In the last week or so, a number of people have asked me whether I do 'Bowl Of Chalk' Vouchers that they can purchase as Christmas Gifts. In fact, one person has actually bought two, which has obviously instigated the whole thing.
For this reason, I have now made some emailable vouchers that can be purchased for the weekend 'pay what you want' walks and the cover, looks like this:
It folds down in to a little booklet, telling the person (that you must really like) what to expect and how to book the walk they'd like to come on. Each voucher is valid for one person for the duration of 2013 on either the Saturday or Sunday walks. In a way, if you have already been on a walk, you can then let the lucky recipient know what to expect. Basically, you can print it out, fold it in to the booklet and you'll have something tangible to give the person you must really like.
If you are interested in purchasing a voucher or vouchers, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll need to let me know the name or names of the person you wish to give the voucher to and I'll make a note, so that when they come on a walk, I'll know that it's already been paid for ... so they don't have to.
Obviously, the walks are 'pay what you want' ... so it seems to make sense that the same applies to the vouchers. So, if you think a Bowl Of Chalk voucher would make a nice Christmas gift for someone, then please get in touch, and let me know how much you'd like to pay and we can take it from there.
My flatmate James (a trained actor) has visually demonstrated the kind of reaction your gift of a Bowl Of Chalk voucher might garner from the person you must really like.
There were two very different weather type walks last weekend. On Saturday, Katherine, Doug, Jen and Rhiannon endured three hours of non stop drizzle on their walk from Trafalgar Square to St. Paul's. We couldn't walk through Trafalgar Square because it was closed off and littered with various types of armoured vehicles and there was apparently a 'rehearsal' of some sort going on. There didn't seem to be much happening, but I discovered that the following day, Tom Cruise was filming something or other there. oooh.
Here are the group sheltering beneath their umbrellas on Fleet Street. The sun didn't come out, so maybe we weren't smiling enough.
Sunday was much sunnier, and we traded in the rain for a bit of wind. I was joined by a group of thirteen ... yep, thirteen (a bumperish group) which included a couple of Londoners, a handful of Americans, a half Canadian/Italian, someone from Durham, an Australian and I think also a South African along with a few others.
Here they are just by Columbia Road flower market, which is already starting to get chock full with Christmas Trees.
During our walk, we spotted street artist Jimmy C (AKA James Cochrane) daubing some new work on the Foundry, an old bank between Old Street and Great Eastern Street. He was in the news during the Olympics for painting a large mural of Usain Bolt near Brick Lane and is well know for the almost pointillist technique he uses. Anyway ... after the walk, I spotted him being interviewed infront one of his new just completed works. I've mentioned him before and people on my Sunday walk always love the work he's done on Whitby Street (amongst others). Good work Mr Cochrane.
Umbrella with the most frogs on it - Rhiannon
Shiniest silver trainers - Loriana
Most likely to buy Christmas Pudding themed truffles - Tori
Best moustache - No winners
Latest - Ellinor
Mother & Daughter combo - Jenny & Anna
On the 19th November 2011, three young people called Steve, Lisa and Jo chanced upon a poster I'd put up in a bike shop / cafe in east London which alerted them to the fact that someone had decided to start doing walking tours in London. The poster looked like this ...
... although, you probably can't read that. Fortunately, Steve, Lisa and Jo could. It had been put there by myself and the walks were called 'Bowl Of Chalk'. They sent me an email and the very next morning they met me for a walk around Old Street, Shoreditch, Hoxton, Columbia Road and Spitalfields. One of the first things they said was 'So, how long have you been doing these walks?' I told them that seeing as they'd mentioned it ... it was the very first walk, and they were the first people to come on one. They were very good about it, and I guess realised that everyone's got to start somewhere. It means however, that today is officially Bowl Of Chalk's 1st birthday. Here they are at the end of the walk a year ago.
A year later, I've done loads more walks, and aside from my regular weekend walks have done lots of week day walks for people from all over the world and explored all over London with them. I've met some brilliant people and had great fun along the way and over the year have done walks for hen parties, school trips, work outings, for one person (on numerous occasions) for forty German school kids (on one occasion), birthday surprises, people on holiday, Londoners wanting to find out more about their own city, big groups, small groups, a few hours to three entire days, and even a group of international liver specialists.
