The Gravesham Light Festival: A Delightful Show of Light in a Dark January

Ross Ashton & Karen Monid Projection on St Andrews Arts Centre | Gravesham Light Festival

The wonderful Gravesham Light Festival returns this week thanks to additional funding from Arts Council England. We really enjoyed our visit last year so read on discover what to expect, where to eat, a famous album cover and the true story of a Disney princess.

What to Expect from Gravesham 2023: Voyage of Light

The festival will take place on Friday 27 January and Saturday 28 January, between 5.30pm and 8.30pm in the historic town of Gravesend. The whole town will be lit up with light installations, exhibitions and experiences taking place at a range of locations including St George’s Arts Centre, Town Pier Square, St George’s Church Gardens, St Andrew’s Arts Centre, St Andrew’s Gardens and Gravesend Borough Market.

The Gravesham Light Festival 2022: What We Saw

The High Street: Greg Stobbs The Dream Mirror installation

Marie's Tea Room, High Street, Gravesend | Gravesham Light Festival

We started off at Marie's Tea Room and explored the High Street area. The illumination in the window depicts Pocahontas, the subject of the Disney film. The true story of Pocahontas is quite incredible and many aspects of the film are disputed. What we do know is that Pocahontas' encounters with English settlers proved disastrous and she fell gravely ill after being brought to England. She died in Gravesend in 1617 at the age of about 21 and was buried at St George's Church.

Gregg Stobb's The Dream Mirror | Gravesham Light Festival

The High Street was home to Greg Stobbs's The Dream Mirror installation, a series of illustrated window light works.

Gregg Stobb's The Dream Mirror at Northman Cafe | Gravesham Light Festival

Greg found his inspiration in Gravesend itself, saying that "walking through Gravesend's Heritage Quarter in the dark is a magical experience".

Duncan Grant's That's Entertainment installation

Duncan Grant's That's Entertainment | Gravesham Light Festival

This telephone box is very famous! It featured on the cover of The Jam album Sound Effects which released in 1980. Artist Duncan Grant took inspiration from this and dressed up the telephone box in a series of images that paid homage to both Sound Effects and Giles Gilbert Scott who designed the original phone boxes. Duncan's installation was called That's Entertainment.

Swan Yard | Gravesham Light Festival

Swan Yard. All of Gravesend's nooks, crannies and alleyways were lit up for the festival.

St Andrew's Art Centre

Ross Ashton & Karen Monid Projection on St Andrews Arts Centre | Gravesham Light Festival

We spent ages at the St Andrew's Art Centre installation, watching as the full projection played out. The work was a collaboration between The Projection Studio's Ross Ashton, a double Guinness World Record holder, and sound artist Karen Monid.

St George's Church Gardens

Pocahontas statue | Gravesham Light Festival

We cut through the grounds of St George's Church and I saw the statue of Pocahontas for the first time. The statue was erected in 1975 and enjoys Grade II listed status. It was relisted in 2017 to mark the 400th anniversary of her death.

Richie Moment's Love Conquers All installation

Love Conquers All by Richie Moment | Gravesham Light Festival

Our penultimate stop on the Light Festival trail was to see Richie Moment's Love Conquers All installation with its collection of cherubs and uplifting messages of love.

Strange Cargo's The Owl and the Pussycat installation

The Owl and the Pussycat installation | Gravesham Light Festival

Edward Lear's grandfather, Jeremiah Lear, lived in Gravesend and Edward spent many happy times there. Strange Cargo created these beautiful sculptural lanterns based on Lear's famous poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.

Dinner at Rico Sabor

Rico Sabor | Gravesham Light Festival

We'd certainly worked up an appetite during our exploration and headed off to my favourite restaurant in Gravesend, Rico Sabor. Situated in the Grade II listed former courthouse, you can enjoy dinner in one of the old jail cells if you wish! The menu is a mix of Latin American cuisine and Spanish tapas.

Can you believe that the first month of 2023 is almost over? I always say I want time to slow down but that's not happening any time soon. Life is really busy too - I know I worked so hard to qualify to be exactly where I am with my career but that doesn't make year end reporting any easier. How is your 2023 going?

2023 brings a new theme to Emm in London. I needed to update it for various reasons but I have a lot of work still to do before I'm happy with this theme. Sadly, all Intense Debate comments have disappeared from the site but I still have them all saved down.

A Year in the Life... 2022

2022 Christmas Card featuring Pebbles and Seth

Seasons greetings everyone! I hope that you're having a peaceful time and enjoying the festive season. My family is a mix of faiths, none of them very observant, but my mum and my brother always come over on Christmas Day for a big dinner, games, gifts and lots of belly laughs. It's become one of my favourite days.

