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



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31 January 2012

Walk in Ladywell Fields

It may be a bit colder this week, but if you wrap up warm it's still pleasant out, so if you can find the time, it could be a good opportunity for a wander in Ladywell Fields, a hidden treasure of South East London, where parkland meanders alongside the Ravensbourne River.

Forming an integral part of the South East London Waterlink Way, a riverside walking and cycling route which cuts through eight miles of South East London, Ladywell Fields was refurbished between 2006 and 2011, when the park formally reopened after river cleaning, and improvement works.

For more, see http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/openspaces/parks/Pages/ladywell-fields.aspx

30 January 2012

Eat at Simpson's Tavern

Founded by Thomas Simpson in 1757, on the present site on Ball Court off Cheapside given to him by his father, Simpson's Tavern is an old fashioned English chophouse, and a bit of a City institution.

We are told that the buildings were originally two houses, knocked together to form the present building which has nevertheless stood largely unchanged for more than two and a half centuries, and continues to offer reasonably priced traditional English fare each weekday lunchtime - and at breakfast from Tuesday to Friday - to an audience largely made up of those who work in the area.

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

29 January 2012

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square

Though Chinese New Year fell on Monday, when we began the Year of the Dragon, the annual celebrations in Trafalgar Square do not take place until today.

We are told to expect the annual parade through Chinatown, as well as 100 performers in Trafalgar Square and an exciting fireworks finale just before 6pm. Sounds smashing.

For more, see http://www.visitlondon.com/events/detail/4733685-chinese-new-year-in-london

28 January 2012

Shop at Pimlico Road Farmers Market

A weekly farmers market in the firmly upmarket area known as Orange Square, on the corner of Pimlico Road and Ebury Street, SW1, Pimlico Road Farmers Market serves the cash-rich area around Sloane Square.

A range of producers show up every Saturday morning including, we are told fresh seafood from the East Anglian coast, vegetables and fruit from Chegworth Valley, and even Essex oysters when they are in season.

For more, see http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/pimlico-road/

^Picture © sheilaellen used under Creative Commons^

27 January 2012

Eat at the Queensbury Deli

A sister establishment to fairly-standard-upmarket-North-London-pub the Queensbury, the Queensbury Deli is a fairly-standard-upmarket-North-London-cafe with a healthy patronage by Willesden Green's middle classes, and a decent place sort of place for a cup of tea and a piece of cake on a cold winters afternoon.

They also do nice sandwiches, and a range of salads and other deli items, all served with a smile, and can even produce bespoke cupcakes if that's your sort of thing. They also sell teas, cordials, wines and (in answer to any questions you might have about the possibility of noisemakers during weekday mornings) baby food.

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

26 January 2012

Take a Meridian Duck Tour

To your author, there has something quite special about the yellow duck buses which stalk the streets of Waterloo, waiting to splash down into the Thames, and for those who also don't hate them there is good news, for they have come to Greenwich.

The amphibious craft, first developed for use during the Second World War, have been in London since July 2003, and are also popular in other cities around the world, and their latest London route takes tourists (and it will be tourists) on around Maritime Greenwich and onto the river for a tour which takes in views of the Millennium. At £15 a pop its shamelessly touristy, but at least it is trying.

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

25 January 2012

Walk around the Tarn, Mottingham

The Tarn, in Mottingham, is a small lake and nature reserve which once stood within the grounds of Eltham Lodge, a seventeenth century building which was itself once part of the grand estate of Eltham Palace. Whilst the Palace still stands, much of the grounds of which were subsequently adopted by the Royal Blackheath Golf Course, and the Tarn is one tiny remnant which is reminiscent of its former glory.

Home to a range of wildfowl, the lake is a great place to spot Canada Geese, Tufty Ducks, Coots, Moorhens and Mandarin Ducks. It is also said to be home to Pipistrelle Bats and your author even spotted some Parakeets in the trees during a visit last weekend.

