Penumbra: Rashid Khalifa at Saatchi Gallery - PHOTO TOUR

Silhouette of a man cast on an art piece at Rashid Khalifa’s exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, London. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh

Contemporary artist Rashid Khalifa brings his vibrant, three-dimension installations to the British audience, staging his first solo exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Spread out across two spaces on the second floor, the viewer will find a collection of colourful, strategically illuminated pieces. The artist — who has been painting for four decades and is a member of the Bahraini royal family, according to Wikipedia - hopes to bring to life the beauty of textured shadows and light cast through polychromatic metal structures.

Aluminium mesh wall works, steel grid mobiles, and a monumental maze form the basis of this immersive exhibition inspired by architectural grids and geometric lattices.

I had the chance to attend the private view, and here’s a photo tour of Mr. Khalifa’s debut exhibition. Enjoy!

Artist Rashid Khalifa posing with guests in front of his colourful maze. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh

Five Super Instagrammable London Florists for Flower-Obsessed Visitors

Do flowers make you smile? 

Everywhere I go, I seek out new and unique floral displays - at cafes, shops, florists and homes - and the close proximity to so much prettiness guarantees to boost my mood and set off a creative train of thought.

London has a strong floral game, and I believe no visitors to this enchanting city should go home without some photographic proofs of local florists' stunning talents.

Hence I've compiled a simple Top 5 List for Flower-Loving Tourists with my favorite florists in central London (Westminster, to be exact), all within walking distances to several popular attractions, so you can stop and smell the roses while soaking up all the magic that London has to offer. 🌹

1. Jens Jakobsen Floral Construction

Close To: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, St. James's Park

The Blewcoat School, Junction of Caxton Street & Buckingham Gate, London SW1H 0PY | Instagram @jensjakobsenfloralconstruction

You can often spot Jens Jakobsen creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, which is now the flagship store wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

Just down the road from Queen Elizabeth's palace and a few blocks away from the Prime Minister's residence, Jens Jakobsen has been catching the eyes of the rich and the powerful since making his move from Denmark to London. 

But it's not just the enviable location that's made him one of the most talked-about florists in the city - it's down to his never-ending stream of creativity inspired by nature and his own warm, bubbly personality, which has given us the onion garden, bird's nests, and wild bunches of bouquets that raise our spirits. 

You can often spot Jens creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, a former school for the poor during the Victorian times that had been lovingly restored to become the flagship store for wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

Jens Jakobsen florist london flowers 1 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug
Jens Jakobsen florist london blewcoat eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug

2. Wild At Heart @ Liberty London

Close To: Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, The Photographer's Gallery, BBC Broadcasting House

Great Marlborough Street entrance of Liberty, London W1B 5AH | Instagram @wildathearthq

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Whether you're paying a visit to Liberty, checking out its Tudor-revival architecture, or simply passing by on the way to Regent Street, this florist will make you want to slow down for a little while.

Occupying the main entrance of the luxury retailer (on Great Marlborough Street), Nikki Tibbles Wild At Heart has carved out a calming oasis for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Soho. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers greets you as you enter the building, setting the mood for the visual and sensual discoveries that lie ahead.

Wild At Heart was selected as the in-house florist for Liberty in 2008, and the store front has since become a favorite accessory for visitors and locals who want to add a romantic touch to this stunning landmark. 

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3. Petersham Nurseries @ Covent Garden

Close To: Covent Garden, Royal Opera House,  West End, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, Chinatown, The Savoy

31 King Street, London WC2E 9FB

www, | Instagram @petershamnurseries

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The first time I visited Petersham Nurseries' new shop in Covent Garden, I thought I had stumbled upon an undiscovered treasure chest of whimsies.

I wanted to touch everything on display, linger over each darling item's back label, and admire the composition of the lush plants that adored every corner of the stunning space. I clicked and clicked away until my phone ran out of battery, and then I stayed and wandered around some more.

Little did I know that the shop already had a famous big sister in Richmond, and the brand is hailed as a lifestyle destination for its "unique spirit and rare beauty". 

The Covent Garden branch of Petersham Nurseries is much smaller in size but just as beautiful. It consists of a shop with an in-house florist, a delicatessen, two restaurants and a cellar. Trust me, it's easy to spend an entire day here and still not wanting to leave.

