Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The City Of London

If you're visiting London for pleasure it's easy to forget about The City but it is a stunning destination packed with interesting sights and sounds. If you're in the area, for pleasure or on business, check out our walking tour of the area. It will take your around some of The City's most wonderful parts.

On your walk you can see the church All Hallows by the Tower which survived fire of London in 1666. It's stunning to look at with it's algae green spire. It is still open for ministry and you can sit quietly there if you wish.

Then there's the Lloyds of London Building (picture above). The building was designed by Richard Rogers and you'll notice that all the elevators, stairs etc are on the outside. This is supposed to create as much light indoors as possible and there are no corridors either. In other words, it's a pretty unique building. Oddly, Lloyds started in Edward Lloyd's coffee house where groups of business used to gather. They were able to insure ships and that is how it started. Today though it's an insurance market. Everything can be insured here and the Hollywood actress Betty Grable once insured her legs here.

One of my favourite parts of the city is near to Billingsgate market. Billingsgate used to be a fishmarket - you can recognize it by it's huge fish weathervane - but has now been turned into offices. Built in 1876 as London's main fishmarket, at one point it could handle 400 tons of fish a day. George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm once worked there too. Nearby is Southwark with it's shops and restaurants. Have a wander around the area and, if you want to see some culture, you can visit the Globe or the Tate Modern.

Hopefully this will give you a taste of the City. It's an interesting place and we hope you enjoy spending time there. If you've want any other tours of London why not visit www.strollon.co.uk where you can find out a bit more about our walks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coffee, Cocktails and Books - A Round Up!

Over the last couple of weeks we've been blogging about some of our favourite places in London to drink a cocktail, meet for a coffee or find a good book. Here's a quick round up of some of the fantastic places that will supplement your Strollon Walk.

Books Stores

Whether your in Westminster, Covent Garden or West London we've got a bookshop near you.


Love coffee? Read about our favourite coffee shops in London


It's the end of the week. Why not celebrate with a cocktail in the sunshine?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cocktails in London

Who doesn't like a good cocktail? After a wonderful day walking around London there is nothing better than sitting down to a very cold, very dry martini or a clean, crisp daiquiri. So, here is a quick guide to some of our favourite cocktail bars on our StrollOn walks.


Our walk through Soho takes you past some fascinating sites but one addition is the wonderful bar at Bob Bob Ricard with it's deep plush seats, mirrored ceiling and top notch cocktails. Located on St James Street, just around the corner from Polpo, it serves delicious British and Russian food. It's owners, Bob and Richard are Russian and English respectively (Bob owns two thirds hence his name comes twice in case you were wondering). You sometimes have to book tables in advance but often you can walk in off the street. Try their excellent house champagne and some of their special nibbles.

Covent Garden

If you're close to The Royal Opera House (Chapter 18 on our Covent Garden Walk) then you're very close to the excellent Covent Garden Hotel. This is often where stars visiting London choose to stay when they are trying to be discrete and it has an excellent bar, The Brasserie Max. They do some delicious signature cocktails - try their Seven Dials martini, named after the area of Covent Garden the hotel is in: it is a delicious mix of passion fruit and elderflower with gin and orange flavoured martini. Just what the doctor ordered!


You'll find The Cinnamon Club just behind the Houses of Parliament (chapters 1 - 8 on our walk). It's a wonderful restaurant that serves high end Indian food and is well worth visiting if you can. But there's also a wonderful bar in the basement. Unsurprisingly they try and bring an Indian twist to their drinks so check out some of their house specials like Curry Up! Curry Up! which mixes curry nectar with gin and lemon juice. It sounds weird but trust us, it's delicious.

Hopefully you've enjoyed our short guide to some of our favourite bars in London. If you're looking for more audio guides to London visit our website www.strollon.co.uk and if you've got any tips, please leave them in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The National Gallery

Here's something I didn't know: the National Gallery in London is quite different to most European galleries because it wasn't created by the nationalization of a state or royal collection. The Musee de Louvre was established after the French revolution and was based on the royal collection of art. The Museo del Prado in Spain similarly has at it's heart the Spanish royal collection. The National Gallery though was formed after the British Government bought a small number of painting from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein. The directors continued to grow the collection but, because of it's origins, it has never been as big as some of the European collections. Today it is owned by the British people and entrance to the museum is free.

The building that houses the collection is magnificent. It's facade looks out over Trafalgar Square and was built between 1832 and 1838 by William Wilkins. If you are on our either our Westminster walk or Covent Garden walk you can pop into the museum and have a browse. It's well worth it. My favourite room houses ones of Van Gough's Sunflower paintings. It is stunning and, if you've never seen it before, you have to see it to believe it's beauty.

