Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Origin of the Dishes


This in from Ann, the Michael Corleone of London Walks. How so? Because her every LW Blog invitation is an offer you can’t refuse. Here she is…

“This year marks the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin. And if you really want to get into the Darwin frame of mind, try some of his wife’s recipes, recently re-published. Mash a pickled walnut into the gravy of your braised beef, to give it a little extra oomph. Try the mutton ragout – 1 ½ lbs mutton, 1 lb turnips, one sprig of parsley.
Darwin surely found this dull after his student days. At Cambridge he was president of the Glutton Club, whose more unusual dishes included hawk, bittern and old brown owl. And while on the Beagle, Darwin and the officers sat down to armadillo and ‘the best meat I ever tasted’ – an anonymous chocolate coloured rodent.
No rodents on my West End Foodies Walk on April 3 – but lots more tasty stories about what Londoners used to eat. Meet me at 2.30p.m Green Park tube, Ritz exit.”

Full story at www.walks.com – look for the Foodies London story top of the Latest News column.

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TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry

Seven days in the life of London & London Walks

British Summer Time Begins
Remember to put your clocks FORWARD by one hour from 2.00a.m on the 29th March. British Summer Time begins!

Churchill

No single figure casts a greater shadow over the last century of British History than Winston Churchill. On London Walks he crops up from the Unknown East End to Westminster and many points in between. All this week BBC Radio 7 gives us another chance to hear the revealing letters of Churchill and his beloved wife Clementine. The series – in 10 parts – is broadcast daily, Monday to Friday at 10.00a.m, 9.00pm and 2.00a.m. See the London Links section of the LW Blog for a BBC click. Watch out also for the In Winston Churchill's Footsteps walk. (And if you want to gaze upon an inspiring Churchillian image while you listen, simply click HERE)

We’re Anxious to Try it…
Regular visitors to LW Blog & the London Walkers Facebook Group will know by now that the appearance of the little chap on the left – Alphonse the Waiter – can mean only one thing: Ann’s back in town with one of her foodie extravaganzas. The West End version of her Foodies’ London takes place next Friday 3rd April at 2.30p.m, but come back to the LW Blog later in the week to read her “formal invitation” – featuring Charles Darwin as you’ve never seen him before. (And that’s really saying something this weather, given that ol’ C.D seems to be on TV more often than Coronation Street.)

Talking Shop

For many, citizen and denizen alike, it is Kensington’s status as a shopping Mecca that draws them west. From the iconic boutique Biba for young women in the 60s to the unique gentleman’s outfitter that is Hornet’s in Church Street today, Kensington is a byword for special emporia. Things were ever thus. Check out our picture above. It’s John Barker’s department store in its previous incarnation, before the erection of the splendid Art Deco building that stands in its place today. The second oldest department store in London (after Whiteley’s, where John Barker was once an employee) Barker's is on the left of the picture. The image dates from 1903.

(See Kensington up-close this week with David on Thursday and Angela on Saturday.)

Facebook

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

No Such Thing as Bad Weather: Only Inappropriate Clothing (Old London Walks proverb)

With the recent resurgence of what the BBC weather team insists upon terming “squally” showers (it may be spelled “skwallie” we really don’t know, we’ve never found the word anywhere but in the mouth of a BBC weatherperson), LW Blog was reminded of a description of London in the rain offered by the great Beat Generation writer and erstwhile Londoner William Burroughs. “London in the rain,” he opined, “looks like an attic full of mildewed old trunks.”
That's the cloud with the silver lining if there ever was one: rotten weather inspiring sparkling imagery.
(Beat London: Kerouac, Ginsberg & Dylan, a new London Walk, debuts on Easter Sunday, 12th April at 10.45a.m.)

Greenwich Screen Time – Take Two

The recent BBC production of Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit begins its run on PBS in the United States on Sunday night (29th March). On your next trip to London, visit Greenwich with London Walks, where some of the action was shot. Click HERE to read London Walks guide Richard III’s account of running into the film crew on a Greenwich walk. His piece was first posted back in November 2008.

Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Word Smith (Part Two)


David has still got his nose in a book. Warming to his theme from yesterday (scroll down for Part One) he continues…

“What I like about yesterday’s extract– from John Stow’s Annales (scroll down to read it again) – is the way it scalpels through a curtain on the past – opening up to view “Frayes” and “common fighting”. And more. The more being the most exquisite social nuance: Stow recalls ‘the time that Sword and Buckler were in use’. It ‘abated’ Stow tells us ‘about the 20 yeare of Queen Elizabeth[‘s reign]’ – i.e., 1578. And the reason? A foreign fashion, natch. The rapier – introduced of course from Italy. Suddenly sword and buckler fencing was for yobs, for Elizabethan chavs, for ‘Ruffians’. The sword-and-buckler up against the rapier in the Elizabethan status wars – it was a hopeless mismatch. Like pitting a Ford Escort against a Lamborghini.

And sure enough, it illuminates a Shakespearean moment: Hotspur's sneering put-down of Prince Hal: ‘that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales’ (in the first Act of I Henry IV) – the subtext of which is, to put it bluntly, ‘that common little shit’.

