Category Archives: UK

10 Sherlock Filming Locations

As a relatively late convert to the latest BBC adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories (I’m now a mad Cumberbatch fan, too), I thought I’d have a look at where some of the most famous “Sherlock” filming locations.

221B Baker Street

187 North Gower Street & Sherlock Fans

187 North Gower Street & Sherlock Fans

The address, which made its first appearance as the famous fictional detective’s residence in the book “A Study in Scarlet”, doesn’t appear in the recent BBC1 series. The actual 221B Baker Street is occupied by the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a small institution with a waxworks room, a drawing room well laid out in Victorian style, and a gift shop.

For the purposes of the new series, a nearby street location serves for exterior shots – 187 North Gower Street in Bloomsbury. The current resident copes very well indeed with the  crowds of tourists taking selfies outside his door (all day at the weekend); and was amused to receive a letter addressed to the actors who the Sherlock fan letter-writer believed lived inside. Interiors are shot in film studios in Cardiff.

Speedy’s Café

The Cumberbatch having brekkie at Speedy's (Radio Times)

The Cumberbatch having brekkie at Speedy’s (Radio Times)

The café used by Holmes and Watson in the series, Speedy’s Café, is on the ground floor of 187 North Gower Street, and, being seen regularly in Sherlock (interiors and exteriors) it’s benefited enormously from its prime position. At time of writing it has nearly 18,000 Twitter followers!

Its owner, Chris Georgiou says, “Customers ask me what it’s like, what the actors are like. I’ve always said they’re a lovely crew, lovely actors, lovely people.” (From an Independent article.) He’s hoping to have a cameo in the next series.


Appledore aka Swinhay House

Appledore aka Swinhay House

The high tech home of super-baddy Charles Augustus Magnussen from the last episode of the third series, is in real life Swinhay House near North Nibley in Gloucestershire. Owned by millionaire engineer Sir David McMurtry, it’s a spiral-designed 30,000ft “futuristic mansion” whose swimming pool has a floating floor so that the water level can be adjusted. The engineer doesn’t live in the house, however, because his wife thinks it’s too “flashy”.

Leinster Gardens

Leinster gardens aerial shot (Bing Maps)

Leinster gardens aerial shot (Bing Maps)

The dummy houses featured in finale episode of Series 3 are in fact “real” dummy houses. 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens in Paddington were pulled down to make way for the Metropolitan Railway (the world’s first underground railway) and, instead of leaving a distasteful gap where locomotives used to vent off their smoke and steam, a frontage was built that matched that of its neighbours.

St Bart’s Hospital


The Cumberbatch and his double outside St Bart's Hospital

The Cumberbatch and his body double outside St Bart’s Hospital (PacificCoastNews)

Sherlock meets Watson both in the original stories and in the BBC series in a lab in St Bart’s, and it’s the connection with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation that led to the Tokyo “Sherlock Holmes Appreciation Society” to donate a grand sum of £650 to the “Save Barts” campaign in the 1990s. There’s also a plaque in Bart’s Pathology Museum in commemoration of the meeting of two of the most famous characters in literary history on their premises.

The Sherlock fan site Sherlockology details a visit to the building in an attempt to scour the area for clues after Sherlock’s “fatal” fall. The roof of St Bart’s and extensive exterior shots appeared in the exciting climax of Series 2, but the spoilsports won’t let you visit the roof to act out your Sherlock/Moriarty fantasies.

The phone box that you see in the image above was filled with hand-written notes commemorating the so-called “death” of Sherlock at the end of Series 2:

Touching notes in the Sherlock phone box

Touching notes in the Sherlock phone box

Tapas Brindisa Soho

Tapas Brindisa from Sherlock

Sherlock fan outside Tapas Brindisa Soho (Sherlock Tour)

The window seat in the Tapas Brindisa (then known as Tierra Brindisa) in “Northumberland Street” (actually 46 Broadwick Street) was occupied by Messrs Cumberbatch and Freeman in Series 1. Unfortunately it’s  been refurbished since the episode was shot, so you won’t quite be able to recreate the famous scene exactly:

Brindisa Tapas Soho in Sherlock Series 1

Tapas restaurant scene in Sherlock Series 1



Sherlock and Watson in Chinatown (or are they?)

Sherlock and Watson in Chinatown (or are they?)

London’s Chinatown isn’t quite what it seems in the Series 1 episode, The Blind Banker. Yes, Sherlock and Watson are seen walking down Gerrard Street, the iconic Chinatown street in London’s West End, but exteriors and interiors for The Lucky Cat shop were shot at 183 Upper Dock Street, Newport, Wales.

