Open House London 2017

Life isn’t all about opportunities to get to know London better. So once a year over 800 public and private buildings open their doors and I queue for a while to view some of them. Three weeks ago created a new spreadsheet in Google Docs and began working through the listings

My first suggestion for Open House London is that it MUST happen on more days of the year, over more weekends. I’m not necessarily an ‘architecture nut’, but I love some great architecture when I see it (I really like art deco and brutalist!). I don’t know anything about architecture, but I have some favourite buildings and often stop to to stare at a beautiful piece of architecture.

Open House is a wonderful annual event to get inside the most renowned, secret and brilliant buildings throughout all boroughs of London; the Shard, Royal Albert Hall, BT Tower, various TfL and unopened Crossrail stations to private houses that are considered architecturally interesting or unique.

This year I visited a small handful of buildings of various types: Billingsgate Roman House & Baths (history), Hidden House Chelsea (2011, Grand Designs), Portcullis House (Houses of Parliament, 2001), and most exciting, Battersea Powerstation — £10bn+ still in development.

Portcullis House

Billingsgate Roman House & Baths

Of course the most interesting venue to get to visit was the site of the Battersea Power Station development. Known to me from my teens as the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals, I quickly learned of it’s significance to the city and have a lot of affection towards the magnificent building. As soon as the building was added to the billing of the weekend event, I instantly completed the form to get a place on the tour. The £9bn development has properties ranging in price from £800,000 (1-bed) to £4m for a four-bed, and rumoured prices of £40m for the penthouses. A handful have been completed and some shop units are in place, at a hefty price for a coffee (I paid over £3 for an Americano!).

I’ve already added to my calendar the buildings and properties I need to apply for a ballot for in order to visit next year!

The Donald Trump Movement of Misinformation and Racism Must Not Be Our Future


To begin, I think Donald Trump and his ‘movement’ is one of the worst things to happen to the United States and the rest of the world. Like many of us, I’m scared, and it’s not an exaggeration. This man is a joke and a disaster and unfortunately the joke became a reality. Despite this, he gathered a large number of supporters throughout the world. To support Donald Trump is racist and ignorant.

I’ve recently concluded that the majority of Trump’s supporters do not look at all the facts in an objective and critical manner. In fact, they care so little about the facts and are simply willing to lap up his unintelligible rhetoric. Not caring about facts is literally the right-wing mantra of today, while the rest of us look at each other asking, “What the fuck is going on?!” Very little of what he says is true. This is a combination of not caring about the facts and ignoring them. Or, as has happened on a number of occasions, he will tell us after the fact that he was being sarcastic!

It’s difficult to continually preach to the converted. Those who should be listening choose to ignore. The active choice to ignore facts, or to employ simple critical thinking, is difficult to handle and I know some people who do this. I ask why, but there are no direct answers. “He’s going to make America great, build a wall and create jobs.” But can anyone tell me how?

Trump relies so heavily on footnotes, false starts, and flights of association, and because his digressions rarely hook back up with the main thought, the emotional terms take on added power. They become rays of clarity in an incoherent verbal miasma. — Slate, The Accidental Brilliance of Trump’s Speaking Style.

The Donald on the other hand is a polar opposite and it makes me angry that barely a week past during this long — very long — election campaign he said or did something completely incomprehensible, offensive and stupid. Often lapped up by his supporters; small but loyal and vocal. In fact much of his Instagram and Twitter following is largely bots, automatically posting Pepe memes and #crookedhillary take-downs. What many fail to recognise is that Trump is not a successful businessman: his companies have been declared bankrupt more than four times and when your supposed business acumen is what you hope to use to win over the public this should be seen as a bigger deal. Like a typical scam artist he had a fake university, a terrible ghost-written self-help book, airlines have failed, vodka failed, casinos and hotels failed, magazine, steaks, mortgages, among others. In researching, I’ve found he also attempted a vitamin pyramid scheme — just like the one John Oliver warns against this week.


