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



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30 November 2011

Browse bullion at Gold Coin Exchange

Found at 16 Charing Cross Road, Gold Coin Exchange was established in 1965 and its stock is a literal treasure trove of valuable coins, medals and banknotes.

At a time when people are struggling for cash, and that which they do have is prone to lose its value, many have been putting their wealth in gold, but Gold Coin Exchange has some more interesting ways to do this, with a wide range of British and World coins dating from Anglo Saxon times to the present day.

Though your author can probably not afford them, he especially enjoys their range of British and World military medals, and other commemorative medals and medallions. For more, see http://www.goldcoinexchange.co.uk/

29 November 2011

Eat at Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant

You could easily miss a place like Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant, at 256-258 Brixton Rd, and pass on by, and your author would have done exactly that if it hadn't been for a friend's birthday a few weeks ago.

A favourite amongst the London's Eritrean community, the restaurant is also a bar and music club, and even on a Saturday night it was fairly quiet until around 10pm, when diners still awaited their Eritrean coffee ceremony and popcorn. By the time this had finished, the bar and live music were busy inside but shutters outside were firmly pulled down so only the bouncers were visible.

The food was excellent, and your author enjoyed that spongey bread and whilst he was chastised by friends when he compared it to Ethiopian food, Time Out tells us there isn't too much of a rivalry between the two countries at Dahlak.

For more information, see http://www.timeout.com/london/features/1804/London_Lives-The_Eritean_cab_driver.html

28 November 2011

Wander in the East Greenwich Pleasaunce

Hidden away on the edge of a railway line not far from East Greenwich, the East Greenwich Pleasaunce is a small park with an interesting history that is easily missed. The park was originally part of the Westcombe Estate, but was acquired in 1857 as part of Greenwich Hospital, to become a new burial ground for Greenwich Pensioners.

The park contains the remains of around 3,000 who died during the Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, but it isn't nearly as eerie as it sounds. In fact it is a testament to how pleasant such a place can be, with a playground and a small cafe and - when your author visited - even some youngsters building dams.

For more information, see http://fegp.typepad.com/

27 November 2011

Attend the Advent Procession at St Paul's

One of the setpiece church services to mark the beginning of advent and the Christmas season takes place at St Paul's Cathedral this evening, when worshippers gather together for the Advent Procession.

Your author is godless, but there is something very special about these types of services, such is the magical atmosphere of the darkened Cathedral, and the musical programme focusing on the Advent theme of light in darkness, whilst the choir - illuminated by candlelight - make their procession from darkness to light.

It's free to attend and all kicks off at 6pm. For more, see http://www3.london.anglican.org/resources/Events/event-13980/Advent%20Procession%20at%20St%20Paul's.pdf

^Picture © Paul-in-London used under Creative Commons^

26 November 2011

Browse the new Hoxton Street Market

Placed as it is at the heart of that place where all the idiots hang out, Hoxton Street Market could never maintain it's shabby East London charm, and so it was that last month it was relaunched as a market for jewellery, ceramics, art and fashion.

Today, the market is hosting what seems to be an unnecessarily early Christmas Street Party, with music and seasonal food, which according to their pointless PR company (your author was planning on covering it anyway) is designed to allow visitors to "get their pressies (sic) early or just partake in the crimbo (sic) joy!". Oh, god...

The market takes place on Hoxton Street from 10am to 6pm. For more information, see http://hoxtonstreetmarket.co.uk

25 November 2011

See the Monolith (Empyrean)

Commissioned by London County Council and sculpted by Barbara Hepworth, Monolith (Empyrean) originally stood on the South Bank outside the Royal Festival Hall, where it was erected in 1953, but nowadays it is found in a rather more sedate setting on the lawn of Hampstead's Kenwood House.

The Monolith is made of limestone and is a designated Grade II Listed structure, standing nearly nine feet high. Some suggest it commemorates the death of Barbara Hepworth's son, Paul, who was killed in service for the RAF in Malaya in 1953.

