Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ripe Strawberries Ripe!

June in London can only mean one thing: Wimbledon.

And Wimbledon can only mean one fruit: the strawberry.

And when talk turns to food on the LW Blog, that can only mean one London Walks Guide: the one and only Ann. Here she is revving-up for her next Foodie extravaganza…

“‘Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did,’ said 16th Century physician William Butler. What else could this be in June but the strawberry – ‘the well known and much esteemed fruit’ as Mrs. Beeton described it.

In past centuries Londoners got their fruit not from Kent, but from Hammersmith, Ealing and Isleworth. Women started picking as soon as it was light, then set off before 7 am at a 5 mph trot – something between a walk and a run. They could carry up to 40 lbs of strawberries on their heads – balanced on cushions in large baskets."


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.

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Monday, 29 June 2009

Unlocking Secret London

Details have now been confirmed for the new London Walks special: the Pomp and Circumstance Walk next week on the 8th July (scroll down for earlier post). Meet your guide Karen (a Blue Badge Guide of the Year winner!) at Mansion House Tube (Exit 1) at 11.30a.m. and will have as its centrepiece an ancient ceremony performed by the Worshipful Company of Vintners. More details later in the week (London Walks Facebook Group members: keep an eye on your inboxes for your invitations!)

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Keys of the Kingdom

From time-to-time on a London Walk, the unexpected happens. Every once-in-a-while, the current owner of Ezra Pound’s former home in Kensington pops out to greet the London Walkers and treat them to a reading of Pound’s work and a tale of meeting his daughter. Someone may pop out of a Knightsbridge house and ask the Walkers to join a 21st Birthday Party (it happened. It really did: just ask London Walks guide supreme Nick on his Knightsbridge Pubs Walk this Friday… or read his LW Blog post about it HERE).

It happened again last weekend with David, while he was guiding his regular Sunday morning bunberry in Hampstead. During the walk he ran in to a Hamspteadite with an intriguing looking garden. A few words were exchanged and – hey presto! – David and his 20 London Walkers were escorted into a hidden corner of Hampstead that few will ever see.

Which leads us to the new London Walks series of hidden ceremony walks. We’re thinking of calling ‘em Pomp & Circumstances Walks (a nod, of course, to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstances Marches) and they will feature the secret ceremonies that make London tick.

London is, of course, famous for its ceremonies. The Changing of the Guard is simply a must see; ditto Trooping the Colour; the equally celebrated Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is quite something, too. But the real “keys of the kingdom” – or at least its capital – can be found in the unique little pageants that mark the passage of the City’s year since time immemorial.

Our new series of must-see guided tours opens with a London Walk featuring a unique ceremony conducted by The Worshipful Company of Vitners (one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies) the motto of which is Vinum Exhilarat Animum – Latin for “Wine Cheers the Mind”. Cheers!

The Pomp & Circumstance Walks will be guided by Karen, one of London Walks’ award-winning guides – the first one takes place on the 8th July. As Karen is working on the walk as we blog, time and meeting place are TBC. But regular visitors to The Mothership, the London Walks Blog and London Walks Facebook Group Members (sign up below) will be the first to know, so do check back with us soon.

(The Keys of the Kingdom pictured adorn the entrance to the R.C Church of The Most Holy Trinity, Dockhead, Bermondsey SE1. Designed by architect and Hawksmoor biographer H.S Goodhart-Rendel and completed in 1959, the church has the distinction of being the first R.C Church in London since The Reformation to be built fronting a public highway.)

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Monday, 22 June 2009

Blog Extra (or… “Dear Boss…”)

Leading Jack the Ripper expert and London Walks guide Donald Rumbelow returns to our TV screens this week to help Channel Five take a fresh look at one of the most famous serial killers in history. The programme examines the role that the press had in making Jack the Ripper a media sensation - and finds out just how far the newspapers went to ensure the Ripper remained headline news.

