Sunday, 16 April 2017

Catching up with MissB - February - April 2017

Where on earth has the time gone? Already Easter break and then it will be no time at all before we celebrate May Day.

With the best intentions it has been hard to keep up with the blog so I am going to bring you right up to date with a monthly review of what I have been up to starting from February.

February - bleak and cold after my sojourn in the Caribbean. But plenty to do.
Firstly an mini exhibition at the Museum of London about the finds linked to the Walbrook, one of the lost rivers of the City. Each discovery adds to the knowledge of the archaeology and the course of the river, which is technically not a river but a stream, but we will leave it at that for now!

From this exhibition I decided revive my 'Walbrook Where Art Thou' tour which took place on 25th March with a great group of inquisitive and engaged folk. Weather was good and the City at the weekend is quiet. We started from the Museum of London so everyone could view the exhibits. The walk to the start point was interesting because there is a huge development at London Wall, a road that follows, yes, you guessed it, the line of the Roman Wall. I pointed out the ancient ruined church of Elsing 'spital and the reinstatement of the 'streets in the sky' aka pedways, but this time in cor-ten steel, to be festooned with green walls and new gardens below. Soon we will be able to walk from the MoL to Moorgate again above street level.

Also in March I was engaged to create a special birthday treat for a lady from her husband, the brief, history and architecture. So we began at St Paul's Underground and took in Christchurch Greyfriars, Postman's Park, West Smithfield and Charter House for the first segment. It was very cold and Storm Doris was gusting and blowing us about.  We took refuge in the new Charter House museum just opened, small and well presented, we also went to the chapel, just long enough to get warmed up before venturing out again. 

We walked through the City covering the financial heart, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House, through alleyways to Leadenhall and finally to the 'Walkie Talkie at Fenchurch Street, where the couple had made a reservation for lunch in the Sky Garden.  'Doris' had become much stronger by then we had to hold on to bollards not to be blown into the on-coming traffic! All in a days work ...

February was also special for Georgian Dining Academy a Georgian events group I set up. We staged a glorious Valentine's Day late at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, it was many months in the planning and created to support the Emma Hamilton Exhibition (now ended).  Everyone had a fabulous time and we were thrilled at how well it all came together. You can see photographs and glean further information from the GDA web site.

Miss B & Miss Kitty Pridden at the Seduction Late - 14th February 2017


Then into March, which  is also my birthday month and I was lucky enough to be invited to the City of London Distillery, where we had a delicious gin tasting and I treated myself to a bottle of Christopher Wren Gin, the bottle taking the shape of the dome of St Paul's.

March was also the first of Georgian Dining Academy's Suppers at Simpson's Tavern off Cornhill, where we were liberally entertained with samples of, yes, more gin, this time Sacred Gin, distilled in a still in their home! Delicious and went down very well.

As a member of the T S Eliot Society I went to an evening of readings and music titled 'Decadence', actor Simon Callow was one of the readers at King's Place in Kings Cross. My first visit, but was not to be my last, as I soon discovered! A lovely evening and an excellent venue. The Waste Land Walk in the City goes from strength to strength and have planned several over the coming months. They are booked through Footprints of London.

St Mary Woolnoth
I am also going to be doing the same walk for the London Festival of Architecture, 1st-30th June 2017, T S Eliot will take prominence but I will also elaborate on some of the old and new buildings we see on the tour. Details will be available on the LFA - walks will be listed shortly. 

Miss B in action on King's Cross Regeneration Walk

King's Place featured again this month when I was invited to join the team of Footprints of London Guides to create a walk around the 'Knowledge Quarter' the creative hub that King's Cross has become. Our team of four being trained to take many groups of students from Central America around the site over several days. It was an interesting few weeks of research looking at the site not so much from a historic viewpoint but as a regenerated hub and how the old and the new had been organised to make the most of this 67 acre site. As the walk was one already featured on Footprintscreated by Rob Smith, I will only repeat this walk for private groups. I will post separately to show the route with lots of pictures.

King's Place was one of our stops. This build was one of the earliest projects on the site, it was built in 2008 by Dixon Jones, for a music charity and also houses The Guardian newspaper and includes an art gallery. The first new build concert halls for many years in London and the enhances the site as an access to the arts.  

Google HQ 

Development site in the 1950s

The fabulous Granary today and home to Central St Martins and UAL

My volunteering also kicks off in March when 2 Willow Road opens after its winter rest. You may have read my post on the Winter Clean 2016. always love going back to Erno Goldfinger's house and guiding people around. We will be open now until end of October this year. 


