- 27 Oct 2011

The scary Vikings launch at OGGS on Hallowe’en!

On Hallowe’en 2011, I was the One Great George Street contact for an event being run by Lansons Communications, a City based PR agency for the launch of a new cost efficient Pension Provider into the UK Market called NOW: Pensions, supported by ATP, Denmark’s leading pensions provider.
It was by pure coincidence that the planned event date coincided with Hallowe’en. This inspired the client to mark the occasion with some suitable additions without overshadowing the main reason for the event. It was fortunate that the client’s corporate colour was green which of course is an excellent colour to work with. To add some festive spirit and with help from our on-site Audio Visual team, we up-lit half of the pillars in our Great Hall in a matching green and added a gobo of the client’s logo, projected onto one of the walls.

now pensions viking boat

As guests entered the Great Hall they walked past a moving gobo of NOW: Pensions and once inside, were impressed with the three huge pumpkins that our Executive Chef, David Wilkinson had carved. The largest had an original weight of 212lb and this biggest pumpkin ever seen by many members of the OGGS team was transformed into a Viking boat of which the sail featured the client logo. The other two pumpkins were carved into scary faces one of which was wearing a Viking helmet with the NOW: Pensions logo discreetly and cleverly carved into it. David is brilliant at vegetable carvings and it was good to see his skills were in client demand this year too. Here are some pre and post carving photos of the Ghoul face pumpkin.

uncarved pumpkinghouls faced pumpkin
On top of pumpkin carving, our talented Chef and his team naturally also had some hungry guests that were served a range of delicious hot and cold canapes washed down with a selection of drinks from our extensive list and of couse, being a Danish company, bottles of ‘probably the best beer in the world’ were also made available.
canapés at one great George streetDavid Wilkinson head chef with viking boat

The atmosphere of the post-presentation drinks reception was further enhanced by some fantastic sounds provided by a specialist DJ. The soft background jazz and bossanova sounds really added something to the event.
It was great fun to work with the client to theme their event, dress our magnificent Great Hall so scarily impressive (excuse the pun, couldn’t resist) and show off what a great venue we are for large themed events. Another successful event and happy OGGS customer but I must get on as it is by far the busiest time of the year for myself and my team.

- 27 Oct 2011

Hallowe’en – Love it or hate it?

I can’t quite explain it but there is something about the nights drawing in that conjures up thoughts of the beginning of the party season. It could have been the wonderful display of pumpkins that our resident florist Mathew Dickinson had put together in the foyer that greeted me when I arrived for work one day earlier this week.

Hallowe’en is always a good excuse for a party and with the clocks changing this weekend we start to head down to that greatest party time of all…. the month of December and the run up to Christmas.

I suppose Hallowe’en has become a bigger thing in our lives over recent years with this ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’, ‘trick or treat’ import from America. I usually end up getting home too late to have to take part in the receiving end of it though. One of Chef’s many talents is vegetable carving. This is the pumpkin he carved for our Cafe Bar for Hallowe’en 2010.

This year however, he is taking his skills to a whole new level. A whopping 215lb pumpkin came delivered on its own pallet yesterday and needed more than just one strong man to move it about.

Here is the Viking boat he has been working on today which will be completed with sail and ghoul face on Monday. I think you will agree that it is a true masterpiece in the making.

It has a rather bleak and cold outlook for the weekend though. To preserve it before it goes on display for the client event in our magnificent Great Hall on Monday, it is going to be hosed down to keep it moist and wrapped in giant cling film before it sails to the cold beer storage room.
Whatever you plan to do this Hallowe’en weekend, have a good time. So I guess that here at One Great George Street, we think the answer to the question is….a bit of fun!

- 04 Aug 2011

What is the Role of the River Thames in Westminster?

Just click on the map for a larger version

Like so many major cities, London is located next to a great winding river and with the sun shining (well on and off!) it is a great place to be. Water always looks so inviting in the summer and our river has over recent years become much more of a focul point in terms of living, working and leisure time. In fact, one of the highlights of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year will be a river pageant with The Sovereign’s specially constructed Royal Barge leading a flotilla of boats along the river. This will no doubt conjure up thoughts of Tudor times when the mighty Thames was in constant use as a trade and transport route. After such a long time of underuse it is so good that the Thames has once again developed an effective riverboat service. Its also great that it has been integrated into the city’s infrastructure and you can even use your Oyster card!

We have just updated the ‘How to reach us’ section on the Location’ page of our website to include details on the River Bus Service. Of course the big story at the moment for London is that we are now less than a year from the start of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games. It seems that here too the river Thames will play a big part in giving visitors a memorable ride to their Olympic event with extra river services being laid on between Westminster and Greenwich piers.
You can tell ‘Olympics fever’ has started. The countdown shown in huge numbers at the top of the BT Tower now seems meaningful and of course the recent party to unveil the Olympic Countdown Clock, only served to heighten the sense of excitement and expectation. I have to say how fantastic it is that all the permanent stadia are now complete a year out. That really says something for our ability as a world city to plan and execute such a huge project.

Westminster feels quite a focal point with Horse Guards Parade, site of the Beach Volleyball and only 5 minutes from One Great George Street set up for the Test event running at the middle of this month. According to the press, the Prime Minister is very excited about it and will have a birds eye view from 10 Downing Street.
Our own venue will becomes the London Media Centre for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games from mid June next year and registration has now opened for media. Our next door neighbours, The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre has been booked by Italy and close by 45 Millbank has been booked by Georgia. All of us are members of The Westminster Collection, a collection of stand-alone venues based within the boundaries of the City of Westminster.

