A trip to the most amazing amusement arcades

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Britain is a land of excentrics with a fantastic sense of humour. And… perseverance in obsessions! Tim Hunkin is an engineer and builds the funniest coin-operated machines I have ever seen.

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I paid him a visit at his new amusement arcade in Holborn, Novelty Automation, and had a go at the machines. I quickly got carried away. Got some romantic advice from the Barry’s Line, had my “thrilled” picture taken in the expressive photo booth, tried a micro-break in a holiday simulator machine (Tim doesn’t see the point of going on holidays).

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The Money Laundering Machine is hilarious, basically nicking coins while the Banking Authority is turning its back… And there are a few more: One makes you instantly loose weight – Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Wladimir Putin and a few more advertise it with convincing “Before/After” photos.

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You can also test your nerves: how long will your hand resist the attack of a pitbull, test if any object you have is art, divorce and find out how much you and your ex get from the break up… (yes, you have to be 2 to play!)

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It’s fantastic, magic, almost surreal. Among his machines, Tim Hunkin is very discreet. “I am not an artist but an engineer and a cartoonist” he says. What he likes is building the machines. It takes him 3 to 6 months to create one. He gets his inspiration from the papers and everyday life then injects it in his creations. He just wants people to have fun with the machines. The London Arcade is his new baby. He managed to open it thanks to the success of the Under the Pier Show in Southwold in Suffolk.

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Following my visit to Tim in Holborn, I embarked on a day trip to Southwold. Two trains and a bus, then the Pier at the end of the journey. Yes the trip takes a while but I would never miss an opportunity to venture to the seaside. And what a day! Southwold was lovely, peaceful but windy, with a beautiful light on the North Sea.

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The icing on the cake was Tim’s machines… The Under The Pier Show was packed with his crazy machines and surprised and puzzled users. Lots of laughing came out of the wooden shed housing the novelty machines. While Jane Fonda was giving effortless aerobics sessions (the Quick Fit Machine), some tourists were immerged in the Bathyscape mini-submarine discovering Southwold’s seabed and his sharks-estate agents…

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For a few coins, you can also re-test your nerves, rent a dog, take a micro-break and even whack a banker! Well the range of possibilities is as huge as Tim’s imagination and genius! Chapeau Mr Hunkin.

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