Last week, I returned from seeing family in Germany and as it was a clear, sunny day and I had managed to secure the all important window seat on the plane, took the opportunity of taking a few photos of London as we flew in to Heathrow. We pretty much flew straight over the Shard, which currently boasts the most spectacular views in London, but from my birds eye view, high above London's skyline, I would at that particular moment, beg to differ.
Below, you can see the Shard (top left-ish), a tiny pin prick really with the ribbons of railway lines cutting through south London in to London Bridge station. You can also see London Bridge next to it, and to the east, Tower Bridge spanning the Thames, with the HMS Belfast, moored, as it always is between the two. The Tower of London (just north of Tower Bridge) which when it was built in the 11th century was the tallest building in London is perhaps only visible due to the fact that it has open space surrounding it.
On the next photo we have now moved down the Thames a bit, and you can see the Houses of Parliament with the iconic Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, the Millennium Wheel and Horse Guards Parade to the top left.
Finally, a rare view of Buckingham Palace with its rather large garden. With Green Park and St James's Park on either side, it seems to be nestling in a clearing in the middle of a forest, rather than being stuck in the middle of London.
What a delightfully 'balmy' weekend as my friend Paul would say. The sunshine and showers we've had of late leaned casually towards the sunshine side of things, especially on Sunday. First however, we have Saturday to contend with.
Saturday morning was a small group of people, but not a group of particularly small people. There were 5 people altogether and strangely, although they didn't know each other, all seemed to have some kind of connection with Orlando in Florida and only took a few moments of meeting each other before they realised they either worked with or knew the same people. It's a small world as my friend Paul might say ... were he to say such a thing. Here they are having a breather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. Behind them to the left you can see the world famous Twinings Tea shop, and to the right, some less famous scaffolding wrapped in a sheet.
Saturday afternoon was an entirely different kettle of balls, as the whole walk was commandeered by a 'hen doo'. I think it's the third hen doo I've done, and like Saturday's group they've all been impeccably well behaved I'm pleased to say. Here they are with the statue of Samuel Johnson's cat Hodge, who always seems to provide a good photo opportunity. Perhaps not surprisingly, after the below photo was taken, we stopped for a drink at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
Sunday was a scorcher and my friend Paul (mentioned above) even made an appearance, along with his wife Sujata (see award below) to join a bumper group that was a mix of Americans, Canadians, a South African and a smattering of British folk. As ever, we explored around east London, stopped off at Columba Road flower market and finished up near Brick Lane and Spitalfields.
I didn't do a write up of the previous weekend walks, so would like to take this opportunity to congratulate or commiserate Denise, who came on her 4th weekend walk with me, which means she has completed 'The Trilogy plus 1'. Also, Steve (pictured above) sent me a photo today that he took of the Gherkin in the City of London, which has a really quite scary reflection. Bit weird, but thanks Steve. Great photoshop skills.
Best top, shoes and bag colour coordinated combo - Louise
Second quickest ever appearance on a walk - Sujata
Best moustache - No winners
Most Gladiator-esque sandals - Casey
Special award for bringing a big batch of home made brownies - Bee (think it was)
Most girls on one walk - Saturday afternoon
Most reluctant 'hen' - Keira
It's once again time to have a look back at the 'Private Walks' around London I did last month. Unlike my regular 'pay what you want' walks that take place each weekend, the 'Private Walks' usually happen during the week and are booked by families, individuals, groups of friends and the odd 'hen doo'. I have set fees and people either tell me areas or sights they're interested in seeing or exploring. Visiting London for the first time can be quite daunting, so often I give people a few suggestions based on their interests, time frame or whatever it might be they hope to get out of the walk. The photos and descriptions below will hopefully give you a bit of an idea.
Beginning top left we have Jennifer and Michael from New York. I met them at their hotel in Westminster and we spent the morning around that area. You can see them outside the National Gallery which is situated to the north side of Trafalgar Square. Next up is Marta and her parents Hans and Victoria who were visiting from Panama. I took the photo of them on Piccadilly, with the entrance to Burlington Arcade just behind them. Terry and her husband Bill from the States were joined by numerous other members of their family and we ended up covering quite a huge swathe of central London by the time we finished. I took the photo of them after a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum in Horse Guards. I spent a whole day with the McConville family from Australia taking in all the major London sights in a bit of a 'London Extravaganza' tour which began in Westminster and ended up dropping them off by their hotel in St Katharine Docks, which is just behind the Tower of London on the east side of central London.
Here we have Barbara and her son Jessie who were visiting from the States, sitting at the base of the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square. Top right is Simon and his wife Fionn over from Atlanta along with Simon's parents. Rather amazingly, I first met them a couple of years ago for a quick zip around London whilst they were on a layover at Heathrow airport. At that time Fionn was pregnant, and this time I got to meet their now 18 month old daughter. In the centre we have Ann and Thomas who I deposited at the end of their walk in a pub in Soho for a spot of lunch, and bottom right is Lane and his mum who asked me to do an evening/night walk as they were keen photographers and wanted to get some good shots of London at night.
So ... last but not least we have Lisa and Sandra from Germany in St James's Park and Cathy, Isaac and Philip from Hong Kong just by Temple Church.
If you think you might like a Private walk around London, then please feel free to get in touch.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.