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.
If you're in London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and fancy exploring the city in between visiting the venues and watching copious amounts of sport, why not come on a fun, informal and informative walking tour ... with me (as recommended by Time Out in their list of 101 Best Things To Do In London).
You can either choose from one of my three 'pay what you want' weekend walks which are taking place every weekend throughout August, or, if you have a spare few hours during the week, get in touch and I'd love to show you around this amazing city. I can either suggest an itinerary, or if you have some sights or areas that you'd particularly like to see, let me know and I'll build a tour around them.
Here are just a few of the people who came on walks during July:
Simon & Fion from the U.S.A in St James's Park, (which is right by where the beach volley ball is currently being played) with Buckingham Palace in the background.
Colin & Co. over from LA, enjoying a well deserved drink in the 17th Century pub, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
Valerie, Vladamir & Polina from the U.S.A via Russia and Ukraine, with a very life like statue in Piccadilly on our way to St James's Palace.
Sheree and Cortney were over from Wisconsin and should probably get an award for putting up with me for a whole three days. However, they did visit the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, The Churchill War Rooms and Harrods ... to name but a few.
Silke and Simone from Germany who explored Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Hoxton.
Margie, Luca, Bianca, Alma & Anita from Italy outside Dennis Severs' House near to Old Spitalfields market.
One of the Sunday groups, having just had a mooch around Columbia Road Flower Market.
I look forward to hearing from you, and if I don't, then I hope you have a great time in London during the Olympics anyway.
Weekend Roundup - 31st March/1st april '12
Officially, it was a non Bowl Of Chalk walking weekend, but Caroline, who had previously come on the Sunday east end walk had enquired about coming on the Saturday afternoon walk, so we did it and she was joined by Iris. Unfortunately (and much to my marketing team's horror) I completely forgot to take a photo.
We spent a bit of time in the Rose Theatre, which one of the volunteers there once described as the 'most important puddle in London'. It's only open on Saturdays, so if you pop down there, you'll discover why.
Westminster Birthday Wander
On Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a lovely group on a special Birthday walk private tour type of thing. It was Alexandre's birthday and his parents had asked if I'd do a walk for him, his brother Thomas and assorted friends that perhaps included a bit about the Stuarts, Tudors and Sherlock Holmes. We started at Trafalgar Square, mooched around there past the Sherlock Holmes pub (obviously), down Great Scotland Yard passing the place that was the entrance to the Ministry Of Magic in 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (where strangely more filming was taking place on Sunday), through Horse Guards Parade opposite Banqueting House where Charles I had his head chopped off and strolled through St James's Park until we reached this really big house called Buckingham Palace ... or something like that. Here's a photo of the group. To make up for not taking a photo on Saturday, I even managed to get in this one.
Incidentally, contrary to how it might appear, Steve there in the front is not going to the toilet. We then passed through Green Park, St James's Palace built by Henry VIII in 1536, down Jermyn Street where every other shop seems to have a royal warrant and finished up at Piccadilly Circus. For Sherlock Holmes fans, the Criterion Restaurant which has been knocking around there since 1874 is not only a beautiful restaurant, but where Arthur Conan Doyle set the first meeting between Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
Anyway, that is a very abridged synopsis of the walk, but hopefully Alexandre had a good birthday and everyone else enjoyed it too.
Keenest Repeat Offender - Caroline (Sat)
Birthday Boy - Alexandre
Biggest Sherlock Holmes fan - Jimmy
Most Canadian - Kathy
Best Moustache - No Winners (although Sunday was reasonably beardy)
Most half French - Claire
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.