Petersham nursury covent garden interior 3 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london
Petersham nursury covent garden interior 3 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london
Petersham nursury covent garden interior 6 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london.JPG
Petersham nursury covent garden flowers eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

4. Wild Things Mayfair

Close To: Selfridge's, Hyde Park, Royal Academy of Arts, Bond Street, Oxford Street

47 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 4LZ | Instagram: @wildthingsflowers

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When you're a florist in London's most expensive neighbourhood, where ultra-prime properties beat out Manhattan in terms of price per square foot (£3,853 for Mayfair v.s. £3,575 for Manhattan), you know nothing but the best will do.

Based in Mayfair with Claridge's and Vera Wang as neighbors, Wild Things - by designer Louise Bermingham - opened its doors in 1996 and offers some of the most beautiful blooms on the market. 

Outside the shop you'll often find two large buckets - or 'ponds' - filled to the rim with floating flowers that are changed regularly to reflect the seasons, creating a dreamy photo opportunity against the white of the wedding dresses and the red facade of the mansions nearby.

Wild Thing Flowers 2 London followthatbug follow that bug eileen hsieh

 5. Fortnum & Mason

Close To: Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly Circus, St. James's Palace, Leicester Square, Chinatown, Bond Street

Lower Ground Floor Food Hall, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER | Instagram @fortnums

Fortnum Mason butterfly floral stairs eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

Here's a store on every London tourist's must-visit list, so having a good florist in-house is simply the cherry on top.

Fortnum, inventor of the Scott Egg, is as British as a shop can get. With an giant selection of teas and biscuits and a curated collection of luxury homeware, beauty products and fashion accessories, F&M is a feast for the eyes and the senses. With its signature ‘Eau de Nil’ color adorning the shopping bags and various packaging, it's nearly impossible to resist the urge to get some treats once you set foot inside.

You can find its friendly florist in the Food Hall on the lower ground floor, next to the fresh produce and wine sections.

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Fortnum Mason florist eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london stairs

View From The Top: A Visit To London's Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden is regularly listed as one of the most beautiful performance venues in the world. So I knew I'd have to act fast in order to secure tickets for its popular holiday show - The Nutcracker.

As it turned out, many people had the same idea but were much more organised than me. When I visited the booking page two months before Christmas, the only four seats in a row available were in the top tier amphitheatre gallery.

For £10 each, our tickets were a bargain. The seats were described as "Upper Slips, view obstructed by tier ledge, patrons in front may also obstruct view, padded bench with back." We didn't even have to stand!

We took several flights of stairs and escalators to reach our seats, which were padded benches on the highest possible landing in the building. A quick glance downward might leave you weak in the knees.

We didn't have a full view of the performance, but we did get an unrivalled, bird’s eye view of the orchestra and all four tiers of boxes and balconies. The auditorium could seat 2,256 people, so we spent the interval admiring both the ROH's architecture and guests. 🧐

We also had the best view of the auditorium’s ornate ceiling, which housed the spot lights and opened up during the show to illuminate the stage.

Warning: I would not recommend this section for people with an extreme fear of heights. You are after all within an arm’s reach to the roof, with the entire theatre below your feet. .

Other than that it’s a great way to check out the Grade I listed opera house and the wonderful royal ballet for the price of a take-away meal.

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Royal Opera House

Bow Street
Covent Garden
United Kingdom

Stay Tender, Dear 2018

What do you wish for in this new year?

In the beginning of 2017, I picked “Everything Is Connected” as my motto for the year. It was neither a statement nor a commitment, just a fact of life which I wanted to comprehend better.

Oh, did I! 

So for 2018, I’m choosing another phrase to guide me through the next four seasons.

It is: “Stay tender.” 

Tenderness is the feeling I get when something good and beautiful is reflected back at me; when my efforts are returned in equal measure or more; when I get something for nothing simply by being around inspiring people and positive energy.

It’s the feeling I get right now catching up on your Instagram updates, with my adorable family by my side.

#Tenderness. May it also be a part of your new year. 💛 .

True & Naive: My Puzzles of Happiness

This one is for you, my dear friends. 💙

(Jigsaw lovers pls skip to the bottom.)

A simple wooden puzzle of our beautiful Big Ben means something different for everyone. In my case, it encapsulates my current state of mind.

A buoyant sense of completeness has caught me by surprise since I started saying and doing only what I believe is true and right. It’s awesome being nice, optimistic and BS-free, and all it takes is to surround myself with likeminded people — such as you guys! 

