Organising my first walk as a qualified guide on the evening after the badge ceremony was possibly not one of my better ideas. I should know by now that where wine is available my common sense disappears. However although I had suffered during the day from my over indulgence the night before once I was into my stride in the walk the adrenalin kicked in and my hangover disappeared.
This walk around St James's/Gentleman's London had originally been put together by me over the 2008 Christmas holidays and practiced on some friends in January. However standing at the top of Queen's Walk by the Ritz Hotel with my new badge on my lapel I felt very important and excited.
After a slightly nervous start I relaxed and began to enjoy myself which I hope came over to my group of 11 former work colleagues and friends.
I realised however that just by walking the route by myself and adding on the minutes taken at each stop is no indication of the actual length of a walk. Real people as opposed to guiding colleagues dawdle and stop to look in shop windows. My walk overran by 20 minutes.
I also discovered that at this time of the year even a week makes all the difference in how dark it is. My second stop was at the back of Spencer House in Queen's Walk. A week after doing a practice walk at the same time of the evening it was far too dark. I could barely see the group.
As I have quite an encyclopaedic knowledge of pubs that I want to share the plan was to include a 30 minute pub stop half way round at the Chequers. I have been told by already qualified guides that this would undoubtedly cause problems and once I had people in a pub I would have trouble getting them out. On this occasion at the time stipulated everyone bar one person was waiting outside ready to begin again. However on a freezing cold or rainy evening it may not be quite so easy.
Whilst in the pub I became aware again that I had my badge on and found it quite a talking point. In fact I managed to get business cards from several local businessmen interested in walks in the area.
I finished the walk in Pickering Place talking about Berry Brothers which I thought was a good link to the Red Lion in Crown Passage whose house wine is by the aforementioned shop and where we would finish the walk. On this occasion only 2 people joined me but I hope more people will in the future as it is one of my favourite pubs in London.