I have tried to take a photo of each group that has come on a walk, but quite often forget, so here are a few of the people that have made this last year so memorable.
So ... I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has come on a walk over the last year and for the lovely feedback I've had either by email or on the facebook page, or the reviews people have left on Trip Advisor. I realise that as the saying goes 'you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time' or something like that, but hopefully most people have enjoyed their wander around London with me and I look forward to seeing if I can continue well in to 2013 and discovering who I will meet next.
On that note, someone just contacted me this evening about doing a walk next August, and even with my limited maths prowess, know that's 9 months away.
On Saturday morning I had my second ever 'Hen Doo'. Due to logistical reasons, we did a different route from the usual Saturday morning walk and I met the ladies by Liverpool Street station for a walk around Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Shoreditch, an area positively oozing with history, character and street art.
I was very pleased that they turned out be a lovely, cordial, well behaved bunch (not what you hear about Hen parties), so thanks very much to Josephine, Karen, Gillian and co. Here they are in Corbett Place, nestling within the Old Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane.
In the afternoon I did my usual St Paul's to Monument walk and had a really nice group of ten people, mainly hailing from NORTH America (Jen), so basically a mix of Canadians, Americans, a couple of New Zealanders thrown in for good measure and Chang from Taiwan ... oh, yes and Mandy from South Africa (although she didn't sound remotely South African). There was even one English guy.
Here they are in Borough Market, just to the south of London Bridge in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral.
It's quite strange, because I don't remember John there on the right, being quite that tall. Jeepers, he's turned in to a giant.
Sundays walk got rained off, so I went to the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe instead. It's a tiny, slip of a museum inside the original engine house of Marc Brunel's '8th wonder of the world', the first ever tunnel in the world to go underneath a river, and the only project on which Marc and his son Isambard worked together.
Although it's pretty small (only costs £3) they organise lots of events and guided tours and Madame Bowl Of Chalk informs me that on selected days you can go down in to the tunnel shaft and former subterranean grand entrance hall.
Group most unlikely to say 'Neil', 'Wedding' or ' Dress' - Hen Party
Tallest - John (obviously)
Only one not to wear a coat - John
Best Moustache - No Winners
On Friday I met four young ladies from Oban in Scotland ... Sue, Ann(e), Frances and Margaret. We did a little wander around east London, primarily Spitalfields and Shoreditch. It was quite nippy, so here they are having a nice cup of tea (or coffee) in the Book Club on Leonard Street.
Whilst we were there I thought of something else that might be their cup of tea too, and was just down the road, so thought I'd mention it here. It's a place called Westland London and to be honest it's really not the kind of place you'd expect to find in the heart of 'trendy' Shoreditch.
It's a big old Grade I listed church (with Grade II listed extra bits) built in the late 1860's, but closed in the 1960's. Westland London (or Westland Antiques as I call them) have been going since 1969 and they moved in to the building in 1977. Basically, to cut a long story short, they source, restore and sell a massive amount of architectural antiques, fireplaces, garden monuments, sculptures, carvings and lots more and they're kept in the church. In a nutshell, it's a rich person's second hand shop.
Because all the stuff is actually for sale and people actually buy it, the whole place changes and each time you go in, you find a whole new set of weird and wonderful items, some large like spiral staircases and giant clocks, or small ... like I remember one time they had an entire wall covered with wooden cobblers shoe lasts. If you need a Renaissance sculpture, a Jacobean chair, a Victorian pillar, an Edwardian sofa or an Art Deco bit of I don't know what, or just some new/old propellors for your WWI biplane, then the chances are that they'll have it.
They've got a seemingly endless array of rooms and corridors chock full of marble, stone, wood and metal spread over two floors. It's really quite incredible. They're not open on Sundays, but if you happen to be in the area any other time, then I highly suggest popping in and spending a bit of time just wandering around. It's a cross between a museum, an exhibition and a shop ... all inside a church.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.