Building A Community Network: 5Fields

8 Dec , 2015  

I’ve been experimenting with an online community network for Pimlico, London and I’ve launched a prototype at It’s intended to be a resource for local residents and businesses to communicate with each other and to keep up with what’s going on in the area.

Pimlico has historically had a fairly strong community, mainly because nobody else was interested in a grimy, bomb-damaged backwater after the WW2 Blitz, and untrendy, normal families could afford to live there. But the London of 2015 is a different World and lots of it isn’t talking to each other, digitally or otherwise. Although our modern lifestyle no longer includes gossiping over the garden fence, we need something to replace that network.

The site is starting out with local Residents Associations, planning and development. Boring but necessary!

The site is still a bit wonky but I’d be glad of your comments and suggestions.

Pimlico people and neighbours – get in touch!


Piercefield House, Wye Valley, by Sir John Soane

18 Sep , 2013  

Piercefield House by Sir John Soane, Monmouthshire

John Martin, The Wye Valley, from Wyndcliffe towards Chepstow 1844

“I am more and more convinced that it is far the most beautiful place I ever saw”, is what botanist and explorer Joseph Banks said about Piercefield Park and he’d certainly been around a bit. Piercefield Park estate overlooks the glorious Wye Valley, Wales, and previous owners had begun to turn it into the picturesque landscape of national repute which had so impressed Banks. It’s current owner is Arena Racing Company, run by the Reuben brothers. Ruined and forgotten in a field next to the Chepstow racecourse is Piercefield House, one of Sir John Soane’s earliest projects, which he built between 1785-93 when his architectural career was just taking off.

Piercefield House by Sir John Soane, Monmouthshire

John Soane had returned from his momentous Grand Tour of Italy and Sicily in 1780 and made his first faltering steps to becoming one of England’s most influential architects. Piercefield was bought by banker George Smith in 1784-5 from Valentine Morris, who had laid out the Piercefield Walks, and Smith commissioned the young John Soane to rebuild the existing house in grand neo-classical style. Two years after reconstruction had begun and with the main structure largely completed, Smith was bankrupted and surrendered the estate to his creditors. At this stage building work to a reduced design had begun at Piercefield and a letter from the clerk of works to Soane (14 January 1793) states that the ‘the Roof will be on next week for slaters to begin slating’. Construction work presumably continued for a brief while so that the roof would have been completed and Soane’s elevation for the entrance front was certainly built and exists in a ruined state today (* Soane Drawings). More…

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All At Sea: Rumpus Party Onboard MS Stubnitz

6 Mar , 2013  

A sea creature at Rumpus on MS Stubnitz

So, my beauties, there we were, on the deck of the MS Stubnitz, late of Hamburg, now come to Canary Wharf, the icy air seeking out our exposed flesh, surrounded by all manner of weird creatures, some with the smell of seamen about them, but many from Worlds strange and unfathomable. We found ourselves in the midst of a great rumpus of noise and commotion, at once assailed and bewildered by the desperate voyage now embarked.

3 mermaids at Rumpus party aboard MS Stubnitz

Gentle reader, we saw three genuine mermaids, sirens of legend and lore, their tails flecked with the colours of the deep, their heads and breasts home to corals and anemones of every kind. They sang too, in slight Estuary tones, but passable nonetheless for they must have rehearsed it under water. More…



A Fine Affair: The Black Cat Cabaret at Café de Paris

5 Mar , 2013  

The Black Cat Cabaret

While Boom Boom is on vacation, Café de Paris has been taken over by this new production featuring some BB members. Last Friday saw the final show for the Black Cat‘s opening cast, so I went along to see them off.
The Black Cat Cabaret

The fluted columns and velvet-lined interior of the Café de Paris evoke the days of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Noel Coward, a sympathetic environment for the Black Cat Cabaret. Front man Dusty Limits, in Montmartre mode, does his irrepressible best as ‘Maître des Cérémonies’ for a slightly naughty but mainly nice lineup of London’s established cabaret acts. More…

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L’Oasi del Riccio restaurant, Puglia [review]

23 Dec , 2012  

L'Oasi del Riccio, Puglia - signpost

It was in the middle of nowhere, a dusty track off the coast road from Torre Canne heading up to Savelletri, a few large tents stuck together and a portacabin. L’Oasi del Riccio wasn’t pretty, it didn’t have a view to die for nor did it offer a fine dining experience. Hell, it didn’t offer solid walls. But who cares? It cooked me the freshest seafood in an unpretentious Pugliese style and served it straight to my plastic table parked next to an azure sea.


L'Oasi del Riccio, Puglia - swordfish and squid

Raw squid was delicate, sweet, good texture and tasted very fresh. Good swordfish carpaccio, meaty flavour, lots of olive oil. More…

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Famous Architects Dressed as their Buildings, 1931

8 Dec , 2012  

New York’s most famous architects dressed up at the 1931 Beaux-Arts costume ball, Paris, as the buildings they designed.

From left to right: A Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria, Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building, William Van Alen as the Chrysler, Ralph walker as 1 Wall Street, D.E.Ward as the Metropolitan Tower and Joseph H. Freelander as the Museum of New York.

(from Chas Hutton via SwissMiss) More background at The New York Times.



Lee Broom talks at Pecha Kucha for LDF2012 [podcast]

26 Sep , 2012  

British interior and product designer Lee Broom has has designed over 40 bar and restaurant interiors across the UK, has won a whole bunch of awards, and The Times called him ‘The pin-up of British manufacturing’ not too long after he formed his own company in 2008. So, without further ado, here is the talk with the slides that he presented at PK9:

Lee Broom at Pecha Kucha London [podcast-slideshow-YouTube presentation] More…

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Designersblock show at Southbank for London Design Festival 2012

21 Sep , 2012  

Piers Roberts at Designersblock 2012, Southbank Centre, London

Designersblock 2012 is happening right now, underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, until this Sunday 23rd September. These are my iPhone photos. (This page is in progress until I get quotes from the designers. If you know any of them, tell them to email me!)


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Backstage with designersblock at London Design Festival 2012

20 Sep , 2012  

Backstage with designersblock at LDF2012

Designersblock is about to celebrate turning 15 years old at London Design Festival 2012 with a birthday party in a little-used space underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall and sundry other corners of the Southbank complex, including the Royal Festival Hall shop.

You are all invited.

Rory Dodd: ‘I always liked the Southbank; it’s a real crossroads kind of place. It’s got Londoners and it’s got tourists. It’s busy, multicultural, with a really wide mix of cultures and ages coming here or passing through.’ More…

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