Sunday, 31 October 2010

London Walks: Seven Days 10:31:10

Seven Days is our weekly round-up of all things London & London Walks in which we highlight seven top news stories rounded up from our Facebook page and seven recommended London Walks for the week ahead.
If you've spotted a London news story that may be of interest to London Walkers you can email it to the usual address



Seven Days Back: London Walks News Digest

The Top Seven Stories rounded up and posted to our Facebook Group London Walks Walkers this past week…


A History of the Kilburn Times – from The Kilburn Times

Hackney Empire News – from the Hackney Gazette

The Queen’s Clocks go Back, Too! – from the Evening Standard

Bidding Wars for Darth Vader’s Cozzie – from the Evening Standard

Olympic News from Greenwich – from the BBC

It’s Only Rock’n’Roll!USA Today

Lennon’s Blue Plaque – from the BBC



Seven Days Ahead

Seven Choice London Walks for the Coming Week:


Monday: NEW WALK! Deathly Hallows – The Quest

Tuesday: NEW WALK! Brunel’s Thames Tunnel

Wednesday: The British Museum

Thursday: The Parliamentary Pub Walk


Friday: Rock’n’Roll London

Saturday: NEW WALK! Harry Potter on Location in London Town

Sunday: Old Highgate Village


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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Culture Sandwich No.9. St Mary Abbots Kensington

Our Saturday series for those who work in London – highlighting the nooks, corners and green spaces in which one can linger of a lunchbreak. Grab lunch and catch up on those familiar landmarks that you never seem to have the time to look at on your way to and from work in the company of our Saturday Girl Karen Pierce-Goulding, winner of the prestigious Blue Badge Guide of the Year award.



The Culture Bit

The spire of St Mary Abbots at Kensington is the highest free-standing spire in all of London. It is the work of George Gilbert Scott (the words Gilbert Scott are seldom away from the lips of a London Walks guide). Notable parishioners have included William Makepeace Thackeray, Prime Minister George Canning and Sir Isaac Newton.



The church is usually open all day, manned by friendly volunteers, so do pop in for a look. The gardens in Kensington Church Walk provide a perfect perch for a lunchbreak – peaceful and calm despite being only a few steps off the beaten track of High Street Kensington.


The Sandwich Bit

Head for Patisserie Valerie in nearby Kensington Church Street. The Elephant & Castle pub in Holland Street does the best fish and chips in the area.


The London Walks Bit

The Old Kensington – London's Royal Village Walk is every Thursday and Saturday at 2.00p.m.


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Friday, 29 October 2010

London Walks at the (Halloween) Pictures No.5


Having spent the whole week in the delicious darkness of London’s cinemas, London Walks’ movie expert Richard IV and his chums emerge, covered in popcorn crumbs, blinking into the light to prepare for Sunday’s London Walks Film Special. Here they pause to share a favourite London movie location.

This week, Adam with a Halloween Special…


DRACULA A.D 1972 (1972)

At the top of the seventh chapter in Hammer’s cycle of Dracula movies, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) lies dead. The wicked Count himself (Christopher Lee popping in the fangs for the 6th time) finds himself in a similar predicament.

Fast forward 100 years and jaded King’s Road hipster Johnny Alucard (Alucard: geddit?) and his groovy circle of friends are growing tired of earthly kicks. Seeking new, mind-blowing thrills, Alucard (ring any bells, that name?) stages a séance in the bombed out church of St Bartolph. His purpose? To summon the vampire Dracula to Swinging London. (Dracula? Alucard? Hang on a minute!)

Only Jessica Van Helsing and her grandfather can stop him now.

More Carry On Up The King’s Road than Carpathian Gothic chiller (at the height of the set-piece satanic rite, Alucard exhorts his long-haired and mini-skirted cohorts to “Dig the music, kids!”), this fang-in-cheek romp is a kitsch London classic. The film was inspired by the events of the roughly contemporaneous case of the Highgate Vampire (young north Londoners “hanging out” in Highgate Cemetery, then a much neglected London treasure, claimed to have encountered a vampire); and Chelsea is the film's uncredited star. The Cavern coffee shop, for example, is 372 Kings Road (currently an Italian restaurant).

The critical reception for the movie was decidedly mixed back in 1972, but the performances remain unimpeachable. Peter Cushing reprises his role as Van Helsing for the first time since 1960 and reins in the hysteria in his usual compellingly dignified fashion; Christopher Lee, who was openly critical of the film, is positively operatic in the role with which he will ever be associated.

A million miles from Bram Stoker it may well be. But the glimpses of London and the perfectly balanced contrast in the central performances make this film the perfect fun DVD to go home to after a London Walks Halloween Ghost Walk.

