Why Would A Londoner Go On A Tour?

You might wonder if you will learn anything new from following a tour guide around the streets of London as tours might be something you only do on holiday.  Or perhaps you think tours are for tourists who know nothing about the city.  But here are five reasons why going on a tour is definitely something every Londoner should consider:

1) You are stuck in a rut: If you've lived in London a while it's easy to fall into a routine of visiting the same places time and time again.  You might live in a wonderful neighbourhood or simply find it easier to stick to what you know.  You might have been visiting the same gym, cafe, bar or park for months or even years.  London is so big that it often makes more sense to play it safe but it's good to break the routine and see what else the city has to offer.

2) You are falling out of love with London: When you first moved here it seemed that London was the most exciting city in the world and your eyes shone happily as you discovered a new hotspot, cute neighbourhood, or quirky shop. but gradually the work, the weather, the tube have worn you down and you are starting to think London ain't so great.  Well, a tour of a new neighbourhood can rekindle the flame of love and show you why London is an utterly brilliant city. 

3) You are bored of your friends:  Your friends might be busy today or far away or doing the same thing all the time but here's the good news: you don't have to.  While it can be nice doing things on your own occasionally, it's good to join other likeminded or more adventurous people who want to challenge themselves and explore London.  And a tour offers a safe and easy way of hanging out with new people and learning new things.

4) You are new to London and want to see it all: Maybe you've taken a picture of Big Ben and hung out with the pigeons in Trafalgar Square but now you are hankering after seeing more of the 'real London' and you'd like to meet some 'real Londoners'.  Our tours introduce you to some of the most intriguing neighbourhoods of London and give you a chance to explore, ask questions and find out what London is all about.

5) You want to fill your weekend: After a busy working week, sometimes the weekend arrives too fast and you haven't had time to make plans.  For some this can be a great time to relax at home, but for others an empty weekend can feel rather lonely.  The only answer is to get out and do something and a tour is brilliant way of engaging lightly with other people and learning new and interesting stuff. Our tours are small groups and friendly too.

Click here to see the next tours available.


Guest Blogger Curious Mum Explores Nordic London!

London is quite the cosmopolitan city, made up of so many different cultures all gloriously blurred together. But how often do we actually spend time experiencing and learning about one another’s traditions? It’s time to take full advantage of what the capital has to offer!

Celebrating London’s cultural hotspots and making them burn bright for every member of the family, Shared City organise special tours that practically take you around the world without leaving the city! One week you could be touring Little Italy, the next saying Ola Brazil and the next be subject to a Brilliant Buddha Experience…without all the passport and flight hassle. No matter which place you visit, every experience lets you discover and explore London’s local diverse communities in a way you never have before.

In fact, we spent our Sunday in London’s Little Nordic area. Starting the day off with a Lutheran service in Rotherhithe’s beautiful St Olav’s Church, we were then treated to a lovely Norwegian lunch spread, giving us a taste of the yummy local cuisine. Over coffee and waffles (served with homemade jam!) we were given an insight into Lutheran traditions and the history of Norwegians in London. Rather than a history lesson, these talks were informal, animated conversations. With a hop, skip and a jump, we moved on to the Finnish Spring Fair just down the road, perusing all on offer, learning about Finnish history and etiquette (and the history of the sauna!). We even met a real life moomin too.

An immersive educational experience wrapped up in a mini holiday, feel part of another community for a day. Rather than being packed onto a stuffy bus tour, these personal tours (complete with a very approachable and bubbly guide) let you get out and about with something to catch your interest at all times from quizzes to fill out to classes to take part in. For example, coming up in half term holiday, you could spend time in India at London’s world famous Bhavan Centre, trying your hand at some Indian dancing, music and food.

With access to such a rich array of communities all living under one skyline, Shared City definitely provides a unique tour of the city. So the next time the kids ask ‘where are we going on holiday?’ it might be worth telling them ‘London!’

[Originally posted by Curious Mum here]



What's in a name? Quite a lot actually. One of our Co-founders tells all.

I've got blue-gray eyes, light brown hair that falls straight to my shoulders, a smallish nose and round pink cheeks.  I certainly wouldn't look out of place in Ireland.  But I'm not Irish.

My first name is Caroline (English? French?) and my surname 'Bourne' doesn't give any clues about my heritage either: Bourne is a surname traditionally given to a person who lived by a spring, from the olde English word 'burne'.  I grew up in England and no-one has ever asked where I come from. My name fits in.  The only time someone misspelt it and I received a letter addressed to 'Ms Porn' I laughed a lot.

Yet my surname 'Bourne' isn't English at all.  My grandfather changed it.  

Papa Jack was born in 1914 in West Ham, London, as Isaac Baum, the eldest son of Yosef Baum, a market trader.  In 1930s London his German-Jewish name meant that certain doors were closed to him. He was known by the name Jack as a boy. Jack is the anglicised form of Isaac.  Jack was a studious boy and eventually qualified as a doctor, leaving the market stall far behind him.  

He changed his surname in 1940 when he joined the army and became an army doctor.  A German name in the British Army would have made life difficult.  So to make life easier he changed his surname from Baum to Bourne and traveled through Africa and the Middle East tending to wounded soldiers during the war years.

Changing surnames wasn't new in the family.  His father's father had arrived in England as Hirsch Kirschbaum in the 1880s and soon shortened the family name to Baum.  Again to make life easier. 

To me and anyone who knows some German it seems strange to have an affection for a name that simply translates as 'Tree' (or in the longer form of Kirschbaum, 'Cherry Tree') but the circumstances - and long term effects - of the name-change intrigues me.  My grandfather's actions have meant my name has been pretty easy to live with.

It's pretty easy to change your name according the the government <a href="https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll" target="_hplink">deed poll</a> service. People like Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had changed his name from Adrian Elms; and David Jones famously became David Bowie.  More and more people are changing their names.  Not everyone opts for a stand-out or spiritual name: the most popular chosen new name is the rather anonymous 'John Smith'.  

Why was your name chosen for you? What does it mean?  Where does it come from? Sometimes the meaning is explicit and sometimes it's hidden.  Sometimes it's chosen for you, and sometimes you choose it.  

I've got a simple Anglo Saxon surname that hides my deep rich Jewish heritage.  My Anglo Saxon name 'Bourne' hides tales of flights from Poland, Russia & Spain and refugees finding stability in east London slums, it hides stories of boxers, rabbis, gamblers and fighters. I've got used to my secret identity and now I'm not sure I would like it any other way.  

Have you changed your name? Does your name define you?