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

A website about things to do in London

31 January 2010

Hunt for bargains at the Battersea Car Boot Sale

The weekly car boot sale held at Battersea Technology College is one of only a few proper car boot sales in central London. It’s held every Sunday afternoon from 1.30pm - 5pm, so unlike some Sunday Markets you don’t have to rush out of bed.


It’s not a fancy sale, but you can pick up a few bargains and there is plenty of proper old-fashioned car boot tat to sort through.

When a correspondent popped by recently she spotted old cameras, record players, DVDs, CDs, bathroom products, sunglasses and more. There was also a bakery stall, an ice cream van and a burger van, for all your culinary needs.

The sale is open all year round except two weeks over Christmas, but sellers must book in advance on 07941 383 588, and there is a fee.

For more on London car boots see a helpful article on the Time Out website here.

^Picture by bbcworldservice under Creative Commons^

30 January 2010

Go to a wine tasting at Harrods

Harrods food halls are as famous as the rest of the store for the depth and breadth of their offerings. You can get almost anything in the world you want if you have enough money to spend, so it should be no surprise that their wine cellar is also well stocked, and they want to show it off.


The wine tasting events at Harrods are monthly, and offer you the chance to taste a different type or region of wine each month, with a selection of canapés and the chance to pick up certain wines at an exclusive 10% discount. Your author still thinks it will all still be terribly expensive.

Tickets to wine tastings cost £25 per person. For more information, and to book, call 020 7893 8777, or see the Harrods website here.

^Picture by sonictk^

29 January 2010

Free Friday lunchtime concerts at the Royal Festival Hall

Great news! On Fridays until March, the Royal Festival Hall will be running weekly free concerts at lunchtime, in case you feel like getting out of the office and watching some music.


The Friday Lunch series showcases a range of musical styles, with an focus on small-scale classical and contemporary music, and today's concert features Skip 'Little Axe' McDonald. Born in Ohio in 1949, 'Little Axe' is an American blues musician, who is today playing a special acoustic duo set in advance of his new Realworld album release.

In other weeks you can catch a diverse range of acts, often featuring students from music colleges or in association with Southbank Centre's Resident Orchestras. The concerts also feature jazz, folk, and non-Western music. So take some time out and enjoy some great music in interesting surroundings.

For more, see http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/find/festivals-series/friday-lunch

***Update - your author popped along today and, though he had to sit behind the stage, and his friend kept wanting to talk about how her mum wouldn't let her have a key to her home even though she is 26, it was very pleasant. Little Axe is definitely worth seeing***

^Picture by Matt From London under creative commons^

28 January 2010

Have a drink in the Bull's Head, Pratt's Bottom

As you get further out towards the M25, whilst you are still technically in London boroughs, it feels much less like London. The Bull's Head pub, in delightfully-named Pratt's Bottom, is a perfect example of a village pub that's technically still in a London borough, but is basically in the countryside. Still, that's enough to earn it a place here.


The village gets its odd name from the Pratt family, who lived in the valley from the 14th century onwards. The village was unremarkable until it became a key stopping off point for stagecoaches on the toll road from London to Hastings or Tunbridge Wells. The Bulls Head has stood on its current site for roughly 400 years, so was perfectly placed to take advantage of passing trade.

The stagecoaches were a unique selling point, but also had negative consequences, as the village soon became the haunt of smugglers and highwaymen. It is even rumoured amongst locals that the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin frequented the Bull’s Head Inn until he was caught horse stealing in 1739 and hanged for his crime. Local folklore has it that he slept in Pear Tree Cottage in the village, and moved between it and the pub through a tunnel which was long since bricked up.

For more from the pub's eccentric landlord Vern, visit http://www.thebullsheadpub.net

^Picture by Matthew Black^

27 January 2010

Go scuba diving in the London School of Diving pool

The London School of Scuba, in West London, is a PADI Scuba Diving centre, with on-site facilities to allow you to experience diving without venturing outside the M25.


For £25 you can take the first step towards being a diver with a try-dive in their heated dive training pool. This allows people to experience breathing underwater for the first time with a professional scuba instructor or divemaster.

Sure, this is thousands of miles away (literally and metaphorically) from diving on a tropical coral reef, but it can help you to develop the necessary skills so you wont have to waste money on the basics if you do find yourself on holiday and wanting to swim with the fishes.

The school can also arrange PADI courses at various levels and even diving holidays to places like Mozambique, Sharm el Sheikh and the Galapagos Islands.

