Friday, July 10, 2009

Cycling across the Channel

I promised to keep you up to date with the news and history of famous strollers.
Well I forgot to mention the 30th anniversary of the first human powered flight across the Channel. Bryan L Allen cycled across it exactly 30 years ago. He is not exactly a stroller since he bicycled the whole way but he strolled at each end and so he qualifies for the Blog.
The plane had the romantic name of the Gossamer Albatross (a sister plane was solar powered and had the less suitable name of the Gossamer Penguin) with a wingspan of nearly 30 metres and an empty weight of 32kg. The key to man powered flight is the relationship between weight and the area of the wings. Therefore since we are so heavy, the machine has to have enormous wings. This plane's wing area was 150 square metres. Those people who attached wax and feathers never stood a chance.
He pedalled for 169 minutes to keep the "plane" airborne in order to get from England to France. This might not sound a long time but he had a head wind and he needed a lot of energy to keep the wings up. One of the team said that the maximum length of the flight was 170 minutes before he ran out of energy. His average height was 5 feet off the sea - try that on your next flight to France.
A copy of the plane is in the Museum of Flight in Seattle
I like to think that he only wanted to get to Paris to try our tours there since he had enjoyed the Strollon tours in London so much but I guess the prize of £50,000 was more important.
There is an award winning documentary about the flight that you can get from the internet movie database.
Although this might not be the most efficient way to reduce global warming and save the planet, we have to praise the man for showing that we must never give up.
In passing it worth emphasising that when you are on one of our walks, you are doing a lot more to save the planet than when you are on top of the tour buses. You could of course take a bicycle but I would not recommend braving the London traffic with earphones attached to an MP3 player.
Keep strolling.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Charles behaved worse than Berlusconi?

Royal scandal: Charles caught swimming with "friends".
Strollon brings you another royal scandal.

Just like the Italian President, there is no doubt that Charles' reputation rises with each story of his affairs with women of all classes. Will scandal do for Charles what it has done for Berlusconi? We might not always be better than the Italians at football but our royals certainly beat their politicians!

His lovers ranged from shopkeepers to Duchesses seeking the fame and wealth that comes with political scandals. Age took away his sexual drive but in his heyday it was well known amongst the upper classes that if he did not make love at least once a day then he became impossible.

Although Charles has been famous for many things including a style of architecture, he is not known for having the looks of a Hollywood pin-up. We have come across many stories of his affairs - some are proven to be true but others have been fabricated to feed the public's love of famous lovers. One fact is that one of his mistresses called him Charles III because she had had 2 previous lovers also named Charles.

You can hear more about this at the website at

You will by now have realised that none of this story involves our present Prince of Wales. This is the real macho behaviour of his ancestor King Charles II who used to swim in St James Park with his mistresses. He was never embarrassed to show off his sexual conquests that included Nell Gwynne who was an actress and orange seller in Covent Garden and is reputed to have bedded the king within a few days of meeting him.

StrollOn’s iPod walks are full of such anecdotes about the scandalous lives of the saints, sinners and strumpets that fill the history of London. Listen to some of them on our website. You can either download our own tours or you can make up your own from more than 200 chapters covering sights throughout major European cities.

Over the next few weeks we will be continuing our stories in our blogs and newsletter. If you have your own stories then please write to us at so that we can include them on our website.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The wrong result, relegation and rifts

I'm sure most of you had a fine bank holiday weekend, enjoying the early summer sun as it bathed the countryside in its glorious, unexpected rays of warmth. And if that was the case then good on you; I hope you managed to get outside with the family and burn yourself to a cinder. Because only then would you begin to empathise with me, although the resulting physical discomfort will have been as nothing to the emotional torture that a couple of members of the StrollOn team and I suffered come 3 pm on Sunday.

This was the moment that Stephen Fry's and my beloved Norwich City were relegated to the depths of the third tier of English football for the first time in 50 years. This is the footballing equivalent of being sent to the "naughty step" at nursery school. As I'm sure you'll recall from your days spent "in Coventry" it's damaging and very difficult to bounce back from.  

As a Canaries supporter I have now suffered two relegations in the past 4 years. My pride has been hurt, especially after having put so much time, money and love into supporting the boys in yellow and green since the days of my youth. Perhaps this hurt was more visible than I thought. Few of the friends staying with me over this distastrous weekend sought to pour salt into these newly opened wounds. Perhaps they feared that if taunted I might, like a wounded buffalo, react in an unpredictable and aggressive manner. Perhaps they were concerned that the reaction might not happen immediately, but that vengeance would be sought over time, at a time that suited me. And they would have been right, because I was an angry, angry little man.

