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 CafĂ© may have been the final brick that put Vauxhall high up on the list of desirable areas. Continue reading

Updates, Flowers and This Week’s Public Walks

My thanks to Kathy for reminding me that I needed to update the Dates for Your Diary page.

London in the spring is a mighty fine place. Actually it’s a mighty fine place at any time, but the explosion of colour we have enjoyed over the last few weeks has been wonderful.

Flowers are everywhere, not least at Chelsea Flower Show, but fear not if you don’t have tix, there are lots of fab alternatives including Vauxhall, Mayfiar and Walworth:

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Public Walks 10th to 17th November

I’ll ‘fess up; I forgot to say that I was doing the Greenwich walk yesterday. However, I shall be leading it prett often over the next few months, as well as the Bermondsey walk, so I shall add those into Dates for Your Diary.

This Saturday 15th November it’s your once in six month chance to join me on the public Vauxhall tour, Viva Vauxhall!

Vauxhall is so much more than a transport hub and multi-lane pedestrian nightmare. Think Lily Savage, pleasure gardens, James Bond, community spirit, hymns ancient and modern. Throw in a garden designed with the help of Dan Pearson, mosaics hidden in railway arches, alpacas, and cake, yes lots of cake. Or Welsh rarebit and real tea served in cosy-covered teapots. Yum!

We meet at 10.45 outside Vauxhall tube, exit 2.James Bond logo

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Viva Vauxhall! and Amazing Grace

Next Saturday I have two more repertory walks, Viva Vauxhall! in the morning, and Amazing Grace in the afternoon.
Viva Vauxhall! is, and I don’t think you’re going to be surprised by this, a walk around that wonderful district in SW8, famous for its Pleasure Gardens and MI6 building. The walk starts outside exit 2 of Vauxhall tube, which is the one opposite the ticket office of the overground station, and finishes at Spring Gardens. This walk was previously called A Railway Runs Through It.

MI6

MI6

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From Falkes Hall to Vauxhall by Car

Stories, if repeated often enough, can acquire the solidity of truth. One such story is how the Russian word for railway station, vokzal, derives from Vauxhall, London SW8. Supposedly, a Russian delegation who visited in 1840 to inspect the construction of the London and South Western Railway mistook the name of the station for the generic word for the type of building. This error was then compounded by Tsar Nicholas, who on a visit to London four years later was taken to see the trains in Vauxhall and made the same mistake. Actually the idea that visiting royalty were taken to look at trains appeals far more to my imagination. Perhaps that is just as well, as scholars think the Vauxhall/vokzal story is a more than dubious. Still, I wouldn’t be a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide if I didn’t like stories.
What isn’t in doubt is that Vauxhall gave its name to Vauxhall Motors which started as a local firm. Vauxhall Motors emblem is a gryphon, a heraldic beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.

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