If you're looking for something to do after visiting the gallery do have a look at our walking tours of Westminster and Covent Garden. They're a great introduction to the area and you'll get to see some amazing sites. Have a wonderful time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

London's Bookshops

We're so lucky in London to have such a wealth of bookstores. The scene above c0mes from the movie Notting Hill which is set, very briefly, in a bookstore in West London. The Travel Bookshop, which writer Richard Curtis based the bookstore in his film on, can be found on Blenheim Crescent and though it is currently under the threat of closure, it is well worth the visit. There is a move by writers and friends of the store to keep it open so, fingers crossed, you will be able to keep visiting it. Here are a couple more stops that should be essential for booklovers.

Cecil Court

There are several bookstores that you should try and visit. If you're on the Strollon walk around Covent Garden you come very close to Cecil Court, a wonderful old street full of bookshops and print shops. It also features on our 60 Minute Stroll too. Cecil Court is home to some beautiful bookshops, such as Nigel Williams' Rare Books which, like The Travel Bookshop, appears occasionally in movies such as Miss Potter. Mozart, who lived on the street briefly in1764, and Johan Christian Bach used to meet here and discuss music. It is a wonderful place to spend some time browsing so make sure that you leave some time if you're walking around London: it is worth it.

Waterstones Piccadilly

The most famous chain of bookstores in the UK is Waterstones and their flagship store can be found at 203 - 206 Piccadilly. It is about ten minutes walk from Trafalgar Square so, if you're on either our Westminster or Covent Garden walks, you can pop right it. The magnificent building used to be a department store called Simpsons but was turned into a temple to books a few years ago. Spread over six floors, there is a wonderful selection of books to read and take home with you. A good tip is the cafe on the top floor which does excellent cocktails and has panoramic views over the city.

Do you have any other bookshops you'd like to suggest? Please do so in the comments below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


What a rotten day it is today. In London England are taking on India in the final test of the cricket but this terribly weather has pretty much put pay to that. Not everyone is trapped inside though. If you've got to go out or are stuck in the rain, here's a brief roundup things you can do.

The Pub - A few weeks ago we put together this guide to some of London's pubs. If you're in Convent Garden or the City check it out for some recommendations.

The British Museum - If you're central, you could always pop into the magnificent British Museum. Here's our post on it. Or, if you are closer to Trafalgar Square how about The National Gallery. If you're on the South Bank there's the Tate Modern too. And the best thing about all three (aside for their being dry)? They're free!

Coffee Shops - When the rain is pouring and you need warming up, why not pop into a local coffee house to grab a warming cup of something. Here's our suggestions for some of the best coffee houses in London (and not a Starbucks in sight)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tall Ships

One of the blogs I follow regularly is Ian Visits. It's great if you're in London and want to know what's going on. He has just posted this about free tours of ARC Gloria, a training ship in the Columbian Navy, and it looks great. I have always been fascinated by tall ships and have had a hankering to get on one since I was young. Here is my chance. You can visit the ARC Gloria in Deptford until next Monday. Greenwich is a beautiful part of town and you can get a clipper from Waterloo. It's a lovely boat ride along the Thames with some unusual views of the city. It's a lovely thing to do after a StrollOn walk around the South Bank.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Ok, you might not associate Great Britain with basketball but this week this is - hopefully - all changing with the London Prepares Basketball Invitational. We've mentioned London Prepares before in our post about Women's Volleyball and this week it is time for basketball to take centre stage.

Over at Olympic Park in East London the Basketball Arena is open and ready for business. This week, Great Britain is taking part in a tournament featuring Australia, China, Croatia, France and Serbia to test out the facilities. Normally the stadium seat twelve thousand spectators but, in this test phase, there are only around three thousand tickets available. If you failed to get a ticket for next year here's your chance to get a taste of the action. You can find out more about tickets here.

If watching all that exercise makes you hungry for a bit more, than why not try out one of our walks, such as our tour of the nearby City of London. It's packed with information and you'll get to see some excellent sites.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Glorious Tweltfth!

If you're in London this week you are in for a treat. In the UK August 12th is sometime known as The Glorious Twelfth because it marks the start of the shooting season and from then on shooters can happily hunt the Red Grouse, a delicious game bird that makes for a wonderful supper.

If you are in Covent Garden, perhaps on a StrollOn walking tour of the area, then one of your Foodie destinations should be Rules Restaurant. It's situated on Maiden Lane (chapter eight on our walk), a street famous for all sorts of reasons, not least its name which may mean that it used to be a dung heap! Rules is one of the world's oldest eateries. It was set up in 1798 by Thomas Rules as an oyster bar and has remained on the same site ever since. It's customers have included royals and writers, actors and politicians: many a famous face has sat within its walls and ate dinner at a Rules table.

