Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry

It’s London, Baby! *

How to Walk #1
An Occasional Series of Top Tips on how to get the most out of a London Walk.

The series launches with David on taming the savage child…

“Kids on walks. It’s usually not the best of fits. For obvious reasons. But help is at hand. Spectacularly so. In short, there’s a one-size fits all solution. Okay, almost all. It’s probably not right for wee winks. But 8-year-olds on up: well, here’s the answer.


It’s courtesy of an Australian couple who – along with their two kids – were on my Along the Thames Pub Walk last Friday. Of course I noticed they were toting scooters and asked the parents about them. This was the reply:

‘We learned about it from our friend. She loves walking tours. Her kids hate them – they get bored. So the last time she was here she brought the kids’ scooters along. Voila! Problem solved. Kids as happy as could be – tootling around on their scooters (within sight of the group of course) AND burning up lots of 9- and 10-year-old energy.’

And parents as happy as could be because they’re getting to go on their walk and not having their kids bored and fretting and squirming and ‘how much longer-ing?’

‘We’ve been on three walks so far – and it works a treat. We get to enjoy our walk; our kids are along for their ride (notice it’s ‘their’ ride, not ‘the ride’ – and they’re loving it. It’s absolutely brilliant.”

Anything else? Well, yes. The scooters are extremely light. They fold up. And the Australian couple had even produced a nifty carrying bag (and strap) for each of them. Made from the legs of an old wet suit (a scuba diver’s wet suit). Light and cushiony. Let alone waterproof. How resourceful - how brilliant - is that!

That’s the one-size fits all solution. There’s a much more painstaking solution – namely, pick your guide and your walk very carefully. Because some guides – and some walks – are right for kids. Even though the walks are pitched at adults, not kids. You want corroboration just take a look at the little film of Shaughan guiding his Ghosts of the Old City. Those two happy little people skipping along beside him aren’t short adults. They’re kids.

Finally, take a look at the Walks for Kids page on The Mothership.

Well, not quite finally. The whole episode crystallises something else - namely, why, we as guides, love guiding walking tours. It's in part because of the people you meet on them. Walking tour types are the sort of tourist you want to meet. They're bright, switched on, resourceful, good fun. It's not just a one-way street. In short, we learn from you guys, just as you learn - we hope - from us."

Shakespeare in London


Outlandish claims Department Edict No.46732A: Shakespeare was a Londoner!

Sure, Stratford’s nice and all that. But Shakespeare worked in London. And he’s still alive here, too – not least in the shape of several London Walks, but in the theatres, too. The glorious Globe has opened its production of Romeo and Juliet (see illustration) and will follow it up with As You Like It later in May. Go to www.shakespeares-globe.org for more details, or see the London Links column on the right.


The Wind in the Willows


In the storm of anniversaries raging around London this year (The British Museum, Darwin, A Tale of Two Cities, to name but three) LW Blog is sorry to see that the 150th anniversary of the birth of the creator of the original “slacker classic” has gone largely unnoticed. Kenneth Grahame, writer of The Wind in the Willows was born on 8th March 1859.

Slacker classic? How so? Well if a novel with a central philosophy advocating “simply messing about in boats” as life’s greatest pleasure is nothing if not an elegant slacker manifesto, then LW Blog will eat his shabby, beaten but well-loved Panama hat (a hat purchased at Hornet’s in Kensington, of course).

LW Blog’s favourite fantasy literary image is that of Grahame in his stuffy office at the Bank of England (where he rose to the position of Secretary, retiring in 1908) gazing out at the grey London sky and dreaming of his beloved River Thames. Again, textbook slacker behaviour!

This week on BBC Radio 7 the planets of anniversary come into alignment when one of our greatest living writers, Alan Bennett (a confirmed Camdenite if not-quite-reformed Yorkshireman) has tribute paid to him on his 75th Birthday. Among the celebratory broadcasts are daily instalments of Bennett reading Grahame’s delightful classic for children of all ages. Go to bbc.co.uk for full scheduling details.

(The image is a downloadable poster from www.rrm.co.uk, the website of the River & Rowing Museum at Henley. Visit them at Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 1BF, United Kingdom. Tel: 01491 415600.)


Facebook


The new Facebook group, London Walks Walkers is up and running. Join in HERE.


Stay in Touch!


Got a question? Got a photo? Got a suggestion? Send ‘em to us at londonwalksblog@gmail.com. Or contact us through our Facebook group London Walks Walkers (see above). That’s what Geraldine did last Friday. She wrote:

"Went on two London Walks last Sunday - was on a short holiday in London – one of which was the Dickens & Shakespeare's London walk – excellent. Also did the 'Jack the Ripper' walk that evening - my second time to go on this walk. Love the walks - and now try to go on at least one on each trip to London."

Thanks Geraldine! Did you take any pics on your trip? Want us to make you a Blog Star? Send ‘em in and we look forward to seeing you next trip!

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(* Our strapline this week – “It’s London, Baby” – comes from that most unlikely of London denizens Joey Tribbiani in the London episodes of the U.S sitcom Friends, filmed at famous London scenes including Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.)

Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

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