Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Walk It Off!

DC Editor Adam writes…

I'm up on my hind legs and leading THREE London Walks tours tomorrow (Thursday 27th December 2018). here are the details, booking links and step-counts for all three tours…

Inside Covent Garden

Meet at Covent Garden Tube 10.00a.m

The West End revealed - looking beyond the shops and chain cafés to the rich history of London's playground. Where possible, we'll take in a few interiors, too.

Tour ends in Trafalgar Square

Old Westminster

Meet at Westminster tube (exit 4) 2:00p.m

1,000 years of history. Famous Westminster blended with a treasure trove of "backstage" details.

Tour ends at Westminster tube.

Jack the Ripper

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.

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Monday, 24 December 2018

My Last Tour Before Christmas!

DC Editor Adam writes…

It's a tough time of year trying to pack everything in to a tight schedule – which means that those of you joining me on the Hidden London tour with London Walks this morning at 11a.m will also be joining me as I finish the Christmas shopping! We'll be calling in on Porterford butchers just off historic Bow Lane in the City while I pick up the turkey…

Porterford Butcher

I blog about Porterford every year - my favourite butcher shop in London.

I'm blogging this on Christmas Eve 2018 this before shooting out to lead the Hidden London tour at 11a.m. And I'm looking forward to calling in or Porterford on the route of today's tour. It's often like a party in there, the guys are always cheery and helpful. When they shut the door tonight for Christmas, they can do so safe in the knowledge that they've put in a helluva shift.

A couple of years ago my daughter joined me in picking up the turkey for the first time, and as we left, she said, "It's really Chrsitmassy in there, they're really really nice!"

High praise given that Isobella is (cover your ears, Porterfords) a vegetarian!

I'm prepared to wager that had the born-again Ebenezer Scrooge been aware of Porterford, then he would have despatched his boy here for Bob Cratchit’s Christmas turkey.

The knowledgeable Porterford chaps are old school, very keen to tell you all about their wares, give you cooking tips and suggestions and fill you in on the origins of their goods.

They also do excellent takeaway food at lunchtime all the year round.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Porterford Butcher, 72 Watling Street, London EC4

Join me on the Hidden London tour at 11am today. Meet at Monument tube Fish Street Hill exit.

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Sunday, 23 December 2018

Book A Last Minute Tour As A Christmas Gift

Left it to the very last minute to buy a gift?

Book a private London Walks tour with Adam Scott-Goulding.


Bookable for groups up to 20 people – your tour could cost as little as £7.50 per person!

Choose from…

The London Music Tour
The history of pop and rock in London - meeting point Tottenham Court Road tube

London Horror Story
Ghosts, execution, murder & mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history – meet at St Paul's tube

Somewhere Else London
Lambeth & The South Bank – meeting point Embankment tube

London's royal village –  meeting point High Street Kensington tube

The Cartoon & Comic Book Tour
From Gillray to Spiderman – satire & superheroes in the West End. Meeting point Westminster tube (exit 4)

A Village In Piccadilly
The best way to see London's Christmas lights – meeting point Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros)

Seven Dials
The Dark Side of Covent Garden –  meeting point Tottenham Court Road tube

Jack the Ripper
The Whitechapel Murders of 1888 - meeting point Tower Hill Tube by the tram

"Adam is an amazing guide and incredible storyteller… 
you cannot hope to get a better guide *****"
rh24 Ithaca, NY TripAdvisor

Book your private, last minute tour…

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Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas Music… Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade

DC Editor Adam writes…

At this time of year, with Christmas themed tunes blasting out at us from every turn, it's difficult not to lose patience (!) with the whole idea of seasonal music.

This year I'm aiming to stop and have not only a good listen, but also a look at the history of our favourite Christmas music, keeping a particular eye on London connections. I hope you enjoy this series and that it might help a little bit when you are cracking-up while doing the Christmas shopping on Oxford Street…

This afternoon on The London Music Tour (2pm Tottenham Court Road tube), the name Chas Chandler will pop up more than once.