London School of Diving is located a short walk from Gunnersbury tube in West London. For more information, and opening hours, visit http://www.londonschoolofdiving.co.uk

26 January 2010

Take a walk by Connaught Water

Connaught Water, in Epping Forest, is an ornamental lake which was constructed in 1883, and enlarged in 1893.


Originally the site of a marshy pool, the lake is now eight acres and contains some small islands. It was decided to place a lake on the formerly marshy spot in order to drain areas of forest to improve it for Commoners' cattle.

The lake is named after the first Ranger of the Forest, the Duke of Connaught, and it is a popular spot for walking and licensed fishing, but also attracts a wide variety of wild fowl, making it popular with bird watchers.

For more, see http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/8101 or to see the location on a map click here.

^Picture by Stephen McKay through Geograph, under Creative Commons^

25 January 2010

Learn Scottish Dancing

Two Scottish articles in two days, but it is Burns Night. And the London Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2010. As part of the celebration, alongside their usual dances and classes, they are holding a Weekend School, a Tea Party, an extra midweek dance and an anniversary ball to mark the occasion.


Every week, the society runs a wide range of classes for all abilities across the London area. There are also classes and dances for young people. Their prize-winning London Branch demonstration team can also provide displays of Scottish dance for your function if you would prefer that. Some events are held at St Columbas Church Hall, Pont Street, Knightsbridge, but there are a wide range of locations.

For information on the range of classes and locations available, click here, or for more information on the London Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, visit http://www.rscdslondon.org.uk/

^Picture (of an Edinburgh dance, rather than a London one) by twistyfoldy.net^

24 January 2010

Celebrate Burns Night with Talisker Whisky

Your author loves a freebie, and when he was treated to a very pleasant pre-Burns-night celebration by Talisker Whisky, one of Diageo's many brands, last Wednesday he very much enjoyed it. It was a great evening with whisky, haggis and a lot of Scottishness.


Burns night itself is tomorrow, and Talisker are attempting to ensure their market share on the most Scottish of occasions by hosting burns nights around the country and giving away free 'rocking glasses'.

Your author isn't too sure about the glasses - having dropped a full one over himself last Wednesday - but it's the perfect excuse for a celebration, and for Scots, January 25th is a bit special the world over.

So, in the words of the promotional material, 'it’s the night we get together and raise our glasses to the much-loved Scottish poet and songwriter, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns'

Talisker are holding their burns nights in West Hampstead, Hammersmith, Twickenham and Kingston. To find your nearest, click here, or for more click here.

^Picture very generously provided by Tiki Chris^

23 January 2010

Wonder at the Elfin Oak

The Elfin Oak, in Kensington Gardens, is a 900-year-old tree stump covered in carvings, and painted to look like elves, gnomes and small animals are living in its bark.


The stump, originally from Richmond Park, was moved to Kensington Gardens in 1928 and was declared a Grade-II listed structure in 1997. It was only after it was relocated that the illustrator Ivor Innes carved the figures into it.

Figures include Wookey the witch, Huckleberry the gnome, and Grumples and Groodles the Elves being awakened by Brownie, Dinkie, Rumplelocks and Hereandthere.

Pink Floyd's 1969 album Ummagumma features a picture of David Gilmour in front of the Elfin Oak and the comedian Spike Milligan was a lifelong fan, leading a successful campaign in 1996 to have it restored.

All the above information is lifted almost verbatim from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfin_Oak but it is a Saturday so please forgive your author.

^Picture from Wikipedia under Wikimedia Commons^

22 January 2010

Get sporty with Richmond Volleyball Club

Volleyball England have been on to tell your author about a series of free winter events being run by Richmond Volleyball Club, the UK Sports Club of the Year 2009.


As part of Boris' 'A Sporting Future for London', the Richmond Volleyball Winter of Sport is encouraging greater participation in volleyball in the build up to the Olympics. Your author probably doesn't have to remind his male readers that the 2012 Olympic women's beach volleyball is being held on Horseguards Parade right in the middle of town - the Scandinavian teams are usually especially talented.

Established in 1992, Richmond Volleyball Club has played a big part in making volleyball one of the fastest growing sports in the Richmond and Kingston Boroughs. Driven by a love of the world's 3rd most popular sport for participation, they aim to further promote and develop volleyball in local communities.

The Winter 2010 indoor programme is already half way through, and is being help for two more weeks at Tiffin Boys School in Richmond, providing fun structured coaching sessions and a tournament.

