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London Days with Ollie Randall

posted on 21/02/19

For the past four years, I have worked as a Tour Manager on dozens of London Days. I average a few each month, and I am trying to work my way through MRT’s entire repertoire – but luckily for me, new itineraries keep coming on stream, so it will take me a little while yet.

As much as I enjoy travelling on MRT’s longer tours, afterwards I don’t often get the chance to use the local knowledge I have gained, whereas I have countless opportunities to revisit the hidden gems which I discover on London Days. Every time I’m assigned a new itinerary, my understanding of London – its streets, its restaurants and of course its history and galleries – gains greater depth. My interest in London’s many facets still increases with every new day that I tour manage.

It is hard to pick a favourite. The London Backstreet Walk is the flagship London Day, being both the longest running and unfailingly popular. It is a revelatory journey across central London, and the route is so remarkable that sometimes I persuade a few friends to spend their Saturday walking it with me. But of course, my friends miss out on the MRT touches; champagne at the Savoy, lunch in Middle Temple Hall and the insights of MRT’s expert lecturers. Yet, there are several other London Days which I enjoy even more. The London Backstreet Walk has two siblings: The South Bank Walk, which captured my imagination so much that I am currently trying to publish a novel largely inspired by it; and London’s Top Ten, a new and invigorating way of seeing the city’s landmarks with fresh eyes. I would contend that these three London Days collectively offer the closest thing a visitor can get to a definitive “London experience.

View of The Shard and Southwark Cathedral, both visited on The South Bank Walk.

I’ve also grown ever more fascinated by London’s beating heart, the City. ‘Wren’ and the City, The London Gardens Walk and The Ever Changing City Skyline are all near the very top of my list of personal favourites. Meanwhile, the days in London’s museums and galleries are great fun for me. I am envious of the clients who use these as taster days to decide whether to book an MRT tour to Italy, India or Japan – but at the same time, as the London Days programme continues to reveal the city’s riches to me, I am perfectly happy where I am.

 

St. Paul's Cathedral and gardens, watercolour by A.R. Hope Moncrieff, publ. 1916.


Incidentally, not everyone makes the connection that I am a Randall. One of my favourite London Day memories is from The South Bank Walk, when a client informed me that Martin Randall’s son had moved to Australia and fallen in love with a local girl. I did not have the heart to tell her that I AM Martin Randall’s son, and I will not be leaving London anytime soon.


By Ollie Randall
Tour Manager, Martin Randall Travel

 

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