The Cold & Sunny Winds of Oxted

Despite some travel chaos with a tree that fell on the line on Saturday, with most of the trains being delayed and cancelled due to the travel disruption over last weekend and the freezing cold, the sunny weather was absolutely beautiful, and to have that little bit of warmth even after wrapping up warm made my journey to Hurst Green that extra bit special.

The travel chaos was disrupted so much that the rail replacement bus that was initially meant to be put in place once I got off at Sanderstead Station wasn’t even put into place at all, which left me and some of the passengers stranded, but luckily the workers at Sanderstead Station booked me and some of the passengers a free cab ride to make up for the rail replacement bus we never got and I was able to get to Oxted Station with no problem, which was beneficial considering I was going from that station to Hurst Green once I arrived.

On the way to Hurst Green, I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to quickly photograph Oxted Station and The Oxted Inn whilst I waited for the train to arrive.

Despite the freezing weather on Saturday, I was happy to have seized the opportunity to photograph the station considering it was an adventure rather than just a train journey.

What was the weather like for you on Saturday? I would love to know.

Please feel free to comment on what you thought of my photographs of my journey to Oxted and Hurst Green, and please feel free to share this article on.

Alex Smithson

Device Used: Motorola C

What About Us?

For all of us, this whole world, we all see unrest, violence and hatred being talked about on the news, but it hurts when no one can get on.

How does violence in this world solve problems? Well, I know the answer to that.

IT DOES NOT.

Why is this world so messed up?

THAT’S IGNORANCE FOR YOU. A LACK OF CARE, RESPECT, EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND LACK OF INTEREST FOR OTHERS SHOWS HOW DISGRACED THE WHOLE WORLD IS WHERE VIOLENCE, UNREST AND HATRED COME IN.

Yes, I’m ranting, but with a purpose. That purpose is to get my point across that we, as a world, shouldn’t fight and hurt and disrespect others.

WE SHOULD LOVE, CHERISH, RESPECT, TREAT ONE ANOTHER EQUALLY, DIVERSELY, AND VALUE EVERY SECOND.

I’m not here to be political, I’m not here to judge, criticise or belittle anyone or anything. I’m here to spread positivity and treat everyone equally and diversely.

Enough is enough! Now, let’s all come together and love one another and respect, cherish and value every second that counts. Lives count, and so does yours, so stand up and be counted and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I hope this inspires you as P!NK’s record: “What About Us” sure did inspire me, and her inspiration is the reason why I wrote this article. Yes, it’s short and yes, it’s not as long an article but hey, it’s not about the length of an article, it’s the inspiration and hard work you put into it that counts.

Alex Smithson

Justin Timberlake is the Man of the Woods!

Back with a completely different sound that shifts away from his past albums, Justin’s the Man of the Woods with this EP as this new sound is unique, yet vocally charged in a different light to his previous album, The 20 / 20 Experience.

It’s no surprise to see Justin Timberlake go back to his roots, as this new sound is so unique it even has the old-school sounds that remind us all of how far he’s come since his breakthrough début album, Justified.

Filthy kicks off Man of the Woods with a bass-pounding bang, as Justin’s vocals come to life, with his wife, Jessica Biel, doing some voice-over as the record ends, meanwhile, Midnight Summer Jam is where the old-school vibe kicks in, as the nostalgia kicks in right from the off. Those who have listened to Justin Timberlake’s albums from the moment he released his début album will know and appreciate the new sound that Justin Timberlake has come back with. I appreciate his new sound as it’s different, but more importantly, I’m glad he’s taken his music in a different direction, as his new music sounds almost nothing like his past music, but Man of the Woods still captures the man we all know and love dearly.

You cannot fault Justin’s music roots for not even one split second, as Man of the Woods is filled with so much nostalgia that it’s like he never went away from the music scene. In fact, Justin Timberlake is headlining the Super Bowl LII (52nd) Halftime Show sponsored by Pepsi on Sunday 4th February 2018 and alongside him, P!NK will be performing as well, so there’s even more of a reason for all of us to be excited!

Man of the Woods is more of a personal album as well as a vocally charged album, as he explores his music roots deeper with a completely different sound that still captures the nostalgia of his past albums.

