In recent years the area around Spitalfields in the East End of London has become hugely popular with artists and with those of a bohemian disposition.
As a result, a large amount of street art has begun appearing in the area. Indeed, along the side roads off Brick Lane, you can encounter such delights as these strange looking creatures gazing down at you from a highly painted wall.
This, coupled with the fact that the area possesses some wonderful old buildings, makes it a great neighbourhood to explore under your own steam.
And, whilst you're enjoying the streets and the wonderful old houses that you pass, the children can enjoy hunting for the monsters and other creatures with which many of the walls are now adorned.
BEGIN AT ALDGATE EAST
To begin your own East End safari head to Aldgate East Underground Station and leave it via Exit Three. The Whitechapel Gallery is located by this exit, so you might wish to pop in and enjoy the exhibits to get yourself in the mood for the colourful street art that you will be hunting down on your Spitalfields safari.
Anyway, you'll need to turn left out of exit three of the station and walk a short distance along Whitechapel High Street and go left along Osborne Street.
Keep ahead into Brick Lane.
THE OLD FRYING PAN
A little way along on the left is Thrawl Street. On the corner is the Shiraz restaurant, now one of the best curry houses on Brick Lane. But until the late 1980's this was the Frying Pan public house. See if the children can spot the clue as to what it used to be.
Just look up at the triangular gable that surmounts it and you'll see two crossed frying pans and its former name Ye Frying Pan.
ONWARDS ALONG BRICK LANE
Keep going along Brick Lane. You'll pass several buildings as you go, including the huge Mosque on the corner of Fournier Street. This building really does reflect the changing immigration patterns in the area. It was built in the 18th century as a chapel for the Huguenot refugees who had settled in the neighbourhood. A hundred years later it became a Synagogue to serve the large Jewish community that had started to arrive in the area in the 1880's. Then, in the 20th century, as the population became largely Bangladeshi, it changed again and became a Mosque.
THE FIRST CREATURE
As you continue along Brick Lane, get the kids ready and see which of them will be first to spot this huge bird which appears along one of the roads on the right.
When they've found it, see which of them will be the first to spot this little piggy (which didn't go to market!).
I KNEW I SHOULDN'T HAVE PARKED HERE!
Backtrack to Brick Lane, turn right along it and head towards the black eagle that you see on the bridge over the roadway.
When you've gone under the bridge, go immediately left into the former Truman's Brewery. This is now divided up into a selection of clothes shops and dining places.
Turn left and head towards the gates, but see which of the children is the first to spot this.
RUN IT'S A MONSTER
If you go over to the car - which is located on top of a container against the wall opposite as you have turned left - and look up at the ledge over the wall to its right, you'll catch a glimpse of this monster snarling down at you.
Return to the route and continue out of the gate to go right along Hanbury Street. Cross to its left side and pause in front of the massive mural that adorns the wall in front of you. Who will be the first to spot these critters?
THE QUEEN AND CHARLES DICKENS
Continue to the end of Hanbury Street, go left along Commercial Street and left into Puma Court.
This is lined with some lovely old properties and is one of the area's few narrow 19th century courts to have survived. Particularly worth admiring are the old alms houses on the left half way along.
At its end, go right along Wilkes Street and look on the wall opposite where you will see these portraits of the Queen and Charles Dickens.
Continue to the end of Wlkes Street and go right along Fournier Street. This is lined with 18th century houses all of which are worth admiring. On the corner at the end is the Ten Bells Pub and opposite that is the soaring white bulk of Christchurch Spitalfields, an 18th century building that was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
Go over Commercial Street via the pedestrian crossing and keep ahead along Brushfield Street.
On your right is Spitalfields Market, which is now a craft market but which also boasts some nice eateries.
As you make your way past The Gun pub, be sure to notice this colourful facade.
HOW SWEET IS THAT?
Keep going along Brushfield Street and you'll pass on the left A. Gold's shop, named for Amelia Gold, a Hungarian Jewess who ran a milliner's shop on the premises in the 1880's. Her shop sign can still be seen over the door.
It serves a range of food products, old fashioned sweets and, a particular favourite of mine, Victorian lemonade.
THIS IS REALLY GETTING MY GOAT!
Continue along Brushfield Street and get the children ready to see which of them will be the first to spot this handsome goat, which is sitauted atop a plinth on the right.
Once passed the goat, just keep going to the end of the street and turn left along Bishopsgate, crossing to its right side. A little way along, on the right, you arrive at Liverpool Street Station where this walk ends.
So there you have it. Your very own DIY monster hunt and safari around the streets of Spitalfields. If you've never visited the area before then you're in for a real treat as it is totally different to other parts of London. If you have been here before then, hopefully, you've see another side of it and have some new things to look out for.