Last weekend I did all three walks, encompassing the full spectrum of group sizes, beginning with what is officially known as a 'biggish' group on Saturday morning for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's. It was also London Open House weekend, so we took the liberty of sticking our noses in to the entrance hall of the Royal Courts of Justice, a quite formidable building on the Strand, officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1882.
Nicole and Drew were back for their second walk and the rest were newbies hailing from India via the UK, Australia via Switzerland and the States.
In the afternoon it was just Barbie, all on her own, so could officially be termed 'an incredibly small group'. She had joined the Sunday walk the previous week, when there had been a somewhat larger contingent. Here she is on London Bridge.
The building just behind Barbie, to the left of her head has been in the news recently. It's 20 Fenchurch Street, previously dubbed the 'Walkie Talkie' and now renamed the 'Walkie Scorchie' because during a rather more clement day the other week, the sun's glare had apparently reflected off the windows and melted parts of a car, amongst other things. Londoners of course love nothing better than to bestow nick names upon the city's buildings, as the Gherkin, Cheese Grater, Razor and Wobbly Bridge can testify.
Sunday's east London walk was a 'medium sized group' and saw the return of Eric and Gail from Saturday morning. They were joined by John, Christopher and Elika. Here they are standing by one of street artist, Stik's pieces on Princelet Street, just off Brick Lane.
Youngest - Sophie
Best new sensible haircut - Drew
Best moustache - No winners
Biggest family group - The Lynch's
Most Kevins in one group - Saturday morning (x2)
My weekend of guided walks around London got off to start by checking out German artist, Katharina Fritsch's big blue cock in Trafalgar Square. Unveiled just two days earlier on the permanently redundant but most in the news, fourth plinth, Fritsch's sculpture has not surprisingly been effortlessly filling column inches with double entendres ever since. Without meaning to add to this, I have to say, that it was much bigger than I expected. I think it's good, that despite all our previous attempts to look back at how amazing we are, the battles we have won and the war heroes who made it possible, we still have a bit of a sense of humour, a bit of perspective and that now, we don't perhaps take ourselves quite so seriously. The previous sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse seemed to be another example of this and the current offering is certainly continuing the tradition.
The group of 14 hailed from Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand and the Peak District amongst other places. Mandy was back for her third walk with me and the rest were all first timers. Here they all are in Covent Garden on our way to St Paul's cathedral.
In the afternoon I was delighted that Zayn and Alan were able to come on another walk, a year and a bit after their first one. We had a leisurely meander from St Paul's cathedral over to Bankside, then back across London Bridge to finish at Monument. Here they are standing in front of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the faithful recreation of an Elizabethan theatre. Its very existence is owed to Sam Wanamaker who unfortunately died shortly before he saw over two decades work come to fruition. I think I've mentioned this before, but even so, I'll mention it again ... in January 2014, the Globe will be opening the only indoor, candle-lit theatre in London, a recreation of a Jacobean theatre. Aside from being an exciting prospect and one which will allow them to perform plays all the year round, it will also mean that the only thatched roof in London, and the only candle-lit theatre will be right next to each other.
On Sunday, seven people joined me for a wander around east London. Martin from Philadelphia, who to all intents and purposes sounded completely American, had, it turned out, actually spent the first eight years of his life in Dalston, just up the road. Katherine was the only fully fledged Londoner in that respect whilst Jennie & Rees were down from Manchester for the weekend. Tobias and Kirsten from Germany have been living in the UK for about 14 years so were quite well versed in all things Londony. Here they all are just by Hoxton Square, with one of street artist Stik's instantly recognisable murals behind them.
Special Award for completing the 'BOC Trilogy' - Mandy
First person to come on two walks & have a completely different name each time - Zayn
Most likely to want to stand in the shade - Sonia, Vijyant & Ananya
Quietest - Josh
Best multi-tasker - Quentin
It was a reasonably quiet weekend as walks go, but none-the-less, still very enjoyable. On Saturday morning I did the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's with Margriet, from Holland. Aside from stopping for a drink in Covent Garden, we popped by the 12th century Temple church en route to St Paul's, which if you've ever seen the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, is where Tom Hanks comes when he arrives in London.
There are lots of other things I could have said about it other than mentioning Tom Hanks, but there you go. I've mentioned it before, but think I'll write a brief post about it soonish. Here's Margriet at the end of the walk outside St Paul's cathedral.
On Sunday, Triona and Martin who were over from Ireland came for a wander around the east end. Here they are standing in front of street artist Stik's piece on Princelet Street, just off Brick Lane.
Most Dutch - Margriet
Best moustache - No winners
Most Irish - Triona & Martin
Just a quick little roundup today. It rained pretty much non stop during the east end walk on Sunday. On top of that it was also pretty incredibly cold, grey and miserable, so I'd like to say a massive thank you to Jay, Christine, Ashley, Adam and Dina for not only turning up (there was also major tube disruptions) but sticking around right until the bitter, cold end.
