Category Archives: South East

On the Trail of Harry Potter

One of the things I enjoy doing most of all is tours on themes I am personally very enthusiastic about.  In fact, when it comes to anything to do with music, TV, film or literary themes, I tend to only do ones focusing on people and works I personally enjoy. That is the only way I can bring what I believe is the necessary enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment to match what I know will be felt by the people who book such tours.

Trying out the "Green Screen" experience at the studios!

Trying out the “Green Screen” experience at the studios!

Harry Potter is a great example.  Following the immense success of the books and films, tours of locations used in the films have been around for a few years, but really took off last year with the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio attraction.  Since then I have done several multi-day Harry Potter tours, mainly for German speaking groups, and I’m about to head off for another one on Friday.  It’s a totally different experience to most of the tours I do, as you become very immersed in the theme – not only visiting the locations, but playing the films and music on the coach, talking about Harry Potter books and films to the guests, organising quizzes for the children (inevitably these tours are very family-based) and generally entering fully into the spirit of the whole thing. Although I do not go so far as dressing up in a costume!  Of course, doing these tours requires me to be familiar with the world of Harry Potter in both German and English, and to be able to recite chunks of dialogue from the German film versions, which I use to help bring the locations to life for the groups, which was a major challenge at first.

Overall, these tours are hugely enjoyable.  The people who come on them are, almost without exception, enthusiastic and very open to the experiences that the tour offers.  Even those who are not huge Harry Potter fans, but have come because their children or partners are, always have a great time. When all said and done, the tours include some great locations around the country, even without the Harry Potter links, and I always make sure I include other places and topics of interest to give the fullest possible experience.  At the end of the day, I pride myself on making the tour both a magical (pun very much intended) journey for the die-hard Potterites and a quirky and unusual way of seeing some wonderful parts of England for everybody.

With tours already booked in for next year, it seems the Potter phenomenon is still going strong.  Various friends and acquaintances keep telling me how great the tours sound, so who knows I might even look into organising an English language version from the Midlands in the future.

 

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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.

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.

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

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.

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

blue badgeThe price for hiring a Blue Badge Guide varies from region to region, with London being the most expensive. It will also depend how long you require a guide for –  booking a Blue Badge Guide for a 10 day tour will work out cheaper per day than booking for just one day.  Tours in a language other than English are generally more expensive.

The best way to find out specific prices is to contact the guide, talk to them about what you want and let them give you their price.