We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.
[H]aving trained as a librarian, Rachel worked as an information professional in the financial services industry for over 25 years, most recently as the Manager, Information Resources at a global insurance company. Her work was recognised at industry level having been awarded the Information Professional of the Year award in 2006 and in her professional organisation, SLA, being awarded the Membership Achievement Award in 2008.
Having a degree in Politics and Modern History her love of research has always been linked to social history in particular and being a Londoner born and bred, this led her to train as a guide, firstly as a City of London Guide, then as a Clerkenwell & Islington Guide and in 2004 she gained the Blue Badge for London, winning the prize for Best Written Paper.
Her tours and talks (Virtual Tours) cover a range of topics but often focussing on the ‘stories behind the buildings’.
When not working or guiding she is very much involved with her local independent cinema, The Phoenix, East Finchley, where she is a Trustee or sailing on the high seas as a guest lecturer on cruise ships.
Rachel has recently co-written a guide book, ‘Jewish London’, published in March 2012.
What’s your secret London tip?
I should not say this on CabbieBlog but my secret London tip is to walk walk walk and make sure you always nip into the alleyways and courtyards. Cabbies, forgive me!
What’s your secret London place?
One of my special places that is still fairly ‘secret’ is the Parkland Walk in north London along a disused railway line.
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Do I have to have a gripe? Yes, I think I am not allowed a Sorry Guv’nr reply. I think I would love to have one day a year with no traffic – the peace and quiet will make London a different place.
What’s your favourite building?
The Midland Grand Hotel at St. Pancras Station. It has been my favourite ever since I visited it for the first time. I love the exuberance of the decoration, the staircase, the colour scheme (which I have emulated in my own hallway !) and the wonderful evocation of the ‘upstairs downstairs’ feel of a large Victorian hotel.
What’s your most hated building?
Ooh err . . . I am not keen on the Egg otherwise known as the GLA head office. I try but to like it but it just seems to lie there like a big blob.
What’s the best view in London?
I like the view from the top the tower at Westminster Cathedral. It is a bit off centre and you can see for miles. That or from the top of Primrose Hill.
What’s your personal London landmark?
It has to be my beloved Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, north London. Not only is it one of the oldest cinemas in the country, built in 1910, it has only ever been a cinema and continues to be one, serving up the best of art and world films for its local community.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
How could I choose? There are so many but if you make me choose one it is Hue and Cry from 1947. It is the film that I believe, although I was only about 11 when I was first shown it, fostered my love of London and social history. A gem, an absolute gem.
What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I love to eat at either Rugoletta in East Finchley, a small Italian family run restaurant or not far down the road in Archway there is another small family run Italian restaurant, 500. Both are wonderful . . . but book before you turn up!
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
With good shoes on and a bottle of water the day typically starts with an idea to see this and that and go here and there but always seem to take a different path half way through. There is always something happening that takes you off your chosen plan. That is the glory of London – be flexible and follow your nose and you will always be surprised. The other thing that has to be included in my ideal day is to find a new patisserie and to experience a new chocolate brownie or cake and to end the day at the BFI Southbank. My spiritual home.