Some time ago I managed to have a chat with the current CEO of the club on the phone after leaving a rather pointed post on the club's unofficial website, the Pink'Un. What I said to the man overseeing the club's gentle but inexorable decline was that I did not think that he was the right man for the job. Since 2004 he had made mistake after mistake. I, like so many others, no longer had faith in either him or the rest of the board. It was time for a change.

And not a change in players, manager or coaching staff and this has been done to death - the death of the club. Instead we now need to look at those in a position to appoint new managers and coaches and vet the sales and purchases of new players. Whilst we cannot change the whole board, we can make changes within it; electing a new CEO would, in my opinion, be a good start.

In the meantime, the team and I are going to continue thinking about other things, unrelated to Norwich City Football Club. The Summer Holidays are approaching when football clubs and supporters alike have time off to relax for a few weeks, recharging the batteries before a new season begins. And what recharging needs to be done. Come mid-June we'll know more about midwinter trips to Yeovil, Carlisle and Exeter. Since StrollOn's focus has become increasingly UK based to help service all those planning "staycations" this year, this might be a good chance to research first hand some of our lesser known regional centres. 

If you live in a regional centre which, you feel, has a lot to offer the discerning visitor then please do get in touch. We're always on the look out for new subject matter to cover in our next line of mp3 audio guides. Just send us an email and we'll be in touch.

Until then,


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Next Easter will be audibly better

A good afternoon to all our readers and a very Happy Easter for this Sunday. As mentioned in my last entry I'm off to Norfolk for the weekend, which is unsurprising as that's where I come from. Unlike my girlfriend to whom you might expect me to be loosely related. 

But before I head off down the M11 and into the sunset I just wanted to assure you that next year Easter will be a more exciting occasion. Although we just missed the boat in 2009, come 2010 you can rest assured that our Easter Egg Hunt Audio Guide will be ready for action. Of course there'll be one in London, but I also want to find out from those travellers amongst you where else (in terms of European cities) you'd like to spend an Easter weekend exploring.  

Are we going for famed Christian and culture centres, such as Rome, Venice, Seville, Prague, Vienna and Paris, or are we looking for a different experience all together. Alley ways and small back streets make for the best discovery grounds, so maybe Tallinn or Split. So let me know what you think - it's you chance to make a difference to Easter 2010...

In the meantime, StrollOn...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Like the rest of the UK StrollOn looks closer to home

We have got ourselves into a right little pickle, haven't we? The pound has dropped so much against the Euro that is has now become prohibitively expensive to visit our favourite haunts in Spain, France and Italy. Once the preferred destination of city breakers and package holidaymakers alike we now simply cannot afford to even leverage a beverage when we arrive on the ground in Barcelona, Paris or Rome. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the World - in spite of crumbling markets and broken economies - seems to be finding enough loot to head in the opposite direction and make the most of the lowly pound. So much so in fact that we've hardly seen a drop (if at all) in year on year visitor numbers to London and the like. But what can we do? Do we just have to sit at home this year, riding out the storm? Personally I don't believe that the British will be fazed by a weak currency and rising unemployment. We may cut down on some luxuries, such as fresh vegetable and durable loo roll, but we will not cut down on them all. Which is why the word "holiday" continues to play on everyone's mind as the summer approaches. 

Much like me you do not want to be left behind in June and July, sharing your capital or home town with the barbarian hordes from mainland Europe and the US. No, you want to go abroad, but somewhere where your money will buy value. In which case we're suggested to avoid the Eurozone and North America and advised to consider new destinations. In Europe the best deals can be found in Iceland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Turkey. Thereafter carriers have made it easier (on the wallet) to get out to both the Middle and Far East. 

Have a look at AirAsia and you'll see what I mean. The advent of the low cost, long haul carrier couldn't have occurred at a better time.  

But can you really be bothered to pack up, pay what is still (relatively speaking) a small fortune and head abroad? Holiday yes, but abroad really?! I think that this is when we should all stop a moment and consider the opportunity that has been put before us - the opportunity to get to know our own island a little bit better. And it will feel like arriving in a foreign country as you pass the railwayline in Brandon on the A1065, because I'm telling you that all your vacational needs can be found in Admiral Lord Nelson's county, Royal Norfolk. Just sit down, take a look at the following and tell me that I ain't as mad as a turkey drumstick...

You know it makes sense. I'm heading off there this weekend and I'll let you know how it goes should I manage to escape come Monday night. If not, follow my cries for help on Twitter

In the meantime, StrollOn...

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Disappointment of a Dublin City Guide

As I mentioned the other day, I bumped into Jerry Springer in Dublin. You may be surprised and a little disappointed to hear that I'm not going to dwell on Jerry - I'm far more interested in discussing Dublin.