So we are in April, which included a visit to the Handel & Hendrix Museum, two musical greats, worlds apart, but ended up choosing to live in the same street, and in adjoining houses! Handel also features big in my life this year. Working on a couple of cultural cruises on the river with Georgian Dining Academy 2016, one of my talks was about Handel's Water Music so with London Historians we have got together to create an event.  

(Please note you are welcome to join London Historians, we are a good humoured and multi-faceted  knowledgeable bunch. If you do, please mention Miss B)

On 17th July 2017 it will 300 years since Handel composed and performed the Water Music for George I on the River Thames. Our group including support from Handel House and Amade Players are all aboard on that day to play this great piece of music live on a boat up and down the river. You can find details here on how to book.

So this is at least some of the things I have been up to, there are a couple of separate posts, one about Kings Cross, plus I want to give an up date of some of the gardens I have been working on or photographing recently. Back soon!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2 Willow Road - Winter Clean December 2016

The house closes from beginning of November to end of February for essential maintenance and conservation work. It also allows the rooms to be minutely inspected for damage for damp, dust and infestations!

As a regular volunteer the house feels strange all curtained and cloaked, quiet and eerie, furniture carefully stored all the familiar ephemera cleared away.

Work starts immediately, when I arrived for the first clean the house smelt of paint, the stairwell had been painted, it was a dull day but it did look refreshed. The house is always kept cool as possible to protect the furnishings and paintings, we all know to wrap up warm on the cleaning days! Made a coffee and found the biscuit barrel, essential to this type of work.

This year Jen and I will tackle the main bedroom. I am usually on kitchen duty as I proved rather good at dusting empty tins, and working with kitchenware, all of which had to be returned to their exact positions, after hoovering drawers and cupboard. See post here.

The built-in wardrobe we open for visitors is to be decanted and thoroughly cleaned out. I tackled the coat hangers! They are skittish things, like to hook on to each other and lay awkwardly once cleaned with the hog’s hair brush and soft duster. Also, checked the felt linings for any potential moth casings. If coat hangers could speak all these fine specimens would have a story to tell. Some look home-made but the majority are of quality manufacture, from a time when everything was made to last!

Perhaps Mr Goldfinger had carried some of them with him from Hungary to Paris and back to England, or perhaps purchased in Paris in the 1920s. The mechanisms to close in your skirt or trousers are complex constructs, none of the skimpy lightweight things we use today. One or two had names on, we think this might be a boarding school item, perhaps passed from person to person as you went up a year to finally come to the Goldfinger's children and laid rest in Mum and Dad's wardrobe unnoticed until 2016.

Perhaps I should not get started on the shoehorns! A couple of pairs manufactured and some handmade albeit showing wear and tear, as in parts looking like a puzzle. The exciting inspection was of the boot horns in what we assumed were Ursula Goldfinger's riding boots, slim of foot.

It is very likely they are bespoke possibly made for her in her twenties. The workmanship is something you will not find today except of course at the highest end of bespoke bookmakers who still exist in small numbers. We decided to take the horns out to inspect that nothing untoward was going on inside. We managed the two halves but decided against taking out the hinged central piece that went inside the foot of the boot.

A revelation, the boot horns are hand carved with knots of wood plus a sliver or wood inserted to improve the shape and fit. On closer inspection words and numbers, the letters denoted left and right horn in Hungarian, the number probably a reference to Ursula Goldfinger’s template with bookmaker. All items softly polished inside and out and returned to their place in the wardrobe.

An old tweed suit of Erno Goldfinger was quite an emotional piece. Excellent quality material, well-worn to the extent the lining was ripped and strained. The cuffs had leather stitched trim over the frayed ends and leather elbow patches, obviously a favourite. No labels, again a bespoke item we guessed made by a family tailor in Hungary and worn to the end of Erno’s life. I was half hoping it still had the whiff of the cigar, traces of the great man in his suit, sadly not.

Several stylish raincoats belonging to Urusla Goldfinger, one herringbone right up there in the fashion stakes presently, so you see, throw nothing away, or better still buy quality rather than quantity.  All items of clothing gently inspected and then lightly hoovered to remove dust and hang back in the wardrobe to be close to one another once more.

A bundle revealed a shabby duffle coat, could this be navy issue, with a name tag? Pockets full of garden debris, a gardening coat, possible worn by Ursula? We also found a lovely tartan poncho, tartan has made a comeback as has the poncho, both a fashion staple in 2016!

All other items including the skates were wrapped in acid free tissue, a shame as not much will be on view the next time we open the wardrobe door. But we can admire Goldfinger’s attention to detail, everything has its designated place. As time goes by the house may seem to stand still in time but unfortunately the vagaries of exposure to visitors, dust, sunlight hot and cold all have an impact on this protected property so we must do everything we can to ensure all the items at 2 Willow Road remain in good condition for the future.