2022 has been an exciting year for Emm in London. After a five-year hiatus, peppered by a few attempts to post in-between, I finally revived the blog in earnest and have been publishing a post every fortnight since May. I'm taking things slow this December, so there will be just this post, but I'll be back to fortnightly posts in January.

Here are some of the highlights of 2022:


Light projection onto a church at the Winter Light Festival in Gravesend

We started off the year with a visit to the Banksy exhibition in London. Later in the month, we went to the Winter Light Festival in Gravesend, which I'll be blogging about in January.


We started off the month with a visit to the Francis Bacon: Man & Beast exhibition at the Royal Academy, London. I wrote about how I first fell in love with Francis Bacon at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. I enjoyed the London exhibition but the New York exhibition back in 2009 gave a more nuanced insight into the man himself.

Francis Bacon triptych

I ended the month by taking my mum to the Eventim Apollo to see Shen Yun, a beautiful performance of song and dance showing China before communism. We enjoyed it so much that we'll be returning in April 2023.


We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in March with dinner at Parsons Seafood Restaurant and an overnight stay at NYX Hotel London Holborn. It possibly sounds a bit subdued, but wait until you see what we did in November!

We also went to the Doctor Who: Time Fracture immersive experience, which was a lot of fun and went to Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation which I'll tell you about next year.

Barn Owl at Eagle Heights


April started off with a bang as I took my mum to see Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds at the O2. There was much excitement when we discovered that Kevin Clifton was playing the artilleryman.

April was the month that I took my friend Sarah on a 5km walk around Cobham that turned out to be a 5 mile walk. I still haven't blogged about it because I am still so embarrassed. At least we had a lovely Sunday lunch afterwards to make up for it.

Cobham Mausoleum

We also attended the Van Gogh immersive experience that month and I finally took my mum to see the Carol King musical Beautiful which was marvellous.


May began with a visit to Northern Ireland where we attended a wedding at Mussenden Temple and explored the Giants Causeway.

Mussenden Temple

We also saw Luke Jerram's Gaia at Rochester Cathedral in May.


June was a bumper month! I travelled to Barcelona to see Nick Cave and Bauhaus at Primavera Sound.

Passatge de Carbonell, Barcelona

We also visited the Gunpowder Plot. Stephen's parents arrived at the end of the month and we visited Rye and Hastings.


July began with one of my favourite days out: a visit to the Battle of Hastings battlefield and Battle Abbey.

Classic fire engine at the Dartford Big Day Out 2022

We also visited the Dartford Big Day Out and the church in Kent where you can see Marc Chagall stained glass windows. I previously blogged about the Dartford Vintage Car and Steam Rally and All Saints Tudeley in 2014.


We went to Cakes & Bubbles in August and I saw Bauhaus at Brixton Academy.

Montage of Frida Kahlo works at the Frida & Diego exhibition

We also saw the Frida & Diego immersive experience. It was okay but made me promise myself to go to more actual museums and galleries in 2023.


We went to Whistle Punks Urban Axe Throwing in September and saw Arcade Fire in concert at the O2. Arcade Fire at the O2, 8 September 2022

We went to the Bournemouth Air Festival and visited Corfe Castle and Tyneham.

Finally, we went to Loch Monzievaird for my mum's 70th birthday celebrations where I got lost on Laggan Hill


October was quiet. I took my mum to see Deep Purple at the O2 for her actual birthday and spoiled her with lunch at Miller & Carter on the actual day.

Deep Purple at the O2, October 2022


November was pretty epic because we flew to the Maldives to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Let me tell you, choosing one photo to represent our trip was not easy but I'll be telling you all about it in January and February!

The Vilu Reef sign at Sun Siyam, Vilu Reef Maldives


December has been all about finishing work for the year and completing my impossible 520 mile run / walk target for the year. I'm spending new year in Dublin and Courtown, County Wexford and will tell you all about that next year.

Wishing you all the best for a happy, healthy 2023 and I'll see you next year!

Follow me on Instagram for real-time updates on my adventures.

Getting Lost in the Woods of Laggan Hill, Crieff

On our second morning in Loch Monzievaird, I enquired at reception about walks in the area and was told that I could take a circular walk around Laggan Hill and that it would ‘take about an hour’. After assuring the owner that I am indeed a seasoned walker, I left the grounds of Loch Monzievaird and set off up the hill.

