Tired of London, Tired of Life - A website about things to do in London



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31 July 2011

Join the Hillingdon Skyride

The first in a series of three London Sky Rides this summer kicks off in Hillingdon this afternoon, giving cyclists their first chance to cycle car-free streets in the borough as part of the event.

Your author has joined the Central London skyride in previous years, and it is usually great fun (unless you want to leave the designated route). Hillingdon's looks very good as well, even if they have inexplicably asked father-of-the-late-Jade-Goody's-children-and-famous-for-very-little else Jeff Brazier as a 'special guest'. Christ knows how much Brazier can demand for a public appearance. Your author hopes they have not paid more than the 78p he is worth.

For more information, see http://www.goskyride.com/Hillingdon

30 July 2011

Watch the London Triathlon

This year's London Triathlon takes place this weekend, with tens of thousands of competitors gathering around the Royal Docks in East London to take part, or support those who are.

The swims take part in the Docks themselves, whilst cycle and running legs are in the vicinity of the ExCeL exhibition centre. Spectators are actively welcomed, and unusually for a London event there is even car parking.

Just a shame for participants that bikes aren't allowed on the DLR. For more, see http://www.thelondontriathlon.co.uk

^Picture © Nick J Webb used under Creative Commons^

29 July 2011

Drink at Bar Polski

An odd little bar in the winding alleyways behind Holborn Station, Bar Polski is a reasonable spot for a quick drink in passing. Your author was coaxed in by a friend who recently told him that they did vodka that was 'actually nice', and the convincing barman was very persuasive in his selling of something that 'tasted like apple crumble'.

Inside, the bar is quite plain, with metal chairs and very few features except one wall full of pictures of cockerels. The clientelle was a heady mix of group-drinkers, those on early-in-the-relationship dates and groups. There was food, but it didn't look particularly special.

Timeout says they have fifty vodkas and fancyapint give them three out of five. That seems about right. For more, click here.

28 July 2011

Visit the Kings Head Theatre Pub

Founded in 1970 by Dan Crawford, the Kings Head Theatre Pub, on Upper Street, claims to be the the first pub theatre founded in England since the days of Shakespeare.

The pub itself is, we are told, much older, and has the backroom which now houses the theatre was previously a boxing ring and a pool hall. Indeed, a Kings Head Pub was apparently mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diaries, and is rumoured to have been called the Kings Head after Henry VIII began stopping in for a pint on his way to see a mistress.

Whilst Crawford died in 2005, the Theatre continues, and offers regular performances in various genres. The pub, meanwhile, offers free music on most nights.

For more information, see http://www.kingsheadtheatrepub.co.uk/

27 July 2011

Mourn the Himalaya Palace

The Himalaya Palace was the UK's biggest Bollywood Cinema, like a genuine piece of the Subcontinent in the heart of Southall. First constructed in 1912, as the 300 seat New Paragon Palace, its Chinese-style exterior dates from 1929.

The cinema began showing Bollywood films around the 1970s, and reopened as the Himalayan Palace in 2001, billing itself as the 'most luxurious three screen cinema in West London'.

However, it closed last year, and plans are apparently afoot to convert it into an indoor market. For more, click here.

^Picture © Ewan Munro used under Creative Commons^

26 July 2011

See the Government's Art Collection

The Government Art Collection is owned by everyone and comprises around 13,000 works of art, dating back to 1898. However, the bureaucrats have imposed such punitive visitation rights that it impossible to see much of it. Tours are fully booked until January 2013, when pre-booked tours for established groups might be available, but only thrice monthly on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, for up to an hour. You would get better access if your paintings were in prison for armed robbery.

However, help is at hand, for this summer some bureaucrats and politicians - including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, Sir John Sawers - have chosen a select few works to be displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery, in a free exhibition in Gallery 7 upstairs.

The works include Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook, by Lowry, Elisabeth Frink's Homme Libellule II and David Dawson's Lucian Freud painting the Queen, and the exhibition continues until 4th September.

For more information, see http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/government-art-collection-at-work

^Picture © Steve Cadman used under Creative Commons^

25 July 2011

Admire the London Central Mosque

Built on a 2.3-acre site given by the British Government following the Second World War, the London Central Mosque was completed in 1977 to a design by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and cost £6.5 million.

The large copper dome which sits atop the Mosque is based on the design of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and it is certainly imposing. Inside, the Mosque has capacity for around 5,000 worshippers, but during Eid it has been known to attract up to 50,000.

