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



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31 August 2012

Find Thomas Becket's birthplace

Two small plaques on a corner of Cheapside mark the birthplace of a London-born Saint, Thomas Becket, born nearby around 1118 and the son of a family which traced its lineage from Norman petty nobility.

Known for his conflict with Henry II, Thomas rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury, and was famously assassinated at Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170. Becket was subsequently canonised by Pope Alexander and is venerated as a saint and martyr in the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

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

30 August 2012

Listen to music at the Scoop

Over at the odd bit of London next to City Hall, the Scoop is a purpose-built amphitheatre which hosts regular events through the summer. Tonight, if the mood takes you, you can hear a blues gig from Pacifico Blues Jam.

We are told to expect guitarist Chris Newland to be joined by blues harpist blues harp Paul Pacifico, for an evening concert which, within the showers, sounds very pleasant. In case of rain, or an interest in talking to nice people you could also consider attending Talking To Strangers at the Devereux off Fleet Street.

For more on the gig, see http://www.morelondon.com/events.asp

29 August 2012

See the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Your author is rather a fan of architecture, and as such the annual erection of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, beside the Gallery in Kensington Gardens, is always a highlight. This year is the twelfth time a Pavilion has been erected, and the 2012 version was designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei.

This year's Pavilion is, we are told, a reflection on previous constructions, with eleven columns representing one for each previous pavilion. The Pavilion offers visitors the opportunity to sink beneath the Gallery lawn, whilst protecting them with a roof which appears to hover 1.5 metres above the ground.

For more, see http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2012/02/serpentine_gallery_pavilion_2012.html

28 August 2012

See From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism at the Royal Academy

Your author spent a very pleasant couple of hours recently wandering 'From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism' at the Royal Academy. The ongoing exhibition brings together 65 paintings which were collected by Singer sewing machine heirs Sterling and Francine Clark, and now belong to the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, USA.

The Clarks were knowledgeable and avid collectors, and weren't lacking in cash to indulge their interest, as can be seen in the numerous invoices from art dealers which accompany the exhibition, showing just how much they parted with in order to get their hands on the works of Manet, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley and other great artists, which come together in this exhibition. But we should be thankful, for the result is an interesting snapshot of impressionism and the works that influenced it, which includes some very beautiful pieces. Thank goodness for sewing machines.

The exhibition continues until 23rd September. For more, see http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/from-paris-a-taste-for-impressionism/

27 August 2012

Attend the Notting Hill Carnival

You might think this summer with all the energy expended on sport that London isn't used to holding big events, but as we all know we are a city which is home to some of the biggest and best in the world and the Notting Hill Carnival - held each year on August Bank Holiday Weekend, is one of your author's favourites.

One of the world's largest street parties, the carnival attracts up to a million people to the streets of West London for an event that surely must be the best such event in the UK, for a celebration to end the summer. Your author never gets tired of carnival, which fuses together a number of different cultures in an explosion of sound and colour. Though the families were out yesterday, today is the main day of Carnival, and then tomorrow we're all back to work, beginning the long slog towards Autumn.

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

26 August 2012

Take a Sky Ride

Fresh from a marketing triumph which saw them sponsoring Bradley Wiggins through Tour de France and Olympic victories, the people from Team Sky have paid to organise some led rides around London today, taking in Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond and other areas.

The rides sound quite fun - providing the drizzle holds off - and offer a slightly different experience to your usual ambling biking, as long as you can find one suited to your abilities.

For more, see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/15351.aspx

25 August 2012

Eat at Zeret Kitchen

A decent little restaurant on little square set back from Camberwell Road, Zeret Kitchen specialises in traditional Ethiopian cuisine, served well and with a smile. Though your author doesn't know a lot about Ethiopian food, of the few such restaurants he has experienced this has been the best.

Happily, for those who find deciding difficult, a Zeret Surprise is on offer, combining various Ethiopian dishes with traditional spongy bread, and if the mood takes you and Ethiopian Coffee Service is available.

