Happy Chappies in Real Nappies

I saw on Twitter that there was going to be a “#realnappyflashmob” meeting at The Betjeman Statue in St Pancras International Station at 11am today (Wednesday 11th December 2013) so I popped on down to find out more.

photoTurns out this was a gathering organised by Real Nappies for London – raising awareness of and encouraging take up for washable nappies. This is not something I had really given much thought about but there are some horrific stats:

  • The UK throws away 8 MILLION nappies a day into landfill
  • Nappies account for 4% of UK Household waste
  • A nappy for a new born will be changed up to 12 times a day
  • Household waste doubles when there is a newborn in the house; trebles if there are two

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But can re-usable, washable nappies actually be a viable alternative? Are they convenient? Apparently, you get used to the routines and they can be washed in a machine at normal 40degree temperature; Are they cost-effective? Yes, over the full months of use. Do they work? The kids seem happy, the parents seem convinced and they are quite a fashion accessory!

SLP_0180-X2And who knew that local councils offer incentive vouchers? and at least seven North London Boroughs have a scheme in place? (including Islington Council representatives (pictured at the gathering today right) and, thankfully, my borough, Camden). Apparently giving out over 11,600 vouchers since 2007 has saved 7,000 tonnes of disposable nappy waste and this saves London taxpayers £1M! Now you are talking my language as someone who lives and works in London but does not have any children…

I was impressed by the commitment of this group – evangelising without patronising, doing their bit to save the planet and practising what they preach. Here are a few more pics from the St Pancras part of the day: http://samlanephotography.smugmug.com/St-Pancras/Real-Nappies-for-London. Wishing you all the best!

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Find out more about the Go Real National Campaign or visit Real Nappies for London 

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Otto Schade

I first came across this artist during the three-week Tiger Tracks campaign in March for Savethewildtiger.org in conjunction with The Clinton Partnership, Born Free Foundation and hosted at St Pancras International Station.

His mixed media tiger image was on display in the station from 1st-21st March and was viewed, posed at and discussed by thousands of visitors, commuters and tourists throughout the month:

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I wanted to find out a little more about the man behind the art and started following him on Facebook and then discovered he had an exhibition in Hoxton.

Otto allowed me to take a photo of each of his displayed pieces ranging from the arty to the surreal, the comic to the thought-provoking… Whilst I could not quite afford an original there was an array of good value prints for sale – and here’s Otto posing with the one that will be on display in my flat.

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Keep an eye out for his work around East London too – including this piece on a wall nearby the gallery:

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Otto Schade

Bags of Love

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Love was in the air today when British Designer Jack French London unveiled the latest edition to his luxury handbag collection. The bag in question – called “St Pancras” was being “worn” by the lovely lady at the iconic Paul Day The Meeting Place statue in St Pancras International Station. VIP guests included an elusive Kate Moss who posed for a couple of photos but appeared troubled by the crowds and avoided most photographers (including me); singer Beverley Knight and model Jo Wood:

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The quilted burgundy design with gold chain and iconic blue brushed felt interior is a mere snip at £185 and available as a limited edition (of just 50) from the label’s pop up shop on the Grand Terrace.

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I particularly liked the gift bags which contained a complementary Jack French clutch bag and there were cup cakes a-plenty featuring the bag on top!

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More pics here (including tango dancers, string quartet, magicians, PR people and others)…

Bags of Love

Do I feel the love at St Pancras?

I wanted to find out what was happening in St Pancras International Station around his buddy St Valentine’s Day – were there special offers or standout displays helping me to Feel the Love?

I wandered from the bottom concourse to the Grand Terrace and into the Hotel to find out; and here is what I found:

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A definite sense of pink exuding from a number of shops such as Accessorize, Monsoon, Fat Face as well as Pink. Hearts and roses from the likes of Link. All a bit expected and nothing to particularly lure you in.

There are certainly roses a-plenty featuring on the Isla Flowers:

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And some of the “chains” did well with Marks and Spencers standing out their themed gifts and flowers:

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Paperchase is also an obvious beneficiary of the Valentine’s theme and featured a striking poster design in their window – quite impactful and stylish:

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For me the loveliest retail experience was hands down won by Neuhaus and their Valentine’s gift packaging. No special offers per se, but beautiful and enticing. Who wouldn’t love to get chocs from here? (HINT HINT!):

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I liked Oliver Bonas‘s window display which was subtle and fun:
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Foyle’s has a nice theme of love for their books from kids to Loving London:

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Neals Yard featured their Organic gifts – capitalising on a theme rather than a special offer.

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Sadly lacking were overt efforts from:

Eurostar – surely there is an obvioust theme of love linking two of the most Romantic cities in the world and departing from the most Romantic Station in the UK…?

Costa and Starbucks could have done something edibly lovely; maybe Vodafone could have made something about communicating with your loved ones; Boots might have done more than the hearts dangling from the ceiling telling you it is Valentine’s Day on 14th Feb…

That said, some retailers probably would struggle with the theme to be honest eg Fine Burger Company (two for one offer maybe?), The Currency Exchange (Money can’t buy you love) or Rolling Luggage (Love is a journey?), but hey, I am sure their time will come.