At this time of year the restaurant comes into its strength for it serves some of the best game in London and from now you can get your hands - and your teeth - on delicious roast grouse, tender woodcock or a simple pheasant, all served with the usual trimmings: game chips, gravy and - hopefully - bread sauce! You can see the Rules menu here but it is worth noting that because the supply of game can vary it will not always be available. If you wanted to make doubly sure that you'll get some tasty game birds for your lunch or supper, call ahead.

And, if you need to work up an appetite for your meal, or perhaps walk it off, then check out our wonderful walking tours of London here. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beach Volleyball!

What with the Olympics being less than a year away it is little wonder that our attention has started to turn to the games. As part of the London Prepares series, there are various sports going on in London over the next few weeks in an effort to introduce us to them and to work out any wrinkles. This week, at Horse Guards Parade, it is the turn of Women's' Beach Volleyball.

If you've listened to our Westminster walk, you will know that Horse Guard Parade is usually the site for Trooping the Colour but, next year, it will be transformed into a beach for the players. This week, to test this out, the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International is being held here. Over the weekend you can see the quarter finals, semi finals and finals being played. Check out the schedule here. It's sure to be a fun event and it's a great opportunity to see the sport up close if you haven't been able to get tickets for next year. And, if you're looking for something to do afterwards, try our Westminster Walk which will give you a wonderful walking tour of the area that is filled with history and insight.

The British Library

Following on from my post on the British Museum, I wanted to mention the British Library, an equally stunning destination. Fifteen years ago, the library reading room was housed in the museum but it was tiny and could not satisfy the demand for books. So the library was rehoused in a magnificent building on the Euston Road which now not only holds a vast number of books but also run exhibitions.

It's worth noting that you have to apply for a Reader's Pass to get access to the Reading Rooms and the books but, despite this, the British Library offers a rich experience to any visitor with its exhibitions. At the time of writing you can visit the Out of This World exhibition which will let you explore the weird and not so weird ideas behind Science Fiction. This runs until September 25th but visit www.bl.uk to find out what else is on. The Library really is a fun day out.

Of course, if you want to learn more about London don't forget our audio guides which will give you a great tour of London. You can find out more here

Monday, August 8, 2011

Open House London: 17th & 18th September 2011

Ok - this has to be one of my favourite thing to do in London. Every September, Open House London gives you the chance to get inside some of the capital's most iconic buildings and explore. Now most of us don't often get to see inside Kensington Palace or Lloyds of London but, thanks to Open House, we get the opportunity. This year you can even visit the BT Tower if you're lucky because. There will be a ballot which opens between the 15th August and 5th of September - we'll post a link once it's open.

You can find out which buildings you can visit by ordering the guide here and some of the venues need to be booked in advance - there's a list here and booking opens today so you may need to get cracking. All in all it looks like it will be a great weekend. Plus, if you want to add to you experience you can check out our London walks and audio tours. Enjoy

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coffee in London

Coffee is very important to me. I am afraid I am one of those people who just can't cope with out the stuff and so I make an effort to find the best I can. Walking around London you'd be forgiven for thinking all we drink is Starbucks, Nero or Costa coffees but that isn't so. Recently there has been a flowering of independent coffee houses which serve boutique bean blends that make a delicious change from the usual chain stuff. I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favourite coffee shops in town for you to try on our walks.


Our Soho walk is a lot of fun but we all need a quick coffee break so, if you're near Soho Square - that is chapter 4 and 5 on our walk - why not pop in to Nude Espresso, a fabulous boutique coffee house on the North East corner. You can' miss it because the shop itself is painted a wonderful bright red colour.

Nude Espresso specialise in blends and the staff will happily advise you on what is best for your taste. Their signature coffee is made with their East 'Espresso' blend and is delicious. They do all the classic coffee house stuff - lattes, cappuccinos, muffins etc - and they do them very well, making their baked goods fresh each morning.

Covent Garden

During our walk around Covent Garden you will have come across Dickens' Coffee shop on Wellington street (in chapter 16). It's a great place but here is an alternative for you to stop off at on your way back.

Monmouth Coffee started roasting its beans in Covent Garden in 1978 but moved the process to Bermondsey in 2007. Today, the store on Monmouth street, serves espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and filter / drip coffees made from the beans it sources, blends and roasts itself. You can sit down here but it's often very busy so take away may be the best option. It really is somewhere worth going out of your way for. Even if you're not a coffee drinker, the smell of the beans is astonishingly good.

The South Bank

I've recently posted a few events you can visit if you're on one of our South Bank tours so if you're visiting for a show or a StrollOn walk and you need a coffee you should check our Cafe Vergnano which is close to Skylon and the Southbank Cenre on Festival Terrace. Coffee always makes me think of Italy - I think it must be the espresso - and Cafe Vergnano is the epitome of an Italian coffee shop. Short, sharp very dark espressos that give you a great hit of coffee and elegant cappuccinos to keep you going if you start to flag. They also serve some great food so its a great place to grab a snack on your walk.

