Saturday, 28 February 2015

London Spy 28:02:15 Our Weekly #London Review

It's our weekly London roundup starting with a few headlines that caught the eye in London this week, click the links for the full stories…

MORE ARCHITECTURE: Does London Have A "Fancy Bridge Fetish"? – CityLab

TRANSPORT: More Taxi Ranks For London – Evening Standard

THEATRE: Special Award For Kevin Spacey - Official London Theatre

FOOD: Gay Hussar For Sale – New York Times

MORE FOOD: What On Earth Is "Cakeage?" – British Baker Magazine

LONDON PETS: New Home for Underground Cat – ITV

POLITICS: The Politicians For Hire Scandal  – Daily Telegraph

Walking News

This week The Guardian published an excellent piece posing the vexed question: who owns the banks of the River Thames?

"The Thames Path, which gained official National Trail status in 1989, is a 213-mile pedestrian route from the river’s source to the Thames Barrier that takes in some of Britain’s most iconic sites along the way. Sixty miles of the trail run through London, on both the north and south bank of the capital’s most famous waterway; Transport for London classifies this stretch as one of the most important pedestrian thoroughfares in the capital, and in 2013 Lonely Planet declared it to be among the finest urban walks on Earth.

In the centre of town it is possible, in many places, to stroll uninterrupted by the Thames and enjoy green parks, comfortable benches and vibrant cultural institutions along the way. Elsewhere though, the path bears more resemblance to a high-security prison corridor than a public right of way: gates, spikes and CCTV warning notices stand sentinel over fragmented patches of riverside that start and end abruptly, and whose access rights are shrouded in a veil of bureaucratic obscurity…"

Read the full story HERE:

If You Do One OTHER Thing In London This Week…

Our weekly slot in which we point you in the direction of other great happenings and events in our great city. A new exhibition, a gig, a museum, a pop-up-shop – the best of London within a few minutes of a London Walks walking tour.

Our advice this week is: 'Ave a cuppa tea… at Twinings Tea Shop & Museum, 216 The Strand. (We'll be visiting Twinings on the next part of our London Museums Podcast.)

Here's what they've got to say for themselves on the Twinings blog:

In a time when coffee was king, one man, Thomas Twining, went against the tide to share his love of tea. His passion turned a little-known drink into the nation’s favourite hot beverage.

For us, tea is more than just a drink. It's been part of our daily lives and that of generations of tea lovers for over 300 years.

Our story started in 1706. Back then, the most popular drinks in England were coffee, gin and ale - even at breakfast! Although tea had been drunk in China for thousands of years, it had only just been imported to England, and lots of people were suspicious of it.

Opening Times…

Monday - Friday  9.30 am to 7.30 pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 10.30am to 4.30pm

The London Walks Podcast

This month our London Walks Podcast covers London Museums. Here's Part Two, with part three going live later…

London Story Of The Week

Our favourite story this week came from The Evening Standard, telling of four-year-old Londoner Mimi who lost her beloved soft toy Bunny on the 436 bus.

"A mother today praised London transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy after he personally led the hunt to track down a toy bunny rabbit her daughter lost on a bus.

Alex Mannion, 36, said she was “so grateful” to Sir Peter for helping to reunite her four-year-old Mimi with the soft toy that she calls Bunny.

The Transport for London boss intervened after BBC London radio presenter Eddie Nestor broadcast Ms Mannion’s emailed appeal while he was in the studio for a regular phone-in."

Read the full story HERE:

It reminded us of our own version of this tale, concerning Isobella (then three years old) daughter of Daily Constitutional Editor Adam and London Walks guide Karen. It was first published on the 23rd March 2011 and subsequently picked up by East Finchley's local newspaper The Archer

Here, we're reblogging that post in its entirety…

We’re hailing the people that keep our Underground stations going – the non-driving staff of the Underground. In particular, we’re saluting the good folk at East Finchley Station (although the sentiment applies right across the network). Here’s East Finchley station’s most famous detail…

And here’s MooMoo…

MooMoo is the principal character in our story – a melodrama, with a happy ending, in which we prove that both London and the blogosphere needn't be such angry places after all.

MooMoo is the favourite toy of Isobella, the three-year-old daughter of London Walks guides Karen and Adam. MooMoo goes everywhere with Isobella. As you can plainly see…

Isobella without MooMoo is like Pie with no Mash. Elephant sans Castle. Wills with no Kate. Unthinkable.

Last Sunday, however, on the return journey from seeing mummy do her Royal Wedding Walk, Isobella left MooMoo on the train…

(If Isobella could interject, she would probably pick this point to do so. And she would point out that it was in fact her idiot father who was responsible for this atrocity and that both Isobella and MooMoo remain unimpeachable in this catalogue of neglect and near-disaster.)

It was only as the doors closed, leaving us on the platform, that we noticed that MooMoo was heading toward the wilds of High Barnet. Alone.

Tears ensued. Tears the size of flashbulbs.

Isobella was crying, too.

As we approached the station staff to see if anything could be done, my cynical Londoner’s inner voice kicked in. It’s futile. They’re busy people. They won’t want to know.

How wrong I was.

The station supervisor Derek sprang into action. We followed him to the office. “What carriage were you in?” he asked. We told him we were in the front carriage.

In the office, he called ahead to Finchley Central. But as he did, a light on his computer screen went from red to green.

“Ah!” he exclaimed in exasperation. “See that?”

He pointed to the green light on his screen.

“That’s a green signal at Finchley Central. The train’s on the move. We’re too late.”

Our hearts sank. Hitchcock couldn’t even aspire to such dramatic tension.

Derek made another call, this time to West Finchley, where he informed the station of MooMoo’s plight.

“Well try to get MooMoo at West Finchley,” he informed Isobella.

The wait was an anxious one – although my mood was lightened by the fact that Derek was now calling MooMoo by her first name.

When the phone finally rang, it was Peter at West Finchley station. MooMoo was saved and waiting for us in the safety of the ticket office! A short trip to West Finchley station and an emotional platform scene to rival anything out of Brief Encounter – and our melodrama was over.

We’ll never forget the day that we lost MooMoo.

And I doubt that this one tiny vignette was a one-off that day.

I’m willing to bet that if Derek’s computer screen had an animated diagram of the similar small acts of kindness that took place all over the network, then it would have been flashing like the sky on Guy Fawkes night.

Okay, there are grumpy and intransigent LU staff, too, of course there are. All Londoners have got a tale to tell on that front. But the good grace with which the Good Guys perform their everyday tasks shouldn’t go unnoticed just because of the growly ones.

Big thanks to Derek and Peter and all the great folk we met that day on the Northern Line. London’s finest and no mistake.

(P.S. Our Open Letter to the Drivers on the Northern Line covers a similar topic – you can read that HERE.)

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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