Tag Archives: Guest posting

Anglia & Angst

Recently one of East-Anglia’s most prolific bloggers was good enough to publish an extract from Pootling around London.

BeetleyPete started blogging only 6 years ago, but in that short time has developed a strong following, many of who are prepared to spend their time writing comments.

My contribution to Pete’s site has 19 comments alone.

[A] HUGE NUMBER, at CabbieBlog getting that number of comments in a month would be remarkable. Check out BeetleyPete for his output of thoughts, opinions and general interest posts. Also, next month on CabbieBlog Pete is subjected to a London Grill.

. . . And Angst

For nearly 10 years, twice a week I’ve written about London. Come rain or shine these nuggets have appeared on Tuesdays and Fridays. Unfortunately recently I have sustained an injury making it difficult to write. With the NHS in crisis, I cannot in all confidence anticipate when I’ll be able to write over 1,000 words a week.

Much as I dislike discussing health problems, we men are always reluctant to talk of such matters, I feel that I owe it to you, dear reader, to keep you informed.

For the foreseeable future, some posts will be regurgitated material from past years. Newer followers will have the advantage of perusing these posts for the first time. For more seasoned devotees of CabbieBlog, a small reminder will appear signifying the original date of publication.

Those of you who have generously committed to supporting CabbieBlog via Patreon, I’m hoping still to publish Pootling around London twice a month.

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to support CabbieBlog and hopefully, we’ll be back on road in the not too distant future.


Would you Adam and Eve it?

Rhyming slang is meant to be confusing!
English rhyming slang, like pretty much all forms of street dialect the world over, has a long and storied history with somewhat murky and debated origins. Various linguistic scholars and social historians have suggested that it perhaps originated (as many of these dialects do) among certain elements of the criminal fraternity, most likely as an attempt to cloud the waters for any eavesdropping lawmen.

[I]n practice though, it quickly went on to achieve a much more widespread use and appeal, as we’ll see. The specific variety most associated with London, needless to say, is commonly referred to as cockney rhyming slang. However, it’s worth noting that rhyming slang’s popularity increased very rapidly during its Victorian heyday, and soon outgrew the specific areas of East London that would qualify it as strictly a ‘cockney’ phenomenon. Throughout the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, it was used fairly widely in working class communities all over the city, and even far beyond: today, of course, you could mention your ‘trouble and strife’ in conversation with a northern English speaker, or tell a Scot you were going up the ‘apples and pears’, and they’d barely bat an eyelid.

In many ways, this widespread understanding of rhyming slang these days could be considered a bit of a failure. Because, aside from those somewhat debatable criminal origins, one thing scholars have always agreed it did set out to do was serve as an identifying ‘badge’ for locals and those in the know. Again, like all street dialects – from the smoggy Victorian streets of Seven Dials, to the hillside favelas of Rio and the cobbled backstreets of post-war Palermo – one of its key purposes was always to confound and isolate outsiders. Fluency meant you were very much an insider, and thus more likely to be seen as trustworthy or sympathetic by your peers.

Ultimately, this is the very reason why these sorts of dialects are constantly evolving to this day, and why they’ll always continue to do so for as long as any occasional speakers of the dialect remain. Rhyming slang, as anyone who’s spent more than a few years in London will tell you, is particularly tricky to stay entirely ahead of the curve with: on any day of the week, you’re liable to encounter a baffling new phrase that takes a good few seconds to translate (if you manage it at all).

Everyone knows the old classics like the ‘dog and bone’ and the ‘butcher’s hook’, which is why, thanks to their occasional usage all around the UK, they now ultimately fail in the one purpose that they were originally coined to serve. They’ve entered the popular jargon; they immediately give us a feeling of nostalgia and tradition that’s sort of comforting. Conversely, much more modern examples of rhyming slang – perhaps ‘Britney Spears (tears) or ‘Wallace and Gromit’ (vomit) – certainly don’t have the same ring of cosy familiarity about them…and that’s exactly why they’re still being created and used today.

