I think that this weekend was pretty much the first consistently sunny weekend of walks I've had all year. If not ... then it certainly seems that way. So, for this reason, it was particularly nice to see Guglielmo and Zuzana again, who came on a walk at the beginning of the year, when the weather was rather different ... like this in fact:
This Saturday, they were joined by Anna Maria from Italy, Emre from Turkey, Sonal from Mumbai and Amanda from ... Leatherhead. Here they are next to the statue of Samuel Johnson's cat Hodge, which always provides a good spot for a photo.
By-the-way ... contrary to how the photo looks, Guglielmo is not a member of the SAS, but is sporting some rather funky sunglasses he found along the way.
In the afternoon, Emre did the afternoon walk as well and was joined by Ginni from the States, who had just arrived in London after spending a few days in the Cotswolds. Here they are on London Bridge, often confused with the more iconic Tower Bridge behind it. Funnily enough, the river Thames actually starts in the Cotswolds.
Sundays east London walk saw another 'repeat offender' as I call them, who was Caroline, back for her third walk with me and second jaunt around Old Street, Shoreditch, Hoxton and Spitalfields. Thinking about it, there was another member of the group who was doing their second walk with me, and that was Hendricks ... the dog. Weirdly, his owner Sarah ... had never been before. See if you can work that one out? Anyway ... unfortunately, Hendricks had a scheduled veterinary appointment (due to having a seed stuck down his ear) so had to leave early. Despite this, the rest of us, a group made up of Australians and Brazilians, carried on. Here they are in Bunhill Fields cemetery.
Most ridiculous sunglasses - Guglielmo
Most Brazilian - Rodrigo & Patricia
Most unsuitable coat - Hendricks
Veteran Bowl Of Chalker - Caroline
A special award for putting up with me for an entire day - Emre
I didn't take a photo on Sundays walk, so have included a walk I did on Friday (it was almost the weekend) with Paul, Sujata, Alan & Carol. It was a relaxed affair, that involved a wander through Covent Garden, hot chocolates & coffees at the Fleet River Bakery, who I should also point out stock Frank Water (if you don't know what that is ... check the link), a meander through Lincoln's Inn Fields (the largest public square in London) and a mooch around Fleet Street, St Bride's and more, finishing at St Paul's. Here they are outside The Old Curiosity Shop, immortalised by Charles Dickens in the book of the same name. They've handily written it on the side of the building, just incase you hadn't realised. I should point out that it's currently a shoe shop ... nothing particularly curious about it, unless of course, you find shoes, strangely curious.
On Saturday morning I was joined by a heady mix of people with varying degrees of London knowledge. Martin having done his own London tours topped the scales and Anne who is over for a short period from France was just getting to know her way around. Throw in to the mix some born and bred Londoners like Jacqui (who was back for her second Bowl Of Chalk walk) Donna and Tariq and add a sprinkling of Camilla, Kate and Clare (over from Switzerland) and you've got a group on your hands.
We caught Hodge (Samuel Johnson's cat) having a crafty fag. Naughty Hodge.
For the rest of the weekend, it was just me and Tariq, as everyone-else bailed out. In the afternoon, we went from St Paul's to Monument via Borough and were discussing the Old Operating Theatre, which Tariq had never been to, but said was on his 'To Do' list. As we passed by, there was a sign outside saying that on Saturday it was 'Free' to enter (it's the 50th anniversary of the museum's foundation). What luck. Obviously we went in. It's an incredibly unusual museum, and is the oldest pre-anaesthetic operating theatre in Europe, generally used for swift amputations after the patient had been plied with alcohol.
So, many thanks to everyone who came this weekend, and Tariq, for putting up with me for three walks.
Most French - Anne
Most half French - Tariq
Most Londony knowledge - Martin
Best moustache - Tariq
Most tattoos - Tariq
Biggest West Ham fan - Jacqui
Most naturally rural - Alan & Carol
Aside from doing my regular 'pay what you want' weekend walks, I also do weekday walks if people enquire and would like me to do a special walk for a group. They don't have to be any of the three I do on Saturdays and Sundays and actually, the walks I've done just recently have all been completely different.
An epic stroll through the City of London - Peter, Liesbeth and Ezra were over for a few days from Holland, and were very kindly put in touch with me via Dutch blogger in London right now who not surprisingly writes about what she would do if she was in London ... right now. I put together a few suggestions for walks based upon various things they wished to see and they chose a walk that began in Covent Garden, moved down the Strand, taking in the 12th Century Temple Church, nipped in and out of the streets around Fleet Street, then after a brief stop off at St Paul's Cathedral cut through the City of London, through Leadenhall Market and down to the Tower of London. Here they are standing by the statue of Hodge, the beloved cat of Samuel Johnson who was responsible for compiling the first definitive English dictionary in 1755. Samuel Johnson compiled the dictionary, not his cat ... as far as I'm aware.
Fire of London walk - Just last week, I was asked to do a walk that followed the path of the Great Fire of London, a catastrophic event that occurred in 1666 and in just four days burnt down a vast swathe of the City of London. We began at the Monument, just a short distance from where the fire began in the bakery belonging to Thomas Farriner (or sometimes Farynor) and walked through the City towards Bank and then up to St Paul's Cathedral, which was engulfed in flames on the third day of the fire. Here you can see the group with the new St Paul's Cathedral in the background, the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, who was responsible (along with a lot of help) for rebuilding the City after the fire.
A Westminster Wander - On Monday I had the pleasure of taking a school group on a walk around Westminster. We met in Trafalgar Square, then headed down Whitehall past the spot that was used as the entrance to the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film, saw Banqueting House which was the real location for the execution of King Charles I in 1649, had a few photos taken with Horse Guards on their horses and ordinary guards without their horses, then nipped through St James's park to Buckingham Palace (which is currently hidden behind a recently erected temporary stadium for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations) then past St James's Palace and up to Piccadilly. Here they are outside the Royal Academy of Arts where I left them in time for the next activity on their schedule.
So there you have it. If you'd like me to do a weekday walk at some point, then let me know. The next regular weekend walks are on the 9th & 10th June.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.