You’ll not find a shop selling Chinese wares there, however – the place was transformed purely for the filming (at the moment it’s a beauty salon called Glamour & Glitz). Upper Dock Street itself was transformed with the addition of Chinese lanterns and painted street bollards. This isn’t the only Newport/London fakery that’s taken place in Sherlock. One of the scenes in a supposed London kebab shop in Episode 1, Series 3 was filmed in Adonis Kebabs, for instance:

Sherlock filming in Adonis Kebabs, Newport (

Sherlock filming in Adonis Kebabs, Newport (

Swimming Pool

Bristol South Swimming Pool

Bristol South Swimming Pool (Bristol Post)

The atmospheric swimming pool that sees the showdown with Moriarty in the last episode of Series 1 was filmed in Bristol South Swimming Pool, where Mark Gatiss learned to swim, according to Sherlockology. It’s a fantastically well preserved Victorian pool complete with poolside changing rooms,  in a Grade II listed building in Dame Emily Park in the city.

 Irene Adler’s House

Irene Adler at Eaton Square

44 Eaton Square in well-to-do Belgravia serves for exterior shots of “The Woman’s” house. The interiors were, again, shot in Newport: in a private residence known as Fields House that’s also been seen in episode “Blink” of Dr Who.

Irene Adler's drawing room, Aka Fields House, Newport

Irene Adler’s drawing room, Aka Fields House, Newport

Let’s hope it won’t be another two years until we can add some new locations for Series 4 and the return of Moriarty!

Walking London: Hidden And Not So Hidden Gems

Walking London, there’s something new to see around every corner. I’ve lived here for eight years now and I never cease to be amazed. It may something historic, entertaining, jaw-droppingly gorgeous, sadly neglected, about to disappear, or it may be downright queer. Whatever, it’s all good fun.

Here are a selection of photos I’ve taken on recent walks around the city – some of the sights I’ll be going into in more depth in later posts.

Britain at War Experience

Britain at War – Closed January 2013

The Britain at War Experience in Tooley Street is a London museum I never got to visit. If you haven’t visited you’ve left it too late as well because as of January 2013 it closed for good – the redevelopment of London Bridge station put paid to it. The exhibits however have been bought by an organisation called the Bay Trust, so they may well pop up somewhere else in the near future. One exhibit I hope doesn’t disappear is the V2 rocket strapped to the side of the building and visible from Platform 1 of London Bridge station. It surprised the hell out of me when I first it from the station, I tell you.

v2 rocket London Bridge station

The very surprising V2 Rocket at London Bridge

Here’s a video of the Britain at War Experience.

One of the best things about urban life is spotting new street art and just because Banksy’s art is now more well known for its monetary value than anything else there’s a ton of other stuff waiting to be uncovered. I was touched by this little illustration. (Can’t remember where I saw it, though).

death to traffic lights

Death to Traffic Lights

The George Inn off Borough High Street in Southwark is the only galleried inn left standing in London (fires, bulldozers and  World War Two bombings have put paid to the rest) and was  a major stop-off for the horse-pulled coaches coming to London in the 17th century.

The George Inn, Southwark

The George Inn, Southwark

It’s owned by the National Trust these days, but don’t let that put you off – it operates as a normal pub. The ubiquitous Charles Dickens gave it a short but sweet mention in Little Dorrit “if he [Tip Dorrit] goes into the George and writes a letter”.

Decoration at Cross Bones Graveyard

Decoration at Cross Bones Graveyard

Above is a recent photo of one of the newer decorations added to the gates at Cross Bones Graveyard, where the remains of thousands of prostitutes, children and the destitute lie. A monthly vigil is held at the site in memory of these unfortunates. The International Union of Sex Workers hope the graveyard will be  “…the first World Heritage site dedicated to sex workers… a permanent garden of celebration and remembrance to honour their lives.” Read more about Cross Bones.

Senate House - University of London

Senate House – University of London

The wonderful thing about a good guided walk is the research put into it and even if you only come away with one or two new things it’s been worth it, in my opinion. Yannick Pucci puts a lot of work into his walks and  I think I can say that everyone who was on the Art Deco Bloomsbury tour one blustery Saturday was well satisfied with the tidbits learned.

This photo is of one my favourite buildings, the Senate House, administrative centre of the University of London and I’m sure Yannick won’t mind me saying that this was intended to be part of a much larger site. At 370m in length it would have completely changed the character of this literary part of London. The scale was pulled back when critics like George V said it would look too much like a battleship. Read this article for images of the beautiful detailing on the inside of the building.

Syd's Coffee Stall - Shoreditch

The Oldest Coffee Stall in London – Syd’s

Another tour guide I go out with regularly in London is Ken Titmuss. aka Old Map Man. He introduced me to a couple of local gems on his Shoreditch walk. There’s Syd’s coffee stall that’s still run by the same family (above)…

…and a 500 year old morgue that looks like a garden shed:

Shoreditch morgue

Shoreditch Morgue dating from 1500

Yes, that really is a morgue – and it has a connection with Jack the Ripper.

