I Want a Picture-Perfect White Christmas in London
In December our thoughts turn to Christmas. We think about our family, friends, Christmas cards, food (lots of it!) and presents – will Santa pass by this year? Also, just as important, the reason for Christmas: the birth of Jesus. But what we also think about is the weather – will it snow? This question set me thinking – why do we feel Christmas isn’t really Christmas if it doesn’t snow?
The Black Sailors of Georgian London
Inspired by the new exhibition “Black Greenwich Pensioners” at the Old Royal Naval College (which at the time of writing I have yet to visit), my mind recently turned to Britain’s Black seafaring past, particularly to the time Britain was most actively involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of Africans, a time which loosely coincides with what we refer to as the Georgian age (1714-1837).
Guiding Teenagers Around London
Blue Badge Tourist Guides conduct many different types of tours, from individual families to large groups, and each type requires different skills to be successful. Here, Olga Romana shares her experiences of guiding student groups.
I have worked with students my whole life!
Public Walking & Virtual Tours By London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides
In addition to offering customized private tours, many London Blue Badge Tourist Guides also conduct regular walking tours and virtual tours for groups. Joining a group tour can be a fun and affordable way to take in the sights. For locals, a walk with a knowledgeable and passionate Blue Badge Tourist Guide can reveal fun facts and hidden gems you may not have been aware of.
Because I’m a Londoner: From Postman to Blue Badge Tourist Guide
This is part of a series of articles written by London Blue Badge Guides who used to be key workers in our capital city. First up is Neil Parker, who worked for 30 years as a postman before becoming a tourist guide.
I qualified as a London Blue Badge Guide in 2013 and now, as my mates from the post would say, ‘I’m paid to be me!’ At least I was until March 2020 when Covid-19 arrived. This got me thinking, what was life like for my mates in the post? So, after it reopened, I went to the pub to find out.
Introducing Millie the Blue Badger Cartoon
Hello Internet! I’m excited to introduce myself to you as one of the newly hatched Blue Badge Tourist Guides! While I’d already been guiding for a number of years, it was only in 2020 that I finally qualified as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide…
London is a port city, and Britain became great because of its navy and ability to trade across the globe. The capital’s wealth is built upon that sea trade. There are reminders of London’s maritime history everywhere. In Trafalgar Square, we commemorate the 1805 victory (and the death) of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. At Tower Hill, we remember the 36,000 merchant mariners lost at sea with no known grave. And the Museum of London Docklands examines the triangular trade in goods, sugar and slaves, upon which so much of the city’s wealth was built.Read more
I’ve taken my cue from an erstwhile neighbour – Alfred Hitchcock was born just up the road in Leytonstone – and I’ve moved to the rear window. I’m in search of the colour purple. But instead of the lilac that coyly shows its first blush this time of year through the satin-white of the magnolia tree and the billowing chartreuse of the willow, I’m getting a Phoenician purple that would have turned Queen Elizabeth I, who banned the royal colour from her court, apoplectic.Read more
What could be more quintessentially English than afternoon tea? This is often one of the top items on London visitors’ itineraries, but many are unsure of where to go or surprised by how expensive it can be.
I’ve been enjoying and writing about the afternoon tea ceremony since I first moved to London nearly 30 years ago. How times have changed! The landscape has grown, both in terms of price range and creativity of menus. Restaurants and hotels have become more imaginative with themed teas, such as the Mad Hatter Tea at the Sanderson Hotel and the fashion-orientated Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley.
My husband, Mike Rothschild, thinks I’ve been staring out the window for too long now and suggests a bit of exercise. But our lovely lady, Vicky Park, is off-limits, I pout. `Let’s go to the Olympic Park,’ he suggests. So off on our bikes to the big green space just east of us we go, with Mike, my own personal optimist trying to keep my head above water as I struggle to submerge, wallowing in the black ink of despondency. I’ve been cooped up way too long watching the world sink from my window.Read more
Time is weighing heavily as I sit at my window, sewing. Yes, buttons. Has it really come to this? Every once and awhile I’ll lean forward to wave or nod to a friend or a passing acquaintance. The window washer, the Baptist preacher, the local councilwoman, the `kids’ next door (who are now adults) … We know everybody. But truth be told, it didn’t get off to a good start. My husband Mike Rothschild and I moved into this house in Bow in East London at the end of the first year of the new millennium. Almost immediately we flew to the USA to visit family before returning to begin a massive renovation of our new home.Read more
The Tower of London, the capital’s most popular tourist attraction has been a palace, fortress, prison, mint, armoury, jewel house and home to both Beefeaters and ravens. When it was built in the 11th century by Norman invaders from France, the Tower of London resembled little more than a wooden shed on a hill surrounded by a garden fence. But over the following centuries, the castle grew and grew, so that the complex that we call the Tower of London is in fact made up of 21 different towers. Here are some fascinating stories behind a few of them.Read more
I’m standing in the bathroom on the upper floor – you really don’t have to know what I’m doing –looking wistfully through the chartreuse-coloured cascade that is the weeping willow at the bottom of our garden and across the canal to Victoria Park. It is `just spring when the world is puddle-wonderful’ as American poet E.E. Cummings once put it, and we can no longer enter it. Like pints after work and an evening at the theatre, our beloved park is just a memory. It’s encaged by tall iron gates.Read more
At no time in recent history have we appreciated the NHS and medical staff more than in our current crisis. Doctors, nurses and public health specialists are working flat out to save our nation. Not alone in their endeavours; we are seeing the army and teams of construction workers build new hospital facilities out of conference centres in London, Manchester and Birmingham. These new hospitals are being called Nightingale Hospitals. So, what’s behind the name?Read more
Like all of us, I’m housebound. In a bid to allay cabin fever and death by boredom, I’ve taken a front-row seat by the window. With a tip of the chapeau to Colette, who wrote Paris de Ma Fenêtre (Paris from My Window) from her apartment on the Place du Palais Royal during the German occupation of WWII, I’ll begin my random musings on the city from one small corner of London during the `occupation’ by the coronavirus COVID-19.Read more
London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides, members of Guide London/Association of Professional Tourist Guides are acting in the best interests of visitors and locals alike by restricting our work in line with the latest advice from Public Health England. Furthermore, most tourist attractions, including museums and galleries and many pubs and restaurants, are closed. This is because the UK government has advised against all inessential travel as they work to contain COVID-19 and minimise community spread.Read more
Blue Badge Tourist Guides in London need to have a working knowledge of some of the famous writers and poets associated with the city: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, William Blake, and Ben Jonson, all of whom made London their homes for at least part of their lives.Read more
The year 2020 marks the centenary of London’s Imperial War Museum, a site exploring the history of conflict from the First World War through the present day. Located south of the River Thames at Lambeth, the museum’s compelling exhibits help us appreciate what life was like during wartime, both for the military and for civilians.Read more