Tag Archives: The Grill

The London Grill: Jennifer El Gammal

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Jennifer is a musician, magician and award-winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. A bit dreamy, often happy, always hungry for new experiences, new encounters, new adventures… Originally from Belgium, she fell in love with London on her first visit at the age of 15 and never looked back! She designed the London Magic Tour (www.londonmagictour.com), a walk about the real history of magic from medieval witches and alchemists to tales of great illusionists past and present, interspersed with magic tricks. As a musician, she regularly performs with her duo “One Voice, One Cello & A Mad Belgian” (www.onevoiceonecelloandamadbelgian.com), where she sings and plays soprano saxophone and melodeon. You can contact her at her website (www.amadbelgian.org).

What’s your secret London tip?

Don’t be afraid of getting lost! London is wonderfully full of hidden gems, mysterious alleyways and secret courtyards only accessible to those who explore. So be curious and adventurous, and don’t be afraid to get lost: that’s when the interesting discoveries occur!

What’s your secret London place?

Temple, just off the Strand. It’s only a minute away from the hustle bustle of modern London but you feel transported in another world, beautiful, quiet and just mysterious enough. For a second, you can feel you’ve travelled in time!

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

There are too many cars! Despite the very efficient public transport system, too many people drive into town on their own, which creates traffic jam, pollution, accidents and makes life harder for pedestrians, cyclists, busses… and cab drivers!

What’s your favourite building?

The London Library, a stunning place made up of four separate buildings. Tucked away on the corner of St James’s square, with books from floor to ceiling and large desk spaces for members to work on, it is a place of inspiration and talent which never ceases to amaze me. It is full of interesting (and quirky) characters, too!

What’s your most hated building?

Centre Point, this tall tower that looms over Tottenham Court Road Station, creating wind tunnels and overpowering smaller nearby landmarks such as St Giles’s Church and Denmark Street.

What’s the best view in London?

The Thames at night, from a bridge or, even better, from a boat! Go through central London on the Thames Clipper at dusk, you will fall in love with it all over again.

What’s your personal London landmark?

The Houses of Parliament and its incredibly detailed and intricate Victorian Gothic architecture. The best way to admire it in full is from the other side of the river. I have known it for years yet I am still in awe each time I cycle past it — especially when it is beautifully lit at night.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

John Lanchester’s Capital. A London-based novel that spans an incredibly large range of characters and gives a real sense of London seen from a multitude of different perspectives. Beautifully written, it shows the human side of London: a great read to accompany your discovery of its history and architecture!

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

Bar Italia, in Soho. Just opposite the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Bar Italia is a Soho institution, usually open until 5am. The best late-night coffee in town and a true part of London’s history, I love how unassuming it is, whilst still providing very high-quality coffee and Italian treats?

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Wandering around Soho, its hidden alleyways and ever-changing range of cafes and shops. Then I would pop by the Harp pub for a good beer and a chat with the regulars, before going to see a show, maybe a good old-fashioned musical with a lot of happy, cheesy songs and good tap. And I would end the night at the Phoenix Artists Club for good music and interesting encounters before cycling back home.

The London Grill: Elizabeth Steynor

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.


Elizabeth is a London street name geek, and, after working near Bleeding Heart Yard, has spent decades exploring London’s streets and writing articles and a blog about the stories behind the city’s street names. She hopes one day to turn her hobby into a book. You can read her blog at www.thestreetnames.com.

What’s your secret London tip?

Get lost. Literally. That’s the best and most exciting way to discover London. Walk aimlessly, and remember to look up occasionally and stop to read any plaques, blue or otherwise. If you get tired, jump on a bus for a while.

What’s your secret London place?

When I first visited London I ‘discovered’ Sir John Soane’s museum. It’s not really secret anymore but back then there was rarely anyone else when I visited it. However many times I go there, I find something new to admire.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

London suffers somewhat now from being too ‘touristy’ so that it is in danger of losing its individual charm and becoming just another homogenised big city.

What’s your favourite building?

St Paul’s Cathedral never ceases to make me stop to pause for breath and look at it. It is such an iconic sight; to me is the one image that says, emphatically, ‘I am London’.

What’s your most hated building?

The London Eye. I enjoyed riding in it when it first opened but I secretly resented the fact that it began to replace buildings like St Paul’s and Tower Bridge as the face of London.

What’s the best view in London?

The view from the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie building. Spectacular, panoramic views of London while you’re cocooned in lush greenery. And there is also the option of a cocktail.

What’s your personal London landmark?

Battersea Power Station. I lived nearby many years ago when it was still closed and unused and it always said ‘home’ to me. I thought it would have been great to have a flat in a corner of it.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I like the way that Guy Ritchie makes London one of the characters in the film. Most of his films, in fact.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

Any family-run, Italian restaurant that is tucked away in a little side street and serves good minestrone and a nice house red wine.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Getting lost (see question 1). Walking, hopping on and off buses at random and wandering into museums or street markets along the way, stopping periodically at a café or pub. The geek in me would make a note of new and interesting street names and research them when I got home.

