June was my busiest month yet, and was lucky enough to meet people from all over the world and show them around London during the week ... and even some born and bred Londoners. Just to reiterate, as well as the regular 'pay what you want' walks that I do each weekend, I do 'private walks' during the week, whereby I put together itineraries for people based on their interests, what they'd like to see and stuff like that. Most of the walks I did are pictured below, and as you can see, we managed to include quite a bit of London ... one way or another.
So, first up, at the beginning of the month, I was delighted to see Gurudhan and Jennie again, who I met last summer whilst they were visiting from Austin, Texas. They were back in London for a flying visit and brought with them, Jennie's daughter Ella. They're outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Bankside. Courtney and Emily joined me for a walk around Westminster, and you can see them outside the side entrance of Westminster Abbey. Julia & Michael were visiting from Denmark, and brought with them their respective parents / parents-in-law. You can see them in front of the iconic Big Ben which presides over one side of the Houses of Parliament. I met Kent and his crew of Chemistry Professors outside the Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, where they'd spent the afternoon pouring over the journals and diaries of Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and co. I took their photo outside Buckingham Palace.
I did a walk with Angelise & Caroline around Bankside and Southwark and took the above photo of them outside the George Tavern, just off Borough High Street. Joselito and his family were visiting from the States, and we stopped off at Borough Market for a quick pre-lunch snack. I met Matt & Gin from Australia on the first day of their honeymoon and did a bit of a London Extravaganza all day tour, and bumped in to one of the Queen's Guards along the way. Lastly, you can see Lyn and her daughter outside St James's Palace.
John & Leonie were visiting from Australia, so took the liberty of taking their photo alongside the statue of Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales and founder of the settlement which became Sydney. Kevin & Ellen brought a load of their friends over from Texas and as they were all pretty much of a medical persuasion, we ended the walk at the Hunterian Museum. Just before we finished, I took the photo of them in the rather beautiful Lincoln's Inn. Some more guards, this time with Sundar and his family outside St James's Palace, and lastly I did a sort of orientation for a group of American exchange students. We ended up in Trafalgar Square, where I took their photo.
Lorne is the first Canadian Mounty I've ever met, and had a great day showing him and various members of his family around London for the day. You can see them (top left) with St Paul's cathedral in the background. I spent the day with Lynda and Peter from Australia and their friends, and it was them that brought to my attention, the Australian War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner. It commemorates Australians who died fighting alongside the British in both World wars and is made from 200 tons of granite from Western Australia. We also have Debbie and her two kids outside Buckingham Palace and Gisella and her family visiting from Australia, with Nelson's Column behind them.
So ... the last four photos show Kristen and her extended family striding down from Leicester Square, having spent the morning around Westminster. Jeanne and co. stopped for a sandwich in Shoreditch, so that's where I took the photo of them. On the wall behind them, you can see some work by French street artist Thierry Noir. I spent the morning with Carrie and her family and left them just by the Millennium Bridge, as they were going to head over to Bankside for lunch. Lastly we have Jeanine and her family outside Berry Bros & Rudd ... the Queen's wine shop. They were from Texas and just behind them on the wall of Pickering Place which runs down the side of the shop is a plaque stating that the Republic of Texas once had an Embassy there between 1842-45.
So ... there we have it. If you're going to be visiting London in the coming months and would like me to show you around, please feel free to get in touch.
I'm a little bit late rounding up some of the private walks did in May, which are, just to remind you, walks that I do (usually during the week) for couples, families, groups and wot not. They're all tailor made walks, taking people around places they have told me they'd like to visit, things they'd like to see or hear about. Depending on where people are staying I often go and pick them up from their hotel, or we sort out a meeting point. So, to give you an idea, here are a few I did in May.
So ... starting with the top left. Bernadette & David came on one of my regular weekend walks ages ago, and asked me to do one for just them and their friends. They requested a walk around east London, as it wasn't an area they were too familiar with although one of them had worked there years ago, so was able to offer some of his own unique insights. They're sitting in Arnold Circus by-the-way, which was the first Council Estate in the UK, built in the 1890s. Next up, we have Jeff and his family visiting from the States outside St Paul's cathedral. Bottom left was one of the quickest walks ever. Chris, Craig, Alexis and Bailey were on a stop over at Heathrow airport. It was going to be short anyway, but then they were delayed, so I think after I met them in Westminster, we had about an hour and a half to whizz round all the sights in that area. They even managed to fit in a pint in a pub before getting back on the tube ... which had been one of the criteria. Lastly, we have Kelly and Jacqui visiting London from New Zealand before heading off around the UK on motorbikes. They're standing in Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery behind them.