For more information, visit http://www.iccuk.org/

24 July 2011

Attend TurkishFest

The annual Turkish Festival began yesterday on Potters Fields, between Tower Bridge and the GLA Building, and continues today until 6pm.

We are told that there will be entertainment, a Turkish bazaar, an art fair, and Turkish food, drink and spices. The weather looks pretty good as well.

For more, see http://www.pottersfields.co.uk/event.html?event_id=53

^Picture © Andrew Crump used under Creative Commons^

23 July 2011

Find the memorial to DC James Morrison

A memorial to DC James Morrison is found on Montreal Place, just off the Strand in Central London. Morrison was killed in 1991 when - whilst he was off duty - he chased a thief in Covent Garden, and was fatally stabbed whilst trying to make an arrest.

With all the scandal surrounding the Metropolitan Police in recent weeks, it's easy to forget what dedication many ordinary police officers like Morrison show to their jobs. Morrison was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, and the memorial was unveiled to him in 1994.

For more information, click here

22 July 2011

Visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition

Tower Bridge is probably London's most iconic, but it is nowhere near as old as some might imagine, designed by City architect Sir Horace Jones in 1884 and opened after his death in 1894.

Originally, the Bridge's high walks were designed to allow pedestrians to cross the river when the huge hydraulic bascules of the bridge were raised to allow ships through, but the walkways closed in 1910 due to lack of use, and since 1982 have formed part of a museum about the bridge known as the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

The Exhibition tells the history of the bridge and explains how it works, as well as offering stunning views over Central London from the walkways. Admission is £8.

For more information, see http://www.towerbridge.org.uk

21 July 2011

Borrow books from Manor House Library

Your author is a big fan of the work and staff at Manor House Library, in South East London. You can go there, pick out loads of books, and take them home with you. It's fantastic. Sure, it costs a lot in terms of council tax every month, but they're always so friendly.

The Manor House itself is a Grade II* listed building, and if the rough illustration above doesn't do it justice - or include the huge guns which stand at the front - your author must apologise. You can see a real picture here.

For more from the Society who protect the surrounding area, see http://www.librarylondon.org/localgroups/lewisham/manorhouse.htm

20 July 2011

Drink at the Island Queen

An attractive little Mitchells & Butlers pub near the canal and Boris' house in Islington, your author has never had a disappointing visit to the Island Queen.

The pubs high ceilings, central bar, food and ales make it a pleasant spot, and the front area is especially nice on summers evenings. Though this isn't important on the autumnal evenings we are having at the moment, it's worth considering for next April.

For more, see the new rent-a-website which appears to have been rolled out to all M&B pubs at http://www.theislandqueenislington.co.uk/

19 July 2011

Visit Golders Green Jewish Cemetery

Founded in 1895, the Jewish Cemetery, on Hoop Lane in Golders Green is divided into different areas, with Orthodox Sephardic Jews buried in the Eastern section, with the feet of the dead facing Jerusalem, and the upright headstones of Reform Jews in the Western section.

Famous people interned in the Cemetery include early twentieth century barrister and biographer Philip Guedalla, pianist, conductor and composer Sir Frederic Cowen, and cellist Jacqueline du Pré.

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

^Picture © bluerasberry used under Creative Commons^

18 July 2011

Drink at the Dial Arch

Opened last year as a Young's pub, the Dial Arch, at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, is significant for a number of reasons. The Arch itself is a listed structure and was built around 1720.

The Dial Arch and the square in front are significant not only for their association with the Royal Arsenal but also as the foundation spot for the Arsenal Football Club, which began life in 1886 as the Dial Square Football Club for workers from the Arsenal and did not move to North London until 1913.

Inside, the pub has done its best to be loyal to its history, but has more of a bar feel, which is completely understandable. For more, see http://www.dialarch.com

17 July 2011

Buy beads at Beadworks

For your author, most shopping is pretty dull, and shopping for beads seems like about the most pointless idea in the world. However, it is important to cater for all, and some will want to buy beads. If they do, they could find few better outlets than Beadworks, in Covent Garden.

The Covent Garden Bead Shop has been operating from its current location on Tower Street since 1977, making it the oldest Bead Shop in Europe. It is, we are told, a worldwide pioneer of bead retail, and stocks around 6,000 beads. There probably is a reason why someone would need that many beads...