And that’s not even getting into all that makes Trump a horrible human being. I would think long and hard before being closely tied with anyone who made excuses for his behaviour and supported his beliefs. Where to even begin? He has insulted a barage of people and nations, been accused of sexual mis-conduct too many times, He is a liar and brought out a dangrous

“I’ll tell you what you can help me with. When you’re talking about a self-confessed serial sex pest, who’s been bankrupted four times, insults the memory of dead soldiers and the memory of prisoners of war have stood as presidential candidates for their own party, mocks disabled people, describes Mexicans as rapists, immigrants as murderers and thinks that Apartheid should in some sense be reintroduced for all Muslims.” — James O’Brien of LBC Radio

The list goes on.
Here’s a list.

What is happening here is scary. A Trump win now would bring with it a destructive increases in systemic misogyny, racism and homophobia that would set society back many more years than any of us should be comfortable with.

The day is today. Hopefully we can keep moving forward.
Good luck.

One year in London

Moving to London was one of the most exciting things I’ve done. And still is.
Over a year later I’m still excited. To be living in one of the greatest cities in the world and be close to all that is happening. My calendar is always full and mailbox receives many newsletters of forthcoming events. On any given day I can go to events, talks and galleries. Sip craft beer and eat cupcakes and vintage American candy. Some days I do. After a 90min walk along the embankment there’s often nothing better than stopping for a beer in a courtyard to read angry tweets in a new location, IPA in hand.

Of course, most of the time I’m on the cramped Central Line at 6pm and have a lot to squeeze in before bed; dinner, catch up on a few TV shows or political commentary, edit photos, and do some writing. Finding the balance is definitely difficult and takes a lot of planning. And planning is something I do well. Oh, there are so many lists.

      1. London is very expensive.
        Like, incredibly unaffordable to almost everyone. I live in a very small apartment with my girlfriend, and while this is frustrating, there is not much to be done right now. We’ve still got a better deal than many others for the space we have. So we make the most of our space.There are daily stories of people being pushed out of the city and business moving elsewhere (more on Brexit another day), and yet here I am. And enjoying it immensely. That’s not to say that it isn’t difficult, but it’s worth it.
      2. There’s a lot going on.
        One of my favourite reads is Time Out magazine, followed by – both help me plan my weekends and occasional weekdays. Since moving to London I have literally lived for the weekend: A lie-in until 9am, leave the house by 1pm, return by midnight. This is the aim, sometimes it works out differently. But in a city of 8.674 million it’s not difficult to find something entertaining, educational or just alcohol-related.
      3. City infrastructure is amazing
        As someone who gets a mild thrill for modes of transport, there is no shortage of these in London. When there are no delays it’s a wonderful experience watching the city make the city run smoothly, moving millions of people between various points, covering miles and running 24hrs a day. It’s an incredible feat. I shouldn’t be so surprised, it’s just what happens, and it’s far from perfect. But it does work, and enables so many people to live, work and play.
      4. Time
        There is just not enough time. I could talk for days about how my life has been reduced to only a few, very structured, time-slots in which so much has to get done. Very little of what I would like to get done gets done. Plans are now set in 6-month forecasts.
      5. I like trains
        Trains are still fun, despite spending 1hr 20mins each day on a cramped, hot, train surrounded by smelly people, I’m still not bored of this mode of transport. The underground is a fascinating feat of engineering and quite the adrenaline rush when it feels like it’s going to come off the tracks due to violent judders and gravity-defying dips. The day I don’t turn my head at a speeding passing train will be a sad one.

        1. Good food and drink is everywhere.
          And it’s pretty it just takes work. Eating out is essential living roughly an hour from anywhere interesting. So finding the places that do good deals and special offers requires a bit of know-how and subscribing to many lists, deal-sites. The standard cluster* contains a lot of good food and


      1. Diversity
        The level of multiculturalism in london is far greater than I ever expected, with over 270 nationalities and many languages. This is such a large part of what makes London a great city with so much diversity and culture in the one place.

