London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

Practice Makes Perfect

Today I took part in the first of a series of walk shops aimed at those of us qualified guides who are looking to get away from our comfort zone areas (mine being St James’s and Mayfair) and explore new areas with a view to putting together walks there too.

Thankfully the rain had stopped by 11am when we met at the Charles I statue at Charing Cross for our walk around Whitehall.  I was dressed (as is usual for me for winter walks) in thermals.  I was too hot.  Better to be too hot than too cold though.  I was down to do 2 stops and whilst the adrenalin would be pumping when I would be talking I would be standing around the rest of the time.

One of my stops was Horse Guards and as we walked through the arch that only the Queen is allowed to drive through we were confronted by a gale.  During my spiel my hair was I think keeping everyone amused as it was flying in all directions.  Mental note to always carry a hair tie for similar situations.  I was quite pleased with my talk as had found out several obscure/interesting facts including that the beach volleyball competition will be held at Horse Guards during the Olympics and that one of the statues on Horse Guards Parade – the first Viscount Wolseley – was the model for Gilbert and Sullivan’s character the Modern Major General in Pirates of Penzance.  I’m always looking for the obscure rather than the dry history.  Not that I know the words but I’ve had that tune in my head all day! 

It was an interesting walk as although I knew most of the guides from guiding meetings I hadn’t seen them all in action.  One of the most surprising was M who astounded me by quoting a Scottish poem in a convincing Scottish accent in the middle of his talk about Derby Gate.  He was fantastic.  He told me later that he had a Scottish English teacher at school and all the poems he learned when he was a child had stuck in his head.  C who incidentally lives around the corner from me stopped opposite Downing Street and rather than talk about the human inhabitants talked about the various cats that had been in residence there.  It was really different and funny.

Needless to say we retired to the pub afterwards The Old Shades  where incidentally there is a BookCrossing zone (another of my interests) but I managed to resist the temptation to leave with any as have some walk planning to do.