London Ramblings #1: Memories from the Bloomsbury Festival 2013

Dear Reader(s),

Guess who’s back? Yes, it’s me. I’m back to the world of blogging again!

As I correctly predicted in my last post aeon years ago – yikes, it’s been more than two months already – I had a strong inkling that developing a new tour as well as starting the City of Westminster Guiding Course (WGC) would take its toll on this humble blog. And it did. Once again, I’m terribly sorry for this TfL-style delay*, however, loyal followers, your patience is about to be rewarded with a new post. How very grand of me!

In the wise words of Norma Desmond, this is not a comeback, but a return to the millions of people (I wish!) who have never forgiven me for deserting their computer screens (I’m allowed to dream, right?), and as such, I will use this post to give you a brief update on what happened since I last saw you.

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Me entertaining the crowds during the Bloomsbury Festival 2013. (Picture: @LondonKiwiEmma.)

Well, the Bloomsbury Festival 2013 happened mid-October and, gosh, let me tell you what a blast I had! On a whim, I had approached, rather lately, the festival organisers about developing a new walk for their programme. Cupcakes in hand (true story, I would never lie about cake, I swear!), I made my way to their headquarter close to Lamb’s Conduit – one of Bloomsbury’s most trendy ‘villages’ right now – and pitched my Art Deco in Bloomsbury tour to Maddy Jones, festival producer extraordinaire, who, luckily for me, took a shine to this slightly insane brainchild of mine. (A very sincere thank you, M!)

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First time my work has ever been featured on a chalkboard!

While getting approval from the organisers was one thing, researching the walk was a complete different story. Although the route of my tour is still very close to my original concept, I had to alter a few things along the way. I was also rather lucky to find enough relevant source material which helped me to shape some of the stories I tell on the walk. Additionally, a few trips to the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre proved to be very useful – the librarians, unsung heroes of our times, were invaluable in their help and expertise too.

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The Wallis, Gilbert & Partners-designed Daimler Care Hire Garage on the Festival Weekend.

Designing a new tour is always a collaborative effort, I believe, and I couldn’t have put this Art Deco walk together without the help of my friends, including @FranPickering, who told me how she once had a summer job in the Daimler Building (when the garage was being used by Frames Coach Tours), and @GWinLondon, my tour guiding fairy godmother (yes, they do exist!), who was a great sounding board for ideas throughout the creative process as well as a very efficient steward on the big day(s). Another thank you also goes out to my many online friends – you know who you are! – who helped me to promote the walk in the build-up to the festival and who came down to support me.

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Looks like we’re moving towards the light or maybe that’s just my star shining in the background?

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Where’s Yannick? Oh, I’m the one wearing that ridiculous black beanie hat. Yikes!

Another fundamental aspect of a successful tour is the audience and, as you can witness from the pictures above, I couldn’t have asked for better groups of visitors! (If you made it to the walk, thanks again for joining us and making my day!) From torrential rain to glorious sunshine, the three groups I guided during the festival were very lively and, without their enthusiasm and tenacity, we wouldn’t have been able to bring back to life Bloomsbury’s stunning Art Deco buildings. I was truly overwhelmed by the positive responses to this tour – I thought I had selected a very niche subject, you see, and I really wasn’t expecting this kind of fervour. (Come to think of it now, it seems very fitting though, especially when one considers the sense of excess we have come to associate with the Jazz Age.)

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Oh dear, I’ve transformed myself into a GIF!

 (If you have missed the tour, fret not, I will regularly be offering the walk next year.)

In other news, we are now two months into the WGC and it’s been a very enlightening experience so far. The well-tailored syllabus has already allowed me to discover tons of new London eccentricities and quirks. For our course we have to design a walk and as such I’m currently working on my Venice in London project, a new original tour, which will explore Venetian connections in the City of Westminster.

venice3I should also have used my class experiences as blogging fodder, however, @archdoodler, one of my fellow classmates, beat me to the punch and has written a very eloquent post about the trials and tribulations of becoming a tour guide. You can read his article on Cemetery Club, a fascinating blog about London’s cemeteries that he is co-authoring with his friend Christina.

Take care and see you soon again,

y.

*Claim your refund from the Ministry of Blogging when you exit this page. I’ve been living in the UK for far too long and the fine art of apologizing has almost become a second nature to me. I’m sure many of my native as well as expat readers can relate to this phenomena. I often wonder which habit I would have picked up if I were living in, let’s say, France? …

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11 thoughts on “London Ramblings #1: Memories from the Bloomsbury Festival 2013

  1. Good to see you are back and that you had such a crowd following you at the festival! I hope they will become loyal readers of your blog and will go to all of your tours. An evergrowing catalogue of walks ! Can I book my place for the Venice in London one ??

    • Hi Cindy,

      Thanks a lot for your comment – sorry it took me ages to respond. I’m sure you can sense a pattern here! [rires]

      Yes, my catalogue – or shall I call it a repertoire? is ever growing and I’m looking forward to welcoming you to the Venetian tour.

      Take care,

      y.

  2. Hi Yannick
    Great new blog and fun to read as always. Love the Norma Desmond reference, very you.
    Adore your new tour and so did the masses that followed you in both sunshine and torrential rain to sample the delights of Art Deco in Bloomsbury 🙂 Knowing how hard you worked to prepare it I was delighted to see how well it’s been received. Some of us can’t go anywhere now with out seeing art deco everywhere thanks to you 🙂
    Thank you so much for the mention, it’s always a real pleasure to be involved in your tours as you’re always good fun to work with.
    Can’t wait for the much talked about and highly anticipated Venice in London tour, you’ll have another hit on your hands.

  3. I work in Bloomsbury on Grays Inn road and I love the area. I didn’t know about your tours but now I do. Do you run them during the weekend or week? I would love to join the Venetian tour in London. I also do blogging and I am fascinated by St Georges gardens behind Grays Inn road, an old cemetery opened as a green public space by Octavia Hill. I did write a blog on that http://lauraslittlethings.com/2013/08/16/creating-green-spaces-for-the-growing-urban-population-of-london-the-legacy-of-octavia-hill/
    I work in housing and for housing people Victoria Hill is one of the early founders and her very varied contribution to society is impressive.
    All the best, Laura

  4. Hi Laura,

    Thanks a lot for your message. Sorry for my slight delay in getting back to you – the past few days have been a bit hectic with Xmas festivities! 🙂

    One of my Art Deco in Bloomsbury tours will actually take place during the week in January (Wednesday, 22nd, 1pm), but no worries if that doesn’t work for you, I can always arrange other days at a further stage. Venice in London is still in early stages, but thanks for your interest in it, encouraging feedback always help!

    Thank you very much for pointing me towards the direction of your blog. I have always been curious to learn more about the history of St George’s Garden, so your post has come as a blessing. I’ll give it a plug on mighty Twitter soon.

    Happy festivities to you and your family,

    y.

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