For more information, head over to http://www.richmondvolleyball.co.uk/

21 January 2010

See the National Radiator Company building

Often regarded as one of London's few gems of art deco architecture, black granite-clad Ideal House is an office block on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street designed by Raymond Hood and Gordon Jeeves and built between 1928 and 1929. The building received Grade-II listed status in 1981.


The seven storey building was designed for the American National Radiator Company, and was inspired by their famous building in New York, constructed a few years earlier. The black granite is complemented by enamel friezes and yellow, orange, green and gold details, chosen because black and gold were the company colours.

For more, see http://heritage.elettra.co.uk/artdeco/profile.php?building=ideal

^Picture from Flickr courtesy of oosp^

20 January 2010

Take a Fat Tire Bike Tour

London is a great city to see by bike and your author takes great pleasure from touring it with a book at his own speed without having to wait for others. If guided tours are more your thing, however, there are a number on offer and it's an excellent way to see the city.


Fat Tire Bike Tours (sic) are one such company departing daily from just outside Queensway Tube Station for a 4 hour tour of Royal London, which takes in Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, as well as other sites of interest.

This is possibly one of London's best and safest areas to cycle as you only rarely have to leave the parks. Even so, the cost of the tour includes an optional helmet and reflective vest to maximise safety.

Tours depart at 11am and tickets are £20, which includes bike hire. For more information, see http://fattirebiketours.com/london

^Picture by dearanxiety^

19 January 2010

Visit St Jude's Church, Hampstead

Saint Jude-on-the-Hill is the Parish Church of Hampstead Garden Suburb, and was designed by Edwin Lutyens, widely recognised as one of the greatest English architects of the first part of the twentieth century.


The church is a hybrid construction and whilst building began in 1909, and the church was consecrated in May 1911, the west end was not completed until 1935

The author Evelyn Waugh was confirmed at St Jude's in 1921 and C. S. Lewis gave two speeches there, in November 1942 and April 1945.

For more information, see http://www.stjudes.org.uk/index_files/HistoryandDescription.htm

^Picture by stevecadman^

18 January 2010

Gaze on Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra's Needle, on the Embankment, was presented to the nation in 1819 by Egyptian ruler Sudan Muhammad Ali, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801.


The Obelisk is actually one of three Ancient Egyptian obelisks which were sent to cities around the world in the Victorian Era, being re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City.

Despite the gift being made in 1819, the obelisk remained buried in sand in Egypt until 1877 when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a distinguished anatomist and dermatologist, sponsored its transportation to London at a cost of some £10,000. It was finally erected on the Victoria Embankment in 1878.

For more on Cleopatra's Needle, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra's_Needle

^Picture from flickr with thanks to Frankie Roberto^

17 January 2010

Find Monty's Statue

Standing beside the Ministry of Defence Main Building on Whitehall is a statue of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, or Monty as he is better known.


Monty is famous, as you will no doubt be aware, for leading Allied forces at the Battle of El Alamein, a major turning point in the Desert Campaign during the Second World War.

He later a led troops in Italy and North-West Europe, where he was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord until after the Battle of Normandy, and was the principal commander for Operation Market Garden.

For more on Monty see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Montgomery,_1st_Viscount_Montgomery_of_Alamein

^Picture by Christine Matthews ^

16 January 2010

Pop into the City Arts and Music Project

Bit of a Saturday post this one, but the City Arts and Music Project is café / bar / arts / music venue on City Road in Shoreditch.


It's a reasonably new addition, having arrived last year and most articles your author reads seem to suggest it is a temporary feature for up to two years.

It is of course, given its location, full of posey haircut kids, but there are is a good drinks selection and it is well located. There are a range of themed DJ nights and the usual sort of thing. Quite hard to get excited about really.

For more information, see http://www.thecamplondon.com/or check out their Facebook page.

15 January 2010

Relax in Paddington's Royal Waiting Rooms

Now operating as a lounge for first class passengers, the Royal Waiting Rooms, beside platform one at Paddington Station, were included in the original station in order to try to encourage the royal family to use the station. This was a key PR aim for the GWR developers and was thought especially likely as Paddington is positioned well for the commute between Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.


The rooms are still known as the Royal Waiting Rooms, but this purpose became largely redundant after the death of Queen Victoria. However, we are told that they were used by the Royal Family until World War Two when they were comandeered for war service.

