World Cup Flags

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's been two weeks since the World Cup ended, and I'm missing seeing World Cup flags all over London.

So to satiate my vexillology longing, here are some of my favourite flag sightings.




My favourite flag sightings came about when two flags were displayed on one household or building, showing a lovely multinational mix. Like this one above from Willesden Junction: Brazilian café downstairs and a German flag flying above - a very London sight.

Europe in USA

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

For many years, I've been interested in the way towns, cities, villages and more in the USA are named (I wrote about in 2010).

Reading the article which inspired that blog, I realised that nearly all of Europe was accounted for in American placenames.

So I set about making a map of some European place-names in the USA.




Sadly, there isn't a place for every country in Europe, though sometimes there are more than one, e.g. Norway, Kansas, Norway, Iowa and Norway, Maine, so I chose the place which sat best on the map.

In some cases, a country name is not accounted for, but the capital city is e.g Vienna, Georgia or Sofia, New Mexico.

And occasionally, you really can't be sure that the European placename is the inspiration - e.g. Turkey, North Carolina or San Marino, California

I'm fascinated by the breadth and number of places with names inspired by Europe. I suppose the next step is to start visiting them!

World Cup in London: Argentina

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the second World Cup semi-final, I chose to watch Argentina -v- Netherlands at Moo Cantina in Pimlico with lots of Argentina fans.

It was super-packed, so I again took to hanging around outside.


It wasn't the most exciting match (until the penalties!) so people watching was again the order of the evening.

A goal was disallowed, leading to roars and disappointment.

But, in the end, Argentina came out victorious, leading to celebrations (which sadly I didn't photograph, as my phone battery was perilously low).


And as I sloped home on the bus, London served up fans from both Uruguay and Netherlands on the bus.

World Cup in London: Germany

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Last night I went to watch Germany-v- Brazil with German fans at Zeitgeist, a German bar in Vauxhall.

And what a match to choose to support Germany, as they pounded Brazil 7-1.

The bar was super-packed and sold out, so I hung around on the street outside.

In spite of this, the atmosphere was infectious from the bar within.

But in spite of all the surprise, joy and celebrations as all the goals poured in to the Brazilian net, there was still room for a few (jaded) German stereotypes.


And, as always, the best entertainment comes from watching how other people react and enjoy the game.

World Cup in London: Brazil

Monday, July 07, 2014

I went to watch Brazil -v- Colombia on Friday evening in Willesden.

There are lots of Brazilian shops and cafés in Willesden Junction / Harlesden, so I was expecting a good atmosphere.

Wandering around before the match, I saw lots of Brazilian flags adorned houses and shops - mainly a combination of Brazilian beauty and butchers.

I first settled in a small café bar, which was pretty quiet to begin with... until Brazil scored their first goal a few minutes into the match.


Nonetheless, midway through the first half, I decided to wander on and found The Misty Moon in Harlesden.

This large bar was full, packed full of Brazilian fans. It was a huge party.






Into the second half, Brazil were in the lead, and the celebrations had begun. Lots were paying no attention to the game, choosing to dance, laugh, party.

Then out came a huge Brazilian flag, the size of an average London flat.

A banner outside the bar was emblazoned with Rio de Harlesden. It really felt like I was in Brazil when the final whistle went.
The singing and dancing went on for ages, and as I left, all along my bus route, more and more groups of Brazil fans were waving their flags and celebrating their victory.

Imagine what it'll be like if they actually win the World Cup!

World Cup in London: Uruguay

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I've watched the World Cup with Uruguay fans before - in a bar in Leicester Square. Since then, I've wondered if there is a more authentic place to watch... a Uruguayan bar or cafe perhaps.

With that in mind, for Uruguay -v- Colombia, I headed to Canthinha do Goias in Stockwell (thanks to a tip from World in London) where I found a very dark, small room packed full of Uruguay fans, some Brazil fans and three Colombia fans!



There were lots of Uruguay flags and football shirts on display, and the small crowd were hooked on watching the match.
But it soon went south for Uruguay as Colombia scored a goal.
Then, just as some enthusiasm was waning, another person arrived who got everyone excited again.






But, despite their singing, chanting and applauding, it was not possible and Uruguay were defeated and out of the World Cup. It didn't seem to phase the fans too much though; they continued dancing and singing regardless.

World Cup in London: Bosnia-Hercegovina

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yesterday, I went to watch Bosnia -v- Iran with London's Bosnian fans...

...but it was pretty hard going to find any.

After some searching, I heard about Bosnian fans congregating in a bar in Fulham, so I headed there.

I'd seen some photos of fans there watching Bosnia's previous match; the atmosphere looked good!

(Photos by TG on instagram)

But when I turned up, there really wasn't anyone I could say was Bosnia. Maybe that woman in the Bosnian blue dress? The guys in suits? Maybe not...