For more information, see http://www.barbarahepworth.org.uk/commissions/list/monolith-empyrean.html

24 November 2011

Find the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings arch

Found just off Brick Lane is the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings arch, a remnant of a housing development of 1885, spearheaded by Anglo-Jewish philanthropists, which attempted to shape the East End.

In an area filled with slum housing, the aim was to provide decent accommodation for local people, based on a net return of a relatively low 4 per cent. Members of the great Jewish banking dynasty led the campaign, which founded a company still in existence today.

Though the original buildings on Wentworth Street, E1, no longer remain, the arch can be found there, and other examples of Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company building projects can be found around London.

For more, see http://www.jewisheastend.com/fourpercentdwellings.html

^Picture © trailerfullofpix with permission^

23 November 2011

See Tacita Dean's FILM at the Tate

With the exception of Ai Weiwei's dull-as-ditchwater sunflower seeds, your author is almost universally a fan of the Tate Modern's Unilever Series, and the twelfth commission by filmmaker Tacita Dean is a great addition.

There is something thoroughly mesmerising about Dean's eleven minute silent film, the scale of which is stunning. The only problem seems to be the single row of seating, which doesn't really allow inclusive watching, but maybe that is a bit too regimented for such a respected gallery anyway.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/unilever2011/default.shtm

^Picture © poppet with a camera used under Creative Commons^

22 November 2011

Drink Pigs Ear at the Pig's Ear

In some areas of West London, the age of the £4 pint is already upon us, and if you want to avoid it you should probably stay out of them altogether. Having said that, your author did pay this amount for a pint recently and felt it was acceptable.

Uley Pig's Ear is a beer rarely seen outside the wilds of Gloucestershire, and whenever your author sees it elsewhere he is always impressed. When chance took him out of his comfort zone to Award Winning Chelsea Gastro Pub the Pig's Ear a couple of weeks ago, where the beer brewed by Chas Wright with Cotswold Spring Water is a welcome regular, it was a pleasant surprise.

The pub is nice enough, but for any other beer it would be overpriced and full of Chelsea types. However, for a slice of home on a dark autumnal evening, it seemed good value.

For more about the pub, see http://www.thepigsear.info/

21 November 2011

Drop in to Drink, Shop & Do

Your author really couldn't care less what is 'cool' any more, but there is something very pleasing about the way Drink, Shop & Do, on Caledonian Road near Kings Cross, combines style and a trend towards doing more craft and making things.

Your author dropped in the other night for the launch of London Remembers, and was impressed with the style of the place, based in a Victorian bath house in an area close enough to the Guardian to get noticed.

It's firmly aimed at the twee-girl-with-cash market, but it's just nice to see someone making a bit of an effort at this sort of thing, when so many would claim it was impossible to create something so nice. It is great to see a focus on new designers, and handmade products and desirable gifts living in harmony with a relaxed cafe bar.

For more, see http://drinkshopdo.com

20 November 2011

Go skating at the Tower of London

It's that time of year again, and ice rinks have started being lazily plonked throughout the capital, and yesterday the one at the Tower of London opened its doors for the first time.

It's not vastly different to the many other rinks which will appear in London, other than the atmospheric sense of skating beneath the Tower's historic battlements, but unlike Historic Royal Palaces' other offering at Hampton Court, it does feel less like the afterthought it definitely is.

Sessions are on a timed one hour basis, and are either £10.50 or £12.50 for adults, but if you buy them in advance that's subject to a £3.00 booking fee, so it's probably best to just show up and try your luck.

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

^Picture © DC_Rebecca used under Creative Commons^

19 November 2011

Drink at the Half Moon, Herne Hill

Constructed as a hotel in 1896, and designed by architect J. W. Brooker, the Half Moon in Herne Hill is a beautiful Grade II listed pub, with an attractive interior and an interesting crowd.

