Besides travel, I write articles on health, wellbeing, food, beauty, lifestyle, history (without the boring bits), humour, supernatural and animals. I write books too. 'The A-Z of Curious London' and 'Haunted West End' were published by the History Press, 'The Little Book of Spirituality' was published by Summersdale and 'Great British Inventions - From the Brilliant to the Downright Bonkers' is being published later this year by Amberley. (Go to home page for more details and see end of this page for some reviews.)
My features have appeared in a rainbow of titles including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Sainsbury's magazine, BBC magazines, Woman, Candis, Health & Fitness, The Sun, Fitness Professionals, Chat, Take a Break, Fabulous magazine, My Weekly, Scotland magazine, Scots magazine, Woman's Own, Discover Britain and Coast. Some overseas titles that have published my work include Food and Wine (Australia), the Arab media group, Sunday World (S Africa), Times Group (S Africa) Wine & Dine (Singapore), Woman's Way (Ire), the Times Group of India, Royal magazine (Sweden), Thailand's Bangkok Post and Woman's Value (S Africa). A few testimonials follow, originals available on request.
"I just wanted to congratulate you on writing such a lovely feature. I really enjoyed reading it. Considering it is about a children's oncology ward, you have succeeded in making it both light hearted and heart warming. I am sure our readers will agree with me. [JdeB, Real Life Editor, My Weekly.]
"Gilly this is a great piece, sensitively written. A difficult subject to write about but yet again, you have succeeded in coming up trumps. Thank you. [RT, Features Editor, Daily Mirror]
"I enjoyed your article immensely, your tone is perfect." [DH, Food & Drink Editor, Sainsbury's magazine.]
Your feature highlighting the problems that these families face was super. Emotional yet down to earth, precise and utterly readable. Well done. [FG, Features Desk, The People]
"Gilly, I'm looking for some fun feature suggestions. Are you feeling inspired because you always have such great ideas!" [MB, Editor, Chat Specials]
"Many thanks for the copy. I really like it – it reflects the fun of the feature, but the tips are achievable and easy. Please send your invoice, and I’ll get it
paid straight away." [KB, Health, My Weekly]
"Thank you for this, factual but full of quirky points and written with a light touch. Just right for our purposes." [JM, Editor, Scots magazine.]
"Your piece is great! Just what I wanted. Looks and reads a treat. Thank you!" [JB, Features Editor, Full House magazine]
Reviews: The A-Z of Curious London
'Did you know that a ‘tsunami of beer’ once flooded a popular London street, killing nine people by sweeping them away on a tide of beer? Or that some of the strangest items left behind on the Tube have been human skulls, a pair of breast implants and a bag containing nothing but a Rolex and £10,000 in cash? These are just a sample of the bizarre things you will discover in The A-Z of Curious London; a collection of facts, trivia and strange details that shows London in a new and interesting light.
This book is a handy resource for the more quirky bits of London, such as where to go if you want to see Winston Churchill’s dentures or if you want to go have a look round The First Shop in the World. Nicely set out in alphabetical order from the man that was Arrested for wearing a top hat to the most famous Zebra crossing in the world, it’s easy to dip in and out of to get to your favourites tidbits.
Even if you know London well, you will learn something new in the pages of this book. Gilly Pickup has done an excellent job of finding odd and unusual facts instead of just your run-of-the mill touristy information and history lessons. Touching on history, science myths and the paranormal, this book will enlighten and entertain anyone with an interest in one of the world’s greatest cities.' [The Good Book Guide, Oct 2013.]
"The section of our bookshelf devoted to ‘secret’, ‘peculiar’ or (as here) ‘curious’ London is chunky, to say the least. What need is there for another volume on lesser-known anecdotes about the capital? Well, this one sets itself apart in two ways: (1) plenty of genuinely fresh revelations; (2) a narrative, storytelling style that feels more readable than the usual fact-packed miscellany. We particularly enjoyed the tale of how the first man to wear a top hat was arrested for donning headgear ‘calculated to disturb timid people’, and a nugget about the only vehicle to ever drive down Burlington Arcade. The author clearly had a lot of fun researching this book, and you’ll get the same from reading it." [The Londonist, Aug 2013.]
