The one o’clock slot


Sometimes the story goes a little bit like this; I think I’ve exhausted everything to write about so go out for a lunchtime shopping trip then I walk down a side road and find something a little bit special.

Last Wednesday lunchtime I did just that (looking to purchase some Cracked Heel Cream at the local Boots if you must know) and found a great arcade of home-made coin-operated machines at Novelty Automation at 1A Princeton Street, London WC1R 4AX.


They’re all the work of the engineer/cartoonist/artist Tim Hunkin and feature all sorts of madness all in an old shop tucked away around the back of Red Lion Square. It’s genius engineering with a great touch of humour!


There’s a varied selection including The Chiropodist that’ll cure all your foot problems (but possibly not my cracked heel, well not in one session), Instant Weightloss great for getting off the xmas poundage and my favourite, Microbreak “the fast, efficient holiday” which is a great alternative if you can’t afford to go away this year.

As it’s Valentine’s day tomorrow, why not pick up the handset and ring Barry’s Love Line for some romance tips. Well worth 1 token!

Barry's love line

It’s free to visit and just having a look will make you laugh, but invest in some tokens and take the experience further. Tokens are 1 for £1, 5 for £4.5o and 10 for £8 and it’ll be a lunchtime well spent! P

Float, float on

Today I spent elevenses in a dentist’s chair at Guys Hospital Dental Department having a tooth yanked out. On the way back to work around midday full of Co-codomol, I walked via the Millennium Bridge. I was hoping to have a word with the artist Ben Wilson aka “The Chewing Gum Man” who I saw earlier on the way to Guy’s, creating artworks on old bits of chewing gum stuck to the walkway of the bridge. More on him here.

Flotilla_2That was all forgotten about when I saw these two older ladies in union jack hats perched on camping chairs looking towards Tower Bridge with about thirty other people obviously waiting for something.


Within a couple of minutes, there were the sound of rave type airhorn’s and a flotilla of boats was coming towards us.


The best one looked liked a hybrid of a posh Chinese restaurant with a rowing boat stuck to the front, with what looked liked a gang of well-dressed polo players rowing hell for leather. The boat was full of VIP’s who waved to the assembled crowd who cheered back enthusiastically waving mini-union jacks. Following that was a water tender that soaked the crowd with a couple of high jets which no-one complained about even though it was a cold day!

This event that I’d stumbled on by chance, marked the day Queen Elizabeth became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch (and the day I finally had that painful back tooth taken out!) P

Hello skip (and bathing pond)

Kings Cross bathing pond


Did you see that the Kings Cross bathing pond opened this weekend? I took a stroll down there to try my luck but it seems its online booking only and even if they do let you in, I’m sure they’d frown upon someone jumping in just their grundies. Anyway, in addition to this fine outdoor swimming spot, there’s also the Kings Cross Skip Garden to have a look at.

Toms and parsley I can see

Toms and parsley I can see

Lovely herbs

Lovely herbs

Look what they've done with the windows

Look what they’ve done with the windows

It seems they take thrown away stuff and turn it into lovely growing environments. How delightful. W


Saw this and thought of you



If you haven’t seen this already, or even if you have, this is amazing. They’re going to create a natural, open-air swimming pond in King’s Cross by the Spring of next year. Amazing. If you’ve ever swum in Hampstead Ponds, you’ll know how laugh out loud funny it is try and race a duck. I imagine more of this japery will be on offer, plus some lovely looking foliage to boot. Good work. W

Mother nature’s son

When the Thames is at it’s lowest ebb, you can see a beach. On a crisp December lunchtime, you can even step on it, (there are some steps just to the left of the Millennium bridge as you look at the Tate Modern) feel the sand shift beneath your feet and listen to the waves lapping at the shore.

The sun was very low by the time I got down there (about 2pm) so I had to squint as it was wickedly reflected off the river. Ooh it’s just like being on ‘oliday, I thought to myself.

The English Riviera

The English Riviera

It felt as if I was trespassing when I went down there. There was one other person crunching around on the pebbles but, other than that, the beach was deserted – like any other English beach in December.

Being so close to the Thames was intimidating. I’d always seen it from far away; a bridge or the embankment, or once from a boat. I’d never been close enough to touch it. It suddenly dawned on me that I’d never thought of it as a river. All my life, I’d only ever seen it as a thoroughfare, an obstacle or a landmark – not a real waterway at all. But you put your hand in and it’s cold and wet and it goes “shhh, shhhhh” when the little waves break on the pebbles and everything.

It was a revelation – like if you met someone really famous and they told you they ate findus crispy pancakes.

In celebration of the sunshine and my new discovery I built a crappy sandcastle and covered it in the oyster shells I found amongst the smooth-worn tiles and remnants of old clay pipes.

Sand turd with shells - by W

Sand turd with shells – by W

On the way back, I was walking through St. Paul’s churchyard, when I spotted this man, Justin.

He's got a squirrel on his shoulder

He’s got a squirrel on his shoulder!

Working in a stress-filled office in the city, he escapes for one hour every day to feed this squirrel. I told him about the idea behind LIYLH; about getting out and doing something, even if it’s just walking about. We chatted about how long he’d been visiting the churchyard, what he did, and I told him about my brush with nature. To which he replied, ” You spend your whole life in a man-made environment. It’s nice to go somewhere and put your foot in some mud, isn’t it?”