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Only in London: A Guide to Unique Locations, Hidden Corners and Unusual Objects ('Only in' Guides) Paperback – 21 May 2015
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Author Duncan JD Smith knows his stuff. He's selected more than 100 locations all of which harbour peculiar stories or features. There's plenty of meat here for those who've yet to discover the city's idiosyncracies --www.londonist.com
In a world where places become ever more similar, it is an absolute joy to stumble on the 'Only In' Guides. The author brings to the series the gaze of the enquiring outsider. A refreshing alternative to the prevailing tide of uniformity favoured by too many travel guides --Hidden Europe magazine
London is rich in places to see, and this new guidebook to one of the major cities in the world, will certainly help the reader identify some unusual and worthwhile hidden gems --Reader review
About the Author
The 'Urban Explorer' Duncan J. D. Smith is a travel writer and photographer. In his ground breaking 'Only In' Guides he reveals European cities from unique and hidden perspectives. He has travelled across several continents and described his experiences in books, magazines, and online. Born in Sheffield, England in 1960, he studied history and archaeology at university. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
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I love the layout and the general 'feel' of the book. I note that every place has a postcode given, so that smart-phone users like me, can find the places listed using the sat-nav easily, and I'm delighted that there is a secondary index (of sorts) which I always felt his other books were in need of.
Smith's writing style is easy to like - it's rich in appropriate adjectives and adverbs, and he has clearly studied his subject well. Like all good authors, he scatters facts and figures along the way, and as you read through the entries, you forget that each fact and figure has been checked & verified along the way, before it ever gets into print. Page layout is clean and easy to get to grips with and the 100+ entries are concise and interesting without being so fulsome that you don't need to visit the place itself. They are appetite-whetters and properly so.
London is rich in places to see, and this new guidebook to one of the major cities in the world, will certainly help the reader identify some unusual and worthwhile hidden gems. Highly Recommended.
He is as much a 'history explorer' as an 'urban explorer' drawing attention to quirky historical facts and details that would otherwise be lost in the mist of time if it was left to traditional historians and travel guide writers.
Thank god there are travel writers like J.D. Smith who can educate and entertain us in equal measure. Well Done !
I loved the headings, for who could resit 'holding a bar of gold' or meeting 'the alternative royal family'? I found myself rushing ahead to follow the 'lost London river', 'the ghost stations on the Piccadilly Line' or enjoy the 'view from the Shard'. From 'hotels with history' to 'a pint and a play with Shakespeare,' it's wow all the way, whether it's about science, history, traditions, worship or modern times.
Truth is, I was so excited that within a few pages, I just wanted to get out there and see it all.
But even for a few of the common tourist attractions that it does cover (like Trafalgar Square, #32), it covers a lot of little details that the average tourist is bound to miss, like old gas lamps, or the set of brass Imperial Measures for perches, poles, and chains set into the bottom of the National Gallery's steps.
And while this distinctly isn't a guide that will tell you how to find lodging, negotiate the TfL bus and tube system, or recommend meals, it does mention some of the unique little bits of old-school London still out there, like a proper Pie and Mash shop that still sells jellied eels, once a cornerstone of London dining (#100).
Overall, I've found this guide to be valuable, and it will be several more visits to London before I have fully plumbed its depths.
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