Saturday, 20 January 2018

From the Archive… Edward R. Murrow

DC Editor Adam writes…

Rooting around in the DC archive, I noticed that six years ago today we were blogging about legendary American broadcaster Edward R Murrow and his blue plaque.

Here's the post from the archive…

Edward R. Murrow (1908 – 1965), the American broadcast journalist who worked at CBS for his entire career, moved to London in 1937 to head up the network’s European operations.

During the war he reported on air from Blitz-beleaguered London. He is famed in both broadcasting circles and the folklore of World War Two for his famous intro and sign off.

His broadcasts always began with the words “This… is London” – always with a slight, but dramatic pause after the word “This”.

There were few places more dramatic than London in 1940.

His sign off is equally famous: “Good night. And good luck.”

Murrow’s ear had been caught with the oft-repeated simple phrase “good luck”, which was appended to many a conversation at the height of The Blitz – a time when Londoners knew not what the night would bring, or indeed if that would ever usher in a morning. Even Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) had used it in a radio broadcast (“good night and good luck to you all”). Murrow incorporated it as an off the cuff ad-lib in 1940 and a catchphrase was born.

Find his plaque here…

And here's his most famous London broadcast, from the steps of St Martin in the Fields as the bombs fall on London…

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, 19 January 2018

Friday Is Rock'n'Roll London Day: The #BookTube #Vlog From @AdamScottG - My Back Pages

Friday is Rock'n'Roll London Day on The Daily Constitutional!

The Rock'n'Roll London Walk meets at Tottenham Court Road Station every Friday at 2pm.

DC Editor Adam writes…

The question I am asked more than any other on my music tours is always "Can you recommend a good music book?"

Inspired by this question, I've launched a book review vlog to tie in with my tours.

It's called My Back Pages (from the Dylan song of the same name) and I'm three episodes in. Here's the story so far…

Rock'n'Roll London Walk meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station (exit 1) every Friday all year round. You can follow the Rock'n'Roll London Walk on Facebook –

Here's the trailer…

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

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Part 6: Counting Steps For #Fitness - The Downside Of Fitness Apps #Walking #StepCount

DC Editor Adam writes…

Welcome to Part Six of my Step Counter Road-Testing series.

Today I'm pausing to look at the down-side of the fitness app business…


In the previous post of this series – click here to catch up – I described a fitness app as Orwellian.

Pretty strong stuff for an easy-going blog having a bit of fun testing out step counter apps.

But my experience with the Human app was a real eye-opener and I thought it only decent to look at the downside of the fitness apps. This is a series about road testing every aspect of their performance, after all.

What was it about the Human app that made me sit up and question the whole business? The answer is that its great strengths were its own undoing.

The Human app started to make me feel a little uneasy because it mapped – in a beautifully well-designed and accessible way – all my movements. It then stored and presented those movements - again, in a beautifully well-designed and accessible way. Anyone stealing or hacking your device has a literal map to your door PLUS a timetable of the hours when you are most commonly away from home

Aye, there's the rub.

Tip 1. 

When using fitness apps, be careful with the data you store in your phone. It may not be as obvious as keeping your bank pin number or Amazon password secret. But if your movements follow the same pattern over the course of a working week, do you really want to share this info in a graphic way, telling the whole world when you're out-and-about?


Having said that, the app was huge fun. (As I also stated in the last post, I'm canon fodder for this sort of stuff, a bit of a techy geek.)

And because I found it such fun, I was checking it all the time. And I mean… All. The. Time.

Downside number 2: Addiction.

I found the Human app to be some seriously addictive tech. And thus, counter-productive. I used it for a week and when I wasn't checking it, I was showing it to anyone who would look.

I assume in my case the novelty would have worn-off eventually, but I have to wonder… how much time would I have WASTED before it did?

Tip 2

It's good that you've looked into getting a fitness app because it suggests you are at least curious about getting or being healthy. But don't replace one unhealthy habit (i.e. not exercising) with another (walking along looking at your phone).


