Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Daily Constitutional Editor's Diary 2017 December: Snow, Sgt Bilko, Talking Turkey & Big Ben Returns

At the end of 2017, The Daily Constitutional's editor Adam looks back at his walking & blogging London year…




The last post!

In December 2017 we finally had some proper snow here in London. First time in five years!





In November's entry (catch up with that post HERE) I mentioned the Carry On movie Carry On Up the Khyber. Well in early December my Kensington walk was made up entirely of Americans. The Carry On movies are practically unheard of in the US (unless you count the current narrative in the White House, of course) and so my enjoyable task was trying to explain what they were all about when we passed this plaque…



(My task was made a little easier by this fella…



… Phil Silvers and his starring role in 1967's Carry On Follow That Camel.)


My annual trip to Porterford Butcher in The City took place on a particularly busy day…





Always worth the trip. Great butcher, good banter from the guys who work there. A London classic.


Over at Winter Wonderland the Euro Coaster was one of the big attractions. Will we still be allowed to ride it next Christmas?





On Christmas Eve I set off to Westminster Cathedral and on the way I captured some missing music.

The chimes of Big Ben have fallen silent due to building works (set to take four years) but over the festive season, when the construction workers were not at risk, the bells sounded out once more. For those of you who have missed them, here they are…



And finally… thanks to London Walker Mike Gessner from California for catching my good side in this photo on the Somewhere Else London tour on Boxing Day…

  



Thanks to everyone for reading The Daily Constitutional in 2017. Next year is our 10th anniversary – which ties-in rather nicely with the 50th anniversary celebrations of London Walks! I'll be sharing all the news of events and special offers here.

I'm off to get ready now to end the year exactly as I started it – by leading The Unknown East End tour for my colleague Harry Jackson who's off to the People's Republic of Liverpool (a beloved city – catch up with my Liverpool blog HERE).

See you out there in 2018 - best wishes for the Hogmanay celebrations, peace and love for 2018.

A.S-G
London
31st December 2017





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.



The Daily Constitutional Editor's Diary 2017 November: Denmark Street, A New #BookTube Vlog & The Scariest Loo In London

At the end of 2017, The Daily Constitutional's editor Adam looks back at his walking & blogging London year…




It was with genuine sadness that I bid farewell to the Alley Cat Bar in Denmark Street in November. Consolidated Developments finally closed the place down.






I've had some of my BEST nights as a London Walks guide down there - it's the bar where we stopped on the Wednesday Rock'n'Roll London tour. 




I played there on the day that Fats Domino died and paid my own small tribute by covering his Walking to New Orleans. The recording is below.


Listen out for my favourite bit: a couple of people in the audience gasp audibly as I relate the news of the Fat Man's passing. This tour always attracts dedicated music fans…




(Note: in the heat of the moment I said onstage that only Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were left alive from that pioneer generation. Very remiss of me, of course, to forget one of my greatest heroes Don Everly.)


At the Alley Cat, the Walkers would make the most of Max's Happy Hour prices while I would take to the stage to perform a set of songs relating to the tour.




Sincere thanks to marathon London Walker Michael Innes for the following message when news of the closure came through…


Oh no! One of my favorite walks! Who could not love interesting music history, beer, and listening to your guide play some rock and roll on the guitar he's been lugging all around town? Hope you find a good replacement bar, Adam! Wish I could go on the last walk to the Alley Cat, but I'm currently in Chicago...



Thanks also to my London Walks pals David, Shaughan & Richard Walker who all tagged along on the tour.


On my last night there Max was playing Carry On Up the Khyber on the big screen. I guess it was his version of the band playing-on while the Titanic went down. It made for a most unusual backdrop for the set…





Plans are afoot to find a new venue for 2018 - the Wednesday night Rock'n'Roll London Walk will return in April…





You can keep up with The Rock'n'Roll London Walk on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rocknrolllondonwalk


November also saw the launch of My Back Pages, my music book vlog. The question I'm asked most often on the Rock'n'Roll London Walk is: "Can you recommend a good music book?"


This is the jumping off point for My Back Pages. Here's Episode 1…





Episode 2 is HERE, with Episode 3 HERE.


Also in November I found the scariest, most sinister loo in London. Be afraid…







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.



The Daily Constitutional Editor's Diary 2017 October: Halloween, Zombies @Posh_Dinosaur, Red Sun & Cough Sweets

At the end of 2017, The Daily Constitutional's editor Adam looks back at his walking & blogging London year…




I used to have to keep it to myself. Halloween, that is. I was always a big fan. But a little bit embarrassed. It seemed a little, you know… daft, somehow.

Then I started leading tours for London Walks. Including Ghost tours. So then Halloween became a professional matter.

Then I became a dad to a daughter who turned out to be a little bit of a Goth on the quiet. She loved Halloween.

Now there's no stopping me. My daughter is 10 now and her interest in Halloween is beginning to wane a little.

Don't care. It's too late now. The genie is out of the bottle.

