A TOUR OF LONDON'S BEST KEPT SECRETS WITH THE HP SPECTRE AND LOOK UP LONDON
Have you ever realised how little you know about your own city's history and architecture? I think about it a lot, weirdly. London is one of those places that people can save up for and have the trip of a lifetime here. But for me, because I live here I often forget (slash take for granted) the amazing sights and rich history that we have on our doorstep. Well, doorstep ish... (Croydon doesn't really count as London but whatever!)
When I was recently challenged by HP to test drive their new Spectre 360 laptop's 12 hour battery life by taking it around London for a day I saw it as the perfect opportunity to school myself on some London 'ish.
I didn't want to do the typical bloggery rubbish - hanging out in hipster cafes or taking selfies outside brightly coloured Notting Hill houses (yawn). So, in line with HP's #KeepReinventing theme I wanted to showcase to you where I find my inspiration for styling, design, decor and photography.
Step in my incredibly cute and clever friend Katie who runs Look Up London - a tour company that runs one of the best walks in London. She helps people to discover the secrets hidden above London's eyeline - Could it be the perfect combination? Exploring new things, discovering stuff that's been in front of me the whole time I've lived in London yet I haven't noticed? You have to Keep Reinventing where you find inspiration when you live, breathe and work it every day. This was the perfect opportunity!
PSTTTTT! Keep reading to the end for a special giveaway you can get involved in!
I start the day by packing my bag with the essentials. Camera, oyster card and the HP spectre 360. I charged it up the night before and left the charger at home to really push me out of my comfort zone (can you imagine ever doing that with your laptop?! Argh!)
I have to be honest with you, when I was asked to take part in this challenge I was a bit sceptical. I became a Mac user when I was about 20 (10 years ago) and haven't really been on a PC since. Would it still be all clunky and slow? Would it have the stylish, ergonomic deisgn that a mac does? I literally didn't know what to expect. So when it turned up I was pretty pleasantly surprised.
It's thin. The keyboard is really nice to use. The screen is big, bright and clear - hard surface not soft (I am sure there is some kind of technical jargon for this but you know what I'm saying don't you!) then I realised you could flip it around 360 and use it as a touch screen tablet too, which is pretty cool if you ask me. It has quickly become my go to thing to use for watching Netflix in bed cos I can stand it up and have a nice big laptop sized screen without the keyboard underneath... anyway I digress.
It's pretty nice. It feels cool to use and due to it using the Windows 10 system which I had on my previous Nokia Lumia phone (did you ever see my ad for them? it features a cute baby Marley!), I could navigate around it pretty easily.
You get the picture. For a mac girl I found it surprisingly easy and enjoyable to start using this laptop. That's quite a big deal.
Anyway, onto the tour!
I met Katie at Temple tube station and we got our little tour on the road!
It was cold and a bit grizzly but we got going. Starting on the riverside near the Strand, one of the first sights I was shown was the disused tube station. I'd often heard about it but not ever seen where it was. Katie told me that inside it's been preserved with all of the old posters and adverts that were in place during it's opening. How cool is that? Apparently every year or so they open it up for tours. I'll defo try and get a ticket to that!
We then took a short stroll up the Strand taking in the beautiful sights.
Along the way I pulled out the laptop and took various notes about the buildings so that I could remember names for this blog post! I don't want to give too much of the tour away so I won't share all of it, but here are some of my highlights.
St Clements Danes - apparently where the nursery rhyme 'oranges and lemons' comes from, but they are rivalling another church who claim the same. I think they should wrestle each other to decide. No?
Which hides behind it the spire of the Royal Courts of Justice. An incredible building that I can't believe I'd never even noticed before the Look Up London tour.
How can I call myself a Londoner?!
Looks more like a cathedral than a court house to me - ornate Victorian gothic styling galore. And HUGE! This is just a tiny bit of the entrance.
Turn around and you find this. The amazing entrance to Twinings - the UK's longest established shop. That's to say it's family have had the same business there for the longest time (rather than it being the first if you get what I mean).
Katie then really indulged my decor side and showed me the Lloyds bank building on Strand. Yes, it's a bank building, can you believe? You need to go inside to really believe it. I'll leave that one for you to discover yourself or on Katie's tour! Here's a little of the entry...
The doors, the doors! Love that panelling detail.
Moving on, we strolled along the Strand and into Fleet street where Katie taught me all about how the city was divided between the City of London and the City of Westminster. I had always heard about that but never understood it.