For more on Beadworks, see http://www.beadworks.co.uk/

16 July 2011

Visit the new wing at the National Maritime Museum

Your author happened to be wandering in Greenwich yesterday afternoon and discovered that a new wing at the National Maritime Museum had opened this week, thanks to a £20m gift to the Museum from the late shipping magnate and philanthropist, Mr Sammy Ofer.

Sadly, Ofer died a month and a half ago at his home in Israel, but he would have every reason to be proud of his new wing, which brings a museum which people have previously been too quick to deride right up to date, even though it does change the entrance so it is on the wrong side.

The new Sammy Ofer Wing presents a new exhibition space - currently showing an exhibition on the High Arctic - an archive research centre, a cafe and a new shop, amongst other things.

For more, see http://www.nmm.ac.uk/about/sammy-ofer-wing/

15 July 2011

Drink at Bradley's Spanish Bar

Found just off Oxford Street, on tiny Hanway Street, Bradley's Spanish Bar is an popular little bar on two levels.

The smaller bar upstairs is supplemented with a larger downstairs space and both are popular with a varied clientele, and when your author popped by recently everyone seemed to be smiling.

For more information, see http://www.shadyoldlady.com/location.php?loc=593

14 July 2011

Drink tea in a Stable

The Karmarama Café at the Orleans House Gallery, in Twickenham, is a lovely spot for a drink or a bite to eat and is found in the former North Stable block of Orleans House.

As we have examined previously, the house was built in the 18th century, by Secretary of State for Scotland James Johnston, and was eventually demolished in 1926. The remaining buildings protected by a subsequent owner who left them to the borough when she died in 1962, she left the property and her art to the Borough.

The Café is open Wednesday - Sunday from 10:30am until 5pm. It's not cheap, but there are some decent bits and pieces available, and it's a lovely setting. For more, see http://www.richmond.gov.uk/orleans_house_gallery

13 July 2011

Listen to some Brass on the Grass

Until the end of August, Westminster Abbey is hosting weekly concerts on its College Garden, and the second in the series is today.

Visitors are invited to bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy free music from some of the best brass bands in the country on Wednesdays from 12.30pm until 2pm.

Today's concert features the Band of the Surrey Yeomanry, and anyone interested is invited to bring a picnic and a blanket for a free concert, with any donations going to band funds. This sort of thing is one of your author's favourites.

For more, see click here

^Picture © ms.Tea used under Creative Commons^

12 July 2011

Admire the Hotel Russell

Your author has never been inside the Hotel Russell, on Russell Square in Bloomsbury, but from outside the architecture - with design by architect Charles Fitzroy Doll - is very striking.

The 373 room hotel opened on Derby Day 1900 and is described by The London Encyclopedia as a fantasty 'Francois-premier chateau' hotel, whatever that means.

For more information, you could visit the distinctly uninspiring website at http://www.londonrussellhotel.co.uk/, but instead your author suggests you have a look at some of the brilliant photographs on flickr.

11 July 2011

Book a ticket for The Space

The Space is an arts and community centre on the Isle of Dogs, housed in a former Presbyterian built in 1859 to designs by London architect Thomas Edward Knightley.

After the church left the building in the 1970s, it was given to the St Paul's Arts Trust by Trafalgar House Developments and restoration works continued into the 1990s.

Today, The Space hosts a range of theatre, music, comedy and dance events, and whilst Mondays are usually a rest day, there is plenty of things to browse and book tickets for on the website at http://space.org.uk/

10 July 2011

See the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea

As your author climbed Crooms Hill in Greenwich last Saturday, he was struck by the beauty of the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea at sunset. Granted it was a beautiful day, but there was something special about it.

Originally built in 1793 and rebuilt in 1851 by W.W. Wardell, the church was designed for the Catholic seamen who were based at the Royal Hospital down the hill, attracting a mixed congregation dominated by those born in Ireland but also including sailors from Portugal, Brazil and India. Inside, the church boasts designs by A.N. Pugin.

To read the information above again, visit http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/LeisureCulture/Churches/ChurchLadyStarSea.htm, from where it came.

9 July 2011

Take part in Lewisham People's Day

Your author assumes that most people reading this are people, and so should feel honoured that Lewisham Council is holding a special People's Day today, just for you and other people like you.

