Saturday, 31 October 2009

Blog Extra (or… The Last Word on Halloween)


Here’s David:

“For some serious, how about this little set of reflections. It was in the Middle Ages – in the West – that relations between the living and the dead underwent a major change. The ancient world didn’t like its corpses. It feared them, was repelled by them. That’s why the Romans, for example, buried their dead outside their towns and cities. Along the roads that led into the countryside. The Middle Ages dansed to a different macabre: their dead were integrated into the urban space. Every town, every village was built around a church and a cemetery. And historians think that the cemetery might well have antedated the church. So when we go into those churchyards on Halloween night we’re, well, turning our back on the classical world and 'going mediaeval'. It’s Hello Wallace but Goodbye Marcellus!”

Halloween: See you OUT THERE.


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Friday, 30 October 2009

Blog Extra (or… It’s Not Always Going to be Halloween, You Know)

Roger’s back on the towpath, looking ahead to a time (not so very far away) when things have GONE bump in the night, when something wicked that way has LEFT and when the Three Witches have not only MET again but also packed their cauldron safely away until next year.

Make Roger and his Canal Walk your first port of call on All Saints Day. Here’s why…

“Only a short walk from King’s Cross station, the London Canal Museum is a delightful window into a different world. A superb collection of displays, exhibits and old films – it’s housed in the building of a former customer of the Canal. The building itself has quite a story to tell – how would one store several hundred tons of ice here?

The legend of Boudicca and her bloody rebellion against the Romans is in sharp contrast to the peace and greenery which follows at Camley Street Wildlife Garden. Here, a small wood with a pond is the result of careful planting, and hundreds of species now live here.

Charles Dickens’s writings are just one of the aspects which lies ahead, so come and find out more."

The Regent’s Canal – King’s Cross to Old Camden Town Walk meets at King’s Cross Station taxi rank on Sunday (1st November) at 2.30 p.m.

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The Dead Are Always With Us

Here's David, brooding over words once more…

“When we say goodbye on Halloween what we’re really saying is ‘God be with you’. Tease the word goodbye apart and it comes into view, like a print coming up in a darkroom: God be [with] ye. The ‘with’ is completely elided, but for the rest – well, it’s all there.

And as for Halloween – well, again, if you trust your ear you can hear the trumpets of the past. Hallow is short for Hallowed. And een is an elision of evening.

So it’s the Evening of the Hallowed. The hallowed being the saints, the saints honoured on All Saints Day – November 1st. And the rest of the silent majority get in on the act on All Souls Day – November 2nd.

So we’re really talking a Festival of the Dead here. And why at this time of the year? Well, souls schmouls and saints schmaints – because the cultural roots of all of these goings on go down a lot deeper. Down into a distant Celtic past. That territory is pagan – and that means light, sun-worship. And this time of the year – well, we’re all very aware of it – the light is high-tailing it out of these northern climes. And with the onset of some serious darkness, well, the Celts believed that at this time of the year the bourne between this world and 'the beyond' got real thin. Thin enough for spirits – for the ‘departed’ – to pass through.

So think of October 31st as a membrane. A membrane ‘they’ can come through. Come through and get in amongst us. And they do. You’ll see some of ‘them’ on several of the London Walks ghost walks that night. Indeed, only on London Walks Ghost Walks.”

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Great London Walks Virtual Monopoly Game Roll #4 – Halloween Special II

This occasional LW Blog series is a virtual tour of the London Monopoly board in which we give you a “Did you know?” London fact with which to amaze your fellow kitchen table capitalists next time you are playing the classic Hasbro board game…

Rolling the dice we throw a… three and a three: 6! (Perfect! A double was needed to release from jail!)

From the “Jail” square (see last roll), this roll takes us to… Bow Street!


A fabled and storied London thoroughfare, this Covent Garden street (illustrated here in the 19th Century) – an orange square on the London board – was home to the Bow Street Runners, the fore-, er, well fore-runners of the modern Metropolitan Police. The Runners were founded here in 1749. The street is built in the shape of – what else? – a bow and dates from between 1633 and 1677. Those who have lived or lodged here form a glittering London cast list – Grinling Gibbons, David Garrick and Samuel Johnson among them.


But at Halloween, one Covent Garden character eclipses them all. His appearance – at the tube station nearby – is a feature of our Halloween Ghost Walk from Embankment station. William Terris (above), the noted 19th Century actor, despite having been dead since 1897, can be seen regularly haunting the site of his favourite Covent Garden bakery – upon which now stands Covent Garden Underground station. And how did he get to be so dead? It’s a gruesome tale. Join us this Saturday.


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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hubble Bubble


"When shall we three meet again?" 

Well, if you’re free this Saturday, Ann's doing a Foodie Walk…

Here she is…

It’s Halloween on October 31st, the scariest night of the year. 

Witches and ghosts are abroad, not to mention small children trick or treating. A more ancient tradition is bobbing for apples – lean over a bowl of water and try to catch an apple with your teeth. 

Once you’ve caught your apple, sit in front of the mirror eating it by candlelight, and a vision of your future husband will appear over your shoulder… maybe.


Halloween also means pumpkins. When you’ve succeeded in hollowing out your pumpkin lantern, what are you going to do with the middle? Here are a few suggestions.

• Boil or steam, mash, then use to stuff ravioli. 

• Make a pumpkin risotto. 

• Bake with tomatoes and cooked cannellini beans, or with cream and sage, or with sausages. 

• Pumpkin soup. 

• Candied pumpkin. 

• Roast pumpkin with garlic and ginger, or with Indian spices. 

And you can always make pumpkin pie, and pretend it’s Thanksgiving.

I’m expecting that there will be pumpkins for sale at Borough Market on Saturday,, so you can buy one at the end of my Foodies' Walk. Meet me at 10 am, Monument tube – Fish St. Hill exit. There'll be no evil spirits abroad at 10 am - but you will hear some more foodie titbits.


POST UPDATED 24/10/16





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.







Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Plaque of the Week No.10

Paranormal Activity in SW3 (Our Halloween Plaque Special No.2)



Commemorating: Bram Stoker
Issued by: Engish Heritage
Street: 18 St Leonard's Terrace
Postcode: SW3
Borough: Kensington & Chelsea

Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) leaves one helluva bloody smear on the landscape of English fiction – his 1897 epistolary novel Dracula. His personal mark, like those of many an Irish man of letters, is left all over London. His name is carved into the stone of the Lyceum Theatre in the West End, where he worked for Sir Henry Irving for 27 years. He worked also at the Prince of Wales Theatre and on Fleet Street, on the staff at the Daily Telegraph. He died in St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1 and his ashes are at Golders Green Crematorium – where his urn can be viewed by special appointment only. His Blue Plaque is plain for all to see, on the house where he lived in SW3. The plaque also features on one of English Heritage’s most popular souvenir mugs – perfect for drinking sangria, perhaps, or a Bloody Mary after your London Walks Halloween Experience?

For the only way to do London at Halloween, click HERE.


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