Friday, July 29, 2011

Visiting Parliament

If you haven't ever visited The Houses of Parliament you have missed out on a wonderful experience. The Palace of Westminster, as it is properly known, is home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two legislative chambers in the British Parliament. There has been a Palace on this site since the 11th century and, until 1512 it was the official residence of the English monarch. A fire destroyed much of the building that year but it was still home to Parliament. In 1834 a much larger fire destroyed the building almost entirely. The only structures that survived the fire were St Stephen's Cloister, Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower and the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft.

The present building was designed by architect Charles Barry. Construction started in 1840 and took it took more than thirty years to complete the neo-gothic masterpiece. During recess, when MPs and Lords return to their constituencies, the palace is open for tours. The summer recess has just begun and so the you can take a guided tour of the Palace during the week and on Saturdays. There is more information here.

As the seat of Parliament it sits at the very heart of government and a trip to the Palace give you a wonderful chance to explore the surrounding area. If, after your tour of Parliament, you take the StrollOn Westminster walk you will get to see Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace as well. We hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vintage At Southbank Centre

I learned about the Vintage Festival on twitter today. It looks like a lot of fun. It's going to be a big three day party celebrating style and fashion from the 1920s to the 1980s. Along with stalls, there will be music, film, art and design so it sounds like there will be plenty for everyone. In the evening there will be a Vintage Revue featuring electronica, soul and British Hits and they'll be feature sets from DJs Jo Wood and Daisy Lowe over the festival. Quite a weekend! It's not free, but you can get tickets here. If you want to see what they are doing Festival Hall itself click here.

The Southbank is one of London's liveliest areas and so if you want to explore it a bit more please check out our Southbank walk which will give you a great sense of the area's history.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Pub

The Pub is one of the glories of England. According to Samuel Pepys they form the country's heart and London is well supplied with these essential arteries. On a warm summer's afternoon, there is nothing better than sitting in a sunny pub garden, with a pint of cool beer; and in winter you can always find somewhere snug, far away from the biting cold, to enjoy a drink and to warm yourself up again.

Pubs in London have some astonishing names: have you ever wanted to drink at Finnegans Wake? There are five according to Peter Ackroyd. Or how about the George Orwell? You can find that in Islington. There are still plenty of traditionally named pubs too: take any walk around London and the chances are you'll be taken past a Three Lions, Queen's Head or Green Man. Some are better than others though so here is a short list that you should try and visit when you're in London.

The Engineer

This pub is currently under threat of closure but a local campaign is trying to keep it open. It's small and intimate, with light, bright spaces to relax in. It serves good food, including that pub classic steak and chips, and some delicious beers. Our favourite is Meantime Pale Ale which is very light and crisp with a slightly floral nose. It's a perfect summer drink.

The Lamb and Flag

Reputedly, this is London's oldest pub. It can trace it's roots back to 1623 when a pub on this site received its first licence. It's served some very famous people, including Charles Dickens, and John Dryden was attacked by thugs hired by the Earl of Rochester outside. These days it's much safer and you can enjoy a pint of IPA or Young's Bitter in peace. It's worth visiting upstairs where there is a bit more space though.

The Eagle

Foodies outside of London may have heard of this pub in Farringdon because it's famous for being the first Gastro Pub. These maybe ten and penny now but when The Eagle opened in the early 90s it was revolutionary. The food, which is cooked in an open kitchen next to the bar, is still delicious and is inspired by European cuisine: it changes regularly. Look out for plump, herbed sausages served with puy lentils, roasted hake and tender grilled lamb. It's a perfect place to meet friends in and enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner.

The Ten Bells

This famous pub, situated in a grade II listed building, used to be where the prostitutes Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly would drink until they were murdered by Jack the Ripper. It has appeared in several movies and tv shows but is still worth a visit. It's tiled walls and dark wooden bar hark back to a different age. Today it is full of young trendy Shoreditch locals who visit to enjoy it's atmosphere and decent selection of beers.

This is just a small selection of London's pubs. If you have any to recommend let us know below. If you want to enjoy a walking tour of London, you can find out more here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hyde Park

One of the first things to say about Hyde Park is that it is huge. It is bigger than the Principality of Monaco for example. But don't be daunted. It is easily accessible and a great place to enjoy the sunshine.

If you are in London at the right time, keep an eye out on the concerts and gigs in Hyde Park. It is host to some amazing artists including Arcade Fire and The Killers. There are also other events, including an outdoor cinema. It's worth visiting this page to find out what's going on so that you can plan your visit accordingly.

