Monday 21 September 2015

King's Cross Bee Trail

The King’s Cross Bee Trail created in conjunction with the Honey Club was hosted around the surrounding areas in King’s Cross from 5 August to 21 September 2015. The trail aims to educate on how we can help bees raise in numbers, get us closer to them and do some bee spotting.
The trail starts off in Granary Square where we learn about the problem behind the number of bees falling. The main issue with urban environments such as London do not allow bees to thrive as they may not find enough places to collect pollen from plants as well as little places for them to live. 97% of wildlife meadows have disappeared resulting from modern farming and urbanisation in the UK since 1945. Without any places to forage, there is no food supply for bees, which spells trouble for us as they help pollinate two thirds of our food as well as bringing the whole ecosystem to slowly disintegrate.
Hyssops, a culinary herb, can be found running along the restaurants’ sides in Granary Square from July to September.
This segment allows participants to look for bees within an area of forage at Camley Street wild patch picking a spot about 2 metres squared with 30 seconds to complete the activity. The different bees to spot are the honey bee, the buff-tailed bumblebee, the common carder bee and the leafcutter bee. The bees counted would be collected into a database. This activity unlocks vouchers to restaurants Dishoom and the Grain Store.
3. Handyside Gardens (south)
This part of the trail follows on from the previous with another 30 seconds challenge of counting the bees spotted in plots of plants lined up along this side of the Garden. This activity unlocks voucher to the Greek Larder and Rotunda.

4. Handyside Gardens (north)
Bees only eat nectar and pollen from plants, which they feed on from early spring to late autumn. The Honeybees like simple daisy-like flowers. Some bees may have long tongues which are used to drink nectar from tubular flowers.
Bees won’t like certain things such as double-headed flowers which they find difficulty in getting the pollen and nectar. Pelargoniums which are often mis-sold as geraniums are sterile and should be replaced by true geranium for pollen and nectar. Weed killers and pesticide should not be used as they are linked to bee deaths worldwide.
Ways to help bees out are first-off to plant bee-friendly plants in gardens, window boxes, pots and hanging baskets. Allow the growth of flowers, vegetable bolt and dandelions in the lawn as well as wild patches and a tree for bees to forage. Not only can we do our bit but we can also put the word forward to councils and landscape managers to plant bee-friendly plants and trees.
5. King’s Cross Pond

This part of the trail explores beekeeping and the importance of it. A beekeeper can manage up to a colony of 50,000 honeybees. They create honey for food during the winter season which are harvested for us to eat. You can enrol on a course with a local beekeeping association or mentor which can be found on the British Beekeeping Association and Urban Bees.
Bees pollinate a high number of foods that we eat which include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as coffee and chocolate. Birds rely on them as they feast on berries and nuts, showing the importance of bees to the ecosystem.
The changing landscape is leading to a decline of places for bees to feed and live, but King’s Cross which is going through many developments at the moment, are keeping sustainability key in their development. They have created green roofs and tree planting schemes, which will benefit both bees and people. Even the trains are doing their bit by carrying a varied amount of different pollens into the city which contribute to the diverse state of habitats for bees.
6. Viewing Platform
Another 30 seconds bee count challenge at the wild patches found skirting along the bottom of the viewing platform near King’s Cross Pond. This unlocks a voucher for Skip Garden.
7. Skip Garden
The last part of the trail ends at Skip Garden. Bees are under threat as there are less places that are undisturbed and solitary wastelands for wild bumblebees to nest. There are many places where bees can live such as man-made hives, holes in the ground, old animal nests, pile of leaves and bird boxes. Ways to create homes for bees can be found at and
The app is available for download on Apple and Android devices and uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the hotspots to unlock the content at each stop. Alternatively, codes can be found at each stop which can be inputted into the app. I hope they bring this back as a permanent fixture as the trail is of course very enlightening about how our interactions can help bees grow and thrive.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Southbank Centre's Festival of Love - Jim Broadbent: The People

For Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, Jim Broadbent created a quirky installation of 21 wooden figures, as they dress in ordinary clothing, and have real human hair. Each figure looks off into the distance, which Broadbent seeing each one’s vulnerability, sadness but with defiance. The installation was there from 6 June to 31 August 2015.
Work started on the installation when Broadbent saw a block of wood with a branch sticking out which resembled to him as eyes and a nose. The works were inspired by carved figures he saw in the Cluny museum in Paris, which gave him freedom to do the work not to a standard of perfection or even near to finished. He took this approach to the paint as he coated them crudely and applied human hair that were cut from wigs. The figures do not have any names but said that the work as a whole can easily be named something else than The People, such as characters or family.
“I have a feeling that there is something about the obvious imperfections of the ‘people’ I have made that engages out sympathy and somehow makes us love them.” – Jim Broadbent