A new cable car swings out over the Thames!

Today was another big day in London. We have so many at the moment in the build up to the Olympics but this was a good one marked by the opening of London’s first cable car across the Thames on a bright sunny day. We also saw the Queen unveil the memorial to the crews of Bomber Command in the Second World War, a new monument in Green Park, but more of that in a future blog.

I hopped onto a Thames Clipper boat to zoom to the start of the cable car at the 02 Arena, or North Greenwich Arena as it will be called during the Olympics to avoid brand advertising! These boats are a great way to travel and on a warm and sunny day it was a perfect way to arrive. 

Thames Clipper

The new cable car route goes from the 02 to the Excel Centre (also called the Royal Docks) which is a short 5-10 minute ride. I got on at the 02 side and the entrance is just a short walk from the Thames Clipper jetty or the tube station. More branding is on show on your approach the station as Emirates have sponsored the cable car and call it their Air Line – could be confusing on internet searches!


Boarding is very smooth and reminiscent of being in a ski resort, but much easier without the skis and poles. There are 34 cars travelling around the circuit each holding 10 people but as the service had only opened 2 hours before I boarded, I got a car all to myself and  could easily take my photos. As soon as it is running at full capacity, 2,500 people an hour will be swinging across the Thames in each direction. 

Getting on the cable cars
The cars head out across the Thames

The views as you swing over the Thames are amazing and the cars do swing a little but nothing too scary. You can catch a great vista over the 02 Arena back to the sky scrapers of the City. Looking downstream you catch sight of the Thames Barrier, open again after being in action during the Jubilee Pageant to keep the river flow in check. 


The Olympic Park is easily identifiable in the distance by the red curling frame of the Orbit tower and the view along the dock alongside the Excel Centre takes the eye along to the City Airport.


The white towers supporting the cable wires form a graceful line across the river and the cars themselves comfortable with plenty of glass to take in the views. . I enjoyed it so much that I got back on again and took the return journey!

Arriving at the Excel Centre

This new cable car has opened ahead of schedule and will be very busy in a month’s time linking Olympic venues on opposite sides of the river.  I really enjoyed my trip and it was fun to be among the first to use it!

Bye for now,

Lord Mayor’s Show in London since 1189!

Winter is really on its way now and it’s gone rather cold on us but there’s plenty of indoor stuff to do in London and those from northerly climes would not even call this cold – you need just wrap up warmly and walk briskly and you are fine!

Last Saturday was the annual Lord Mayor’s show which has been held in some form or other since 1189 making it the world’s oldest civic procession and in all that time it has only missed one year, in 1852, for Wellington’s funeral! The parade was huge with the armed forces, the guilds of the City of London, businesses and a mix of people on foot, on horseback, in grand carriages, vintage vehicles and even in a massive piece of farm equipment – no idea what that was called…. I went to see this at Mansion House where there was a grandstand for presenting arms to the Lord Mayor and these arms were muskets presented by Civil War soldiers. The Mayor-ship (I doubt that’s the right term!) is a one year appointment so each year this event celebrates the new person taking office. The was a sense of fun running through the parade with many of the serious looking gents in carriages waving hand puppets around! There were huge crowds enjoying the parade who all wandered over to the Thames to ooh and aah at the spectacular fireworks. A great day out for all and all free which is a great bonus with all the talk of cuts at the moment. The photos show the parade, the toys (can you spot the glove puppet sheep?), real dogs and dog costumes from the PDSA charity, the Lord Mayor waving from his carriage and one firework shot across the Thames to St Pauls.
It was a big week for those of us in the travel industry as the World Travel Market arrived in force taking up the whole of the massive Excel Centre in east London. There were fancy stands from every country in the world and some seemed as big as a country! There was so much to see and people to catch up with that it was exhausting but it‘s a major event in the industry year so great to be there. A few photos just for fun – Paddington continues the soft toys theme, the komodo dragon made me look twice and the Korean stand saved me by serving very tasty lunch!

It was a delight to show a visiting American around London and we wandered our way through the tried and tested favourites: Downing Street, Big Ben, Thames Cruise and British Museum. I never tire of these….

Just one more thing to squeeze into this week’s jumbo photo blog was a charity event at Mary Portas Giving and Living shop on Westbourne Grove. It was the kick off for their online auction of Killer Heels against Killer Diseases and they have gathered designer shoes – Manolos, Westwoods and Choos – and donations from famous locals – Pixie Lott, Nigella, Jonathan Ross etc. So we viewed the shoes over a glass of bubbly, with many of the clever window display you can see on the photo, and decided which ones to bid for. Great idea Mary!

Bye for now,


Exhibitions and exhibitionists

Last week was full of exhibitions. It was the World Travel Market in London’s massive ExCel exhibition centre out east in the Docklands. It was sadly only for travel trade people, sadly because there must have been a stand from every country in the world and for a lover of travelling it was heaven. However, I was a there a couple of days for work and restrained myself from spending too much time looking at the wonders of South America and Africa.

It was a misty couple of days and the photo from the terrace captures that feel in contrast to the mad, busy, bright interior of the event.

I’ve been to a couple of great public exhibitions this week. One was a photographic delight – Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. This traces the course of the 60s and its pop stars through brilliant photography and magazine and album covers. It’s great fun to see all these icons in their earlier seemingly innocent times when we know what is in store for them. Each caption mentioned a key song from that artist at that time so there was shameless singing along from many visitors, including us at one point I must admit!
The second was at the wonderful Victoria and Albert Museum who are hosting the Maharja: Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. It’s a tour through their world over a couple of centuries of colour and excess. We saw fabulous jewels and paintings and even their 20th century luxuries when their commissions kept Rolls Royce and Van Cleef & Arpels extremely busy. There’s a lot of information and it look nearly 2 hours to get around and a coffee afterwards in the extravagantly decorated V&A cafe was essential.
From a lost worlds of Indian princes and the 60s to a film about lost millions and the internet but all about living lives on the public stage. ‘We Live in Public’ won the documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival and traces the life of Josh Harries, a pioneer in the cyber world through his rise and crash including a section where he lives with his partner on camera 24/7 in a fore runner of films and TV to come. Josh himself was at the cinema for Q&A afterwards which was strange as the film portrays him as an interesting but very unsympathetic character, both of which were borne out in person. We squeezed in cocktails at the Criterion bar and a wonderful lunch in one of Soho’s authentic Italian restaurants – Il Porchetta – huge bowls of lovely pasta and very reasonably priced.
It feels like winter is nigh and the Christmas lights are coming on all over London – more on that next week and perhaps some photos.
Bye for now.
Sue Hillman