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.