From the recent 2011 census 22 per cent — equivalent to just over 1.7 million people — speak a language other than English. Of these nearly 320,000 say that they cannot speak English well or at all. That figure will prompt renewed concern about the levels of integration of some overseas nationals.

The most striking revelation, however, is the scale of linguistic diversity. The Office for National Statistics, which compiled today’s figures, says that overall there are 53 “main” languages in the capital spoken by at least 0.1 per cent of residents.With it this brings almost every cuisine and there are so many I’ve yet to try. Each neighbourhood has a variety of national dishes on-hand, and there are numerous great food markets to taste the food on offer while walking around.

      1.  There is a lot of walking to be done
        It took me a very long time to learn that how to get anywhere in the city without looking at my favourite app (Citymapper) or Tube map. But I can now tell you that Shoreditch, leads to Liverpool Street which leads to the City of London and St Paul’s Cathedral, which leads to South Bank and the Globe Theatre, then back across the river for Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Picadilly. Then up to Soho and Oxford St and Regent St. Back down to Mayfair and Buck-Palace. Carry on West to Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Shepherd’s Bush and other places. I don’t know East London too well yet, but I’m working on it.I like walking. And exploring the city.

      1. Property is the only topic you will ever talk about
        You will always find yourself in the kitchen of a party in East London talking about the cost of rent and property prices. You will stare at your conversation partner intently, listening to every breath and they will continue saying, “This is really boring, but you look interested so I’ll continue.”Last month houses prices were down, this month they’re up.I’ve caught myself saying, “£1 million for this one – not bad,” then immediately taking a step back and questioning my own validity. In fact, it’s a regular conversation around: “How long should we live in London?” “Should we buy a house here?”Could we buy a house here?” “We’d be better off moving to Ireland” (thanks Brexit!), “Maybe Northern Ireland?” “I don’t want to live in Scotland,” (sorry Scotland!). This conversation normally ends with: “Well fuck this, we’re never going to buy a house here, it’s ridiculous!” And it is.

London is a great city and while I’m here I intend to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Thames Barrier

thames barrier

The Thames Barrier is the world’s second largest floor barrier, located downstream of central London (i.e. East London). Still quite a hike, but I relish an opportunity to get out to the other end of London from my home way out West. Opened in 1984 it spans 500m across the river and protects 125sq km (48sq miles) of London, including an estimated 1.25 million people, £200 billion worth of property and infrastructure, a large proportion of the London tube network and many historic buildings, power supplies, hospitals and schools.

The Environment Agency had a few tents on the Information Centre car park with demonstrations, models and maps. It all looked very impressive and I enjoyed my mini geek-out learning about a small but significant aspect of civil engineering that makes this city stay afloat.

In 2014/2015 the barrier was raised 50 times — each time preventing flooding of the London area.

At approximately 17:15 an announcement over the tannoy informed us that “The Thames Barrier will be lowered in 10 minutes”. And so it was. Slowly, with informative commentary we were told about each gate and the way in which they are lowered, or raised.

Start Over


I’ve been trying to start writing again for a few years now, but the final straw was when Vicky said she will start blogging when I do. And so here it is: my first blog post in two years. Through writing quite a lot over the years I hope my style has developed and matured. Blogging today is much different from when I started — back in the beginning I may have apologised for not writing for so long and debriefed my ‘readers’ on the events of the past few weeks.

In this case it’s been a few years and a lot has happened. So I’ll just jump right into it.
In the last week or so I’ve got photo processing and editing software in place, and worked out how to manage my images – and plenty of backups in place – backups and data loss has caused me a lot of pain in the last few months.

Consider this Chapter 2 (or 3 or 4). A fresh start with new ideas and perspectives. Born out of an absolute need for an outlet for various thoughts – and photographs. I want this to be a ‘journal’ of sorts. A cross between ‘lifestyle’ blog and ‘personal’ blog – touching primarily art, technology and politics – areas of life currently being experienced, and past experiences; following the next major life milestones.

Regular but not that often, with goals and objectives – and word count restraints. Time is limited, but the aim is to have a regular outlet for thoughts, ideas and photographs. More soon.