Today, the Tarn is watched over by Greenwich Council Parks Department, and a passionate group of friends. For more information, see http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=GRN064

24 January 2012

Browse the Caird Library

Your author took up a kind invitation from the National Maritime Museum over the weekend to visit the updated Caird Library in their brand new Sammy Ofer Wing. Named after the shipping magnate Sir James Caird, it is the largest collection of its kind in the world, and holds some fantastic documents, books, pamphlets, maps and periodicals dating from the 1400s to the present day.

The library is open to all and free, with visitors just needing to pre-register before their visit to access their vast collection, which includes the entire P&O archive, many thousands of crew and ship registers, rare and printed maps and atlases and other items covering every aspect of maritime history. They also have a particularly interesting book on old pirate haunts, the Lundy Island section of which kept your author busy for some time.

For more information, see http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/

23 January 2012

Eat at the Garden Café

Part of the Garden Museum at Lambeth Palace, the Garden Café is a relaxing spot to while away a few hours, and offers seasonal food, as well as drinks and cakes baked in house.

The Cafe spreads itself between the inside of the museum and the interesting knot garden which, whilst not at its most impressive in winter months, still offers a sheltered spot to try to soak up some winter sunshine.

For more, see http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/caf

22 January 2012

Attend the Willesden Green Wassail

Begun way back in the midsts of time in 2010, the Willesden Green Wassail is part of the ancient midwinter tradition of blessing apple trees in order to ensure a good crop of cider apples later in the year.

Rather than the usual natural blessing, we are told that the Willesden Wassail focuses its attention on the food-sources of the urban landscape, giving attention to local shopkeepers including butchers, bakers, grocers and fishmongers.

 Potential participants should gather at Willesden Green Tube Station at 2.15pm, and learn a traditional Wassail chant to sing as they walk down the High Street. For more, see https://www.facebook.com/events/161518433944920/

^Picture © tnarik used under Creative Commons^

21 January 2012

See the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition

Now showing at the National Theatre is a collection of around a hundred of the best landscape photographs of 2011, in a competition designed to pick the best in the UK.

The exhibition began on 5th December 2011, and the winners have already been announced, but due to popular demand the exhibition has now been extended until 19th February.

For more information, see http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/?lid=67845

^Picture © Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons license^

20 January 2012

Admire Dover House

Recently in the news as the offices of the Secretary of State for Scotland, a job which may or may not have a future, Dover House is the home of the Scotland Office, and whilst it is not open to the public, its impressive portico is a commanding sight on Whitehall.

Built on Crown land between 1755 and 1758, Dover House is still owned by the Crown Estate and leased to the Scotland Office. The building was previously a private residence home to a French ambassador and the poet Lord Byron. The building is entered through a Georgian rotunda, and its offices are often described as the best Ministerial offices on Whitehall.

For more, see http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/scotlandoffice/10184.html

^Picture © stevecadman used under Creative Commons^

19 January 2012

Browse the bookshop at Morden Hall Park

The tiny bookshop at the National Trust's Morden Hall Park in South London is a gem, with a pleasant selection of battered paperbacks and informative non-fiction books, and not a kindle in sight.

Part of the grounds of the old Hall, which make up the 125 acre park, the bookshop is open daily from 11am - 3pm at this time of year, and is found is in a historic building beside the old watermill, which was once used to grind tobacco for snuff.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morden-hall-park/.

18 January 2012

Drink at the Gun, E14

Found beside the Thames on Coldharbour in Docklands, the Gun is a beautiful pub about which your author had heard a great deal. He was lucky, therefore, to have an opportunity to pop in on a beautifully sunny Saturday bike ride, and thankfully it was not a disappointment.

