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



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29 February 2012

Find the Leaping Hare of Broadgate Circle

In a shameless attempt to mark the 29th February, the leap year anomaly which only occurs every four years, today's find is a City of London statue, the Leaping Hare On Crescent And Ball by controversial modernist sculptor Barry Flanagan.

Located on Broadgate Circle, the statue is one of many of leaping hares by Welsh-born Flanagan, who died in 2009 at the age of 68. It was installed at Broadgate in 1988,

For more on Flanagan, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/art-obituaries/6190100/Barry-Flanagan.html

^Picture © Jim Linwood used under Creative Commons^

28 February 2012

Walk beside Pen Ponds

Out in the wilds of Richmond Park there is much more wildlife to be found than just the deer, and Pen Ponds is a great spot to find some of it, rich with wildfowl, it is also a spot for regular sightings of other birds, including buzzards and parakeets.

The lake itself is manmade and divided in two by a causeway, and whilst the Royal Parks record that they were formally dug in 1746, other accounts suggest that they were originally dug as gravel pits as early as the 1600s. Today, we are told that the reedbeds of Pen Ponds are a particularly important habitat for naturalists and ornithologists

For more, see http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond_park/landscape_history.cfm

^Picture © Phillip Jenkins - The Critical Path used under Creative Commons^

27 February 2012

Visit St George the Martyr

An impressive church standing on Borough High Street in Southwark, St George the Martyr can trace its history back to at least 1122, when it is mentioned in the annals of Bermondsey Priory.

We are told that the church, which stood on the important trade route to Dover, was a place at which important visitors were greeted, and it was here that the the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London came to greet Henry V on his return from Agincourt.

Though the current church did suffer some damage during the Second World War, it is still a faithful restoration of the design by John Price, consecrated in 1736, and is also notable for its Italianate ceiling, designed in 1897 by Basil Champneys.

For more, see http://www.stgeorge-themartyr.co.uk/

^Picture © Duncan~ used under Creative Commons^

26 February 2012

Attend the Russian Sun Festival

Today, Russian culture takes over Trafalgar Square for Maslenitsa, the Russian Sun Festival, which marks the end of winter and the start of spring. About time too!

We are to expect Russian music, food, craft and family entertainment, for what sounds like a great day out. It is, we are told, time to say "Zdravstvui Maslenitsa!" to Spring.

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

^Picture © wallyg used under Creative Commons^

25 February 2012

Drink Yorkshire Beer at the Bricklayer's Arms

This weekend, the Bricklayer's Arms is celebrating the beers of Yorkshire, with a traditional Yorkshire Beer Festival. Today is the final day and the highlight, at 1pm, is a performance by the Hammersmith Morris Men.

Of course, it isn't for everyone, but whether or not you like the occasional pint of ale, the Bricklayer's is a great pub, and if you do it's a treasure, with up to 12 ales regularly on hand pumps at the bar, and local beers from Sambrook’s Brewery in Battersea.

For more, see http://www.bricklayers-arms.co.uk/

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

24 February 2012

Attend a late opening at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Your author is dashing off this evening for the 18:20 to Manchester Piccadilly, and is sad to be missing what sounds like a brilliant evening at the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London this evening inspired by the current exhibition entitled "Age of Elegance: 1890 - 1930".

In a departure from the usual City of London Corporation style, the gallery will host a pop-up cocktail bar, big band music and costumed dancers from The London Swing Dance Society. There will also be readings from P.G. Wodehouse and some suitable1920s entertainment, as well as Jazz Age verse from the Keats House Poetry Ambassadors.

For more, see http://www.guildhallartgallery.cityoflondon.gov.uk/GAG/Learning/Late+Views.htm

^Picture © Copyright Basher Eyre, used under a Creative Commons Licence^

23 February 2012

Eat at Leila's

Found on Cavert Avenue, a relative backstreet near Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, Leila’s Shop and Cafe offers rustic food to eat in and out.

Whilst we are told that Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof sometimes visit, that is no reason to be put off, and we shouldn't let it stop us sampling the honest offerings and simple surroundings which can be found in this cafe & shop.

