Saturday - St Paul's to Monument
On Saturday I was joined by three siblings from Germany; Julian, Vanessa and Valentine. They came along for the afternoon walk that begins at St Paul's cathedral and finishes by Monument, via Borough. Vanessa has been living in Borough, so in a way it was her own 'neck of the woods' walk.
Here they are standing on London Bridge, which is what many tourists actually call Tower Bridge, because I suppose it's a bit more iconic. You can see Tower Bridge in the background with the Olympic rings hanging underneath.
Sunday - 'My neck of the woods' east end walk
Vanessa and Valentine returned on Sunday for the east end walk and were joined by 11 others. For the first time in ages, we've had a few days of sun, so it was nice to wander around without getting rained on. Huzzah. They were a lovely group and a mixture of ages, interests and countries. I took the below photo just after they'd had a look around Columbia Road flower market and we have Valentine, Richard, Irina, Mary, Michael, Roana, Cat, Gail, Anis, Kim, Andrew, Kirsty and Vanessa.
Oh yes ... it's really interesting to find out how people hear about the walks and it's generally a complete mixture. I was delighted to discover that Michael had spotted a poster in his favourite sandwich shop in Smithfield that I must have put there about 6 months ago.
Most German - Julian, Vanessa & Valentine
Most Bostonian - Cat
Most recently historically qualified - Kim
Most well preserved American accents despite living in the UK for decades - Richard & Mary
Best Moustache - No winners
Most Glaswegian - Roana & Anis
The other week, I was asked to do a three day London walking extravaganza. Sheree and Cortney were visiting London for the first time, over from Wisconsin before heading off on a cruise, and wanted to pack in as much as possible in to their three days.
We spent the first day around Westminster, and aside from passing by Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, 'Big Ben', Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade. Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, St James's Palace and much more, they also spent some time in both Westminster Abbey and The Churchill War Rooms.
The second day began at the Tower of London (which they visited), and of course Tower Bridge, which is currently adorned with the Olympic Rings.
Then, after a minor detour through the City, including Leadenhall Market, the old Royal Exchange and the Bank of England we headed over London Bridge to Borough, taking in the 17th Century George Inn, Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral and of course Shakespeare's Globe Theatre before heading over to St Paul's cathedral.
After Sheree and Cortney had finished having a look around St Paul's we headed through Fleet Street taking in lots of places including Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Dr Johnson's House and Twinings Tea Shop, before finishing off at Covent Garden.
The final day was split between east and west London. It was pouring with rain in the morning. East London was grey and miserable, so I don't think it ingratiated itself with my two London explorers, but we did manage to pop to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station, a constant source of delight for Harry Potter fans from all over the world.
In the afternoon, we headed west and Sheree and Cortney had a look around the recently refurbished Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria was born and Princess Diana lived.
I think I'm still a bit undecided as to my thoughts on it, but it's certainly a different way to impart information in a museum setting, with the emphasis less on information boards and artifacts behind glass and more on exploration and uncovering information through emotion led stimulus, activities and participation.
Anyway, by this time I think we were all pretty knackered after three days exploring London, so on the way back to Victoria, where Sheree and Cortney were staying, we passed by the Royal Albert Hall and had a quick stop off at Harrods.
That's them pretending to be interested in the Albert memorial. We did a lot of walking over the three days and saw absolutely loads of stuff, and I should also add that Sheree and Cortney had both bought The London Pass before coming to the UK, so all the museums, cathedrals, palaces and wot not they visited had already been paid for, they didn't have to queue for a ticket and it also included all public transport travel for the three days.
Thanks to them both for putting up with me for three whole days.
On Sunday, Tomoko, Mickeal and Tony braved the seemingly endless supply of rain we've been having to come along on an east end walk. It was actually Mickeal and Tony's second Bowl Of Chalk, having already been on the Saturday afternoon St Paul's to Monument walk a few months ago. Here they are in Hoxton Square.
Towards the end of the walk, we passed a piece by street artist Vhils, otherwise known as Alexandre Farto. I don't think I've mentioned him before here, but he's a young Portuguese chap and unlike most other street artists, he actually carves his portraits out of stone or plaster, to quite stunning effect. This particular one is just near Brick Lane.
He also makes work out of wood, paper and metal, and it seems that the latest ingenious method he's pioneering to create his street art, is to actually embed small explosives in to the plaster and then blow them up to create portraits. If you want to see what I'm talking about then take a look at this video of Vhils blowing up walls. It's explosive stuff.
Most French - Mickeal & Tony
Most Japanese - Tomoko
Best Moustache - No Winners
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.