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



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30 September 2011

Sit on Jake Worrall's bench

A thought-provoking memorial to an infant who lived a tragically short life and died on 23rd May 2008, before even his first birthday, Jake Winston Worrall's bench sits beside St Thomas' Hospital with an amazing view over the Thames.

On a hot late September afternoon, it is a fantastic spot to watch the world go by, as walkers and cyclist ply the traffic free route along the Thames, and some take a few moments to enjoy the last of the summer. There are plenty of other benches along the path, but none are more poignant.

For an approximate location, click here.

29 September 2011

Explore Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens

Found in the slightly less visited West Heath area of Hampstead Heath, the Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens is a fantastic spot for an autumnal wander, with views across North London.

Created by of William, Lord Leverhulme, and inspired by his interest in architecture and landscape gardening, and the ideas of landscape architect Thomas Mawson, it was the crowning glory of his house The Hill, and took from the acquisition of the land in 1904 until 1925, shortly before Lord Leverhulme's death, to complete.

When Lord Leverhulme died, The Hill house passed to Baron Inverforth, hence its modern name, Inverforth House, who himself passed away in 1955. In 1960, The Hill Garden and its Edwardian terraces, gazebos and rose pergola were bought by London County Council, and they opened to the public in 1963.

The Garden makes a lovely spot for a wander, and the views out towards Harrow On The Hill can be spectacular on clear days. For more information, download a pdf guide at http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/B5F7A42F-FA5A-4087-A3A4-C3FFE907EB2D/0/OS_HH_pergola.pdf

28 September 2011

Drink on the terrace at the Cut Bar

Rather than puzzling over why summer only comes nowadays in April and September, now is the time to snatch a few precious moments after work and enjoy them outside. The terrace of the Cut Bar, at the Young Vic, is one possibility, allowing drinkers to withdraw indoors when 6.30pm rolls round and there is a need to withdraw indoors.

Open to all-comers but patronised especially by those waiting to see shows at the Young Vic - in the same building - the Cut Bar suffers slightly from being in an area with some excellent bars and pubs, but it is worth popping in, especially if lagers, cocktails and finger food are your thing.

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

27 September 2011

Walk in Bedfont Lakes Country Park

The forecasters are telling us that we will have a last bit of summer this week, and Greater London has many places to take advantage of that. Bedfont Lakes Country Park is found just a short distance from Heathrow Airport, and comprises of 180 acres of rolling meadows, woodlands and lakes. It is home, we are told, to over 300 plants and 140 bird species.

Opened in 1995, the park was created on the site of a former landfill, when the London Borough of Hounslow made its creation a condition of a 1988 planning permission for development of surrounding industrial sites. The result is a community nature park which is now a designated Local Nature Reserve and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, which can probably be considered a success.

For more information, see http://www.hounslow.info/parks/bedfont/index.htm

^Picture © Maxwell Hamilton used under Creative Commons^

26 September 2011

Buy books at West End Lane Books

Established in West Hampstead in 1994, West End Lane Books today boasts 13,000 titles in stock, with a variety of adult and child fiction and non fiction.

Alongside everything you would expect from your local bookshop, West End Lane Books also hosts regular events and book groups for adults, and family clubs which include picture book stories and rhymes every Thursday.

For more, see http://westendlanebooks.co.uk/

25 September 2011

Visit St Margaret's Halstead

In the dying breaths before the M25, the Kentish village of Halstead is home to the church of St Margaret, a pretty Victorian village church which replaces previous places of worship in the village dating back to at least the 13th Century, and almost certainly earlier.

The Victorian church we see today was built in the 19th century, when Halstead village began to expand with the the growth of the London fruit market, and the 13th century old church was pulled down in the 1880s, when the church we see today was built.

