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



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30 June 2012

Attend Paradise Gardens at the London Pleasure Gardens

There are benefits to the various corporate follies being built around town for next month's Sports Fortnight, and over at the Royal Docks today a free opening party for the London Pleasure Gardens invites us all to attend this year's Paradise Gardens Festival, a London stalwart which has survived the inevitable bonfire-of-the-free-festivals.

Your author first attended Paradise Gardens one terribly wet May in 2007, where waterproof boots and a good umbrella were necessary kit for the only-about-a-hundred people who stood about in a sodden Victoria Park all weekend watching DJs from the BBC Asian Network try to sound enthusiastic.

However, this year there seems to be an attempt to reward for previous years attendance, with a special good-bands-that-Tom-likes-but-cause-everyone-else-to-shrug lineup which includes Dreadzone, the People's String Foundation, Sam and the Womp and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

For more, see http://www.londonpleasuregardens.com/event/paradise-gardens/

29 June 2012

Drink beer at the People's Supermarket

The People's Supermarket has always seemed like a reasonable idea, even if they occasionally struggle to pay their bills, and whenever your author has met people from there they have always been jolly pleasant, but if you don't believe it, an opportunity has arrived for you to meet them first hand.

Tonight, the Supermarket launches their cookbook, with a special beer night, which offers two beers and some pie for £10. Their PR is especially likeable, as the picture your author received (above) had been seemingly mistakenly titled "Beer Poster (bit sh*t b&w)", which seemed oddly endearing.

For more, see http://tpsbeernightjune-eorg.eventbrite.co.uk/?ebtv=C

28 June 2012

Visit the Savoy Museum

Most people assume that the Savoy is just a large posh hotel with very little to tempt ordinary Londoners inside, but it has an interesting history and, we are told, is home to one of the largest hotel archives in the world. A small museum off the lobby within the hotel, displays some interesting information and paraphernalia from the hotel's history.

When your author visited the museum back in the autumn, it was all rather empty, but remains open to the public as long as you're not too scruffy to get past the take-no-prisoners door staff. Your author's memory fails him but we are told that exhibits include a first edition of Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, Noel Coward’s lighter and cigarette case and Marlene Dietrich’s guest card showing her request that 12 pink roses and a bottle of Dom Perignon.

For more, see http://www.fairmont.com/savoy/articles/recentnews/generalinformation.htm

27 June 2012

Find Lord Dowding

A statue of Lord Dowding stands outside St Clement Danes on the Strand, commemorating the man who was the commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

Installed in the 1990s, the statue is cast in bronze, and was was designed by Portrait Sculptor Faith Winter, who also created the ‘Bomber’ Harris statue which stands nearby.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Dowding,_1st_Baron_Dowding

26 June 2012

Visit the "Tech City Central" tent

Over on Shoreditch High Street a few weeks ago, an expensive-looking tent popped up, with little pomp and ceremony, apparently as part of the Government's "Tech City" project, an often controversial attempt to boost the technology companies in Shoreditch and East London.

The tent is open to all on most days, with free wifi and a variety of spaces for local business-people to hold meetings, including a reasonable-looking boardroom at the back, which can be booked from one of the very helpful people on hand. There is also an interesting showcase of products from local businesses, including bikes, furniture and lighting.

When your author popped in for a look last week, the tent was largely empty, but a slow but steady stream of people were peeking inside, most of whom were looking puzzled and asking "What is this place?", suggesting that perhaps more needs to be done to publicise the existence of this facility, which appears to be open to all-comers. For instance, it seems inexplicable that the Government body in question have not even mentioned it on their website.

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

25 June 2012

Drink in the "smallest public bar room"

Your author found himself drinking in the room at the front of the Dove public house in Hammersmith on Saturday, an atmospheric and friendly space which a certificate on the wall confirms was designated in January 1989 by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "smallest public bar room".

Though your author is unsure whether any space has subsequently claimed the title, in the world of pub folklore an old certificate is usually more than enough to seize the imagination, and in this interesting little pub, which has been owned by Fullers since 1796, it's just one of many reasons to visit.

For more, see http://dovehammersmith.co.uk/about

24 June 2012

Play a Golden Street Piano

Your author remembers fondly the summer of 2009, when some open-to-all-pianos first came to our streets, and late-night singalongs around the piano at Liverpool Street Station brought a sense of community to a sometimes lonely city. Today, free pianos return for a fourth and final year, found at London landmarks and beauty spots across the City for the next three weeks.

It doesn't matter even if your piano skills are lacking, as today from 1pm - 4pm you are invited to sign up for one of free piano lesson on the pianos. We are also told that, for some reason, Spandau Ballet bod Tony Hadley will be performing, accompanied by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra at the piano on the north side of Millennium Bridge from 12.45pm.

