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… go on a tour and learn about London. As a real tourist would.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the best way to discover London is to get lost. And for tourists this is very easy; the streets of London are like multiple cobwebs neatly spun together. No parallel streets to be found. Almost none. And although Londoners are very helpful and eager to give poor lost tourists directions, their “it’s only a 10 min’s walk from here. You’ll be a’right love!” mostly turns out being an “at least a 45 minutes tour with blisters developing fast”.

So yes, my point is: getting lost in London is an easy peasy piece of cake. But it’s not always fun let alone the best way to spending your precious 3-day-city-trip-time.
Luckily I have some more advice if you’d wish to get to see London, but are keen on skipping the get-lost-hassle:

  1. More than 3 tube stations between A (the museum you’re just walking away from) and B (that shop you wanna go to)? Yeah, take that tube.
  2. Take a bowl of chalk.

Point I. being clear, I assume. Than comes point II…. Might need some explanation.

Now, before you’re off to London or heading into town with a bowl of chalk under your arm: STOP. Please! Leave the bowl at home…and yes, the chalk also. I don’t want to cause embarrassing situations. Really.

I feel I should start all over again…:

  1. More than 3 tube stations between A (the museum you’re just walking away from) and B (that shop you wanna go to)? Yeah, take that tube. (This far it all went fine.)
  2. Take a bowl of chalk.

Yes. I think, if you wish to get to know London (tourist or not) and don’t feel like endlessly getting lost, you should take a bowl of chalk. Or two. “bowl of chalk” meaning nothing other than “walk” in Cockney Rhyming Slang. (We are getting somewhere. I can feel it.)

And I suggest you take that walk accompanied by Bowl of Chalk.

Bowl of Chalk organising very interesting, informal and promising – if repeatedly chuckling while reading a website, I think that’s promising – tours through London. (I think I finally cleared all confusion. Yes?)

Now these tours really are something else. It’s not about the standard touristy facts and you won’t find yourself getting lost in a massive tourist crowd blinded by the flashes of the Japanese’s cameras either. It’s about sharing a certain love for London and it’s many interesting backstage facts and looks, meanwhile looking up at beautiful buildings and sights – you’d never found on your own – and chatting with one another. And of course a lot of walking is involved. Be prepared.

The walks are led by Jonnie, who is originally from Warwickshire but has been living in London for about 13 years. Jonnie started Bowl of Chalk at the end of last year after realising he really liked wandering around, meanwhile talking to people about London (I absolutely get that) sharing all witty, notable, surprising, quirky facts about London he has collected over the past years. Having been a tour guide before, 1 + 1 made 2. And Bowl of Chalk arose.

While I wasted time wailing how I wished living in London was a proper job, Jonnie was clever enough to actually create the job. Well done you!

Turned out Jonnie also is very handy at making brilliant maps, so if you’re lucky you might go home with a rare blister PLUS a rare map. Handmade! (The map. Not the blister.) And probably lots of good memories, newly gained knowledge and maybe an award…

The tours are on a “pay what you want” base making it also accessible for those who did not win the lottery yet. But don’t be mean and heartless: don’t bring your collection of pre-war ha’pennies. Or is that worth ha’ a million by now…?

Kids, the elderly, prams and dogs (to mention a few) are also welcome on the walks. Just don’t forget: you have to be able to walk. And your English should be fairly good.

You can choose from 3 Bowl of Chalk walks:

Trafalgar Square to St. Pauls – Saturday mornings, starting @ 10.30 am.

St. Pauls to Monument – Saturday afternoon, starting @ 2.30 pm.

My neck of the Woods – Sunday mornings, starting @ 11 am.

The first two walks: need I say more? It’s pretty clear where they start and end and they show the beautiful in between as well. Walk number 3 is a tour celebrating East London, it’s hipsters, murals and liveliness.

To me all 3 sound like good fun! I’d love to join a Bowl of Chalk when next in London, My neck of the Woods being on top of the list as a serious East London lover – if you don’t know me be now…
Knowing London only slightly I’m sure I’d learn a lot. And if you know London by heart, I’m pretty sure you’d still hear of things you never knew before.

I have to wait until my next trip to London before I can walk the walk. But if YOU are in London right now, I advice you to have a look at the website. Have a chuckle while reading. And be properly informed about the upcoming dates. And then of course sign up for a walk! Just because the sun shines. Because you wanna know more Londony facts. Or because you handed in notice at work this morning. Or maybe to celebrate you’re living in London a x number of years? But also if it’s your first ever visit to London you can sign up, of course!

Find yourself an excuse and walk on!

Follow this link for more information: www.bowlofchalk.net www.facebook.com/bowlofchalk

I’d love to see your pictures and hear about your Bowl of Chalk experiences! So tweet me, facebook me or email me…:

> don’t forget to hit the like-button!
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PS: The new Lost in London magazine is out! Get yourselves a copy of the Spring 2012 issue here: www.lostinlondonmagazine.com

PS2: Have you heard the rumour? They say that a 2G and 3G telephone system will be installed inside the Eurotunnel. This means Eurostar customers will be able to use mobile phones and internet whilst in the tunnel! It’s said to be installed and ready July 2012, in time for the Olympic Games…


Thanks to Bowl of Chalk for the images used.

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