The unusual capitalisations – Ruffians, Frayes, Servingman, Buckler, etc. – are also very much to a Shakespearean “point”. But you’ll have to come on my walk to find out how and why.”

(Be sure to ask David about the London Walks book LONDON STORIES – he usually packs a couple of copies on his walks.)

Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Word Smith


Covered in dust and radiating enthusiasm, David emerges from the vast library at London Walks Towers with an invitation to join him on his Shakespeare's and Dickens' Old City Walk…

“‘This field commonly called West Smithfield, was for many years called Ruffians hall, by reason it was the usual place of Frayes and common fighting, during the time that Sword and Buckler were in use. When every Servingman, from the base to the best, carried a Buckler at his backe, which hung by the hilt or pommel of his Sword which hung before him. This manner of fight was frequent with all men, until the fight of rapier and dagger tooke place and then suddenly the generall quarrel of fighting abated which began about the 20. yeare of Queen Elizabeth, for until then it was usuall to have frayes, fights, and Quarells, upon the Sundays and Holidayes; sometimes twenty thirty and forty Swords and Bucklers, halfe against halfe, as well by quarells of appointment as by chance.’

Annales by John Stow

The name ‘Smithfield’ is a corruption of ‘the smooth field’ and because it was ‘smooth’ and just north of the ‘New Gate’ knights jousted here (ergo the name Giltspur Street); and the Peasants’ Rebellion climaxing here in 1381; and William Wallace (illustrated) being hanged, drawn and quartered here in 1305; and the first Protestant martyrs being burned to death at the stake in 1554; and the World War I shrapnel damage. All good London history-at-the-boil stuff. But as a guide I want to drill down deeper. So there’s the above para – not from Stow’s well-known Survey of London and Westminster (1598), but from his all but forgotten Annales, or a General Chronicle of England (1580).’



What I like about the extract from John Stow’s Annales  is the way it scalpels through a curtain on the past – opening up to view “Frayes” and “common fighting”. And more. The more being the most exquisite social nuance: Stow recalls ‘the time that Sword and Buckler were in use’. It ‘abated’ Stow tells us ‘about the 20 yeare of Queen Elizabeth[‘s reign]’ – i.e., 1578. And the reason? A foreign fashion, natch. The rapier – introduced of course from Italy. Suddenly sword and buckler fencing was for yobs, for Elizabethan chavs, for ‘Ruffians’. The sword-and-buckler up against the rapier in the Elizabethan status wars – it was a hopeless mismatch. Like pitting a Ford Escort against a Lamborghini.

And sure enough, it illuminates a Shakespearean moment: Hotspur's sneering put-down of Prince Hal: ‘that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales’ (in the first Act of I Henry IV) – the subtext of which is, to put it bluntly, ‘that common little shit’.

The unusual capitalisations – Ruffians, Frayes, Servingman, Buckler, etc. – are also very much to a Shakespearean “point”. But you’ll have to come on my walk to find out how and why.”

(Be sure to ask David about the London Walks book LONDON STORIES – he usually packs a couple of copies on his walks.)



POST UPDATED 27/3/16

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.









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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

On This Day in London History…


24th March1693 John Harrison, inventor of the marine chronometer was born in Yorkshire. He died on his birthday in 1776 and is interred at Hampstead.






Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The Weekly Gallimaufry

A round up of London and London stuff. This week’s guest stars: the unlikely double-act of Sherlock Holmes & Matt Monro (!)

What a Picture (Flash! Bang! Wallop!)

That Nick’s been out and about with his camera again – in between stints starring in the London Walks Greenwich Film and writing the Greenwich chapter in LONDON STORIES. This shot (above) of the world’s most famous department store by night was captured on his other regular stamping ground Knightsbridge. (Keep an eye out for Nick on the Knightsbridge Pub Walk.)

(Email your own London shots to londonwalksblog@gmail.com)

Elementary

Keep your ears peeled for BBC Radio 4’s arts show Front Row with Mark Lawson on Monday 23rd March (and on Listen again via bbc.co.uk) to hear actor David Timson’s reflections on recording the complete Sherlock Holmes – a total of 60 CDs.
(Follow In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes every Friday at 2.00p.m with Richard IV or Corinna)

Facebook

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

London Walks Saves!

Ask your guide about the London Walks Discount Walkabout card. Each card costs £2 and entitles the walker to a £2 discount on each subsequent walk (valid three months for residents, one month for visitors).