I stayed around, half-watching the match. Bosnia were soaring and scoring 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1. It was only on the third goal that some guys cheered loudly, I realised that they were Bosnian. And so was the woman in the blue dress!

Then just before the match ended, a guy turns up draped in a Bosnian flag.

So, in the end, there wasn't a great Bosnia-supporting atmosphere, but it was good to finally find some Bosnian fans in London.

World Cup in London: Algeria

Monday, June 23, 2014

I went to watch Algeria -v- South Korea last night, with Algerian fans in Cricklewood.

I've been here before - in 2009 - when I watched a World Cup qualifying match. It was so good then, I knew I'd come back.


To run out an old football cliché, it was a game of two halves.

I spent the first half in a quiet café; the second half in a more excited café.


And in both venues, the fans were loud and lively when Algeria scored, but sat quietly chatting for the rest of the time. A bit too cool for school, they were.


Much like the Colombia match in Elephant and Castle, as I was standing on the street, people passing by add to it all.

Next up: Bosnia Hercegovina -v- Iran, hopefully with Bosnia fans... if I can find them!

World Cup in London: Iran

Friday, June 20, 2014

On Monday last, I went to watch Iran -v- Nigeria with London's Iran fans.



The fans had gathered in an upstairs room of the Henry Holland pub, right by Selfridges. I had found out about it via a Facebook group Iranian Students in UK.

Now, as it turned out, this match was tiresomely boring. A nil all draw does not an interesting match make. But the Iranian fans were much more entertaining, singing, chanting, flag waving, even a little dancing.



The event wasn't as big a family affair as the Colombia match I watched - it being organised by students, I guess - but there was a little baby there, playing a little football and mildly oblivious the sport on the screen.



There was definitely a man with a plan, a guy in charge - he had a vuvuzuela and he wasn't afraid to use it.




With the match limping to the draw, the Iran fans kept on singing, happily accepting the score. They certainly made watching the match more memorable.


Next up: Sunday's Algeria -v- South Korea match, with Algerian fans.

World Cup in London: Colombia

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I've started watching the 2014 World Cup in London with foreign fans, as I've done before.

My first match for 2014 was Colombia -v- Greece, which I watched with lots of Colombian fans in Elephant and Castle.



There's a large Latin American community around Elephant and Castle, mainly since the 1980s. Each year the area hosts the excellent Carnaval del Pueblo, the largest Latin American carnival in Europe.

So I was expecting good things as I headed there.

There were certainly lots of fans around - I reckon about 8 or 9 venues showing the match, all busy. The main venue, La Bodeguita, was super-busy with long queues.


There was a real family atmosphere, with all ages around, from abeulas down to babies.

I mainly hung out in two places - in a restaurant called Leños y Carbón which was packed and outside a butcher shop in a back-street which had a TV plonked on a table and lots of people watching the match.


Outside the butcher's, the owner repeatedly slammed a metal tray onto the ground. Everyone found this hilarious - the first time, they weren't so keen the rest of the time.

There was a great atmosphere, taking mass photos of the whole crowd, chanting songs, doing Mexican waves and flinging popcorn around.

With Colombia's third goal and the final whistle, they all started dancing and singing and celebrating a wonderful win.


I loved being on the street watching the match, seeing people walk past, get involved and excited by the match and cheer along with the Colombians.



So a 3-0 victory to Colombia and lots of celebrations - there were still fans dancing hours later.

Next match for me: Iran -v- Nigeria with Iranian fans.

Romania | London

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I went last weekend to Saint Dunstans in the West - a church on Fleet Street - to take a photo of its statue of Elizabeth I. I've read that it is the oldest outdoor statue in London, which is pretty impressive.




While there, I looked inside and found some kind of baptism ceremony happening.

There were signs outside the church advertising Romanian church services, so I'm assuming it was a Romanian tradition.

Around 30 people were gathered in front of the altar, dressed up in bright colours: lots of green and yellow. Some of the women wore scarves as veils. One man carried a candle with a large lacy pink pompom attached.

Three priests recited prayers and hymns. One priest then cut some hair from the babies' heads after which the babies were presented  in front of religious paintings. Proud parents cooed, filmed and took photos.

After the short ceremony, a large silver baptism font and some religious icon paintings were taken away while everyone drank fizzy wine from paper cups.

During the ceremony, a man arrived - quite clearly a tourist. He took a photo of the ceremony. I hope he is a foreign tourist, and goes back home telling everyone that this is what happens in London, England. For it is. Behind doors - open and closed - there are communities coming together in so many fascinating ways.

Africa, sketch maps

Monday, June 02, 2014

I've resumed collecting crowd-sourced* 'multi-maps'.

*when I first started asking people to draw maps, crowd-sourcing wasn't a popular term but it is now and works well.

Previously, I've collected maps of North America, South America, AustraliaSouth East Asia and Europe.

This time, I looked for maps of Africa.

I went to an African Market in Spitalfields to ask stallholders, shoppers and spectators to draw Africa.