Chas was bass player in The Animals, anchoring The House of the Rising Sun with a glorious, doom-laden plod. Then as a manager, he launched the career of Jimi Hendrix in the UK.

Chandler was also the manager of Slade, the biggest British act of the 70s in terms of sales with a whopping great SIX number one singles in this country.

Although they never fared particularly well in the US, Slade still occupy a place of great affection and esteem in the hearts of British music fans.

Their 1973 hit Merry Christmas Everybody is part of the fabric of Christmas in this country. Here it is…

It is played every year. On heavy rotation. Incessantly, some might say. To the extent that this jaded adult, your correspondent, hasn't actually listened to the song properly, really listened to it for what must be going on for 30 years now.

Until this three years ago.

One Wednesday morning, my (then) eight-year-old daughter Isobella was getting dressed for school. My wife had tuned the radio to Smooth Christmas FM and I was frankly a bit grumpy about it – I prefer BBC6 Music.

Inevitably the unmistakable descending scale of Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody came galumphing forth like a geek in a bad jumper pissed on cider at the Christmas party, wielding mistletoe and halitosis.

Twenty years ago, my heart would have dropped into my boots and the sound of this biggest of all Christmas clichés would have made me cross in the extreme.

That Wednesday I barely registered it. It is such a part of the Christmas landscape that acknowledging it would be akin to gasping in shock every time one saw a decorated tree in the month of December.

By the second note of the intro, however, for the first time in decades, I sat up and listened. Not because of the music, but because of my daughter's reaction. By the second note she shouted, with glee…


(I can honestly say, hand-on-heart, that I cannot remember anyone EVER saying that about Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade.)


(I realised I hadn't even LISTENED to it in DECADES.)


That was the moment when I realised… I had become a musical Ebeneezer Scrooge.

So I listened. REALLY listened. And as my daughter sang along, I really HEARD…

The expectancy in the opening line – are you hanging up your stocking on the wall? To be eight-years-old that lyric must burst like fireworks in your heart.

The suggestion that Santa Claus might be a bit annoyed to have to stay off the booze for the day and does 100mph on his sleigh (a "ton-up" in biker parlance) – good gags, daft, affectionate.

The verse I had forgotten…

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you've got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell you
That the old songs are the best?
Then she's up and rock 'n' rolling with the rest

… a domestic scene to rival the Cratchits and nothing less! The "room to spare" – the house will be packed on Christmas Day and someone will end up sitting on a makeshift chair but love will make space for everyone.

Once again I felt like Ebeneezer Scrooge, only this time I was throwing open the windows on Christmas morning and seeing – and hearing –  the day for the first time.

"Boy?! What song is that boy?!"

"Why, it's Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade, of course sir!"

"Most excellent boy! Run down to Reckless Records in Soho and fetch me the box set of Christmas Hits featuring Slade."

"The box set? The one as big as me?"

"Marvellous boy! If you run, there's an iTunes voucher in it for you!"

And then the closing line… "Look to the future now, it's only just begun," grins singer and writer Noddy Holder. And is that a Picardy third as he sings it? A chord full of hope, free of cynicism a pagan prayer for light in the bleak midwinter?

Like Scrooge, drunk on glee on that first Christmas Day of the rest of his life, I listened to Slade and resolved henceforth to keep Christmas music not just in my heart, but in my ears too.

Thanks to my Christmas spirits for showing the way… Isobella, Chas Chandler, Slade - Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill & Don Powell. And, of course, apologies to C. Dickens, not only for purloining his great Christmas Carol, but also because, for the first time ever, his beloved Christmas book has slipped to number two in my personal Christmas hit parade. I now realise that Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade is a more important British cultural Christmas artefact by far. AND you can dance to it.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

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Thursday, 20 December 2018

Happy Christmas! Shop Local!