Tune in to Five this Wednesday at 8.00p.m. (Overseas readers and walkers head for Five's website at www.five.tv.)

Join Don and the London Walks team "in the flesh" (ahem) on the Jack the Ripper Walk every night at Tower Hill Station 7.30p.m. For a preview of Don’s Jack the Ripper Walk click HERE.

(Not like us, I know, to encourage you to stay in to watch the gogglebox, so… next Wednesday at the same time why not join Brian for the Literary London Pub Walk… or Shaughan for the Along the Thames Pub Walk… or LW Blog regular Richard III for the Ghosts, Gaslight & Guinness Walk.

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Barge In…

London Walks Facebook Group members are already in the loop on this one (sign up below)… here’s Roger on why you should join him and the LW Facebookers on his latest Canal Walking bunberry

“Why not cross a bridge to see a different style of life? The Millenium Bridge is designed to look like parkland, and leads to Mile End Lock on the Regents Canal.

As well as parkland on the way to Limehouse (seen through the eyes of Gustave DorĂ© in 1869, above), there’s Dr. Barnardo’s Ragged School Museum. At Limehouse, although the Grand Union Company’s steamers to Rotterdam are long gone, the Basin is full of boats. There is a complete mixture of narrowboats, dutch barges, seagoing cruisers and sailing yachts. Besides Dickensian pubs, there are striking views along the Thames to several famous London landmarks.”

The Regent’s Canal - Mile End to Limehouse Walk meets at Mile End tube station on Tuesday 23rd June 2009 at 6.30 p.m.

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry 21:06:09

"Oh, I say!" *

It’s Still Here!

We’re still getting hits looking for David's record-breaking post on how to keep kids amused on London Walks. It was the first of our How to Walk series. Here are links to all three instalments so far…

1. How to walk No.1… Scootermania!
2. How to Walk No.2… The Sitting Walk!
3. How to Walk No.3… Do it in Private!

Get the Picture?

A fortnight ago in The Weekly Gallimaufry we asked: where’s this…?

It is, of course, a detail from the old Black Cat Tobacco Factory at Mornington Crescent, Camden, north London. Completed in 1928, the building was inspired by the fad for all things Egyptian.

Our new teaser: inside looking out… where (below)?

Answers (just for fun) to the usual address londonwalksblog@gmail.com.

Anyone For…?

The sleepy London suburb with the postcode SW19 takes centre stage in the world of sport this week: the competition known officially as The Championships, but better known by the single word Wimbledon, begins on the 22nd of June.

Six Wimbledon Facts

1. This year, for the first time, there’s a roof on Centre Court – thus ensuring no repeat of local (i.e. local to England) entertainer Cliff Richard’s impromptu performance of six of his British chart hits during a long, rain-sodden Centre Court afternoon in back in 1996.
2. Virginia Wade was the last English singles winner, taking the title in Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee year of 1977.
3. Ralph Lauren is the official Wimbledon outfitter. All the Wimbledon officials, including ball girls and ball boys, will be kitted out in his designs.
4. The famous BBC TV Theme music is entitled Light and Tuneful and was written by Keith Mansfield.
5. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (to give Wimbledon its full, Sunday title) will host the Olympic Tennis events in 2012.
6. No Scot has ever won a singles title at Wimbledon…

London Rules the Airwaves This Week…

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row arts programme runs a piece this week on the reformation of one of the great London bands. Formed at the fabled Goldsmith’s College in the early 1990’s, the original members of Blur are back together again. The programme is on BBC R4 on Wednesday 24th at 7.15p.m.… BBC Radio 7, the home of classic comedy, is re-running the affectionate Westminster satire Yes Minister starting this Thursday (25th June) at 8.00am, 12.00 midday and 7.00pm… Set in both Scotland and London (with a dramatic scene in Jermyn Street, among other capital locations) John Buchan’s classic adventure The Thirty-Nine Steps is also on BBC Radio 7 this week, on Tuesday (23rd June) at 10.00am, 3.00pm and 3.00am.