Further on at St Dunstan in the West, I was shown the statue of King Ludd and his sons - only dating back to the flipping 15th or 16th century! As Katie rightly said, she was surprised that they are just out in the elements rather than being preserved in a museum. Her past role at the V&A and her Art History degree means she has a good knowledge of, well, basically everything.
I took notes on the Spectre. Because my brain is basically a sieve.
I can recall what Kim Kardashian ate for breakfast but not why the city of London is different to the City of westminster.
Now came one of my favourite parts of the tour - probably because I'm obsessed with pop culture and books. I won't say too much, but any guesses as to whom this famous door at the end of a secluded alley may belong to?!
After a few more fun facts, we came upon a pub that's been in existence since 1538 - destroyed in the great fire but built again shortly after. So old! I took a peek inside and it's incredible, definitely somewhere I'll be heading back to for a quirky dinner one night perhaps. It's literally like stepping back in time.
Then we moved onto what I love best, Art Deco! Along Fleet street live a few brilliant buildings that once were home to the UK's best newspapers.
Like the Daily Telegraphs ex building, now owned by Goldman Sachs.
Katy told me all about how the interior dripped with grandeur, and being the geek that I am I used the Spectre in tablet mode to google pictures of the inside.
HEAVEN! I need to get in there someday.
I also added to Katie that this could be a pretty useful presentation tool for her when she's out and about. She could share images with her tourers (so not a word) on touch screen tablet mode and then flip it back to the laptop to continue working in a coffee shop when she's done. Aren't I a great salesperson?!
She also showed me the Express building. Not so imposing to look at to start with, you'd almost even mistake it for a dated 90s building, but on closer inspection you see the simplicity of great Art Deco Design. Very Art Moderne actually, which came towards the tail end of Art Deco - if you wanna get schooled up on Art Deco then read my Art Deco Style 101. It's pretty banging.
The overhang on the left of the building was where the vans would load up the newspapers in the morning to shelter from rain. Cool huh! I love that it was built with this in mind.
Moving on to almost our final stop, St Brides. Aptly named as it is said that the spire inspired the first ever tiered wedding cake design! When Katie talked to me about it though, she said that the church had renamed itself at some point, they were called something before St Brides - Even the church aren't immune from marketing gimmicks it may seem.
I asked to peek inside and was so glad I did. One of the most slick interiors of a church I've ever seen. A grand piano... that monochrome flooring! BOOM!
Mate, if all churches looked like this I might start going.
Actually that's a total lie.
A little more Art Deco loveliness awaited our next turn, though in a more modern form.
Artist Emily Young has created a series of head sculptures near St Pauls Cathedral. Her works embody the Art Deco look. Bold and confident lines, with that flat style nose that you often see in illustrations from the era.
On viewing from the front, they take on a new life.
When I sat down after the tour I did a bit of research on Emily and really am finding her work rather fab. I may do a little intro to her on the blog some time in the future. Reinventing where I get inspiration from blog posts all the time thanks to this challenge!
Our last location was that of St Pauls cathedral.
Again, somewhere I remember learning about as a kid but not really paying attention to the detail or skill that these types of buildings require. It's so stunning!
The iconic steps were where we sat to chat over the tour and for me to start writing up what was to become this blog post.
I have to say a big thankyou to HP for letting me the Spectre 360 to take out for a test run and a massive thanks to Katie from Look Up London who gave me not only the most fun walking tour of London's Fleet Street but has also made me now sound way more intelligent than I am! I recommend both wholeheartedly.
If you want to take a look closer at the HP Spectre 360's features then click here, and share how you reinvent your ideas and stay fresh with inspiration using the #keepreinventing hashtag over on social media.
If you want to join Katie on one of her brilliant tours of London then click here.
I also have a little fun giveaway for one lucky reader - two free tickets to a Look Up London tour of your choice, on a date of your choice! Woop!
It's a really fun for a quirky date, or something to do with one of your friends. Inspiring and intellectual dahhling!
All you have to do to enter is...
Leave a comment below and tell me what you think the door down the alley might be from!
Need a clue? Ask Johnny.
* I was gifted both the laptop and my place on the walking tour, so a big thankyou to HP and Look Up London who made it happen! I only ever give honest reviews and write about brands and experiences that I've truly enjoyed and I think you will too. You know I'm as straight talking as they come! Thankyou to the brands and businesses that support my blog :) *