Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Dear Charnowalkers,

Last time I mentioned how slow January can be - well, February's much the same! Especially when the weather is as unreliable as it has been. As I mentioned in the last post, my February tours were on the legal side, exploring crime and the law in the City and the East End. Most went ahead, but with small audiences.

My last tour of the month was 'To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime', which is my oldest tour. It began as a project for the City Guide course, and includes the rather sordid story of George Sloane, who was nearly lynched on his way to being remanded at Giltspur Street Compter (above). Among the group was Hilary Kruger, media guru, who helped me hugely with enlivening my professional profile. Her website is here - give her some thought next time you want to extend your commercial reach:

Though it was intensely cold, with wind blowing off of the river, a small group joined me for the reduced-price preview of my new literary tour, 'Peter Ackroyd's Monstrous East End'. The tour features readings from four of Ackroyd's novels, and explores the monstrous portrayal of the Sailortown area. From Limehouse we crossed Ratcliffe, went up through Wapping and finished at Shadwell. At time of writing, bookings are already coming in for the first full outing on 10 March.

One interesting commission came in via Footprints of London. An American lady called Ana Mirabal is researching Disney heroines, and wanted a medieval tour to give context to the Sleeping Beauty story. I tweaked my medieval 'Before the Make-Over' tour to reflect as much as possible at short notice the activities of medieval women - mainly queens - in medieval London. I did some stuff to camera early in the tour, and she's said she'll send me a link to it. If it's not too gruesome I'll link it up to this blog when it arrives. In a few day's time I'll be doing this tour again for some New York University undergraduates, and you may be interested in this item I wrote after the first time I took groups of NYU students on it:

Next month I'm scheduled to go to Luton to address a University of the Third Age (U3A) group about the Honourable East India Company. (That's their original charter of 1600 above.) Given that I'm doing so much prep I've decided to put it to good use, and on 31 March I'll be giving a reduced-price preview of a new tour, which has the working title of 'To Blackwall and Beyond'. The tour moves from Poplar to Blackwall and focusses especially on the EIC, though it'll be looking at the whole development of London's first docks. It'll be a companion to my tour 'Tidemarks from the Pool', which is coming up again on 25 March. Next year I'll fill in the gap with a Sailortown tour, inspired by my Ackroyd tour.

In order to compliment the new dockland tour, my March tours lead up to it by being exclusively East End. Sadly I'm too late to prompt you about the WW2 tour 'Just You Wait and See', scheduled to commemorate on 3 March 2018 the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster. But the tours scheduled so far for March, and indeed April. can be found on my website:

I've trespassed enough on your time for one post I feel, so I'll close now; there are various bookings coming in for March already, so as we move into a busier time I hope to have much more to report and to provide illustration of the splendours and miseries of the jobbing tour guide.

With very best wishes.


Dave Charnowalks

Monday, 29 January 2018

Dear Charnowalkers,

January is often a slack month for the jobbing tour guide. I wonder whether it's because people have done their best to get themselves into debt in the run-up to Christmas, and so are perhaps cutting back on the expenditure.

Yesterday saw the last tour in my month-long celebration of the Footprints of London blog. Engineering Change is a tour which explores the relationship between the City of London and various engineering ventures - mechanical, electrical and civil. Among the audience was a former professor of civil engineering. Though it's good to introduce people to new stories and indeed ideas, it's always a pleasure to have people along who can appreciate the finer points, and she certainly enjoyed the experience. Details of the tour can be found on the link below, as can my Footprints blog item on the Electric Telegraph Company, as featured on the tour.

The theme for February's Charnowalks is crime and the law, in the City and the East End. (I've developed quite a fondness for those composite pictures, as you'll have guessed.) The tours look at unrest in the City, crime and wrongdoing in Bethnal Green and the Ripper murders. They also explore the unique relationship between the City and the law, and some issues relating to judicial punishment. As always, you can get the full list of tours here:

But there are no tours on the first weekend of the month, because that's Walk London weekend - a weekend of free tours organised by Transport for London. Details on the link here:

Another departure from the theme is Saturday 24 February, when I will be giving a reduced-price preview of my new tour, 'Peter Ackroyd in Sailortown'. This is my fifth literary tour featuring site-specific readings, my second in the East End (the other being 'Bethnal Green in So Many Words') and the third focussing on a specific author (having covered Charles Dickens and John Mortimer to date).

