The Big Egg Hunt

If you’re a follower of my daily photo blog, Picturing England, you will know that I have been a bit egg-obsessed for the last month. The Faberge Big Egg Hunt took over London from 21st February to 31st March, dividing the city into 12 zones and “hiding” 210 eggs for the public to go and find. When you found an egg, you were supposed to send a text message with the unique code in order to enter the competition. The prize? A £100,000 golden Faberge egg.

£100,000 prize egg!

The eggs in the Big Egg Hunt are being sold and auctioned off, and the money is going to two charities: Elephant Family and Action for Children.

When I started, I had no intention of trying to find them all, but I quickly became addicted. Searching was eggsellent fun, and completing a zone was a real thrill. But there were other benefits too.

One thing I loved about the Big Egg Hunt was the sense of community it conjured up. These days, and especially in London, people don’t talk to each other. But the eggs changed this. Over the course of the hunt, I spoke to all kinds of people, young and old, families, couples and solo egg hunters. We compared notes, gave each other hints, and generally just egged each other on (sorry, egg-related jokes are one of the side effects of too much hunting). I heard stories of friendships forming over eggs, of people deciding to join forces and hunt together. I saw children talking to children they didn’t know and peering through windows together to try to spot eggs hidden in shops. Everyone I spoke to was caught up in the thrill of the hunt.

Another benefit was the “eggsercise”. Of course I did take Tubes to reach some destinations, but then I walked, and I walked, and I walked! I have no idea how far I walked, but my legs tell me it was far. It was great to be above ground and see how London fits together. I realised on a few occasions that Tube stations were much closer together than I had thought. While I was out and about, I also saw children on scooters and running up to eggs. It was so nice to see people enjoying the fresh air and being outside.

One other major benefit of the big egg hunt for me was going to parts of London I would never normally go to, and seeing things I didn’t know were there. I found art and sculptures on the streets and in parks, I went in eggstremely fancy shops like Liberty and Fortnum and Mason, and I saw the modern buildings of the City towering next to the ancient buildings that remain. London really is an amazing city, and I hadn’t realised how lucky I was to be living here.

The big egg hunt was time-consuming but worth every minute. I had so much fun, found out a lot about my city, spoke to some lovely people, and feel like I really achieved something. I know scrambling around London looking for eggs is probably not everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s certainly mine!

Amazingly, I managed to find 209 eggs! The only one I couldn’t find was the elusive #57, which no one has been able to find yet because it hasn’t been delivered by the artists (the Chapman Brothers).

Here are the 209 eggs I found, which I consider to be a complete set:

All eggs will be on display together in the Covent Garden Piazza from Tuesday 3rd April until Monday 9th April. They really are eggstraordinary, so do check them out if you can!


Fa-fa-fa-fa forget it!

As I walk through a cloud of hairspray and perfume I realise the true meaning of the expression “a fish out of water”. My fins are flapping and my gills desperately gasping in the foreign air.

London fashion week.

All around me are paparazzi pointing their lens at preening fashionistas. It’s sort of like being on safari. I walk past, utterly unnoticed, and slip in to the west wing of Somerset House, where I visit the Japan: International Fashion Showcase 2012 exhibition. Slipping out again, I squeeze past more models and photographers and hastily exit in my frumpy flat shoes. (I couldn’t go anywhere hastily in heels.)

(Image: London Fashion Week)

As I leave, a woman passes me. She is dressed entirely in black, head to toe. Her hair is black, her clothes are black. On her face she is wearing what appears to be a black  pvc balaclava. Her legs are clad in a similar shiny plastic material. Her eyes are hidden behind large black sunglasses. She strides on high heels and is painfully thin. I wonder for a moment if it is Lady Gaga.

This is not my world.

Fa-fa-fa-fa fashion? Turn to the left. Turn to the right. Then run away. Fast.


Don’t rain on my parade…

Brits are funny creatures. I went along to the New Year’s Day Parade in London today and about halfway through it started to rain. When I say ‘rain’, what I really mean is that the heavens opened and it chucked it down with almighty force until there were rivers running down the streets. Just another day in London.

A lot of tourists took one look at the puddles forming on the ground and made a dash for it under their ‘I love London’ Union Flag umbrellas. But we Brits, for the most part, stuck it out – brolly or no brolly.

I had an umbrella, but I still got really wet and cold to the point of shivering. It rained so hard that it actually soaked through my leather boots and made my tights soggy. So why did I stay? One reason is that I needed some new photos for my daily photo blog, Picturing England. But the main reason I stayed is that I felt it would be wrong to leave. Those poor people at the end of the parade, especially the marching bands and cheerleaders from America deserved my support.

And it wasn’t all bad. An old guy on a bike took pity on me hiding under my flowery brolly and gave me a Quality Street chocolate (strawberry – my favourite) and a kiss on the cheek to wish me a Happy New Year. He understood my British resolve to stand and watch the parade no matter what, and he understood that it would all be made a little bit more bearable with a little sugar. Thank you, kind stranger.

London's New Year's Day Parade 2012

(Perhaps it’s not just us brits – these American cheerleaders managed to stay surprisingly perky despite the rain.)