Thursday, 5 March 2015

The #London Walks Reading List No.4. This Is London #WorldBookDay Special #WBD2015

OUR NEW SERIES! Throughout March & April 2015 we'll be compiling our definitive London Reading List. 

We've asked London Walks Guides & London Walkers to recommend a favourite book or story, and we've also raided the archives here at The Daily Constitutional to bring a rich and varied selection of London-themed and London-set reading matter.

Whether you live here in London, work here, play here or if you are in the throws of planning a trip to visit us here, these are the books you need to read. As usual, you can give us a shout with your own recommendations – thrillers, literary classics, biographies, anthologies, anything! – at the usual email address, via Twitter or Facebook, or simply leave a comment below.






Daily Constitutional editor Adam writes… Many of you will have packed the kids off to school this a.m dressed as a character from a favourite book to mark World Book Day 2015. My own seven-year-old is dressed up as Ada Goth from Chris Riddell's Goth Girl…



… wearing her big, clumpy boots because Ada's father Lord Goth believes that children should be heard and not seen.

Mr Riddell is also the political cartoonist of the Observer newspaper and a beloved author and illustrator in this house. Here's a lovely short film of Mr Riddell drawing Goth Girl…









What character would you dress up as for World Book Day 2015?



To mark World Book Day 2015, we're adding a Children's Classic to our London Reading List…



No.4. This is London (1959)
By Miroslav Sasek Universe Publishing Inc

Until few years ago, if one had been looking for the work of the great Miroslav Sasek, then several long days trekking round London’s great secondhand bookshops would have been the order of the day. No bad thing, of course. The forgotten art of browsing, particularly in secondhand bookshops, is one of London’s great pleasures.

This is London, however, is such a special book that it deserves to be widely available. Thankfully, some bright spark came up with idea of re-releasing (and updating) his children’s classics – and now you can pick them up everywhere from independent book retailers (support your local bookshop!) to the gift shops at Tate Modern (see the Along the Thames Pub Walk) and Festival Hall (Somewhere Else London).

Sasek was born in Prague in 1916, which is where he trained as an architect. It is as the illustrator and writer of the wonderful This is… series of children’s books that he will be remembered by generations of young readers. How many children caught the travel bug from Sasek’s masterpieces?

The first – This is Paris – was published in 1958. The second, and our favourite, of course, was This is London published the following year. This is how the Times Literary Supplement of the day reviewed it:

“The colour is magnificent and uninhibited, the draughtsmanship brilliant but unobtrusive (one gradually realizes that these bold, stylized drawings are minutely accurate as well as true in general impression). The humour is characteristic and pervasive but always subordinate. The jokes are all pointed. Miroslav Sasek has drawn the visitor's London from foggy arrival to rainy departure. His book is a series of impressions, unrelated, one would think, but they add up to a remarkably complete picture of the modern city. The words and pictures are closely integrated; each has it terse style and humour.”



The affection in which he holds his star – London herself – creates an effect akin to a great director eliciting a once-in-a-lifetime performance from a famous actress of whom her public thought they had seen everything: only to be delighted all over again with a fresh and new take.

Visit the Miroslav Sasek website at www.miroslavsasek.com.








A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The #London Walks Reading List No.3: The Savoy Cocktail Book


OUR NEW SERIES! Throughout March & April 2015 we'll be compiling our definitive London Reading List. 

We've asked London Walks Guides & London Walkers to recommend a favourite book or story, and we've also raided the archives here at The Daily Constitutional to bring a rich and varied selection of London-themed and London-set reading matter.

Whether you live here in London, work here, play here or if you are in the throws of planning a trip to visit us here, these are the books you need to read. As usual, you can give us a shout with your own recommendations – thrillers, literary classics, biographies, anthologies, anything! – at the usual email address, via Twitter or Facebook, or simply leave a comment below.





No.3 The Savoy Cocktail Book
by Harry Craddock (1930)


Patriotic American Harry Craddock was driven from his homeland by a wicked and draconian law: Prohibition. As a bar tender, Harry was out of a job. Luckily for London he washed up on the bank of the Thames at the Savoy Hotel, where he popularised the Dry Martini in the capital and invented some 200 cocktails.

He also penned The Savoy Cocktail Book (1965 edition shown), not a day out of print since 1930. Even now, Harry’s book still has few rivals for clarity, variety and – best of all – simplicity.

An illustration of this simplicity can be found in his deliciously unfussy Egg Nog:

1 Egg
1 tablespoon sugar
2 oz. of any spirit desired
Fill glass with milk
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate a little nutmeg on top.


Bish, bash and, indeed, bosh. A simple classic. The pages brim with golden rules and booze wisdom aplenty from the man who, legend has it, mixed the last legal cocktail in New York City in the minutes before midnight on 15th January 1920. (He cut it so fine that the last legal cocktail to be mixed became the first illegal one to be consumed, thrown back just after midnight.)

“What,” he was once asked, “is the best way to drink a cocktail?” His answer fizzes with both wit and cautionary wisdom: “Quickly, while it’s still laughing at you.”









A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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NEW! The Latest #London Walks Movie – Inside Covent Garden







A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Archive: The Sound of Rhubarb

A post from the Archive. Daily Constitutional editor Adam writes… This is one of my all-time favourite DC posts, by one of our best correspondents Ann Jones. What do I like so much? What's not to like about the sound of rhubarb growing? First posted on this day in 2009…






“Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet.” Thus spake Jakie Rabinowitz, as played by the immortal Jolson, in the first line of the first talkie, The Jazz Singer. He could well have been referring to Ann’s Foodie Walk. She’s been to hear the rhubarb grow, you know. Like the man said: you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. Over to Ann

“Rhubarb rhubarb… I’ve been to Yorkshire to see it growing in the dark. Inside candle-lit sheds there’s a pink rhubarb forest of two foot tall stalks, and a faint scent of… rhubarb. If you’re very quiet you can hear it growing – a kind of creaking noise. It was first forced here in London at Chelsea Physic Garden in 1817, when builders tipped soil over it accidentally, and found it weeks later, tender and pink.

The premium grade goes to Harrods and Harvey Nicks, the superior to supermarkets. Try a rhubarb tart – a disc of yeast dough (kind of pizza, soaks up the juice), covered with chunks of rhubarb and slivers of preserved ginger and syrup. And buy your rhubarb at Borough Market – where my food walk ends.”


A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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