Listen to a Londoner: Graham Greenglass (& Giveaway!)

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Born and bred Londoner Graham Greenglass went through the famous course, the Knowledge, to become a black cab driver. Combined with his history degree, he has an extensive knowledge of this city which he shares through tours in his cab. They have different themes like music and horror and are one of the most popular London activities on Trip Advisor. Graham has offered a free one to a lucky LLO reader (details at the end) and has taken the time to answer a few questions about how London has changed since he was a child, what it was like to go through the Knowledge which is famously gruelling and a fun London discovery in Dollis Hill.

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your interests. Which part of London is home for you? 
GG: I’m from north west London, man and boy. Like most Londoners, I think that I live a quite unremarkable life.  But like a lot of Londoners, I know that I live in a truly remarkable city; and I love it and it never ceases to interest me and almost every day I discover something new to read about or visit or find.

LLO: How long have you been a black cab driver? What was it like to study the Knowledge? 
GG: It took three years of doing the Knowledge for me to get my green badge in 2000, which is about average.  They say that two thirds of people who start the Knowledge never finish.  The Knowledge was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

A Knowledge student eats, sleeps and drinks the Knowledge.  It’s all encompassing and takes up almost every waking thought of every day.  I may never be a millionaire but it’s scientifically proven that my brain is bigger than your brain.

LLO: You’re running your own London Cab Tours, which are number 3 out of 516 activities in London on Trip Advisor. Impressive. What prompted you to start doing this? How long are the tours and where do they start?
GG: Sometime in 2001, I thought I’d like to be a London tour guide, using my London taxi for tours. I’d done a history degree in the early ‘80s, but had never actually used my love of history in any job I’d had.  It dawned on me that I could show people London icons, from a London icon.

Each tour lasts for two to three hours and we can cover quite a bit of ground in the taxi.  We make lots of stops too and go for the occasional short walk.

I’ll pick customers up from anywhere in central London and drop them off anywhere central too.

LLO: Tell us about the themes of your tours. Which is your most popular? Which do you most enjoy and why?
GG: My tours cover various themes:  London Highlights; London Rock’n Roll; London Horror; London of Dickens & Shakespeare.

London Highlights is the most popular tour, but I enjoy them all.

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, what are the biggest changes in the city since you were a child?
GG: The architecture and London’s built environment – there is both a lot of imaginative use of space and some quite hideous monstrosities.  This is a very clean city (which is nice), but I do kind of miss the grime.

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
GG: Churchill’s spare war bunker in Dollis Hill.  It’s only open during Open House and I managed to go a few years ago during its first ever re-opening. Hard hats and wellies required. Once you’re forty feet underground you discover why it was never really used. No toilets.

LLO: Tell us the story of your most memorable passenger.
GG: I’ll always remember the British Museum academic who told me that he’d just finished inspecting some old, rare Tsarist paper money.  He had to tell the owner/dealer that they were fakes. Only worth a few thousand pounds, instead of the hoped for tens of thousands of pounds.

LLO: Share a piece of London trivia that passengers would hear on one of your tours.
GG: In 1972, a man was arrested after driving into a lamp post one night near Cockpit Steps. His defence at his court hearing was that he’d swerved to avoid the ghost of the headless lady of Cockpit Steps. He was acquitted.

LLO: What kind of music do you listen to when you drive? Or do you prefer silence?
GG: I’m a bit of a music freak. But right now, anyone called Hank from south of the Mason Dixon Line.

LLO: When you think of London, what comes to mind when you hear each of the following:
GG: 
Sight –  The Houses of Parliament (corny, but true)
Sound –  Sirens (horrible, but true)
Smell –  Fish & Chip Shops and Indian Restaurants
Taste –  Fresh challah
Texture –  The mottled rubber of my taxi steering wheel

Thanks Graham!

Check out Graham’s London cab tours on his website, www.londoncabtours.co.uk

GIVEAWAY

Graham has very kindly offered to give one lucky LLO reader a free London tour in his cab! The tour will last two hours. Graham will pick you up and drop you off anywhere in central London and you’re welcome to choose any of his tour themes (which you’ll find on his website). The tour can take place any day time, which will be decided between Graham and the winner.

TO ENTER

I’m trying to spread the word about my new blog, Little Observationist. To enter, please share the link (http://www.littleobservationist.com) on any of your social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, etc). For each place you share, leave a comment here on this entry and let me know where you shared the link. Extra entries for Facebook page likes.

DEADLINE

Entries will be accepted until the midnight GMT, Sunday January 26. A winner will be selected at random on Monday January 27th and notified by email. The winner will be put in touch with Graham directly to make the tour arrangement as above.

