So let’s introduce you to the tour guide. He is Vic Norman and despite his personal Facebook page saying he lives in Brisbane, Australia he actually lives here in Redbridge and is a neighbour of Heather’s down on the commonwealth estate. In his preamble, as we gathered outside St Paul's tube station, he mentioned that he had only ever lost one customer in all the tours he had done and then pointed to one of the invited guests, also from Australia. Now, Vic is quite a tall bloke and he has very bight dyed crimson hair so he is very easy to spot and follow in a crowd, and crowded are the streets of London, not to mention the pubs. I don’t quite understand why the photos in the gallery on his website are so devoid of people. He also, judging by his attire on Saturday and the banner picture on his Facebook page, has a shoe fetish but we won’t tread there.
There are several tours, all listed on his website, and this one, which involves the most walking, was the Tale of Three Bridges which had nothing to do with the place of that name in Sussex, although it did involve crossing the river to the place where angels fear to tread – south London.
We visited 5 pubs, four of which were new to me and ended up in the Dickens Inn which every Londoner knows. You only get to spend about 20 minutes in each pub so by the time you get served there’s not enough time for a pint. But that’s not such a bad thing as with a half pint you can try out other ales that you wouldn’t normally go for. So I toasted some internet acquaintances with a half of ‘Bitter & Twisted’ and then some people I really know with a half of ‘Boozy Floozy’. Oh, in the first pub the early football match was on and I got to see the Everton injury time equalizer while standing with a group of Liverpool supporters which prompted a hasty retreat. I also got to see the Spurs goal at the Emirates while in the Dickens Inn. But back to the beer, as you would expect the prices (you buy your own) up town are rather more expensive than out here in sunny Barkingside especially if you are used to Wetherspoon prices. But don’t let that put you off.
The other aspect of the tour is what another guest described as History 101. Not just the hstory associated with these quaint old pubs but the sights you see on the way. An eclectic mix of interesting little factoids that you may not expect to find in a history book. One draw back is that you can’t stop and look at everything and there were quite a few interesting things I noticed along the way and wondered what they were. Maybe I’ll pop back sometime … I can’t really tell you too much because that would spoil the fun so if you want to know what had captured our attention in the photo (left) you will will have to go on a tour yourself, but watch out for the best cheese in London and Monks.
Altogether a very enjoyable afternoon out with Heather and her chums. The tours cost £10 per person and a private tour can be scheduled by arrangement, minimum 10 people. The public tours are on Friday evenings.