I want to share the recipe of my elation with anyone who might want it. And this Big Ben puzzle is just the first ingredient in the pot — to build Patience.

You can find this puzzle and two other designs in my new shop @trueandnaive which is now in beta. Please use “FOLLOWTHATBUG” for 20% off your entire purchase.

If you’re based in London (zones 1-3) and would like some puzzles for Christmas, I’ll be making personal deliveries on Saturday DEC 23 for free. 😄🤶🏻❄️🎄☃️💖


Beautiful Destination: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

There are a number of grand buildings dotted along the south side of Hyde Park, and this one - the Mandarin Oriental - along with the Natural History Museum, are what I find the most beautiful. 

Besides the stunning use of red brick on its facade, this place also holds an interesting history.

Take a moment to admire this picturesque setting at the hotel's loggia, then scroll down for eight facts about the hotel that you may find fascinating.

The park-facing loggia at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the perfect location for special events. © Mandarin Oriental Hotels

The front facade of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, facing Knightsbridge. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo  © Mandarin Oriental Hotels

🍁 The original building was built in 1889 as an exclusive "gentleman's club", with the main entrance facing Hyde Park.

🍁 At the time it was also the tallest building in London at 100 feet high (about 9 story by today's standard).

🍁 The Franco-Flemish style architecture uses plenty of red brick and Portland stone and has loggias (exterior corridors) to provide lounging space that overlooks the park.

🍁 A fire struck the property in 1899, and in 1902 it reopened as "Hyde Park Hotel", the newest and the most luxurious hotel in London.

🍁 But the hotel opened with a new entrance facing Knightsbridge instead of Hyde Park -- due to royal request that the side facing the park would only be reserved for royal use or very special occasions.

🍁 The new main entrance of the building now faces Knighsbridge, opposite Harvey Nichols and a short walk from Harrods.

🍁 In 2000, the property reopened as "Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park" after extensive restoration.

🍁 In September 2016 it began another 18-month restoration to keep up its 5-star standard. The first phase on the front-facing rooms completed last month, and now the work has moved to the back of the building, which is expected to finish in Spring 2018.

What Is Courage? - My InstaReflection

#COURAGE (noun) -- which one of these definitions do you agree with the most?

(1) The ability to do something that frightens one.

(2) Strength in the face of pain or grief.

(3) The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.

I pick 2, because if you can overcome the pain of fears or the grief of regrets, you will have gained the key to a whole new world. 

Eileen Hsieh Buckingham Palace sunset pastel sky followthatbug London England UK

Courage is:

📍 to let go of your ego, and act on this thought. 

📍 to own up to your shortcomings, recognise strengths in others, and learn to grow in a different and better direction.

📍 to ignore outside voices, and say and do things that you truly believe are right.

📍 to let go of your past, and start every new day learning to be the "you" that you would like to become.

Today I saw a flash of courage in someone, so I just want to throw this message out to the universe -- you can do it.

You may feel lonely, you may stumble, but there will always be people cheering you on, because we all wish we had a little bit more courage within ourselves.

Beautiful Destination: Churchill Arms Pub in Kensington, London

This is probably the most photographed pub in all of London, if not the most beautiful -- and it's easy to see why. 

Located near the midpoint on Kensington Church Street connecting Kensington and Notting Hill, the Churchill Arms pub is a beloved historic landmark built in 1750. It's most famous for its flower-covered facade, and it also serves very nice Thai curry dishes.

Before your next visit, take a look at these wonderful facts about Churchill Arms and deepen your appreciation for this true London gem!

🍺It was the first London pub to serve Thai food. Yum!

🍺The pub has a flower bill of around £25,000. Every. Year.

🍺 The pub has some 100 flower tubs, 42 baskets and 48 window boxes.

🍺 The pub also goes all out for Christmas. Last year it was adorned with 21,000 lights and 90 Christmas trees. 🎄

🍺Winston Churchill's grandparents were regulars at the pub in the 1800's. The pub was given its current name after World War Two.

🍺 The pub's true legend is its landlord, Gerry O'Brien, who came to London from Ireland as at age 17. He joined the pub in 1985 and retired in July 2017 after 32 years of service, during which he had pulled about 2 million pints of London Pride!

Royal Gossip: The Albert Pub of Victoria

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh /  @FollowThatBug

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh / @FollowThatBug

If you've ever done the tourist trail of London's landmarks, you've probably seen this pretty Victorian pub somewhere along the way to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Victoria Station. 