Londoner on the Gogglebox This Week


Our Londoner on the Gogglebox feature this time around is the subject of BBC4’s Legends documentary this Monday at 7.30p.m – a film with a strong East End flavour. Matt Monro is arguably the most underrated English singing star of the pre-Beatles era. A Londoner to the core, he was dubbed “The Singing Bus Driver” thanks to a stint at the helm of the No.27 bus from Highgate to Teddington. An East Ender by birth (Shoreditch) one of his biggest hits – the Bond theme From Russia With Love – was penned by fellow Cockney Lionel Bart (Stepney).
(Take the Unknown East End London Walk every Sunday from Whitechapel with Harry)

Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Blog Extra… The Famous White Leaflet


Work continues apace on the new season London Walks white leaflet, with the usual cloak of secrecy surrounding the sensitive proceedings. Captured below is the industrious scene last night as the team worked into the small hours compiling the contents of London’s most important piece of paper…

As with all eagerly awaited documents, leaks are inevitable, and the famous white leaflet is no different. A source close to the Editor-in-Chief, who wishes to remain anonymous, told LW Blog that he’d seen the first draft, which featured details of odd goings on in the Bayswater Road area rumoured to have something to do with London Walks guide Tom. He also caught wind of a tour of salacious happenings in the fleshpots of Soho in the company of the Rolling Stones and sundry historical English malefactors and reprobates. More news as it happens…

oin the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

London Irish… Happy St Patrick’s Day (Part Two)


Concluding his Paddy’s Day two-parter, David O’Tucker finds himself “Stranded” once more…

“And in case you're wondering, "noon a purple glow" (scroll down for yesterday’s post) was the reflection of the heather on the water – the water in Lough Gill, not the Strand shop.

Is it any wonder that we've all (London Walks guides) got a touch of the Ancient Mariner about us – you know, the ‘glittering eye’ business? How can you not have when this place (London) is forever launching you into strange ‘tenses’? I mean the Strand today (seen in a purple glow), the Strand in 1890, the Lake Isle of Innisfree, beetling toward Nelson's column and hearing the tinkling music – the water? – of Yeats' poem.

Another example. In our little film about the Cambridge trip we run Simon takes the group to the Eagle Pub, where Watson and Crick announced, in 1953, the discovery of the structure of DNA. Simon tells the story, shows the group the plaque, etc. Pretty sensational, really.

London upstaged for once you think? Think again. The ‘spadework’ for Watson's and Crick's discovery was carried out – wait for it – in the Strand. Chapter and verse: in the late 1940s and early 1950s Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin worked on X-ray crystallography in the Wheatstone Laboratories in King's College Hospital. Those labs were in the Strand. That X-ray crystallography work made a huge contribution to the Crick and Watson discovery.

Okay, you've read this little read. Pretty much case closed, wouldn't you say? In short, how do you not walk the walk and hear the talk after that? So, yes, arise and go now, go on a walk that'll help you get to know the Strand and its alleyways rather better. Discover it – venture into one of those "strange tenses". Lots of walks probing that enchanted forest, but if you want a recommendation try either Sherlock Holmes or Eccentric London. Or London by Gaslight Pub Walk."

Join the NEW LW Facebook group London Walks Walkers HERE

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

London Irish… Happy St Patrick’s Day!


A few appropriate words from the man who will be known, on this day of days, upon which everyone is granted the privilege of Irishness, as David O’Tucker:



‘I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, oif clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Droping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always nigh and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.’


It is of course William Butler Yeats' most popular poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. (Innisfree, for the record, is a small wooded isle in Lough Gill in County Sligo in western Ireland.)

D.C Editor: Er, David… isn't this a blog about London?

David: Patience, oh ye of little faith. It's all in the inspiration!

D.C Editor: [stunned into silence]

David: In short, the bee-loud glade Yeats was in was the Strand. (Smelling salts for the Moderator please.) Look closely at the last three words in the penultimate line. Or hear it from the man himself...

W.B. Yeats: “I wrote the poem in London when I was about 23. One day in the Strand I heard a little tinkle of water and saw in a shop window a little jet of water balancing a ball on the top. It was an advertisement I think of cooling drink but it set me thinking of Sligo and lake waters.”



“And in case you're wondering, "noon a purple glow" was the reflection of the heather on the water – the water in Lough Gill, not the Strand shop.

Is it any wonder that we've all (London Walks guides) got a touch of the Ancient Mariner about us – you know, the ‘glittering eye’ business? How can you not have when this place (London) is forever launching you into strange ‘tenses’? I mean the Strand today (seen in a purple glow), the Strand in 1890, the Lake Isle of Innisfree, beetling toward Nelson's column and hearing the tinkling music – the water? – of Yeats' poem.

Another example. In our little film about the Cambridge trip we run Simon takes the group to the Eagle Pub, where Watson and Crick announced, in 1953, the discovery of the structure of DNA. Simon tells the story, shows the group the plaque, etc. Pretty sensational, really.

London upstaged for once you think? Think again. The ‘spadework’ for Watson's and Crick's discovery was carried out – wait for it – in the Strand. Chapter and verse: in the late 1940s and early 1950s Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin worked on X-ray crystallography in the Wheatstone Laboratories in King's College Hospital. Those labs were in the Strand. That X-ray crystallography work made a huge contribution to the Crick and Watson discovery.

Okay, you've read this little read. Pretty much case closed, wouldn't you say? In short, how do you not walk the walk and hear the talk after that? So, yes, arise and go now, go on a walk that'll help you get to know the Strand and its alleyways rather better. Discover it – venture into one of those "strange tenses". Lots of walks probing that enchanted forest, but if you want a recommendation try either Sherlock Holmes or Eccentric London. Or London by Gaslight Pub Walk."


POST UPDATED 16/3/16

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.









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