Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Halloween Is Coming: A Visit To Edinburgh & A Ghost Walk With Mercat Tours

DC Editor Adam writes

Halloween is coming and I'm a bit of a fan.

Throughout October I'm going to be sharing a few Halloween posts to accompany my ghost- and horror-themed tours over the season.

Today's post takes us to Edinburgh and the peerless Mercat Tours

Two summers ago, I paid a visit to Edinburgh with my wife Karen, our daughter and one of her friends.

Naturally a ghost tour was on the cards

Edinburgh these days is teeming with ghost tours - mostly the ones that announce themselves to be free and then the guide spends the rest of YOUR time showing you pics of her emaciated puppy and her eviction notice so that you will pay-up. 

It's a horror story, but not the kind I like.


The long established Mercat Tours should always be your first port of call in Edinburgh.

Our tour of the vaults beneath the city was spooky, gory, funny and packed with history. If I wasn't wracked with jealousy I'd go so far as to say this is the PERFECT ghost tour.

We met our guides Alun & Jenny by the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile having booked and paid our places in advance - a group of two adults and two ten-year-olds.

Alun (with the spooky dark eyes and mellifluous voice) and Jenny (with her absolutely and totally TERRIFYING shriek!) are expert storytellers in the old tradition - perfect for a tour in the old town of Edinburgh.,

As well as being excellent storytellers, Alun & Jenny are also wonderful hosts. I am an exiled Edinburgh man living in London nearly 30 years and they made me proud of my home city all over again.

The tour ends with a drink – a whisky, a wine or a soft drink – in the underground bar which is part of the subterranean vaults where the tour takes place. Alun & Jenny regaled us with a few more tales before sending us off quaking (and laughing too) into the Edinburgh night.

I am a sucker for a ghost tour at the best of times. But this one is hard to beat, the best I've ever experienced.

Well done Alun & Jenny, thanks for making our visit so memorable.

Go and see the guys at Mercat Tours next time you are in Edinburgh. Their website is here: www.mercattours.com

Can you recommend a great ghost tour outside of London? Get in touch!

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Monday, 14 October 2019

A Few Words About The Rain

Adam writes…

Rain. It’s A London Thing.

Sorry. But it just is.

How can I spin this P.R disaster?

My own personal modus operandi when questioned about the alleged inclemency of the weather – keep in mind that I am from Scotland – is this:

“Rain? You think this is rain? YOU THINK THIS IS RAIN?! Where I come from rain can be sliced as it falls and spread on a sandwich.”

My suggestion is not merely to “lighten up”. It’s more than that. It’s a philosophical thing.

A piece of old Irish wisdom can help. A pal of mine from The Mainland (as he calls the Emerald Isle) uses a grand old Irish phrase to rise above the weather. Gazing out at a wet landscape, he simply sighs, “It’s a fine, soft day.” And with this sooth he is superior to the weather. He wins.

A fine soft day. Quite so.

My countryman, comedian Billy Connolly, once observed that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. A few years back I met a visitor from Austin, Texas who breezily announced to me as she joined my walking tour: “This is my third new jacket since I arrived!”

To my knowledge, she is still up on her hind legs despite a little rainfall on a walking tour. It’s all in the attitude.

Similarly, another Walker – coincidentally also from Texas, this time Dallas – informed me that his home town was basking in temperatures way up in the 30s (Celsius). This while we fought our way through Spitalfields in a torrential downpour. Was he downcast? Hell no. He was laughing. Actually laughing out loud.

There's a London Walks tour underneath there… somewhere

I am constantly asked by timid types, “Do you do your walks in the rain?”

My reply is always, “Yes, of course we do.”

But what I really want to say is: “It’s ONLY RAIN. Samuel Pepys walked the streets of London during the plague. THE PLAGUE for the love of God.”

A bit of perspective is what’s required. Along with the Attitude and the Philosophy. And the Statistics. All far more useful tools than an umbrella.

During our recent spell of fine soft weather here in London, I have often been reminded of one of my favourite London films. Four Weddings And A Funeral is set broadly in a Hollywood-friendly Englandshire, but the capital shooting locations root it deeply in the fabric of our city – from the South Bank to St Bartholomew’s Church, Smithfield, FW&AF is a London movie.

It is the movie’s denouement, set in the immediate aftermath of the St Bart’s scene that has been haunting my reverie:

Exterior. A London Street.

It is raining. Not the kind of Hollywood rain that Gene Kelly would dance (and sing) through. This is RAIN. Raindrops the size of Brussels sprouts. Like King Lear on the blasted heath on his way to hitch a ride with Noah. Charles (Hugh Grant) pursues Carrie (Andie MacDowell) through the rain.


(*And if you haven’t seen Four Weddings and a Funeral, one question: Why?)

It rains. Charles professes his love. It rains. Carrie hers. It rains. They kiss. It rains.

Charles: “It’s raining.”

Carrie: “Is it? I hadn’t noticed.”

At which point the whole cinema audience heaves a big, goofy groan at the most hilariously corny moment in the history of British cinema.

Except London tour guides don’t groan. To us, this is a moment of Cinéma Vérité. We applaud the accuracy of the observation that would put the post-war Italian Neorealist directors to shame.

Because that’s what tour guests seem to say every day: is it raining? I hadn’t noticed.

Rain. It’s A London Thing. Everyone knows that.

But hardy Londoners and visitor who join us in the rain are the best London Thing of all.

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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Happy Birthday Paul Simon

Happy Birthday to Paul Simon, born on this day in 1941.