To give yourself a fighting chance of understanding some of the newer ones, check out this fairly extensive guide to common rhyming slang phrases both traditional and 21st century. (Just remember that, by the time you’ve read it, you’ll already be slightly out of date.) Moreover, if you do find yourself confused by it on a regular basis, you’re definitely not alone: in fact, a recent Museum of London survey found that a majority of lifelong Londoners don’t have a Scooby Doo what they’re hearing either. Happy rhyming!

CabbieBlog-cabThis is not a sponsored post. The author has kindly written this Guest Post for CabbieBlog. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

Outdoor Play the London Way – 4 of London’s Best Royal Parks

There’s no hiding from the facts – outdoor play is essential for your child’s health and development. Health pundits and child development experts up and down the country are ramping up the pressure on parents to get kids away from screens and out into the fresh air, and any park ticks all the boxes.

Whether you’re living in London, taking a day trip to one of London’s impressive museums or visiting London’s West End for a theatre show, scheduling in a bit of kids’ outdoor play could prevent your day turning into a family nightmare. A little bit of fresh air and exercise for the children might be just the ticket to make the rest of your day run a little more smoothly. What’s more, if your kids are old enough, you get to sit back and relax with a coffee, while they do all the running around.

[L]ondon has some amazing parks and playgrounds on offer. If you’re planning a trip to London, check out the park nearest to your destination and factor in some time for outdoor play. Or if you live in London, you can always give your regular park a rest for the day and explore one of London’s best Royal Parks. Making a day of it with friends and taking a picnic makes a simple, but fun day out.

We’ve picked the best bits of four of London’s most famous Royal Parks, along with playground info and transport links, to help you make the most of your family day out.

St James’s Park


If you’re in London visiting Buckingham Palace, Westminster or the Imperial War Museum, then it would be rude not to nip into St James’s Park. Highlights include Horse Guards Parade (a trip to this part of London wouldn’t be complete without catching the Changing of the Guard ceremony), the Blue Bridge spanning the lake, the Tiffany Fountain and the park’s famous resident pelicans at Duck Island. You might catch feeding time in the afternoon if you’re lucky. The park has a restaurant and various kiosks to keep your caffeine levels up and the kids’ hunger pains at bay. Closest tube stations are Westminster and St James’s Park.

The Regents Park


What’s not to love about Regent’s Park? A trip to London Zoo or Madame Tussauds can be rounded off with a wander in the Park. Boasting the largest outdoor sports facility in London, there are plenty of open spaces for ball games, Frisbee or even a game of rounders. You might like to check out the magical Open Air Theatre, which runs some shows suitable for kids over the summer months (you’ll need to book in advance). There are no less than four children’s playgrounds, as well as boat and pedalo hire on the main lake. There are plenty of food and drink options too. The central eatery will give grown-ups a chance to wander through Queen Mary’s Gardens showing off London’s largest collection of Roses. Baker Street and Regent’s park tube stations will take you south side. The Zoo, situated at the north east side of the park, is within walking distance of both Camden and Regent’s park tube stations.

Hyde Park


There are three playgrounds in Hyde Park, with the largest one nestled on the southern boundary (handy if you’re in London exploring the Natural History Museum, The Science Museum or taking a trip to Harrods). Recently updated, the playground features a new hill fort, a jungle area and new play equipment to encourage socially active play. Also, check out regular events such as the Royal Gun Salutes and Winter Wonderland (Christmas time attraction with ice-skating, circus, fun fair and a giant big wheel). The boating lake has traditional rowing and pedal boats for hire, plus the UK’s first Solar powered shuttle boat. There are a variety of cafes and restaurants, and the closest transport link to the playground area is Knightsbridge tube station.

Greenwich Park


A must if you’re south of the river visiting the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark. The park itself boasts the Royal Observatory Greenwich and The Meridian Line (no childhood is complete without standing one foot either side of Longitude Zero). It’s a hilly park so it’s a great way to wear the kids out by marching them up to the observatory, where there’s also a café. In addition, there’s a deer park with viewing points. The playground is set at the bottom of the hill in north-east corner of the park, next to a small boating lake. The closest transport link to the playground area is Maze Hill railway station, but the park is also within walking distance of Greenwich railway station and the Cutty Sark DLR.