For more, see http://zeretkitchen.com/

24 August 2012

See the Lego world map

Your author wouldn't usually mention the Southbank Centre twice in a week, but was rather taken with the Lego map of the world currently being displayed, and wanted to write about it before it is dismantled on 26th August.

Assembled with the help of 4,000 members of the public, the map uses over a million lego pieces to reconstruct a world map in 21 colours, and featuring snow-topped mountains and even the Great Wall of China.

For more, see http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/46885/lego-map-of-the-world-completed

23 August 2012

Seek out Bernardo O'Higgins

Richmond-on-Thames isn't somewhere you would associate with a Chilean freedom fighter, but then again Bernardo O'Higgins wasn't a particularly ordinary man. Part of the Irish aristocratic O'Higgins family, he was born in the Chilean city of Chillán, and came to London to study in his teens, living in Richmond at 2 The Vineyard, where he is still remembered by a blue plaque.

The son of Ambrosio O'Higgins, an Irish-born Spanish officer who went on to become governor of Chile and viceroy of Peru, Bernardo was a key figure in the fight against the Spanish Government, and after Chile became independent, he became the country's first Head of State in 1818. A statue of Bernardo stands in O'Higgins Square, on the Surrey side of Richmond Bridge.

For more on the man, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardo_O'Higgins

22 August 2012

Sit out in the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden

Over at the Southbank Centre sometimes they are too creative for their own good, meaning that at any one time they can be doing so many great things your author finds it hard to keep up. This summer, for example, they've refreshed the garden on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall to grow vegetables and have lawns with real grass.

The project has drawn upon the expertise of Cornwall's Eden Project, using a space built from scratch last year by a team from Providence Row Housing Association and though it's suffering a little as the summer goes on, it is a perfect haven for those seeking to snatch a few minutes with some nature. It's open until 9th September.

For more, see http://www.edenproject.com/blog/index.php/2012/04/eden-gardening-team-helps-reopen-londons-southbank-centre-roof-garden/

21 August 2012

See Tom Stoddart's Perspectives

An open air photographic exhibition is well under way at More London, near City Hall and the Scoop, and showcasing the works of respected English photojournalist Tom Stoddart, a man whose photography has taken him around the world since his career began on a local newspaper in the North East in the 1970s.

The exhibition, which continues until 11th September, brings 78 of Stoddart's best black and white photographs for a free exhibition, open to all and to the elements. The exhibition draws - we are told - on Stoddart's travel to 50 countries, documenting historic events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of Nelson Mandela and three months of Tony Blair's 1997 campaign.

For more, see http://78perspectives.com/

20 August 2012

Find the Ecuadorian Embassy

A few months ago there would have been something completely unremarkable about the address of the Ecuadorian Embassy, situated as it is at Flat 3B, 3 Hans Crescent, SW1X 0LS. In fact it sounds rather more like the venue for a house-party than the foreign mission of a South American nation with a population of more than 15 million.

This week, however, it seems to have become rather more newsworthy, and when your author stumbled upon it rather accidentally yesterday afternoon, it was the scores of satellite vans, sweltering camera crews, vocal protestors and ready police vans that made it clear that this was the place, rather than anything indicative of South American culture.

It seems easier not to comment on the Australian man who has been until recently sleeping on an inflatable camp bed in a tiny room of the flat, even after his decision to stick his head out of the window yesterday afternoon, but your author certainly found it an interesting place to see, as this usually-quiet street behind Harrod's has become - for a while at least - a centre of world news.

For more, see http://ecuador.embassyhomepage.com/#embassy-address-london

19 August 2012

Attend the London Mela

Today, out in West London's Gunnersbury Park, the London Mela returns for its 10th anniversary to celebrate music and culture, with a particular focus on the Indian sub continent.

