I wanted to do something good on my last free day in London, and I miss riding a proper bike (I don't like Bromptons now), so last night I booked a cycle tour with Tally Ho! Cycle Tours. I admit it, the thing that clinched it was that you get to ride a Pashley bicycle. :)
They had a pink bike, but I didn't like the handlebars' weird shape and went on a Princess Classic instead. Once you get the hang of them they are delightful. I've never been on a more upright bicycle! It was like riding a horse (I imagine)! Anyway, this is not a bike review, but a tale about my tour, so here it is:
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It was just as well that I gave myself some extra time to find the place I as (unsurprisingly) took a wrong turn. I used the map on my smartphone and soon found the place.
The meeting point was a pub called the Walrus. It felt strange going into a pub somehow, especially as everyone looked seemed to look at me when I went in. I asked at the bar if this was where the cycle tours start and they said yes and that I could sit down or use the toilet if I wished. I did go to use the toilet but noticed (thankfully ahead of time) that they were out of toilet paper, except for what was irremovable from the dispensers, so I waited until I got home. Other than that, and the torn leather upholstery, it was quite a nice pub, and it had a lot of character.
There were only three of us plus the guide. The others were an Asian-Austrailian couple who really didn't know anything of Yorkshire, but had heard of Wallace and Gromit, which was something at least, even if they are from Lancashire. They seemed quite interested in our proper tea-time (as in the drink with cakes, not the evening meal that I call dinner).
When we were in Archbishops Park (or was it Garden?), the tour guide (called Niall, though some people bizarrely think he's called Liam), told us that the expression "Nosy Parker" comes from The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Elizabeth I. Evidently he was a gossip with a big nose, so Elizabeth I called him Nosy Parker (she often gave people nicknames) and that is how we got the expression. Other nuggets were learned (and somewhat forgotten) too, but things like that are interesting, aren't they? Niall knew a lot about all this because he has a degree in Architectural History and evidently finds it thoroughly interesting.
He also seemed to rather like the fact that the pelicans in the park near Downing Street eat live pigeons. I and the other (I hate to call myself one, but) tourists, did not like it and we were quite disgusted at the thought. It seems wrong somehow, but then it's kind of wrong for pelicans to be in England in the first place. Apparently, Russia gave them to us a long time ago to butter us up. Seems an odd present, doesn't it?
We went to Buckingham Palace and saw the procession (the band played The Great Escape). Buckingham House was originally built (or was it "acquired"?) so that the then King could have a place to go with this mistress. He can't have been very bright because his usual home was only a few hundred yards down the road.
For lunch I had a cup of Early Grey tea (which was very weak and not as nice as Yorkshire Tea) and a pain aux raisins, which was nice once I got to the raisins. I had had a banana before I left this morning, so I wasn't too hungry.
I also found out that A.A. Milne went to Westminster Abbey, so he must have been fairly well off! They have some Winnie the Pooh toys in the window of the music/choir building (the red one with all the cars outside it).
Here are some pictures of the tour. I did some graffiti, but I'm not very good at it because you have to be reasonably strong to use a spray can with any deftness. You can't really read what it says, but it's supposed to say: "Q. War, A. [heart]" as in the song, "Love is the Answer". I thought I might as well do something good and political in graffiti. My fingers got blue paint on them because I had them too near the nozzle. There is still a bit on them now. And before you start thinking I've gone off the rails, this was in the place where it's legal to do graffiti.
It was all very interesting and enjoyable. The trouble was that it was too short at only three hours. I could have done at least two more. If anyone is in London, I thoroughly recommend going on a Tally Ho! Cycle Tour. It's £25, which for three hours isn't bad. There are much worse things to spend your money on, like kebabs and beer. :)
It was nice to ride a bike again. I miss it.
NB. I am not getting paid to say nice things about them. They don't even know I have a blog yet, but I'm going to let them know because I think people should be told when they're doing a good job. I really enjoyed myself. :)