The pub has thankfully been left largely untouched by the waves of modernisation that have afflicted other pubs, and it is known for its many mirrors - particularly in the snug bar - which were apparently constructed by W. Gibbs & Sons glass decorators of Blackfriars.

Today, the pub serves decent looking pizzas and hosts gigs and comedy nights in a larger room at the back. For more information, see http://www.halfmoonpub.co.uk/

^Picture © Matthew Black used under Creative Commons^

18 November 2011

View the Olympic Park from Westfield's Observation Deck

They don't seem to want us to find it, hidden as it is at one end of the third floor of what is laughably called the "Official Department Store Provider to London 2012" - John Lewis - in the huge Westfield mall in Stratford. However, on a clear day the views over the Olympic Park from the observation deck are absolutely stunning.

It's probably as close as your author will get to the park for some time, having been thwarted in trying to buy tickets for both the Olympic and Paralymic Games, and whilst it is clearly not as finished as Boris makes out, the scale of it all is pretty amazing.

It's a shame you have to walk through acres of tedious shopping space and ask about five members of staff to get here, but that didn't deter a coach party of happy pensioners who had come to see the park, and were pleasingly dismissive of the shops. Just a shame a better camera wasn't to hand.

For more, see http://londonist.com/2011/07/john-lewis-2012-shop-olympic-stadium-view-revealed.php

17 November 2011

Visit the new London Remembers

Your author doesn't usually write about the internet, but last night saw the relaunch of a website he has long been a fan of. London Remembers is a fascinating project by Richenda Walford to document all of London's memorials.

Richenda has spent years wandering the streets of London researching its plaques, monuments, statues and fountains, finding out about them, and plotting them on a map with context and photographs, and the new site makes it even easier to find memorials in your area, or any area of London, and learn more about them.

For more, visit http://www.londonremembers.com/

16 November 2011

Drink by the fire at Egerton House

With the weather getting worse and the days getting shorter, your author finds himself increasingly looking for escapism, and so it was that he recently took up an invitation to spend an evening by the fire at Egerton House in Knightsbridge.

This isn't your author's usual habitat, but there is something magical about London's townhouse hotels, and Egerton House, built in 1843, is a five star hotel with just 28 rooms, giving it a wonderful feel but pushing the price of a beer by the fire beyond to £6, which is firmly in special occasion territory when the hotel isn't paying, as it was on this evening.

Having said that, an evening sat on the cosy sofa in front of the fire is something special, and the service and stories of head barman Antonio help to make it seem much less sterile and institutional than many London hotels.

For more, see http://www.egertonhousehotel.com/dining/bar

^Picture © Red Carnation Hotels^

15 November 2011

Eat in a railway carriage

One of the most recognisable elements of the Deptford Project, found halfway along bustling Deptford High Street, is a 35 tonne 1960's South East Trains carriage which now serves as a community cafe.

Moved to the site at midnight on Valentine’s Day 2008, the carriage was converted into a cafĂ© and bistro by Morag Myerscough's Studio Myerscough, based in East London. The cafe is redesigned every now and again in a different style.

The carriage cafe serves sustainably-sourced coffee from around the world and home made food from locally sourced ingredients. For more, see http://thedeptfordproject.com/.

14 November 2011

Visit St Mary Aldermary

In the heart of the City of London, on a site that has been home to a church for more than 900 years, St Mary Aldermary was only partially destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, and some elements of the foundations, walls, and tower still date from an earlier age.

Sir Christopher Wren's rebuild in 1679-82 - under the supervision of his deputy John Oliver - followed the style of the earlier church, originally funded through a legacy from grocer and Lord Mayor, Sir Henry Keeble, after his death in 1518.