As usual, being the first outing of a new tour, it's being offered at the inflation-busting rate of £5 a head. If you fancy coming along, it's a 2:00 start from the Bekesbourne Street exit of Limehouse DLR Station.

Though guiding takes priority, I do try to keep my hand in with some writing, and earlier this month I had the privilege of getting another item accepted for the Footprints of London blog. This time it was an item based on my tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life', which I created for the Footprints of London Literary Festival in October 2017. You can find the piece, and details of the tour, on the following links:

Just to round off, this Saturday I did two half-hour mini-tours for the East of London Family History Society. They had their AGM in the Arts Pavilion at Mile End Park, and during the lunch interval they had some guides doing little tours for them. Mine were a look at Mile End Park from its origins in the County of London Plan (1943) onwards, and the development of the Mile End estate of Charles Morgan, 1st Baron Tredegar, including the gorgeous Tredegar Square. Very appreciative audiences for both. You can find out about the EoLFHS on this link:

Well that's all for now, Charnowalkers. I look forward to bringing you more of the splendours and sorrows of the jobbing tour guide in a few weeks. Until then, keep walking!


Dave Charnowalks

Friday, 5 January 2018

Dear Charnowalkers,

Happy New Year! Oh dear, it's been nearly two months since the last outpouring of the splendours and miseries of the jobbing tour guide. I'm afraid December was a bit hard going. I won't go to far into details, but suffice it to say that my cat Bogart was put down, I had an eye operation with painful consequences, and my lap-top still isn't back after nearly two months, so I'm using borrowed tech. I had to cancel almost all of my tours except the Theatreland tour on 29 December. Mind you, I did have a private booking on Boxing Day (see below).

So, what's been gong on? Well, my tutoring skills have been ticking over. We managed runs of Part One and Part Two of the Walkie Talkie course, and hopefully this will mean we can progress to Part Three in April. (Details via the links at this paragraph's end.) One unfortunate trend is that we're not attracting experienced guides, who would benefit from a bit of Continuing Professional Development out in the East End. CPD is becoming my thing now. I used to be a bit wary of the idea, but it does make sense if you think of it in terms of deepening your knowledge and experience. Abbreviations (and CPD is NOT an acronym!) do tend to put me off, I must say, but once you get beyond that you're alright! Also there's a project brewing down on the Island - that's the Isle of Dogs, for non-locals - but I'm not sure how much of this is under wraps, so schtum for the present.

Not only did I have the renowned author Rebecca de Saintonge all to myself for a day earlier last year, but since last I blogged I've had the benefit of guiding two more authors. In early November the American pen-swinger Nicole Galland was good enough to spend part of her visit to the UK by coming on my 'Shakespeare - Take Him for All in All' tour. And on Boxing Day I had a private booking which turned out to be none other than Philippa Gregory and her husband Anthony, whom I escorted along the river from Queenhithe to Tower Bridge as we reflected on the development of London's trade over the centuries from the medieval to the Victorian. Just before Christmas I had a busman's holiday by going on Lucinda Hawksley's Dickens and Christmas tour, on the back of her new release 'Dickens and Christmas'. The tour was as rich and satisfying as the best of Christmas puddings.

And now, to look forwards to 2018. Again I have themed my weekend tours, and this month they celebrate the Footprints of London blog. I have the privilege of being a director of Footprints, which is a guiding co-operative of independent, qualified London guides. But what many may not appreciate is that we have a blog, featuring items written by these guides. So, for a street-level appreciation of London's many curiosities and splendours, take a peek at the blog which can be found by clicking HERE. All of my January weekend tours have featured on the blog through items written by me. You can find details of the tours on my schedule, and my blog items are listed on my website too:

As I said, December was rather sterile in guiding terms, but work is progressing on my Peter Ackroyd tour. I'll have more information on that in the next blog instalment; the usual reduced-price preview will be in February. There will also be a new tour which will be a companion to 'Tidemarks from the Pool' - again, details in the next blog instalment (I hope), with a reduced-price preview either in February or March.