It will surprise absolutely no one that I got lost

Crieff, Scotland

This is the point at which I went wrong, turning towards Trowan instead of veering toward Puddock Wood. What I thought would be a short 1 hour, 3 mile walk turned into a 5.5 mile or 9km hike.

Crieff, Scotland

Of course, for the longest time, I didn't realise that I was lost or that I was heading due west instead clockwise around an east, south-east loop.

Crieff, Scotland

This had nothing to do with me stopping every 3 minutes to admire the views and take photos of the scenery.

Crieff, Scotland

I soon found myself wandering deeper and deeper into the forest. I have to admit, I was pretty much in my element at this point until the path veered in a direction that I was absolutely not expecting it to.

Crieff, Scotland

It got to a point where I was photographing any landmark I could find because I incorrectly thought Google maps had my location wrong too (it didn't, I was way off course). I had very little mobile phone coverage the whole time on our holiday and it was glorious.

Crieff, Scotland

Eventually, I realised with dismay that Google Maps was not wrong and that I was closer to Trowan than I ever expected to be. I tried to take the path to Baird’s Monument but I either took another wrong turn or the path to the monument is not passable after recent storms because I found myself in deep forest and definitely off the path. I turned around swiftly! Here is a link to the monument at IWM – it is really lovely, I wish I’d have found it.

Crieff, Scotland

'No matter', I thought, 'I'll have a nice cup of tea and maybe a scone when I reach Trowan'

Crieff, Scotland

Except, as you can see above, Trowan is little more than this house and is mainly named for the large farm is there.

I walked a little further, hoping to find the loop I was trying to circle, but I dropped my paper map at some point and with it, I lost my bottle. I'd already taken an hour walk alone and gotten lost. The responsible thing was to head back along the same path.

Crieff, Scotland

My route took me through the forest again…

Crieff, Scotland

… past scenes of incredible beauty. I might not have taken the path I’d been expecting to but I loved every minute of the walk (barring the part near Baird’s Monument where I went sliding down what may or may not have still been the path).

Loved this post? Click to visit more of my posts on Loch Monzievaird, Scotland and exploring.

I'm linking up with Through My Lens for the first time, a link-up based on original photography.

The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

View of the Row, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

I love all things abandoned and derelict. When I visited my friend in Bournemouth in September, she asked if I was keen on visiting a little Dorset village that had been evacuated during World War II and abandoned ever since. I most definitely was keen! Following our morning wander around Corfe Castle, we headed up to the derelict village of Tyneham in Dorset.

Telephone box at the Row, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The story of Tyneham is fascinating. During World War II, the British Army needed to extend their training area and gave the inhabitants of Tyneham 28 days notice that they would need to evacuate the village. They left on 17 December 1943 but were certain they would return. Sadly, that was not the case because the army kept the land in the face of the Cold War threat after the war. The village remains part of the Ministry of Defense Lulworth Ranges to this day but the public are allowed to visit on most weekends and bank holidays.

The Row

The Row, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Tyneham is the Row, a line of four tiny little cottages.

4 The Row – Shepherd’s Cottage | The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

4 The Row – Shepherd’s Cottage | The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The cottage on the end is 4 The Row, the Shepherd’s Cottage.

3 The Row - The Old Post Office | The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

Next to that is the old Post Office at 3 The Row.

2 The Row - The Labourer's Cottage | The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The labourer's cottage was at 2 The Row.

1 The Row - The School House | The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The school house was at 1 The Row and was home to the village teachers and their families.

View of the cottages at The Row, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The Church

The Row and Church, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The Tyneham Church is located at the top of the Row, opposite the school house.

Inside the Church, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

It has recently been refurbished and is beautiful inside.

Church, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

You might wonder why the church has been preserved in an abandoned village. It was the wish of the villagers. When they left, they affixed a sign to the church door:

Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes, where many of us have lived for generations, to help win the war to keep men free. We will return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.

The School

The School, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

Tyneham School closed in 1932 but the building has been lovingly restored to show how it might have looked in the 1920s.

Old Books Inside The School, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

Old Scale Inside The School, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The Rectory

The Rectory, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The Rectory was home to the reverend and his family and of course it was the most grand building in the village.

Then and Now Comparison of The Rectory, The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

The house was sadly gutted by a fire in 1966 and is fenced off, but you can compare the current state of the building with a photo of how it once looked.

Pondfield Cove

The Abandoned Town of Tyneham, Dorset

It doesn't take long to see everything in Tyneham so we took a long walk afterwards to Pondfield Cove where we climbed the hill and admired the views of the cove and Tyneham. All in all, it was a wonderful day out with magical memories made.

Visiting Tyneham

MOD Ranges
Dorset BH20 5QF
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