On this lot of photos you can see Tess in the Dean's Yard at Westminster School. She was visiting from Canada, so when she told me that her grandfather had been in the RAF during WWII, we made a detour to visit the church of St Clement Danes, otherwise known as the RAF church. Standing on Hungerford Bridge with the City of London behind them is a lovely group of ladies who were visiting from Sweden. Outside Westminster Abbey we have the Troy family from the States, and last but not least Robin and Denis standing by the original site of the Globe Theatre, down on Bankside.
June is completely booked up now for private walks, but if you're interested in having a wander around London in July or August, do get in touch and we'll see if we can sort something out.
It's once again time to have a look back at the 'Private Walks' around London I did last month. Unlike my regular 'pay what you want' walks that take place each weekend, the 'Private Walks' usually happen during the week and are booked by families, individuals, groups of friends and the odd 'hen doo'. I have set fees and people either tell me areas or sights they're interested in seeing or exploring. Visiting London for the first time can be quite daunting, so often I give people a few suggestions based on their interests, time frame or whatever it might be they hope to get out of the walk. The photos and descriptions below will hopefully give you a bit of an idea.
Beginning top left we have Jennifer and Michael from New York. I met them at their hotel in Westminster and we spent the morning around that area. You can see them outside the National Gallery which is situated to the north side of Trafalgar Square. Next up is Marta and her parents Hans and Victoria who were visiting from Panama. I took the photo of them on Piccadilly, with the entrance to Burlington Arcade just behind them. Terry and her husband Bill from the States were joined by numerous other members of their family and we ended up covering quite a huge swathe of central London by the time we finished. I took the photo of them after a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum in Horse Guards. I spent a whole day with the McConville family from Australia taking in all the major London sights in a bit of a 'London Extravaganza' tour which began in Westminster and ended up dropping them off by their hotel in St Katharine Docks, which is just behind the Tower of London on the east side of central London.
Here we have Barbara and her son Jessie who were visiting from the States, sitting at the base of the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square. Top right is Simon and his wife Fionn over from Atlanta along with Simon's parents. Rather amazingly, I first met them a couple of years ago for a quick zip around London whilst they were on a layover at Heathrow airport. At that time Fionn was pregnant, and this time I got to meet their now 18 month old daughter. In the centre we have Ann and Thomas who I deposited at the end of their walk in a pub in Soho for a spot of lunch, and bottom right is Lane and his mum who asked me to do an evening/night walk as they were keen photographers and wanted to get some good shots of London at night.
So ... last but not least we have Lisa and Sandra from Germany in St James's Park and Cathy, Isaac and Philip from Hong Kong just by Temple Church.
If you think you might like a Private walk around London, then please feel free to get in touch.
Alongside my regular 'pay what you want' weekend guided walks in London, I also do 'private walks' during the week, whereby I put together itineraries for people based on their interests, or what they'd like to see. As you'll see from the photos and brief descriptions below, from some of the walks I did in March, they can pretty much take any shape or form. If the idea interests you, please get in touch as I'm sure we can sort something out.
So, first up (from left to right) we have Carrie, her mum and brother outside the Market Porter pub in Borough Market, which was the end point of a shortish walk Carrie organised for her mum's birthday. In the centre, we have Silvio & Regina from Brazil, who I met at their hotel in Mayfair and explored around Mayfair, St James's, Piccadilly, Whitehall and numerous other central London locations. I took the photo of them outside Admiralty House at Horse Guards Parade (Silvio had worked the Navy). On the right, outside Buckingham Palace is Jenn & Jason who where visiting London for the first time from the States. Rather amazingly we actually saw the Queen earlier on that particular walk and Jenn managed to even get a photo of her, as she drove past.
There you go ... The Queen. Aside from not having a passport, the Queen doesn't have a driving license either, which I think must be why she spends a lot of time sitting in the back of cars.
Above we have, starting on the left, Nellie & Kang Wee from Singapore on St James's Street, just in front of St James's Palace, followed by Holly & Margo on the southbank with the silhouette of Big Ben in the background. They had popped over on a day trip from France and I left them just by the London Eye, as they'd booked tickets to go up ... or around. It was a nice day for it. On the right is Jennifer, who I met in the City of London, and we explored the area around St Paul's cathedral, Fleet Street, Temple and Smithfield. I took the photo of her in the courtyard of Somerset House.
One Thursday, I took 34 school kids (and their teachers) on a walk that started at the Tate Modern on Bankside, through Borough (where we stopped for lunch at the market) and Southwark, over the river and through part of the City of London to finish on the steps of the Royal Exchange. I met Kerry, Anna and Emilie at their apartment in Shad Thames, just south of Tower Bridge and spent a whole day together, which included a pub lunch and cup cakes in Covent Garden (see above centre photo). Last, but not least is Polly & John, who spent a morning with me during their short trip to London. I took the photo of them outside the replica of Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hinde.