For more, see http://streetpianos.com/london2012/

^Picture © JJBulley used under a Creative Commons license^

23 June 2012

Attend Tottenham Carnival Parade

****Apologies - Your author is told that the main carnival has been cancelled due to lack of funds but the parade will still take place***

Though the main carnival has been cancelled at the very last minute due to lack of funding, in North East London today, they're still holding a parade for the Tottenham Carnival, which has been celebrated in the area since way back in the mists of time, 1997.

The parade leaves Eade Road N4 1DJ at 11.00am and arrives in Church Road N17 8DU at approximately 1.00pm.

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

^Picture © Alan Stanton used under Creative Commons^

22 June 2012

Play table tennis in Queen's Park

A successor to the "Ping London" scheme of summer 2010, which saw table tennis tables installed across London thanks to a local resident, two permanent table tennis tables sit in Queen's Park, ready for use by all-comers.

The tables joined pitch-and-putt and traditional tennis courts in the well-equipped City of London-owned park, which covers 30 acres of North West London and has been maintained by the City of London corporation since 1886.

For more, see http://www.qpark.org.uk/action-groups/park-liason/

21 June 2012

Walk beside Leg of Mutton Pond

A relatively lesser-known pond on the West side of Hampstead Heath, Leg of Mutton Pond is formed from one of the tributaries of the River Brent, possibly dammed in the early 19th century as part of a plan to employ poor people in the area.

It is a quiet spot, largely surrounded by trees and popular with wildfowl and the odd passer-by, but perfect to stop by for some tranquility on a summers' evening.

For more, see http://www.hampsteadheath.net/leg-of-mutton-pond.html

20 June 2012

Drink at the Fox and Hounds, Belgravia

A decent little pub in an area where rents and the price of property have all but killed decent little pubs, the Fox and Hounds in Belgravia was built in the 1860s, supposedly - we are told - to serve working people that lived in the cottages nearby.

Today, it is at the heart of one of London's richest areas, but is still a great little community pub, serving decent Young's ales. When your author popped in recently, it was very relaxed, and the brewery website informs us that it prides itself on having no TVs and no music, which was certainly very welcome. Over at fancyapint they also tell us that it was, until 1998, the last 'beer only' pub in London, serving nothing but beer to loyal customers.

For more, see http://www.youngs.co.uk/pub-detail.asp?PubID=280

19 June 2012

Find Temple Stairs Arch

The face of a man your author always thought was Old Father Thames but others state -probably correctly - is Neptune graces the front of Temple Stairs Arch on Victoria Embankment.

The monument was installed in 1868 as part of Joseph Bazalgette's design for the Embankment, though beneath it a memorial of 1935 sits, erected by the Port of London Authority to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V, when the particular stretch of the River Thames was renamed as the "King's Reach".

For more on the area, see http://www.london-footprints.co.uk/wkembankmentgrdnsroute.htm

18 June 2012

See Paolozzi's Newton at the British Library

In the gardens at the front of the British Library a hunched-over statue sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi can be seen on a plinth, making mathematical examinations.

Installed in 1995, the hunched sculpture is based on William Blake's 1795 print Newton. In the print, Isaac Newton crouches naked a rock covered with algae, seemingly on the seabed.

For more, see http://www.newton.ac.uk/art/paolozzi.html

17 June 2012

Attend the London Map Fair

As far as your author is concerned, anyone who is unable to find interest in old maps has no soul, and so the London Map Fair, which concludes its annual two day event today, is sure to be an interesting affair.

The largest antique map fair in Europe, the London Map Fair was established in 1980 and, we are told, brings together 40 leading antiquarian map dealers, and hundreds of other dealers, collectors, curators at the Royal Geographical Society, with maps on sale from £10 to £100,000.

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

^Picture © El Bibliomata used under a Creative Commons license^

16 June 2012

Watch the Trooping the Colour flypast

If you haven't already had too much royal pageantry this year, the Queen will be inspecting her troops on Horseguards Parade from 10am, with processions viewable from the Mall, all finished off with a good old fashioned RAF flypast at 1pm.

At the time of going to pixel details were mysteriously absent from the RAF website, but the flypast usually approaches from the East over Central London, and we are also told to expect a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London.

For more, see http://www.royal.gov.uk/RoyalEventsandCeremonies/TroopingtheColour/TroopingtheColour.aspx

^Picture © Oxyman and used under a Creative Commons licence^

15 June 2012

Visit the St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum

A fascinating little museum within the walls of the hospital in the City of London, the St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum traces the history of Britain's oldest hospital from its beginnings in the 12th century - when it was established by monks to provide hospitality - through the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, to the present day.