In 1985 they were restored for the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway, and they reopened to passengers in 1995. Nowadays, they are divided between the older waiting rooms, which retain the original quieter listed-building-with-leather-sofa style, and the newer waiting rooms with rolling Sky News and ample complimentary snacks, juices, teas and coffees.

You do have to have a first class ticket to gain entry, but if you can get a cheap advance one it is well worth paying a few extra pounds to have a poke round, and take advantage of the hospitality.

For more information, see a fascinating leaflet on Paddington's architecture at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/documents/3053_PaddingtonArchitecturalMiniGuide.pdf

14 January 2010

Pop by Boswell's Cafe

Boswell's Cafe was opened as a Tea House in 1725 and was popular with London's literati at the time. Nowadays its a quick pre-theatre tourist cafe in Covent Garden. It takes its name from the contemporary diarist James Boswell who at 7pm on 16th May 1763 was sat with the owner Thomas Davies in the Tea House when Dr Johnson, the author of the dictionary whose quote gave rise to this blog, entered.


Boswell was, apparently, worried about meeting Johnson as he had a famous dislike of Scots, and Boswell was Scottish. They met anyway and got on and Boswell went on to write his famous biography, 'The Life of Johnson' which is huge.

Boswell's is at 8 Russell Street and when your author popped in yesterday the speedy menu (pictured) was particularly good value, thought the soft drinks are priced ridiculously to make up for it. For more on Boswell's see http://boswells-coventgarden.co.uk

13 January 2010

Eat beans on toast in Shoreditch

Word reaches your author of a very temporary pop-up cafe which Heinz are operating in Shoreditch until tomorrow. The It Has To Be Heinz Café on Shoreditch High Street serves only teas and beans on toast and is also collecting money for Capital FM’s charity, Help a London Child.


It is, of course, an obvious marketing gimmick, aiming to get some free coverage for the virtues of beans in cold weather, but it seems to be working ok. Pop ups are ten-a-penny in this city at the moment, and so are the PR companies peddling them, but the guys who are pushing this seem to have found plenty of bloggers and journalists willing to give up a few column inches as it's a nice idea, especially given the snow this morning.

The It Has To Be Heinz Café is open until Thursday (14th January) from 7am – 3pm, and is at 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6PG. The menu is simple, beans on toast, and there is a suggested donation of 50p.

For more, see tbe Mail here or The Foodie List, here.

12 January 2010

Have a drink on the Wibbley Wobbley

The Wibbley Wobbley is a floating pub in Greenland Dock, South East London with an upstairs restaurant. Located in a converted barge it's a pleasant spot for a drink if you're in the area, though when your author popped by recently the food all seemed to be off, there were few if any proper ales and the regulars were a bit sweary.


Nevertheless, it is a bit different and is worthy of a visit for a swift half. The walls are filled with interesting local and nautical pub tat and it has a real community feel, with a noticeboard filled with local goings on. Your author seems to recall there being an outside seating area by the dock, which would be very pleasant if it wasn't so cold at the moment. It also has a lovely cat who your author immediately made friends with (perhaps as he was sat near a heater).

For more information, see http://www.fancyapint.com/pubs/pub2347.php

11 January 2010

Find the Mark Bolan Death Tree

Former T-Rex frontman and all round rock legend Mark Bolan died on 16 September 1977 when a Mini driven by American singer songwriter Gloria Jones had problems negotiating a humpback bridge near Gipsy Lane on Queens Ride, Barnes. Bolan was in the passenger seat and when the Mini hit a sycamore tree he died instantly.


The site has been a site of pilgrimage for Bolan fans ever since and, in 1999 the T-Rex Action Group was formed, undertaking the formal maintenance of the site.

For more, see http://www.marc-bolan.org/

^Picture by ratb0y_2021^

10 January 2010

Take a tour of the Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium is located in Holloway, in Islington. It is, as many readers will probably be aware and is the home of Arsenal Football Club and has been since July 2006.


For £15, you can take a tour of the stadium, taking in such highlights as the players' tunnel, and the first team dressing room.

For an extra £20 you can take a tour led by a former player from the club, including 1971 FA Cup hero Charlie George, Arsenal centurion and Double winner John Radford and 1987 League Cup winning captain, Kenny Sansom, amongst others.

For more, see http://www.arsenal.com/emirates-stadium/stadium-tour

^Picture by wonker^

9 January 2010

Eat at Simplicity Restaurant

Simplicity Restaurant, in Rotherhithe, was recently crowned Gary Rhodes' London Local Food Hero, and is very proud of this.