We are told that the current pub dates back to the early eighteenth century, and takes its name from a cannon fired to celebrate the opening of the West India Import Docks in 1802. It is a fitting name in an area which once housed iron foundries producing guns for the Royal Navy fleet. The owners also claim that Lord Nelson was a regular patron of The Gun, and would have secret meetings with Lady Emma Hamilton in the beautiful upstairs room, which is now fitted out as a function room called The River Room.

The pub had a roaring log fire on Saturday, and a welcoming terrace with blankets to keep your author warm as he sat watching the boats with a nice cup of tea, as sadly the food was a bit beyond budget. For weekday lunchtime diners, however, there is a more reasonably-priced menu, and the pub might even throw in a free return taxi from Canary Wharf if you ring them first to book.

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

17 January 2012

Take a walk around Three Mills Island

London's largest film and television studio is found just to the South of the Olympic workings of Stratford, based around a tidal mill on Three Mill Island, in Bromley-by-Bow, that can trace its history back to before the Domesday Book.

In the area, Riverside Green and Three Mills Green, offer two open spaces worthy of exploring, and though access has been limited at some points due to pre-Olympic works, they are still possible to wander, if a bit more difficult to access.

The stunning Grade I Listed House Mill, built by a Huguenot family in 1776, is a particular highlight, is open to the public at some times of the year, but more on that another time.

For more information, see http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/en/content/cms/leisure/gardens_and_heritage/three_mills_island/three_mills_island.aspx, or for a great walk leaflet click here.

16 January 2012

See the Dudgeons Wharf Memorial

A poignant memorial on the Isle of Dogs, the Dudgeons Wharf Memorial marks a spot where five men from the London Fire Brigade died in the greatest single loss of life since the Second World War.

The firemen died when oil tanks exploded as they tackled a riverside fire at Dudgeons Wharf on 17th July 1969. A plaque remembers Michael Gamble, John Appleby, Terrance Breen, Paul Carvosso and Alfred Smee, who had come to fight the blaze from various stations across the city when the tragic incident occurred.

For more information, see http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/PostWarFamousFires.asp

15 January 2012

Consider the France Show

With an equal potentially to be great fun, or pretty awful, the France Show is taking place at Earls Court this weekend, with French food and wine, tourist information for those considering holidaying in France, and exhibits on art and culture in France.

Seemingly put on by Archant, the local newspaper publisher who also publish a magazine on life in France, the exhibition like many of its ilk is largely a money-making exercise, but for those like your author with a real interest in tourism and place, they do have a real fascination.

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

^Picture © fesek used under Creative Commons^

14 January 2012

Attend the London Ice Sculpting Festival

It's the second and final day of the London Ice Sculpting Festival today, across Canary Wharf's Montgomery Square, Canada Square Park and Jubilee Place Shopping Mall.

Eight teams from around the world have been taking part, manning the chainsaws to produce some interesting and artistic sculptures. Today, we are told there will be a Frost Fayre with wintry snacks and drinks, then this afternoon your chance to vote for your favourite sculpture - albeit within the cringingly corporate theme of 'team spirit'.

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

^Picture © By Paul Sissons, used under a Creative Commons licence^

13 January 2012

Visit the Cuming Museum

First opened to the public in 1906, the Cuming Museum, is based around the results of a century of collection by Victorian father and son team, Richard and Henry Cuming, between 1780 and 1900. Now displayed over a couple of rooms in Old Walworth Town Hall, it is free and worth popping in to if you're in the area.

There are also some interesting exhibits about the history of Southwark, which supplement the objects selected from the Cuming Collection's 25,000 artefacts from the world of archaeology, art, geology, textiles, nature, coins and ceramics.

The only slightly odd thing about the collection is that the Cumings appear to have gathered the vast majority of it from auction houses, when it always seemed to your author that the joy of the Victorian gentleman collector was travelling around the world gathering things.

For more on the museum, see http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200162/the_cuming_museum

12 January 2012

Admire Saint Paul's Deptford

Though to a amateur like your author it bears a resemblance to one of Nicholas Hawksmoor's churches, the St Paul's in Deptford was actually designed by Church of England commissioner Thomas Archer, the designer of St John's Smith Square, and consecrated in 1730.

