Going on a London Walk is a great way of getting to know the city, even for long term residents. I’ve lived here for over twenty years and yet I’d no idea that the small wine bar I used to pass every day on my way to work was once the first coffee shop in London, one supposedly frequented by pirates hence its name Jamaican Wine Bar. Despite our walk ostensibly being about Harry Potter, our very lovely and energetic guide managed to slip in a few other fascinating facts.
I’d expected a Harry Potter walk in half term to be full of eager children, but in fact the walkers were mainly young adults – satisfyingly, from all over the world. Harry fans from Argentina, Spain, America – a couple were so eager to see the places where Harry once trod, they’d come straight from the airport.
We twisted up alleyways in the City; Simpsons doubling as the Leaky Cauldron, the spot where the Night Bus banged into a parked car setting off the alarm, Leadenhall Market where Hagrid met Harry in Diagonalley. The few kids there were unerringly right in every Potter question thrown at them. We ended up in a mass wand throw in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, the wands flashing into the air towards the great stone phoenix, the inspiration for Fawkes, that has been guarding the south door of the cathedral for hundreds of years.
I bought a discount card, fully intending to return – maybe London and the First World War, The West End Ghost Walk, Literary Bloomsbury, The Ripper Walk (still going!) and Richard, our guide’s new one – Money and the City of London.
First stop however, on a Thursday morning, I’m going on one of the first Olympic Park Walks, can’t wait.