Across nine zones, visitors to the free event can expect music from Jaz Dhami and live band, all female Chinese drumming group Red Poppies, BBC Asian Network DJ, and new talent in the UK from BBC Introducing and DJ Bobby Friction.

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

^Picture © John Pannell used under a Creative Commons license^

18 August 2012

Go to the Carnaval Del Pueblo Latino Festival

Though the failure of everyone's least favourite wasteland-based-dust-bowl has caused the cancellation of the main annual event, Carnaval Del Pueblo are still planning a party today, taking over the Coronet Theatre, close to the Elephant & Castle roundabout, for a Latino Festival.

They're promising a range of top-drawer musicians, free Latin dance classes, DJs all day and even an Andean area, and they probably need your support, promising to unite all communities under one roof.

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

^Picture © SPakhrin used under a Creative Commons license^

17 August 2012

Find the Young Lovers

Found in Festival Gardens, just to the south east of St Paul's Cathedral is a sculpture by Georg Ehrlich. A celebration of young love, it shows two life-size bronze figures, both naked and seated side-by-side, with their arms around each other in an embrace.

Though Ehrlich died in 1966, the Young Lovers was not erected until 1973, on a section of gardens laid out in 1951 by Sir Albert Richardson, as part of the Corporation of London's contribution to the Festival of Britain.

For more, see http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=COL026

16 August 2012

See Ben's boat

As most people will probably have forgotten by now, London hosted the Olympic Games last week, and this morning one of our more successful medal winners - boater Ben Ainslie - will be sailing on the Thames to celebrate his victory.

From 9am this morning, we are told that Mr Ainslie will be bringing a special version of his boat Rita to London to sail the Thames in front of the Houses of Parliament, and the best place to see him will be on Westminster Bridge and along Victoria Embankment between the House of Commons and Westminster Pier. It seems fitting, not least because the boaters spent all the Olympics in Dorset.

For more, see http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/165230/Celebrate-Ben-Ainslies-success

Update - After your author wrote this article, he was by coincidence contacted by a pr company who offered to let him go on a boat and watch. Though weak will meant this offer was accepted, it had no impact on the article being published here.

^Picture © Rod Allday used under a Creative Commons license^

15 August 2012

Learn about Kingsley Hall

Your author learned rather too late about the Summer Festival at Kingsley Hall in Bow, attending an excellent showing of the play "When Gandhi Met Chaplin" there at the end of last week. Though the festival and play have now finished, the building's fascinating story - and its hosting of Gandhi on a trip to London - is always worth sharing.

Following directly from Doris and Muriel Lester's nursery, which began nearby in 1912, construction of the current building began in July 1927, replacing a former chapel in the area that had been used as a community building. By 1931, the building had already become national news as the place where Indian spiritual and political leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi stayed on a trip to London to attend the Round Table Conference. Gandhi's room is still preserved on the rooftop, surrounded by offices where the Gandhi Foundation now base themselves.

By the 1960s, pioneering psychiatrist and author of The Divided Self R. D. Laing took up residence with others in the building, which became the venue for experimental projects until it was wound up closed and boarded up in the 1970s. Briefly a film set for the filming of Gandhi in the early 1980s, it reopened as a community hall in 1985 and has been operating for the benefit of the local community continuously since then.

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

14 August 2012

Sit in the Princess Alice Garden

A pleasant little garden beside St Bartholomew the Less within the walls of St Bartholomew's Hospital, the Princess Alice Garden is quieter than other green spaces in the area by virtue of the imposing hospital gate which must be walked through to get to it.

A sign noted that the garden was opened in 2001 to mark the 100th birthday of Princess Alice, who was a President and Patron of the Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/princess-alice-garden

13 August 2012

Learn about Brazil's Olympic future

It's only 1,453 days to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and last night the baton was firmly passed to the South American city, with a memorable flourish. If you're keen to understand what Brazil and Rio have to offer without leaving London, then you're in luck as Somerset House hosts Casa Brazil until 8th September, with a showcase of Brazilian art and culture.

