Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

30 August 2014

Mark National Paralympic Day in the Olympic Park

They're celebrating National Parlympic Day in the Olympic Park today, combining it with the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival and bringing live international sport to the Copper Box and the Aquatics Centre.

There's also the chance to meet ParalympicsGB&NI athletes, plenty of visual arts, lots of different types of dance and even a deaf rave.

For more, see http://paralympics.org.uk/npd2014-london

^Picture © The British Paralympic Association^

29 August 2014

Admire the view from the Shard

Always quite a way behind the curve, your author had often looked at it longingly from the platforms at London Bridge, but not yet found the time or money to go up the Shard. However, a few weeks ago in exchange for signing a few books in the gifty, the good sorts at the View from the Shard let him go up the tower, where the views were even better than expected.

Two lifts take visitors up to level 69 in a moment, where indoor galleries and funny little computers help to identify landmarks, and there is even a bar for those who can't bear being at this height without any booze. Then a few short flights of steps continue to level 72, where some panels of glass are absent, making it feel a bit like being outside.

Your author has flown over London in helicopters and aeroplanes, and been to a number of other London heights like the London Eye, the top of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), the dome of St Paul's and the Arcelormittal Orbit, but nowhere has competed with the Shard for understanding London's geography, with views across the vast Thames valley from the North Downs to the Chilterns, and all the way down the winding industrial Thames to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. Sure, it's a lot of cash to go up there and it's full of gawping grockles, but on a special occasion, and for those with a love of London, it's really worth it.

For more, see http://www.theviewfromtheshard.com/en/

28 August 2014

Sit out in Soho Square

Originally laid out in the 1670s, and named King's Square after the newly restored King Charles II, Soho Square was previously a private garden, and was only leased to the City of Westminster in 1954, after which it became permanently open to the public.

Sitting at the heart of one of the busiest parts of London, it is hardly surprising that the Square has been a frequent source of inspiration to writers and musicians, with Dickens featuring it in A Tale of Two Cities, and more recently the late Kirsty MacColl penning the song Soho Square, which features he lyrics: "One day I'll be waiting there, No empty bench in Soho Square", now fittingly preserved on one of the benches.

For more, see https://www.westminster.gov.uk/soho-square-gardens

^Picture © Martin Hearn used under a Creative Commons license^

27 August 2014

Go late at the Science Museum

Another late night event at the Science Museum this evening, this time examining the science of hedonism, exploring the scientific elements of sex and drugs and rock and roll with the team from Guerilla Science.

We are told the event will examine cures for hangovers, anatomical life drawing, an examination of sex in Britain, some mapping of the body, a talk on the evolution of pleasure and another on the taste of music, as well as offering some sort of sensory speed dating experience. There will also be live music, a pub quiz, Punk Science comedy shows and a silent disco.

For more, see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/plan_your_visit/lates.aspx

^Picture © The Drums of Science used under a Creative Commons license^

26 August 2014

See the Charter Oak

Recognised as one of the 'Great Trees of London', the Bexley Charter Oak in Danson Park is around 200 years old, and takes its name from  Bexley's Charter to become a Municipal Borough, which was presented by Lord Cornwallis underneath the Oak in 1937.

The Oak was originally part of the Danson House estate, and is now featured on Bexley's coat of arms. It now stands locked away behind a fence, either to protect it from escaping and wreaking havoc over neighbouring boroughs, or to protect its delicate root system from damage.

For more, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8256000/8256682.stm

^Picture © Marathon used under a Creative Commons license^

25 August 2014

Attend the Notting Hill Carnival

You'll need an umbrella if you're heading to west London today for the Notting Hill Carnival, as heavy rain and mist are forecast, but on the plus side the crowds should be smaller than you might have previously experienced. Usually crowds of up to a million people descend on the streets between Notting Hill Gate and the Regent's Canal, so that may be no bad thing.

The Carnival's history is vague in places, and it's unclear whether the first one took place in 1964, which would make this year the 50th anniversary, or 1965, or even 1966, the first year for which the Notting Hill Carnival Trust has documentary evidence to confirm a Notting Hill Carnival took place. It's probably all for the best, however, as this way it gets three important birthdays.

For more, see http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com/

24 August 2014

Spend a regency weekend at Apsley House

The London home of the Dukes of Wellington is cared for nowadays by English Heritage, and this weekend they're throwing a themed Regency Weekend house party which we are told will help us discover the truth behind the glory days of Wellington.

Usual entry charges apply, and attendees should hope to explore the world of the Prince Regent and the rigours of courtly life, as well as the regimes of the Red Coats during their combat campaign and life and laughter in regency England. Available details are rather scant, but the house is an interesting place to visit so attendance isn't too risky.

For more, see https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/regency-weekend-Aps-24-08-2014/

23 August 2014

Attend the Notting Hill Panorama

For those who find Notting Hill Carnival a bit much, but still enjoy the music and want to get in the festive spirit, the Notting Hill, the National Panorama Competition is he perfect opportunity. On the Saturday before the Carnival starts, many of the steel bands participating on Monday come together for a special event to compete in a park and be judged on who is the best.

