Weekend Roundup - 25th/26th Feb
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.
Weekend Roundup - 18th/19th Feb
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
Weekend roundup - 11th/12th Feb '12
Well, well, well ... what an interesting weekend, with all three London walks taking place and spanning the whole spectrum of Chalker numbers, all of whom courageously braved the near Arctic conditions. Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but Saturday certainly was pretty nippy.
Trafalgar Square to St Paul's
One of the group on Saturday morning was evidently thwarted by TFL and unable to make it, so myself (obviously), Pete, Stacey, Harriet and Emily set off through London's sun-kissed but really, really, really cold streets. Here they are outside Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, rebuilt in 1667.
After managing to drag them away from the warmth of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese's Ye Olde fire I took them to see a bit of 14th Century priory (a Bowl Of Chalk first) that once stretched from Fleet Street all the way down to the Thames and belonged to the Carmelite order known as White Friars. It now sits behind glass looking mildly out of place amongst a plethora of towering modern office buildings.
Pete very kindly wrote a rather lovely review of his experience of the walk (along with loads of photos) on his London-centric blog, the Londoneer.
St Paul's to the Monument
At 2.30pm I met Denise outside St Paul's tube station and off we went because on Saturday afternoon she was the only Chalker. Denise was great company and we basically wandered about Bankside, Borough and Southwark and chatted about stuff, had a coffee in the George Inn next to the fire, no doubt exactly where Charles Dickens sat too and generally mooched around whilst I imparted fascinating snippets of information ... obviously. I would highly recommend other tour guide people to try and entice Denise on to their walks because she is so much fun and an incredibly interesting person too. Here she is outside the re-created Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
My neck of the woods
Sunday moved effortlessly from one extreme to the other with the arrival of the largest ever Bowl Of Chalk group, keen to explore a bit of the east end with me. What a lovely group they were too and featured (amongst others) three generations of one family and a handful of Yeah! Hackney (ers), an online community, discussion forum and news type place started by Emily Webber for people who live and work in Hackney.
Anyway, seeing as it was such a monster group I thought it only fitting that I should take a photo of them standing in front of the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop, which I will endeavour to write a small piece about in the not too distant future.
So, there you have it, all that remains are a few awards.
Some Awards (in no particular order)
Smallest ever group - Saturday afternoon (Denise)
Largest ever group - Sunday (see photo above)
Most generations from one family - Ann(e), Karen & Laura
Most Argentinian - Malu and Sol
Best moustache - No winner
Best English accent for a non English speaker - Stacey (Bulgaria) just wins, but Violaine (France) & Maarten (Belgium) are hot on her heels. Theoretically Malu & Sol could also be up for this award, but they've already got one.
Biggest Stik enthusiast - Natalie
Most likely to say 'Yeah, Hackney' - Emily
Thanks once again to everyone who came on walks this weekend.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.