Have a great day out!

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working with Harmony at Home, an agency that is proud to count many of the UK’s most experienced, reliable and professional nannies and childcare providers on their books.

Featured image: At a scenic duck pond in Central London near Buckingham Palace are some unusual residents — the famous pelicans of St. James Park, living thousands of miles from their usual habitat DG Jones (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
St James’s Park Neil Howard used under Creative Commons license
Hyde Park Gary Rogers (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory Greenwich and National Maritime Museum in the Snow © moleitau (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

CabbieBlog-cabThis is a sponsored guest post for which CabbieBlog has received a fee. Proceeds from these articles help keep the wheels turning on this site offering free content for anybody with an interest in London. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

Art Deco in London

Art Deco is definitive style movement that spanned the early part of the 20th century and reached its peak in the boom of the Roaring 1920s and the depression of the 1930s.

The name comes from the French Arts Décoratifs which in turn originated from the great 1925 Paris exhibition, the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes.

[A]rt Deco had a huge influence on all forms of design over the period – from fashion to film, from decorative arts to building design. Spanning the globe, the movement was unique and unashamedly modern. Some of the most incredible Art Deco architecture in the world can be found in London, and I’d like to share five of the capital’s best loved buildings.



If there’s an Art Deco jewel in the crown it has to be Claridge’s hotel. This beautifully designed building of the 1920s still has many of its original features and is one of the most stylish art deco buildings anywhere in the world. Its sweeping curves and bold lines give Claridge’s the unmistakable air of timeless elegance.

During the late 1920s, Claridge’s needed to modernise to keep up with the young wealthy set who dined, danced and champagne’d their way through the night there. Art Deco pioneer Basil Lonides was commissioned to redesign a few of the hotel’s suites as well as their restaurant. His magnificent engraved glass screens still adorn the restaurant today.

In 1996, Claridge’s underwent a major refurbishment and design restoration. New York based designer Thierry Despont, inspired by photographs from 1920s, reinvented the foyer area into modern Art Deco style – his centrepiece was the incredibly beautiful, up-to-the minute Dale Chihuly chandelier. David Collins was then commissioned to create the new Claridge’s Bar and in so doing helped the hotel step into the 21st century in a dramatically modern Art Deco way.


The Carreras Cigarette Factory

This extraordinarily massive Art Deco building in Camden, North London, originally built as a factory, is a striking example of early 20th century Egyptian Revival architecture. The building is 550 feet long, and is mainly white. Originally, the entrance was flanked by two enormous effigies of black cats but these were lost when the building was converted into offices in 1961. However, they were replaced during renovations in the late 1990s and can now again be seen outside the entrance.


Battersea Power Station

This iconic former power station, best known for its four-chimney layout, is one of the largest brick buildings in the world and has become one of London’s best-known landmarks. Its celebrity status was established after its appearance in the 1965 Beatles’ film Help!, and it also featured on the cover Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals.

Battersea Power Station is notable for its sumptuous Art Deco interior decor and fittings. Some of the interior walls are lined with grey Ribbon Napoleon marble and there’s Belgian Black marble fluting around the windows. Some of the ceilings still have the original Holophane light fittings and the interior also retains its original L-shaped control panel and walnut veneer furniture.

Largely unused since its closure in 1983, Battersea Power Station’s condition deteriorated to the point that English Heritage described it as ‘very bad’. However, as part of its redevelopment, luxury apartments are now being built. Two-bedroom apartments designed by architect Frank Gehry are priced at £1.39m, while homes are being marketed for £1.55m and upwards.

Work has already started on the chimneys which will be painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt to ensure they remain the iconic London landmark that they are. When the Power Station reopens in 2020, all four will be fully reconstructed and repainted.


Florin Court

Florin Court, on the eastern side of Charterhouse Square in Smithfield, London, has become one of the most well-known Art Deco apartment blocks in the city. Built in 1936 by Guy Morgan and Partners, this stunning Grade II Listed building has an elegant and curved façade typical of the period.