Forget that I spent most of the weekend ill in bed, being very brave, because when I finally managed to get out and about there really was very little to get excited about. Yes I enjoyed the Guinness Factory, which has fantastic views over the city, and was intriuged by Kilmainham Jail, which has played such an important part in the country's recent political history, but other than these two "sights" there was very little to Dublin other than a wide range of rather sad looking pubs and bars. It's all about the Craic, they say; I'd suggest that it's only about the flaming Craic.

However, this is not what Ryanair's online city guide suggested. You could probably call me a fool for taking a Ryanair flight (and I'd agree) and damn right demented for thinking that any literature that they produce would be worth reading. However, having failed to read the small print on the original flight offer (which cost me an extra £80 - still seething) I thought that I'd address this fact and take advantage of their small print on the city itself.

The Dublin City Guide was woefully inadequate, not so much in terms of quantity of content, but more in terms of its quality. I knew I'd made a mistake when my €15 taxi from the airport to the centre of town weighed in at nearly €30. From then on in I was advised to visit that, go shopping here and listen to live music there. Thank God I was in bed for most of my stay; it meant that I was limited to no more than a day of misinformation and chasing rainbows. 

Since my return (and yes thanks, I feel a lot better now I'm back) I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to find some decent quality online city guides and applications. One of my favourite at this early stage is Schmap. They've produced a desktop application, which covers each sight and location in a city in considerable detail, drawing on other established sites for much of their information. But it works and I think that it is definitely one to watch - I know that we are.

Until next time, StrollOn...

Friday, March 13, 2009

When you can't face flying from London...

..go regional. Recently I've been in touch with Guy Skinner, the Director of, on the hunt to find out more about the UK’s other major International Airports. For too long I’ve made the long, expensive and time consuming journey up to London in the belief that the Capital’s airports, in particular Heathrow and Gatwick, represented the only real options when it came successfully escaping our wind-swept shores.


Better than simply quoting figures at me and trying to big up the current centre of his Universe, Birmingham, the kind Mr.Skinner sent me the following literature explaining what’s going on where amongst the UK’s top regional travel hubs. Although not the most entertaining read that I’ve given you to date, it is nonetheless informative and worthwhile stuff – it might just save you a couple of quid when you’re next thinking of jetting off abroad.  


Before I throw the good stuff at you, here’s a quick description of what Flights from Birmingham actually do. They are a flights guide, offering a resource of relevant information on the routes and destinations operated by airlines from Birmingham airport. The website details up to date information on the routes including frequency, flight times and journey times. It also offers helpful information for travelers on airport location, transport links, shopping and conference facilities, whilst enabling users to book parking, car hire and hotels. The site also posts regular blog posts outlining news about Birmingham Airport, about fare sales, new routes and information about the Airlines that operate from the Airport.

Now you know what Guy and the team do, it’s time to let you catch up on the best of the rest, from Blackpool to Exeter…


London versus the rest

Traditionally, the catchment areas around the UK`s largest cities have always determined the growth of the country`s main airports. However just recently for the first time the number of passengers being handled by Britain`s regional airports exceeded 100 million. Growth has surpassed the likes of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and whereas back in 1990 only Birmingham and Manchester could offer daily scheduled flights to over 12 destinations outside the UK, today this level of service is achieved by no less than eight regional airports. If we take the five regional airports that have experienced the fastest growth in terms of passenger numbers in recent years, it is clear to see that their success can be largely explained by the introduction of services by no frills airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair and Flybe.


Blackpool airport has a large catchment area and is not only gateway to Blackpool itself but the rest of Lancashire and the Lake District. This is a 3 runway facility recently acquired by Balfour Beatty`s Regional & City Airports group. An important base for flights by Ryanair, and Manx2, Blackpool has experienced rapid growth both in terms of passenger numbers and routes. 


Bournemouth currently flies around 900,000 passengers a year to over 60 destinations worldwide and by 2015, this number is expected to rise to 3 million. Demand has resulted in extensions to the terminal buildings and the construction of a new arrivals hall as well as improvements to the surrounding roads and expansion of its car-parks. The increase in passenger numbers has largely been down to the introduction of flights by Ryanair and Thomsonfly.


Norwich airport has been undergoing significant extensions since the late 1980s but has recently become a central hub for low-cost carrier Flybe and now handles 460,000 passengers a year. Recent improvements have included a £4.2m million investment including a brand new arrivals hall, a refurbished departure lounge and separate facilities for domestic and international passengers.


Exeter is the fastest growing airport in the South West. Currently handling over a million passengers a year, the facility is now being expanded to cope with 1.9 million passengers by 2015. Exeter is an important hub for Flybe who operate important routes across the UK, The Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal.