Below is the full tracklist for Man of the Woods:

  1. Filthy
  2. Midnight Summer Jam
  3. Sauce
  4. Man of the Woods
  5. Higher Higher
  6. Wave
  7. Supplies
  8. Morning Light (feat. Alicia Keys)
  9. Say Something (feat. Chris Stapleton)
  10. Hers (Interlude)
  11. Flannel
  12. Montana
  13. Breeze Off the Pond
  14. Livin’ Off the Land
  15. The Hard Stuff
  16. Young Man

Below is Justin Timberlake’s album cover for Man of the Woods:

To keep it as short and simple and as honest as possible, Man of the Woods is his best work to date because it carries the progressive sound of his past albums and isn’t one of those in-your-face kinds of album, rather it’s a vocally progressive, yet mindful album that shows Justin Timberlake at his most peaceful, but also at his most euphoric.

To listen to Man of the Woods, click on the Play button below to listen to Justin Timberlake’s fifth studio album on Spotify. Purchase your copy of Man of the Woods from all retailers via all physical/digital formats.

Heard Man of the Woods? If so, I would love to hear what you’ve got to say about Justin’s fifth studio album.

If you enjoyed this review, please feel free to feedback below in the comments.

Alex Smithson

© Jive Records, Zomba Records, RCA Records, Tennman Records & Justin Randall Timberlake

© The Man of the Woods album artwork, the article image and tracklist are all copyright of Jive Records, Zomba Records, RCA Records, Tennman Records & Justin Randall Timberlake. Full copyright goes to the respective owners.

Welcome to February!

Got through the Blues of Dry January?

Luckily, for almost all of us, we sure did.

February is set to be quite an interesting month as the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will start on the 9th February and finish on the 25th February.

I still find it hard to believe it was exactly this time four years ago that we all witnessed the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games when the infamous Olympic Ring faux pas took place when the fifth Olympic Ring failed to open, which was later re-enacted in the Closing Ceremony by some of the ice skaters. It’s crazy how the time flies, but hey, February, despite being a very busy month ahead, is an exciting one too.

This month is going to be a whole lot busier than the first few weeks of 2018, meaning that less articles will be published, but some articles will be going up only when I get the free time.

Let’s all keep our heads held high this month and make sure we go for the best and as for the Winter Olympic Games, we are all in this together. Let’s make February the best month to remember!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup / February 2017

February sure flew by like the wind. It felt like it was yesterday that February just started and now we’re at the end of the month already. To end February, I will take a look back on the articles published over the course of this month.

1.2.2017 – As this month was set to be just as busy as January, I welcomed all of you to February on Mother Nature. I mentioned that this month would be a lot busier considering I had a Maths mock exam just around the corner, but also because I would be making sure to get out more and make use of the free time I have on my days off to photograph nature-based places for my Self-Directed Curiosity Project.

Also, in a surprise announcement, Beyoncé announced to the world that she is pregnant with twins. Her last pregnancy came in 2011 when she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who she gave birth to on the 7th January 2012.

2.2.2017 – As the hashtag, #TIMETOTALK, was officially trending on Twitter, Oli Regan asked me to write this article as this day was Time to Talk Day, in which anyone suffering from Mental Health can speak up about their Mental Health, as well as to how they feel the negative stigma affects and negatively impacts them and anyone else suffering from any kind of Mental Health condition. Oli Regan also appeared live on BBC Two at 9:30 AM and again at 10:30 AM on the Victoria Derbyshire Show. He would also go on to talk about Mental Health on BBC Newsbeat at 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, including how suffering from Mental Health affected him over the course of his life.

3.2.2017 – Continuing on from my first set of photographs that I took previously at Kelsey Park, I headed to Dulwich Park on the 31st January 2017 to photograph the scenery and also some ducks and birds. I saw some Mallards and Parakeets whilst I was there, including some squirrels, though to tell you the truth, some of the squirrels I came across looked bigger than their usual size, so I did make sure to walk very slowly to photograph them and I am pleased with the end result that I have achieved from this photographic collection.