So, apologies for the gap in transmission on the blog, but my guiding experiences were rather muted in December. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Hoping to see you soon.


Dave Charnowalks

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Oh dear, the last post was in September, and now it's November. I should point out perhaps that this silence is down to my being extremely busy, and I'm sure you'll appreciate that at this time of year, as the weather changes and people are less inclined to walk the streets, being busy is a good thing. Anyway, let me give you an insight into the recent experiences of this jobbing tour guide.

October saw the Footprints of London Literary London Festival offering over fifty separate tours exploring London's literary side. I had no fewer than five tours on offer, totalling nine slots, and some interesting audiences. It also garnered me a couple of five-star TripAdvisor reviews! Four of my five tours were based around site-specific readings, including the new tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life', and it was highly satisfying to put sites into context in that way. It also prompted a new post for the Footprints of London blog: Scrooge's Lonely Rooms encourages the reader to appreciate just how alone Scrooge was on that grim Christmas Eve by considering the question of office provision - or lack of it - at the time.


I'm preparing a new literary tour for 2018, which will be another East End tour to join 'Bethnal Green in So Many Words' and which is inspired by my reading of Petr Chalupský's recent work on Peter Ackroyd's London novels.

I had the privilege recently of reviewing this work for the Literary London Society's journal, and have posted an interim review on Goodreads. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Chalupský at the Literary London Society's annual conference in 2014, so it was particularly enjoyable to be able to read this study. Talking about the conference, recently I took the time to load up to Academia my conference papers. It's a very useful site, where you can share all sorts of work. You don't have to limit yourself to full-blown academic articles; you can share a variety of items. It also allows you to establish your ownership of intellectual property, just in case!


An interesting project that came up in October through UKEDA was initiated by my friend and guiding colleague Licia Sisalli. 'Get into Guiding' saw us each teaching the basics of guiding to a group of Italian teens. Essentially it was a language exercise, but I hope they understood the benefits they were getting in terms of presentation skills. Anyway, I had sixteen teens and a charming teacher called Francesca; I did the tour for them on Monday and Tuesday (with some visits), and then on Wednesday to Friday the group did the tour for Francesca and me. Good fun, and from what Francesca told me the kids enjoyed it, including the ones who'd not liked it when they were told they were doing tour guiding rather than career development!

On which subject, the Idea Store Learning course Walkie Talkie Part One went ahead in September-October, and Part Two is currently underway. One regret I have at the moment is that more established guides aren't getting involved. It's good CPD, a low-level refresher for guiding skills (after all, we all slip into bad habits) as well as an up-close look at the East End. Still, there's Part Three scheduled for April 2018, so who knows? Talking of Part Three, it ran for the first time this year and has invigorated the Tower Hamlets Walkshop workshop initiative. We've relaunched and are working on a couple of projects at the moment, with prospects for future activity.

Anyway, that's all for now; I'm hoping to get back into the swing of blogging now that many of the big projects are under control. Look out soon for news about a project on the Island, and hopefully soon I can update you about the prospect of my next book.

Take care of yourselves, and I hope to see you on the streets again soon. Take in my schedule, why don't you?



Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Yes, I know it's nearly a month since my last post, but such is the life of the jobbing tour guide - you have to snatch at every opportunity! One curious experience I forgot to mention in the last blog was that I had the privilege - along with some other Footprints of London guides - of guiding some Chinese students. I took them on a Theatreland tour on the Friday evening (11 August), which was extra special because they'd been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe! They were particularly impressed to hear about Peter Daubeny and his World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych; especially pleasing was that in 1955 he brought the Peking Opera Company to the Palace Theatre for the first ever cultural visit to the UK by the People's Republic of China.