Mary and David at London Walks are most indulgent of my Halloween shenanigans on The Daily Constitutional. They let October pass without comment.

Not me. I bloody LOVE Halloween, me.

As a consequence, this diary round-up for October will be pretty Halloween-heavy…





In October I had a lot of fun making promo clips for the Ghosts of the Old City Walk. Here are my two favourites… 









Way back in July (see earlier post) I filmed a Halloween short at the Lyceum with the cast of The Lion King. Here's the result… 








Scary movies occupied quite a bit of my blogging and podcasting time in October. Funny ones, too. London Walker and friend of The Daily Constitutional Darren Ruston starred in a very funny and provoking documentary spoof about recovering Zombies entitled Already Dead. Here's the trailer…






Horror movies were on my mind for the annual London Walks Podcast Halloween Special…






The day before Halloween I went for a prowl around London's most dramatic cemetery, Abney Park in Stoke Newington…




Catch-up with the full photoblog HERE.


And my award for most horrid Halloween window display went to BBC3 Hair Studio in Highgate…




Gruesome horrors of a different kind were on display in October with the political party conference season here in the UK. Showbusiness for ugly people. Famously, the Prime Minister was barely able to speak because of a bad coughing fit during her big speech. One of her front bench colleagues handed her a cough sweet. I wonder if Brutus had a packet of menthol lozenges in his non-dagger hand when he helped to coax Caesar out of politics…  








Also in October, we had some pretty dramatic skies here in London. Did you catch the red sun? A side effect of Hurricane Ophelia, with tropical air dragging in dust from the Sahara (according to the BBC) created this red sun over Jermyn Street around 5pm on the 16th October, just after my Village In Piccadilly walk…



Earlier in the walk, the sky above Jermyn Street turned an orange-tinted sepia…



…with the light inside Wren's St James's Church throwing some eerie shadows…


As dusk approached, some more strange effects were created as I headed eastward to lead a tour at Tower Hill. With the sun getting "under" the clouds before dipping below the buildings, the Thames took light as the eastern sky looked angry with a rain that didn't arrive…




… before going out in a blaze of glory…









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.



Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Daily Constitutional Editor's Diary 2017 August: A Tour of Tours! Paul Beesley in Liverpool, #MercatTours Edinburgh & Spooky Whitby

At the end of 2017, The Daily Constitutional's editor Adam looks back at his walking & blogging London year…





In August I spent a lot of time out of town. Doing what? Going on guided tours, of course!


It all started with a Busman's Holiday.

On an actual bus… 




At the start of August I visited Liverpool with my 10 year-old-daughter Isobella (above) and we soaked up the music culture of that great Northern seaport – including the Magical Mystery Tour with guide Paul Beesley and driver Vinny.


I've visited Liverpool on several occasions as a Beatles fan, but had never managed to fit The Magical Mystery Tour into my trip - I finally got around to it on this visit and I'm glad I did.


We joined the tour down at Albert Dock. (Tip: DO book in advance as it was completely sold out.)

Our guide was Paul (not THE Paul!) and our driver was Vinny and they took us around ALL the major Beatle sites – family homes, old schools and haunts, Penny Lane & Strawberry Fields and more.


Regular Daily Constitutionalists and London Walkers who have joined my Rock'n'Roll & Beatles tours will already know, I am a huge Beatles fan (I even managed to squeeze a mention of The Fabs into my Kensington tour yesterday!) and Paul's knowledge was impeccable and wonderfully presented. He treated the subject with seriousness but enlivened the proceedings with plenty of cracking good jokes. I also loved that he threw in some great Liverpool history, too, absolutely fascinating stuff.

The tour ends very near the remodelled Cavern Club in Mathew Street.

A great guide and a very friendly fella (as was driver Vinny), Paul gave us just the sort of warm welcome that makes a holiday memorable. Well done guys! 

If you are lucky enough to get Paul as your guide, your trip really will be magical too.



Heading to Liverpool? Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour - visit the website here: www.cavernclub.org/the-magical-mystery-tour/


You can keep up with expert Liverpool guide Paul Beesley on Twitter – follow him here: twitter.com/bluebadgeguide


Next stop Whitby in Yorkshire for some good, old-fashioned storytelling.

Whitby is famed as the place where Count Dracula enters this country in Bram Stoker's famous novel. The ruined Abbey is suitably spooky and it's a popular destination for Goths and Dracula fans from all over the world.

Our walking tour was proper old school - no website, no booking, no Twitter, no nothing. Just turn up by the sign in the market square and away we go… 



Our guide appeared as if from nowhere and with no formal introduction he whisked us away on a spooky, family-friendly and totally unforgettable trip around the hidden alleyways of Whitby…




Ghosts, Dracula, history and PLENTY of gory bits. No frills, just great story telling and a warm Yorkshire welcome.

I can also recommend the chocolate coffins from Justin's sweetie shop near the market square…




Next stop… Edinburgh!



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 cash money. 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. This is nothing less than 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 companions 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 some 25 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





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.