Having escaped the Blitz virtually unscathed, the modern church is a very welcoming place, and was even serving tea and coffee, and selling early Christmas cards, when your author popped in last week. For more, see www.stmaryaldermary.co.uk

13 November 2011

Watch the March Past

On Remembrance Sunday, The Queen, her Cabinet, and representatives of the Armed Forces, Merchant Air and Navy and Fishing Fleets, and others gather at the Cenotaph to remember the fallen, but always a much more poignant spectacle is the hundreds of veterans of military conflicts around the world who take part in the British Legion's official march past, following the ceremony.

Veterans of many ages help to convey the message that it is real people who fight and die, and not the politicians or heads of state, and the hundreds line the route and watch them.

The wreath laying takes place around 11am, and the March Past comes soon afterwards. For more, see http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/honours/3333.aspx

^Picture © roblisameehan used under Creative Commons^

12 November 2011

Take a walking tour of Brick Lane

If you are interested in learning more about the history of one of East London's most interesting streets, you could do worse than joining Blue Badge Guide Molly Rumbelow's guided walk of the area this afternoon, not least because it offers one of the last opportunities of the year to look inside 19 Princelet Street, London's Museum of Immigration.

Held as part of Rich Mix's Snapshots Festival, the walk is free and it is best to book in advance from the Rich Mix box office, though some tickets may be available on the day. It leaves at 2.30pm and is part of a variety of events taking place this afternoon from noon until midnight at the centre on Bethnal Green Road.

For more information, see http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/festival/snapshotspart5/

^Picture © Kyle Taylor used under Creative Commons^

11 November 2011

Find Reuter's Bust

A statue of Paul Julius Reuter stands outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London where he founded his famous news service.

Reuter was born in Germany, but moved to London where he took British citizenship. A pioneer of news gathering, known for his work using the telegraph for news reporting. He was a pioneer of his age and is even said to have started off working with a fleet of pigeons.

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

10 November 2011

Drink at the Boot and Flogger

Your author finally made a long-overdue trip to the Boot and Flogger, on Redcross Way in Southwark, last night and was suitably impressed. Actually only opened by legendary wine sellers Davy’s in 1964, it's an atmospheric and comfortable place with plenty of charm.

Wood paneling, comfortable leather and wood armchairs, suits and friendly staff seem to be the name of the game at the Boot and Flogger, and wines and fortified wines rule the roost when it comes to drinking.

The wines were nice, but your author doesn't know enough about that sort of thing to make a difference, and was impressed they had Imperial Leather soap, which is obviously a mark of luxury.

For more, see http://www.timeout.com/london/bars/venue/2%3A20162/boot-flogger

^Picture © Yersinia used under Creative Commons^

9 November 2011

Book tickets for the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition

The National Gallery opens a new exhibition today, and ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ seems to be the hot ticket in town at the moment. Said to bring together one of the most complete collections of da Vinci paintings in existence, the show is already sold out until mid-December, and is bound to sell more over the coming weeks.

Your author isn't really one for hype, but it seems that Leonardo's appeal is timeless, and the number of people prepared to stump up £20 to attend - and the fact that galleries from around the world are prepared to lend their paintings for this extrodinary showcase - shows that London is still a capital for world art, and let's hope it will continue to be so.

The exhibition continues until 5th February 2012. For more, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan?

^Picture © rudolf_schuba used under Creative Commons^

8 November 2011

Drink at the Windmill

Found on the Cut, a short walk from Waterloo Station, the Windmill is a smashing pub popular with theatregoers and after work drinkers seeking a swift half before they board the train home.

The walls are covered with portraits of famous actors and actresses, and a central bar serves drinkers in the back and front of the pub at the same time, whilst a busy thai kitchen serves decent food at acceptable prices.

The pub is owned by the same people that run the nearby Kings Arms - a fantastic pub where your author drank on his first night in London - and is owned by the Windmill Taverns Group, founded by John and Ryan McElhinney and their father in 1998.

For more information, see http://www.windmilltaverns.com/the-windmill/

7 November 2011

See St John the Baptist, Eltham

A pretty church at the centre of what was once a leafy village, St John the Baptist church in Eltham is thought to have a history going back 900 years, though the modern version dates from 1879, following the demolition of the earlier version.