Your author popped into the Embankment Galleries yesterday and, apart from a big clock and a shop already selling Rio Olympic tat, was impressed by exhibitions on Brazilian art and design, and also on the Olympic plans for the city, where you can learn about the work that has already taken place to prepare for the Games.

For more, see http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/casa-brasil

12 August 2012

Watch the Closing Ceremony

So, a few more loose ends to tie up today - another marathon not going through Tower Hamlets - before it's time to draw the curtain down on the show which some people call the greatest show on Earth. It's been just over two weeks of highs and lows and we've put on a fine event for athletes from around the world. London, you should be proud.

And tonight, in front of an audience which the organisers rather optimistically estimate to number in the multiple billions, we will once again attempt to put on a show of what makes us good, culminating with the extinguishing of a flame, and the handing of the Olympic dream to Brazil. It all leaves your author questioning what we will all do now, but until then, some music...

For more, see http://www.london2012.com/spectators/ceremonies/closing-ceremony/

11 August 2012

Watch the Race Walk

The Olympics end tomorrow, so if you're out of tickets or didn't get any and you still want to get your fill of watching London 2012 events in the flesh, you might consider watching some of the Race Walk in Green Park.

Only around 50 percent of the race is in a ticketed area, meaning that ordinary plebs can line up along some of the route and see part of the races, but be quick if you want to see the the men’s 50km event, which starts at 9am, followed by the women’s 20km event at 5pm.

For more see this map or visit http://www.london2012.com/venue/racewalk/

^Picture © Derek John Lee used under a Creative Commons license^

10 August 2012

Visit the Mile End Floating Market

In an example of the sort of thing your author hoped would characterise the Olympic summer, some people out in East London have put together a floating market, with barges in Mile End offering their wares to passers by on the canal, or the towpath.

There's the usual East London art, clothes, cakes, sanwiches and books, but visitors also have the opportunity to access herbal medicine, a floating hairdressers and even a floating factory (of sorts) making fused glass jewellery onboard.

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

9 August 2012

Attend the Greenwich Summer Festival

Your author still isn't quite sure about the branded pens which have sprung up around town for enforced enjoyment of The Event, but one pleasant oasis with sport screens is the Greenwich Summer Festival, within the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

The inevitable big screen is not fenced in behind huge crowd fences, and serves up film screenings when the sport is over, in a venue that also offers music, cabaret & theatre and real ale. It's a bit like the amazing offerings that usually happen in London when The Event is not on, and perhaps that's why it is so appealing.

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

8 August 2012

Find Chen Guanming's rickshaw

He made headlines a week or two ago for his cycling trip from Beijing to London for the Olympics, but your author was surprised to stumble across his rickshaw when wandering through Chinatown last Friday, for Chen Guanming has Olympic fever and claims to have traveled more than 30,000 miles to be in London for the Olympics.

His story is an inspiring one, and journeying through 16 countries, and negotiating floods, war zones, mountains and intense cold in order to be at a sports tournament is an Olympian feat in itself.

For more, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18980693

7 August 2012

Drink tea at Dr Johnson's House

There can be no better place to take tea than the home of Dr Samuel Johnson, a man who described himself as "a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning."

Johnson was known to be a prolific tea-drinker so it seems fitting that his former home in Gough Square - now a museum to the great man very close to your author's heart - has started serving tea over light conversation at 3pm every Tuesday in July and August in Johnson's Parlour. It sounds very civilised.

For more, see http://www.drjohnsonshouse.org/events.html#tea

6 August 2012

Visit the Olympic Park

Your author is acutely aware that tickets to get inside the Olympic Park are almost impossible to come by at this stage of the Games, but felt obliged to write an update on last Thursday's visit, which included a chance to see a victorious Iceland beat Sweden at Handball.