I asked twelve people to draw Africa. I've overlaid these maps on top of each other. This is the result.

Africa, sketched

Germany + Greece

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I saw this tweet recently.

It reminded me of another encounter I saw between German and Greek cultures.

While in Greece, we visited  the local travel agency to book some tickets.

A spry sprightly middle aged women worked there, Mrs Papanagiotou. She had dark brown curled hair tightly cropped and sat at her little desk with a light cardigan hanging from her shoulders.

One day when we called she was sitting outside, animatedly chatting and drinking coffee with a neighbour.

We mentioned that she seemed to be having a lovely time, an easy summer life. "But I'm a little worried," she said, would she be affected by the recent Angela Merkel led German bail out the Greek economy?

"No, no, I don't want to be a German woman, sitting in an office and never speaking!," she said as she crossed her cardigan in a certain fashion.

Country and map prints

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Every time I've sold my map cards and notebooks at a craft fair, someone has told me that I should make prints of them too.

So I've given it a go.

I'll be selling these below (and more) at the craft fair at Balham Bowls Club next Sunday 11 May from 12-6pm.

Come say hello!






Map Cards

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I've been making more map cards. I'll be selling them at a craft fair at Balham Bowls Club (it's a bar!) on Sunday 11 May. See you there, maybe?

I started with Christmas trees made from maps on white paper.


Next, I moved on to hearts on white paper - ideal for Valentine's Day, or any day to show your love of locations.

Now, the cards come in glorious technicolour with lots of different colours and shades.




And I've been experimenting with different shapes too.



Barbara Broekman My Town

Sunday, April 27, 2014


While in Amsterdam I saw Barbara Broekman's art installation My Town at the Amsterdam Museum.



It's a long carpet with 180 panels, each one inspired by a design from the 180 nations whose citizens live in Amsterdam.


I'm all for art celebrating different countries and their cultures, so I loved it!

Anne Frank House Emotions

Wednesday, April 16, 2014




I've just come back from Amsterdam where I visited the Anne Frank House.

It stirs many emotions...

...Sadness that this whole sorry episode of history happened.

...Anger that people can be so cruel.

...Proud of those that helped.

...Introspection: would you have done the same?

...Surprise that it is larger than previously imagined.

...Irritation at those visitors who seem more interested in talking about lunch.

...Bewilderment at the need to 'museum-ify' the house.

...Understanding that this is so others can learn.

...Humour remembering David Sedaris' sad and satirical story set there.

...Melancholy reading that teenage Peter was given a razor and cigarette lighter as birthday gifts.

...Relief that he was given gifts at all.

...Hope that this teaches the world important lessons.

Phonecards to Museums

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When I was a teenager, I collected phonecards. I mainly had phonecards from Ireland (called Callcards in Ireland), but a sizeable number from the UK, France, Germany, other European countries and some from far away places like Turkey, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.



Where I got them all from, I really don't remember. It seems amazing that I was able to gather up ephemera from so far away.




Recently, I decided to part with my collection. They're not really collectors items any more, so I offered them to some science / technology museums but they were largely not interested.



Instead, I sent them on to museums and archives on the themes shown on the cards - so a few with hockey pictures went to the National Hockey Museum, some advertising cards went to the History of Advertising Trust and so on. I sent about 36 different donations in all.



Happily some of the museums are very glad for the donations!







It struck me as I was sorting through them that lots of the cards showed far-away places, foreign cities and landscapes - just another influence on my love of travel and geography.

Variations on a Brazilian flag

Monday, January 20, 2014

When I was in Belgium, I saw this flag hanging from a building. It's the Brazilian flag re-purposed with Belgian colours.


I love this take on the Brazilian flag, re-purposed to support Belgium in this year's football World Cup.

So I decided to make a few more flags:

 This could be any number of countries - Australia, Costa Rica, Chile, France, Croatia.


Cameroon.


Colombia or Ecuador

Netherlands - though I suspect they're more likely to have a big, bright orange flag.


Germany


 Portugal

1

Iran or Mexico or Italy

Ivory Coast


 Nigeria

Spain


Switzerland

Uruguay or Bosnia and Herzegovina




Above Africa

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A year ago today, I flew to Rio de Janeiro. At the time, I didn't share these aerial photographs taken as we flew above Africa.

I've never been to Africa, so it was a wonderful sight for me to see the desert dunes and mountains and valleys stretching away for miles and miles.

I was excited too to see structures - houses and maybe a mine? - in the middle of the desert.

Later, we flew over some coastal towns and cities including Agadir and Guelmin.

Mountains in the south of Morocco.


Valley in south of Morocco.


More Moroccan mountains


Agadir from above


Guelmin from above


River and meander to the south of Guelmin.



My next task is to see if I can work out where these are exactly. Africa is a big place, and most of the flight-tracker sites show London - Rio flights not actually flying over it, so it might be a tricky task. Updated with locations on 2/01/2014.