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Friday, 10 October 2014

View from the revolving restaurant on 34 floor of BT Tower in London, with photographs by Robert Timothy

One of the best things about being a photographer is the unexpected places you end up. Like the top of the BT Tower.

It's easily one of my favourite buildings in London so I was as excited as a child on E numbers to be able to head to its summit.

Bizarrely, my affection for the building comes from growing up in South Africa.

One of the iconic silhouettes on the Johannesburg skyline is the Hillbrow Tower. When I see the BT Tower it reminds me of its African counterpart, where I grew up. Who knew a building could make you a little homesick*?
* = see at the bottom of this post.

Many times I have looked up at the BT Tower and wondered what the view is like from the top. Thankfully, now I can show you.
(Suffice to add that I was up the Tower and snapping for personal reasons, these aren't "professional" pictures!...)

From the BT Tower, looking towards the City and Canary Wharf, at night...

View from the top of the BT Tower in London

OK, so how do you get to the top?

The observation deck, which used to house the revolting restaurant, is on the 34th floor and a lift whizzes you all the way up there, non-stop and pretty quickly. (That's around 18km/h in new money, by my sums...)

Lift travelling to top, inside BT Tower in London

If you look up at the BT Tower, the revolving restaurant is the widest section towards the top. The floor still moves and after a while it's more a sense of discombobulation than it is vertigo because the walls around you stand still as the view moves.

Revolving restaurant space on 34th floor of BT Tower in London

But none of that matters because of the spectacular view, around 150 metres above London.

Top of the BT Tower in London, restaurant at night with photos of Euston
Above: Euston Tower, UCL on the left and in the top right-hand corner you can see Arsenal's Etihad Stadium lit up.

View from the BT Tower restaurant, also known as the Post Office Tower
Above: View from the BT Tower towards Westminster, the red lights on the skyline include the broadcast tower at Crystal Palace. The very bright area on the right where two cranes are situated is Piccadilly Circus.

BT Tower at the top view of London from restaurant
Above: From left, the NatWest Tower (Tower 42), the Gherkin (33 St Mary Axe), The Leadenhall Building (Cheesegrater), 1 Canary Wharf and the Citi Group Centre next to it.

And finally, here is the full panoramic...

Panoramic from top of BT Tower, London

Above: The LED indicators that tell you where the lifts are in the building. They flicker so it's difficult to photograph them illuminated all at the same time.
(You're going to have to turn your screen sideways to appreciate the view...)

BT appears to only open the top of the Tower to special tour groups and corporate or charitable gigs which seems the only way to get up there.

If you get the chance to visit, drop everything and do it.

Finally, below are the two buildings I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one in London and the other in Johannesburg.

You can see more about my visits to the Hillbrow Tower in Johannesburg here.

Can you tell the difference?...

The Hillbrow Tower in Johannesburg versus the BT Tower in London

Incidentally, the BT Tower like the Hillbrow Tower has had it fair share of name changes over the years.

The BT Tower started life as the Post Office Tower then become the London Telecom Tower and finally the British Telecom Tower.
The Hillbrow Tower was first called the JG Strijdom Tower, then the Telkom Tower and is now known as the Hillbrow, Tower.

Both had revolving restaurants at the top which have since shut, both for reasons of security.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Concert review: Kate Bush "Before the Dawn" at the Hammersmith Apollo, London

Kate Bush Before the Dawn Concert Review

It goes something like...

The first time I see Kate Bush live at the Hammersmith Apollo is her last concert following a 35-year hiatus, the last time she was on the same stage, I had just been born.

Make sense? If it doesn't that's OK because I'm still taking it all in...

The show, the theatrics, the music, the lighting - it was incredible and as wonderfully kooky as I could have hoped for but the most profound moment for me was during the encore as she sat at the piano and sang 'Among Angels'.

There were no strange dance manoeuvres, no band and no helicopter - just Kate Bush at a piano, singing. That's when I had my existential moment.

There I was with just three thousand other people listening to Kate Bush, singing live for the first and last time in public for a very long time.

Just to be able to say that I watched her perform still doesn't seem real. It's difficult not to let this descend into some Kate Bush live show hagiography but...

Her album releases are so rare that it hadn't even occurred to me that I would ever have the chance to see her show. It was an unknown unknown because in all my life she has never toured. But now it's happened. A new normal.

Highlights were 'Lily' and 'King of the Mountain' in the opening segment and most of the second half of the show; "A Sky of Honey" from Aerial, my favourite Kate Bush album because it's contemporary for me.

It's perhaps why I found the 'Ninth Wave' segment a little too distant and dark. I was only five when the concept album was released so understandably...

What else is there to say other than I've seen Kate Bush live. I still can't believe it. She's good isn't she?

Kate Bush stage at the Eventin Hammersmith Apollo
Above: The stage before the performance. Prior to the concerts Kate had appealed for people to enjoy the show and not spend the evening holding their phones up and recording it and amazingly, during the show I didn't see a single person take a video or photo.

Kate Bush: Before The Dawn
Last Reviewed by Robert Timothy on 02 October 2014
Rating: 5.0 stars

Friday, 22 August 2014

On The White Sofa, Part II: Woody Fox

Do you remember when we got Darius Ferdynand on the white sofa and called it part one and then stressed that this could become A Thing? See it here.

Well, it is. And this is Part II. Say hello to our next guest and by goody - it's Mr Woody!

Woody Fox on the white sofa

Woody Fox has come a long way to be on our sofa, all the way from Sydney in Australia. He's been in London for over a year and frankly we're shocked it's taken this long for him to visit.

Woody Fox photographed by Robert Timothy

Obviously not content with just having him lie down so that we could snap him, we asked the Robert Timothy White Sofa Series assistant director (who pretends they went to Oxford, no less) to probe Woody. Seriously.

This is what we asked, and this is what he said...

Recite some words you know please
Today is your day.
You're off to great places, you're off and away.
With brains in your head and feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself in go any direction you choose!

(Five White Sofa bonus points if you know where that's from...)

What did you have for breakfast?
Special K.

What do you wear in bed?
Hugo Boss No 5.

What is the solution to the current chaos in Iraq?
I don't know enough to have one...

How important is dental flossing to you?

Have you ever phoned up a hot guy just to hear his voice and then when he says hello, giggle and put the phone down?

What's your definition of true love?
When the person dies, you don't see the point of living anymore.

How many selfies do you take a day?

Woody Fox photographed by Robert Timothy

OK, so you're not likely to find any selfies on Woody Fox's telephone but thankfully we were there to take the pics. Go mad!

Woody Fox in London

Woody Fox, photographed by Robert Timothy in London

Woody Fox

Woody Fox, photographed in London

Woody Fox in Versace underwear

Woody Fox in Versace underwear

If you've enjoyed the second in our series, don't panic. There's more. In the meantime, you too can recreate the look and feel of our fabulous shoot with the following...

Woody Fox photographed by Robert Timothy in West Hampstead, London.
Woody wears Versace.
Throughout the shoot we listened to 'The Sounds You Need, Summer Vibes 2014' mixed by LRBZ. Listen on YouTube here.

Woody Fox photographed in London

Stockist information:
All photos; Net Details Brief, £45, Versace.
Versace online at or in London at 183-184 Sloane St, London, SW1X 9QP
Prices and availability checked at the time of this post being published but prices may change. Please check before ordering.