I'd also like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone that has, over the last couple of years, taken the time to write rather nice reviews about my walks on Trip Advisor. At the current time of writing, Bowl Of Chalk is placed in the 'Top 3' activities in London.
If you are under the impression, that I only do my regular 'pay what you want' weekend walks around London, then I should perhaps correct that assumption. During the week I also do what I call 'Private Walks' which can pretty much take any shape or form. I often split them up in to either half day or full days walks for which I suggest a fee, although at the end of the day, I just like showing people around London so even if you just have a spare hour and a half then we can usually sort something out.
The 'Private Walks' could be for families, couples or people traveling on their own. I can accommodate work outings, birthdays and holiday makers, first time visitors to London looking to get acquainted with the city and see the 'sights' or people already familiar with the metropolis who are perhaps keen to explore an area they don't know too well. Here are some of these tailor made walks around London that I did in January.
First up we have the Dingeman's who were visiting from Holland. We did a walk around Westminster, and you can see them standing outside the iconic 'Big Ben' and Houses of Parliament. On the right is Beth, Paula and Matt who were visiting from Canada. We predominantly did a tour of Borough and Bankside and I took the photo of them inside the rather splendid Southwark cathedral.
Pall from Iceland contacted me about doing a walk around east London, soaking in its mixture of migrant history and street art, a by product of the areas more recent trendification (which I don't think is a word) and subsequent gentrification. This in itself is something that has been in the UK press recently as this change; the influx of media types, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and hipsters is to apparently be echoed in the long running and popular television soap opera 'Eastenders', bringing it in to the 21st century. I took the photo of Pall and his family in front of one of street artist Jimmy C's portraits.
During the month I also did two birthday walks. The first was in central London for the extended Robertson clan who ranged in age from I think about 15 months to 70. I dropped them off at St Paul's cathedral, where they had a table booked nearby for the birthday lunch. The second was for Helen and friends celebrating her 40th birthday. They were staying near Aldgate in east London, so I met them down there and explored around the fascinating area of Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Hoxton.
The other week I did an all day extravaganza tour of London with Yong Hao who was visiting from Singapore. I met him in Green Park and we spent the morning around Westminster, which included some of the main London 'sights' like Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square. We then took the Underground to the Tower of London and worked our way back through the City to St Paul's and beyond, through Fleet Street and Lincoln's Inn. We found time to pop in to see the Roman Amphitheatre situated beneath Guildhall Art Gallery and a trip up to the top of the Monument which gives great views across London ... where I took his photo.
Finally, two quite different walks. The first with the rather excellent Ellen and Sandy from Canada, who had lived in London in the 1970's and explored around east London with me. they're standing in front of one of French street artist Clet Abraham's altered street signs (the no entry sign actually says 'freedom'). And ... last but not least, we have Christine and her son, over for a couple of weeks from the States in the lovely Whitehall Gardens, just next to the Thames in Westminster.
So ... if you're in London and would like me to show you around, then please get in touch. There's a lot to see in London, a lot to explore and hopefully you'll have fun along the way too.
I shall begin this by saying 'Happy New Year'. I guess I should be looking forward to the coming year (which I am of course) but will kick off 2014 by looking back at the 'Private Walks' I did in December 2013.
In case you are unaware, as well as my regular weekend 'pay want you want' walks, I also do what I call 'Private Walks' during the week (mostly), which in December included exploring all over London, a couple of pub crawls, a Christmas Party and with families and couples visiting London.
So ... starting with the top left we have Holly and her parents Geoff & Lucy in Spitalfields (east London) which had been booked by Holly for her dad's birthday. Next up we have Craig feeling right at home in the American Bar of the Stafford Hotel. This cozy bar, situated just of St James Street is positively festooned with Americana; ties, baseball caps, American football helmets, photographs and letters from various patrons that have stayed at this rather splendid hotel, ever since it became a haven for American and Canadian officers in London during WWII. Staying in the vicinity, we have Sandra & Joakim (from Sweden) in St James's Park, the oldest of London's eight Royal Parks. Finally, we have David, Lori, Steven and Karen in front of St James's church, Piccadilly, which we passed whilst exploring the area of Westminster.
Beginning top left again we have Maggie and her husband sitting next to one of Edwin Landseer's famous lion sculptures that adorn the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. One Monday evening (top right) I did a pub crawl with a group (many of whom had come on walks with me before) starting from their office in an area called More London, just south of London Bridge and then headed over the river in to the City of London. Bottom left was a work Christmas doo, organised by Keith, who had done one of my Sunday east London walks earlier in the year. They're pictured in Covent Garden, shortly before depositing them at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, where they had lunch booked. Simpson's has been serving up fine heart British fare for over 170 years and unusually for a restaurant, has a strong sporting connection. It is regarded as 'the home of chess'. Finally we have Scott and Joe in Trafalgar Square, with the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields behind them. As you can tell from the name of the church, the area has changed quite a bit over the years.