More on these two anachronisms in a later post.

As long as you’ve got the energy to cope with the crowds, you never do tire of London :o)

Christie’s: An Out of the Ordinary Exhibition

Buffalo horn hat from "Out of the Ordinary" sale at Christies


Christie’s in South Kensington, London will be holding a one-off sale of unusual items in their “Out of the Ordinary” auction on September 5th 2013. As the items are open to the public to view,  I went along yesterday to take a few snaps.

There’s a lot of great stuff in the salesrooms, and here a few of the photos that worked out:

Two-headed calf at Christie's

Two-headed calf

This very Fortean stuffed two-headed calf dates from the second half of the twentieth century and was made to demonstrate polycephaly (having more than one head).


Titanic bell

Titanic bell

Well, it isn’t actually from the real Titanic. This is a copy used in the 1958 film “A Night to Remember”, starring Kenneth More.


Chaise Madame chair - Denis Cospen

Chaise Madame chair

Denis Copen-designed anthropomorphic chair.


Chaise monsieur chair - Denis Copen

Chaise monsieur chair

And here’s the bloke version!


Cygan robot

Cygan robot

Cygan is an Italian humanoid robot made in 1957 by aeromodeller Dr Ing Fiorito from Turin. He made an appearance at the Windmill Theatre in London in 1958 and opened the British Food Fair of that year. In the 1970s he was sold to a Ford car dealership who named him “Moto” and after that stint found his way into a private collection. He used to be able to walk and turn around, but doesn’t have the facility to do that any more.


Bearded Lady painting Helene Detroyat

Bearded Lady painting

Hélène Detroyat painted this intriguing image of a bearded lady.


Vivienne Westwood hats

Vivienne Westwood hats

The incomparable British designer Vivienne Westwood created the buffalo diamante-horned and bicorne hats pictured above, as well as two cowboy hats that are also being auctioned.


Silvered bronze skeleton

Silvered bronze skeleton

Derek the skeleton (that’s what I’ve called him, anyway) probably comes from Germany and was made in the second half of the twentieth century.


Hiroshi Furuyoshi painting

Hiroshi Furuyoshi painting

This extremely realistic and ever so slightly disturbing was painted by Furuyoshi in 2012.


Cave bear skelton

Cave bear skelton

The cave bear died out 27,500 years ago but fortunately we have really well preserved skeletons like this one, simply because the creatures liked to hide out in caves.


Map of Paris, 1739

Map of Paris, 1739

This enormous birds-eye map of Paris shows buildings such as the Tuileries palace and Bastille prison that no longer exist.


Stuffed peacock

Stuffed peacock

The image doesn’t do justice to the colours of this magnificent peacock.


Marijuana poster

Marijuana poster

America’s drug problem in the 1940s was apparently all down to the nazis, according to the film that this poster advertised (Devil’s Harvest). Doh! to that incorrectly placed apostrophe.

There’s a lot more to see at Christie’s saleroom in South Kensington, so get yourself along before September 5th.

Review: The Forge and Foundry in Camden Town

Camden Town is either a dump, an exciting and vibrant area, a madhouse or a great location, depending on who you speak to.

What it is not is quiet and laid back.

Which is why I’m very pleased to tell you there’s a music venue and restaurant in this inner city area of London where you find peace and quiet, excellent music (and the odd comedy gig or two), if you need it. It’s called The Forge and Foundry.

Just off the main drag that is Camden High Street, The Forge is an arts venue that was opened in 2009 by musicians Adam and Charlotte Caird. It’s an environmentally friendly place designed by Camden architects Burd Haward specifically designed for “small ensemble playing” according to their website. The centre specialises in jazz and classical music.

The Foundry Restaurant, Camden

The Foundry Restaurant

The restaurant is a separate entity in the same building, and it’s called The Foundry – tables can be reserved to watch the events in the adjoining Forge with food supplied by The Foundry.

We visited on a Friday night, when most of Camden’s pubs are filled to bursting with punks, hipsters, tourists and 14 year olds and were pleased to find a little cool haven of tranquility (it was a stiflingly hot day outside).

It’s a beautiful space with wood-clad walls and photos of jazz cats that I’m afraid I didn’t recognise, with very listenable-to jazz being played (not that improvisational stuff that drives a person insane after five minutes listening to it.)

We went for the four small plates menu (four for a tenner) and had healthy tid-bits like chicken goujons, feta and watermelon and crab salad (too much cold potato in it for me, but that’s just me and cold potato). Normal sized main courses are available, too. The food was very good and washed down nicely with a very good pint of Meteor white beer.

