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Tag Archives: Gilly Pickup

  • Paranormal London by Gilly Pickup

    Are you interested in supernatural happenings? If you’re like me and enjoy delving into a good ghost story, then read on…

    The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate Street, ECI. Ghostly orbs in the lounger bar or simply a trick of the light? (Paranormal London, Amberley Publishing)

    My new book, Paranormal London, brims over with true tales of eerie encounters, some of which are terrifying enough to the capture the imagination of even the most hardened sceptic. After all there are more uncanny happenings in this city than you can shake a spook at, most of which are guaranteed to make you look at the London you are familiar with, either personally or through written accounts, in a totally different way.

    Let’s face it. Chances of bumping into an apparition in London are high. In fact, this, the world’s greatest city, (well, I think so), simply swirls with spirits. It has to be said that even though these phantoms lack a physical body they certainly don’t lack imagination. So while it’s to be expected that they strut their stuff in houses old and new, they also haunt hospitals, pubs, alleyways, Underground stations and even a bed. Spooky theatres? Yes, of course!  Ghostly hotels? Absolutely. A haunted bank? That too.


    Read my book – if you dare - to find out:

    Who was the headless phantom exorcised from the bank vaults?

    Why did a theatre prop cause bone chilling fear?

    Where have two people have been frightened to death – literally?

    Which Royal Park has a tree which harbours a fearsome spirit?

    Which museum’s poltergeist activity includes lots of floating orbs and disembodied voices which have been captured on tape?

    The Heath, where you may meet a phantom woman or a ghostly horseman. (Paranormal London, Amberley Publishing)

    Stories in Paranormal London take the reader on a spooktacular journey that covers Hampstead Heath, an ancient London park first documented in 986 when Ethelred the Unready granted one of his servants ‘five hides of land at Hemstede.’ When it comes to paranormal activity, this is a busy place. Compact, frenetic, once-sleazy Soho, oozing trendy bars, smart restaurants and encompassing dynamic, bustling, colourful Chinatown also has its otherworldly side – no wonder when you consider part of the area stands over a plague pit. Aristocratic, elegant Mayfair, named after the annual spring festival held until the 1730s, provides us with tales from one of London’s spectacularly eerie haunted pubs as well as the ongoing mystery of what is surely the capital’s most haunted house. St James, which starts at Piccadilly and includes Green Park, has a couple of seriously scary phantoms that you wouldn’t want to meet, while intellectual Bloomsbury, home of the British Library and Senate House offers a rather more unusual type of paranormal activity….

    The many theatres in Covent Garden, Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross are simply awash with mysterious beings and strange goings-on. Marylebone, owned in the 12th century by a brotherhood of warrior monks called the Knights Templar, has its phantoms too including that of a famous actress, while once-bohemian Fitzrovia which lies to the north east of Oxford Circus is where to find a plethora of hospital ghosts. Familiar names all, that trip off the tongue whether you are a local, a visitor, or someone who knows London only from films and books.

    Now all you have to do is get a copy of Paranormal London, sit down, make yourself comfortable and savour these nerve-jangling tales. Make sure you have locked your windows and doors first though. It is as well to remember the London dead far outnumber the living.....

    P.S. Have you ever had an experience that wasn't - shall we say - quite of this world?  Do let me know, if so.

    Gilly Pickup's new book Paranormal London is available for purchase now.

  • What the British Invented by Gilly Pickup

    My latest book, What the British Invented – From the Great to the Downright Bonkers, was a delight to research and write. Of course before I started out on the task, I knew that as Brits we are a remarkably creative bunch, but I didn’t quite realise the extent of our inventiveness until I actually started to write.

    What the British Invented - chocolate An 1851 chocolate bar (c. Frenchay Village Museum)

    These inventors have not only done so much to improve our daily lives, but in many cases have also changed the world around us. Marvellous British inventions have helped us win the Second World War courtesy of Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt’s radar; smoothed the path of travel by way of Edgar Hooley’s tarred road surfaces and literally lit up all our lives thanks to Joseph Swan who developed the modern incandescent lamp – did you know his house was the first in the world to be lit by electricity? Ah and what about chocolate, surely a world without the stuff would be unthinkable – at least it would be so if you’re a chocoholic like me. Bristol Company Fry and Son made the first bar of chocolate from a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar with a little melted cocoa butter that had been extracted from the beans. Coarse and bitter by today’s standards, but nevertheless still a revolution. Yes indeed, 18th century France produced tablets and bars, but Fry & Son made the first bar of chocolate as we know it today.

    In the field of medicine, Brits led the way again with everything from aspirin, ibuprofen and chloroform, to penicillin, hypnotism and the hypodermic syringe.

    Brainy Brits also came up with the idea of the jet engine, the glider, tin cans, the collapsible baby buggy, refrigeration and even Buick cars. David Dunbar Buick, born in Arbroath in Scotland, founded the company that became known as General Motors Corporation of America, a mighty car making empire. A clever chap, he also invented the enamel bathtub.

    What the British Invented - P & O Britannia (c. P&O Cruises)

    Most of us take a couple of holidays every year – and guess what? – Yes, Thomas Cook from Market Harborough, is credited with inventing the package holiday. Meanwhile in 1835 Shetland sailor Arthur Anderson, a man of remarkable negotiating skills, proposed the idea of sailing for pleasure as a passenger in an ocean going vessel. He co-founded the General Steam Navigation Company, later the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company and now known as P&O, a major operator of passenger liners.

    Quite possibly though, the one invention which has completely changed the world is the World Wide Web. London born Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist and computer scientist, was the brains behind this one. By late 1990 he had built all the elements necessary to deliver his new concept, including the first browser and the first website   While looking for a name for this new invention, he turned down ‘The Information Mine’ - TIM - his initials and modestly called it the World Wide Web.

    My book is an amalgam of facts to interest the trivia buff, the downright curious and those of us who know that Britain is of course ‘Great’ but occasionally need a prod to remind us why. Whether you want to learn something, to smile, be amazed or need an extra boost of patriotism, there is something here for you. You can read it from cover to cover or open it at random. I guarantee you will stumble upon something to interest you.


    Gilly Pickup's What the British Invented is available for purchase now.

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