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