This evening from 7 - 10pm, the bands gather in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, which from tomorrow will be right at the heart of the Carnival, as bands begin their route, for a free evening event which promises a Caribbean atmosphere.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-London-Notting-Hill-Carnival/

^Picture © David Hawgood used under a Creative Commons license^

22 August 2014

See Henry Moore's Large Spindle Piece

The new square in front of King's Cross Station will always be plagued by traffic, but it's doing its absolute best to make it as pleasant as possible. The latest addition, installed earlier this month and on loan for five years, is a three metre high bronze by Henry Moore known as Large Spindle Piece 1974.

We are told that this location is especially fitting for a work by Moore, as King's Cross is a good station to access his former home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire, now home to the Henry Moore Foundation, and his native city of Leeds in Yorkshire, now home to the Henry Moore Institute. This is true, but it's an interesting enough sculpture in its own right, and you don't need to create imaginary purpose for its location to enjoy it.

For more, see http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/aug/08/henry-moore-bronze-sculpture-kings-cross-station

21 August 2014

Eat burgers at Haché

Your author doesn't often write about restaurants, but chance took him to Haché in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, on Monday night and the experience was agreeable, so it seemed like a good opportunity to write about one. Established by former advertising bods Suzie and Beresford Casey in 2004 in Camden's Inverness Street, with the help of their family, the restaurants specialise in burgers, which are served quickly and to a high standard.

The staff were friendly, the food was good and the company was excellent, so - apart from music that was a bit too much for a quiet restaurant on a Monday night - there was not a lot to be changed, which is lucky considering that the Shoreditch branch only opened last year. It seems to be a big thing for Haché that they are a family company, so let's hope they can keep standards high if they expand further.

For more, see www.hacheburgers.com

^Picture © Ewan Munro (Hache Chelsea) used under a Creative Commons license^

20 August 2014

Sit on the wall at the Cutty Sark

The cooler days and longer nights are here to remind us that summer will soon be over, but this almost always happens, usually followed by a hot spell in September to remind us all how nice the weather can be. Regardless, there is not long now to take advantage of one of your author's top London pleasures, a half of ale on the wall at the Cutty Sark pub on Ballast Quay in Greenwich.

Thankfully, last year's rumours that a safety rail was to be installed on the wall came to nothing, with the removal of a step appearing to suffice and so this Greenwich pleasure remains intact, with plenty of boats still passing, and a little bit of industrial heritage just downstream - albeit being quickly eroded to make way for 'luxury flats'- to remind us of when this pub, dating in its current form from around 1795, stood among industrial dockyards with ships tied up to the quay outside.

For more, see http://www.cuttysarkse10.co.uk/

19 August 2014

See the John Lewis Roof Garden

John Lewis is 150 years old this year, and to celebrate they're holding an exhibition in their Oxford Street store, and inviting us to take in the sun in their Roof Garden until 31 August. Your author popped in recently for an event to promote new festival OnBlackheath and was both pleased that this new place had been opened to the public in the centre of town, and disappointed admiring the view that so few other rooftops in the area seemed to be inviting people onto them.

The Roof Garden has been open since 3rd May, designed by RHS Young Garden Designer of the Year 2013 Tony Woods to include nectar-rich plants such as roses, lavender and wild flowers, and living wall schemes to encourage biodiversity.

For more, see http://www.johnlewis.com/our-shops/oxford-street/oxford-street-roof-garden

^Picture © Neil McCrae used under a Creative Commons license^

18 August 2014

Visit Charlton House Peace Garden

Opened in 2006 in support of Amnesty International’s ‘Stop the Violence Against Women’ campaign, the Amnesty International Peace Garden at Charlton House is certainly a peaceful place. The Peace Garden neighbours the Sensory Garden laid out in the 1950s, which leads into a the Pond Garden, which sadly no longer has a pond.

Found within the old walled gardens of Charlton House, the Peace Garden is a light-touch place, with just a few overtly political items such as a bronze by Margaret Higginson called Portage, designed to reflect the historical strength and spirit of women worldwide, who have to balance a variety of roles, and a Japanese Peace Pole, donated by Keiko Ito. Other than that, it's mostly peaceful flowers, bugs and butterflies.

For more, see http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/directory_record/2011/charlton_house

17 August 2014

Ride a Barclay's Bike for free

Amazingly, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has already been on London's streets for four years, and to celebrate their birthday, this weekend they're free to use. You'll still need a debit or credit card to hire one, but you won't be charged a penny providing you get it back to a docking station within 30 minutes and don't cause any damage.

Your author has never quite got on with the big clumsy things, but many swear by them and they have certainly helped to increase cycling in the city. Well done to Serco for making them work so well.

For more, see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/free-barclays-cycle-hire?cid=fs199

16 August 2014

Watch World Music in Richmond

It's the On the Edge free World Music festival by the river in Richmond all weekend, with musicians taking to the stage from noon until 8pm today and tomorrow for a mini-festival that encompasses line-up African, Creole, Moroccan, Latin, Spanish and Caribbean music.

With one band an hour on both days, and steel bands, reggae, Bollywood and more on offer there certainly isn't any chance of getting bored during the day, and even if you tire of the music the setting is perfect.

For more, see http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/leisure_and_culture/arts/arts_festivals/on_the_edge.htm