Anyway, what about the past month? The big news is that twelve people enrolled on the Walkie Talkie Introduction to Guiding course, and are now getting to grips with the real East End. Session One of Part One happened last Wednesday.

That Part Three ran this summer means that momentum has been revived for the Walkshop project. We have two groups working on individual projects, starting small to build up soundly! The current intake for Part One are enthusiastic, so hopefully we'll carry on into Part Two in November. These things are all recruitment-driven, so it's not something to take for granted. Still ...

In connection with the East End, I've been included in an initiative on the Isle of Dogs. I don't know how much is under wraps at present, so don't want to say anything, but things are happening and Island life is looking up.

It was good to contribute to Totally Thames: two slots each for two tours celebrating how the Thames has been crucial to the development of maritime trade that established England, and then Britain, on the international scene. One of them, River to Riches, was co-developed a couple of years ago with good buddy Vivien Schrager-Powell. Talking of Viv, I had the now-usual honour of backmarking for her 'In the Shadow of the Shard' tour yesterday for Walk London. This a weekend of free tours offered by Transport for London, usually thrice a year. Look out for the next one in February 2018.

Another festival looms in October: the Footprints of London Literary Festival.

This year we have over fifty different tours (five of them mine!) offered throughout October. Indeed, there's one or more tours EVERY DAY in October 2017! Even Doctor Who is represented this year, courtesy of my friend and colleague Robin Rowles. The list of tours can be found here:

I've increased my consultative value, as noted author Rebecca de Saintonge engaged me for a day to give her some medieval colour for a work she's putting together.

We strolled from Westminster, through the Inns and into the City, finishing on Bankside, and Rebecca mined my knowledge of medieval London to get a flavour of the C15, her period. It was a pleasure to recreate mentally how the different areas would have looked - and indeed smelled - with someone so charming, despite the hours of walking involved and the continual sound of my voice. Rebecca's site is here:

There are other dribs and drabs I could mention. My new tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life' is in fine form now, having had two outings. On 1 September I was on my chum Rob Smith's tour 'The Long Good Friday Revisited'. I couldn't do it last year when it was new, but he offered it for Totally Thames this year, so I got the chance and encouraged a couple of pals along too. It's a top tour, with all sorts of stuff about the film, including locations of course, but also reflections on how the regeneration of Docklands Harold Shand dreamed of achieving eventually came to pass.

Anyway, I've trespassed long enough on your valuable time, so I'll sign off now and hope to see you on the streets very soon. October sees East End Saturdays, in line with the course; the Sundays tiptoe along the dark side! Full details as usual on my schedule:



Monday, 28 August 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Busy, busy, busy - the jobbing tour guide needs to make hay while the sun shines, as it were, and I've been popping my finger in various pies. Mmm, gravy ...

Anyway, here's the latest round-up of the splendours and miseries of the hack guide. I kept the first Saturday in August free to attend my good friend Joanna Moncrieff's excellent tour of Walthamstow.

Jo guides there and in Chingford, and does an excellent job bringing you the full story of the northeastern suburbs. It's in areas like this that you can see the layers of development far more clearly than in central London. Jo can be found here: http://westminsterwalks.london.

My Sunday Charnowalks in August have been pre-Fire tours, inspired by a thoroughly enjoyable Richard III at the Rose on Bankside. This visit gave me an idea which will require too much thought and reading to do this year, but next year ... In fact, I've got at least two other tour ideas ready for realisation in 2018. Sorry, you'll have to wait and see!

Anyway, August's Sundays saw essentially medieval Charnowalks with a heavy Shakespearean emphasis, supported by the excellent picture of Shakes-bear by my good friend Fay Bennett. This fine fellow was one of the Birmingham Bears on display recently. Also I cashed in on the Great British Beer Festival with my 'Booze and the Borough' tour, on Saturday 12 being joined by my fellow Hullite Alison, her husband and one of their daughters. I don't think I've seen Alison since I graduated from Hull University in 1986, so that was a momentous meeting!