It makes a decent stop off on a walk from Knockholt Station, which is how your author visited. For more information, see http://www.halstead-church.org/a-history-st-margarets-geoffrey-kitchener

24 September 2011

Attend the Soho Literary Festival

Your author tries not to directly reproduce press releases here, as he prepared ideas for the holiday he is on at this very moment to celebrate his birthday* this one popped into the inbox and it seemed decent. So, this weekend you could consider attending the Soho Literary Festival at the Soho Theatre in Dean Street.

Flogging books today are the likes of Melvyn Bragg, Judith Kerr, Gyles Brandreth and Maureen Lipman, and if you are interested in popping in, the PR bods tell me that Tired of London, Tired of Life readers can get two for one tickets by saying the secret code word "publisher" when they call the box office. This gets two tickets for £8, which seems like reasonable value.

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

*Opportunist thieves should note that your author's flatmate remains in the flat and has just completed a course in bashing thieves over the head, hard.

23 September 2011

Meet the deer at Golders Hill Deer Pen

The deer in Golders Hill Park, part of Hampstead Heath, don't seem that worried about people getting close to them. Maybe it's because they have had their spirits broken by years of being trapped in a fairly small pen, or maybe they like it. Your author couldn't possibly speculate.

It isn't as depressing as some of London's deer pens, and fallow deer which live here seem in reasonable spirits, though not as happy as wild deer sometimes look. Nevertheless, it is probably good for London children to see a deer, and let's not underestimate the value of having nature around.

For more on Golders Hill Park, where the deer pen is situated, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golders_Hill_Park

22 September 2011

Eat pizza at Small and Beautiful

It is difficult to understand how you can make money from selling a decent-sized pizza and a beer or glass of wine for just £5 of an evening, but your author is pleased that the people at Small and Beautiful in Kilburn are trying.

When your author dropped in last Thursday, the restaurant was doing a roaring trade, with people bustling in and out of the actually fairly spacious dining area constantly, and good food and drink being served at a steady pace.

Sure, it wasn't the absolute finest pizza it is possible to imagine but it was prepared freshly, was very tasty and showed excellent value for money, for which the diners seemed grateful.

So if you're in the area, do drop in. For a proper review, see http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2%3A1292/small-beautiful

21 September 2011

Visit Ernö Goldfinger's 2 Willow Road

The family home of architect Ernö Goldfinger, 2 Willow Road in Hampstead was built in the 1930s. Whilst at the time it was the subject of controversy, and conservation groups and the local MP tried to stop its construction, today it is heralded as an interesting example of its style and is opened to the public by the National Trust.

The house remained home to the Goldfinger family after Ernö's death in 1987, until his wife Ursula died in 1994, and everything is still in situ, from the children's toys in the upstairs nursery to art on the walls, and even the Christmas pudding in the kitchen cupboard, as was stipulated as part of the opening, so it offers a fascinating insight into Goldfinger family life.

For more information, visit the National Trust website.

20 September 2011

Take a tour of the Mansion House

Home to the Lord Mayor of London, the Mansion House is a grand Georgian town house at the centre of the City of London, brimming over with grand interiors and elegant furniture, and today you can get inside on a regular tour.

Tours of the House are taken by City of London Guides at a cost of £6 per person, every Tuesday at 2pm, and last about an hour. As so often, your author can't take the credit for discovering this fantastic opportunity and read about it on IanVisits but thought it well worth sharing over here.

For more information, click here.

^Picture © RachelH_ used under Creative Commons^

19 September 2011

See the Titanic Memorial Garden

Found in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum, the Titanic Garden is not particularly impressive, but is an interesting feature nonetheless.

Opened in 1995 by Titanic survivor Edith Haisman the garden is a tribute to the 1,523 who perished when the ship struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage in 1912.

For more, see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/survivor-to-open-titanic-memorial-1615644.html

18 September 2011

Tour Greenwich Yacht Club with Open House London

Today is the second day of this year's London Open House, and again hundreds of properties around town which wouldn't usually be are open to the public. The one that caught your author's eye today is Greenwich Yacht Club.

