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Rachael Funnell

Rachael Funnell

Articles (3)

Where to see wildlife in London year-round

Where to see wildlife in London year-round

In London it can be easy to assume that foxes and pigeons are about as wild as it gets. But, with 48 percent of the city open space or water, we are in fact a green city and this is reflected in the surprising biodiversity of the creatures that live here. We’ve come a long way since the Thames was declared biologically dead by the Natural History Museum in 1957 (reports from the time describe it as ‘a vast, foul-smelling drain’). So, if you find yourself in the tender throes of a hangover and in need of some good ol’ greenery to bring you back to life, here are some of the best spots for getting your Sir David Attenborough on in the city. RECOMMENDED: The best hidden gardens and green spaces in London

This Londoner is building a grassroots venue for upcoming musicians

This Londoner is building a grassroots venue for upcoming musicians

When Hannah White started gigging in London a decade ago, she was saddened by lots of the city’s venues closing. In 2015, she decided to launch The Sound Lounge with her husband Keiron as a place where upcoming artists could perform. Over the last five years, the venue has moved around the city, as they’ve faced issues with developers and funding. Now it’s running as a pop-up in Morden as they work on opening a new permanent spot in Sutton. London has always been my home but my childhood here wasn’t idyllic. I grew up with drugs, violence and crime around me. I started writing songs as a way to help me deal with those issues, but I was desperately private about them in the early years. When I started performing, I found bringing people together through music hugely transformative. But lots of music venues were closing at the time and it was getting harder to find work. I decided to open The Sound Lounge so I could use music to help others in the way that it had helped me. At the start, we had young artists coming to us from really desperate and difficult situations, yet by the end of the project they were mixing with BBC producers. We set it up in the recording studio my husband was running in Colliers Wood. We built a coffee bar and a tiny stage and started doing these YouTube sessions where we invited musicians to perform. We launched a crowdfunding campaign so we could fund a bigger venue in a derelict space in Tooting. The response was amazing – we raised £15,000 in 40 da

Why London’s tube mice are the toughest critters around

Why London’s tube mice are the toughest critters around

Aggressively loud and relentlessly oppressive, with a lingering odour of burnt hair: sound familiar? If you’re sat on the tube right now, I should think so. While it’s a lifeline to millions of Londoners, the Underground is an unyielding assault on the senses. Which is precisely why the tube mice are nothing short of miraculous. These tiny, scurrying flashes of fur have made a home in one of the most inhospitable habitats imaginable. On average, the tube handles up to 5 million passenger journeys a day. There can be as many as 543 trains zooming around during peak times, and all the while – inches away from those wheels of steel – the tube mice are watching, waiting and wishing for your croissant crumbs. It’s estimated that up to half a million mice live in the Underground, and they ain’t messing around. With most stations in central London presenting little access to the outside world, they subside almost entirely on a diet of discarded food and sheer determination. Professors at Imperial College London have found that their stressful living conditions have changed these resilient rodents’ biochemistry: they move faster and eat less than their above-ground counterparts. That they survive without exploding into miniature stress-triggered mushroom clouds surely makes them the most badass mammals in the city. Not convinced? Check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. It features photographer Sam Rowley’s image of two tube mice havin

News (5)

Meet the man behind south London’s awesome bridge murals

Meet the man behind south London’s awesome bridge murals

With a whole series of railway bridge murals bursting with local pride, Lionel Stanhope has combined his passions for street art, sign writing and south-east London… ‘I grew up in Kingston-upon-Thames and first got into art in my late teens when I tried my hand at graffiti. It was in the ’80s when hip hop started coming to the city, and there was this book going around called “Subway Art”, which was full of pictures of street art in New York. Everybody had it because, before the internet, it was all we had to go to for inspiration! I painted for a while but after I got arrested I started to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. That was when I first trained as a sign-writer doing lettering on vehicles and shops. After a few years I moved to Brockley, where I got involved with a company building theatre sets and painting scenery for films and television. That was when my art took on a more creative side. I’ve lived in Brockley for 15 years and the area has changed a lot in that time. Like many parts of London, it’s started to smarten up and get more restaurants, and the arrival of the Overground has brought in a lot more people. It’s a really friendly place with a lot of creative and artistic types who are open to seeing art in the area. My street art really took off about five years ago when Global Street Art organised the first Brockley Street Art Festival. I knew I wanted to get involved, and a year later a group of us decided to keep the festival going. Each summer

