Aside from doing my regular 'pay what you want' weekend walks, I also do weekday walks if people enquire and would like me to do a special walk for a group. They don't have to be any of the three I do on Saturdays and Sundays and actually, the walks I've done just recently have all been completely different.
An epic stroll through the City of London - Peter, Liesbeth and Ezra were over for a few days from Holland, and were very kindly put in touch with me via Dutch blogger in London right now who not surprisingly writes about what she would do if she was in London ... right now. I put together a few suggestions for walks based upon various things they wished to see and they chose a walk that began in Covent Garden, moved down the Strand, taking in the 12th Century Temple Church, nipped in and out of the streets around Fleet Street, then after a brief stop off at St Paul's Cathedral cut through the City of London, through Leadenhall Market and down to the Tower of London. Here they are standing by the statue of Hodge, the beloved cat of Samuel Johnson who was responsible for compiling the first definitive English dictionary in 1755. Samuel Johnson compiled the dictionary, not his cat ... as far as I'm aware.
Fire of London walk - Just last week, I was asked to do a walk that followed the path of the Great Fire of London, a catastrophic event that occurred in 1666 and in just four days burnt down a vast swathe of the City of London. We began at the Monument, just a short distance from where the fire began in the bakery belonging to Thomas Farriner (or sometimes Farynor) and walked through the City towards Bank and then up to St Paul's Cathedral, which was engulfed in flames on the third day of the fire. Here you can see the group with the new St Paul's Cathedral in the background, the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, who was responsible (along with a lot of help) for rebuilding the City after the fire.
A Westminster Wander - On Monday I had the pleasure of taking a school group on a walk around Westminster. We met in Trafalgar Square, then headed down Whitehall past the spot that was used as the entrance to the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film, saw Banqueting House which was the real location for the execution of King Charles I in 1649, had a few photos taken with Horse Guards on their horses and ordinary guards without their horses, then nipped through St James's park to Buckingham Palace (which is currently hidden behind a recently erected temporary stadium for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations) then past St James's Palace and up to Piccadilly. Here they are outside the Royal Academy of Arts where I left them in time for the next activity on their schedule.
So there you have it. If you'd like me to do a weekday walk at some point, then let me know. The next regular weekend walks are on the 9th & 10th June.
On Saturday morning I met Aviva for the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk. Part of the walk involves winding through and around Fleet Street, a street synonymous with printing and the newspaper industry, ever since a guy called Wynkyn De Worde, who aside from having a brilliant name, brought the first printing press to the area in about 1500. Anyway, as if to highlight the fact, just outside the Bridewell Theatre we stumbled across an amazing array of old printing equipment that had been left on the street. There were a number of drawers, all packed full of thousands of the individual metal letter typefaces. Had I not been doing a walk, I would have very probably hailed a cab and taken the whole lot home. Here's Aviva with the treasure, that someone else now has.
On Saturday afternoon I was joined by Urvesh, Chris, Christina, Teresa, Bea, Sam and Louise for the St Paul's to Monument walk. I haven't seen it so busy around Bankside for a long time, but I guess that's what happens when the sun comes out. We didn't come across any discarded treasure, but of course there's Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Rose Theatre and lots of other things to uncover along the way. Here are the group by Borough Market.
What a fun lot they were too. Also, I should mention that it was Sam's second Bowl Of Chalk walk, having previously come on the east end 'My neck of the woods' walk a few months ago ... which allows me to segue effortlessly on to Sundays walk.
Once again, the sun was beating down and a reasonably international group turned out for Sundays east end walk, hailing from Germany, Poland, Portugal/Luxembourg, France and even England and Scotland. The 'world and his wife' were out in force around Columbia Road flower market and Spitalfields where we finished. Here are the group standing next to one of street artist Pablo Delgado's miniature paper street scenes, which also has a little sign saying 'Please queue here' ... hence the photo.
From left to right we have Felix, Teresa, Babara (or Basia), Maja, Dorina, Magali, Lesley and Manu. There was also Tom, but he isn't in the photo because he had to nip off.
So there we have it. Perhaps the sunniest weekend of walks ever in the history of weekend walks. As ever, thanks very much to all who came along.
Most Swiss - Bea and Chris
Most Historically qualified - Urvesh and Chris
Most inappropriate footwear - Louise
Veteran Bowl Of Chalker - Sam
Best name that actually creates a statement - Teresa Brown
Best Moustache - No winners
Most laid back - Felix
Most German - Dorina and Magali
All three London walks took place this weekend, albeit with varying amounts of people, beginning with just one person, Luciana from Argentina, who came on the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk on Saturday morning. Here she is outside Twinings Tea Shop, where we stopped for a cuppa.
Twinings have been operating from the same premises on the Strand since 1706, when Thomas Twining opened Britain's first tea room. Twinings also hold the distinction of holding a Royal Warrant (which you can see just above the door), which basically means they provide tea for HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and also lay claim to having the world's oldest continually used logo.
Next up was the St Paul's to the Monument walk and I was joined by two young French men, Anthony and Mickael spending a year over here to improve their English. It seems to have worked, as their English was 'Superbon, fantastique et tres, tres, tres bien'. Here they are (and me actually for once) standing beneath the Monument, a monument (not surprisingly) to the Great Fire of London. If you come on one of my walks, I'll probably talk about this particular fire quite a bit. It happened in 1666 and in just four days burnt down most of the City of London. The idea is that the Monument stands 202 feet tall, exactly 202 feet to the west of what at the time of the fire was a bakery on the now infamous Pudding Lane, where the fire started.