Refurbished in the 1980s to the designs of Hildebrand and Cricker, Florin Court now has 120 apartments arranged over nine floors. The building famously became Whitehaven Mansions, the fictional residence of Hercule Poirot in the BBC TV series.

One of the rarest apartments is on the second floor. It has two double bedrooms with built-in wardrobes and an attractive reception room with a one-of-a-kind Art Deco curved wall and window.

On the roof, there’s a newly-landscaped terrace with skyline views of the city, a swimming pool, sauna, spa and a gymnasium.


The Daily Express Building

Designed by Ellis and Clark Architects as the headquarters of the Daily Express newspaper, this wonderful Fleet Street building is another example of London’s exquisite Art Deco heritage. The unique exterior has a dramatic black façade with rounded corners in vitrolite and clear glass, with chrome strips.

In the flamboyant lobby, you’ll find an oval staircase, silver and gilt decorations and a stunning silvered pendant lamp. The furniture was, for the most part, designed by Betty Joel; Goldman Sachs now occupies the building.

Lloyd Wells; freelance journalist from London but living elsewhere – partnering with independent team of building professionals and scientists, Hutton & Rostron, for this and a few other posts covering London architecture.


CabbieBlog-cabThis is a sponsored guest post for which CabbieBlog has received a fee. Proceeds from these articles help keep the wheels turning on this site offering free content for anybody with an interest in London. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

London myths debunked

Matt Brown, Editor-at-Large of Londonist.com, debunks the capital’s most tenacious myths in his new book Everything You Know About London Is Wrong.

In this Guest Post, he looks at some of the famous bits of trivia to do with London’s roads. We all know that London’s streets are not really paved with gold, but they are lined with myths and misconceptions.

[D]id you know, for example, that the M25 does not quite encircle London (it becomes an A-road over the Dartford crossing and several bits of London poke outside of the motorway)? Other roads are often known by the wrong name. There is, for example, no such street as Bond Street (only New Bond Street and Old Bond Street). The visitor will search in vain for the famous Petticoat Lane, which has officially been known as Middlesex Street for over 100 years. The Strand is officially just ‘Strand’, and King’s Road carries signs both with and without the apostrophe. What a muddle.

Here are three more misconceptions about London, adapted from my book Everything You Know About London Is Wrong.

Black cab drivers must carry a bale of hay everywhere they go
This little nugget falls into the category of “ancient laws never repealed”. One can readily imagine a time when cabs were pulled by horses. A bale of hay would serve the equivalent role of diesel in the modern motor. Most cabbies I’ve asked about the legend chuckle to themselves and tell me it’s completely true. They’re still required by law to drive around with a block of hay in the boot. None of them do, of course.

The commandment seems to have no basis in law. The closest Westminster came to forcing bales of hay on cabbies comes in the London Hackney Carriage Act 1831. Section 51 of this Act concerns itself with the many ways that drivers might block the street — one of which involves horse feed. Drivers must not:

. . . feed the Horses of or belonging to any Hackney Carriage in any Street, Road or common Passage, save only with Corn out of a Bag, or with Hay which he shall hold or deliver with his Hands.

The Act does not require the cabman to carry any food at all, stipulating only that feeding must be done from the hand and not block the carriageway with bales or troughs. The penalty for such a misdemeanour was 20 shillings. If a modern cab driver attempted to place a bale of hay in front of her vehicle, her 20 shillings would be safe. The legislation was quashed as part of the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1976.


There are no roads in the City of London
One of the great pieces of London trivia posits that the City of London contains not a single thoroughfare that carries the word “Road” in its name. You’ll find plenty of Streets, Hills, Alleys and Squares, but never a Road.

This was probably the case for much of London’s history. Until modern times, a street (from the Latin via strata meaning a laid-down way) was normally a paved thoroughfare within a town centre. A road, by contrast, usually led away from town (cf. the Uxbridge Road) or between nearby towns. The City of London has been densely settled for 1,000 years, so any roads such as City Road and Goswell Road begin outside its well-defined and ancient borders.

