Fancy a bit of Bond?

It’s 50 years since Ian Fleming‘s Bond novels hit the screen (with Dr No) and London is going a little Bond-crazy.

For instance, ever fancied buying Daniel Craig‘s swimming shorts from his first movie? 


Or maybe his Omega watch as worn in Quantum of Solace?


Well, these and many more items (see more here) are available to you for a few quid. Christies has an online auction running until 8th October. And proceeds go towards some great charities…

Must say though – cop out by Harrods just doing promo posters in their windows… missed opportunity (or not enough budget..?):


Fancy a bit of Bond?

A little gallery with a fantastic Aura

There are some fantastic “secret” spaces around St P and my favourite place today is the Hardy Tree Gallery which is housed in an old railway arch just next to St Pancras International station.

I have walked past a few times and never dared to go in, but inspired by a recommendation from the Framing Emporium just a few doors up, I ventured in and met an incredibly talented photographic artist called Susanna Thornton and take a look at her exhibition collection: Aura. I was really interested in looking at her work, asking about her inspiraiton, her techniques and her background. You can read more about her on her website

This was a strong reminder to me that I really need to find my niche and stop being such a generalist as that does not sell; but also don’t be discouraged by negativity or “no, you can’t people”.

Thanks for the inspiration.

The exhibition only runs until the end September – so hurry if you want to get there… 

A little gallery with a fantastic Aura

Canteen TfL-style

There was a pop-up canteen at the Old Sorting Office off Holborn from 19-23rd September 2012.

Part of the London Design Festival, TfL delved into its catering archives and teamed up with London restaurant group Canteen and furniture brands Very Good & Proper and Modus

I can vouch for the bacon butty being lovely. And I am told the pie and mash was pretty good too…


Canteen TfL-style

Sewage Treatment Works

Not your average day out, but Open House London held a ballot so mere mortals could get into see places not normally open to the public. And we chose this…

In the autumnal torrential rain we headed off to Barking, then onto Beckton Sewage Treatment Works run by Thames Water. This enormous site which was – amazingly – created in the 1860s now deals with nearly half of London’s sewage (from around 3.4 million people, mainly from North London. Nice, that includes my waste).

We got a mini bus tour of the site – around 40 football pitches in size and taking us on the journey from pipes (of poo) in to pipes (of clean water) out.

We saw (and smelt) the beginningcrusher at work – sorting out the “solids” we flush down the loo (alongside stuff we shouldn’t) –  we were given gel hand wash before we got back into the bus.


We heard about the filtering processes, how various processes clear out the sludge and grit; aerate the “liqor” in huge concrete tanks; and scrape off the sludge to be incinerated to provide power. 


After several processes the effluent of cleaned water then gets back into the Thames. Reassuringly there were plenty of ducks, geese and seagulls floating around the final stages – so it cannot be that bad.

There is a massive upgrade happening all over the site – all part of Thames Water’s London Tideway Tunnels programme and is made up of three major schemes: the £600M Lee Tunnel project, the proposed Thames Tunnel and a £675M investment to improve London’s five principal sewage treatment works including Mogden, Crossness, Long Reach and Riverside.

This will enable them to fully treat 60% more sewage arriving at the site during heavy rainfall, and allow for a 10 per cent population increase until 2021. Plus they are putting odour-blocking covers over all 16 primary settlement tanks at the plant – an area the size of ten football pitches.

We also got some insight into Busy Lizzie – the amazing boring machine for the Lee Tunnel which will ultimately handle millions more cubic meters of sewage from London. Fascinating to hear about what was involved in getting the tunnel started…


It leaves you in awe of the engineering world relating to something we simply take for granted. Shame about the rain, but guess it all helps flush out the bad stuff!

See more pics on flickr.

PS I could not help thinking it was rather ironic that the free water vending machine at the Thames Water security hut was Out of Order!



Sewage Treatment Works

Fire Brigade Museum

Open House London celebrated it’s 20th anniversary this year and even more London buildings and places were opened to the public for the weekend 22-23rd September.


My Saturday treat was a trip to the Fire Brigade Museum in Borough, home of London Fire Brigade’s Southwark Training Centre. And added to that I had my personal guide: Jaime Graham. Jaime trained as a “Fire Bucket” at the colleage before postings to Belsize and Clerkenwell to name but two of the stations in his 15 years of service. He attended Moorgate tube crash in 1975 and was also one of the many saving Alexander Palace during the Jazz Festival Fire in 1980 and had many more tales to tell.


Jaime trained here in the 70s and we managed to get permission from the security guard to take a look around the training yard which was not an official part of the Museum. From there I got the full details about where and how the squads trained and worked. We talked about the towers and how they used to be scaled by ladders which were pulled up, hooked over, climbed and then pulled up again. The buildings are largely in tact with a couple of ugly modern clocks on the wall. 


There are a few walled up doors and windows, the original smoke tunnel has now been filled in and the training rooms taken over by the outsourced training company babcock. The modern-day fire engines in teh yard were covered in gadgets and switches and we talked about pressures for hoses, the ease of getting the ladders up and down etc. Fascinating stuff.

The actual museum is in Winchester House which was once the residence of the first Chief Officer of the London Metropolitan Brigade (now the London Fire Brigade) in the 1870s. Here lived Eyre Massey Shaw a rather interesting looking chap if the Vanity Fair cartoon is at all realistic. He was responsible for modernising the LFB.


The museum is divided into different eras starting with the Great Fire of London and travelling through to modern day. You see suits, helmets, axes, boots, photos and pictures, along with models and gadgets and the odd melted household appliance.

I was particularly interested in the breathing apparatus which were state-of-the-art in their day as well as heavy, cumbersome and actually rather dangerous with their caustic soda contents! 

Entry is usually £5 for Adults, £3 for kids and well worth a trip if you are looking for an interesting day out – even though you are unlikely to have a personal guide like Jaime on hand. But hurry, the building and land is likely to be sold off in the near future…

See more pics on flickr.


Fire Brigade Museum

Apple Mania

I was at a meeting in central London on Friday which fundamentally meant I just had to take a quick look at the queue for the new iPhone 5 at the Apple Store in Covent Garden. And I was not disappointed. The queue, which had apparently gone down somewhat since the store opened several hours before, was huge and going round at least two sides of CG.


I just don’t get it. Why would you queue up for a phone when you can just get one sent to your house? If you actually wanted to of course…


Apple Mania