The point about novelty could be a in your favour, here. Usually, I would cite a short attention span as a bad thing. In this case, however, growing bored with a fitness app could work well for you…

App developers are not going to want to hear this, but I've got a feeling they already know. The novelty of a new fitness app is a great motivator. I have found that, every time I tried a new app I got a new lift of enthusiasm for my fitness regime.

But do you really want to keep downloading and spending on new apps?

• Tip 3

Shop around. KNOW what you want before buying the app. Do you want a full day score for your movements? Or do you want to just measure short bursts or workouts?


As is often the case in the field of pop health, opinions vary on the actual benefits of step counters and health apps.

Try this from an article in The Daily Telegraph:

Researchers at Stanford University have found that using a pedometer can lead to significant increases in physical activity and weight loss, and improvements in blood pressure.

Versus this from The Independent:

Fitness apps might be doing more harm than good because they don't work but force people to focus on ambitious goals that they will never reach, according to a leading computer scientist.

I think it's important to end by looking at this 10,000 steps business – where did it come from?

Again, reports vary, but a common suggestion is that the figure was born in Japan in the 1960s. One source I found suggested that it was based on a survey of Japanese factory workers. Another that it was the marketing slogan of a pedometer manufacturer (Manpo-ke – literally 10,000 steps). Others yet suggest that figure is arbitrary or simply just a nice, round number.

Whatever the origin it has passed into common usage as a kind of 11th Commandment.

This one-size-fits all approach of 10,000 steps lacks any grounding in science given all the variables – height, weight, gait, age, terrain and more. So…

Tip 4

10,000 steps is CLEARLY a guide figure. If it motivates you to get fit, then it's all good. If you are stepping back-and-forth in the living room while watching TV at the end of the day just to hit your target, then perhaps it's time to reassess (!).

To sum up…

• Careful with data storage, security & sharing

• Playing on your phone will NOT make you fitter

• If you want real fitness advice, consult your doctor

Keeping all that in mind, I think you can get fit AND have fun with these apps. 

They can be great rough guides and good motivators. Just make sure the app fits your fitness regime and NOT the other way around. 

Good luck to you all with your January fitness routines – with or without gadgets!

You can catch up with my Step Counter Road tests so far here…

 - ★★★★ 

StepRecorder – ★★

Steps – ★★★★

iSteps – ★★★★★

Are you using a fitness tracker of step counter? Get in touch with your recommendations by dropping me a line at the usual address or leaving a comment below.  

Coming up in this series… the final three road tests for FitBit, Walkmeter & Map My Walk.

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, 16 January 2018

Winter Tips from #LondonWalks Guides No.2. Hats, Layers & Viking Helmets @KimDewdney, @bigfoottreasure & @jaxonharry

DC Editor Adam writes…

Outside in all weathers, we 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.

Steve writes in…

When Jack Frost is nipping at my nose and other extremities and I'm taking my group around Jack The Ripper's chilling haunts I rely on my long johns and woolly hat.

Mind you, having discovered recently that I am of Viking blood and ancestry I may swop the long johns and hat for a boar skin kilt and a horned iron helmet!

Two good points here: layers and hats.

(Three good points when you consider that a Viking will lead your Jack the Ripper tour. Worth a tenner, surely.)

I'll come to layers in a mo. But the hats business, we all know this one, don't we?

•You lose 50% of your body heat through your head •

Everyone sez so, so it must be true, no?

Have a read at this…

"The myth…"

[Ooh! Bad start!]

"… is thought to have arisen through a flawed interpretation of a vaguely scientific experiment by the US military in the 1950s. In those studies, volunteers were dressed in Arctic survival suits and exposed to bitterly cold conditions. Because it was the only part of their bodies left uncovered, most of their heat was lost through their heads.

The face, head and chest are more sensitive to changes in temperature than the rest of the body, making it feel as if covering them up does more to prevent heat loss. In fact, covering one part of the body has as much effect as covering any other. If the experiment had been performed with people wearing only swimming trunks, they would have lost no more than 10% of their body heat through their heads, the scientists add."

Taken from a Guardian article in 2008. Read the full article here…

So we should ditch hats? No! Hats good! Just ask my colleague Harry…

(Ask him in person on his weekly Unknown East End tour.)

