The first Nursery Rhyme Tour of London was a big success (I hope) and went 4 hours with just a small hotchoc and church diversion.
It was lovely to meet two Excluded tourists as we explored the places, origins and possible historical tie-ins for the nursery rhymes so many of us learned who we were young. Being very laid back and private, we went off at various tangents both geographical and interlectual so on top of nursery rhymes went from such disparate events as the London Bridge terrorists to smuggling, insurance scams in the middle-ages and biblical Abraham and the Epic of Gilgamesh (like you do!!)
Excluded people are all so nice and I get sad as I know I won’t ever see many of them again and like other groups who have undergone shared trauma and suffering, we all have a bond and something extra special in common that no-one else can ever quite understand.
One of the things that is a bit galling about doing guided tours is that it is rather hard to copyright them unless someone blatantly copies every aspect of the tour. I’ve had so many of my tours copied over the years but it seems when anyone like the BBC or whoever want various tours, they don’t have too much problem finding the original.
It does make me think though about out of all the things to do in London and the U.K. why more people can’t come up with their own tour ideas as a few certainly have.
Whilst taking a moment to shelter from a rather biting cold wind with a hot drink, we took shelter in one of my Secret Gardens.
My Secret Gardens and Ruins of the City of London Tour has been ranked as the most authentic London experience so it was only a matter of time before someone else made their own version of it and I already knew of a company that did a year or two ago.
As we went in to this garden a large group of mostly local visitors where crowded inside so we sat on one of the benches against a wall and listened intently at the Blue Badge guide. It’s not an under-statement to say I was shocked at how poor they were. Some things were factually incorrect, other bits were glossed over or actually just made up and the most interesting aspect of all was not mentioned at all. Of the things that were said, the guide didn’t seem that confident in them either before as they put it “let’s go off to a much more famous secret church”.
My two tourists and I must have looked rather astonished and one of the other tourists joked that we will be tested later… I can only hope someone who knows what they are talking about is marking the answers!
I didn’t want to say anything as that would be rude although one of my tourists thought of asking me to speak up! I thought perhaps it was just me and I am biased but as soon as they left I was assured the Blue Badge guide really was quite awful. Considering the location was actually on their tour and wasn’t on mine and my guests still got more out of it says a lot.
I said afterwards that she made me feel good about myself as its only when you hear someone in the same profession that you can see how good or bad you are and Michael the tourist said that there really is no comparison
I have to say, I’ve never overheard a Blue Badge guide that I feel I would want to go on that particular tour. So often I have my tourists comment as our paths cross how glad they are with myself or even more damning, have one or two from their groups try and join my own. I think it’s like being certified at a certain level, they know about their scripts and curriculum but thats it. Rather like taking a driving test doesn’t make you a London Taxi driver. It wouldn’t be so bad but the company in question make such a big deal of them knowing everything!
Also it might seem a bit pedantic but why have a London tour with an American guide who talks about things like Railroads when no-one in the U.K. uses that word. I’d hate to go to New York for a tour and have some British guide talk about Pavements and the Underground. I’d feel a bit cheated if I was in Egypt or India and had a guide from Brazil or South Korea regardless of how good they were.
It is annoying though as if a guide doesn’t know something then they should just admit it, not just make stuff up when they weren’t even asked a question about something forcing them to say something. And because they do large group tours, they get more reviews. It’s easy to get lots of reviews if you have 20 or 50 people every time but a bit harder if you have one or two from the same family.
After going so long without any income or work or help, it’s gratifying to know I am still good at what I do and it probably says a lot when people leave reviews like these recent two below.
If you’re coming to London or pretty much anywhere in the U.K. do consider one of my tours through Ye Olde England Tours. We don’t just do the London ones on the end of the link but lots of other places too and even a few pre-recorded virtual video tours also.