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Giveaway: 3 Pairs of Affordable Art Fair Tickets

I’m back in London for a few days (Copenhagen was brilliant), am happy to announce that I’ve officially reached my funding goal for my exhibition (thank you so much to all who pledged) and thought I’d continue the art theme with a fun giveaway.

THE GIVEAWAY

I’ve teamed up with BIC who have three pairs of tickets saved for a couple of lucky Little London Observationist readers who’d like to head over to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park this week.  It runs from 24-27 October and you can pick up a snazzy new piece of art for your flat from around £40.

HOW TO ENTER & OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

Simply leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question:

How many Sudoku puzzles can one BIC® Cristal® pen complete?
a)     984
b)     985
c)     986

The winners will be selected and notified by the kind people at BIC who will make sure you receive your tickets. The competition will run for 48 hours, until 9pm on Thursday night.

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THE REASON & ANOTHER CHALLENGE

BIC is feeling generous due to the launch of their 2013 BIC® Cristal® Challenge and this is part of the celebration. It’s another competition that will also result in Affordable Art Fair tickets for the winners plus a tenner. The challenge? Use up all the ink in one BIC® Cristal® Medium pen.

To show London how it’s done, they have renowned artist Funny Tummy hanging out at the Affordable Art Fair where he’s going to attempt to create a giant London cityscape using just one pen…and all the ink.

And that’s a lot of ink. Apparently, there’s 3km of the black stuff in each BIC pen. That means each one can sign up to 9,431 signatures, complete 986 sudoku puzzles or write 506 postcards. Who knew?

If you want to give it a go, get your hands on a pen, use up all the ink, send the empty pen to BIC and they’ll send you £10. There’s more info at Facebook.com/BICCreativity.

In the meantime, leave your answer to the question above in a comment for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Affordable Art Fair. Pass it on!

GOOD LUCK!

GIVEAWAY: A Mi-Bra

This giveaway is one for the ladies (or guys in need of some brownie points)!

My innovative friend Carolina Baker (who wrote a guest post on LLO last week and who I’ve also interviewed for the blog) designed a wonderful product called a Mi-Bra.

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It’s a sports bra made with organic cotton, so it’s comfortable to run in, but the best thing about it? It has a little pocket at the front which will hold an iPhone, keys or an Oyster card.

Carolina is giving one away to a lucky LLO winner, so if you need some new motivation to get fit, all you have to do is:

1.) Like LLO on Facebook

2.) Like Carolina’s Facebook Page

3.) Let us know in the comments why you’d like a Mi-Bra!

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DEADLINE: The deadline is midnight on June 26th when a winner will be chosen at random from the comments.

Spread the word and good luck! 

GIVEAWAY: Pair of Tickets to See Roger Hodgson of Supertramp at Royal Albert Hall

I grew up with the sounds of Supertramp – The Logical Song, Dreamer, Give a Little Bit. My dad was a roadie with the band long before I was born and has shared plenty of stories. Supertramp were the first concert I went to at the age of 11. Co-founder Roger Hodgson still plays solo shows singing the songs he wrote for Supertramp and is currently on a worldwide Breakfast in America tour. (Here’s a review from a happy fan who saw him play last month.)

Excited to hear he has a show on May 25th at the Royal Albert Hall, an amazing London venue, I bought tickets. I’ll be travelling for work now which means I won’t be able to go, so I thought I’d give away my pair of tickets to one of you!

THE GIVEAWAY:
One pair of tickets to see Roger Hodgson at The Royal Albert Hall in London on Saturday May 25th

HOW TO ENTER:

1.) Share the link to Little London Observationist either on one of your social networks or in some way – perhaps a friend who you know might like to follow along.

2.) After you shared the link, leave a comment on the blog to let me know where you shared it and why you want the tickets!

THE DEADLINE: 
I will need time to get them to you, so I’ll ask a friend to choose a winner by selecting a random number correlated to the comments on the blog on May 16, one week from today.

Good luck!

Giveaway: Stik Street Art Postcard

I have 10 Photo Larks postcards to give away featuring a piece by street artist Stik in East London. They are black and white and fabulous, something to stick on that bulletin board at work, right?  🙂

Stik

Want a reason to get excited for the post for the next few days? All you have to do is leave a link to Little London Observationist on one of your social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, your own blog, etc) and send me your name and address and let me know where you shared the link!

Email me at stephanie.sadler.23@gmail.com or get in touch via Facebook.

First 10 to share the link and send their address get the cards. Open worldwide. Have fun!

CONTEST CLOSED! All 10 have been claimed. Stay tuned. There will be another postcard giveaway soon. Feel free to keep promoting the LLO link though! 😉