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

August Update

My, hasn’t the summer flown by!

I’ve had a holiday in Ireland, visiting family and catching up with friends.I was staying near the Sperrins, the lanscape dominated by Slieve Gallion which long ago I climbed during the hillwalking festival.

Slieve Gallion

Slieve Gallion

We went to the Titanic Exhibition which was excellent. I shall gladly go back and see it again.

Titanic exhibition

Titanic exhibition

Titanic

Titanic

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The Week Ahead

Tomorrow I am to spend the day in Harwich in the company of the very wonderful Stephen Humphrey, who knows more about Southwark than anyone else alive, and is pretty damn hot on other places too. It’s the annual outing of the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society, SLAS, of which I am not a member though I do occasionally attend their talks.

Last year we went to Winchester, the year before, Ramsgate. Stephen evidently believes a well fed audience is a happy audience, so there’ll be tea or coffee and cake when we arrive. At Ramsgate our morning refreshments were so extensive few of us had room for lunch. The weather forecast is mixed but the company should be good, and Stephen makes sure the coach in which we travel is a comfortable one.

Memorial Bench Winchester Castle

Memorial Bench Winchester Castle

The outing will mark the end of my few days break. Continue reading

In the Footsteps of Royalty

I’m hoping my Instagram feed will explain that I have been pretty busy so far this month, and time for blogging has been conspicuously absent. One day of heavy rain last week sent me back to my waterproof shoes, and yesterday morning I was glad to find a pair of gloves in my bag, but spring is settling into its stride with longer days and plenty of sunshine.

Most of my work this coming week is with private groups; just two public walks with LW and then parliament on Saturday.

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster

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March Winds and Photogenic Days

Spring is blowing in on the winds of March. Today, like so many days recently, the air is crisp and cold, the skies blue, the sun bright. The days are gradually lengthening. Perfect times for walking and photography. And even grey skies can make for dramatic pictures.

I usually carry a little camera with me when I am working, and sometimes take a few photos between tours. Even when I am not walking for a living, I enjoy getting out and about, and then I’ll often have my *proper* camera and a change of lens.

Here are a few pictures I have taken recently.

Brockwell Park

Brockwell Park

The William Booth Memorial College

The William Booth Memorial College

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A Spring in Your Step

I have a sudden run of public repertory walks coming up over the next few weekends. So if you are itching to get out and about, exploring corners of London and enjoying the signs of spring, do join me.

There’s no need to book, just turn up at the appointed hour at the appointed place, pay me your £10.00 and off we’ll go. Walks last around two hours, and happen no matter what the weather.

This coming Saturday, 27th February, I am resolutely local with a walk around Kennington. You’ll learn about parallel universes, political movements, a paedriatric hospital that is now a block of flats, and finish within easy reach of a number of pubs, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy lunch.

Meet me outside Kennington tube station for 10.45.

Kennington tube

Kennington tube

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Happy New Year!

I’ve hung up my Blue Badge for the rest of 2015. It’s been a great year, and I have loved guided you around all the various places. Yesterday we were blessed with warm sunshine and minimal wind at Stonehenge following a visit to the ever wonderful Salisbury cathedral.

This morning at the Tower of London the skies were grey, but it stayed dry.

Being a London Registered Blue Badge Guide is such a privilege (though I might not have said that during our gruelling two year training). A couple of weeks ago I walked around Vauxhall with my friend and fellow guide Hilary. I was in Estate Agent Mode as she and her husband are looking for a new address in London. I wish I had had the forethought to video her reactions. At one point she grabbed my arm and said “Look at that building!” I think lunch at the Bonnington Café may have been the final brick that put Vauxhall high up on the list of desirable areas. Continue reading

From Now Until Christmas

So you’ve written your cards, wrapped the presents, decorated the tree and planned the menu for Christmas Day. What now? You don’t want to twiddle your thumbs until 25th December.

And you certainly don’t want to join the increasingly desperate shoppers in the big stores.

Well, London is your oyster. Tomorrow, Monday 14th I am again taking the boat to Greenwich with a self-selected group for a guided tour.

Royal Naval College

Royal Naval College

You can be one of their number simply by meeting me outside Tower Hill tube station by the Tramshed Coffee Stop for 10.30 and handing over £15.50. That’s £10 for the tour and £5.50 for the boat. If you are over 65, or a full-time card carrying student then you get a reduction of £2 on the tour.

If you are planning a later start to the day, I’ll be outside Russell Square tube station for 2.30 ready to lead a tour inside the British Museum.

Wednesday 16th I’ll be guiding at the Tower of London, meet me at Tower Hill tube by the Tramshed Coffee stop for 11.00. Continue reading

Bad Behaviours

Snow Hill in the City of London is home to a police station. The City has its own police force, distinct from the Met.

Back in the 1830s, when Robert Peel founded the Met, he knew the City would not accept being policed by Westminster. He was right.

The City Police numbers over 700, which sounds a lot for a square mile; presumably the force is big on fraud. You can recognise it by its uniform; in common with other forces in towns founded by the Romans, the male of the species wears a helmet witna ridge down it, as an echo of the centurions’ helmet.

City policemen

City policemen


The police station is on the site of the Saracen’s Head, a coaching inn. This inn featured in Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, where the eponymous hero meets one-eyed schoolmaster Wackford Squeers. Continue reading