A view of The City from Charing Cross Bridge. The dome of St. Paul’s is on the left, the Cheese Grater is in the center, and the Walkie Talkie is on the right.

The D&O Diary is on assignment in Europe this week, with a first stop for meetings and events in London. In between, l had time for some touring around the city. I have visited London many times before, but just the same, I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t do anything that I have done before. As the pictures below show, I was largely successful.


The primary purpose for my visit was to participate in several industry events. The first event was a presentation to the D&O Committee at the International Underwriting Association of London. The meeting took place at Swiss Re’s building at 30 St. Mary Axe, better known as The Gherkin (pictured below). Quite a number of people turned out for the session, which was quite lively and interactive. I appreciated the opportunity to speak to the group. My thanks to Anna Chieng of Swiss Re for inviting me  and to her and her colleagues for inviting me to attend and for organizing the meeting.


The Gherkin


A group picture with some of the attendees of the IUA event. It was great to meet so many new London insurance market professionals.


From left to right, Arpad Kollanyi of the International Underwriting Association ; Anna Chieng of Swiss Re; me; Chris Jones of the IUA; and Carol Sheridan of AIG. My thanks to this group for inviting me to this event.



On Tuesday, I was a speaker at the annual C5 D&O Liability Conference. I was a panelist with my good friend Ann Longmore of Marsh at a session on the topic of the rise of collective investor actions outside the U.S. With the new European Commission initiative on collective consumer actions, we had quite a bit to talk about, and the many European attendees in the audience contributed some very interesting commentary as well. I always enjoy the opportunity to be on panels with Ann, she is such a pro.


With Ann Longmore of Marsh


The Lloyd’s Building is now over 30 years old, but it still seems as revolutionary as ever. Over  three decades, the area around the building has changed quite a bit.


One thing that has not changed in the Lloyd’s building neighborhood is the 19th century Leadenhall Market structure, just adjacent to Lloyd’s.


While I was in London, I also participated in a panel at the offices of Beazley. I always enjoy these sessions, which has become an annual event. I enjoyed the chance to participate in a panel at the event with Jennifer Bolden of the Kennedys law firm, Adrian Jenner of Beazley, and Kieran Patel of Beazley. Tom Ielapi of Beazley moderated. After the panel session, we adjourned to an adjoining space for a reception. It was great to see so many London market professionals again at this event. My thanks to my friends at Beazley for once again organizing this panel and reception.


Here’s a picture of a portion of the audience at the Beazley event; because of the chair arrangement, it wasn’t possible to get everyone in a single picture. There were quite a number of others off to the side.


From left to right: Adrian Jenner, Beazley; me; Jenny Boldon, Kennedys; Kieran Patel, Beazley; Tom Ielapi, Beazley. (Great picture, AJ!)


More Pictures of London

As part of my tour of previously unvisited sites, on Saturday morning I walked through Regent’s Park to ramble up Primrose Hill, on the northern end of the Park. At about 215 feet, the grass-covered hill is really just a modest rise, but it still affords great view to the South back toward the City.


Primrose Hill


Here’s the view from the top of Primrose Hill. You can see The Shard in the center of the picture, and a little to the left of that is the Dome of St. Paul’s. Because of the hazy glare it is hard to see in this picture, but the group of buildings on the left includes the Walkie Talkie, The Cheese Grater, and The Gherkin.


In the area between the main section of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill there is a canal, Regent’s Canal. The tow path along side the canal runs east toward Camden Town and beyond, and west toward Little Venice. I have in fact walked along other parts of the canal tow path on prior visits, but not the section I walked on this visit. On a sunny spring morning, it is about as pleasant a thing as there is to do in all of London.



Regent’s Canal between Primrose Hill and Camden Town


In another first-time event for me, on Saturday evening I attended a concert at Wigmore Hall, a very small but elegant concert venue just north of Bond Street. I was fortunate that on the night of my visit, the venue was hosting the annual Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. It was really a great concert. I am just glad I didn’t have to judge the competition, all of the performances were fantastic.



Wigmore Hall


The intimate setting of the Wigmore Hall auditorium during the string quartet competition


On Sunday morning, I attended the church service at St. Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield, within The City of London. Parts of this venerable old church date back to the 16th century. The service itself was a high mass, with much pomp, processionals, and incense. The small professional choir was excellent. The church is located near the Barbican, northeast of St. Paul’s.


St. Bartholomew the Great


The Interior of St. Bartholomew the Great


As part of my mission of visiting only new places, I went to a number of London’s many parks. First, I visited the Chelsea Physic Garden, along the Thames opposite Battersea Park. Then I visited Holland Park, west of Kensington Palace and just off of Kensington High Street.


The Chelsea Physic Garden is a botanical garden, full of medicinal, healthful, or useful plants. The guide that led my tour during my visit, Mary, was very knowledgeable about all of the plants. Here she is telling the tour group about the many stories associated with the Mandrake plant. Some of the stories are appropriate for mature audiences only. It was one of the funniest stand-up routines I have ever heard in my entire life. But because she maintained her Very Proper British Lady tone throughout, no one even cracked a smile. The garden is really interesting. I highly recommend a visit.


A great blue heron in Battersea Park


The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Too bad this picture doesn’t come with a soundtrack, the birdsong was brilliant.


One of the reasons I like staying in a hotel in the South Kensington/Earl’s Court area is that the area is full of quiet neighborhoods, where it is very pleasant just to wander around. Every time I visit, I find new areas, and new quiet and pleasant streets.


One of my discoveries during my wanderings in South Kensington on this visit was The Angelsea Arms, an old-fashioned, non-chain pub with a large outdoor seating area, nestled on a residential street. A very enjoyable place to sit and enjoy the air on a nice spring afternoon.


This may look like a nondescript business doorway. The sign on the glass says “Evans & Peel Detective Agency.” But as Evans & Peel themselves might say, things are not always as they appear. This is actually the entrance to a very cool jazz club and cocktail bar. You just have to know. A great place to visit, if you know how to find it.


Trafalgar Square on a sunny spring afternoon. There is a lot to be said for returning to the familiar parts of London, too.