DC Editor Adam writes…

Every year on The DC I enjoy sharing posts about Christmas shopping in London. Today I'm turning toward the domestic as the big day approaches. Food, glorious food from Tony's Continental N2

By this weekend, I'll have two major Christmas errands left to run. On Monday I'll be heading off to Porterford the butcher in Bow Lane to pick up our turkey (more of that in a later post – in fact, those of you who join my Hidden London tour on Christmas Eve will be coming with me!). And on Saturday, I'll be buying the veg for the Christmas dinner at the finest little greengrocer in all the land.

The guys at Tony's have been providing East Finchleyites with their five-a-day since 1971. By my rough reckoning that's 100,000 portions per Finchleyite over five decades. Not bad, eh?

They also do great work supporting the local community and local schools.

It's not only the quality of the goods at Tony's – organic fruit and veg and wide a range of Mediterranean treats. It's the quality of the company, too. Off the top of my head, here's a quick list of just some of the topics of conversation I've enjoyed with the guys at Tony's down through the years…

Tottenham Hotspur


Women's Magazines

Teenagers and Their Wily Ways

Tottenham Hotspur

The Kray Twins

Primary Schools

Vinyl Records

Tottenham Hotspur

The 17th Century Gibbet on Finchley Common

The Best Places To Eat In Cyprus

The Health Benefits of Running

Tottenham Hotspur

You just don't get that in big, stinky old Sainsbury's Local ("local" my arse).

(Okay, they chat about Tottenham Hotspur quite a lot, but it should be pointed out that Arsenal fans are made to feel as welcome as everyone else. Tony's Continental is a most ecumenical establishment!)

I would like to go so far as to say that Tony's is such a great greengrocer that their Brussels Sprouts are the only ones that kids will eat, often asking for second helpings… but as you can see…

… not even Tony's can achieve THAT feat.

I'll close with a song… in 1968 local boys The Kinks gave us The Village Green Preservation Society, which features the line "God Save Little Shops!" Hear hear! Enjoy the song, happy Christmas and Support Your Local Shops!

Find Tony's here…

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

More London Christmas Shopping… Books, Toys & Booze

DC Editor Adam writes…

Three more London Christmas shopping recommendations…

Pollocks Toy Museum

Pollock's Toy Museum (it's a little shop, too) is a joy at any time of year. But at Christmas, it really comes into its own.

Benjamin Pollock was the last of the Victorian Toy Theatre printers and this famous London institution takes its name from him. Originally at Monmouth Street, Pollock’s has been at Scala Street W1 since 1969.

Dolls, toy theatres, board games, teddy bears, the shop is a cornucopia of traditional toys.

The museum itself is an eccentric delight with six rooms and three staircases (!) packed with historic toys and games.

If you've forgotten how to keep Christmas in your heart, get along to Pollock's.

Pollock’s Toy Museum
1 Scala Street
London W1T 2HL

Gerry's, Old Compton Street, Soho

If it's to be a bottle for a Christmas gift, or even for your own celebrations, Gerry's is the only place you need. Our every smallest dipsomaniacal wish is Gerry’s desire. From Framboise to Angostura Bitters to beers of distinction, to the Rolling Stones’ own label wine (!), Gerry’s has it all. The principle at work here is the same as that behind any great bar: expertise. Just as you will never catch out a great barkeep with any request, so too at Gerry’s you’ll find everything you need to make your party go with a swing.

And they are modest with it. Their website claims “at Gerry’s you can buy ALMOST every drink under the sun!”

Old Compton Street


Marchpane at 16 Cecil Court WC2 is no ordinary children’s bookshop. It specialises in secondhand first and collectible editions. What better gift than a first edition of a loved one’s favourite book from childhood? What better way to introduce a child to that favourite book than with a colourful classic edition?

The proprietor also has a wonderful weakness for punk rock, which results in the odd copy of the rare punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue nestling in amongst the Winnie The Pooh’s. Bargains are to be found on the outside table, everything from old copies of Living London magazine to lobby cards from famous movies. And where else can you pose the question, “How much is that Dalek in the window?” Yes, a real Dalek. Sadly, it’s not for sale, but it adds to the unique atmosphere of this great bookshop.


Find Cecil Court here…

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