Some of you follow this blog because you have been on my tours and enjoyed them, tours that include the Palace of Westminster. I qualified as a Blue Badge Guide twenty years ago. In 2000 I took an additional course and passed the written and practical exams to allow me to guide in Parliament.
However, the future of Blue Badge Guides in this building is under threat. There are plans to replace us in just five months with non-professional guides who will learn a script.
London under snow was beautiful, but I can’t say I’m sorry the thaw has come. It was cold. Now the mercury is rising, the daylight hours are longer, and with the snow gone growth is apparent everywhere you look.
I’ll be leading a number of public tours over the next few weeks, starting with one around the Elephant and Castle on Sunday.
A New Year. A fresh start. A new opportunity. So what will you do? Have you made your resolutions?
I’m going to continue my 2017 pattern of day trips to places in the UK. They have been fabulous. Without a doubt Coventry was the highlight. I went there twice, and I urge any of you who have not been to add it to your list pronto.
I’d love to take people around that amazing city, so if you want an enthusiastic guide get in touch. Sheffield is on the list for 2018, and I’d like to visit Lincoln and Nottingham, but I’m not sure they are achievable in a day trip from London.
One destination on my list that is definitely not achievable in a day is New Zealand. I have quite a few clients from New Zealand and I was supposed to be a New Zealander but my parents decided not to emigrate. Visiting other countries helps join the dots, make sense of our connections and shared history as well as our differences. Continue reading
Tomorrow morning is due to be sunny; the heavens be praised.
I shall be leading a walk around The Cut starting at 10.45 outside Southwark tube.
The Cut is pretty couth these days, but George Sala, a nineteenth century journalist saw it differently. He said the gin shops, leviathan, ghastly in their newness, richness of decoration were the only things new. Everything else was secondhand. The women were slovenly, you could hear the howling of beaten children and kicked dogs; the tenements were vile and rotten. There was a smell of escaped gas, deceased cats, ancient fish, unwashed soddened, unkempt, feckless humanity.
I found my camera.
Here are the hens at the end of our walk.
I’m going to be having a bit of break from guiding people around this wonderful city as tomoorow I am heading for Australia.
I’ll be back in December, and getting back into harness leading the Walworth walk on Saturday 3rd December at 10.45 from outside Kennington tube, and getting into the festive season at the artists’ open studios.
Barbara Wakefield, Hearts
Jam Jar Flowers
Spring has sprung and April is well and truly established. It’s a month where the weather is as changeable as the days. Showers, wind and sunshine chase each other through the hours. Trees get greener, more blossom laden by the minute.
It’s a time of hope, of new life, and London stirs like a great beast and stretches towards summer.
Tomorrow, Sunday 17th April, I am leading a walk around Denmark Hill and Camberwell. It’s an area close to the centre of London, but greener and leafier than you might expect. In the past it was called South London’s answer to Belgravia. It was also the home to many German families who had migrated to London, including some of my own family. Indeed my grandparents were married there, and it is where my father was born.
So it has a special meaning for me.
The William Booth Memorial College, Denmark Hill
It was like a scene from that sweetest of films about community, Local Hero. As I made my way along Liverpool Grove, I could see people ahead of me all walking into the church, the very lovely St Peter’s Walworth, according to one book I’ve read, the only building of architectural significance in Walworth. Strangely, I don’t agree. I don’t think many at last night’s meeting would either.
There was a good turn out, a testament to how people care about our neighbourhood, including a fair few councillors, and we filled the pews. Jeremy, chair of the Walworth Society, scampered about with a mike to make sure everyone could be heard.
The biggest cheer of the night was for a local resident, fan of the library and the Cuming museum, who is also a firefighter. He urged all present to go to the London Fire Brigade website and take part in the consultation. If the current proposals to close fire stations go ahead, six of the engines and their crew who helped to put out the fire at Walworth Town Hall will be axed. There will be a public meeting we are urged to attend at the GLA 14th May from seven to nine in the evening.
So exciting! The flame has been lit in Trafalgar Square, and will travel around London today. I heard it will be at the Palace of Westminster where I am working, so I am hoping and hoping to see it! The Paralympic Games are nearly here.