Today was the east London 'my neck of the woods' walk and I was joined by Maddi and Kim from Australia, Mike, Susan, Kahlee and John from the USA and Brynn from Stoke. The Sunday walk is a mixture of history and street art, and right at the beginning, noticed that Street artist Eine's CHANGE mural on Old Street is in the process of being ... well ... changed. I haven't been able to confirm it, but it looks like Eine himself is doing it. It seems to be half finished and still masking tape all over it. It currently looks like this ...
Here are the group standing outside the Foxtons Estate Agents on Curtain Road. You may wonder why I chose to take a photo of them there, but back in 1577 a building was built on that very site, and was the first in London to be devoted to the performance of plays. It was called The Theatre and was run by a group called the Lord Chamberlain's Men. They moved The Theatre in 1598 over the Thames to Bankside and re-opened it the following year re-naming it 'The Globe'. The Lord Chamberlain's Men employed a young man who arrived in Shoreditch from Straford-Upon-Avon as an actor and playwright. You might have heard of him. He was called William Shakespeare.
So, there we have it. Another weekend of walks. Thanks as ever to everyone who came and made it so enjoyable.
Most Australian - Maddi & Kim
Best Moustache - Mike
The only English person all weekend - Brynn
Looking after English peoples kids award - Luciana, Anthony & Mickael
Most American - Everyone else (inc. Mike)
Weekend Roundup - 12th/13th May '12
Last weekends London walks got off to a flyer on Saturday morning with a great group who were a mixture of people who had been on previous walks (Nathalie, Tamsin and Rowan), some Americans, Andrew and Sharon (who was visiting London for the first time ever), another, Mary, who had arrived from Boston that morning and hadn't even been to sleep yet (pretty hardcore), some Londoners, two of whom (Elly and Alan) live in Soho so literally just had to step out of the front door to begin the walk, Amy who seemed to have worked at some point in most of the areas we walked through and Luana and Manuela from Brazil.
Covent Garden was overflowing with 'Punch & Judy' performers as it was the annual Maye Fayre and Puppet Festival. I think the main reason being that on the 9th May 1662 a guy called Samuel Pepys recorded in his now rather famous diary that he'd seen his first performance of the show there, so it's regarded as Mr Punch's birthday and a celebration is held as near as possible to that date each year. If you've ever visited, you'll perhaps have noted that there's a pub, also called the Punch & Judy overlooking what was originally intended as the grand entrance to St Paul's church on the west side of Covent Garden piazza.
Here's the group a bit later on standing outside the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice. If you're wondering why Elly is holding up a pair of pants and Manuela is actually wearing a rather fetching pair of orange undies over her jeans then it's because we encountered an open top bus laden with scantily clad blokes, showering the unsuspecting public with pants. As you do.
Sunday - My neck of the woods
On Sunday for the east end walk, I was joined by a massive group that was also massively international. Out of the seventeen people who came along, only two were English and the rest arrived via France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Holland and the USA.
It was a glorious day for exploring the east end, with Columbia Road flower market in full swing and loads of other fragments of history and bits of street art to uncover along the way.
So, here are the group who I will endeavour to name. Apologies if I've spelt anyones name incorrectly. From left to right - Tim, Ana, Lisa, Eva, Michela, Olga, Sabrina, Esther, Alexandra, Sheila, Bruce, Miguel, Carolin, Kate, John, Marie and Ruth.
Following on from this walk, I also did a special birthday walk for Charlie and her friends, but completely forgot to take a photo. However, thanks incredibly to everyone who came along for walks.
The BOC Trilogy of walks Award - Tamsin and Rowan
Most Eastern european named Portuguese person - Olga
Best moustache - No winners
Highest jumper in a photo - Tim (see above)
Best translator - Alexandra
Most jet lagged - Mary
Weekend Roundup - 5th/6th May '12
I hope everyone's had a reasonably resplendent Bank Holiday weekend. I did a couple of London walks this weekend (contrary to my last three weekends of each month rule), mainly because last weekend was so wet.
On Saturday morning I met Louise and Mel who were down from Herefordshire for a weekend in London (celebrating their wedding anniversary) and they joined me on the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take a photo of them. We stopped for tea in Twinings, which you can do (for free) because they have a little kitchen in the back where you can help yourself to anyone of their vast range of teas.
Sunday - My neck of the woods east end walk
There were nine people on Sunday for my walk around Old Street, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Spitalfields. There were a couple of familiar faces as Tamsin and Rowan who had come on my St Paul's to Monument walk a couple of weeks earlier returned for some more Bowl Of Chalk action. Here's the group (minus Rowan, who still doesn't like being on photos) standing in front of one of street artist Stik's pieces on Hoxton Street.
If you live in the area, or have even just visited, it's quite likely that you'll have seen Stik's work adorning walls, doors and shop shutters as he's been daubing his simple but emotive figures around the place for over ten years. They're bold and bright and give a whole new meaning to the term 'street art' as Stik spent some time living on the street himself. I think his idea is that by just using a handful of lines, it is possible to convey human emotion and feeling and that although you may dismiss his work as just massive stick figures, you'll find that on each occasion the feeling he is trying to capture, whether it be vulnerability, anger, aggression, love or friendship are instantly recognisable. I'd wager that for people who do live on the streets, such instant associations with the way someone walks or holds themselves are very important.
Anyway ... if you're interested in seeing a few of Stik's paintings, then you might like to take a look at this map (courtesy of the Londonist), which very handily has them plotted for you.
Repeat Offenders - Tamsin and Rowan
Most Spanish via Germany - Neus and Santiago
Rocked up in style - Stephanie and James
Best moustache - No winners
Most American - Katy (or KD)
Most unphotographed - Louise and Mel
Most Australian - Cristina
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.