With so many visitors, officials and of course the athletes in town our transport infrastructure will be pushed to the limit. The inclusion therefore of the river as another travel option and the connections available from the river to other integrated modes of transport such as the DLR will be most useful. The authorities are now making available lots of information to help everyone plan their journeys within the city around and during the games themselves.

I hope that you have found some of what I have been blogging about interesting reading. If you have any comments or suggestions about this blog post or ideas for future posts, just drop me an email. Enjoy the last remaining weeks of summer I’ll be back with another post September time.

- 06 Jul 2011

Is it worth spending £2,000 on LED lighting?

LED lighting has been available via our on-site Audio Visual team from Eclipse for about 3-4 years now. Recently however, I was fortunate to see our venue Great Hall look spectacularly spruced up by the innovative use of LED lighting. Martin from Eclipse has been bending my ear since they purchased the LED lighting and equipment telling me all the benefits of this new cutting edge lighting technology:

~It is a great alternative to traditional lighting sources
~Gives off less heat
~Does not project UV and therefore a great way to protect our magnificent paintings
~Extremely versatile and decorative
~Very energy efficient
~Good for the environment as it has no mercury and pollutants
~Fully programmable and changeable at short notice by the on-site lighting engineer

The Great Hall, is our most popular room for weddings at One Great George Street and never fails to impress with or without lighting with its huge chandeliers, marbled walls and gold leafing. Passers by on the pavement walking through Storeys Gate are often seen gazing up to the windows to marvel at the glistening crystal.

Here are some snaps to show you the various areas of our building which were brought to life with LED lighting recently:The Foyer ~ Slow colour change of soft pink, amber and gold for the drinks reception

The Great Hall ~ Started similar to the foyer. Then spiced up when the Bride and Groom were announced by flashing the lights with quick colour changes in bold colours of red, green, blue and yellow. Then returned to the slow colour change of earlier. Coupled with a few bars of a favourite song this really did stand out as a grand entrance as the newly weds were received into the room to great applause from waiting friends and family before taking their places at the top table.

The Chandeliers ~ We made features by projecting colour onto them which resulted in giving a gorgeous glittering effect as the crystal sparkled.

The First Dance ~ We changed to soft pink/amber. Then we kept with warm colour changes and chases of various speeds plus rainbow and bold colour chases.

So….I guess you know what my answer to the question will be. In my view LED lights given their versatility, represent brilliant value for money and adds less than £8 per head for a wedding up to 240 people. In terms of a WOW factor it really transforms a beautiful room into something even more spectacular. Shame I cant have them for my own and a colleagues joint 90th celebrations tomorrow night the 8th of July!

- 02 Jun 2011

I saw the President….in Westminster!

Yes I couldn’t believe it really. I know that our location is in the middle of the Capital’s political life and that means we are privileged to see quite a lot. American Presidents are usually cocooned away and with recent events, I fully expected there to be more security than ever before. But hey, ho, next thing we know….it’s Michelle Obama, sitting on our side of the street, giving us a big smile and waving with much enthusiasm as the Presidential limo purred past our side entrance in Storey’s Gate.

They were en route to Westminster Abbey where the President was due to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

When George W Bush came here on the last State Visit, he also went to Westminster Abbey via the side of our building in Storey’s Gate. On that occasion not even pedestrians were allowed to cross the road . It had the usual barricades in place to hem everyone in depending on which pavement you happened to be on and you were surrounded by an enormous amount of uniformed Police, not to mention other less obvious security forces.

Yes, of course there was a lot of extra police presence this time round. While my colleagues and I stood on our side steps waiting to wave, the ‘men in black’ were obviously eyeing us up behind their dark shades. Guess that this gave them comfort about the threat level. At no time did it feel oppressive and people were walking up and down Storey’s Gate or waiting with their cameras in the most normal way.

I am sure Michelle Obama would have loved to have her window wound down to say ‘Hi’ as she waved to our group on the way past. We understood the limits though and went back into the office in high spirits about the whole thing. For once, the general public had been allowed to get as close to the President of the United States as we are allowed to get to our own Head of State, albeit from the other side of armour plating.

Also, it was amazing how little disruption was caused to London going about its daily business. They left it to the last minute until roads were closed off or traffic stopped to allow the convoy to pass. Congratulations to the decision makers for keeping the city moving!

As we move into June, the pageantry continues as the nation celebrates The Queen’s ‘Official Birthday’ with Trooping The Colour on Horse Guards Parade this Saturday the 11th June. All this week we can hear the sounds of rehearsals and Guards marching from their barracks to the famous parade ground, just across the way from One Great George Street. There is also of course the two spectacular night-time floodlit Beating the Retreat ceremonies too. It is hard to imagine now, that only about 20 years ago, Horse Guards Parade was a car park for Civil Servants. When it was not being used for official occasions such as this of course. Be sure to look out for it next year in the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In my last blog I mentioned about Simon Watkinson, the Prince William lookalike civil engineer coming in for lunch, also on 24 May. I had in fact forgotten, not being involved on the day. So, I was a little lost for words when our Sales and Marketing Director, Wendy Greenhalgh brought Simon over to introduce me.

Simon does have an uncanny likeness to HRH and obviously chooses his wardrobe carefully. He has also learned to stand with a certain regal poise. I think I was being hesitant in not speaking before being spoken to first!

Then I read at the weekend that Prince William was taking part in the rehearsals at last Saturday’s 2nd Dress Rehearsal for Trooping The Colour. HRH was seen later that day in the Royal Box at Epsom where The Queen was running her hopeful filly, Carlton House in the Derby, but which sadly ended third. Before I might have thought he has access to great transport links, but now I’m not so sure…might have to ask Simon if he’s been near Epsom recently.

So, 24th May will be a date to remember for some time. Until we meet again…..have a good week.

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