Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The #London #Christmas Shopping Guide 2017: West End Lane Books @WELBooks in #WestHampstead #NW6

It's back! The Daily Constitutional's annual London Christmas Shopping Guide kicks off with a trip to West Hampstead…

DC Editor Adam writes…

Exciting times ahead for stationery junkies. (Although, tbh, all times are exciting if you're a stationery junkie.)

First there was the good news that "journalist" and TV "personality" Piers Morgan has pledged never to shop at Paperchase again. He's in the huff with them. For a grown man I spend an indecent amount of time in Paperchase and I was in constant dread of running in to the phone-hacking old, er, hack. One less thing to worry about, there. Hurrah!

Better news: word reaches The DC that the great West End Lane Books is hosting a Personalised Moleskine Day on December 8th. Any Moleskine product – diaries, notebooks, sketchpads – purchased that day can have the name of your choice hewn into to cover.

Best. Christmas. Present. EVER.

Plenty seasonal goings-on at West End Lane Books

While you're waiting for your Moleskine book to be engraved, do make enquiries about my two favourite children's books of the year so far…

The fourth instalment of Chris Riddell's Goth Girl series - Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony – came out this year.

The books, written and exquisitely illustrated by former Children's Laureate and Observer political cartoonist Riddell, follow the spooky adventures of young Ada Goth. Ada is the only daughter of Lord Goth and they live in the Gothic sprawl of Ghastly Gorm Hall.

In this instalment, Lord Goth is throwing a music festival, with performances from the finest composers in the land. Ada can't wait, but it's quite distracting when her grandmother is trying to find her father a fashionable new wife, there's a faun living in her wardrobe and sinister Maltravers is up to his old tricks. Ada must make sure everything goes to plan, and luckily help is at hand from a very interesting house guest . . .

As usual it's a rip-roaring adventure laced with a ton-and-a-half of gloriously daft gags.

Tip: Don't wait for the paperback. Get the hardback. It's sumptuous


The Forbes review for Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls states that it is "A must-have for the night stand of every girl or young woman you know."

I'd add… it's a must-read for everyone.

Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls is written and compiled by Elena Favilli and Francesco Cavallo. Their project is the most-funded original book in the history of crowdfunding, which tells us something about the lack of books featuring powerful role models for girls. Clearly, the people wanted this book. And it was worth the wait.

The idea is simple: take 100 women who have changed the world, present their inspirational stories simply and illustrate each with a memorable image.

The scope is broad. Malala Yousafzai is here, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks and Joan Jett, too. A little further off the beaten path of the standard English school curriculum we find astrophysicist Margherita Hack and Colombian spy and revolutionary Policarpa Salavarrieta.

It's inspirational stuff, and boldly presented. So bold, indeed, that I'm willing to bet that the recipient of this book will always remember the person who gifted it to them. It's already a landmark event in my own daughter's reading life. Ditch the Disney princesses this Christmas and make it a landmark in the reading journey of your daughter/granddaughter/neice/Goddaughter, too.

Books for ALL ages at West End Lane Books. Here's the map… 


Christmas 2017 With London Walks…

On Christmas Day there are TWO London Walks: 

Walk up an appetite with The Christmas Morning 1660 Walk – meet at 11:00a.m by the big tree in Trafalgar Square

Walk off the pudding with The Christmas Day Charles Dickens Walk – meet by the big tree in Trafalgar Square at 2:00pm

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

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Reading & Listening Prep for the Next Guided 5K Run with @hallett_g #Fitness #LondonRuns

DC Editor Adam writes…

Andy's off and running again!

My guiding & podcasting colleague Andy Hallett embarks upon the next in his season of guided 5k runs this week – meet him at Hyde Park Corner tube (Exit 1) Thursday 7th December at 6.45pm for a fascinating guided run (there he is in the pic above with some of his runners from last season).

Personal recommendation here: this one is a cracker, I joined in on the "dress rehearsal" earlier this year. Here's a picture of Andy laughing at how unfit I am…

For my part in the preparations, I've been rummaging in the Daily Constitutional library for London-related sports books to get you in the mood. I've been reminded of one of my all-time favourite London reads.

Janie Hampton’s wonderful book on the 1948 Olympics tells the tale of London’s second hosting of the Games.

For those of you stifling a yawn at this point, perhaps anticipating lists and times and heights and team sheets and medal tables, well think again. 

Hampton’s narrative is just that: a narrative, a tale well told, mercifully free from dry match facts and mere sports reporting.

Instead, Hampton treats us to the stories of the people who made the Games: the posh rower who thought his official Olympic blazer to be of such poor quality that it must have been “cut with a spoon”; then there's the athlete who found her blazer so smart that she wore it to her sister’s wedding. 

There are tales of the American and Canadian teams sharing their ample rations with the deprived European teams – and of the French captain complaining strenuously about the British food!

In the aftermath of war, as London and the world was being rebuilt, every corner was cut, every penny pinched. Teams were put up not in a swish Olympic Village, but in schools and army barracks. One official even expected the cycling competitors to be able to ride their own bikes to Herne Hill for the races!

The Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen remains the heroine of the ‘48 Games, winning four gold medals on the track. Despite the fact that she beat British girls into silver position to take three of those golds, the London crowds took her to their hearts. And her journey is here too – from Nazi occupied Holland to the Hunger Winter of ’44 to the winners’ podium at Wembley.

But it is the unsung heroes who make the story such a delight. The overall tale that emerges is humane and moving, nuanced and rich, truly Olympian. Left to a sports reporter, there’s every chance this book would have garnered as many gold medals as the British track and field competitors in 1948 – none at all. In the hands of Janie Hampton, it’s a story as garlanded as the great Fanny Blankers-Koen herself.

Join Andy at 6.45pm this Thursday 7th December at Hyde Park Corner tube (exit 1) for a 5K guided run.

Keep up with all the 5K Guided Run News (including route maps) at

If you'd like to hear us road-testing the guided runs, listen to this episode of the London Walks Podcast…

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

Monday, 20 November 2017

In & Around #London… Forgotten Boroughs

The Monday Photoblog!

Monday is mute on The Daily Constitutional (well, almost mute) – because Monday is the day when we post five images captured in and around London by London Walks Guides and London Walkers.

Collated on a theme or an area, if you've got some great shots of our capital and want to join in send your pictures to the usual address.

They are the relics of London street signage with the names of our forgotten boroughs. Some abolished and gone forever – Holborn and Hampstead are now in Camden with Finsbury being part of Islington. Some kept their names in mergers with the neighbours - Chelsea with Kensington and Hammersmith with Fulham. All pre-date 1965. Keep an eye out for them…

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

Friday, 17 November 2017

Friday Is Rock'n'Roll London Day: All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle @londonbeatles

Friday is Rock'n'Roll London Day! Join the Rock'n'Roll London walk this (and every Friday) afternoon at 2:00p.m meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station

Adam writes… 

Richard P is leading the Rock'n'Roll London Walk today at 2pm. Don't forget to ask him about his forthcoming Beatles Christmas Walk.

Back in '63, the actress Dora Bryan released a novelty Christmas single entitled All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle…

A Google search for The Beatles recording of All I Want For Christmas Is Dora Bryan sadly drew a blank.

In the same year the band recorded a special Christmas message on flexi disc for members of the Beatles Fan Club… 

Here's the trailer for THIS AFTERNOON'S Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station (exit 1).

And here's the trailer for the London Walks Beatle tours…

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