Category Archives: Birmingham

Blue Badge Tour Guide FAQs

blue badgeWhat is the Blue Badge?

What is the benefit of hiring a Blue Badge Guide?

What is the difference between the Blue Badge and a Green Badge?

How much does it cost to hire a Blue Badge Guide?

Can I book a Blue Badge Guide for just one day?

How can I tell if my guide really has a Blue Badge?

Can anyone join your tours?

Are there any hidden extra costs?

If you would like to book a Blue Badge Guide, contact me to discuss your requirements.

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What is the benefit of hiring a Blue Badge Guide?

blue badgeWhat is the benefit of hiring a Blue Badge Guide?

As the highest guiding qualification in the UK, the Blue Badge amounts to a quality mark for guides.  While guiding styles and personalities differ hugely, the badge shows that the guide has studied the Blue Badge course for their region, and has passed the written and practical examinations.  You can be assured that they have a thorough background knowledge of English history, culture, architecture, literature and many other topics, along with very specific knowledge of the region they are qualified to guide in.  It also means that they have been trained in guiding techniques – how to present information effectively for different kinds of tours, how to plan and organise a tour, how to research areas and locations, how to manage a group safely on a tour.  Equally important, but often overlooked, is that the Blue Badge means the guide has full public liability insurance cover through their membership of professional associations.  Other guides may indeed have insurance, but you have no way of knowing unless you specifically ask them to prove it.  All in all, by hiring a Blue Badge guide you can be confident that you are in the best and safest possible hands to help you make the most of your trip, combining in-depth knowledge, practical expertise and the reassurance that comes from working with a highly qualified, accredited and insured professional.

Q and A Part 2

So here are some more questions about me and my work as a guide…

What do you do when you’re not guiding?

Alongside my guiding, I work as a freelance German-English translator.  I am fluent in German – which I am also fully qualified to guide in – and the combination works well as I can do as many tours as possible and take translation work for other times.  When I’m not working I love to read, either novels or books on history and travel.  I also spend a lot of time listening to music – varied styles but rock music is my favourite – and attempting to play the guitar.  I am a keen sports fan, especially ice hockey, which I have been watching since the age of 7, cricket and football.  I try to keep fit by running, swimming and walking.  As you might expect, travel is a big passion and I am always finding new places to explore, in this country and others.

What is your favourite castle?

To be honest, I think that most castles are fantastic places to visit, as they have links to some of the great people and events in history.  Many are also very impressive buildings in scenic locations too. If I had to pick one, however, it would be Kenilworth Castle.  Mainly in ruins, it has enough of its buildings left to retain some of the atmosphere of its glorious past, while its countryside setting and sandstone construction make it extremely picturesque, especially when the sun shines on its walls and makes them glow.  I prefer exploring ruined castles with my imagination and a good guide to visiting better preserved or reconstructed ones with costumed staff and the like, as I think this helps to bring the place to life much more effectively.

And what about stately homes or country houses?

Again, they are fascinating places, as each has its own stories.  While I am keen on what I would call “big history” – kings and queens, great events and so on – my real love is social history, and I am intrigued to discover as much as I can about the people who lived and worked in places, what they might have been like and how they lived.  The best houses manage to convey this effectively through their choice of how they present themselves.  Generally, I tend to prefer smaller ones to the huge palaces, but I have to make one exception here as my absolute favourite is Burghley House near Stamford in Lincolnshire.  Everything about it is impressive, from the architecture to the gardens to the absolutely stunning paintings and wall decorations to the presentation of the house and the family who created it.  Every time I go there, I am amazed all over again and I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t had the chance yet.

Where do you most like to unwind with a well-earned drink after a tour?

My drink of choice is real ale, and I’m fortunate that I get to sample the delights of local pubs and brews throughout England.  It is hard to mention just one favourite but if I had to choose it would be the Red Lion, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.  It is a small local pub with a long tradition, and serves superb food and a great choice of regional ales.  Our Birmingham Graveyard Ghost Walks finish there too, so I do literally get to unwind and refresh my vocal chords after tours there on quite a regular basis!

Are there any hidden extra costs?

blue badgeThere are no hidden costs, but there may be additional ones. If you book a Blue Badge Guide for a tour that involves staying away from home, you will be responsible for the cost of the guide’s accommodation, evening meals and soft drinks. You may also be required to pay the guide’s travel expenses to and from your meeting point, and you will need to pay for their entry ticket to any places that do not offer free entry to Blue Badge Guides.

However, your guide will agree all charges with you beforehand, so there will be no nasty surprises at the end of your tour.

Can anyone join your tours?

blue badgeI offer two types of tours: public and private. The public walking tours are run by me and a colleague, Michael, and take place in Birmingham on Saturdays, and anybody is welcome to join these. You will find details of times and prices at Midlands Discovery Tours. Michael and I also offer public ghost walks in Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and Warwick and details of these can also be found at Midlands Discovery Tours.

Private walks are ones I have been booked for by a particular group or organisation, and these are limited to people that belong to that particular group.

Anyone can book a private tour – I have done tours for tourist groups, corporate incentive schemes, schools, birthday parties, business trips, office nights out, book clubs and music fans, to name just a few examples – so if this is something that would interest you, get in touch

How can I tell if my guide really has a Blue Badge?

blue badgeYour guide should have a physical badge, like the one pictured. They will probably be wearing it, either pinned to a lapel or on a lanyard, when they meet you. If you can’t see it, you are entitled to ask them to show it to you. You will also find them listed in the Institute of Tourist Guiding Directory – here’s my entry.

Guides should also have an ID card confirming the badge they hold and their membership of a professional organisation.

Can I book a Blue Badge Guide for just one day?

blue badgeOf course! You can book a Blue Badge Guide for as long or short a time as you like – there is no minimum or maximum time limit. There may be a minimum charge however – if you book a Blue Badge Guide for just a one hour tour, you are likely to pay a half-day rate.

As with all issues regarding pricing, the best advice is to contact the guide and talk to them about your booking.