At Liverpool airport, both Easyjet and Ryanair have built up successful European networks and have consistently introduced new routes, while new budget airline Wizzair has just begun flights to Poland. Liverpool`s facilities have expanded significantly along with the increase in passenger traffic which grew by 500,000 in 2007. The airport now handles around 5.5 million passengers a year.


So there you have it. No more need to spend hours searching for flights in and out of London’s Heathrow or Gatwick; instead look closer to home for those top deals to some of Europe’s finest and most affordable destinations. Although, if you are after a wider choice of flights passengers then boys from Birmingham advise you to rely on the more central airports. Birmingham to Rome flights for instance are now available with a number of different airlines including KLM, Lufthansa and Air France, offering flexibility and choice to anyone looking for a short break to this fantastic city.


Wherever you decide to go, remember to take one of our mp3 city guides with you - they make traveling that just much more enjoyable. If you don't believe me have a listen now by visiting our audio experience page.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Time to focus on London

The Naked Guide?  When I first met Monumental Adventure’s Flora Montgomery I was prepared. She was not your average former film actress - she had starred in Basic Instinct 2. Now I’ve never seen this sequel, but if it’s anything like the first I’m absolutely certain that there must be the odd bit of bare flesh on display.  Whether or not it’s Flora’s, I am relieved to be able to say that to this day I still don’t know.

But when we did finally manage to catch up I was aware that she was just the tonic that the world’s faltering Tourist Industry currently needs. Focussed and motivated but with an obvious and sometimes wicked sense of fun she has put together quite a company – there really is nothing else quite like it out there.

You see, what she’s trying to do is make us all more aware of the cities around us; the sights and sounds that we take for granted day in, day out. She has started by covering, in quite considerable quality and depth, London, New York and Beijing. She’s called in a few favours from the likes of Tracey Emin, Joanna Lumley and Tom Hollander and together with her team she had produced a unique collection of videos of world famous monuments, decaying cemeteries, colourful markets, medieval pubs and even a statue of a gorilla, and this is just in London.

The videos are beautifully shot and give you a taste of what the monument or location is about. Soon after my first visit to the website I headed off to the Whispering Gallery at St.Paul’s Cathedral followed by a rather morbid afternoon at Nunhead Cemetery. Both were fantastic experiences – it was just a shame that neither Flora nor Tom Hollander were there to hold my hand.


Which is where we come in, surely?  Surely. Because this is when there would be some considerable value in having an audio guide to hand. Most of these are not major attractions - certainly nowhere you’d find an on-site guide, either human or audio. How fantastic would it be to watch one of these videos and then, having decided where you’d like to visit, download the corresponding audio guides so that the experience could continue long after you left your computer?

We thought “very”, which is why we have setup a new in house initiative. Starting with London, we’re making all our audio content available as individual, site-specific guides. Essentially you’ll be able to choose what sites, locations and monuments you want to download onto your MP3 player, pick’n’mix style. No prescribed routes or set packages, you alone will be in charge of your own sightseeing destiny.

If you sign up to our feed or even go to our website and subscribe to our website we'll be able to tell you when the new service is available, which should be soon - very soon indeed.

In the meantime, StrollOn... 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now you can get StrollOn updates on

Checking through our webstats the other day I found out that we were getting quite a bit of traffic from a site called Quite a clever idea in that once you're a member you can add a bookmark onto your web browser. Thereafter, whenever you come across a good blog that you either want to follow (via updates) or suggest to the wider community, you just drag and drop the website's relevant details. 

I know that this site is not the first of its kind, but it does make following other sites and bloggers so, so much easier than many of the others, which is why we're converts; I guess this is the reason why people are now tailing 3 million sites via the service. Including ours. So thank you whoever suggested us and keep up the good work. I mean if you're normal and like to travel then why wouldn't you like and the concept of the mp3 city guide.

Click below and you'll see how easy it all is:

Update me when site is updated

A World of Audio guides, Walks and iPods

About StrollOn

Hello and welcome to StrollOn, where we produce audio guides and audio tours of London, Paris and an ever-expanding list of major european cities. We have also developed our free city overviews and "Hot spots" (individual audio commentaries for individual sights and attractions). Whichever product interests you we simply ask that you select the relevant audio guide or audio tour on our website and download the mp3 files onto your iPod or other mp3 player, thereby turning your iPod into your "GuidePod".

As you will see from the this blog, we are a new company, providing recently developed products on our website. We've set up this blog so that we can tell you all about us as you join us from our infancy. And we are actively looking for feedback, both on the website and the blog. We don't want you to help us simply to become the biggest, but we do want you to help us become the best walking audio tours company.