It is no surprise, however, that it looks similar, as it was constructed as part of the same Commission for Building Fifty New Churches which marked an expansion of London at that time. Whilst only a handful of the churches were ever completed, thankfully the Deptford church was one of them.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Paul's,_Deptford

11 January 2012

Explore Sailortown

The Sailortown galleries, at the Museum of London Docklands, recreate the environment of a bustling Victorian Wapping for visitors to explore.

Designed to reflect the winding lanes of Wapping between 1840 and 1850, Sailortown is found on the second floor of the Museum, and features a public house, lodging houses, a chandlery and even a wild animal emporium.

For more information, see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/Whats-on/Galleries/Sailortown-1840-1850.htm

^Picture © ell brown used under Creative Commons^

10 January 2012

See Stevenson's Rocket

Billed as the most famous steam locomotive in the world, Stevenson's Rocket was the first modern steam locomotive, built in Stephenson's Newcastle Upon Tyne the Forth Street Works in 1829. The original Rocket can still be seen on display in the 'Making the Modern World' gallery at the Science Museum.

Considering the Rocket fatally hit a Member of Parliament, William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool and a keen supporter of railway building, on its opening day, by running over his leg, it seems amazing by today's standards that the Rocket wasn't scrapped, but it continued with adjustments until 1840.

For more, see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/Centenary/Home/Icons/StephensonsRocket.aspx

^Picture © Bluelemur used under Creative Commons^

9 January 2012

See the skateboard graveyard of Hungerford Bridge

Walking across Hungerford Bridge yesterday afternoon, your author stumbled across a place he has heard of in legend before, but never seen first hand, The Skateboard Graveyard.

This Graveyard is where skateboards go to die, and is littered with the corpses of boards thrown from the Golden Jubilee footbridges when they have been broken, largely by skaters who practice at the Southbank Centre. Londonist has even discovered a website where obituaries are left for boards deceased. The boards are thrown from the bridge onto the supports below, where they remain inaccessible and untouched, seemingly indefinitely.

For more information, see http://londonist.com/2011/03/the-skateboard-graveyard-of-hungerford-bridge.php

8 January 2012

Celebrate Twelfth Night on the South Bank

The Lion's Part hold their annual Twelfth Night Celebrations on the South Bank from 12.45pm today, in a performance event featuring a Mummers Play, Wassailing, a symbolic Holly Man and more traditional ends to the Christmas season.

Though Twelfth Night was officially two days ago, on January 6th, the Lions Part are a group of professional performers who chose to celebrate it on the nearest weekend, using traditional English heritage to mark the changing of the seasons, using the South Bank beside the Globe Theatre and the George Inn on Borough High Street to stage their free performance.

For more, see http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/twelfthnight/index.html

^Picture © Mr Jaded used under Creative Commons^

7 January 2012

Have coffee in the Brunel Museum cafe

During a trip to the Brunel Museum this week, your author enjoyed fantastic hospitality and a welcome & warming cup of coffee in the recently refurbished cafe.

Alongside tea, coffee and home-made cakes, the café also serves as a gallery, hosting exhibitions by talented local artists and photographers, and is a welcome addition to a museum well worthy of visiting.

For more, see http://www.brunel-museum.org.uk/VisitUs/Cafe.aspx

6 January 2012

Learn about the St Margaret's House Settlement

Tonight, the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green have kindly offered to lend a space for the Tired of London, Tired of Life book launch, to which you all are invited, so it is only polite to explore a bit of the interesting history of their parent body, the St Margare's House Settlement.

Founded in 1889, the Settlement is a charitable trust, established to support local community groups and offer them space for their projects and activities. This includes office space for some organisations, as well a meeting rooms, a hall for events, a garden and the fantastic Ayoka Charity Shop, the Create Place and the Gallery Cafe.

