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
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
Weekend Roundup - 14th & 15th Jan '12
The first London walks of 2012 took place this weekend under a clear, crisp and bright wintery sky ... except when it got dark on Saturday. It was still clear and crisp, but less bright.
Saturday 14th Jan
In the end it kicked off with Saturday afternoons walk and after meeting the group of intrepid Chalkers, had a minor mooch around the streets that surround St Paul's cathedral before heading over the wobbly bridge to Bankside.
We paid an impromptu visit to the Rose Theatre, or at least its watery remains, as it was the first Elizabethan theatre, built in 1587 and after the foundations were re-discovered in 1989 now resides in the bowels of the office building that was built over the top. However, we had an equally impromptu mini talk from a lady who worked there, and next time you're down on Bankside, spare a thought for the Rose, to which the recreated Globe owes a huge debt.
Anyway, here are Saturday's Bowl Of Chalkers in Borough Market. See how much fun they're having. They've even got a coffee. It just blows me away each time I see it.
Here they are exploring a quiet enclave of of Guy's Hospital.
Sunday 15th Jan
On my way to meet Sunday's Chalkers for their east London walk I spied a new piece by street artist Xylo which has popped up by Old Street roundabout next to the City Road Turnpike plaque. Xylo is more than a one trick wonder, but these little golden frogs are sprinkled all over London and apparently represent the 'global crisis of mass species extinction'.
It was another clement, but chilly day and despite Old Street underground station and most of the Northern Line being closed, I was impressed with the tenacity of the group to valiantly find their way to the starting point.
Here they are outside the Geffrye Museum, which if you haven't been is one of the many gems to be discovered in the Shoreditch area. It is a museum dedicated to how Londoners have lived from 1600 to the present day, housed within a beautiful building that was itself built in 1714.
Laure seemed to be quite taken with the tiny figures created by street artist Pablo Delgado, like this one just near to Columbia Road flower market.
As were the whole group for that matter, even when standing on a street almost completely covered by street artist Eine.
That photo wasn't remotely staged by the way. After this, we headed to Spitalfields where the east London walk drew to a close outside the Ten Bells, a pub whose walls, if they could speak might reveal the true identity of Jack The Ripper. Obviously they can't speak, so I don't know why I mentioned it. Sorry, I was having a moment.
Most Canadian - Amy & Whitney (although Amy was pseudo Canadian, so I guess Whitney has the edge)
Most French - Laure
Most medically qualified group - Saturday afternoon
Most multi lingual - Dan
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.