Hopefully you'll get to have lots of delicious moments during your time in London. If you find any great coffee shops, please let us know below.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Audio Posts: Da Polpo and The People's Supermarket

At StrollOn we specialise in giving you audio tours that are full and comprehensive. With this in mind I thought it would be fun to post by audio for a change. So here are two posts, the first about Da Polpo and wonderful Venetian restaurant in Covent Garden (with branches in Soho) and the second is about The People's Supermarket, a wonderful community run store in Bloomsbury. Both are wonderful stop offs after your StrollOn tour around Covent Garden. Enjoy!

Da Polpo, Covent Garden (mp3)

The People"s Supermarket (mp3)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Museum Of 1951

Yesterday I posted about The British Museum but I wanted to draw your attention to The Museum of 1951 because, well, it looks like a lot of fun and, if you've just finished a StrollOn walk along the Southbank, its a great opportunity to find out a bit more about the Festival Of Britain. In 1951 Britain was a bit of a sorry place. The war had ended in 1945 but parts of London were still in ruin (because of bombing raids) and Britain was still paying back its debts from the war. Rationing was still in place for some essentials and there was a general sense of financial unease. Herbert Morrison MP (grandfather of Peter Madelson) and Gerald Barry had an idea for a festival the covered the entire country, that celebrated Britain and it's achievements and that would prove to be a 'tonic' for the country to help give it back its confidence.

There were sites and events the length and breadth of the country, but the Festival's lasting legacy was the Southbank Centre and Royal Festival Hall. Before these were built the Southbank was either derelict or slum housing but the Festival changed all that, turning the area into a centre of culture and a wonderful public space.

The Museum of 1951 is about more than the Southbank though, encompassing all of the elements of the Festival of Britain. If you want to see what London and Britain used to be like, then check this out before it closes on the 4th of September. There are also events tied to the Museum that you can take part in, like Memories and Memorabilia on the 28th August. The museum is free and is sure to make you think.

Top 20 Things to do in London Under £20, Part 2 From A Girl, A Style

Yesterday I pointed out this great post by A Girl, A Style. She's just posted part 2 of Things To Do In London Under £20 and it's definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The British Museum

The British Museum is a pretty impressive place. For one thing, it is free. For another, it is one of the deepest, richest collections of antiquity and ethnography you are going to find anywhere in the world. That, in my book at least, makes it an essential stop off point in London.

Admission to the main exhibits has been free for nearly a decade. This means you can move from Ancient Greece and Rome (make sure you check out the controversial Elgin marbles which are magnificent) to Asia and the Middle East in a few steps. In each of these sections there are some real treasures. If you're in the Asian section, please have a look at the Green Huqqa base which is made of such brilliant colour that you will find it hard to believe it is over 400 years old. The trick is to allow some time to explore the British Museum slowly. Serendipity counts in a museum like this.

There are also a series of special exhibitions at the museum. These are not free unfortunately but they are a l0t of fun. At the time of writing, you can visit the Treasures of Heaven exhibit of saints, relics and other elements of medieval European worship (open till October 2011, tickets £12, book here). But keep an eye out here for other exhibits on your trip to London.

Afterwards, if you want some more culture, why not take one of our audio tours of Covent Garden? It's one of London's hottest spots and you can learn about everything from its history as a market to it being a centre of 18th century prostitution.

What To Do In London For Under £20

I stumbled across this lovely blog called A Girl, A Style and her post about things to do in London for less than £20.00 It's pretty comprehensive and in the comments section there are plenty of other ideas too. Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Markets in London: Portobello Road

When I first moved down to London there were two markets everyone talked about: Portobello Road and Camden. These days Camden is pretty dull these days - it used to be fashion forward but no it's a bit cheap. Portobello Road Market however keeps going from strength to strength.

Ostensibly it is an antiques market and, at the Notting Hill Gate end, you will find a series of antique shops whose wears will spill out onto the street everyday, but particularly on market days. As you move further down though you will come across food stalls, record stalls and fashion stalls. If you want to pick up some vintage shoes, dresses or jackets this is the place to go. The stock is continually refreshed and you'll stumble across some real steals. Leather is particularly good to look out for here because it always has that lived in look.

Don't feel shy when dealing with market stall owners - they expect you to haggle so give it a go: it's all part of the fun. After your shop for bargains check out The Fat Badger, a gastropub with great selection of British food and beers. It's cosy and fun, but keep in mind it's toward the Westbourne Park end of Portobello Road.

The best days to shop are Friday and Saturday when the market is can get quite busy. Make sure you take some cash too as the stall holders don't take cards. And, if you want a break, you can hop on the central line at Notting Hill Gate and head to Tottenham Court Road where you can enjoy our walk around Soho.

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.