For your author it was a thoroughly thought provoking experience, hearing how the original treatments were largely prayer-based, seeing a facsimile of the original grant from Rahere, the founder of the hospital, in 1137 to create the hospital, and peering through the open door to see the two murals on the staircase painted by William Hogarth.

For more, see http://www.bartsandthelondon.nhs.uk/about-us/museums-and-archives/st-bartholomew-s-museum/

^Picture © ... used under Creative Commons^

14 June 2012

Walk in Six Brothers Field

An interesting little anomaly in the Surrey village of Chaldon, just inside the M25, Six Brothers Field is owned by the National Trust, having been given to them on the last day of 1926 by Martin Coles Harman, the former 'king' of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.

One of six brothers, Mr Harman was a wealthy English financier who had bought Lundy Island in 1924 for £16,000. He gave the field for the benefit of Chaldon residents, and it is used regularly by the Chaldon Cricket Club, who were playing when your author passed on Sunday. The connection with Lundy Island and the Harman family is maintained in the form of a circle of six stones at the western edge of the cricket pitch, made of Lundy stone and representing the six Harman brothers.

For more, see http://chaldoncc.co.uk/index.php/about-us/six-brothers-field

13 June 2012

Drink at the Cask Pub & Kitchen

Though from the outside it appears utterly unremarkable, and even the inside is not the most aesthetically interesting pub in the area, the Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico continues to attract drinkers for its wide range of beers on offer and its relaxed atmosphere.

A winner of awards in 2011 from the Publican Magazine, the Great British Pub Awards and the beer obsessives at CAMRA, the pub certainly keeps an interesting range of beers in stock, some of which come at reasonable prices. However, the friend with whom your author visited did wonder if she was getting good value for money when faced with a bill of £13 for a single bottle of beer during a visit last week.

For more on the Cask, see http://www.caskpubandkitchen.com

12 June 2012

See the Ode to the West Wind mural

Found on the corner of Noel Street and Poland Street in Soho is a mural titled Ode to the West Wind, painted in 1989 by the London Wall Mural Group, led by artist Louise Vines.

The mural's title refers to a poem Ode to the West Wind, written by Poland Street resident Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819. We are told that Shelley lived for a while at 15 Poland Street, hence the location of the mural.

For more, see http://www.londonmuralpreservationsociety.com/murals/ode-west-wind/

11 June 2012

Drink at the Harrow

A pleasant little pub on the edge of the village of Chaldon, just inside the M25, an inn is documented on the same spot as The Harrow since at least the 16th century, and it sits just a few yards from the Pilgrim’s Way on the ridge of the North Downs.

It occupies a beautiful spot, surrounded by woodland and on the top of a hill which makes it the second highest pub in Surrey. It is also just off the North Downs Way, a popular long distance trail, meaning it is popular with walkers. When your author dropped in yesterday it was busy with locals and visitors, and the food was good, with a faint hint of woodsmoke in the main bar and the spots of rain outside making it feel rather more like spring than summer.

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

^Picture © Ian Capper used under a Creative Commons license^

10 June 2012

Poke around some private gardens

This weekend is Open Garden Squares Weekend, and offers the chance to poke around some of London's mysterious private gardens, which are otherwise only open to residents, in association with the National Trust.

We are told that 208 gardens are opening their gates for the weekend, across 27 boroughs, with 24 ones participating. It's great if you're interested in gardens or just a bit nosey.

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

^Picture © David Hawgood used under a Creative Commons license^

9 June 2012

Attend the London Green Fair

London's largest green festival, the London Green Fair, takes place this weekend, with music, speakers, performances, market stalls, children's activities, food and drink on offer, all within the comfortable surroundings of Regent's Park.

This year's event marks the 20th anniversary of the festival, moving over that time - we are told - from a small gathering in the railway arches at Kings Cross, to a flagship environmental festival attracting tens of thousands of people each year.

The festival runs until 8.30pm today, and from midday until 7.30pm tomorrow. For more, see http://www.londongreenfair.org/

^Picture © copyright Stephen Craven used under a Creative Commons license^

8 June 2012

Embrace the London Festival of Photography

The second annual London Festival of Photography is upon us, with scores of photographs on show in venues in King's Cross, Bloomsbury, Euston, Fitzrovia and beyond. Some venues are more predictable than others, with exhibitions taking place at the British Museum and the Museum of London, but the venues are pleasantly mixed, and your author caught a rather interesting exhibition the other evening on the concourse at St Pancras Station.

The exhibition your author saw part of, The Great British Public, is a pleasant look at life in Britain, with work by John Angerson, Nick Cunard, Arnhel de Serra, Zed Nelson and others, but barely scratches the surface of the month-long series of events, exhibitions and workshops which continue until 1st July.