This was true up until 1994. In that year, boundary changes did away with centuries of tradition. The City expanded north to take in the Golden Lane estate. In doing so, it absorbed Goswell Road, bringing a road within the boundaries of the city for the first time. I’m told that the change was not made in ignorance, and that some members of the Corporation council argued vociferously for a name change, to preserve the historic absence, to no avail.

This overturned piece of trivia can still cling desperately to a life-preserving piece of pedantry. The boundary line runs along the middle of Goswell Road: the western half is in the Borough of Islington while the eastern half alone rests within the Square Mile. So it can still be said that there is not a single road in the City of London, merely a half road.


Savoy Court is the only place in London where you must drive on the right
The eye is easily drawn into Savoy Court, a small turning off the Strand. The art deco facade and entrance to the Savoy Hotel is one of London’s minor landmarks. If you let your gaze linger, you might spot something decidedly odd about the court. Cars are instructed to enter via the right-hand lane, contrary to normal UK traffic regulations.

It is often claimed that Savoy Court is the only road in Britain where you may drive on the right. This is not quite true. Such a set up is common at bus stations, for example. Bus doors are always on the left-hand side of a vehicle. Whenever the bus is serving an island bus shelter, it makes sense for it to approach from the right and loop anti-clockwise around the shelter, so that its doors always face into the island to allow boarding or disembarkation. Hammersmith bus station is a good example. Instructions to “drive on right” are clearly marked on the tarmac by the entrance.

“OK, but that’s for buses only,” you might retort. True, but there are many examples where cars and other private vehicles are required to drive on the right. The car park at Victoria station, for example, has a reversed layout. The setup is potentially confusing for pedestrians crossing the entrance of the car park, who must remember to look for approaching vehicles in the non-intuitive direction. Even named roads can be right-handed. Petty France in the Square Mile has a cycle contra flow on the “wrong” side of the road. Most impressive of all, if that’s the right word, is the Tottenham Hale gyratory. Until recently, a short section known as The Hale featured a reversed-direction dual carriageway. Vehicles were separated by a central partition, but they nevertheless proceeded in the “wrong” direction. There are many other examples across the country.

But what’s the Savoy’s reason for its contrarian courtyard? The Savoy Theatre’s entrance is on the right-hand side. Forcing vehicles to enter on the right allowed cabs to queue up to the doors of the theatre, without blocking the hotel entrance just beyond. Boring, but true.

Other inaccuracies persist with this legend. Look up the story online and you will find dozens of sites parroting a supposed Act of Parliament in 1902, which gave the hotel permission to reverse driving priority. No such act exists, and no record of a relevant debate is to be found in Hansard, the official record of the Houses of Parliament.

Neither I nor the Savoy’s archivist have ever found any mention of official sanction. I suspect it was never given. The court was most probably made right-handed in the early 1930s, a time when traffic enforcement was not as strict as today. My best guess is that the Savoy, being on private land, simply went ahead with its novel road scheme without any public debate or permission from the local authorities.

The set-up has not always worked harmoniously. Queues to turn right into the courtyard from Strand caused major holdups in the 1960s. A policeman was stationed on the junction to help ease the flow. Right turns were eventually outlawed, although this has since been reversed.

Incidentally, the story that Britain’s left-handed road system originated on London Bridge appears to have at least a patch of truth to it. The narrow bridge had long been a traffic bottleneck. In 1722, Lord Mayor Gerard Conyers decreed that “all carts, coaches and other carriages coming out of Southwark into this City do keep all along the west side of the said bridge: and all carts and coaches going out of the City do keep along the east side of the said bridge”. In other words, “keep left”. The directive may have been arbitrary, or it may have been based on earlier custom to drive on this side. Nobody really knows, but many just-so stories have been advanced. Some say that the Romans always marched on the left, and that the habit has remained with us through the centuries. Others point to a medieval origin. Sticking to the left of the road would place oncoming traffic to your right, and therefore in range of your sword arm (assuming you are right-handed). Your carriage could be defended from any approaching ne’erdowells. It’s possible, though unproven.

Featured image: Cab in Corn ©Rikkis Taxi


CabbieBlog-cabThis is not a sponsored post. The author has written this Guest Post for CabbieBlog. Other articles from Matt Brown can be found at The Londonist.
All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.