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 - 21st/22nd Jan '12
The second weekend of London walks in 2012 have passed in a flurry of factoids, fun and perhaps another word beginning in 'F' that currently eludes me. Before I begin the weekend roundup I'm afraid I must start on a sour note; a sombre incident that I feel compelled to share or even warn you about. I feel it is my duty, although what you are about to read will perhaps outrage you as much as it did myself.
Before saturday afternoon's walk (which begins near to St Paul's cathedral), I thought I'd pop in to a nearby pub and become more familiar with Charles II. I ordered a pint of lime and soda and Charles II didn't order anything, because he existed only as pages in a book. The pub is called The Centre Page and is on that little stretch of walkway that runs between the 'wobbly bridge' and the cathedral. You can see it in the below picture. The yellowy building on the left.
I deliberately included St Paul's in the photo, so as to give you a better idea of where the pub is situated, so you can AVOID it. The reason being, because I ordered a lime & soda (admittedly a whole pint, with ice), the constituents of which, mainly being both lime and soda water costs almost nothing to produce, yet this drink, in this pub costs £3.10. That's right £3.10. It's a disgrace. Rant over.
Saturday - St Paul's to Monument
By the time I met Jeremy, Juliette and John at 2.30pm my lime and soda related outrage had subsided and we set off on our Londony adventure. Despite being a small group, I would reckon they were collectively of above average height, and John and Juliette were particularly keen to inspect the Occupy camp of tents clustered around the base of St Paul's.
I try to learn something new before each walk, regarding a particular facet of that walk and on Saturday I had decided to learn the exact term to describe why the Millennium Bridge is know as the 'Wobbly' bridge and that term (which I managed to drop in) is 'Synchronous Lateral Excitation', a phenomenon that has been known about for hundreds of years, but somehow, no one thought of mentioning to Norman Foster, responsible for building the bridge. If you're interested in finding out more about Synchronous Lateral Excitation, then you might be interested to read this paper on the subject by David E Newland from the Dept of Engineering at Cambridge University. Then again, you might not.
Anyway, we continued on through Bankside, Borough Market and surrounding area, then headed over London Bridge and finished up at the Monument. Here's a slightly blurry photo of Saturday's Chalkers looking a bit confused on London Bridge, or if not confused, certainly pointing on slightly different directions in a photo art directed by themselves.
Sunday - 'My neck of the woods'
I've been unsuccessfully attempting to take a few more photos on the walks, but have realised that if you're the tour guide person then it's quite hard to take photos of the group, as for quite a large portion of the walk I am talking. Anyway, it's something I'll work on, but if you come on a walk and take some photos, please feel free to email them to me, should you so desire. Unfortunately I only took one photo on Sunday.
So yes, I met Beth, Paul, Sam and Anna at the designated meeting point and did a slightly different route from previous Sunday walks, heading over to Spitalfields and then battling through the hoards up Brick Lane to Columbia Road before traversing Kingsland Road and returning to the Old Street area via Hoxton High Street. Unfortunately the Hoxton Street Monster Supply shop (a shop that provides everything a monster might need to ... well, be a monster) is closed on Sundays, but you can find out more about them here, and also the work they do in the local area through the Ministry of Stories.
Sam, who came on Sunday, is a resident of De Beavoir town in Hackney, so it was great to have a 'local' wanting to explore their area. I've discovered that people seem to consider that guided walks are for 'tourists', and although I'm biased I would argue that there's always something to discover about the place that you live.
The group were an easy going, inquisitive bunch and here they are at Columbia Road flower market.
Most alliterated group - Saturday Afternoon (Juliette, John & Jeremy)
Most French - Jeremy
Most Polish - Anna
Person who most judges historical figures based purely on their looks - Sam
Best moustache - No winners
Bits of london at night
Here are some photos of London at night. Not because I'm a photographer of any note, or can take night-esque photos, but purely because I really love London at night ... as well as most other times of day. No doubt I'll do more at some point.
weekend roundup - 10th/11th dec
On Saturday I was joined by Gaby and Erica, and after meeting at The Monument, quickly decanted to a nearby coffee place, where I was able to bore them with historical type stuff relating to the area and London Bridge from the warmth that being inside often brings.
They wanted to have a mooch round Borough Market. I took this photo whilst they were mooching.
In the background you can see Southwark Cathedral. I have a copy of brilliant panorama of London, Bankside and the Thames by Nicholas John Visscher. He made it in 1616, which incidentally was the same year that William Shakespeare died. That same church (didn't become a cathedral until 1905) is in that picture. Also, Edmund, Shakespeare's younger brother is buried there. I love the fact that it's still presiding over things.