The Albert is a Grade II listed pub built in 1862, and the only remaining building from the original phase of the development of Victoria Street. 

It survived the Blitz in World War Two, and still has many original features intact -- ornate ceilings, wrought iron balconies and hand-etched frosted glass windows, etc.

As London Victoria undergoes another phase of regeneration, with endless building work erecting shiny new offices, shops and residential flats on every corner, The Albert continues to coexistence happily with its younger neighbors. 

Including this brand new crossing that begins and ends at its doorstep. ✖️💜

*    *    *    *

Social media can be a very helpful source for curious information.

After I posted the above image, someone pointed out that the windows at The Albert were adorned with engravings allegedly depicting Prince Albert piercings. ("Somewhat X-rated" was the warning I was given.)

Being none the wiser, I threw the question to London Historians - a Twitter account that I follow for random knowledge about the city - already dismissing the claim as an urban legend.

Then came this photo -- "You decide," said the accompanying caption!

What's your first reaction? I can certainly see where the gossip stems from, but I shall pay the pub a visit for a closer examination! 😜

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Art in Shopping Heaven: London's West End Galleries

"Monkey Queen"- Banksy. © Eileen Hsieh

London's West End is arguably the busiest area in the British capital. It's home to many theatres (Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera), famous tourist attractions (the British Museum, the National Gallery), retailers catering to all styles and budgets (Liberty, Marks & Spencer, Primark), and countless restaurants serving cuisines from all around the world (Chinatown is here too).

The east-west arterial road Oxford Street boasts more than 300 shops and claims to be the busiest shopping street in the whole of Europe. People may complain about the suffocating congestion in this part of town, but many still return regularly for the largest selection of anything you may possibly want or need - in shopping, entertainment, or gastronomy.

Art, however, is a much lesser known gem of the West End. For example on Bond Street, sandwiched between luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Tiffany, are a number of art galleries and auction houses with carefully curated exhibitions showcasing works by contemporary as well as traditional artists.

"Each In Their Own World"

- Lorenzo Quinn. © Eileen Hsieh


- Santiago Montoya. © Eileen Hsieh

"Garden of Earthly Delights" 

- Raqib Shaw. © Eileen Hsieh

Just like most museums in London, these galleries are free and open to the public -- the only difference is that if you happen to fall in love with anything you see, you have the option to take it home (and tighten your belt for a few weeks... or months...or years!)  

So, if you get tired of shopping in the West End or simply want to soak up some culture, why not pay a visit to some of the wonderful galleries listed below? In my experience they are almost never crowded (unless Banksy is the headliner), and I always discover amazing artists whose works are previous unknown to me. You can see some of my new favorites on my Instagram

The West End art gallery scene is really like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're gonna get. :)

Hause & Wirth Gallery © Eileen Hsieh

Opera Gallery © Eileen Hsieh

"Churchill" - Banksy. © Eileen Hsieh

Halcyon Gallery - 144-146 New Bond St, London W1S 1SN

Opera Gallery - 134 New Bond St, London W1S 2TF

Richard Green - 147 New Bond Street, London W1S 2TS

Hauser & Wirth Gallery - 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET

Annely Juda Fine Art - 23 Dering Street, London W1S 1AW

Beaux Arts - 48 Maddox Street, London W1S 1AY

Blain|Southern - 21 Dering Street, London W1S 1AL

The Fleming Collection - 13 Berkeley Street, London W1J 8DU

Sotheby's - 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA

Bonhams - 101 New Bond Street, London W1S 1SR


* Here's a useful interactive map of art gallery hotspots in London, courtesy of the Guardian. 

Little White Flowers - My InstaReflection

For you... just because. 🌼

Just because I want to say hello with these pretty little flowers.

And to thank you for sending over so much love and support for my #FTBTimeOfMyLife project. 
I write every entry on the day of post. Some take minutes to finish. Others take hours as I wade through decades of memories to identify the one single moment that helped shape me into the person I am today.

Coming up, as I enter a new chapter of life, the posts will be become darker, more complex, and possibly even difficult to digest. 

So you may find me sneaking snapshots that reflect my Present into those of my Past, just to break up the intense emotions that I know I'm about to trek through. 

So here they are, tiny little flowers, so perfect in their harmony, so consistent in their form, no matter how close you look. 