Simon almost always crops up on my scheduled London Music Tours – I've been talking about him a lot this past week on tours in Hyde Park, The Troubadour and Denmark Street. One of my very favourite of his albums remains…

The Paul Simon Songbook
(Columbia 1965)

This London classic was deleted for a number of years, but is now happily available again to download and stream and also on those old fashioned CD thingies.

Not that such matters trouble me – as you can see, my vinyl copy is still going strong. It's pictured above on my beloved 1965 Dansette Viva.

The album was recorded at Levy’s Recording Studio at 73 New Bond Street right here in London, and is a relic of Simon’s London exile of the mid 60s. 

The girl in the sleeve picture is Simon’s then girlfriend Kathy Chitty, a native of Essex. Kathy makes her presence felt in the work of Simon and Garfunkel – notably in Kathy’s Song and America.

Over at The Troubadour in Earl's Court they still have a tribute to Paul Simon painted on the wall…

It was one of the many venues in Britain where Simon plied his trade on his first sojourn to London back in 1965.

I'll be singing a Paul Simon number (or two) on this Wednesday's Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music - a rock & pop history tour with LIVE music from your guide. Wednesday 16th October 2019 meet at Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1) 7pm

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

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Friday, 11 October 2019

My Tours For The Week Ahead

All the scheduled public tours led by Adam Scott-Goulding for the famous London Walks company in the next week 14th to 19th October 2019

Tours last 2 hours and cost £10 for adults, £8 for students & seniors. 

Click the Book Your Tour buttons to pay & reserve your place. 

Bookings are handled via our online shop Pay A Tour. There are NO booking fees.

A Village In Piccadilly

Monday 14th October 2019

Meet at Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros) 2.30pm

Fancy shops and royal traditions…

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

London Horror Story

Tuesday 15th October 2019
Saturday 19th October  

Meet at St Paul's tube 7.30pm

Ghosts, murder and mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music

A rock & pop history tour with LIVE music from your guide

Wednesday 16th October 2019  

Meet at Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1) 7pm

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Jack the Ripper

Thursdays 17th October 2019

Meet at Tower Hill Tube by the tram 7.30pm

The word's most enduring crime story – social history, conspiracy and gruesome murder make for an intense night.

Tour ends at Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street station.

Hidden London

Friday 18th October 2019

Meet at Monument tube (Fish Street Hill exit) 11a.m

Old City churches, the livery companies, folklore, legend and history - a celebratory exploration of 2,000 years of London history.

Tour ends at Blackfriars tube.

Want to book a private tour? Get in touch!

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Thursday, 10 October 2019

Halloween Countdown: Christopher Lee

DC Editor Adam writes

Halloween is coming and I'm a bit of a fan.

Throughout October I'm going to be sharing a few Halloween posts to accompany my ghost- and horror-themed tours over the season.

This week it's Dracula Week on The Daily Constitutional.

From The Daily Constitutional archive, a tribute to my favourite screen Dracula, Christopher Lee…

Christopher Lee is Dead? He Is Absolutely No Such Thing

Back in June 2015, I was saddened to hear that the actor Sir Christopher Lee had passed away. He was 93.

Almost everyone I met that day had something to say about the great man. Here in Britain, particularly among those over the age of 30, he is well-remembered for his Dracula in the Hammer Studios horror movies from the 50's to the 70s.

I remember the day clearly – the 7th June 2015 – because it was a Thursday and on a Thursday I always get home late after leading two walking tours.

The last stage of my journey takes me through the local churchyard. Although it is dark, it only takes thirty seconds and saves me time at the end of the day. It is a shortcut and I have been taking it for years without batting an eyelid.

Until that night. When this image came surging forth in my mind

Like so many kids I was occasionally allowed to stay up late and watch scary movies on TV. And I had forgotten just how truly terrifying Lee’s Dracula appeared to me back then.

And not just back then, either. 

That Thursday night in 2015, my heart quickened along with my step and I was through the graveyard in record time without a backward glance.

I’ll be frank: it was a poor show from a grown man. Particularly one who leads ghostly walking tours.

And it made me think: Don’t believe everything you hear in the news.

Christopher Lee is dead, is he? 


Just you wait until nightfall, my friend. Just you wait…

Join me on the London Horror Story Tour here in London this October. I'm leading the tour on Tuesdays 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th October & Saturdays 12th, 19th & 26th October. Book here…

A couple of summers back I celebrated Halloween by taking the guys from the Lion King cast on a tour of their theatrical home The Lyceum, where Bram Stoker once worked.

Here's what we got up to…

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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Halloween Countdown: Dracula Plaque

DC Editor Adam writes

Halloween is coming and I'm a bit of a fan.

Throughout October I'm going to be sharing a few Halloween posts to accompany my ghost- and horror-themed tours over the season.

This week it's Dracula Week on the Daily Constitutional. So here's a Drac Plaque…

Commemorating: Bram Stoker at 18 St Leonard's Terrace SW3

Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) leaves one helluva bloody smear on the landscape of English fiction – his 1897 epistolary novel Dracula.

His personal mark, like those of many an Irish man of letters, is left all over London. His name is carved into the stone of the Lyceum Theatre in the West End, where he worked for Sir Henry Irving for 27 years.

He worked also at the Prince of Wales Theatre and on Fleet Street, on the staff at the Daily Telegraph.

He died in St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1 and his ashes are at Golders Green Crematorium – where his urn can be viewed by special appointment only.

Two summers ago, I took the cast of the Lion King in search of Bram at the Lyceum Theatre. Here's what we got up to…

Join me on the London Horror Story Tour here in London this October. I'm leading the tour on Tuesdays 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th October & Saturdays 12th, 19th & 26th October. Book here…

Keep In Touch…