Walking the Elephant, today – Urgent!

There is one walk today at 10.45.

My apologies for the typo that had it listed as starting 8.45, and many thanks to Mariana for alerting me to the mistake.

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Roll Up! Roll Up! for Elefest 2017 Tomorrow, 2nd September

What

I am delighted to announce that I shall be leading my guided tour, Walking the Elephant, around the Elephant and Castle tomorrow afternoon as part of this year’s Elefest. After a two year gap, Elefest is back with a whoop and the promise of good weather. Rob has dusted off the logos, printed the flyers and recruited musicians, storytellers, dancers and disc spinners to celebrate the Elephant.

Where

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Why Walk?

I have been contacted by an Urban Studies student called George who has asked my opinion and thoughts on a number of issues around walking.

Now as a Blue Badge Guide, I guide on foot, on a coach, I lead tours of galleries and heritage sites, and walks all over London.

I enjoy all of it, but walking tours have a special place n my heart, and it was partly due to my long established habit of walking around London’s neighbourhoods that I trained as a guide in the first place.

George is particularly interested to know my thoughts in relation to one particular walk that I have developed: the Elephant and Castle.

As it happens, I shall be leading this walk on Saturday 2nd September at 2pm as part of this year’s Elefest.

The Elephant has changed enormously since since I first started to explore it nearly four decades ago when I moved into a flat nearby, just down the road in Walworth. I remember the feeling of surprise and shock to find prefab homes in the shadow of what must have been London’s most uninviting hotel, the London Park. Much later when I read of that building’s history I learned to respect it and even felt sorry when it was pulled down.

You see far more on two wheels than you do on four, but walking puts you in touch with your environment in a much more immediate way. Partly it’s to do with the speed. You notice the plants in people’s gardens, the style of curtains affected by people in different neighbourhoods, the potholes in the roads, the litter on the pavements; the new front door. You acquire a more intimate understanding than your wheeled peers.

The more you walk the same streets the more you learn their nuances. You see the subtle changes that come with the year’s seasons; the telltale signs of new investment; the pubs that have been turned into flats; the new market stall holders; the graffiti; the corner shops that close; the bars that open; the elderly person who suddenly is no longer about; the young boys doing wheelies on their bikes as they transition to adolescence. You are a witness. Continue reading

Pretty Chickens

Okay, it’s out of context and not appropriate to joy and jollity, but unfortunately I can’t think of a Shakespeare quotation about happy hens.

On Saturday afternoon I had a private walk booked. I knew nothing about the clients until a day or so in advance: a hen party.

So, if you were about to get married and decided that your hen party should be a guided walk, what would be the subject of that walk?

I put the question to my morning group who were coming on a tour of very lovely Kennington, my Princes and Paupers walk. Jack the Ripper? suggested one, which earned him a surprised stare from myself. Serial killing of women as entertainment always strikes me as macabre, doubly or quadruply so for a hen party. Continue reading

Next stop, Colchester

A novel might have taken me to Coventry, but by a strange symmetry it was after visiting Colchester I began reading a novel that mentions, even features, some of the places I saw in the original capital of Roman Britain.

I had unfortunately sprained my ankle just a few days beforehand, so my explorations were not quite as extensive as I should have liked. Still it gives me a good excuse to return.

I have visited many other parts of Essex, and even celebrated a birthday in and around Wivenhoe a few years ago when friends joined me for an easy eight mile walk which started, middled and ended at the pub.

Colchester boasts an impressive castle, a ruined abbey, and an astounding building that is home to the Museum of Modern Art.

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Coventry Cathedral

Although I am a London Blue Badge Guide, I do get to leave the capital and even guide in other cities and towns.

I should love to add Coventry to that list. Everyone knows how Coventry was devastated in the Second World War, how the day after the bombing that destroyed the cathedral the decision was taken to rebuild.
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The Walworth Walk

I’ll be leading the Walworth Old and New walk Saturday 3rd December, meeting outside Kennington tube station at 10.45am.

From the Saxons to the present day, Walworth has had many incarnations.



Famous as the birthplace of Charlie Chaplin, Walworth has belonged to a court jester, temporarily housed St Thomas’ Hospital, seen the first giraffes in a public collection in the United Kingdom, been the force behind achieving age related pensions, and has been mentioned in literature from Charles Dickens to Muriel Spark. Continue reading

Don’t Miss This – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Live -Streamed!

Were you lucky enough, as I was, to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Globe Theatre on Bankside this year? the Bollywood influenced one?

Oh man, it was fabulous. I don’t want to make you jealous, but if you didn’t get to see it you missed out bg time. Tomorrow night it has its last performance, but the great news is that the BBC is going to be live streaming the production. Which means that wherever you are you can see it. Cool or what? and the answer isn’t ‘what’. Continue reading

Fire! London’s Burning!

It’s three hundred and fifty years since the City of London was devasted by a terrible fire, and there are any number of events commemorating the dreadful conflagration we know as the Great Fire of London.

You may already have been to the exhibition at the Museum of London. If not, make a date in your diary. It is well worth the visit. Continue reading