Your author is a big believer in the value of usable space for a community, and that is why he is such a big fan of St Margaret's House. For well over a century, they have provided support to a range of community projects and organisations, from their base in Bethnal Green, and long may they continue to do so.

For more, see http://stmargaretshouse.org.uk/

5 January 2012

Buy the Tired of London, Tired of Life book

It's been on the shelves in some shops since the beginning of the week, and has even already sold out in a fair few, but as today is the official publication date for the Tired of London, Tired of Life book, your author would not be doing his job if he didn't encourage you to consider buying a copy.

Your author alone has been writing this website every day for more than three years, spending weekends happily wandering the streets looking for interesting things to document, and late nights researching and writing, just for the love of sharing ideas of things to do in London. There has never been any request for anything in return, and there was never any question of whether there should be. It has only ever been about encouraging people in London to engage with the place in which they live, and spreading the word about what a fascinating place it is to people further afield.

However, if you have enjoyed it, and would like to do something in return, it would mean a great deal if you would consider buying a copy of the book. The best way to do this is to go into your local independent bookshop and ask if they have it in, or can order one for you. This would be amazing, and would make one Londoner very happy.

For more on the book, see this review on Londonist, or listen again to Robert Elms's BBC London show from Monday.

4 January 2012

Play games with London on Board

The Meetup website is a fantastic tool for bored Londoners, and your author uses it to organise monthly Talking to Strangers events, themed around conversation. But there are scores of other great Meetups around, and one particularly popular series, brought to your author's attention by Londonist, is London on Board, a group of more than 1,000 people who like board games meet up to play them.

The latest event takes place this evening, at the Red Herring in Gresham Street, and some of the games are far beyond the simple knowledge of most of us, but friendly members are on hand to help you learn new ones, and get involved in some of the more unusual games on the market.

For more, see http://www.meetup.com/LondonOnBoard/

^Picture © Josie Fraser used under Creative Commons^

3 January 2012

See Van Gogh's Wheat Field with Cypresses

Your author believes that free art is the mark of a civilised society. Anyone can walk into London's best galleries, for free, and see some of the greatest works of art mankind has ever created, and this is surely a social good of which our great grandparents would have approved.

Wheat Field with Cypresses is actually a series of three similar pieces of art, painted by Vincent Van Gogh during his stay at the St-Rémy mental asylum, near Arle in France, in 1889. The National Gallery holds a September 1889 version and exhibits it every day, for free. It can be found in Room 45, on Level 2 of the Gallery.

For more information, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-a-wheatfield-with-cypresses

^Picture from Wikimedia Commons^

2 January 2012

Admire St Michael's Cornhill

Another City of London church rebuilt to designs by Sir Christopher Wren, St Michael's Cornhill was completed in 1672, and remains largely as it did upon its completion, having been largely spared the bombs of the Second World War.

The church is known to have existed since before the Norman Conquest, with records showing that it was given to the Abbot of Evesham in 1055, and we are told that the history of the area goes back much further as the church stands near the site of the oldest site of Christian worship in London, a church which was founded by King Lucius in 179 AD, and it is also built over the Basilica of Roman London.

For more, see http://www.st-michaels.org.uk/history.htm

^Picture © HerryLawford used under Creative Commons^

1 January 2012

Enjoy the Festival of Winter Walks

The Ramblers are taking the initiative this week and organising a fesival of walking to get those of us who have over-indulged back in shape.

Whilst most of the walks left bright and early this morning, Bromley Ramblers are leading a walk over 4 miles from Chelsfield to Pratt's Bottom at 1pm, crossing farmland and Chelsfield Lakes golf course to Pratts Bottom.

For more, see http://www.ramblers.co.uk/walksfinder/walkInfo.php?id=306045, or to take part tomorrow, see http://www.ramblers.co.uk/walksfinder/festivalofwinterwalks2011.html#22