From the moment you get out of view of the hideous Westfield Centre, topped by an ugly Holiday Inn, the park is beautiful in places and oddly exposed in others. It's hard to know what to expect from a multi-billion pound investment, and perhaps this jumble of temporary venues isn't quite what your author would have spent the money on, but with the landmarks of Central London on the horizon, the beautiful flowers lining the riversides, the perfect queues and the vague disquiet amongst visitor that the only ale available was a can of John Smith's, it was hard not to feel full of patriotism.

For more detailed and useful information about the Park, visit the always-excellent http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/

5 August 2012

Watch the Women's Marathon

As many readers will remember, it's not going to Tower Hamlets, and it's not starting on Blackheath, but the Olympic Marathon is taking to the streets of Westminster and the City today, where we are being allowed to look at it without paying.

That said, if your author's experiences trying to get across South West London last Sunday are anything to go by, getting around could be rather difficult, but it is a Sunday so we all have plenty of time.

For more, see http://www.london2012.com/athletics/event/women-marathon/coursemap/

4 August 2012

See the Olympic Medals at the British Museum

If you've wondered what the Olympic medals actually look like, and thought that whilst you'd like to you'll never get to see one yourself, then help is at hand, as the British Museum has a few of them they'll let you look at.

We are told that the display will explain the story of the production of the medals for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, starting with metal mining by [metal mining company] through the designs by David Watkins and Lin Cheung and onto their production by the Royal Mint.

It's all on display in Room 37 until September, though judging by your author's experiences this week, this could be the quietest time to go. For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/london_2012_games_medals.aspx

^Picture © Nagarjun Kandukuru used under a Creative Commons license^

3 August 2012

See St Paul's Cathedral late & for free

This summer, the great Cathedral at St Paul's is opening late on various evenings, to give visitors the chance to wander around in the evening, and hear the sounds of the Great Organ, as well as experience British tapas and drinks in the crypt cafe.

The best news of all is that it is free entry, so you won't have to stump up the usual £15 which - whilst being worth it to maintain the fabric of this beautiful building which has such a fascinating history - always seems like an awful lot of money.

For more, see http://www.stpauls.co.uk/Olympics/Summer-Lates

2 August 2012

Find Imre Kiralfy's Mausoleum

Though the venue for much of the 1908 Olympics, the White City Stadium, was demolished in 1985 in order to build the BBC White City buildings, the Mausoleum of its creator, Imre Kiralfy is still standing in Kensal Green Cemetery.

An Austro-Hungarian showman and former conjurer who was a protégé of P.T. Barnum, Kiralfy was an unlikely person to mastermind the creation of the great stadium and it is perhaps understandable that the stadium was only added as an afterthought to a Franco-British trade exhibition on the same site.

Upon his death, Kiralfy was interred in the Mausoleum, but in 1921 his wife had him removed and cremated, and another mausoleum built in New York, which was completed in 1924 and which became their final resting place. The cemetery is now open April - September, 9am - 6pm (10am - 6pm Sundays) and October - March, 9am - 5pm (10am - 5pm Sundays).

For more, see http://www.winningendeavours.org/67-142/imre-kiralfy-photo.html

^Picture © Jim Linwood used under a Creative Commons license^

1 August 2012

Tour the World in London

Your author is always bleating on about how there is in London all that life can afford, and the whole world is in London, but this week it is literally true. Whilst you wouldn't know it wandering around the City, in other parts of town the nations of the World are showing off their wares.

Inevitably many of the national hospitality houses, set up to entertain athletes and VIPs, are not open to us proles, but a few decent forward-looking countries are allowing us in, so step forward Jamaica's Jamaica House, Switzerland's House of Switzerland, Africa's Africa House and a few others for your forward-thinking and positive attitudes.

For more on all the national hospitality centres, many of which are sadly closed to ordinary bods like your author, see http://www.visitlondon.com/london2012/national-hospitality-houses-for-london-2012/

^Picture © ReeSaunders used under a Creative Commons license^