The Doll’s House, lampshade and under the bed!

On my next visit back in the main bedroom.

The Doll’s House is not always on show at 2 Willow Road, but when it does appear it delights everyone who sees it. A modernist’s creation for his daughter, who, it is said, was not entirely pleased with it! We feel she may have hankered after the 'Tudorbethan' versions some of us enjoyed, black and white detail, red tile roof and flowers growing over the front door! We are left with this lovely toy to take care of.  We start by using the soft brushes to get dust out of the tiny corners, being careful with the doors and their tiny hinges.  Windows are Perspex but still wiped over gently. The roof has a spiral staircase leading up to it.  We then must carefully put it all together and lift it up to the top shelf of the built-in wardrobes.

A box of Christmas decorations are also emptied out and carefully checked for any possible infestations and then carefully put back in the box, sadly never to see any sight of a festive tree ever again.

It was decided to move the bed, especially as there were two of us.  It looks handmade and very simple in design, solid but relatively easy to move out as we needed to check the carpet plus it had been used to store large pictures and posters keeping them flat in the space underneath. Mattress and bedding had to be carefully vacuumed. For the bed-cover, we used a muslin piece over the nozzle before carefully hoovering it all over.  The result was a horrid black matted clump of dust, so worthwhile, if tedious.

My favourite piece of the day was the lampshade from the uplighter. Far more complex in design than I had first realized and not sure the photographs do it justice. The results after cleaning it with damp cotton wool and cotton buds were worth the effort.  We found a maker’s mark and a patent number. I decided to find out if the company still exists, it does! We also found a spare glass shade in one of the other cupboards so comfort in knowing we have a spare!

Holophane  Pat. No. 20222 (?) Made in England

Several leather wallets dusted, and wrapped like presents ... in protective tissue.

Spare tiles floor and wall were discovered as well as lots of signage from long gone exhibitions, plus interesting photographs and posters. All to be carefully cleaned up and then wrapped up.

Old Map of Modernist properties in Hampstead

2 Willow Road opens again beginning of March 2017

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Gift for Friends & Family - A bespoke walk for 2017 - LIMITED EDITION

The financial heart of the City of London - Bank - under snow.

Today we are generally being a little more circumspect about our exchange of gifts, especially if you have a large family or friendship circle.  This idea can also work for an office or special groups as Team Building or a great day out. A walk can be the answer, especially with a well versed guide of the City of London, a place still a mystery to many, especially those who work there!

A walk is also a lovely idea for visitors to our shores, especially if they have been before and seen the 'sights'.  The City of London is an excellent place to explore, and you will be surprised as to how many folk have not been beyond the magnificent St Pauls!

There are three walks on offer, but elements can be combined or a walk can be selected from my list of walks here.

At the cost of £100 for 10 people it is good value, and up to 20 people can join in at an extra charge of £8.50 per head. The offer is Monday to Sunday at a time to suit you, and MissB can also recommend somewhere to eat or have a drink afterwards.  The offer runs from 1st February with bookings to be made within three months. This does allow you to make a confirmed booking for later in 2017. There is a limit of six bookings available on this offer.

The walks are detailed on the voucher and you can also request a special Invitation on parchment and boxed or sent in a envelope as a gift at no extra charge. 
Purchase send an email to

The Voucher


Helen L - March 2014

It felt like a bit of a gamble to arrange a private walk with Miss B for some of my family as a Christmas present, but we've just had our City Sampler walk (a present that you join in on!) and everyone loved it. Tina has an amazing knowledge of the City of London and made sure there was something for everyone in our group -- some history, art, architecture -- with handy tips about pubs and cocktail bars along the way. Now everyone wants to do more of Tina's walks. You wouldn't believe the history of the pineapple..........

Family G - September 2016 - Tudor Walk

Tina, a great day and we are all very grateful to you. Your passion and enthusiasm for Tudor history is contagious. Your knowledge is absolutely exceptional and you have a real talent. You even managed to keep dad on his toes, which is hard to do! We would all highly recommend your tours and we all had a fantastic day - thank you!! The Tudor Walk - Family G

The Waste Land Walk - April 2016

It was great to meet you and go on your tour last Thurs. Very inspiring. I would love to bring members of the group I’m working with to experience the walk. As I mentioned I’m working with a group of volunteers from the Community to develop an exhibition here at Turner Contemporary, rooted in The Waste Land.

Trish Scott
Research Curator - Turner Contemporary, Margate