Sloane Rangers: Made in Chelsea Walking Tour

1-070What’s your guilty pleasure? Everyone has one: whether it’s still cuddling up to the teddy bear you’ve had since you were five, wearing that tatty old shirt that you love too much to throw out, dancing to cheesy 90s boybands around the kitchen while doing the washing up, or the binge eating of Nutella with a spoon, straight from a jar, on Friday night.

I may or may not have done all of the things on this list, but none of these incur a great deal of guilt (except for the Nutella…) But the one thing I do get teased for, mercilessly, is my ability to seek out trashy TV. I’m like a magnet for it – Jon and I were watching TV one night and I managed to track down Ladyboys of Bangkok for us to watch in about five seconds of scanning the TV guide. It’s a skill! I love trashy telly as the ultimate way to wind down and switch off at the end of the day. My work can be stressful and demanding, and often when I get home I often just feel like disengaging my brain and enjoying something glitzy and trashy and inconsequential. Over the years I have been an avid watcher of Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex, The Real Housewives of Cheshire, Don’t Tell the Bride and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I love them all!

1-045One of the longstanding faves though has to be Made in Chelsea. I have been with it since the start: the ups and downs, the polo and the boat parties, the cocktails and the spur of the moment trips to France and Dubai. I have envied Millie and Caggie’s outfits, raged at the (many!) infidelities of Spencer, laughed with Ollie, Binky and Cheska and gloried in the unlikely friendship trio of Lucy, Stevie and Andy (They remind me a little of an inverted Harry Potter trio. You know, the one where Hermione has resting bitch face, Harry is an angsty songwriter, and Ron writes poetry?)

Although I will be the first to admit that it isn’t as good as it used to be (there’s only so many rehashes of love triangles, break ups and cocktails being chucked in people’s faces that you can watch before it gets a little repetitive). But the people are beautiful, the music is good, the slightly sepia filter on filming gives it a glamorous edge, and who doesn’t enjoy snooping on the glamorous locations that these rich kids call their playground?

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L-R: My aunt, my sister and me – family selfie time!

My sister and I are very different people. It comes from a sixteen year age gap, different mums and growing up in completely different parts of the country. So we are often surprised at the things we bond over, and trashy TV is right up there with Harry Potter on our mutual interests file. So when Ben was scanning for a Christmas present for my sister, he stumbled upon an absolute gem. He found a Made in Chelsea Walking Tour.

Yep. You really can get a walking tour for anything these days. But my sister and I leapt at the chance, and we even dragged our aunt along too. So on Bank Holiday Saturday, way back at the start of May, we found ourselves congregating at Sloane Square Station, all looking suitably sheepish for turning up to a tour for a reality TV show. Brit Movie Tours are the brains behind this operation. They cover a whole range of tours, including Harry Potter, Sherlock and Downton Abbey, which I imagine makes them pretty popular with tourists.

1-004This is Gina, our tour guide. She looked a little Sloaney herself in her attire, which was maybe the idea. She spoke well, without consulting her notes, and had a whole range of tidbits and facts about the show at the various locations we were wandering to. The tour itself took place over two hours, and covered about twenty locations in total.

1-002We started off by the fountain in the middle of Sloane Square, where Stevie took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge last summer. However, it has also been the scene of many a meeting, between couples and friends, walking their dogs or having angsty conversations. It was here that Gina told us that new cast members on Made in Chelsea have one season to make an impression in order to guarantee their return next season. If they don’t make an impression (good or bad), then they’re axed. They’re also only paid £50 per episode! If you make it to be a long-term cast member like Spencer or Binky, then you get paid the slightly more respectable rate of £400. Off the back of that info, it’s no wonder that every cast member seems to have some kind of business that they want to use the show to promote (Caggie’s singing, Proudlock’s t-shirts, Lucy’s jewellery), and that they offer up their private lives so willingly. Better telly means bigger bucks!

1-007Next we crossed to Duke of York Square, a former army barracks, now home to a range of glossy designer stores and cosmopolitan cafes. It also houses this salon, which Gina told us offered the exemplary Chelsea Blow Dry. Anyone else think that you could easily make a slip of the tongue after one too many glasses of prosecco and end up ordering something far less innocent than a cut and blow dry?

The initial concept for Made in Chelsea was reportedly the brainchild of Hugo Taylor, one of the original cast who has since moved on to designing his own sunglasses range. He previously dated Princess Eugenie, and in 2008 he pitched the idea of filming a group of socialites to MTV. Of course MTV didn’t take it up, but MiC found a home at E4 within two years, and they’ve never looked back!

1-013Next, we went to Chelsea Farmer’s Market, open every Saturday and purveying a smorgasbord of food and drink from around the world. We gawped over the cheese, debated over a cocktail to go, and swiftly carried on to The King’s Road.

1-017We passed the Royal Hospital, home to the Chelsea Pensioners and the scene of an afternoon tea party held by the cast.

1-022I do love Chelsea townhouses. The whitewash, the curling black railings and the leafy green squares all just seem to scream summer in London.

1-041This is Chelsea Town Hall, where George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin had their London wedding last year…

1-063…And this is The Phene, the pub owned by Lucy Watson’s father, and the scene of the flatwarming drinks she held with Stevie.

1-031We gazed down this alleyway at Proudlock’s design studio…

1-047…And walked past this pretty pub, where teenage Caggie Dunlop was first introduced to Spencer Matthews.

1-082Our tour ended, of course, at The Bluebird, iconic Chelsea cafe and a regular haunt of pretty much every long-standing cast member throughout the years.

1-075fter the tour ended my sister, my aunt and I hadn’t quite had enough of the leafy streets of Chelsea, so we decided to go for a little wander before heading back. I couldn’t help but admire the gorgeous wisteria covering so many of the houses at the moment. Their delicate lilac colour is just lovely at this time of year.

1-046We all enjoyed the tour – it was silly but fun, and Gina was certainly knowledgeable about her subject. It’s a perfect little random present for that person in your life with a penchant for trashy TV! We left with our Chelsea knowledge enhanced, and promptly found ourselves a Byron to refuel at before heading home. All in all a very civilised afternoon with two of my favourite people!

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