The small South London restaurant aims to create great meals using fresh, local ingredients, with a focus on British food, and it seems to be winning praise from a number of places. Their belief in local ingredients is so strong they have been known to source pork from the local Surrey Docks City Farm.

All food is prepared on the premises, and it's fairly reasonable, with a two-course dinner at £18.50.

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

8 January 2010

Shop for bargains at Bermondsey Antiques Market

Officially called New Caledonian Market, Bermondsey Antiques Market is a weekly antiques market held on Fridays in Bermondsey Square, SE1.


It moved to Bermondsey in 1950 after the old Caledonian Market site in Islington was designated for redevelopment. It still trades there weekly from 6am to 1pm, and has managed to survive the recent redevelopment of Bermondsey Square.

For more, see http://www.bermondseysquare.co.uk/antiques.html or click here.

7 January 2010

Eat lunch on the Thames with Bateaux London

Bateaux London is the British equivalent of Paris' Bateaux-Mouches, plying the Thames daily and offering you the chance to eat lunch and dinner as the landmarks of central London drift by your window.


Whilst the dinner option is reasonably expensive, you can get a three course lunch and tea or coffee from £26, which seems fairly reasonable.

They also do a Sunday Lunch Jazz ticket for £42.50, which is fairly pricey but could be nice for a special occasion. Lunchtime cruises board from noon and dinner cruises at 7.30pm. For more, visit http://www.bateauxlondon.com/

^Picture by AndyRob^

6 January 2010

Drink at the Museum Tavern

The Museum Tavern, opposite the British Museum may not seem like a particularly interesting pub on the inside, but its clientelle over the years has included many of the great thinkers who got bored of their studies over the road in the British Library Reading Room.


One of the most notable regulars was Karl Marx, whose philosophy went on to shape 20th Century politics and foreign policy. Other visitors include J.B. Priestley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Proof if it were needed that even the greatest literary and philosophical minds benefit from a swift half every now and again.

For more, see http://www.pubs.com/main_site/pub_details.php?pub_id=149#

^Picture by jojo-bean^

5 January 2010

See the greatest portraits of the Tudor and Elizabethan eras

The top floor galleries at the National Portrait Gallery cover the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, from 1485 to 1603, as well as early English kings.


Here, over two rooms, you can see some of the best portraits which exist of Tudor greats like Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, Thomas Cromwell and Archbishop Cranmer, pictures which you will probably remember from your school textbooks.

If this sounds like your sort of thing, the best bit is that this part of the gallery is absolutely free. For more on the Tudor section click here and for the Elizabethan section click here.

^Picture by Wolfiewolf^

4 January 2010

Shop in Kingly Court

Kingly Court is a three-storey courtyard located behind Carnaby Street.


Inside are 28 independent fashion and lifestyle shops and a number of cafes and bars.

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

^Picture by Chris Friese^

3 January 2010

Have a face off with Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great lived between 356 and 323 BC and became the leader of one of the largest empires in ancient history. At its peak, his empire stretched from India in the East to Greece and Egypt in the West, all achieved before his death at the age of 32.


It is suggested that Alexander chose only a few artists who were allowed to produce his image, and one of these rare impressions is held at the British Museum, where you can stare the man straight in the face and imagine what life was like for him thousands of years ago.

For more, see the British Museum website here.

^Picture by djtansey^

2 January 2010

Watch for horses on Rotten Row

Rotten Row is a sand-covered bridleway in Hyde Park which is part of the Hyde Park South Ride for horses. It was created by William III in the 17th century, and was even lit with oil lamps in 1690, becoming the first artificially lit highway in Britain.


Whilst it became popular as a meeting place for rich Londoners on horseback in the 18th century, it now sees less traffic, only drawing the super-rich who can afford to stable horses around Hyde Park, the Household Cavalry, who have stables in Hyde Park Barracks in Knightsbridge, and some members of the public from commercial stables nearby where horses are available to hire for lessons at a steep fee.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotten_Row

^Picture by garryknight^

1 January 2010

Go on a New Year's Day walk

As you might imagine, your author loves to organise his friends into doing things when he gets the chance and for the past few years he has organised a New Year's Day walk for them, to blow away the cobwebs.


The last two were in Hampstead and by the river between Kew and Richmond and they were thoroughly enjoyable, even if participants weren't always as bright-eyed and bushy tailed as other days of the year.

Sadly, your author has been unable to organise on this year as he is out of the country, so is leaving it up to you all to carry on the tradition. So get out there. It will be fun.