All three London walks took place this weekend, albeit with varying amounts of people, beginning with just one person, Luciana from Argentina, who came on the Trafalgar Square to St Paul's walk on Saturday morning. Here she is outside Twinings Tea Shop, where we stopped for a cuppa.
Twinings have been operating from the same premises on the Strand since 1706, when Thomas Twining opened Britain's first tea room. Twinings also hold the distinction of holding a Royal Warrant (which you can see just above the door), which basically means they provide tea for HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and also lay claim to having the world's oldest continually used logo.
Next up was the St Paul's to the Monument walk and I was joined by two young French men, Anthony and Mickael spending a year over here to improve their English. It seems to have worked, as their English was 'Superbon, fantastique et tres, tres, tres bien'. Here they are (and me actually for once) standing beneath the Monument, a monument (not surprisingly) to the Great Fire of London. If you come on one of my walks, I'll probably talk about this particular fire quite a bit. It happened in 1666 and in just four days burnt down most of the City of London. The idea is that the Monument stands 202 feet tall, exactly 202 feet to the west of what at the time of the fire was a bakery on the now infamous Pudding Lane, where the fire started.
Today was the east London 'my neck of the woods' walk and I was joined by Maddi and Kim from Australia, Mike, Susan, Kahlee and John from the USA and Brynn from Stoke. The Sunday walk is a mixture of history and street art, and right at the beginning, noticed that Street artist Eine's CHANGE mural on Old Street is in the process of being ... well ... changed. I haven't been able to confirm it, but it looks like Eine himself is doing it. It seems to be half finished and still masking tape all over it. It currently looks like this ...
Here are the group standing outside the Foxtons Estate Agents on Curtain Road. You may wonder why I chose to take a photo of them there, but back in 1577 a building was built on that very site, and was the first in London to be devoted to the performance of plays. It was called The Theatre and was run by a group called the Lord Chamberlain's Men. They moved The Theatre in 1598 over the Thames to Bankside and re-opened it the following year re-naming it 'The Globe'. The Lord Chamberlain's Men employed a young man who arrived in Shoreditch from Straford-Upon-Avon as an actor and playwright. You might have heard of him. He was called William Shakespeare.
So, there we have it. Another weekend of walks. Thanks as ever to everyone who came and made it so enjoyable.
Most Australian - Maddi & Kim
Best Moustache - Mike
The only English person all weekend - Brynn
Looking after English peoples kids award - Luciana, Anthony & Mickael
Most American - Everyone else (inc. Mike)
weekend roundup - 18th/19th feb '12
Saturday - Trafalgar Square to St Paul's
There were two walks this weekend, kicking off in central London on Saturday morning with Severine, Christine and Georges. Discussing the battle of Trafalgar, beneath Nelson's Column seemed as good a place as any to begin a tour with an entirely French group. However, they didn't seem to hold it against me and we wound our way up through Covent Garden and popped in to the Royal Opera House, which had played host to the BAFTA Awards the previous weekend. We didn't spot any celebrities in there on Saturday, although the balcony does give a pretty good view down on what Inigo Jones had originally built as an open Italian style Piazza.
A short while later we stopped in Twinings, who after over 300 years and ten generations are still selling tea from the same premises, begun in 1706 when Thomas Twining hankered for something other than ale, gin or coffee to drink. At the back of the narrow shop, there is a small kitchen complete with a sink, kettle, mini fridge and and vast array of teas for people to try for free ... so we did.
The guy you can see on the left was on hand to discuss the finer points of tea blending, and although I rather predictably opted for an English Breakfast, I'm pleased to report that the other three were rather more adventurous in their tea choices.
After our tea break, we managed to sneak in to the area that houses two of England's four ancient Inns of Court (Inner and Middle Temple) and of course the medieval Temple Church built by the Knights Templar in the late 12th Century and finished up, just as the rain began to fall, in the cosy bowels of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese with a drinkie poops.
Sunday - My neck of the woods
There were seven people and a whippet called Reggie for Sunday's east end walk, and as it was pretty nippy and Reggie was feeling the cold, one of the group fashioned a rather natty outfit for him out of a scarf. The group also featured Denise who was experiencing her second Bowl Of Chalk walk. Here they are in Bunhill Fields Cemetery.
Pretty much straight after I took this photo, we headed over to the Wesleyan Chapel (open to the public) which has been presiding over the area since 1778, includes the home of John Wesley (open to the public) the father of Methodism, has a nice little museum (open to the public), some amazing toilets (open to the public) and was where Margaret Thatcher, (recently portrayed by Meryl Streep) got married to name but a few things. In fact, we didn't actually enter the chapel as they have a service on Sunday (open to the public), but were standing in the car park (open to the public) and I had just been encouraging the group to come back another day and sample and learn about all these things when a lady came out of the church and basically told us to leave because we were standing on private property. She made it quite clear that we weren't welcome. This is a great shame as I've met some lovely, helpful people there who have been more than happy to provide me with information so as I might inform people who come on walks. However, this is the last time I will mention the Wesleyan Chapel ever again. Anyway, it would appear that it is no longer open to the public.
Aside from that rather strange encounter, it was a really great group and although a bit chilly, was lovely and sunny. With Yasmin, a Hackney resident, Annette who runs a great B&B in Hackney, Hannah (also a Hackney-ite), Virginia, who although Canadian, informed us that her mother grew up in Hoxton, Denise with her Kray story and Carole who was more than familiar with the area ... it really was a 'My neck of the woods' walk. I feel I should also mention Keith, just incase he feels left out.
Most French group - Severine, Christine & Georges (Sat)
Most doglike - Reggie
Best moustache - No winner
Most Canadian - Keith & Virginia
Most seasoned Chalker - Denise
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.