Also, just a bit further along, next to the Wobbly Bridge is a house that people say that Christopher Wren lived in whilst watching St Paul's being built. There is a plaque on the house which says exactly the same thing. He didn't, the house wasn't built then. However, I've just started reading a book called 'The House by the Thames' by Gillian Tindall, which is all about that house through hundreds of years of history, or more to the point she uses it as a way of discussing the area. So far, so fascinating.
Here are Saturday's Chalkers, and from the photo, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the height of summer, and not a cold December morning.
We finished up in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese for a drinkie poops. It's the new pub on the site, built in 1667. The previous one burnt down in some kind of fire apparently.
Sunday. Yes, Sunday. 'My neck of the woods'. A few people dropped out, but despite the prevailing greyness and coldness of the day, we carried on, and I have to say, was rather enjoyable.
It was a Sunday, and on Sundays, the Methodists at the Wesleyan Chapel near Old Street hold a service, so I would like to thank them for not only welcoming us in, despite not wishing to attend the aforementioned service, but actively encouraging us to go and see their toilets. They're very proud of their toilets at the Wesleyan Chapel, and so they should be. They're original Crappers. Thomas Crapper is often accredited with inventing the flushing toilet, but it would seem, that particular accolade goes to a guy called John Harrington way back in 1596. Either way, Crapper did much for the modern day toilet and its flushing system, the Wesleyan Chapel have original Crappers and we went and saw them.
I also like the instructions written for Victorians, unsure of how a Crapper might work; 'PULL AND LET GO.'
The thing with the east end, it's a real hotch-potch, so you see Crappers, like you've just seen, plague burial grounds, Shakespeare's stomping ground and giant animals ...
... just one of the many pieces of street art that are all over the area. This particular creature was done by Peter Roa, who also painted the crane, which Kalpana (previous Chalker) took a picture of on Brick Lane last week. Anyway ... we then went and had a cuppa at I made it for you, which is a great little tea shop place that's opened up on Pitfield Street (which you can see in my last blog 'Shoreditch/Hoxton then & now') and wandered around the area, which I have to say has far more secrets than people give it credit for, until we stopped at The Water Poet, a pub named after an Elizabethan waterman called John Taylor. C'est tout.
Weekend Round up - 3rd & 4th Dec
The current walks are a bit of a work in progress, trying different things, getting feedback from chalkers, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't and so on. Robb who came on the first 'London in a nutshell' walk suggested trying it backwards. Not literally walking backwards, but starting at the end. I had been wondering the same thing myself, so on Saturday morning, the 7 would be chalkers very kindly agreed to meet me near Trafalgar Square instead.
Also, I'm very much under the impression that it's quite a long walk, again feedback that I've been getting. I'm very much of the opinion that walking tours should be fun, (or at least a little bit fun), and if people are getting tired, and hungry then it ceases being so fun. So, on Saturday I suggested trying a different and shorter walk finishing at St. Paul's and see then how everyone was doing.
I personally thought it was a good length and we finished by going up to the roof of the New Change shopping centre which not only gives you stunning views across London, but of St Paul's too. I took the following photo from up there one evening the other week.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it and they were a lovely group. Christina, who came on Saturday wrote a nice review on The Travel Editor website. I might be using the following quote in future marketing campaigns ... "Jonnie is endearingly scatty in his approach, like a fully loaded iPod of history set on shuffle." I think it's a good thing, maybe, unless you don't like scatty iPod shuffley history type things.
Pretty much all of the group then went for a well earned post walk drinkie poops in Ye Olde Watling nearby.
Sunday was an intimate affair, as a couple of people didn't turn up, but Kalpana and Matt valiantly agreed to go it alone. They of course had very little choice, as they'd come down from Birmingham. We had a wander around Shoreditch, Hoxton, Columbia Road (lots of Christmas trees there at the moment) and Spitalfields and after they left, apparently went for a curry on Brick Lane. Kalpana sent me a few photos she took on our travels and has very kindly let me put them up here.
Male Chalker, with the most female name - Joan
Best translator - Joan
Best moustache - Joan
Best sideburns - Joan
So, I'm thinking of having a minor walk re-shuffle in the new year. Nothing drastic, but will hopefully make them better and more enjoyable, so do check back to see what's happening.
St paul's cathedral
I'm quite a big fan of St. Paul's cathedral. It's obviously been in the news a fair bit recently, with all the occupy London stuff that's been going on and the fact that it's only the second time in the cathedral's illustrious history that it has closed its doors to the public. The first was for four days during the blitz. Anyway, I won't harp on about St Paul's factoids, but was down there yesterday and just wanted to share a couple of photos.
Lots of domes all under one massive dome. The other thing is that millions of people have gazed upon St. Paul's for the last 300 years, but only recently from the top of the New Change shopping centre. Paulio was looking pretty fruity from up there last night.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.