So what about the offers? Who is actually doing something a little bit different on Valentine’s Day that you would make an effort to visit. I found five places:

  • The Wine Pantry is offering 10% off all pink wines on Thursday.
  • Carluccios has a special 4-course menu for £25pp
  • The Gilbert Scott has a 3-course meal (3-7pm) for £35pp; 5-course meal (8-11pm) for £80pp.
  • Searcy’s Grand Brasserie is offering Romantic Meals for £48pp.
  • The Renaisance Marriot Hotel has “Romance Packages” for two people – but at £372 per night in the ‘normal rooms’ and £487 pn in the Chambers Club Suites, it may be a little OTT.

(The last three options are almost fully booked so hurry if you want in).

And there are more than just rumours about an exciting new pop-up shop due to open later today (Feb 14th) – Watch this space…

 

Do I feel the love at St Pancras?

Burger 4 – Admiral Codrington

Burger number four…The Admiral Codrington, 17 Mossop Street, London SW3 2LY

You can see the scoring criteria here.

The venue – 14/20

Essentially a British pub from the outside and one I would not normally have gone into. 

The service – 10/20

Staff a little bit disinterested. Possibly partly down to the timing – moving from Sunday lunch to Sunday dinner, they all seemed busy doing stuff and not really that interested in serving. The barman was good at making Bloody Marys which helped pass the time – we’d arrived early for a 6pm reservation. I did not like them serving a new couple before us and that I had to go and ask if we could eat at 6.15pm.

The burger – 27/30

Looked good, if a little small on the large plate. Served with chunky chips. The bun was excellent, meat cooked ‘medium’ as requested and piled with bits – from cheese and bacon to pickle and lettuce. Very pleasant and certainly the best of the lot so far this year. This place is clearly known for the excellence of the food and it’s the most expensive so far at £16 each!

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Quirkies – 3/10

  • Nothing really stood out
  • Although the Bloody Marys were very good – we had two each
  • The restaurant which featured a lot of fish imagery felt a little ill at ease with the main bar where some Irish chaps were singing rugger songs…

Will I come back factor? – 5/20

Probably not. Burger was best so far but did not warrant the effort of going there…

GRAND TOTAL SCORE: 59

Burger 4 – Admiral Codrington

Smiley Dame Sarah joins the Javelin Elite

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Southeastern Railway today (Wednesday 6th February 2013) unveiled their latest Javelin train – newly-named after 22-times Paralympic medalist Dame Sarah Storey.

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Dame Sarah, looking bonny in a striking white coat, arrived a few minutes later than planned, having crossed London in the rain, leaving travellers on the 16.40pm baffled as to why so many photographers and staff were at St Pancras International‘s Platform 13.

Sarah’s smiley signature is emblazoned on one engine and she was happy to pose next to it alongside a number of Southeastern drivers, on-train and HQ staff:

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Dashing to the front carriages after the official photo calls Dame Sarah and her entourage enjoyed a trip on the train – which left perfectly on time.

For more photos, click here.

Smiley Dame Sarah joins the Javelin Elite

Burger 3 – Liquor Meat Market

Burger number three…

You can see the scoring criteria here.

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The venue – 17/20

It was buzzing inside – really busy and full of people of all ages and mostly good-looking ones at that. About a 52/48 MF split;
and it was noticable that boys ran the bar and girls were in charge of the waitressing. Call it my age but going from daylight into darkness lit by red light at 2pm is a bit tricky to deal with and almost impossible for the clear viewing of the menu. Music was eclectic and enjoyable, if a little loud at times

The service – 16/20

We were greeted quickly and invited to wait at the bar – the place was heaving and we were not the only ones waiting. We had a rather nice Bloody Mary in ice-cold pint jars and were almost finished when called to our bench. A few minutes to get the order taken and possibly a little longer than I wanted for delivery. Clear up was swift and bill request had to be made but happened pretty quickly after that.

The burger – 25/30

Our burgers were brought out on a tray with paper – a bit disturbingly like a McD – and the fries were in an enamel bowl. The bun as a little greasy on touch and although the burger was nice it was not obvious how well it had been cooked – it felt a bit overcooked on the outside and yet juicy and tasty on the inside. Nice amount of dripping and not too much pickle to overwhelm the taste.

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Quirkies – 8/10

  • Loved the use of rolls of kitchen towl for napkins, there were hundreds on tables, at the bar and in a central “cage”
  • I could spend a day looking at the Decor in more detail. The paint, wording, street art and stencils were everywhere – loved this

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Will I come back factor? – 19/20

Yes – although possibly not during the day; and definitely with friends. It is an experience you don’t forget in a hurry and one more likely to be had in a US city than just off Oxford Street.

GRAND TOTAL SCORE: 85

Burger 3 – Liquor Meat Market