One of the first records of the Eltham's existence has been found in the records Rochester Cathedral, which show Chrysom Oil, used in Baptisms, was brought to Eltham from the cathedral in 1115.

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

6 November 2011

Drink at the Blue Anchor

First mentioned in the Fulham Manorial Roll in 1722, and thought to be considerably older, the Blue Anchor is an attractive pub facing onto the Thames at Hammersmith.

The beautiful interior is fitted out with historic flourishes and rowing paraphernalia, and is particularly popular with rowers, positioned as it is on a stretch of the river about half way along the course of the University Boat Race, and countless other rowing races throughout the year.

There is a decent menu, and a range of ales and other drinks. For more information, see http://www.blueanchorlondon.com

^Picture © futureshape used under Creative Commons^

5 November 2011

Watch a firework display

This year, 5th November falls on a Saturday, and whatever you might think about its Catholic-bashing message, there is something satisfying about celebrating Guy Fawkes night by wrapping up warm and heading outside to your nearest firework display, of which there are plenty.

Your author will be joining 100,000 other spectators to celebrate the start of mulled cider season at Blackheath fireworks, one of the few survivors in the Blackheath events calendar.

With the cancellation of Victoria Park fireworks - ostensibly because too many people were coming from outside the borough - readers could be forgiven for thinking that there are no other options in London. However, IanVisits lists 34 events around Greater London, and also adds the huge Brockham Bonfire, just outside the M25 which has in recent years been author's event of choice.

For a full list, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2011/10/17/list-of-london%E2%80%99s-bonfire-night-fireworks-for-2011/

^Picture © fotologic used under Creative Commons^

4 November 2011

Visit the Hanger Hill Garden Estate

Built on the site of Acton Aerodrome, and a golf course, which had superseded eighteenth century Hanger Hill House, home of local landowners the Wood family, the Hanger Hill Estate was an experiment in the development of the interwar years, laid out between 1928 and 1936.

Where once there were country lanes and rolling fields, a suburb recognised as an important example of the Mock Tudor style was laid out, in a part of Greater London that apparently became especially popular with British Japanese families, many of whom still live in the area.

For more information, see http://www.hhgera.com/

^Picture © Copyright David Hawgood, reused under a Creative Commons Licence^

3 November 2011

Wander around some tents

Your author has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't like the continuing blight on one of the most beautiful spots in our city, but it is always worth taking a trip down to St Paul's Cathedral to make up your own mind.

As the rest of us desperately try to keep our heads above water, the activists' only achievement is some clergy resignations and preventing the rest of us from visiting Paternoster Square.

They claim to represent 99% of humanity, waving banners saying things like "We are not some special interest group. We are you", but your author doesn't remember being asked to vote for them.

But it's up to you to make up your mind, and you should wander past. For more background, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15546275

^Picture © Alan Denney used under Creative Commons^

2 November 2011

See the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Willesden Lane

Quite literally one of the best temples in Willesden, the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir came into existence in 1975, when the congregation bought a disused church and decided to renovate it.

In 1986, a new plan emerged to build a proper temple on the site, and build a three temple storey complex, and the result was unveiled in 1988, in the same design we see today.

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

1 November 2011

Drink at the Elephant and Castle, Kensington

The clocks have gone back, and autumn has truly arrived, so it is now time to hunt out London's cosiest pubs, so you'll have somewhere to retreat to as the night draws in and winter arrives. Last night, your author popped in to the Elephant and Castle on Holland Street in Kensington and was very pleased with what he found.
Sometimes finds Nicholson's Pubs a bit patchy, but this one is a gem, with friendly staff and cosy seating which seems in keeping, and involves lots of dark wood. There were ales and food and it was just right for the autumn. It felt like a proper local pub, even though it's only a short walk from Kensington High Street.

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