* Our Strapline…

Our strapline this week – “Oh, I say!” – was the favoured verbal outburst of the legendary BBC tennis commentator, and 16-times British tennis champion Dan Maskell. Equally famed for his on-air bloopers in the high-pressure world of say-something-quick, LW Blog’s favourite example is, whilst commentating on a doubles match: "The Gullikson twins here. An interesting pair, both from Wisconsin."

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Blog Extra (or… Last Minute Fathers' Day Special)

Want to get off the beaten track? Here's Roger on his latest stretch of The Regent’s Canal - Islington to Mile End Walk

"Think all the streets look the same? Time to visit a different world - right here in London!

While motorists fume in traffic jams at Islington’s Upper Street traffic lights, boaters glide calmly underneath them, through Islington Canal Tunnel.

The Walk continues past the site of Gainsborough Studios, home to a substantial chunk of British film history (the Rank Organisation, the British wing of M.G.M made, among many others, The Wicked Lady here in 1945 [pictured]. Then on to a beautiful tree-lined mile, which also takes in one of London’s largest parks.

Sailing barges still cruise gracefully along the Thames; some were once built here, on the canal. And there’s the legend of a ghost!"

Ghost? You'll have to join Roger to find out all about it. The Regent’s Canal - Islington to Mile End Walk meets at Angel tube station this Sunday 21st June at 2.30 p.m.

(There more from Roger soon… keep abreast of his canal walks and other delights from the smorgasbord that is the "From the Rep" London Walks programme by signing up for updates to this blog [enter your email opposite], joining the Facebook group [see below] and bookmarking www.walks.com)

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Hanging Out on the Knightsbridge Beat

A few words from stalwart London Walks guide, Daily Constitutional Associate Editor and Knightsbridge cognoscente Richard III

A couple of Fridays ago whilst guiding the Knightsbridge Pubs London Walk, I was about to start talking when a woman in the group said, ‘I lived in this street in 1960.’

I asked her what it was like then and she said, ‘Really run down, it was all bedsits and B & Bs.’

I was thrilled because I was about to tell the group that the area was quite cheap in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties, and nobody believes me because it is so expensive and exclusive now: five minutes from Harrods, in a quiet road off the Brompton Road with views of the Oratory.

She then told me that she had lived in a bedsit at the top of No. 44, paying three guineas a week, (including breakfast). I was able to tell her that this was the same number where William Burroughs had lived, and from the basement, five years before she lived there, Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England, set out to find the man she would murder later that day. Where was this street? You'll have to come with me on Knightsbridge pubs to find out…

Richard III leads the Knightsbridge Pubs Walk on Friday 19th June 2009. Meet him at South Kensington Tube Station at 7.00p.m.


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.

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Blog Extra (or… das game's im Gange!)

Sherlock Holmes London Walk … auf Deutsch! Klicken Sie HIER (An article in Die Weld newspaper written by Manfred Schwartz who accompanied London Walks guide Adam on a Sherlock Holmes walk to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.)

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Blog Extra (or… They’re Ready for YOUR Close Up)

Our chums over at the blog Brit Fancy, a blog dedicated to all things Anglophilic, are currently running a photographic competition. The brief is simple. Send a photograph of something/somewhere in Britain that YOU have taken to britfancy@gmail.com (limit one entry per person). Give your picture a title (this will be used for voting for the winner). Write a short (1-5 sentences) description of the picture and why you think the picture best represents "Britishness" (whatever that means to you).

The prize? A pair of complimentary passes to a London Walk. Click HERE to view the blog and enter.

(Looking for photographic ideas? Why not scroll down to rummage around our own London Walks Blog archive for gems such as this…

– and while you’re at it. The Mothership – that’s www.walks.com – is dotted with inspirational London pics such as THIS ONE.

