We’ve asked various Footprints Guides to choose their Favourite Activities. This month Rob Smith suggests..
While the weather so far this summer has not been great for walking, its given me the chance to catch up with the BBC’s excellent series of London programmes. On of my favourites has been London on Film – The West End , a quick fire compilation of films and documentaries from the 20th century, sometimes funny, sometimes quite sad. Interesting to see the eccentric shops and market stalls that featured in Covent Garden during the 1950′s, I can’t help feeling that the area has lost a little character with its chain stores. You can find out more about Covent Garden’s past in Mick Rodway’s walk Covent Garden: A History of the Entertainment Centre of London on 13th July. Mick is a guide with a great ability for bringing the scene alive. Secret History of our Streets has also been outstanding, revealing how much history is hidden behind what we take for granted. Ideally there would be an episode for every street in London, but failing that there are Footprints of London Walks! You can find out more about Caledonian Road in my walk Up The Cally.
You may have heard that there is a sports event of some kind starting in London later this month! The Olympics seem to have people divided into love and hate camps. That said even if you are not interested in sports there will be plenty to do. One thing that appeals to me is the National Pavillions – base camps that show off the culture of the participant countries. They are based in prestigious buildings around London, some of which are not normally open to the public, so you could treat it as a mini Open House. I think the Czech House at the Business Design Centre in Islington, Nigeria House at Stratford Theatre Royal and the Jamaica House at the O2 Arena all look interesting. If you go to the latter the newly opened cable car across the Thames is well worth a visit.
The London 2012 festival is in full swing and we have lots of Shakespeare Walks and also a Dickens – Novelist and Social Reformer walk on the evening of 18th July to complement it. One standout exhibition is the Government Art Collection atWhitechapel Gallery for the perfect day out combine it with Adrian Clarkes excellent The Story of Spitalfields: Huguenots to Vintage Clothes walk. The amazing new space at Tate Modern – Tate Tanks opens on 19th July.
If all this is too much for you and you want some peace and quiet then there’s also our epic journey along the Hidden River Fleet, which takes in some lovely woodland on Hampstead Heath before descending to Kings Cross and the Thames http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/3801612726 and we haven’t forgotten the secluded alleyways and lanes that can always provide solitude in the crowded city, with a new walk around Secrets of Cheapside. With all that the only problem I have is when to do it all. You can find out about any of these walks on our website http://footprintsoflondon.com or like us on Facebook. Or why not make yourself popular and forward this email to any history loving friends.