For more, see http://www.londontown.com/LondonInformation/Business/Leilas/df5b/

22 February 2012

See Formula One cars in Westminster

For the whole of this week, two Formula One cars are parked up on the side of Victoria Street in Westminster as part of a showcase for British manufacturing which is attempting to demonstrate that we British are still relevant to automotive engineering.

Visitors get the chance to see a 2010 Mercedes F1 car which was once driven by a boring man called Nico Rosberg, as well as a Williams F1 from last season and a Le Mans sports car. It's an interesting spectacle for Formula One fans, who will be used to watching the cars process in order round a road in the distance.

For more, see http://bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2012/Feb/best-of-british-manufacturing

21 February 2012

See the Great Eastern Railway War Memorial

A huge marble war memorial stands in Liverpool Street Station, commemorating those members of the Great Eastern Railway who lost their lives in the First World War.

We are told that the memorial was rebuilt following relocation from the former Booking Hall, hence perhaps its corner position which makes it rather too easily overlooked.

The memorial also incorporates two smaller memorials, one to MP Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson, who unveiled the memorial, and was then assassinated by two members of the Irish Republican Army on his return home from the ceremony. Another commemorates Captain Fryatt, a Great Eastern Railway marine officer who was executed by the Germans in 1916.

For more, see http://www.networkrail.co.uk/documents/3052_LiverpoolStreetArchitecturalMiniGuide.pdf

20 February 2012

Play crazy golf at Northwick Park

Out on the inner edge of Metroland, Northwick Park is on the border between Brent and Harrow, served by the Metropolitan Line and home to a 9 hole golf course and a smaller crazy golf course, open to the public daily.

Based around the theme of 'Mini Majors', the crazy golf course draws inspiration from famous golf holes around the world, available to play for a reasonable fee, with rocks, plants, streams, ponds, waterfalls and floodlights to allow golfing well into the evening.

For more, see http://www.northwickpark.com/adventure_golf.php

^Picture © jamiejohndavies used under Creative Commons^

19 February 2012

See Seurat's Bathers at Asnières

Apparently composed from a number of smaller studies of individual figures, Seurat's Bathers at Asnières shows people swimming on an attractive section of the River Seine in what is now an industrial suburb of Paris.

The large piece was painted using oil on canvas and completed by Seurat in 1884, when he was just twenty-four years old. It now hangs in room 44 of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathers_at_Asni%C3%A8res

^Picture © artelista used under Creative Commons^

18 February 2012

Say hello to Abraham Lincoln

Towering in front of Middlesex Guildhall, on Parliament Square, is someone that passers-by often don't expect to find there, as here stands Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America.

The statue is a replica one that stands in Lincoln Park in Chicago, USA, and the original designs were by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The statue was unveiled in Parliament Square in July 1920, and was part of a plan to celebrate a century since the Treaty of Ghent, which marked of peace between Britain and the USA. However, it was not actually erected until six years after the 1914 anniversary.

For the full story, see http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=The_statue_of_Abraham_Lincoln_in_Parliament_Square

17 February 2012

Gaze across Crystal Palace lake

Probably best known as the home of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, the largest lake in Crystal Palace park was constructed as part of the works of Joseph Paxton, the creator of Crystal Palace

We are told that the lake was constructed as a lower reservoir, and was known as the "Tidal Lake", as Paxton’s waterworks caused the levels of the lake to vary significantly as water was drawn off to feed the many fountains in the park.

For more information, see http://www.cocgb.dircon.co.uk/cry_pal_park.htm

^Picture © simononly used under Creative Commons^

16 February 2012

Choose wines at Green & Blue

Green & Blue, on Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, is a great little independent wine shop and bar specialising in a strong selection of wines, and run under the supervision of Kate Thal, who opened it in early summer 2005.

Your author dropped in to the bar late on Saturday night, and found it a particular treat, based around an Italian enotecas, where an extension of the wine shop allows drinkers to select wines from the shelves and then drink them at a table with a bite to eat. Very pleasant.

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

15 February 2012

See David Shrigley's Brain Activity

Your author popped in to see the Hayward's latest exhibition last weekend, showcasing the work of Glasgow-born artist David Shrigley. We are told that this is Shrigley's first major survey show, and combines old favorites with fresh Shrigley works in all mediums.

