I was born and raised in London during a very exciting moment in history when London was being rebuilt after the Second World War. I cannot remember a single moment when my own natural curiosity did not drive me to explore the history and culture of the city. Inevitably this led to a passion for this beautiful city that remains to this day, half a century later.
My earliest recollections are of exploring the streets around my home, in Battersea, and wanting to know why the streets were all named after places in the Middle East. During the 1950’s, the area underwent major redevelopment from war damage and I spent many happy times exploring the rubble for pieces of shrapnel and even unexploded incendiary bombs! I spent hours listening to the war veterans recall their memories and even found out that Battersea Park hosted the first football match under Association rules in 1864.
Even before becoming a teenager, I explored areas outside of the city by bicycle and feeding my endless curiosity, I was always to be found somewhere in a city museum at weekends; the Imperial War Museum was by far my favourite place to haunt. I would spend hours there hunting for exhibits that matched with the stories that the old war veterans had told me in the Park. Many a time I found that I was not averse to trespass in order to discover what lay behind a fence or brick wall. I remember fondly how, on one occasion, the late Lord Montgomery (Monty) ordered me off his land when I was caught trout fishing on a stretch of river running through his property.
My enthusiasm for travel and learning has never diminished and since becoming becoming a guide over eight years ago, I have truly found my vocation – sharing my passion and knowledge of this wonderful country where there is so much historical heritage and eccentric traditions to explore. It’s not just about recounting the history of this island but sharing the cultural exchange with overseas visitors and making their tour as relevant to them as possible. One of my guests recently revealed that he had attended Westminster College in Fulton Missouri. It was with great satisfaction that I was able to take him to the original site in the City of London of St Mary’s church. The church had been destroyed in the Blitz of 1940, and was rebuilt as the College’s chapel using the fallen masonry and to the same design as the original.
I have many such anecdotes of guests who have been thrilled by my efforts to make the tours as relevant to them as possible. I would love the opportunity to do the same for you and your travelling companions.