Dracula A.D 1972 is available on DVD from Warner Home Video

The next Film Walk is Hitchcock’s London on 7th November.


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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Water, Water Everywhere

One thing we’ll say for Ann. Her food walks are NEVER dry. Here’s she is on the water (and there's Alphonse in full Halloween mode in our accompanying pic)…


“Malvern water is to be withdrawn from the market next week (November 3). Its most famous consumer is of course the Queen, who even takes bottles of it abroad with her. And she’s following a royal tradition – it is said to have been drunk by Queen Elizabeth the First.

Rather unromantically, the water has been bottled by Schweppes since 1850 – giving sales a boost at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (yes, Queen Victoria drank it too). It claims to be ‘the Original English Mineral Water’ though there are few competitors, the British having refused until quite recently to pay for something they could get from the tap. And now they’ve got keen on it and supermarket aisles are full of bottled water, there are campaigns to get us back on to tap water instead of paying the ludicrous price to import water from places such as Fiji.

If you want to sample genuine English mineral water, you can visit some of the towns which were once famous for spas. You can buy a cup of Tunbridge Wells water – paying not for the water but for the service – hoping that it will restore you as in the past it ‘re-established the constitutions of those who were in all appearance hastening to their graves.’ You can drink the waters in Bath – with a taste described as flatirons and water in which eggs have been boiled – or in Leamington Spa, where the water is mildly laxative.

And just one further point – most water isn’t already fizzy when it gushes out of the ground – carbon dioxide has to be added, which slightly detracts from the natural image. Even Perrier adds gas – though it’s naturally occurring local gas. Waters which naturally emerge slightly sparkling are French Badoit, German Apollinaris, and the Italian Ferrarelle.

Schweppes are closing their bottling plant because they say it’s too small to be economic. But of course the water will still be gushing up – perhaps Buckingham Palace could send someone to fill a few large containers.”

For more foodie facts join Ann's walk on Saturday October 30, 10.45 at Green Park tube, park exit.

See Ann in full spate HERE.

To follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, to watch London Walks Films on YouTube, to send us an email or simply to catch up on the latest news from www.walks.com, click on the appropriate icon below…

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

It’s a London Thing No.10: The Trolley

It’s a London Thing is our new Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.



This from David’s eagle eye (the London Walks guide never sleeps)…

“The merest bagatelle, this.



Supermarket trolleys.



Supermarket trolleys that look lost.



They look lost because they're a long way from ‘home’, from ‘their’ supermarket parking lot trolley rank.



Abandoned. 



And abused. Abused because they're usually upended, nose down. Sort of like a Post Turtle on a county trunk road 70 miles outside of Nowheresville, Texas. (If you don't know what a Post Turtle is do yourself a favour – look it up.)



So what's going on? Why are they there and why are they upended?



You ready?



How else are you going to get him home? Him being your friend who's too drunk to stand up. And if he's too drunk to stand up he's too drunk to get out of the conveyance when you get him home. Ok, nearly home. Yup. A clean and jerk and out he comes. Leaving the supermarket trolley nose down. Sort of like a reverse dumpster that seizes up right after it's done the needful.



And you know what, there's nothing new under the sun. In London at any rate.

I'm thinking of the 1170s. Of William Fitzstephen's encomium to London. He praises it to the skies but is careful to add that there are a couple of drawbacks: the frequency of fires and the immoderate drinking of fools. 

It's a London thing.

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Plaque of the week No.61


You've seen them all over the city: discs, tablets, cameos and plaques commemorating the great and the good of London Town. Every Tuesday we track down a London plaque (Blue or otherwise) and put it centre stage on the London Walks Blog. This week…


Get Plaque…

Commemorating: John Lennon
Street: Montagu Square
Borough: City of Westminster


A most unusual plaque shot this week. It was taken by Richard Porter, Beatles expert and London Walks guide, the day before the official unveiling. As ever, Richard is first with the Beatle news. In this case before it's even happened!



Richard was also the first to announce the unveiling and will be visiting the site on his regular Beatles Walks.

It is dedicated to John Lennon, who lived here in Montagu Square in 1968. Ringo Starr was the leaseholder and also sub-let the premises to Jimi Hendrix. Is there a more rock’n’roll flat in all of London?

The plaque was unveiled last weekend – Richard P was in attendance, of course. He was also interviewed INSIDE the flat for a forthcoming DVD about The Beatles.

He’ll tell you all about it every Tuesday and Saturday on The Beatles In My Life walking tour.

At the unveiling, which was performed by Yoko Ono, Rod Davis, banjo player in Lennon’s first band The Quarrymen, said: "If only they'd mentioned the drugs bust on the bottom of the plaque. Wherever he is, he would have a great chuckle about this one."


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