The Forge Music Venue, Camden

The Forge Music Venue

The event we were here to see was the Kirsty McGee Trio, part of a summer female artists festival, so we moved on into the music venue part of the building (past the only indoor living wall – 6.5 metres high – in the UK, apparently).

Kirsty’s mix of blues, jazz and folk (all written by herself) was beautiful and atmospheric. In fact, she’s such a good song writer than Danny Boyle has featured one of her tunes has featured in his recent film, Trance. (And my husband has now bought two of her CDs!)

It was a quiet audience to suit the venue but we were appreciative, and speaking for my husband and I anyway, we had a great, chilled out evening after a long work week. The cocktails we had after the beer might have helped …

(Disclosure – we were given tickets to the gig, but paid for our own food and drink. And we’ll definitely be back on our own expense account!)

Have you any chilled-out Camden places you can recommend? I’d love to hear about them below.








5 Bonkers Scarecrow Festivals


What do a chicken, a bridal party, Boris Johnson hanging from a washing line waving the Union Jack and The Simpsons have in common?


Scarecrow bridal party - Kettlewell Scarecrow festival

Scarecrows of course…

They’re just some of the many carefully crafted bugaboos that have made their appearance in some of the scarecrow festivals held in the UK over the past few years.

I’ve been disappointed to find out that there’s no folk history aspect to all of this scarecrowing (all the festivals have come into being relatively recently) but they all do a power of good for their local communities, raising money, morale and no doubt some deadly competitive instincts.

Kettlewell Cork Man

Kettlewell Cork Man (

Kettlewell scarecrow festival

This year’s festival runs from 10th – 18th August and festivities include following a trail of scarecrows round the village; identifying them and finding clues; enjoying tea and buns in the village hall and daily prize-giving for the lucky trail winners.

It’s an event that’s growing in popularity every year, attracting thousands to the small village of Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales. Let’s hope it’s not rained off this year, as was Britain’s other scarecrow festival last year – the Muston Scarecrow Festival…

Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival Website

Muston Scarecrow Festival

Muston Scarecrow Festival - The Simpsons

The Simpsons at the Muston Scarecrow Festival (Flickr)

This too is a Yorkshire event and it’s on at the moment (running until 4th August), so there’s still a little time to get there.

It’s so popular after recent coverage on the BBC that their website isn’t working as I write, but presumably that won’t have an affect on the number of visitors.

Muston Scarecrow Festival Website

Wray Village Fair and Scarecrow Festival

Giant Scarecrow Parade - Wray

Giant Scarecrow Parade – Wray (

Scarecrows are just a small part of the annual festival that has been taking place in Wray in Lancashire since 1894.  A giant scarecrow parade, car boot sale, classic bike and car gatherings and a vintage market are just some of the events that take place over the May Day weekend.

Wray Village Fair And Scarecrow Festival Website

Urchfont Scarecrow Festival

Crocodile Dundee scarecrow

Crocodile Dundee scarecrow

The Urchfont festival in Wiltshire, in common with all of events mentioned on this page, use the scarecrow trail idea as a way of raising funds for local amenities. This one, held annually in May, originally began as a way to raise money for a new village hall, and this year (2013) they raised a massive £37K+ for various causes.

Urchfont Scarecrow Festival Website

Harpole Village Scarecrow Festival

Harpole Scarecrow Festival

This enterprising lot in Harpole Village, Northampton, have an open top double decker bus touring the town, and this year they’re featuring a geocaching route too. Games and stalls galore and a novelty scarecrow themed bicycle ride around town are planned for this September’s festival.

Harpole Village Scarecrow Website

Have you visited any of these, or any other scarecrow festivals in the UK? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments box below.




Alexandra Park and Palace: 150 Years and Still Going Strong


16 days and 120,000 visitors after it opened in 1873, Alexandra Palace in North London burned down.

The newly rebuilt Palace opened again 2 years later. The Palace along with its gardens perched on a hill high above London was an enormous public recreation ground and the place where the first public television transmissions took place.

And then large parts were ruined by fire again in 1980.

The Palace re-opened in 1988 and Alexandra Park and Palace is now a major music and corporate event venue. It also hosts a weekly farmer’s market, it’s home to a very popular ice-rink, has a great pond for duck-watching, and has one of the best views in London. And it’s a wonderful building.

Ally Pally is celebrating its 150th anniversary on Sunday, and I for one will be popping along to see what’s happenin’ Here are the details

Here are some gorgeous photos of this historic but really unlucky building if you can’t make it on Sunday:

Ally Pally from the air

Ally Pally from the air (Wikipedia)

The view from Alexandra Palace

The view from the Palace (

White Stripes at Alexandra Palace

The White Stripes were there! (Flickr)

Happy 150th Ally Pally!