Shrigley's witty works have long been a favourite of your author, and the only problem with the exhibition is all the people that are there, when Shrigley is the sort of artist that everyone always assumes they are the only one who has discovered.

For more, see http://ticketing.southbankcentre.co.uk/david-shrigley

^Picture © atomicjeep used under Creative Commons^

14 February 2012

Have lunch at Tachbrook Street Market

Work lunchtimes can be grim affairs, with pre-packaged sandwiches a marker of misery for many, but for those working in and around Victoria and Pimlico who want more from life, Tachbrook Street Market is a great place to start, packed with interesting and affordable stalls covering a number of cuisines.

The street itself is packed with a number of interesting shops, and is at the heart of a thriving community just five minutes from Victoria, making it a great alternative to the supermarkets and canteens of many lunchtimes.

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

13 February 2012

Cross Hammersmith Bridge

Connecting Hammersmith to Barnes in South West London, Hammersmith was the site of the first suspension bridge over the Thames, though the current bridge - known for its green and gold colour scheme - is the second on the site, constructed in 1887 to designs by famous sewer architect Joseph Bazalgette.

Having survived bombing by the Real IRA in 2000, the bridge renovated, and then was awarded Grade II* listed status in 2008 and is an important landmark for those watching or participating in an annual boat race between two universities from Oxford and Cambridge, as well as other rowing races.

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

12 February 2012

Attend Blackheath Farmers Market

Another excellent weekend farmers market, this time in South East London, Blackheath Farmers Market takes place every Sunday in the railway station car park from 10am until 2pm.

Popular with a local clientele who aren't exactly cash-poor, there are still some things us normal people can afford at this market, and it can be a good source of Sunday lunch treats for those who live in the area

For more, see http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/blackheath/

11 February 2012

Admire All Saints Blackheath

A beautiful church in a stunning position at the heart of Blackheath, All Saints Blackheath was designed by Benjamin Ferrey, the Hampshire-born student of architect Augustus Pugin.

The church is particularly pleasing for its position on the Heath, distinct from the surrounding buildings, and also for the line of sight from the General Woolfe Statue in Greenwich Park, along Blackheath Avenue to its spire. We are told that it has Kentish rag surfaces and its vestries and porch were added in 1890 and 1899 by A W Blomfield.

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

10 February 2012

Eat at Maison Bertaux

Founded in 1871 by Parisian communard refugees, Maison Bertaux on Greek Street in Soho was one of the first French patisseries in London, and bills itself as London’s oldest (and best) patisserie.

Known for its cakes, croissants and pastries, baked daily on the premises and served with freshly brewed tea and coffee, it's understandably a little more expensive than your local Greggs, but is worth it for an authentic Soho experience.

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

9 February 2012

See the James Henry Greathead statue

Erected way back in the midsts of time, in 1994, outside Bank Underground station is a statue to James Henry Greathead, an engineer born in South Africa in 1844 who went on to become instrumental in the tunneling processes which led to the modern tube network.

Greathead was notable for his work on the tunneling of the Tower Subway - only the second tunnel under the Thames after the one created by the Brunels - and also his time as resident engineer on the Hammersmith extension railway and the Metropolitan District Railway, as well as the Waterloo and City Line, and a section of the City & South London Railway which is now part of the Northern Line. The statue which stands to him today is fittingly built on a London Underground ventilation shaft.

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

^Picture © Copyright Basher Eyre and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons licence^

8 February 2012

Eat at Pizza East

Your author is often sceptical of restaurants in trendy areas of town, so for a long while he avoided relative newcomer Pizza East, on the ground floor of the Tea Building in Shoreditch. However, the time came to finally relent last week, and it was actually very good.

Located on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Bethnal Green Road, the restaurant has all the exposed brickwork and wood trappings of this area of town, but thankfully backed up with fresh ingredients, attention to detail and about-the-norm-now-for-a-London-pizza prices, meaning if you're in the area and not in the mood for a curry on Brick Lane or Vietnamese on Kingsland Road it is a good bet.

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

^Picture © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons licence^

7 February 2012

Find a Dickens memorial

Today marks 200 years since the author Charles Dickens was born, and whilst there are many commemorations around town, the road that was once Devonshire Terrace is one place which remembers Charles Dickens every day, regardless of anniversaries.