What it means is that you have to keep wrapped up elsewhere, too.

Which brings us to the layering business. Here's Kim. Or as they used to say in that shampoo advert, here comes the science…

"The secret is to dress warmly with lots of layers that will trap the air, hat and gloves are essential and if it's really cold then there's tights or long johns under the trousers and an extra pair of socks."

Trapping the air, see? Layers are the key.

But Kim's not done. She continues…

"Then you need regular hot drinks - always tea for me - and this is the season where comfort food comes into its own.  Finding the chunky soup shops and the cafes with shepherd's pie is a real delight.

So this gets you out and about but how to manage the walk?  Well it's keep moving, shorten the stops and keep your eye on the walkers - I did once cut short a walk with a group of schoolchildren as one of the boys was turning blue in front of me.

But then I try to find places where you can get inside - even if it's only for 5 minutes it gives you a break and warms you up a little.  This often means churches -there are lots of them and they are open - but don't think this necessarily means religion.  Sometimes you'll find tombs or memorials to interesting people, great charities that are using their premises and history galore and once you start to investigate these fabulous spaces you'll get hooked.

Finally, the walk is done and you've got yourself home.  Shed the layers, make the tea, turn up the heating and snuggle up on the sofa.  One thing missing?  You guessed it - the cat.  He's sitting here now, on my lap as I type my copy and sharing his body warmth as he purrs away.  The perfect hot water bottle!"

Thanks Kim. As you will have noted, she makes no mention of Steve's Viking helmet (you're on year own there, Steve), but does echo his sentiments on long johns.

So who was the original Long John?

Well, just like the 50% heat loss through the head business, we're back into myth and legend territory here.

Story goes that the famous and respected John Smedley company of Derbyshire, established more than 200 years ago, was the first manufacturer to produce such a garment and named them in honour of the famed Irish-American boxer John L. Sullivan, the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing. Here he is, replete with the long pants…


As you can see, he's gone for the ol' long-johns-and-a-dab-of-Old-Spice-and-nothing-else look. It's a tough look to pull off, and one that you will seldom see your average London Walks guide. Apart from Steve. It would make a nice change from his boar skin kilt and horned iron helmet.

Thanks Steve, Harry & Kim



When you see him from a distance you think he's a roadie for a heavy metal band. And then he starts guiding and it's KA-BOOM. Which is by way of saying, all that business about him being London Walks' fizziest guide - I'll let you in on a secret - that's a piece of English understatement. Anything else? Yes, lots. He's a dashing actor, a playwright, a song writer and a musician.


Kim, who has worked in the House of Commons and the European Parliament, is another 24-carat Blue Badge Guide: she won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year award in 2001.


Harry – "Britain's Favourite Guide"* – is a Cockney, a Scouser and (these days) a country gentleman. And a character - how could he be otherwise? And a top flight professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide.*So he was elected on that famous BBC Radio 4 travel programme.

Want to share a winter weather tip or cold remedy? Drop me a line at the usual address

Kim will be back soon with more cold weather advice for London Walkers, and we'll also be hearing from Laurence.

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, 15 January 2018

In & Around #London #Photoblog: Simply Messing About In…

DC Editor Adam writes…

Welcome back to The Monday Photoblog! Happy New Year!

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.

This week's theme… Boats

As Ratty famously said to Mole in The Wind in the Willows, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

With Burns Night just around the corner, here's the Cutty Sark down at Greenwich…

… the vessel, built on the River Clyde in 1869, has come back from TWO fires in recent years. Well done Cutty Sark, right enough!

HMS Belfast

… saw action in WWII and during the Korean War and has been a floating museum under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum since 1978.

HMS President was launched 100 years ago this year…

The London Water Bus Company - taken last summer. From this angle…

… the boat looks sinister like a crocodile on the prowl.

From last summer, it's back to the here and now. Way out west on the Thames…

… a lone oarswoman braves the low single-digits temperatures early last Tuesday morning.

Any suggestions for the Monday In & Around slot? Do you have five London pictures you'd like to share? Drop me a line at the usual address.

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