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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.)
(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.
I 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,
*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? …