Above left, we have Dru and her family standing in front of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, which has been sent over from Norway, every year since 1947; a token of gratitude for British support during WWII. Last, but not least, we have Laurence and Salome who came on a walk around east London, just a few days ago. They were staying in Shoreditch and wanted to have a bit of an explore of the area.
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'.
One of the first walks I ever did, just over two years ago was attended by two Australians who at the time, were working in London. They are called Robb Musgrave and Ria and Robb has the curious distinction of being the winner of the inaugural 'Best Moustache' award. Over the course of the next year or so, they came on all my regular weekend walks, and so too did their visiting family and assorted friends and relatives. The baton now seems to have passed on to Robb's sister Erin, who has now done all my walks. Her aunt Susan was visiting from Australia last month, so I met them both in Trafalgar Square and we did a walk around Westminster to introduce Susan to the city. They are pictured below (top left) having a well earned sandwich in St James's Square.
Next up, is Lorita and Bonnie standing outside Buckingham Palace, then bottom left standing next to two iconic red telephone boxes, Samer and Rania from Lebanon via Dubai. Outside Westminster Abbey is Brittney and Luke who were visiting from Australia.
On the three photos above, from left to right are the McIntyre family from Scotland, standing in St James's Park and in the centre, Larry and Karen from the States in front of Horse Guards on Whitehall. Finally Rose, Theo, Max and Frankie who were visiting from the Isle of Man did a walk around east London.
Don't forget, if you're visiting London, and would like to do a private walk around London, then let me know and I'm sure we can sort something out.
Aside from my regular weekend 'pay what you want' walks around London, I also do 'private walks' during the week, which take in many different areas of London, based upon what people would like to see, or their interests. Here are some of the people I showed around London in September.
So, beginning with the top left photo, we have Tom and Jill, who were over from Australia to visit Angela. They're standing next to the memorial to Admiral Arthur Phillip on Watling Street in the City of London. He's not someone particularly familiar with Londoners, although he was born in 1738 on nearby Bread Street, but is (I imagine) familiar with all Australian's as he became the first Governor of New South Wales, and founded the settlement, which is known today as Sydney. The top right photo shows Nicole, Syd and Jill enjoying coffee and cakes in the Vintage Emporium, just of Brick Lane in east London. The bottom left photo is of Chris and Ryan on a rainy day, having just had a pint in a pub in Westminster. Bottom right was a belated birthday walk for Andrew, organised by his friend John.
Above we have (starting from the left), the Black family from the States standing next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln just by Parliament Square. In the centre, Alvin, Karen and Michael from the Philippines in Trafalgar Square and on the right, Vince and Lara in front of the Jewel Tower just opposite the Houses of Parliament. The Jewel Tower is one of only two surviving parts from the medieval palace of Westminster that burned down in 1834. Built around 1365, it was known as the 'King's Privy Wardrobe' and effectively was a massive safe, as it originally housed King Edward III's bling.
Finally, we have Deborah and co. from the States just outside Westminster Abbey, Angela & Lin from Canada standing in the rather lovely Whitehall Gardens and on the right, Tom, Teresa and Melissa from Texas overlooking the Thames.
If you're planning a trip to London and fancy doing a 'private walk' around London, let me know, as I'd love to show you around.
The months seem to be tripping by at the moment, so here is a brief review of some of the private walks I did in August.
I was fortunate enough to spend two days with the Hausman family from Washington DC (if memory serves) which meant we were able to cover a whole load of London. The top left picture shows them standing outside Buckingham Palace, whilst the top right was on the second day, outside St Paul's cathedral. The walk was so exciting, that you can see that Rick and Lisa's son Matt grew quite considerably over night. Bottom left shows Maria & John enjoying a post walk drink in an east London boozer, whilst the bottom right picture is of David and Fran from New York and New Jersey respectively, in Trafalgar Square.
On the above photos we have from right to left, Susan Bob, Peggy and Dave outside St James's Palace, Gurudhan and Jennie (who I think ended up doing 4 walks with me) with St Paul's in the background and finally, Darshini and co. standing outside the Royal Opera House just near to Covent Garden.
Unfortunately for Colleen and Grace (top left) they chose one of the very few rainy days we had in August to do a walk around Westminster. Top right shows Victoria from the States in St James's Park, whilst bottom left is Deborah and Mike standing in Covent Garden. Last but not least is Barry and his crew who joined me on an early evening wander around east London.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.