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

7 June 2012

Visit the Garden of Disorientation

The Royal Jubilee may be over, but there are plenty of other events to keep us feeling upbeat and summery, not least the Chelsea Fringe, which lasts until Monday. Last week, your author dropped into one garden which forms part of the Fringe, at 61 Charterhouse Street in Smithfield, and found a peaceful temporary garden in the heart of the city.

Created in a former meat packing yard which stands empty due to the Corporation of London steadfastly and admirably denying the owners permission to convert into yet another bar, the garden consists of a mint garden built to designs by Deborah Nagan, and using pallets to create an interesting space.

Your author's stock question when faced with this sort of thing ("But what is it?!") came up against friendly resistance from those present, mainly because the sense of disorientation is largely the point. However, it seems like it's largely a garden and cafe/bar, which serves mint tea and mojitos until next week.

For more, see http://www.chelseafringe.com/the-garden-of-disorientation/

6 June 2012

Buy books at Watermark

It will not be a surprise to hear that your author has a strong interest in London bookshops, but whilst our city has many great retailers of literature, unfortunately those found at stations are often quite lacklustre affairs. That is why occasional treats like the new Watermark Books at Kings Cross are so welcome.

Opened in the new concourse as part of the Kings Cross refurbishment, whilst the shop is the first Watermark in Europe, the company is known for it's travel-focused shops at airports in Australia and North America and they hope the shop at Kings Cross will be the first of a number in the UK. Their selection of books and the passion of the staff certainly didn't disappoint and your author will be making further trips in future.

For more, click here or follow the shop on twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/Watermark_Books

5 June 2012

Visit St Bartholomew-the-Less

An interesting little church just inside the walls of St Bartholomew's Hospital, it is St Bartholomew-the-Less, rather than its more famous brother around the corner, that is the official church of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

We are told that a chapel was recorded on this site as early as 1184, and with the oldest remaining part of the modern church is a tower dating from the 15th century, containing bells dated to 1380 and 1420.

The rest of the church is laid out on an 18th century octagonal design, and thought it is officially of Church of England space, it also holds Roman Catholic Masses, and when your author dropped in earlier in the week one was just coming to an end.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Bartholomew-the-Less

4 June 2012

See the Diamond Jubilee Beacons

As another way to mark this weekend's orgiastic celebration of leadership-by-birthright thousands of Jubilee Beacons will be lit around the UK and the Commonwealth this evening, including many in London.

For South Londoners, a number of beacons are being lit with a possible highlight being the one by the Friends of One Tree Hill, which if your author has read it right will be lit at 10.26pm, whilst for North Londoners a beacon will be lit at Kenwood House at 10.01pm, because that is a place where a member of the aristocracy once lived and is therefore deemed more important than a public park.

For more, see http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/diamond-jubilee-beacons or see this map.

3 June 2012

Eat a big lunch at the Old Royal Naval College

As part of a combination of the annual Big Lunch series of street parties and the Diamond Jubilee, the Old Royal Naval College is today holding a street party for up to 8,000 people, on a table stretching the length of the college.

The event, which lasts from noon until 5pm, hopes to be the largest street party in the UK, and is attempting the world's longest ever lunch table, also hopes to have live entertainment, market stalls, workshops, ales and activities for kids.

For more, see http://www.ornc.org/events/detail/the-big-jubilee-lunch

2 June 2012

Attend the Jubilee Beer Festival at the Bull's Head

Down in Pratt's Bottom, the last Kentish village in Greater London, Vernon, the landlord of the Bull's Head pub, knows how to mark a special occasion, as your author experienced first hand at last year's Last Night of the Proms extravaganza, and this weekend's Jubilee festivities promises not to disappoint.

As part of a celebration of everything that is British the Bull's Head Pub is hosting a beer festival from the 1st to 5th June 2012, with around 20 beers and ciders, as well as a BBQ available hog Roast on Monday, and various live bands and musicians over the weekend. We are also promised a bouncy castle, plenty of royal pageantry on big screen, a royal breakfast, fireworks and plenty more.

For more, see http://thebullsheadpub.net/ or call 01689 852553

1 June 2012

Attend Stoke Newington Literary Festival

As your author makes a break for another literary festival near the border, up in Stoke Newington they are beginning their own such event, with speakers as diverse as Maurice Glasman, Danny Wallace and The Gruffalo.

One of the most enticing meetings sees London explorers Mark Mason and Craig Taylor join together at 1pm on Sunday at the newly reopened Clissold House in what promises to be a great event.

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

^Picture © Hackney Plus used under Creative Commons^