Eileen x

#thankyou 💛

P.S. This comment from viviennejlevick adds so much more meaning to this post:

Made me smile to notice that considering the context, you chose yarrow, achilliea millefolium, or 'soldiers woundwort' - used for centuries to help heal wounds xx

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Lambeth Palace Garden: The Archbishop's Backyard | 蘭柏宮花園:大主教的後院

Visitors soaking up the sunshine in the garden of Lambeth Palace. 訪客在蘭柏宮花園漫步,享受陽光的洗禮。© Eileen Hsieh

Many of London's most iconic views can be found along the south bank of the River Thames. Sandwiched between Tower Bridge and the Palace of Westminster is a narrow strip of riverside land dotted with museums, galleries, restaurants and seasonal events -- and let's not forget the London Eye -- to keep visitors and locals entertained throughout the year. However once the obligatory pictures with Big Ben are taken, most of us don't often venture westward past the Westminster Bridge, where lies the historic Lambeth Palace.

許多倫敦最具標誌性的景點都座落於泰晤士河的南岸。從倫敦塔橋威斯敏斯特宮之間的一段路上,有赫赫有名的博物館 (如泰特現代藝術館),畫廊,餐廳和季節性活動 -- 還有別忘了倫敦眼 -- 是遊客與居民最愛的休閒娛樂天堂之一。不過,大部分人走到大笨鐘,在威斯敏斯特橋附近自拍完後,並不會繼續往西走,而錯過了一個歷史悠久的好景點:蘭柏宮

A rotunda on the Mound, surrounded by narcissus in the springtime and a black walnut tree planted by Queen Mary in the 16th century. 涼亭坐落在種滿水仙花的小丘陵上,依偎着瑪麗皇后十六世紀種植的黑核桃樹 © Eileen Hsieh

Sitting opposite the House of Parliament next to a busy round-about, this Grade I listed building has been the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury for almost 800 years, and houses one of the oldest and largest cultivated gardens in the capital. 

The garden occupies over 10 of the 13 acres of the Palace ground. It's generally not open to the public except for pre-booked tours or special events, but at the request of the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Lambeth Palace Garden is opening its doors for all to visit from 12-3pm on the first Wednesday of the month between March to October. 



Morton's Tower gatehouse, the main entrance of Lambeth Palace. 蘭博工的正門,莫頓塔。© Eileen Hsieh

The main palace building and courtyard. 蘭柏宮的正殿與庭園。© Eileen Hsieh

The path to the garden is a stunning prelude to the beauty in store. Entering through the red brick Morton's Tower gatehouse, we stroll to the main courtyard where a famous fig tree stands -- planted in 1556 by the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Pole. (Then came Henry VIII and the reformation and separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church... etc.) 

Around the corner of the main palace building is where you'll find a small gate leading to the garden. 



The rose arbor on the terrace. 露台上的玫瑰架。© Eileen Hsieh

The "Girl and Swallows" statue surrounded by roses. 玫瑰園裡的「女孩與燕子」銅像。 © Eileen Hsieh

The palace garden is loosely divided into three sections: the terrace, the main lawn, and the orchard. Benches and roses line the terrace, allowing visitors to admire the honey-color stone building it's facing. The main lawn is a parkland style space filled with mature trees and colorful plants (including a black walnut planted by Queen Mary), with a solitary rotunda sitting on a mount covered in spring bulbs of narcissus.

The orchard contains apples, plum, cobnut and quince, and behind it is the plant nursery area and a greenhouse that supplies the vegetables consumed by palace staff. 

The entire area is maintained by three full-time gardeners along with part-time volunteers, using organic principles wherever possible. 





Lambeth Palace has a special place in United Kingdom's history, as it brings to life the relationship between Church and State in Britain. Its garden holds fascinating stories of its own, waiting for us to explore. 

*For more photos of the garden, please check out my Lambeth Palace Garden Gallery.


*想看更多 Lambeth Palace Garden的照片嗎?請前往我的 Lambeth Palace Garden 相簿


Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7JU map



門票:£4.00 成人 / 小孩免費入場

Garden Opening Time: 12-3pm, first Friday of the month between March and October

Cost:£4.00 adult / children free 


Photography & I: Bringing Dreamscape into Reality | 攝影與我:把夢想帶入現實世界

Happy Instagram birthday to me!

@FollowThatBug is five years old this month, having been actively sharing photos since April 2012.