5.2.2017 – Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park on the 1st February 2017 to photograph some of the scenery, and I also photographed some of the gravestones, given the names on some or most of the gravestones consisted of people who may have died a few years earlier, including those that may have died up to more than 100 years ago.

7.2.2017 – As I wanted to set the tone of this article, I recommended Madonna’s True Blue record to soothe the soul, as this article was titled as Relaxation. I mentioned that after a relaxing day, despite doing the mock exam for GCSE Maths the day before, I mentioned that I wasn’t stressed, which was a first for me in a long time considering that I’ve been so focused on the coursework lately.

17.2.2017 – Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, it was officially announced that Crash Bandicoot would be coming back to PlayStation on the 30th June. I mentioned I would be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy, and the release date of the trilogy comes exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

19.2.2017 – As it has been almost a year since we lost the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away on the 21st April 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the iconic music legend by drawing for this sixth artistic interpretation. This drawing was the first Artistic Interpretation for 2017 and I wanted to make sure that Prince Rogers Nelson would be the first musician I would draw for 2017.

24.2.2017 – After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl officially announced she is pregnant! This news came at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks before that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February was most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

25.2.2017 – Following hot on the heels of my previous Artistic Interpretation which was based on the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, I worked and completed my 7th Artistic Interpretation which focused on the Destiny’s Child musician and solo hit-maker, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

Also on this day, the world lost a face of the film world. Bill Paxton, best known for appearing in Apollo 13, Titanic & Twister, sadly passed away at the age of 61 after complications following surgery.

Thanks for a great month everyone. Of course, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Bill Paxton by saying this: “Thank you for everything Bill Paxton. You are greatly missed but you’ll always live on in our hearts forever. Thanks for being the positive change this world truly needed. Thank you for everything Bill Paxton.”

Again, thanks for a great month and I will see you all in March.

Alex Smithson

Artistic Interpretation #7 / Beyoncé Giselle Knowles

Following hot on the heels of my previous Artistic Interpretation which was based on the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, I started working on Artistic Interpretation #7 which focuses on the Destiny’s Child musician and solo hit-maker, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

I wanted to draw Beyoncé as a way of celebrating the heartwarming news that broke on the 1st February that she was expecting twins.

I decided to take my time to draw her because I wanted to make sure I could shade certain areas of the drawing so that her facial features stand out the same as I would want for her hair to stand out.

For me, drawing Beyoncé was quite a challenge, because I referred to the photograph that was taken of her that announced she would headline the Super Bowl on the 3rd February 2013, which was fantastic, given that Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams performed alongside her for the hit record, Bootylicious, with her most recent Super Bowl appearance being at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show that took place last year, when she performed alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

Below is my artistic interpretation of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

Artistic Interpretation #7 / Beyoncé Giselle Knowles
Artistic Interpretation #7 / Beyoncé Giselle Knowles

I am pleased with the overall result, as I had made sure to spend time on drawing Beyoncé, given that I wanted to make sure this drawing would not just celebrate Beyoncé as a musician, but that this drawing would celebrate her music career, given that she has been on the music scene for a long time now.

Again, congratulations to both Beyoncé & Jay Z on the pregnancy and may both your twins be blessed with perfect health, love, compassion, care, respect and support. I love you both.

Please feel free to comment below what you thought of my artistic interpretation of Beyoncé. I would love to hear your feedback.

Alex Smithson

HAPPY NEWS!

After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl has officially announced she is pregnant! This news has come at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks ago that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February is most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

I am over the moon and absolutely overjoyed at the news of Cheryl’s pregnancy because it has been a long time coming and I am absolutely happy for both Cheryl & Liam Payne! Both of them will most certainly make fantastic parents and to see Cheryl at her happiest makes me and everyone smile. Happiness, love, respect, compassion and care is what matters and I send all of my happiness, love, respect, compassion and care to both Cheryl & Liam Payne.

Congratulations Cheryl & Liam! Both of you will most certainly be wonderful parents and I wish you every ounce of happiness all the way because you are both worth it 🙂

Alex Smithson

© L’Oréal 2017

© The photograph of Cheryl is copyright of L’Oréal. Full photo credit goes to L’Oréal. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy / Out 30th June!