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Monday, 15 June 2009

How to Walk No. 3

The next in our occasional series… Do it in Private

Meet your guide at the designated station and get walking: what could be simpler? But if you want something a little more unique, you can book your own private tour with London Walks. For a birthday, an office outing or just a plain ol’ sight seeing trip, you can book one of the Award-Winning London Walks guides to be your very own for two hours.

The Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society did – as prep for their annual summer production. This year they’re staging a musical version of Jack the Ripper. Here’s Adam the London Walks guide showed them around the Whitechapel.

“Of all the groups I’ve gone around the East End with, The Abbots Langley G&S Society were one of the most memorable. To start with they were a lively bunch – to be expected from thesps, of course. But what was most unique was that the narrative of the tour had a reflection in the people walking it with me. Not only was Mary Kelly brought to life in the words and gory details of the London Walk, but there she was right in front of me in the person of the actress playing the part in the forthcoming ALG&S Society production. As was Sir Charles Warren, Katherine Eddowes and host of others.

In Mitre Square (a crucial location in the walk) it also emerged that one of the group was related to man who may have looked into the face of the killer himself. Brenda Sothorn, who organised the private tour, sent me the following account on behalf of ALG&S Society member Joseph Lawende, whose great-grandfather crops up in the records of the case:

‘On Sunday morning, 30 September, 1888, at a little past 1.30am three men left the Imperial Club on Duke Place in the City. The trio comprised furniture dealer Harry Harris, butcher Joseph Hyam Levy and commercial traveller Joseph Lawende. As they exited the club, the three noticed a couple standing by the entrance to Church Passage. Harris was made uncomfortable by their presence and Levy gave them scant attention, but Lawende took one brief, though good, look at them as he passed. And, as the three men walked away into the night, little did they realize they were soon to enter a place of prominence in JtR lore.

No more than 10 minutes after the three men left the Imperial Club the badly mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes was discovered in nearby Mitre Square. It is widely believed that the couple was actually Eddowes and Jack and that the men who left the club, especially Lawende, had a real look at the face of the Whitechapel murderer.

Joseph remained a happily married cigarette salesman in relative obscurity until the fateful morning at the end of September 1888. Following the discovery of Eddowes' body, the City Police conducted house-to-house inquiries and received a report of a couple that Lawende, Levy and Harris saw. Of the three, Harris said he saw nothing worth repeating, Levy opined the man was about three inches taller than the woman, but Lawende admitted to getting a look, however transitory, of the man’s face. His description of the man, in a memorandum from Chief Inspector Donald Swanson in Home Office records, was: ‘Age 30 ht. 5 ft. 7 or 8 in. comp. fair, fair moustache, medium build, dress pepper & salt colour loose jacket, grey cloth cap with peak of same colour, reddish handkerchief tied in a knot, round neck, appearance of a sailor.’ But, even that identification is in doubt because Lawende was only able to identify Eddowes by her clothes. Moreover, Lawende maintained at the time of his initial interview and throughout his inquest testimony that he would not be able to identify the man he saw with the woman out-side Church Passage. Nonetheless, the police continued to press him for an identification and many in the field believe that Lawende was the witness taken to the ‘Seaside Home’ to view a suspect.’

A memorable walk indeed.

The Abbot’s Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society is staging its own memorable nights from the 16th – 20th June in the shape of their production of Jack the Ripper (see poster above). Call the box office on 01923 676120.”

To book your own private London Walk get in touch with Mary or Fiona or Noel at www.walks.com for full details.

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Friday, 12 June 2009

Extra Blog Extra!

(Because there's only really ONE city that never sleeps, Mister Sinatra: London. News just in…)

David’s Fitzrovia Pub Walk on Saturday night (7.15 pm, June 13th, Goodge Street Tube) gets you to a spot that brings together Karl Marx, Jack the Ripper, and the heir to the throne. Heady enough stuff for you?

Join the London Walks Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com