That is by far my longest happy relationship with any social media platform, and my infatuation with this app and its community is growing stronger day by day.

Not long ago, I received some comments from fellow Instagramers that nearly shot me to the moon with elation. In different ways, they described my editing style as a "professional makeup artist", making whatever that's in front of the camera appear as paradise on earth, and bringing out the quiet beauty of my subjects that others may fail to notice. 

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BEFORE: What my lens sees -- a classic London icon.

AFTER: What I see -- Big Ben and his candyfloss.

My Rose-Tinted Lens

Filters were what initially attracted me to Instagram. It was like trying on new clothes, I got a lot of satisfaction accessorizing my pictures with different layers of effects, then taking them off and starting all over again, and again, and again, because I could never decide which style I liked the most.

I became BFFs with the filters. Not only did they add colors to my images, they also camouflaged any imperfection that I didn't know how to remove.  

BEFORE: What my lens sees -- a lonely bird overshadowed by the shiny yellow blooms.

AFTER: What I see -- a sweet little creature enjoying the view from her flower castle.

Finding "Me"

Slowly, as I gained more confidence in my photographic expression, I began to see filters in a different light.

I still loved them, deeply, but I also realized that as Iong as I continued to rely on them to gain attention, I would never be able to develop any style that was truly, uniquely "me".  

Filters were someone else's creation, someone else's vision. They showed me the amazing possibilities of effects and manipulation, and now I wanted to be that "someone else" and leave my own stamp.

BEFORE: What my lens sees -- intricate craftsmanship from a bygone era. 

AFTER: What I see -- ray of hope and possibility shining through from all directions.

Painting the Stories of Our Lives

I'm a storyteller, and I appreciate the power of human touch.

When appropriate (this is key!), I like to run my hand over things that catch my attention, so I can feel their heaviness, their bumps and cracks, try to peel of their layers and see what hides beneath.

More often than not, I discover a diamond in the rough, ready to shine.

So what is my 5-year Instagram birthday wish? Make the world sparkle! And I'm taking concrete steps to help make this vision a reality, so watch this space. :)

And if you like, I can keep you updated on my progress -- just sign up here.

Eileen x

Related reading

5 Tips For Taking Amazing iPhone Photos

Eileen Hsieh, iPhone Photography School

What does it take to create amazing iPhone photos? Apps can help with editing and special effects, but you can produce beautiful images using just the iPhone’s native camera and a few simple composition techniques. In this tutorial, you’ll discover five highly effective tips that’ll help you take stunning iPhone photos that you’ll be proud to share. With just a few small tweaks to your technique, you’ll have the tools you need to become a really great iPhone photographer.

Eileen's Top 5 Light Meals near Big Ben | 雅琳推薦:大笨鐘附近五家優質小吃店

Generally speaking, there are two types of people who get off at Westminster Underground Station: civil servants, and tourists. 

With a high concentration of ministries (Parliament, No. 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office and HMRC) and famous landmarks (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms and Horseguards Parade), it's no wonder that this part of Westminster is one of the most congested spots in all of London.


長久以來它也是倫敦的藝文重地,英國最有名的地標 - 如大笨鐘和西敏寺 - 還有熱門的邱吉爾博物館,皇家騎士軍隊閱兵場,聖詹姆士皇家公園和白金漢宮等等,也都位於此地,難怪這兒是城市最擁擠的區域之一。

Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and St James's Park are just some of the popular attractions within a short walk from Westminster tube station. (Images: Eileen Hsieh) 

One would naturally assume that an area with such heavy foot traffic would be blessed with an enviable selection of gastronomical delights. But in reality, what you will find is an uninspiring range of chain coffee shops, pubs and a few high-end restaurants more suitable for business lunch than a quick bite on the go. 


Some of the cute pub signs in Westminster, St James's Park and Victoria. (Images: Eileen Hsieh)

I live in this neighborhood, so I know the hidden gems that are only minutes away from popular sights which the tourists never seem to notice. Whenever I go out to pick up a takeaway meal, I often get asked by hungry, frustrated and exhausted visitors where I get my food from, all anxiously searching for somewhere with decent food that won't deplete their budget. 

So, in hopes of making Westminster a more inviting destination for visitors, I'm listing my personal Top 5 Picks for Light Meals in its vicinity -- all within 10-15 minutes of walk from Westminster tube station towards Victoria and St James's Park, where good food, good service and a chilled out atmosphere are guaranteed, so you can refuel and recover from a long day of sightseeing.