It’s official! Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, Crash Bandicoot is ready to come back to PlayStation on the 30th June! Who would have thought it, eh?

This news comes after the comeback trailer unveiled Crash Bandicoot back to his true and original form, with the comeback trailer itself even showing comparisons of the original PS1 Classic levels including the newly upgraded level designs of the exact same levels.

I also came across official screenshots of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back after reading an article that Crashy News published, and honestly, Activision have made sure to keep the N⋅Sane Trilogy true to the original PS1 Classic Crash Bandicoot and they have most certainly done the Naughty Dog Original series justice with this refreshed collection of the N⋅Sane Trilogy.

I won’t deny this, I will be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy because it’s so good! I will not be surprised if this trilogy sells just as well as the original PS1 Classics, because Crash Bandicoot was and still is a bestseller even to the present day, and the N⋅Sane Trilogy itself will do just the same, because Activision have made sure to keep this game original by making sure it captures the true heart of the original PS1 version of Crash Bandicoot that we all came to know and love.

This release date couldn’t have come at a much better time, as this trilogy releases exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

Are you just as excited as I am that Crash Bandicoot is finally back? If you are excited to see Crash Bandicoot come to the PlayStation 4 on the 30th June, then please let me know, I would love to hear what you think about the marsupial bandicoot making his comeback to PlayStation.

Also, if you want to be kept up-to-date on all things Crash Bandicoot, then please visit Crashy News by clicking here.

Alex Smithson

Relaxation

To set the tone of this article, I recommend Madonna’s True Blue to soothe the soul.

“…the sun is bursting right out of the sky…” – Madonna

After a relaxing day, despite doing the mock exam for GCSE Maths yesterday, I can honestly say I am not stressed, which is a first for me in a long time considering that I’ve been so focused on the coursework lately.

I was so relaxed after yesterday morning because I submitted all of my coursework on time for the Formative Assessment and I was able to sign-post which sketchbooks went with the coursework I produced and I wasn’t at all stressed.

The mock exam I did for GCSE Maths yesterday went really well and I wasn’t stressing myself over it at all but I answered the questions I could do that I already have a knowledge of and the questions I couldn’t do I decided to leave blank only for the sole purpose that I still need a little bit of help here and there on the questions I am not good at, but other than that, yesterday went really well.

How was yesterday for you? I would love to know. Please feel free to submit feedback below. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Beddington Park / Croydon School of Art / Curiosity / Self-Directed Project / 1.2.2017

Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park to photograph some of the scenery, and I also photographed some of the gravestones, given the names on some or most of the gravestones consisted of people who may have died a few years earlier, including those that may have died up to more than 100 years ago.

Of course, as I am continuously making sure to improve my photography skills every time I make a photographic collection, I like to make sure I can play around with my Nikon D3300 DSLR‘s camera features, as this can help me to produce a professional collection of photographs, so I made sure when I was at Beddington Park to try and photograph certain areas in and around the graveyard, especially the scenery and also the church.

It was freezing cold, but wasn’t raining when I took these photographs which was a relief for me, as I was able to produce this photographic collection to a much better standard than I expected, but I did make sure to change the ISO throughout producing this photographic collection as I wanted to make sure these photographs were full of clarity and also full of vibrant colour, so that they were presentable and professional enough to be a photographic collection.

As far as my photography skills go, I am pleased to say I have experimented more with the ISO, as this has helped me to produce this photographic collection of Beddington Park to the best standard where possible. I have acknowledge some of these photographs may be slightly darker than they should be, but it’s because I want for you to see how I’ve worked with the landscape, as well as to how I see Beddington Park generally.

Have you been to Beddington Park before? If you have, please let me know, I would love to hear your feedback, and if you haven’t been to Beddington Park before, don’t worry, as this photographic collection I have created of Beddington Park will give you an insight into what Beddington Park, not to mention the hindsight of the landscape.

Alex Smithson

© The Croydon College Logo & Croydon School of Art Logo are both copyright of Croydon College & Croydon School of Art. Permission has been granted for these logos to be used. No Copyright Infringement Intended.