Designed by Frankl & Luty Ltd and completed in 2000, the clubhouse is built over the Thames about half way between the Millennium Dome and the Thames Barrier. It is open for regular architect-led tours today from 1pm until 4pm, with an annual art show, club members available for a chat and spectacular views over the Thames. Visitors can also, we are told, access the sail loft and boat yard.

For more information, see http://www.londonopenhouse.org/public/london/find/detail.asp?loh_id=8298

17 September 2011

Visit Lloyd's of London with London Open House

Today marks the start of London Open House weekend, so your author thought it fitting to give space to one of the most popular buildings on the circuit, Lloyd's of London at One Lime Street.

Designed by Richard Rogers and completed in 1986, the building is one of the most celebrated of its kind in London and famously though the building is modern it contains older gems such as the 18th century Adam Room, which date from much earlier.

If you're serious about getting inside, however, you will have to get in the queue pretty early. Though 6,464 people got to visit during the 2010 Open House event, it is known for long queues, and those who want to get round a few places could probably use their time better heading for shorter queues.

One other nearby gem with shorter anticipated queues is 19 Princelet Street, which is open again this weekend, and where your author will be volunteering. However, for more on Lloyd's, visit http://www.londonopenhouse.org/public/london/find/detail.asp?loh_id=3729

^Picture © phogel used under Creative Commons^

16 September 2011

Visit the Hampstead Museum at Burgh House

Hampstead Museum was, we are told, founded in 1979 by Christopher and Diana Wade, and now contains around 3,000 objects covering the art and life of Hampstead.

Your author had a meeting yesterday at Burgh House in Hampstead, so took the time to wander around the Hampstead Museum galleries upstairs in the house. It is a decent little local museum, offering some interesting background on the Heath and the history of the area, and are worth a visit if you're in the area.

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

15 September 2011

Support Londonist at Lewisham Literary Festival

There can't be many readers who are not aware of Londonist, the exceptional London website which keeps the rest of us on our toes. Well today, they have virtually taken over the Lewisham Literary Festival with two fantastic South East London events going head to head.

At St Swithun's Church Hall, Londonist Editor Lindsey brings together performance poets for an energetic-sounding gig from 7pm (£4), whilst over at Lewisham Central Library Londonist Editor Matt goes head to head with a night with the authors of three great London books from 8pm (free).

It all sounds well worth the journey to South East London, so for more information, visit http://lewishamlitfest.wordpress.com/events/

^Picture © Copyright Stephen Craven, used under a Creative Commons Licence^

14 September 2011

Drink at the Blacksmith's Arms, Cudham

On the very edge of this website's boundary, the M25, the Blacksmiths Arms in Cudham is a popular little pub which was built in 1628, and is famous as the birthplace of music hall star Harry Relph, often known by his stage name "Little Tich".

The pub building was built in 1628, and later became a blacksmiths before gaining a beer and cider licence in 1729. It has been in operation as a pub ever since, sitting on a high point of the North Downs, at the heart of an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The pub makes a fantastic walk from the Bulls Head at Pratt's Bottom, where landlord Vern can give directions for a lovely walk across the countryside.

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

13 September 2011

Collect conkers in Greenwich Park

Two lines of aesculus hippocastanum run along Blackheath Avenue in Greenwich Park. Better known as horse chestnut trees, these trees give a harvest of beautiful conkers at this time of year. With the amazing winds we saw yesterday at the tail end of Hurricane Katia, the ground is more littered with horse chesnuts than ever, and they're now ready for collecting.

The avenue itself is the park's main axis, and was set out in 1660 and aligned directly on the Queen's House at the bottom of the hill. Whilst only four of its original sweet chestnut trees survive, there are some fantastic horse chestnuts, introduced to replace the avenue’s original sweet chestnuts or elms.

Today, the avenue now provides parking for visitors to the park along each side, making it a great place to stop if you're after a bit haul of conkers.