The London Grill: Charley Harrison

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

 

Charley is a London tour guide, life-long Londoner and founder of Totally Tailored – an award-winning private tour company providing premium experiences in the UK (and soon the rest of Europe!). Once a week she Live-streams a tour from the top of a different London public bus. To keep up to date with this, join the private Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/livefromalondonbus

What’s your secret London tip?

Get to know London’s public buses – the best way to see the city is from the top deck.

What’s your secret London place?

Octavia’s Hill’s garden (Redcross Gardens in Borough).

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

That so many people have to work such long hours to live here.

What’s your favourite building?

The Tower of London – 1,000 years of history and still standing!

What’s your most hated building?

Strata Tower, Elephant and Castle. The three wind turbines at the top were intended to power the building. However, due to a fault (too noisy), they have never been switched on. An example of Green-washing (green credentials that are just for show and do nothing to help).

What’s the best view in London?

From the Duck and Waffle Restaurant, Heron Tower at night.

What’s your personal London landmark?

I have a favourite piece of Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art on Millenium Bridge. It’s St Pauls’ and the bridge in miniature.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Craig Taylor’s Londoners each chapter is from the perspective of a different Londoner, from a dominatrix to an Oligarch. It really sums up the diverse people that make this city.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

Jumi – Iraqi food stall, now do seated evening meals within Borough Market. Great people, great food, great atmosphere.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Cycling to a new cafe to people-watching in a residential area I’ve not been to before. Jumping on a friend’s canal boat from Camden, doing a few locks, jumping off a local park to feed the birds (parroquets if we’re lucky). Posh dinner at Annabel’s or the Duck and Waffle before a film at an independent cinema like Notting Hill’s Electric or Bermondsey’s Kino. Cycle home via my local pub for a swift hello and pint.

 

The London Grill: John Kennedy

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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

[W]ell known for his campaigning on London cab issues, John Kennedy was a regular contributor on the late Big George’s BBC London Radio evening show. He has recently become an urban trainspotter, seeking out the myriad of London’s bollards some over 200 years old, and featuring them on his website, and has recently been featured in Time Out’s blog.

What’s your secret London tip?

Always use a licensed London taxi-cab.

What’s your secret London place?

The benches built into Hammersmith Bridge, take a close look next time you cross.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

The failure and huge cost of Transport for London. I honestly think this company is not needed nor required. Each part of London’s transport infrastructure has its own management structure.

What’s your favourite building?

The Palace of Westminster, the Gasworks . . .

What’s your most hated building?

My most hated building is City Hall, it sums up the London Government. You go round and round in circles yet never end up where you want to be.

What’s the best view in London?

The roof of Bush House, I was lucky enough to be invited up there on New Years Eve by BBC World Service, the fireworks were fantastic.

What’s your personal London landmark?

It must be the bollards in the City of London.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

The Long Good Friday is my favourite film, I like to read non fiction and presently I’m reading about our constitution.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

My favourite pub is the Crown & Greyhound (the dog) in Dulwich Village SE21.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

My ideal day off in London would be just walking around Regent’s Park with my wire haired fox terriers . . .

The London Grill: Sean Patterson

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.

Sean-Patterson

[S]EAN PATTERSON is an actor and walking tour guide who has lived in London for 35 years. His specialist walks examine Victorian philanthropist Charles Booth’s famous poverty maps, and Sean includes loads of historic and contemporary readings too. He moved to the riverfront at Deptford two years ago and loves to row a Thames Cutter all year round.

What’s your secret London tip?
When not in a cab, ride on the top deck of a bus. Many streets that look dull at ground level, like Tottenham Court Road, look great higher up.

What’s your secret London place?
The bottom of Back Hill in Clerkenwell. You can clearly hear The Fleet River flowing below the drain in the middle of the road.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Late and cancelled trains!

What’s your favourite building?
The BT Tower, or Post Office Tower as I continue to call it. When I was a kid I assumed all buildings would be like that in the future, but it remains unique.

What’s your most hated building?
The Walkie Talkie. It’s overbearing.

What’s the best view in London?
The view from the terrace of my flat on the river in Deptford. City skyline to the west, Dome straight ahead and Greenwich to the right.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The Cutty Sark.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
The London Nobody Knows narrated by James Mason. My God London was awful in the sixties.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Dog and Bell pub which is my local in Prince St Deptford. It’s old-fashioned without being old-Manish, the atmosphere is great and the beer suburb. It’s got more CAMRA awards than practically anywhere.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
On the river. I’m part owner of a Thames Cutter so we’d row down to the Thames Barrier and maybe stop for lunch at The Gun on the way back to Deptford.