"A veritable cornucopia of snippets and longer stories. The book is intended as one to dip into whenever the fancy takes you. Some tales may be familiar, like that of the Elephant Man, but many more strange stories and lesser known facts lie within this volume." [Scottish Home & Country magazine, Aug 2013]
"I'm a London Blue Badge Guide and have been dragging willing American tourists through the streets of our wonderful city for over thirty years. I recently picked up a copy of your A-Z of Curious London on the tube, no doubt left there by one of the above (guide or tourist). It was a fascinating read and has added greatly to my knowledge of unusual London. I wanted to thank you for my 'free copy' and I look forward to future publications that I promise to buy from my local Waterstones. [Robert Halkett, London Blue Badge Guide]
"The A-Z of Curious London provides readers with an image of London that can only be seen by those who look closely. Although not fictional, Gilly endows her book with a quality seen in most novels; curiosity and suspense. Predominately intended as a book to ‘dip into’, Gilly details London’s mysterious goings-on without weighing things down with unnecessary facts. This book is for fast-paced individuals who have an interest in the city: readers are rewarded with snippets of mystery, history and fun. It strays away from ratings and reviews and a tourist guide format, this is no Lonely Planet! Through a series of informative passages, the author reveals a multitude of secrets and facts about our intriguing capital. The A-Z of Curious London explores everything from spooky, gruesome tales and shadowy urban myths. An indispensable companion for anybody who loves the city; this compilation has something for everyone. One story alludes to the arrest of a man purely due to his wearing of an unconventional hat, whilst another tells of blood-curdling screams on the London Underground. Gilly makes sure that she is thorough yet concise – her tales are delivered in a quick-fire manner that always leaves the reader satisfied. Complete with scandals, murders, ghosts and haunted houses, this original London guide also sheds light on some unlikely tourist destinations, such as Ham House - reportedly one of Britain’s most haunted houses - and Farringdon Tube Station, which is said to be frequented by the ghost of a young girl murdered in 1758. This unique book certainly has its fair share of surprises! Gilly’s love for London is communicated through each of her carefully constructed chapters, and if you feel the same way about the city and appreciate its hidden gems this is definitely the book for you." [Colchester Circle]
Did you know that a ‘tsunami of beer’ once flooded a popular London street, killing nine people by sweeping them away on a tide of beer? Or that some of the strangest items left behind on the Tube have been human skulls, a pair of breast implants and a bag containing nothing but a Rolex and £10,000 in cash? These are just a sample of the bizarre things you will discover in The A-Z of Curious London; a collection of facts, trivia and strange details that shows London in a new and interesting light. This book is a handy resource for the more quirky bits of London, such as where to go if you want to see Winston Churchill’s dentures or if you want to go have a look round The First Shop in the World. Nicely set out in alphabetical order from the man that was arrested for wearing a top hat, to the most famous Zebra crossing in the world, it’s easy to dip in and out of to get to your favourite tidbits. Even if you know London well, you will learn something new in the pages of this book. Gilly Pickup has done an excellent job of finding odd and unusual facts instead of just your run-of-the mill touristy information and history lessons. Touching on history, science myths and the paranormal, this book will enlighten and entertain anyone with an interest in one of the world’s greatest cities. [The Spooky Isles]
The best tales have a black, bizarre humour about them. A giant brewer’s vat burst, unleashing a tsunami of beer on the neighbourhood of St Giles, Holborn, in 1814, collapsing whole houses and killing eight. And there was the chapel whose crypt was so crammed with paupers’ coffins that it was closed down. It later became a dance hall where patrons were invited to “dance on the dead”. A young Thomas Hardy was given the job of excavating and reburying mass paupers’ graves in St Pancras when the railway’s advance swept even the dead aside. The wave of beer incident also froths up in Gilly Pickup’s A-Z of Curious London, a book dedicated to weird tales, but this time mixing the eyewitness accounts with urban myth and legend. It’s a chaotic tour, from Lady Hatton’s dance with the devil in Bleeding Heart Yard to Margaret Thatcher’s recent death at the Ritz. By the book’s nature, we lose chronology, and so the past feels like it is rubbing up against the present. We learn about the network of debtors’ prisons known as Compters, where people paid for their incarceration by the day, plunging them deeper into the red. Luckily we are much more civilised about these things now that the economy is fuelled by debt; why pay prison warders when you can charge ruinous interest rates to desperate men at the stroke of a keyboard? Now that’s wonga for The City! Perhaps we have swapped coffee houses for internet chatrooms as a place to plot and foment dissent. And maybe we would rather “name and shame” miscreants in the press than exhibit their heads on spikes in public places. But we can recognise these people as us. Only the technology changes. [Camden Review]
How knowledgeable are you about London?
Can you answer these questions?
Where can you see Churchill’s false teeth?
Why is Bleeding Heart Yard near Smithfield so named?
Which were Charles Dickens’s favourite pubs?
Where was Paul McCartney told off for whistling?
Where was the Rag Fair held, selling old clothes, oysters – and sex?
Where is the smallest police station in Britain?
The answers to these questions are revealed with thousands of other fascinating facts, stories and oddities in the pages of The A-Z Of Curious London, published by The History Press. Its author, journalist Gilly Pickup, has discovered some wonderful new mysteries and strange stories about many of London’s familiar places and institutions as well as introducing readers to others they probably never realised existed. There are many such volumes of London curios but this one brings a really fresh approach. [CHOICE Magazine]