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Sunday, 14 October 2012

London old and new - and a glimpse of a secret nuclear bunker

This amazing view of London is my souvenir of a  helicopter sightseeing trip over London. On a sunny autumn morning, we took off from Essex in EC130 G-SASY (right), and headed along the Thames, in one unforgettable half-hour passing iconic landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the Monument to the 1666 Great Fire of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Post Office Tower, and later the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Some of these buildings have dominated the capital's skyline for centuries but from the air, alongside new developments such as the Shard skyscraper (seen left, at 309.6m tall, the highest completed building in Europe), they looked like children's models.  
The helicopter tour was a Christmas present which came via a voucher. More details:

A bonus was the location of the helicopter landing field – just across the road from the site of the  Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker. This unassuming bungalow, shrouded by  trees (left),  is the portal to an underground world of reinforced tunnels and rooms where up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the Prime Minister, would have headed survival operations in the advent of a nuclear war. It was decomissioned in 1992, and is now owned and looked after privately. I didn’t have time to go in, but tours are available. There's even a cafeteria.   See

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Handmade Revolution?

I’ve discovered a great new TV series featuring traditional crafts, currently on BBC2 each afternoon at 1545. Paul Martin’s Handmade Revolution hopes to inspire people to try their hand at some of these skills and so keep them alive. The first episode included some imaginative silver jewellery, cute felted wool trolls, traditional rag rugging, a beautiful glass bowl shaped like an orchid (by graphic designer Laura Hart) and – the judges’ favourite – Tony Evans’ eye-catching horse sculpted from waste copper pipes.

The programme travels round the country, showcasing the work of local craftspeople, while Paul Martin discovers the techniques behind their creations. Over the next two weeks, the three judges, all professionals in the craft world (from left Piyush Suri, Mary Jane Baxter and Glenn Adamson) look at everything from pottery and stone carving to toy-making and even some imaginative knitting. Each day they select one favourite item and these will all go on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for four weeks from the middle of October.

The BBC has also produced a free booklet to support the series, with more details about crafting in Britain and ideas for projects.

More about Tony Evans and his horse sculptures at: