So, I've got three recent walks to include in the roundup. The first was on Thursday evening. I was asked to take a company based on Rivington Street, (in Shoreditch) on a Christmas Party-esque type of walk around east London. Although they were all of normal height, with one above average (I would say), they were a small company. They'd booked a table at the infamous Ten Bells pub just next to Old Spitalfields market, so that's where we finished. Here they are outside the Ten Bells.
The Ten Bells, built in the mid 18th Century is infamous (as I have already mentioned), because of its connection with Jack The Ripper and the murders that took place around the Whitechapel area in 1888 and 1889. All of the victims were prostitutes, and the final Ripper victim is thought to be Mary Kelly, whose 'patch' was outside the Ten Bells and was the only one who was not murdered out on the street, but in her lodgings nearby. The Ten Bells' name changed to 'The Jack The Ripper' in the 1980's but I think someone pointed out that they were basically glorifying someone who murdered women, so they changed it back.
On Saturday morning, I did my regular walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's and was joined by Lawrence and Jerome from Singapore and Chris from the States.
Here they are standing outside what is generally regarded as Britain's smallest Police station, fitted snugly inside a hollowed out light fitting on the south eastern side of Trafalgar Square. It was installed in 1926 and also apparently served as a lock-up for drunk and disorderly types, although you could only get two of them in there ... at a push. My most recent inspection reveals that it contains a few bags of salt / grit and some brooms.
For Sunday's wander around the east end I was joined by an international quartet of Emilia, Anna, Vera and Vincy, hailing from Poland, Germany, Spain (via Austria) and Hong Kong if my memory serves me correctly. Here they are in Old Street, by what has been dubbed the 'Silicon Roundabout', home to an array of tech based, internet start-ups.
The area been in the news over the last week or so, because David Cameron (the Prime Minister) has pledged £50million to regenerate Old Street roundabout in to a super duper civic hub type place dedicated to tech start ups complete with a 400-seat auditorium and other shiny digital things. I think it's government money he's pledging ... not his own.
Coldest walk - Thursday night's east end walk
Group most eager to find a pub - Thursday night's east end walk
Best moustache - No winners
Youngest - Jerome
Most American - Chris
Best English accent for a non English person - Vera (Germany)
Six people braved the cold December air to join me on my regular Saturday morning wander from Trafalgar Square to St. Paul's. Seeing as there were two Italians in the group (Annalisa & Miro) it seemed only right that I take a picture of them in Covent Garden, where the 17th Century diarist and ladies man Samuel Pepys watched the Italian puppeteer Pietro Gimonde perform what is now regarded as the first recorded performance of 'Punch and Judy'. It was the 9th May 1662 and every year, on or around this date, Punch and Judy puppeteers descend on Covent Carden in what has become the unofficial, official birthday of Mr Punch. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a pub (hiding behind the Christmas tree in the photo) called the Punch and Judy.
So, here are the group, also including Helen, Gemma, Kirsty and another Helen. There was a double Italian-ness about it really, as the piazza, originally designed by Inigo Jones in the 1630's, was based apparently on a similar one he had seen in Livorno in northern Italy.
There was nothing particularly Italian about the afternoon walk, but I was joined by Lorrie from New York, who had come on the very kind recommendation of a friend of hers Mary (also from America) who had been on a walk with me back in the summer. Thanks Mary. Here is Lorrie outside The George Inn, just off Borough High Street. It was pretty dark by this point, but fortunately my photographer (who comes on most of the walks) had remembered to bring his studio style lights with him.
We managed to fit in quite a few bits n bobs including stopping off at the Rose Theatre (the first Elizabethan theatre on Bankside), the remains of which were uncovered in the 1980's and largely responsible for shaping the current Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Whilst there, we watched a fascinating video narrated by none other than Gandalf (Sir Ian Mckellen) who I discovered today, co-owns The Grapes pub in Limehouse, which is well worth a visit anyway if you happen to be in the area.
Most Physiotherapists in one group ... ever - Saturday morning
Most Italian - Annalisa & Miro (obviously)
Most last minute booking straight off the plane from the States - Lorrie
Saturday was pretty incredibly cold. I was joined in the the morning by Robb and Evelina. Robb had actually come on the first ever Saturday walk I did, just over a year ago, so had come to complete the trilogy, whilst also looking to secure his third 'Best Moustache' Award, a post walk award he in fact instigated.
As it was the first day of Advent, we thought we'd take a look at the world's largest Lego Advent Calendar that had just arrived in Covent Garden Piazza. It's the work of a guy called Duncan Titmarsh (and others I'm sure) of 'Bright Bricks' who specialise in building stuff out of Lego (not surprisingly).
Made using 600,000 Lego bricks, it's a pretty impressive feat, and if you happen to be in the area at 4pm each day between now and Christmas, then you'll see them opening one of the doors to undoubtedly reveal a lego based surprise.
After the walk, I bumped in to a man with an Owl on Cheapside in the City of London. The owl was called Lunar, but forgot to ask the guy what his name was.
It was a real life owl, and as I took the photo, Lunar was busy eyeing up a small pug type dog, standing just out of shot with its owner. The man holding the owl was real too.
After the excitement of seeing a real life owl, I met Rick, Bryan, Ray, Ben, Fiona and Branwen for the walk from St Paul's to Monument. Here they are in Borough Market trying to stave off the bitter cold.
As you can perhaps see from the photo, Ray there on the right was destined to give Robb a run for his money for the 'Best Moustache Award'. Nice selection of hats too. Anyway, thanks to everyone who braved the cold to join me on Saturday.
Most Russian - Evelina
Best moustache - Ray (after a hotly contested public vote)
The 'Denise Rhodes Award' for the best Scarf - Robb
Wooliest green bobble hat - Bramwen
Most likely to be siblings 'cause they are - Rick & Fiona
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.