@LewisHamilton joining the @NSPCC #GherkinChallenge?

Lewis Hamilton loves the Gherkin. We know this because he told the @EveningStandard it was the building he'd like to be locked in overnight "It looks cool and I'd like to hang out in the bar at the top.' So for months every Gherkin Challenge planning meeting has started with Francesca Valli, the committee Chair and I, suggesting we ask Lewis Hamilton to take part this year. He'd be great, we say - he's a huge star, we say - the most talented driver of his generation and a phenomenal athlete. Can you imagine how he'd speed up the stairs, we say 'Hamilton expertly avoids the wall as he overtakes 27 people on the inside...' Can you imagine what an effect he'd have on the participants, we say 'Lewis is cheered by all as he dominates the stairwell on his way to the top...' Maybe he'd do it in the fastest time ever we say. 'Lewis Hamilton accelerates to a record breaking finish leaving the rest of the field 10 floors behind!' Just imagine...we said (at every meeting), it would be amazing!

So, you say, is he coming? Well, the NSPCC did speak to #TEAMLH last month - He'd have loved to, they tell us, But he'll be a little busy at the Italian Grand Prix that weekend... Maybe next year... Ok, so this could be great news for 2015!

Meanwhile this year, while Lewis is busy winning the Italian Grand Prix on September 7th, almost 1,000 of you will be doing something amazing too by taking part in the 2014 Gherkin Challenge for the NSPCC.  If you need a little motivation just imagine drinking champagne with Lewis Hamilton in the bar at the top of the building and you'll find yourself racing up the steps! (Maybe I can put a smiling picture of him up to welcome you and make Francesca and I feel better - what do you think #TEAMLH?)

And if you're not taking part why not sign up for one of the few remaining places and join this year's record number of people running or walking up the steps of the Gherkin for the NSPCC? (You can even get a champagne lift pass and bypass the stairs). Winners medals for all, as every step up this extraordinary building makes a difference for vulnerable children. It would be good to make it 1,000 people taking part - only 29 places left.... Registration closes Sept 3rd.

Or, if you can't make it and want to make a difference to children, you could sponsor my son and I to climb the steps on your behalf.  http://www.justgiving.com/Tee-Dobinson

PS - Message for #TEAMLH @LewisHamilton and the team are always welcome as my guests at the top of the Gherkin! @TeeDobinson #GherkinGuru


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).