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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Oh to be in England

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.

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The William Booth Memorial College, Denmark Hill

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Two Exhibitions and This Week’s Public Walks

There’s always so much going on in London that choosing what to see can be a challenge. In the last ten days I have been to two very different exhibitions, though both were thought provoking, witty, serious, humorous.

The first was Boticelli Reimagined at the V&A. You may have read reviews in the national press. I loved it. My attention was grabbed from the first room with the range of takes on his Venus Rising. I don’t think I had fully realised how well known this painting is. Boticelli comes over as remarkably well adapted to the C21. As co-curator Mark Evans is quoted as saying, “He goes nicely on a T-shirt.”

It’s fascinating how some images take such a hold on the collective imagination, and the reworkings in this exhibition show the whole gamut, from one I found fairly pornographic, though I believe the label described it as erotic, to Hello Kitty via a dress worn by Lady Gaga to promote a single.

There was too much for me to take in on one visit and I hope to go again before the exhibition closes in July. Continue reading

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

The Jolly Season

Wherever you turn in London there are Christmas trees and fairy lights. I have posting quite a few pictures of them on Instagram whwere you can follow me @londonbyguide.

It’s the jolly season. The time of year when you meet up with friends and colleagues and eat out in restaurants.

Thanks to the visit to this side of the pond by some jolly people who forsake the warmth of California for the winds of London, winds that are I understand courtesy of Desmond, I had the chance to eat in great company in two places that have been recommended to me but which I have hitherto never tried.

Both can be enjoyed at the end of two of my walks this week.

First Greenwich tomorrow morning. Afterwards you could eat at the Plume of Faethers where last Monday I enjoyed an excellent Thai green curry. I opted for the vegetarian option as did another of my dining companions. There was fish and chips, chicken, burgers, veggie and meat and all was lovely.
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Walking Towards Christmas

The only Scottish link to Greenwich I can think of at the moment is that the Cutty Sark gets her name from a poem by Robbie Burns. However, I am sure there are more.

Tomorrow is of course St Andrew’s Day. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. Why the Greenwich links? Well, that’s where I shall be guiding in the morning.

It’s a public walk, so anyone can join me for a modest fee (£10 plus £5.50 for the boat from Tower Pier). I’ll be outside Tower Hill tube station by the Tramshed Coffee stop for 10.30.

Afterwards I am planning to visit the Plague, Fire and Revolution at the National Maritime Museum. I’ve been really looking forward to this one, and it has had wonderful reviews.

The boat that takes us to Greenwich is owned and crewed by City Cruises. The watermen are a chatty bunch who study for years to gain the qualifications to helm us safely on the Thames. City Cruises is based at Bermondsey, and on Thursday morning I have my first turn at the revised and revamped Bermondsey walk. It is starting from Bermondsey tube at 10.30, and having walked the new route, I think it’s going to be great, even better than the old version if that’s possible. We’ll even go to Cherry Gardens Pier where City Cruises moor up.

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Bermondsey


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Westminster Abbey and SSGB in Greenwich

Tomorrow I am at Westminster Abbey, one of my absolute favourite places in London. So often on a Monday morning I am heading for Greenwich (Iknow, it’s a tough life, but heyho, someone has to do it), another fabulous place to spend time just outside the centre of London.

Last week in Greenwich it looked like the army had come to town.

Army presence

Army presence

Then when we looked closer, it took on a more sinister aspect. A hangman’s noose stood beside the entrance to the Painted Hall.

Gallows

Gallows

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This Week’s Public Walks

Not many public walks to offer this week I’m afraid, but I shall soon be posting the dates for my rep walks with London walks from Novemeber to April.

Tomorrow, Monday 26th October, I shall be leading a guided tour around Greenwich, a lovely place at any time of year, and just now cloaked in autumn colours. We meet at Tower Hill tube station by the Tram Coffee outlet at 10.30 to travel to Greenwich the Royal way – by water.

Ryal Naval College

Ryal Naval College


The tour costs £10, or £8 for over 65s and full-time card carrying students, plus £5.50 for the boat.

I shall be speeding back from Greenwich on a Thames Clipper ready to lead a tour of the City; Bloody, Flaming Poxy London, aka Wren’s London. We meet at towerHill tube, again by the Tram coffee outlet for 2pm. £10, £8 over 65s and full-time card carrying students.

On Wednesday 28th October I’ll shall again be at Tower Hill tube. This time for a tour of the Tower of London. We meet at 11, and in addition to the cost of the tour there is an entrance fee to the tower; £17 adults, £13 concessions.

Join Me on These Public Walks in July

I am taking some time off at the end of this month, so I shall be pounding the streets less than usual. Summer has reached into every crack and corner of London. It’s a time to watch the world go by from one of our many parks, eat ice cream, explore the city and reward yourself with a beer outside a sunny pub.

My diary changes, but at the moment I shall be leading tours around Greenwich Mondays 6th, 13th and 20th. The meet point is Tower Hill by the Tramshed coffee stop for 10.30. The cost of the tour is £10, or £8 for over 65s and full time students, plus the cost of the boat; £5.50, £3 children under 15.

Greenwich

Greenwich

I am back in the British Museum on two Mondays – 6th and 13th. For this tour meet me outside Holborn tube station for 2.15. Tour costs as above. Entrance to the museum is free.

I have three repertory other walks this month. Continue reading