For more on Greenwich Park, see http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/Greenwich-Park.aspx

12 September 2011

See the Capel Bedyddwyr Cymreig

Your author likes to collect the churches of different cultural communities in London, and one interesting example which appeared on a recent walk around Fitzrovia is the Capel Bedyddwyr Cymreig, a Welsh chapel on Eastcastle Street, W1.

The chapel is the main London Welsh Baptist Chapel, and was built in 1889, a time of great movement to London by just about everyone, including those from Wales. As London became home to the largest Welsh community outside Wales itself, churches like this one were built to serve that community.

The chapel is now Grade II listed and is noted for its classical facade and corinthian colonnade portico screening front, which sounds impressive.

For more, see http://www.urban75.org/london/capel-bedyddwyr.html

11 September 2011

Visit the 9/11 Memorial Garden

Though it will probably be the venue for official memorial ceremonies today, the 9/11 Memorial Garden in Grosvenor Square, close to the American Embassy, seems a fitting place to feature on an important anniversary.

Officially opened on 11th September 2003, the garden features a central plaque dedicated to British victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. The garden features an oak pergola and a pavilion, with the words "Grief is the price we pay for love", which were used by the Queen at a New York remembrance service a week after the attacks.

The garden also features white Bianca Roses which are, we are told, a significant flower for British families of those who died on September 11th. Though a new memorial has recently been unveiled in Battersea Park, this is still a very important location for the families of those who died.

For more, see http://london.usembassy.gov/grsvnrsq/911mem.html

^Picture © www.CGPGrey.com used under Creative Commons^

10 September 2011

Attend the Thames Festival

As another summer begins to draw to a close, the annual Thames Festival offers one final opportunity to enjoy a party on the streets before having to head indoors for the winter hibernation.

Billing itself as London’s largest outdoor arts festival, the festival takes place over the distance between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge and a rich programme takes place today and tomorrow, culminating tomorrow night in a night carnival and firework finale.

For more, see http://www.thamesfestival.org/

^Picture © Jérémy Couture used under Creative Commons^

9 September 2011

Admire One Great George Street

The building which will next year act as the non-accredited media centre for the Olympic Games has an interesting history. Originally constructed between 1910 and 1913 for the Institution of Civil Engineers - who still remain in the building today - its position at the heart of Westminster life has led it to bear witness to a number of interesting events.

Most famously, it was at One Great George Street that the charter which established UNESCO was signed in 1945, but it was also here that Labour held manifesto launches in the lead up to its election win in 1997. The building also acted as a venue for the presentation of the Butler Report into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq War gave its findings in 2004 and, thanks to the Film London Partnership, it has also had a career as a film star, with crews from productions such as Ghandi, In The Loop and Bridget Jones - Edge of Reason using it as a location for shoots.

But the building is also important as part of the day to day churn of the Westminster news cycle. As a press conference venue, for example, it was here that Michael Schumacher and Road Safety Minister Stephen Ladyman MP came together for a Rally for Safer Roads in 2007, which probably held the headlines for about thirty seconds, and it is downstairs at the Brasserie One restaurant that journalists meet top politicians and their spinners for lunchtime briefings to grease the wheels of the media machine.

For more on One Great George Street, see http://www.onegreatgeorgestreet.com/

^Picture © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence^

8 September 2011

Browse for pipes at Smith and Sons

Times are hard for the humble tobacconist, but for the time being, Smith & Sons continues to trade from the same shop in which it opened in 1869, as Charing Cross Road's first tobacconist.

Such is the historical attachment of Smith and Sons to this site that Time Out suggests that planning legislation means this unit can legally only house a tobacconist. Whether or not that is true, it is a fantastic shop for the smoker, with all types of pipe, tobacco, snuff and even a walk-in cigar humidor proudly advertised above the door.

For more information, see http://www.timeout.com/london/shops/venue/2%3A27532/g-smith-sons

7 September 2011

Eat and drink at Souk

Specialising in North African cuisine, the twin Souk restaurants in Short's Gardens and Litchfield Street, Covent Garden are usually a decent bet for a bite to eat in a reasonable theme restaurant.