Today, the site is on the busy corner of Marylebone Road and Marylebone High Street, but Charles Dickens lived at 1 Devonshire Terrace in quieter times from 1839 to 1851, and it was here that he wrote six of his most famous novels - The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Christmas Carol, Dombey and Son and David Copperfield.

As well as the image of Dickens himself, the memorial features various Dickensian characters, including Scrooge, Barnaby Rudge, Little Nell and Granddad, Dombey and daughter, Mrs. Gamp, David Copperfield, Mr. Micawber. It was erected in 1960, and apparently designed by Estcourt J Clack FRBS.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/charles-dickens-relief

^Picture © Mskadu used under Creative Commons^

6 February 2012

Water your four legged friend at the Pilot's Dog Bar

One of your author's general rules of thumb is that a good pub is one that allows dogs and forbids children, and so it was welcome to find that one South East London pub has taken canine hospitality to new levels, with the installation of a Dog Bar at the Pilot Inn, North Greenwich.

Sure, it is only really a couple of dog bowls, but there is something rather civilised about encouraging dog walkers to drop into your pub, and providing sustenance for their four legged friends. The Pilot itself is a great little pub, two centuries old standing surrounded by wasteland and building plots near to the Millennium Dome.

For more, see http://www.fullershotels.com/rte.asp?id=189

5 February 2012

Celebrate Greenwich's Royal Weekend

This weekend, the London Borough of Greenwich marks its accession to Royal Borough status with a number of events and activities already having taken place in Woolwich and Eltham town centres, today is the biggest festival day in the centre of Greenwich.

The day finishes up with a Grand Royal Greenwich Parade and a spectacular musical fireworks display, and before that special events at the National Maritime Museum, the Queen's House, the Royal Observatory and the the Old Royal Naval College take place. Though your author is no royalist, the crown making sounds particularly engaging...

For more, see http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/events/event/65/royal_weekend

4 February 2012

Have coffee and cake at the Ragged Canteen

A pleasant space for tea and a snack before tackling the art upstairs, the Ragged Canteen is part of Beaconsfield gallery in Lambeth and takes its name from the former Lambeth Ragged School in which the centre is based.

Open on weekends from 11am – 4pm during exhibition periods, it's a very cosy and relaxed place, which is only ever a problem when it comes to ordering or trying to pay your bill.

For more, see http://beaconsfield.ltd.uk/cafe/

3 February 2012

See the Salamanca Street Ceramics

Echoing the history of an area once dominated by the Doulton and various other potteries, ceramic tiles dot the walls beneath the bridge on Salamanca Street in Lambeth.

Whilst Doulton's grand headquarters was in Black Prince Road, the company once had potteries and kilns dotted around North Lambeth, centred around Salamanca Street, and the tiles designed by Duncan Hooson, Ali Samiel, Janet James, Sue Edkins and others provide an echo of this golden age of London ceramics. They are complemented by mosaics of a pedlar and a Spanish flamenco dancer.

For more information, see http://www.southbankmosaics.com/content/walk/salamanca.php

2 February 2012

Shop in the Boxpark

Your author is never a fan of shopping malls, but some are better than others, but he decided to pop into the new Boxpark in Shoreditch, as it is at least reassuring that its creators were trying to do something different.

The "world’s first pop-up mall" was actually not even that awful, being as it is relatively quick and painless to explore, with a welcoming deck of eateries upstairs.

The concept is simple, placing a number of low cost, ‘box shops’ in a disused space and using the fact that it is a temporary installation to overcome problems usually faced when dealing with even the most lenient borough councils. Given the previous problems gaining planning permissions in this area, your author imagines this one may be temporary in a similar way to the O2 and the London Eye...

For more information, see www.boxpark.co.uk

1 February 2012

See Grayson Perry's "The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman"

Though Grayson Perry's "The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman" exhibition has been extended to 26th February, that still means it only has a few weeks to run, so now is the time to make plans if you want to see it.

Celebrating unknown men and women throughout history, using his own creations and items from the British Museum’s collection, Perry is eccentric and intelligent in equal measure, and today's idea is a note to remind your author, who has so far failed to make it to the British Museum.

For more information, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/grayson_perry/introduction.aspx

^Picture © Averain used under Creative Commons^