Outside in all weathers, the London Walks guides know a thing or two about battling the cold weather.
In this short series we're sharing our winter weather tips with our lovely London Walkers, a hardy bunch who join us rain or sleet in the winter months.
Here's London Walks' pen & Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker…
Common sense and knowing what you’re doing. It’s called savvy and experience.
If it’s perishing I pull a couple of rabbits out of the hat – i.e., make some route adjustments so I can work some interiors into the weave. In-out-of-the-cold-warm-up stops. Been doing this long enough that I can call in some favours – friends with premises on or near the route that will let us – "let us?”, welcome us – stop in, stop by for a few minutes.
And you make “timing adjustments” – e.g. break a four-minute stop into two two-minute stops. Keep people moving, don’t have them standing there turning into blocks of ice.
And having enough sense to to position your groups so they’ve got some protection from the wind.
And getting them to huddle in closer together.
On walks where there’s already an inside stop – my Kensington walk, for example – extend the stay in there. Sit them down – I always put them right by the heater – and give them there, inside, where they’re seated, warm comfortable, some of the info that normally is imparted outside. “You can hear about it in here and then we’ll go outside and you can see it. A briefer 'look stop' rather than a longer 'look and listen stop’.”
There’s also “the psychology factor.” “We’re not just heading toward the end of this London Walk – we’re heading toward a really toasty coffee bar that does the best hot chocolate (or cappuccino) in this part of London – that’s going to be right there for us when we finish the walk.”
Finally – well, not quite finally – I don’t feel the cold all that much. I grew up in Wisconsin so London winters feel balmy to me. So I get someone who’s blue with cold – and just plain badly dressed for the occasion (how’s that old Estonian saying put it, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing” – off comes the thick, six-foot long scarf and it goes onto (‘here, wrap yourself up with this”) the bluest of the blue with cold; ditto the big furry mitts (hey, I’ve got pockets, I’ve got Wisconsin anti-freeze, and I’ve got the adrenalin flow of being the guide – the warmth of the attention).
Finally, finally – head gear: caps, hats, bugle boy ear muffs, etc. Super important. The most important bit of kit of all. I could top to the north a Life Guards regiment with my collection. My favourite one of all I got in a luxury milliner’s in Brussels. Deerskin with woollen lining. Cost an arm and a leg and is worth two arms and a leg. I’ve often thought – this is the only “possession” about which I’ve ever entertained a thought like this – “if I ever lose this hat I’m on the next train to Brussels to get another one.” Their other “lines” they buy in – the deerskin, wool-lined jobs they make there in their workshop at the back of their shop. And it’s soft. And it’s beautiful. Tops out.
And here's David guiding in Kensington…
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.