Here's to a pleasant dining experience in the shadow of Big Ben!



網上關於 Westminster 附近可靠的餐飲消息真的不多,所以在此向大家推薦我個人最喜歡的五家輕食餐廳,全都離西敏地鐵站步行10-15分鐘內,往 Victoria St. James's Park 方向走。這幾家餐廳的食物美味,服務親切,氣氛悠閒,所以也是小歇的好地點。



The Perfect Place for a Long Conversation, or a Nap

Comfortable leather Chesterfield sofa and tartan cushions at the Blue Boar Bar. (Images: Eileen Hsieh / Blue Boar Restaurant)

Around the corner from Westminster Abbey is this inviting restaurant/pub inside the five-star Conrad hotel. This is also where you'll find me 2 ~ 3 times a month. My first visit here was for a business lunch, then I keep returning for delicious food, nice drinks and impeccable service.

Housed in a grand 19th-century building opposite St James's Park tube station, the Blue Boar may look fancy and stuffy from the outside. But the moment you walk through the door, you'll be charmed by the friendliest staff and quaint decor inspired by the British political landscape.

The vibe here is both intimate and understatedly luxurious, with a mixed menu of healthy and comfort dishes, and oversized leather chesterfield sofas and wing back armchairs positioned next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, the perfect place to watch the world go by.

Do not miss the apple and blackberry crumble with pouring cream. It is pure indulgence and very addictive! 

自西敏寺轉個彎,就可以看到我每個月光臨好幾次的溫馨酒吧 - Blue Boar(藍野豬)。

第一次來到 Conrad 五星級飯店附設的酒吧用餐,是和朋友見面吃商業午餐,之後就愛上了這裡的食物,雞尾酒,還有無可挑剔的完美服務。



菜單提供多樣化的英國傳統美食,也有健康的沙拉和三明治。千萬不要錯過了蘋果和黑莓派,配上香濃的 pouring cream,很容易上癮的!

Succulent steak. (Image: Blue Boar Restaurant)

A burger from the Blue Boar Bar, just one block away from Westminster Abbey. (Image: Blue Boar Restaurant)

Humorous political caricatures are part of the Blue Boar's charming decor. (Image: Blue Boar Restaurant)


Cheap & Cheerful Full English Breakfast and Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Cafe Nuvo offers simple and tasty breakfast and lunch items and a comfortable upstairs seating area. (Images: Eileen Hsieh)

Where can you get a good full English breakfast for under a fiver near Big Ben? Cafe Nuvo on Artillery Row is the answer. 

At this local gem, you can get a plate of bacon, sausage, egg, baked beans, two thick slices of toast plus tea or coffee for just £3.95. That's at least £1-2 cheaper than any other cafe within a one-mile radius.  

And the portion is large, like American-style large. The sausage is my favorite item in the breakfast, always perfectly cooked and never greasy.

The cafe is open from morning to late afternoon and offers a variety of reasonably priced pastries, panini, jacket potatoes, salads and desserts. It also has a lovely upstairs eat-in area to enjoy a leisurely meal.

This Cafe Nuvo is an easy 10-minute walk from Westminster Abbey and popular with both office and construction workers. Be sure not to confuse it with another sandwich shop with the same name in Covent Garden. 

一早跑來看大笨鐘,想吃正統英式早餐卻又不想花大錢,該怎麼辦呢?答案就是:去 Cafe Nuvo 吧!

這家獨立咖啡廳離西敏寺約十分鐘腳程,只要 £ 3.95 就可以享用份量十足的英式早餐,有臘肉,香腸,煎蛋,焗豆,厚厚的吐司,還有一杯咖啡或茶,價錢比附近的早餐店便宜最少 £1~2。我最喜歡這裡的英國香腸,煎得恰到好處,絕不油膩。

除了多樣早餐選擇以外,Cafe Nuvo 也提供焗烤三明治,烤馬鈴薯,沙拉和糕餅甜點。這家咖啡廳二樓還有舒適的用餐區,深受當地上班族與建築工人喜愛。

編輯註腳:柯芬園 (Covent Garden) 也有一家同名為 Cafe Nuvo 的咖啡店,請別混淆。


12 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RZ

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The Ultimate Southern Comfort... and Diet Buster

Southern comfort can be found in this cozy basement restaurant near Westminster Abbey. (Image: Low, Slow & Juke)

Low Slow & Juke is the newest arrival in this part of town. Opened in February, it promises to bring southern smoke BBQ and cocktails to the UK capital. 

