Our Highlights of 2014
The Footprints of London team have chosen some of their highlights from another busy year. Thank you to everyone who came on our walks this year and all those who read and contributed to our blog. We have lots to look forward to in 2015 including our River Walks festival in April, another Literary Footprints Festival in October and more fundraising walks for Amnesty in the summer. Plus, of course, lots more walks that will uncover London stories and help Londoners love their city just a little bit more.
Rob Smith – Footprints of London
My strangest moment of the year was turning up at Borough to lead a Dickens walk one Tuesday evening, I’d checked in all that had booked when a group of three (plus a baby in a pram) hoved into view and said: “Is this the Dickens walk? We’ve booked”. “Well this is A Dickens walk, but I have everyone who has booked here” I replied. On closer examination of their ticket on one of their phones, turned out they’d booked for someone else’s Dickens walk the following Saturday and had somehow managed to confuse a noon Saturday start with a 7.00 pm Tuesday start, so had turned up absolutely randomly four days early at completely the wrong time (and had made arrangements for the husband of the lady with the pram to meet them to pick the kid up so they could go on the walk) – only to find a guide standing there about to start a Dickens walk! Booked them on, off we went and a lovely time was had by all, but with luck like that running their way I suggested they might want to buy a lottery ticket the following evening…
My favourite review of the year; a family group from the States who had followed my blog for some time finally managed to book on my St James’s clubs walk in the summer and were kind enough to write a post on their travel blog about it afterwards (http://beachbums1.com/2014/08/12/london-footprints-of-london/ ) As they put it themselves:
Originally, when I told my 16-year-old the name of the tour, I got a raised eyebrow and a not so subtle skeptical look. About an hour into the walk, she whispered in my ear “This isn’t what I expected. It’s really interesting.”
High praise indeed!
Best response to a question put to a group (from one of my kids walks, of course) ; “Who knows where the Great Fire of London is said to have finished” I asked. Kid who could have been no more than 7 sticks his hand up: “31 millimetres” he replies. Brilliant. But as a general point, the level of engagement and knowledge I’ve experienced on the kids walks I’ve done this year has been a joy to behold.
And then of course there are the never ending surprise views that London offers. I’ve heard people talk about the element of luck in good photography in terms of being in the right place at the right time. Like the evening I was early for my Dickens After Dark walk so decided to reverse-walk the river section on my way to the meeting point and arrived at Queenhithe at this time, just as the sunset seemed “trapped” between millennium and Blackfriars bridges and made a perfect silhouette of those walking across the bridge.
Favourite moments for me are :
– Meeting Liam Garcia on the London part of his Long Well Walk from Sheffield to Cape Town which is raising funds to build toilets in communities in Africa. I led a walk for the press day which looked at how London solved its sanitation problems.
– Doing a walk through a full scale protest in Parliament Square, not recommended and definitely avoiding that again, but actually everyone really seemed to enjoy it – it added an appropriate atmosphere to a walk about a great fire