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!