7 Jan · Glyn Jones · No Comments

Jolly Good Review of 2014

Happy New Year! Can anyone tell me where 2014 went?

Jolly Good Tours started the year with an experiment in driving. Part of a five year plan, as we entered year three, it was time to test the merits of driver guiding. The decision was sealed when a family on a highlights tour of London asked if I could help with a trip to Stonehenge and return to the airport. We began the year at Stonehenge. Having agreed the itinerary we headed off to the stones, the only example of triolyths in the world. Full of foreboding with the weather on the way out of London, our resolve paid off as we were taken by road train from the visitors centre just as the clouds cleared for us. We were virtually the only visitors brave enough to challenge the weather and our challenge was rewarded. It was no little coincidence that I found myself back there on the penultimate day of the year.

The Jolly Good Tour Guide works with groups large and small and as so it was with a moderately large group that we headed over to Ireland for spring break. A wacky bunch funded by the charity Kids n Culture. A group of students from Harlem in New York who were given the chance of travelling overseas. The tour took us across Ireland and on to London. We stopped the night in Llangollen at The Hand Hotel where at the close of a tour debrief I was asked to tell a story. It was as if I was taken over by one of the Welsh bards, my accent slipped into my Grandfather’s tongue and I somehow captivated a group of inner city kids from Haarlem with tales of the legend of Branwyn which neatly covered the legends of the lands that we were travelling through. I left the room and finally reached the summit of Castel Dinas Bran as the sun set over the Welsh valleys. Magical. From there to London via Stratford on Avon, for a bit of Shakespeare and a spare afternoon searching for Street Art and Banksy (which we found).

In answer to the question “What do you do when you’re not touring?” the correct answer is that I go on holiday… Every day (usually someone else’s). There is no typical day or itinerary as conversation will pull out specific interests and “if you’re interested in that, you’ll love this,” and off we go. Whether it be Winston Churchill, the Freemasons, Harry Potter, the Knights Templar, the street art of Banksy et al, we went out and found it in 2014.

Lunch options are always difficult as you can’t please all of the people all of the time. It took me some time to work out the obvious and I am thankful to a group of chocolatiers from Pennsylvania for helping me see the light. There are bars all over the world but the English pub is exclusive to this country. You may have heard of the plight of the English pub, some have gone and in some cases, deservedly so. Battered by competition from supermarkets, drives for healthier lifestyles (or more likely, the rise in home drinking), the pub trade has been left leaner and fitter. There are some fantastic pubs to be found in England. The ones I have found serve fantastic, reasonably priced food, are in historic or scenic surroundings and all serve that unique tasting British pint, a taste I have been acquiring for more than forty years (and I’ve nearly acquired it).

The day job then (if there is such a thing) is the London Highlights tour. Each different, each unique to the individual, whether it be group logistics, traffic, the day of the week or the weather. I promise you that Jolly Good Tour of London is a unique experience. My highlights of 2014 were the boys (9 and 12 years) from New York who kept me on my toes with some of the the wildest questions and to my mind, tours with lots of questions are the best. Not because I’ve missed something vital but because a tour is being tailored to the individual’s interest (and intellect); or the jeweller who spent an hour pouring over the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London and made me look at the jewels in a new light. (I cannot conceive the time an effort that went into creating these masterpieces. The process involved in production of the pearls alone was mindblowing). Every person you take through London’s streets has different take on what they see.

My most rewarding tour of duty the year was with a man and his daughter on their first trip to London. The man was quadriplegic, used an electric wheelchair and made me view the Cities of London and Westminster in a new and positive light.

Where do we cover on a London Highlights tour, well, it’s no secret that the major highlights of London are, in no particular order, are Buckingham Palace and the Guard Change; Westminster Abbey; St Paul’s Cathedral; Tower Bridge (viewed from London Bridge). They can all be viewed by degrees in a four hour tour or better still, appreciated over the course of a day. Through in a sunny day and there is no more perfect a place on earth (but then I could be biased).

Well let’s look forward to 2015 and many a Jolly Good Tour to be had by all.

Glyn Jones

Glyn is a professional Blue Badge Guide (the British national standard guiding qualification and internationally-recognised benchmark of excellence) and enjoys sharing his love of London with visitors from home and abroad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

They love us on Trip Advisor!


Our Categories

© Copyright 2019 Jolly Good Tours | darin higgs & company