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.
There's an area just south of Fleet Street known as Temple and comprises of two Inns of Court; Inner Temple and Middle Temple. During the week, the gates which lead down to the 12th century Temple Church and the maze of alleys buzzing with lawyers are open and you can just nip down and loose yourself amongst the streets and lanes. On weekends, as everyone has gone home, it's a bit trickier, but on Saturday morning, I was just mentioning this fact and a guy who happened to be passing said 'I have a key' and let us in ... which was nice of him. So, below is a photo of the group standing outside the round chapel to Temple Church.
On Saturday afternoons walk from St Paul's cathedral to Monument, we pass through Borough Market, which although now a busy food market (on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays), has had its ups and downs in its 1000 year history. Paul and Elaine who joined us, actually used to live in the area 20 or so years ago when the market was on a down turn, and the area was used reasonably frequently for film locations. The buildings behind them were used the 'hideout' for two of the gangs in Guy Ritchie's 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'.
On Sunday I squeezed in two walks. The first with Mehul & Neha from the States. They were staying by Leicester Square in London's West End, so we spent a few hours wandering around Westminster, which has a plethora of sights, all within walking distance. I haven't been around that area on a Sunday for ages, and although Westminster Abbey is closed to 'visitors' for services on Sundays, we were able to pop in and see the beautiful cloisters and the quite incredible 13th century Chapter House. Here they are next to one of the cloisters.
In the afternoon, I met Josh, Janet, Robin, Oci and Alexis to explore a quite different area, around Spitalfields and Shoreditch in east London. It gets pretty busy on Sundays with the various markets going on, and we also discovered that the local residents from Arnold Circus, England's first council estate were having a bit of a get together. Here they are on the steps leading up to the centre of Arnold Circus.
Most Brazilian - Daniel
Best hats - Josh & Robin
Most German - Anne
Best footballing injury - Brian
Aside from my regular weekend walks, I also do private walks during the week if people so desire. I've been fortunate to have done a few such walks recently, and they all tend to be quite different, generally for people visiting from abroad (I believe they're called tourists) who would like to explore London. Having said that, the other day I did a walk for someone's 65th birthday. He was called Charles (a non tourist), and what a nice chap he was, as was his extended family and friends.
Sometimes people like to see 'the sights', some people even like to visit them, go inside and get lost within Westminster Abbey or the Royal Courts of Justice (we have done both of these) and other people have seen the sights and want to experience London beyond the tourist hotspots and explore the back streets and alleyways or jump in and out of cabs on their way around. I am very happy to help people uncover all these things, and here are a few of the people that have joined me over the last couple of weeks.
Mark and Jo from Australia standing outside St James's Palace, built by Henry VIII (although I doubt he helped much) in 1536. Those two guards were a laugh a minute.
Kevin and Ji standing in front of what is officially, the oldest door in Britain, which apparently was installed in about 1050. Even with my limited maths ability, I know that's quite a long time ago. You can find the door inside Westminster Abbey, which is chock full of lots of other interesting things aside from old doors. Actually, my favourite part of that particular visit, was when we asked an official where the toilet was and were told 'It's just behind William Shakespeare'. Excellent. (He's not actually buried there, it's a statue).
Howard and Jessica from the States just before taking cover inside Camden Market. In fact, we managed to fit in three markets that day, along with Spitalfields Market and Borough Market.
The birthday boy Charles and his entourage. Little did his daughter Ellie (or me for that matter) envisage when she booked the walk months ago, that it'd be such a hideous, wet and cold day. Still, they were all very good about it.
Tracy, Tabetha and Dimitri standing in the midst of Piccadilly Circus on what was an all day London extravaganza walk punctuated by a spot of lunch in the west end.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.