Meet the man who’s run one of London’s greatest music venues for 34 years

Meet the man who’s run one of London’s greatest music venues for 34 years

The 100 Club is a punk institution on Europe’s busiest shopping street. Owner Jeff Horton looks back on his 34 years at London’s most legendary gig venue… ‘I was born in north London, but I had my big musical awakening in Dorset in 1978. I was at this really shit under-18s disco in Bournemouth for the Royal British Legion. The DJ was shocking, but then he put on “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and my life changed. It was like the world suddenly turned to colour, and I knew that I wanted to work in music. I moved back to London in 1984, after the British Aerospace facility where I had been working shut down. I remember my dad calling me up and saying, “Well, you’ve got no work now – you might as well come and work for me.” My dad had sold his jazz record shop in the ’60s to take over a club, which he named the 100 Club based on its address: 100 Oxford Street. The club had always mostly booked jazz musicians, but my dad wanted to change the music policy: he branched out to include rock, R&B and northern soul nights. When I joined my dad at the club, it was still playing jazz four nights a week, but had also started to show more punk and rock music. I took that and ran with it. Over the years, I’ve seen all the people who meant so much to me as a kid. I’ve seen Paul Weller here eight times. He says he still misses the Chinese takeaway we had inside the club in the ’70s, between the ladies’ and gents’ toilets. The club has also been a home for new scenes like Britpop. Oasi

5 unbelievable things to see at the ‘Sea Creatures’ exhibition

5 unbelievable things to see at the ‘Sea Creatures’ exhibition

Ever wondered what an octopus is packing under those eight legs? Well, you’re in luck. This summer in London, a new exhibition is lifting the lid on creatures of the deep so you can explore the intricate (sometimes gruesome) insides of the ocean’s weirdest and most amazing denizens. Using ethically sourced and painstakingly preserved specimens, ‘Sea Creatures: Life Beneath the Ocean’ reveals the incredible anatomies that allow aquatic life to thrive. Find out how rays give birth to live young, discover the unusual organs needed for life on the sea floor and catch a glimpse of an octopus’s junk. 1. A massive minke whale   This minke whale, affectionately known as Hai Hai, was the first ocean mammal to undergo the complex plastination process. Popping the hood on Hai Hai has provided a valuable insight into the anatomical adaptations that allowed mammals to move into the ocean, making her a landmark in marine education. 2. One whopper of a shark   The whale shark is the world’s largest fish, with the heaviest specimen ever recorded weighing 23.7 tons – that’s just slightly less than two London buses. Despite its five-foot mouth span, this gentle giant is a filter feeder, existing on a diet of krill and fish eggs. Put down your whey protein, Brad. #bulking = caviar. 3. H-h-half of a penguin   The king penguin might not be able to fly, but it can dive to depths of 985 feet in pursuit of a snack, chowing down on squid, fish and crustaceans. Pingu packs a fair bit of blubber und

Meet the ‘Disco Bunny’ spreading positive vibes by dancing in London’s streets

Meet the ‘Disco Bunny’ spreading positive vibes by dancing in London’s streets

Pablo Woodward gave up his conventional life to become the Disco Bunny: a free spirit aiming to bring positive feelings to Londoners… ‘When I was about six years old, I was adopted from an orphanage in Brazil by an English family and my life really changed. We moved to Luxembourg where they showed me what it was like to have options in life: What am I going to eat? What am I going to wear? It was a real fairground ride which – like many fairground rides – became quite sickly. I wasn’t used to having so much choice. As I got older, I tried doing every job. I was an English teacher, a tennis coach… I once spent my birthday standing in the rain with a sign that said “Car park this way”. I travelled to 50 countries, fell in and out of love and became a father of two children. Eventually I found myself living in a big house in Leeds where I had a phone bill, a flat-screen TV and a spare room – but my house was like my prison. I think this was the pinnacle: the moment when I decided things had to change. I was an angry little man and I wanted to be emotionally free. So I started sleeping in my car and doing star jumps for a living. I became the Disco Bunny. When I first started dancing in the streets, I think people thought I was a freak. In London, people have seen everything – but they don’t necessarily want to go near it. But now I have a sign that says “The Disco Bunny” and I put glitter on my face and flowers in my hair and it always makes people smile or laugh. When you see t

Meet the London museum curator who’s devoted her life to spiders

Meet the London museum curator who’s devoted her life to spiders

Jan Beccaloni has been the Natural History Museum’s arachnid expert for more than 20 years: a job that’s seen her defending the reputation of spiders and handing a live tarantula to Prince William… ‘My passion for arachnida first began when I was a child. It was a species of jumping spider, the zebra spider, which made me realise how fascinated I was by them. My mum used to teach me about spiders and the more I learnt about them the more I thought: God, they’re awesome. I want to know more! I  joined the Natural History Museum in 1990 to work at first on insects. In those days the museum only required O-levels and I had A-levels, so they considered me well qualified. A few years later I was told that the insect section had too many curators, so I chose to work on arachnids instead – and the rest is history. Since I began I’ve completed two degrees and written a book on arachnida. I wanted to make the subject appealing to people who didn’t already know about arachnids, so I basically wrote the book that I wanted to read when I was starting out. It was a bit hardcore as I was working full time, but it’s amazing what you can achieve on the tube. ‘Thanks to my job, I was able to preserve my favourite pet in a jar’ I’ve kept many pet tarantulas, but my favourite is the Goliath birdeater – the largest spider in the world by mass. I had one called Tracey who unfortunately died, but thanks to my job I was able to preserve her in a jar of alcohol and I still get to see her on a regula

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