2nd Edition of '360˚ at the Gherkin' On It's Way!

With all my publications there has been a lot of work behind the scenes* and the 2nd edition of '360˚ at The Gherkin is no exception. (*I'm sure it's the same for everyone's books, I just don't know about the development stories of anyone else's). 

London's skyline has changed radically in the last few years - when I arrived at the Gherkin in 2009 only it and Tower 42 could be counted as tall buildings in the City of London. One of the reasons I proposed the book in the first place was that people would arrive at the top of the Gherkin and find the 360˚ view disorientating and, as things look different from above, they'd often have no idea what they were seeing - after a while they would spot St Paul's course but lots of the rest was a mystery. The Gherkin, it seemed to me, to be crying out for a view guide. Searcys agreed and the first book was produced. It has now completely sold out.

For this edition the new cityscape - the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie to the south, the Leadenhall to the West and the Olympic Stadium in the East, meant new panoramic portraits of the views so our photographer Joe was busy again. As before we wanted to capture the views at different times of day, although we kept the snowy dawn shot of the South-East in as it's simply so beautiful (good news for Joe because that dawn shot was taken in January just before 7am and this week dawn was at 4am!)

As many of the landmarks we identified in the first edition are now behind either the new towers, the new edition needed more research too. Before the first edition I spent 3 months at the Gherkin recording what people pointed out in the views and what they asked questions about and used this information to help select the 100 buildings and landmarks we identified. Then Carolyn, Dan and I started to research for the right stories. This time the three of us looked out the windows to see what we could spot. Was that the Golden Hind? Dan thinks he can see a mast (we zoomed into Joe's photos on the i-pad, yes he could) meanwhile Carolyn is delighted we can include Fishmongers Hall and immediately gives us 3 stories to choose from (we chose one about Wat Tyler being killed there by the Fishmonger master). We have sprinkled new places and accompanying stories throughout all the views, I think my favourite is that the little clock tower atop Sugar House in the East is an exact quarter replica of Big Ben.

Hours of proofing with Sara Fox follow (yes, she of building the Gherkin fame).  Sara gives the same degree of attention to my grammar and typos as she does to getting a London landmark built, so thanks to her help the text is now perfect.

Design is next, the changes in photography and new wording mean each page has to be reworked. It's been done beautifully and I think Johnny (Creative Director) has made this edition look crisper and hang together even better than the first.

Now - we're ready for print - everything leaves today, June 13th, at 9am.

Incidentally Heron Towers was completed just as we finished the first edition and I struggled to find an unusual fact about it, then the day after we published they unveiled a gigantic tank in the reception area containing 1,000 fish and 3 sharks. The fish have made the second edition (the sharks long since being evicted for eating the other fish). 

Promote Iceland and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - December 16th 2013

Carolyn Webb (Baizdon Ace Researcher and Official City of London Tour Guide) and I go to the Promote Iceland event at One Aldwych where we try lots of Icelandic food and cocktails (we both liked the ‘Blue Lagoon’ best - even though it was actually green), discover how many films have been shot in the country (loads) and see a special showing of ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ at One Aldywch’s luxurious screening room. The film was wonderful, it immediately wanted me to go back to Iceland! Do go and see the movie and something to remember is that although Walter visits Iceland, Greenland and Afghanistan in the film, in reality all the location shots were filmed in Iceland and yes, it is that beautiful and that extraordinary. 

Icelandic cocktails

Icelandic cocktails

After the event we had champagne in One Aldwych courtesy of the fabulous Mark Tucker, we sat beside a splendid Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory themed Christmas tree. All round a perfect evening. 


Redland 175th Anniversary Lunch - September 10th 2013

Speaking at the Redland lunch today at the Gherkin in Searcys beautiful Private Dining Rooms on the 38th floor. As the event is to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Rosemary tile (the creator named it after his daughter) which Redland produce I thought I would start by talking about how London would have looked in 1838. I had enlisted the help of the brilliant City of London tour guide Carolyn Webb and she found out lots of interesting facts for me – the city would have been just as busy but with no cars, tubes or trains (although Euston had opened the year before, Fenchurch street didn’t arrive till 1841).  London Bridge was the John Rennie granite one that is now in Arizona, and there were no Southwark, Tower or Millenium bridges. The most striking difference compared with the cityscape viewed from the Gherkin today is that church spires would have been the highest points with the St Paul’s (the fourth on the site but still the one we know today) dominating the skyline. In 1938 a fire within the Lloyds of London offices in the Royal Exchange burnt down the building* and talk of the Royal Exchange brought us smoothly into the history of the 30 St Mary Axe site, once home to the Baltic Exchange. I enjoyed talking about the architectural genius of the Gherkin to such a knowledgeable group and, as not everyone had been to the top of the building before, loved taking them up into the glass dome. Redland Sales Director Andy Dennis had made us all smile during lunch by saying he assumed he was one of only three people (all from Redland) that thought the Gherkin would be improved with a pitched roof – my bet is that now even he and his Redland colleagues could see this was one building top even they couldn’t improve on!

*Queen Victoria built the present one six years later in case you’re wondering