Parks are for relaxing though and for enjoying the feel of the green grass beneath your feet and the sun on your face. If you want to collapse after one of our strolls around London why not hire a deck chair? You can out more about hiring here. You can also swim in the open air Lido if you want to. There is something liberating about swimming in the open air and it isn't something we get to do very often in London. The sun on your back while you glide through the water is a wonderful feeling. Find out more here. Just don't forget your trunks!

If you're looking for more to do in London, why not check out our London Strolls? You can find out more on our website

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Regent's Park

Regent's Park is one of my favourite parts of London. Located south of Camden and Primrose Hill, it links the North West London. You can walk from Camden Market to Lord's Cricket Ground, home of the game and the M.C.C., if you want but you don't need a reason to visit Regent's Park.

We've mentioned the park before, in this post, but here are a few more tips about this wonderful place. It is home to London's Zoo, where you can see a range of animals during the day and, if you're visiting in the summer, at night too. You can boat on the Regent's Park lake too. The lake, in the South West of the park, is a lovely way to spend a summer's afternoon: you can row safely and easily and bask in the summer sunshine.

But, if this is all a bit much for you, why not take a picnic and sit in the sunshine for an hour or two? If you can face the walk, there is an excellent deli to the north in Primrose Hill. Melrose and Morgan will provide delicious pork pies, thinly cut hams, freshly baked bread and some tart artisan cheeses. It is worth visiting for some supplies but there are plenty of supermarkets dotting the edge of the park. A picnic is one of the best ways to relax in a park, so take some time and enjoy it.

If you want something to do before or after your visit to Regent's Park, why not try one of our strolls? You find out more about our audio guides here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hemingway in Paris

One of the oddities of Paris to my mind is that it was the centre for American Modernism as much as European Modernism in the early twentieth century. In late 1921 Earnest Hemingway arrived in Paris with his new wife to be the foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star.

Paris was a shock: it was cheap, it was full of beautiful women and you could drink legally there to boot. Earnest met his fellow American writer Gertrude Stein who introduced him at her salon where he met Pablo Picaso, Joan Miro and other modernist artists. He also ran into another American writer, Ezra Pound, who was just finishing his edit of The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. It hard to imagine the artistic electricity fizzing through the city, but in places like Saint Germain Du Pres you can still feel an echo of it on the air.

The Paris Hemingway new is not that different to the one we visit today - he spent so much time living in the Latin Quarter, which is still full on winding side roads and cafe's that spill onto the pavement. Some of his haunts included Les Deux Margots (we mentioned it in this blog post) and The Brasserie Lipp. This is a wonderful Alsatian restaurant, serving simple ham and onion tarts and great piles of Choucroute Garni - sauerkraut, served with smoked sausage, ham and pork. Sitting here with a crisp glass of Riesling you could be almost imagine Hemingway walking in.

Do check out Hemingway's Paris if you can. It is beautiful. And if you need anything else, why not try out Sixty Minute Stroll? You can find out more about the Left Bank, seeing Notre Damn and learning about the Revolution.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Recently we've been focusing a bit on London but that's simply because London's home. At StrollOn though we cover cities across Europe and so this week I thought it would be fun to focus on Paris.

Paris is the city I would live in if I could. It's beautiful, glamorous and, well, very French. There is nothing like a stroll around Saint Germain Des Pres, one of the older parts of the city. Unlike the Right Bank, this little nook on the left bank still has some of the medieval streets and byways running through it that used to be part of Paris. It is also the academic heart of the city with the Sorbonne nearby and plenty of bookshops. If you're in Saint Germain Des Pres here are three places you should make part of your visit:

Les Deux Magots

This cafe on Rue Saint Germain Des Pres used to be a haunt of Hemingway, Picaso and Sartre. It may be a bit more touristy now but it is still a lovely place to sit and enjoy a cafe noir whilst Paris walks past you.

Shakespeare and Company

This small, ramshackle bookshop is one of literature's most important venues. It used to be owned by Sylvia Beach who was a passionate Modernist. She used to let the occasional impoverished author sleep in the store when they were down on their luck and went to extraordinary lengths to publish James Joyce's novel Ulysses. The shop closed during World War II but was reopened in 1951 and still sells books and holds literary events. If you're in Paris, you can find out more about the schedule here.


There are two Pollain Bakeries in Paris but the one at 8 rue de Cherche-Midi is my favourite because it feels timeless. The smell of freshly baked bread, sour-dough and croissant is irresistible. Inside, the staff are friendly and helpful and will introduce you to all sorts of new things. Try their pain au chocolat if you can: it's the best breakfast in Paris.

You can find out more about walking around Paris on our website and, as ever, please let us know your tips about the city below.

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.