Coronavirus Diary 42 – Necessity is the mother of invention

I started Ye Olde England Tours in 2013.  As far as I know, I was the first person in Britain to do what I do.  In fact I was so pioneering that I was thrown off Viator/Trip Advisor as back then such activities were very tightly controlled on that website and you have very certifications and accreditations and various other superfluous paraphernalia to be listed on there and my quickly rising number of 5-star reviews put some of those staid established noses out of joint.


Nevertheless I persisted and was soon being chased by websites to sell through them .  I can only think of one tour out of over 60 that was not 100% unique when I created each one and even that is delivered in a unique fashion.   With thousands of happy tours completed and getting on for a thousand 5-star reviews I obviously had a great idea and I still really enjoy coming up with new tours.  Sometimes I have a brainwave and think to myself that surely someone must already be doing something like it but no-one is.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so I suppose I should be flattered that many copy and yet given that organisations such as the BBC, Netflix, CCWGC, Bloomsberg come to me must mean something.

Three weeks ago I saw an invitation run by Mail Metro Media and the Federation of Small Businesses and they wanted submissions and business plans with the successful applicant being granted £3,000 of free advertising in newspapers an online with i and the Metro (an incredibly large and successful range of free local city newspapers) and the Daily and Sunday Mail of which the former I believe has the most popular newspaper website in the world.

I didn’t have that great an expectation of success, after all it is just little old me and a Small or Medium size business can still be so titled and have up to 249 employees.   The judges obviously didn’t want their money to go to waste and wanted to help someone who had been badly affected by the Coronavirus and no doubt not throw money away by picking someone with plans and drive for the future.

It appears that is me 🙂 as at the end of last week I received the email below and shortly thereafter I received a confirmatory telephone call.  I beat 6,000 other businesses as the email below shows.

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 15.01.42

It’s nice to be recognised and to be given the opportunity of free advertising and to know I can write out a good business plan but really good to know they like my ideas enough for the future to do this for me.

I am sure lots of people in the travel industry will try something else but also lots of people might come to it thinking wrongly it is very easy.  It’s possible to do something for a short while and not lose heart or be found out but it’s something else to be working 18 hour days 365 days a year.  If you’re not happy to give up all national holidays be out in absolutely all weathers and take your own holidays out of season (or never) then you probably won’t make it as a tour guide and no amount of expensive accreditations or the gift of the gab will change that.

So now I just have to finish off my latest book and get down to the new project.  I started working for myself after losing my job several times in circumstances out of my control. Things don’t get much more out of control that this virus when you’re in the tourist industry so hopefully in two or three years I’ll see this difficult time as another big stepping stone.

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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10 Responses to Coronavirus Diary 42 – Necessity is the mother of invention

  1. tockwith says:

    Thst is great news. Really pleased for you as it sounds like you have been having a tough time with things. I really hope this helps your business survive and prosper.
    Keep up with the blog posts. I really enjoy them. I had in fact been inspired to do one of your tours when you restart. I live in Yorkshire but am often in London (in normal times!) for work. Kind regards and congratulations again. Declan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Declan, that’s really nice to know. I went on a scouting walk again yesterday so will put a post or two on that as it completes my ‘Stanmore Tour’ I’ve been planning that includes the Roman, prehistoric and WW2 places I’ve posted about through the Spring. It would be great to meet you for real and I’d give you the best tour ever!


  2. Marilyn says:

    Congratulations, Stephen!!! I am so proud of you and thrilled for you!! All of your good deeds towards others have been rewarded!!! Hope you are getting out more! We are at the beach in Florida with my daughter and her family…then going to the DC area to see my son and his wife! This damn virus is not keeping me home!!👍😂. It is all political now!! Sick of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Marilyn, it’s quite an accomplishment. Would you believe the weather in London has been in the 70’s and 80\s every day since the third week of March. And only a few hours of rain showers over a day or so in March. Maybe now people will believe me when I say how dry London usually is 🙂


  3. Ellen says:

    Congratulations! Well-deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oh good for you! wish I could do one of your tours!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. conniefromla says:

    Congratulations! If I ever make it out of Los Angeles again, and over to England, I’ll be on one of those tours.

    Liked by 1 person

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