As well as my regular weekend 'pay what you want' walks around London I do 'private walks' during the week (and sometimes on weekends too) which can pretty much entail going anywhere and doing anything. You'll see from the ones below that it's a real mix and very much depends on the people, their interests and what they'd like to see or hear about.
Below left is Margo, Linda, Maureen and Brenda in Arnold Circus, east London. Hiding amongst some telephone boxes are Jill and Jody from the States. They literally had 3 hours to kill, whilst on a layover en route to South Africa. They jumped on the tube at Heathrow, I met them in Green Park and we whizzed around Westminster taking in Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and wot not. It was their first time in London, so I think they figured that rather sitting in an airport for a few hours, they might as well try and explore a bit. We certainly did that. I deposited them back at a tube station, and they made it back to Heathrow in time to get their next flight.
I met Mitzie, Chip and Corey down at their hotel in Waterloo and headed up in to Westminster. You can see them in China Town in the West End. Below right is Craig and Teresa from Los Angeles who I met at their hotel in Smithfield. It's a fascinating area, and the meat market which has been in the area for over 800 years is still hanging on there, whilst Covent Garden, Billingsgate and Spitalfields have all left their central London homes for the outskirts. We made our way in to the City of London and you can see them standing inside the courtyard of the beautiful Apothecaries' Hall.
I met Aneil and his son one Friday morning by Monument, so we headed over London Bridge to Southwark. Borough Market food market is full swing on Fridays and they both stopped off to get some mussels I think ... or maybe it was oysters. Finally we have Larry, Sam and Ryann from New York in Westminster, between the Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, with Big Ben in the background.
So, if you fancy doing a private weekday walk around London, do let me know. I'm very happy to suggest possible itineraries, spend just a few hours exploring a particular area, or the whole day doing what I call an 'All Day London Extravaganza'.
On Saturday morning I was joined by Liz and John for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's. Here they are standing outside Apothecaries' Hall, situated in the precinct of the former priory of the Black Friars in the City, from which the nearby bridge and station get their name.
It's got a lovely courtyard and is the oldest existing livery company Hall in the City, which despite a major refurbishment in the 18th Century, retains a number of rooms and features (including a rather grand staircase) from when it was rebuilt after the Great Fire between 1668 - 1670.
For Sunday's walk around the east end I met Martin and Wendy who run a hotel in north Devon called The Rocks Hotel in Woolacombe, so if you fancy a visit to the area, why not look them up. Joining them was William, Caroline, Emmett, Lucian (all based in Hackney) and Elodie visiting from Germany. Just before I met them, I spotted one of street artist Christiaan Nagel's mushrooms on top of the Shoreditch Grind cafe next to Old Street roundabout. Not sure how long it's been there for because sometimes these things have been around for ages, then one day you suddenly notice them. Anyway ... if you live in or have visited east London, you'll be familiar with the colourful mushrooms that adorn rooftops and walls and are apparently made out of a mixture of polyurthane (a sort of expandable foam), fiber glass and stainless steel.
Anyway, we had a wander around Old Street, Hoxton and Shoreditch and here are the group just by Hoxton Square.
Most likely to have an MBE - John
Keenest spotter of padlocks and buses - Emmett
Most German - Caroline & Elodie
Youngest - Lucian
Best moustache - No winners (although John did have some facial hair)
Had the same P.E teacher as me at school (weirdly) - Martin
On Saturday morning I met Kate and Dave for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's. It was actually Kate's second walk with me, having already been on the east end walk. As they were both Optometrists, I was keen to take them to see the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, who reside within Apothecaries' Hall, but unfortunately it was closed. However, we did manage to nip in to Inner and Middle Temple to see the amazing 12th Century Temple Church.
In the afternoon, I met Jay and Angel (Angelique) who came for a wander from St Paul's to the Monument. Here they are outside the Anchor Pub on Bankside. They've currently got some measurements on the floor showing you the distances jumped by both the Olympic and Paralympic Long Jump record holders, so it's quite fun watching people trying to see how far they can jump. You can also see the Shard rising up in the background.
On Sunday I met Anne Marie and Vincent, who had come to have a look around the east end from Germany, via France. Here they are standing in front of one of street artist Eine's shop front letters. You'll see these everywhere around Shoreditch, Hoxton and Old street.
Thanks to everyone who came on walks last weekend.
Most Australian - Dave
Most Mauritian - Angel
Best Moustache - No Winners
Most Multi Lingual - Anne Marie & Vincent
Repeat Offender - Kate
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.