The day, funded directly out of the really high Lewisham council tax of real people, showcases around a thousand performers, with music, magic, art, dance, sport, cabaret and spoken word over eight stages.

The headline act for the day is Neville Staple off of the Specials, who is pretty good, and its all being held in Mountsfield Park, in Hither Green, so as not to attract any people from North London.

For more information, see http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NewsAndEvents/Events/PeoplesDay/

^Picture © Odd_dog used under Creative Commons^

8 July 2011

Drink at the Angelsea Arms

Built in the 1820s and first occupied in 1829, the Anglesea Arms, in South Kensington was originally known as The Swan.

Though it was rather pricey when your author last popped in, it's a decent little pub in an area with a surprising dearth of pubs in general, probably owing to the high property prices in the area. It is also said to be the place where Bruce Reynolds planned the Great Train Robbery.

For more information, see http://www.capitalpubcompany.com/the-anglesea-arms/

7 July 2011

Visit Peter de Wit's Cafe

Established in 1988 by Jane and Peter de Wit, Peter de Wit's is a small family-run cafe in the centre of Greenwich.

The cafe serves as an traditional English breakfasts-and-sandwiches cafe during the daytimes, priding itself on free range eggs, local sausages and local beer, and in the winter season also has Jazz nights which sadly only last from September to June. We shall return to them later in the year.

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

6 July 2011

Admire the Pagoda at Kew

The Pagoda at Kew looks like a fairly new addition, but though it has been through a few restorations, there has been a pagoda here since 1762, when it was designed by Sir William Chambers in a Chinese style.

The original Pagoda was, we are told, covered with dragon, with eighty carved from wood and gilded with real gold. Today, whilst the Pagoda has lost some of its decoration, it is certainly no less striking,
sitting at the centre of various vistas which are part of the gardens grand plan, lined with trees of all kinds.

For more on the Pagoda, see http://www.kew.org/heritage/places/pagoda.html

5 July 2011

Wander Streatham Common

At the Southern end of Lambeth Borough, Streatham Common is a large open space at the southern tip of Lambeth, in an area was once part of a larger ancient common of the manor of south Streatham.

The modern Common still has significant areas of acid grassland and woodland, and is also home to the formal gardens of the Rookery - laid out on a site where people used to come to take the mineral waters of Streatham Spa - and is also home to various amenities such as a playground, a summertime paddling pool and a tennis court.

For more information, click here

^Picture © Nigel Chadwick used under Creative Commons^

4 July 2011

Do watersports in Danson Park

Danson Park, in the London Borough of Bexley, is home to a watersports centre which hosts sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking and various other sports which you wouldn't want to do in the winter.

The lake also has rowing boats, and even - in the ultimate show of its modernity - has courses in womens' sailing. Where will it end?!

For more information, see http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=862

3 July 2011

Walk the murals of Brixton

London is home to many great murals, and last year Ruth Miller founded the London Mural Preservation Society to protect, preserve and celebrate the many murals around our city.

This afternoon Ruth is organising a walk around the murals of Brixton, examining the many which exist in the area, and taking a pub stop half way.

The walk starts at Stockwell Tube Station at 2pm and is free. For more on the walk, click here, or for the society's page, visit http://londonmuralpreservationsociety.com/

^Picture © memespring used under Creative Commons^

2 July 2011

See Crossness 'Sludge' Powered Generator

If you flush the toilet in South London, there's a good chance the contents will eventually arrive in Crossness, the destination of Joseph Bazalgette's Southern Outfall Sewer and home of the grand Victorian Crossness Pumping Station.

There is good news, however, as whilst modern Crossness still processes sewage, Thames Water has found an excellent use for your 'sludge'. In 1998 the Crossness 'Sludge' Powered Generator was built, at the cost of £165m, and now rather than just depositing all treated 'sludge' directly into the sea, some of it is converted into energy through the Crossness 'Sludge' Powered Generator.

For more information, see http://www.power-technology.com/projects/crossness/

1 July 2011

Find the Wanstead Park Grotto

Originally constructed in the 1760s, the Grotto in Wanstead Park was once a boathouse and survived both the destruction of Wanstead House in 1824 and plans for its demolition in 1835.

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed most of the grotto in 1882, but some of the facade is still standing, and a The Grotto has recently been cleared of vegetation in an attempt to protect what remains.

For more on the Grotto, see http://www.wansteadpark.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=113

^Picture © LindaH used under Creative Commons^