So, I've got three recent walks to include in the roundup. The first was on Thursday evening. I was asked to take a company based on Rivington Street, (in Shoreditch) on a Christmas Party-esque type of walk around east London. Although they were all of normal height, with one above average (I would say), they were a small company. They'd booked a table at the infamous Ten Bells pub just next to Old Spitalfields market, so that's where we finished. Here they are outside the Ten Bells.
The Ten Bells, built in the mid 18th Century is infamous (as I have already mentioned), because of its connection with Jack The Ripper and the murders that took place around the Whitechapel area in 1888 and 1889. All of the victims were prostitutes, and the final Ripper victim is thought to be Mary Kelly, whose 'patch' was outside the Ten Bells and was the only one who was not murdered out on the street, but in her lodgings nearby. The Ten Bells' name changed to 'The Jack The Ripper' in the 1980's but I think someone pointed out that they were basically glorifying someone who murdered women, so they changed it back.
On Saturday morning, I did my regular walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's and was joined by Lawrence and Jerome from Singapore and Chris from the States.
Here they are standing outside what is generally regarded as Britain's smallest Police station, fitted snugly inside a hollowed out light fitting on the south eastern side of Trafalgar Square. It was installed in 1926 and also apparently served as a lock-up for drunk and disorderly types, although you could only get two of them in there ... at a push. My most recent inspection reveals that it contains a few bags of salt / grit and some brooms.
For Sunday's wander around the east end I was joined by an international quartet of Emilia, Anna, Vera and Vincy, hailing from Poland, Germany, Spain (via Austria) and Hong Kong if my memory serves me correctly. Here they are in Old Street, by what has been dubbed the 'Silicon Roundabout', home to an array of tech based, internet start-ups.
The area been in the news over the last week or so, because David Cameron (the Prime Minister) has pledged £50million to regenerate Old Street roundabout in to a super duper civic hub type place dedicated to tech start ups complete with a 400-seat auditorium and other shiny digital things. I think it's government money he's pledging ... not his own.
Coldest walk - Thursday night's east end walk
Group most eager to find a pub - Thursday night's east end walk
Best moustache - No winners
Youngest - Jerome
Most American - Chris
Best English accent for a non English person - Vera (Germany)
There were two very different weather type walks last weekend. On Saturday, Katherine, Doug, Jen and Rhiannon endured three hours of non stop drizzle on their walk from Trafalgar Square to St. Paul's. We couldn't walk through Trafalgar Square because it was closed off and littered with various types of armoured vehicles and there was apparently a 'rehearsal' of some sort going on. There didn't seem to be much happening, but I discovered that the following day, Tom Cruise was filming something or other there. oooh.
Here are the group sheltering beneath their umbrellas on Fleet Street. The sun didn't come out, so maybe we weren't smiling enough.
Sunday was much sunnier, and we traded in the rain for a bit of wind. I was joined by a group of thirteen ... yep, thirteen (a bumperish group) which included a couple of Londoners, a handful of Americans, a half Canadian/Italian, someone from Durham, an Australian and I think also a South African along with a few others.
Here they are just by Columbia Road flower market, which is already starting to get chock full with Christmas Trees.
During our walk, we spotted street artist Jimmy C (AKA James Cochrane) daubing some new work on the Foundry, an old bank between Old Street and Great Eastern Street. He was in the news during the Olympics for painting a large mural of Usain Bolt near Brick Lane and is well know for the almost pointillist technique he uses. Anyway ... after the walk, I spotted him being interviewed infront one of his new just completed works. I've mentioned him before and people on my Sunday walk always love the work he's done on Whitby Street (amongst others). Good work Mr Cochrane.
Umbrella with the most frogs on it - Rhiannon
Shiniest silver trainers - Loriana
Most likely to buy Christmas Pudding themed truffles - Tori
Best moustache - No winners
Latest - Ellinor
Mother & Daughter combo - Jenny & Anna
Weekend Roundup - 28th/29th April '12
If you weren't already aware, the predominant theme of this weekend's London walks is rain. Paul who came on the east end walk this morning, described it as 'London rain', the kind of relentless grey drizzle that seems to have no beginning and no end until you can't actually quite remember a time when it wasn't constantly raining. This morning however saw a mild fluctuation in this constant wetness with some really quite forceful gusts of wind and moments of much heavier rain. Therefore I would like to congratulate everyone who turned out this weekend despite the ongoing showers, and would like to add, that I'm slightly miffed to note that as I write this, it has stopped raining.
I tried to take photos of the groups in brief moments of 'un-rain'.
Trafalgar Square to St Paul's
So, here are the group from Saturday morning, shortly after we met near to Trafalgar Square. It was a pretty international weekend walker wise and this group featuring Alina, Michaela, Roberta, Zuzanna and Briana came from Austria, Russia, Poland and the U.S.A.