Here they are in a random, non descript car park. You see, it was so cold and wet, that I didn't put too much thought in to framing a wonderful, picturesque photo. However, if you look carefully, you might might notice one of street artist Roa's large black and white animals just behind Adam's head.
However, not sticking to the same route does has its advantages, as we stumbled across a couple of other bits of street art just near Hoxton Square. This one by Stik (no pun intended), who I've mentioned on multiple occasions.
And another one of Christiaan Nagel's ubiquitous mushrooms.
Most energetic - Dina (walked all the way from St James's, before we started the walk)
Most Irish - Christine
Most male - Adam
Best moustache - No winners
This weekend, the groups were small, but each one a minor delight to wander around and chat about London with.
On Saturday afternoon, I met Ben and Jess for the St Paul's to the Monument walk and almost forgot to take a photo of them, which would have been a double shame, seeing as I've just had my camera fixed after it broke on a walk a couple of weeks ago. Here they standing by the Monument, which is, as I have undoubtedly mentioned before, a Monument to the Great Fire of London, a rather horrific fire which burned down most of the medieval City of London in 1666.
I admit, that in the photo, it just looks like Ben and Jess are standing in the middle of a building site, which unfortunately, at the moment is kind of true. As with much of the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire, the Monument is largely the work of Christopher Wren. It stands 202 feet tall, the distance from the bakery on Pudding Lane where the fire began. Daniel Defoe described the top of the structure as having a "handsome gilt flame like that of a candle." It also happens to be the tallest isolated stone column in the world, and as such, for the small fee of £3, you can climb the 311 steps to a public viewing gallery, and enjoy a rather splendid view of London.
There was no snow this Sunday for the My neck of the Woods east end walk, and I was joined by Mandy, Richey and Dylan. Mandy, who was on her second Bowl Of Chalk walk, writes a blog called 'emm in London' which is well worth a read anyway, but last year, she wrote a rather nice and detailed account of the Saturday afternoon walk she did with me entitled '9 Things I learned on a Bowl Of Chalk'.
Here they are standing in front of one of street artist Stik's large scale stick figures. You'll find this particular one on Great Eastern Street. Mandy is quite a fan of the various street artists whose work you find daubed around the walls and buildings of east London, and if memory serves me correctly, Stik is her fourth favourite. Might be wrong about that though.
Shortly after this, Dylan spotted a quite incredible bike, locked to a lamp post, which was so big (the bike, not the lamp post) that at first I didn't even notice it was a bike. I'm now quite intrigued to see the person who owns it, riding it around London.
Anyway, at the end of the walk, Richey suggested going for a curry at one of his favourite curry houses on Brick Lane ... so we did.
Most surprised - Jess
Best moustache - No winners
Best beard - Richey
Most American - Dylan
Most amount of flat caps on one walk - Sunday
Veteran Bowl Of Chalker - Mandy
Most 'Avid' - Ben
Weekend Roundup - 5th/6th May '12
I hope everyone's had a reasonably resplendent Bank Holiday weekend. I did a couple of London walks this weekend (contrary to my last three weekends of each month rule), mainly because last weekend was so wet.
On Saturday morning I met Louise and Mel who were down from Herefordshire for a weekend in London (celebrating their wedding anniversary) and they joined me on the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take a photo of them. We stopped for tea in Twinings, which you can do (for free) because they have a little kitchen in the back where you can help yourself to anyone of their vast range of teas.
Sunday - My neck of the woods east end walk
There were nine people on Sunday for my walk around Old Street, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Spitalfields. There were a couple of familiar faces as Tamsin and Rowan who had come on my St Paul's to Monument walk a couple of weeks earlier returned for some more Bowl Of Chalk action. Here's the group (minus Rowan, who still doesn't like being on photos) standing in front of one of street artist Stik's pieces on Hoxton Street.
If you live in the area, or have even just visited, it's quite likely that you'll have seen Stik's work adorning walls, doors and shop shutters as he's been daubing his simple but emotive figures around the place for over ten years. They're bold and bright and give a whole new meaning to the term 'street art' as Stik spent some time living on the street himself. I think his idea is that by just using a handful of lines, it is possible to convey human emotion and feeling and that although you may dismiss his work as just massive stick figures, you'll find that on each occasion the feeling he is trying to capture, whether it be vulnerability, anger, aggression, love or friendship are instantly recognisable. I'd wager that for people who do live on the streets, such instant associations with the way someone walks or holds themselves are very important.
Anyway ... if you're interested in seeing a few of Stik's paintings, then you might like to take a look at this map (courtesy of the Londonist), which very handily has them plotted for you.
Repeat Offenders - Tamsin and Rowan
Most Spanish via Germany - Neus and Santiago
Rocked up in style - Stephanie and James
Best moustache - No winners
Most American - Katy (or KD)
Most unphotographed - Louise and Mel
Most Australian - Cristina
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.