A curious and fun commission for 26 August came from Dave Curley, a former boss of mine when I worked for Tower Hamlets Council. He wanted me to do a local tour of Bethnal Green with specific reference to details about his wife Josie which he supplied - where they met, where they went for their first date (pie and mash, if you credit it!), and so on. It went very well, and all seven people there (including two of their sons) was happy at the end. Sadly I couldn't carry on with them for an early curry, but family duty called.

Saturday 19th saw the first outing for my new literary tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life'. There are some points to straighten out - that's why my first outings of new tours are at the cut-price preview rate of £5 a head - but the tour is sound. It'll feature twice on the Footprints of London literary festival in October, but gives the inspiration for my September Sundays, which will feature law-based tours including a chance for a Sunday outing for Rumpole (the lit fest outings are weekdays).

I'll be loading up the tours soon and updating my schedule, so do keep an eye on my website:
Alternatively, you can join my mailing list and get the mailouts as they're issued - just fill in the aggravating pop-up when you visit the site. Of course, if you haven't done so already, you can sign up to this blog as well and get the full Charno experience.

As well as my scheduled tours and the Footprints of London Literary Festival, I'm featuring also on Totally Thames - please scroll down to the last post for details!

I think I've taken up enough of your valuable time, so I'll wrap up this Charnoblog entry. I hope you're getting the good weather where you are, and are enjoying your summer.


Dave Charnowalks

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Slowly getting back to routine ...

The theme for August's Sunday tours is pre-Fire London, with the emphasis on the Tudors. This is an idea which came to me after seeing an excellent Richard III given by the Malachites at the Rose Theatre, Bankside.

Beginning with 'Before the Make-Over' on 6 August, tuning into the echoes of Tudor and Plantagenet London, we go on to consider Shakespeare the Londoner, Henry VIII and the Supremacy, and finish with the City on the Jacobethan stage. Please take a peek at my schedule:

With the fortieth anniversary outing of the Great British Beer Festival coming up soon, I'm offering my 'Booze and the Borough' tour on 8 and 11 August at 11:00 and 12 August at 2:30. This tour seeks to give a depth to the appreciation of alcohol through exploring the rich relationship between the Borough and brewing, hospitality, and the wine trade. I'm afraid there's no drink taken on the tour, but we do pass some very good pubs for reference purposes!

Again, please see the schedule for details: http://charnowalks.co.uk/charnowalks-tour-dates/

The nearly three weeks since the last blog have been dominated by Horace Rumpole, barrister at law and Old Bailey hack, created by John Mortimer QC. 'Rumpole and the Legal Life', my latest tour, will follow Rumpole's experiences as a barrister and will feature readings from some of the many stories. As the focus is on Rumpole himself, the tour takes in some of Legal London but not all. That's for another time, probably next year!

I will be offering the usual reduced-price preview of the tour on 19 August, with all places at £5 a head. You can't book for this on-line, but an e-mail to me at charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk will reserve you a place.

September sees the return of Totally Thames, the month-long celebration of London's river, and again I'll be offering two river-based tours. 'River to Riches' is the tour I developed with my friend and colleague Vivien Schrager-Powell, which sees how the Thames became the City's artery for trade. My 'Tidemarks from the Pool' follows on downriver to Shadwell to see how our maritime trade infrastructure developed, as well as considering the experiences of the merchant seaman ashore. You can find details here:

Preparations are underway for October's Footprints of London Lit Fest 2017 (this is 2016's promo image), with my friend and fellow City guide Jill Finch at the helm. Details to emerge soon, but the above Rumpole tour looks likely to be included. There is a colossal choice of tours to come, and hopefully we will be offering a season ticket deal again. This ticket gives unlimited access to Lit Fest tours - so far the record is twenty-eight tours on one season ticket!

Well, that brings you up to date with the currents carrying the Good Ship Charnowalks into August with an eye on September and October! I shall get a less loaded blog entry to you in a fortnight's time, with a steadier focus which will include the new run of the Walkie Talkie guiding course!

Hoping to see you on the streets soon!


Dave Charnowalks