Sure, it's fairly expensive for North African food, but most of the restaurants round here are pretty pricey, and it is a bit different. When your author last popped in, admittedly some time ago when he was feeling a bit richer, it seemed pleasant and it didn't feel like daylight robbery.

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

6 September 2011

Walk through Temple Bar

Though Temple Bar now stands between St Pauls Cathedral and Paternoster Square, it was originally constructed on the Strand in 1672 to replace an earlier gateway into the City of London from the City of Westminster.

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren to replace an earlier timber structure destroyed during the Great Fire of London, it stood in its previous location until 1878, when it was moved stone by stone to Hertfordshire where it stood for over a hundred years as the entrance to Theobalds Park in Cheshunt.

Eventually it fell into disrepair and was vandalised, so the Temple Bar Trust was founded in the 1970s to move it back, finally achieving success in 2004.

For more information, see http://www.thetemplebar.info/

5 September 2011

Admire the Caryatids at St Pancras Parish Church

On the north and south sides of St Pancras Parish Church, four huge female caryatids support the protruding vestries of the church, in a design by father and son William and Henry Inwood which draws inspiration from the Erechtheum in Athens.

The figures were, modeled in terracotta around cast-iron columns were, we are told, originally too tall for the space and slices had to be removed from their middles to fit them into the space, but they still look very impressive.

For more, see http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/site-unseen-the-caryatids-st-pancras-new-church-london-1580340.html

4 September 2011

Attend the London Mela

The London Mela takes place this afternoon, in Gunnersbury Park on the Hounslow/ Ealing borders. The Mela has been running since 2003 and attracts tens of thousands each year.

Visitors can, we are told, explore eight areas embracing different types of music and performance from the subcontinent, as well as food and visual arts, and even a funfair.

For more information, see http://www.londonmela.org/

^Picture © S Pakhrin used under Creative Commons^

3 September 2011

Take a walk in Joseph Grimaldi Park

Up in Islington is a park dedicated to the father of modern clowning, Joseph Grimaldi, who was born in London in 1778, the son of an Italian father who met Grimaldi's mother when they both worked at the Drury Lane Theatre.

The was until relatively recently the location of the Pentonville Chapel, built in the 1780s - just after Grimaldi's birth - and demolished in the 1980s, and gets its unusual name as Grimaldi was buried in the graveyard of the chapel, where his grave can still be found.

For more, see http://www.islington.gov.uk/Leisure/outdoor/parks/your_parks/greenspace_az/greenspace_j/joseph_grimaldi.asp

2 September 2011

Buy whiskies at Milroy's of Soho

Founded in the 1960s by brothers John and Wallace Milroy, Milroy's of Soho, on Greek Street, started life as a wine merchant. However, we are told that as the market for single malt whisky developed, the brothers became London ambassadors, and have been serving the people of Soho with fine whisky ever since.

When your author passed by yesterday afternoon, the shop was just gearing up for one of its regular whisky tastings - at a very civilised 5pm - and the team who manage the store today appear to be just as passionate about good whisky.

The store brands itself as the place to go for whisky in London, and your author is not able to argue, and if budgetary constraints prevent the purchase of anything as pricey as the 50 Year Old Highland Park at £10,000 a bottle, there's always Johnnie Walker miniatures for £2.50 a pop.

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

1 September 2011

Admire the Daily Express Building

A jewel of Fleet Street, the Daily Express Building was constructed in 1932 as the premises for the Daily Express. Though the Express has since moved on, the building is celebrated as one of London's most important art-deco icons.

Known for its stark frontage in black vitrolite, the foyer is apparently very beautiful and handsomely restored to its 1930s glory. Your author has only ever been to the outside but there is good news, as the foyer is open the upcoming London Open House weekend. In the meantime, it looks smashing from the outside.

For more information, click here.