Behind them, you can see the National Gallery which began in 1824 with just 38 paintings, housed in a town house in Mayfair. The current building was finished in 1838 and the collection now consists of over 2,300 works of art. It's well worth a visit and as the collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom, it's FREE.
St Paul's to the Monument
In the afternoon there were nine brave souls, who when they booked the walk, possibly envisaged wandering around Borough market and Southwark bathed in glorious sunshine. Well, eight of them did, as Liam actually contacted me on Saturday morning to see if he could come, so he knew exactly what he was letting himself in for. There was a large Chilean contingent on Saturday afternoon so I added to my limited multi lingual capabilities and can now say 'Hombre Verdi' which is 'green man' in Spanish. However, I do realise that it might not open too many doors for me if I ever find myself in Spain ... or Chile for that matter.
Maria, Emma and Becky were all born and bred Londoners, and with Liam from Northern Ireland it was a heady mix. Standing in front of St Paul's cathedral you can also see Dominique, Rodrigo, Ximena, Patricia and Javier.
My neck of the woods - east end walk
Today's walk around London's east end was a bit of a wash out, with just three people deciding to venture out in the cold, wind and the wet. However, I'd like to think that up until the point where we were all freezing cold, soaked to the bone and lost the will to live ... we had fun. Didn't we? Even if Ruth, Paul and Andrea didn't ... I think I did. Fortunately they came armed with suitably cheery dispositions. Also, it was quite handy because we were only a small group and Paul had a really big umbrella, which isn't a euphemism, he did. You can see it here.
You see ... it's pretty big. Anyway ... they're standing in front of one of street artist Roa's large scale animals. I posted a thing on facebook at the beginning of last week to say that Roa had literally just put the finishing touches to a brand new addition in his menagerie of animals in east London with a giant hedgehog. It looks like this:
So there we have it. Another weekend, another trio of walks around London and once again I've been fortunate enough to meet some lovely people, who I hopefully might see again on another walk one day ... perhaps when the weather's a bit better.
Most inappropriate footwear - Maria (brand new white pumps - only £2.50 though)
Most Chilean group - Saturday afternoon
Biggest umbrella - Paul
Best moustache - No winners
Most last minute booking - Liam
Most Austrian - Michaela & Roberta
Most giggly group of international friends - Alina, Zuzanna & Briana
Most Columbian - Andrea
weekend roundup - 25th/26th Feb '12
Trafalgar Square to St Paul's
It was a a hive of activity around Trafalgar Square on Saturday morning, as the Faberge Big Egg Hunt had just kicked off, with Londoners trying to locate the 200 plus giant decorated eggs that have been secreted around the city offering the chance to win a £100,000 jewel encrusted egg. Unfortunately for Katrine and James, there wasn't quite such a prize for joining me on a London walk. However, I was intrigued to see the new sculpture that had been unveiled just two days earlier on the forever mildly redundant Fourth Plinth. The latest temporary offering is by the sculpting duo of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset and is called 'Powerless Structures, Fig 101'. It depicts a boy on a rocking horse and I think the idea is that unlike the other equestrian statues that celebrate past war heroes, it's supposed to celebrate the expectation of the future.
As you can see from the photo, it was a gloriously sunny day, ideal for exploring London. This is Katrine and James outside St Bride's church, which we passed after stopping at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for a drink.
St Paul's to Monument
In the afternoon I met Vicki, Lucy and Helen-Marie. Just before we headed over the Millennium Bridge, I took a photo of them standing outside the City of London School, which boasts a rather enviable location between St Paul's cathedral and the Thames. If you look closely, you'll notice that the President of the United States, Barack Obama is standing behind them. For those of you that follow my exploits with unflinching interest, you'll be aware that I'm still awaiting a reply from Prime Minister David Cameron, whom I invited on a Bowl Of Chalk. Mr Obama was keen to join us for the rest of the walk, but was very understanding when I informed him that a prior booking was essential.
My neck of the woods
Despite a plethora of cancellations for Sunday's walk, there were still five explorers eager to uncover bits of the east end. None of them had visited Columbia Road flower market before and came armed with a healthy interest in street art. They were a pretty international bunch and my marketing team were delighted to hear that word of Bowl Of Chalk has reached Spain, with Juan and Antonio over on a weekend break. Otiena had arrived from Canada on Friday and already managed to pack more in to two days than most Londoners do in two months. Here they all are, including Lisa and Kara, standing in front of one of Roa's giant animals.
Best hat - Otiena
Best beard - Juan and Antonio (joint winners)
Most Spanish - Juan and Antonio (joint winners)
Most Norwegian - Katrine
Most happy sitting in a pub - Vicki, Lucy & Helen Marie
Best moustache - No winner
Most Canadian group - Sunday (Kara, Lisa & Otiena)
Thanks to everyone who came on walks last weekend. The next Bowl Of Chalk walks take place on the weekend of the 10th/11th March.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.