Just a two-minute walk from Westminster Abbey, this bar/restaurant is tucked away in the basement of a corner building off Victoria Street and very easy to miss. Inside you'll find a full bar, comfortable seatings and a private dining area spread over two floors.

I was thoroughly impressed with my first meal here. The slow smoked St. Louis Slab Ribs was perfectly charred, tender but not fatty, while the Black + Blue burger with blue cheese sauce was juicy and flavourful. The beer and wine recommended by the friendly staff were excellent too. 

With cute decor, southern hospitality and amazing BBQ (that's way better than Bodean's for about the same price), I think we've got an all-around, finger-licking-good winner here.

Low, Slow & Juke 標榜為美式燻烤慢烤,今年二月才開業,是倫敦最新的肉食者天堂。



若要與倫敦最有名的連鎖美式BBQ餐廳 Bodean's 相比,無論是肉質,燻烤秘方,服務品質,還是價格,我都一定會給 Low, Slow & Juke 打比較高分的。


Low, Slow & Juke wants to win over London with slow smoked BBQ and cocktails. (Images: Low, Slow & Juke)


A Little Slice of Japan in Westminster

Ichi-Riki is a tiny Japanese restaurant that packs a punch. (Image: Eileen Hsieh)

The house specialties are posted on the wall for easy viewing. (Image: Eileen Hsieh)

There's a little slice of Japan in the heart of Westminster, and it's called Ichi-Riki

This traditional Japanese sushi house was established 15 years ago, offering an authentic taste of Japan at an affordable price.

Located 2 minutes from New Scotland Yard on a cobblestone street, this basement gem is sandwiched between a hair salon and a cafe and can be easy to miss.

The somewhat dingy stairs lead into an intimate, old-fashion space with spartan seating and a sushi bar. The menu is simple and covers the basics: sushi, tempura, gyoza, seaweed salad, green tea desserts, and of course Japanese beers and sake.

The restaurant is popular with the locals especially during lunchtime. They don't take reservation for lunch, but you can book a table for dinner or order take-away or delivery

西敏區的中心有一家傳統的日本壽司屋,名叫 Ichi-Riki

坐落在倫敦警察廳(New Scotland Yard)附近的一條石板街道上,緊夾在美髮沙龍和咖啡館之間,一不注意就很容易錯過這家地下室小店。

壽司屋已有十五年的歷史,室內裝潢簡單,菜單也很有日本地道風味 -- 壽司,天婦羅,餃子,涼拌海帶,綠茶甜品,當然還有日本啤酒和清酒。

Ichi-Riki 走平價路線,很受當地人喜愛,午餐時間總是空無一席。他們只接受晚餐預約,也有提供外帶與外送服務。

Ichi-Riki is sandwiched between a hair salon and a health food cafe on a cobblestone street in Victoria. (Image: Eileen Hsieh)


Ozone Coffee Roaster Serving Undoubtedly the Best Coffee in Victoria

Some say Iris & June serves the best coffee in Westminster, if not all of London. (Image: Iris & June)

Coffee lovers - this one is for you. 

Since Iris & June opened its door in 2014, caffeine enthusiasts have been flocking to this Antipodean cafe for the perfect Ozone coffee. Each cup is made with precision and care and the proof is in the taste. 

Hailed by many as the best coffee shop in Victoria that serves good food, the lunchtime queue here can get very long. 

The cafe is located on a quiet street just behind House of Fraser department store. The space is airy, comfy with a touch of industrial chic, and the free wi-fi makes it the perfect place for work, meeting, or just relaxing.


現在要介紹的是倫敦人公認的特優咖啡館:Iris & June


甜點和新鮮健康的午餐也是 Iris & June 的賣點,常常可以看到個體餐飲店的腳踏車來送貨。

咖啡館坐落在 House of Fraser 百貨公司後門的一條安靜街道上,裝潢簡潔,有濃濃的極簡工業風氣氛。顧客可以免費上網,所以許多人抱著筆電來這兒工作,一坐就是一整天。

The cafe is opposite the back entrance of House of Fraser department store. (Image: Eileen Hsieh)

Breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, anytime is a good time for an Iris & June coffee. (Images: Iris & June Instagram)


1 Howick Pl, London SW1P 1WG

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020 7828 3130