, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger & Youtuber with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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