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



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30 September 2012

See the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

Taking tradition alive in London, the annual London Pearly Kings & Queens Society Costermongers Harvest Festival Parade Service takes place today, with the Kings and Queens gathering in Guildhall Yard and then parading through the City to St Mary-le-Bow church on Cheapside.

The parade is expected to leave around 1pm and the service to begin about 3pm and Ian tells us to expect "London mayors...donkeys and carts, marching bands, colourful characters and of course the Pearlies, distinctive, pearl button-swathed Londoners who date back 150 years".

For more, see http://www.timeout.com/london/around-town/event/234284/pearly-kings-and-queens-harvest-festival-2012.

^Picture © Dunleavy Family used under a Creative Commons license^

29 September 2012

Ride the Epping Ongar Railway

Though it is technically outside the M25, your author felt his trip on the Epping Ongar Railway last weekend was worthy of a mention, especially as it was accessed by the tube. For the railway now revived by steam enthusiasts uses a once-abandoned section of the Central Line which runs in part through Epping Forest.

Currently, transfer to the train from Epping Station is via special heritage bus, as the connection at Epping requires much more work, but then the service takes you nearly all the way back through the woods to Epping in one direction, and also to the picturesque little town of Chipping Ongar in the other, where your author picked up the St Peter's Way towards the coast.

For more on the railway, which is holding a special event weekend this weekend, see http://eorailway.co.uk/

28 September 2012

Attend the Buttoned Down Disco Boat Party

Back when your author first came to London, he searched in vain for decent clubnights, and one which he particularly enjoyed was Buttoned Down Disco, who cleverly pioneered use of social media and the internet to promote their nights, with monthly invites arriving by email, and details of the 'secret venues' often not revealed until the night.

Over a few years they have risen from small venues such as Purple Turtle in Camden via Bloomsbury, King's Cross, and Shoreditch to large venues like Koko, on the other side of the road in Camden, where they now hold their regular nights, only occasionally still branching out, such as in the case of tonight they're special End of the Summer Boat Party in Battersea.

For more, and to download their excellent mixes see http://www.buttoneddowndisco.com/

^Picture © Dani P.L. used under a Creative Commons license^

27 September 2012

See the new bits of the BBC

They haven't been shouting about it too much - except occasional rumblings between items on the Today Programme - but the BBC has been having a bit of a shakeup and the new Broadcasting House – only four years late and £55m over budget - is now just about ready for everyone to move in, or back in.

We are told that Andrew Marr and new Director General George Entwistle are already there, Jeremy Paxman goes in next month, and John Humphries, James Naughtie, Sarah Montague et al will be back before the end of the year, followed by the TV news next year. It's all part of the BBC's grand plan, and whilst us plebs aren't allowed inside, it's an impressive complex to wander round.

For more, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/sep/07/bbc-1bn-new-base-broadcasting

26 September 2012

Watch a show at the Mary Wallace Theatre

A small theatre in Twickenham, the Mary Wallace Theatre is the home of the Richmond Shakespeare Society.

The Society first formed in 1934 to perform Shakespeare in the open air once a year, and now puts on a programme of eight productions a year by various different playwrights.

Their current intriguingly-titled play, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery continues until Saturday, and whilst tickets are only available to members, everyone is welcome to join.

For more, see http://www.richmondshakespeare.org.uk/

25 September 2012

Seek out St John the Baptist upon Walbrook

One of the unlucky churches of the Great Fire, St John the Baptist upon Walbrook stood next to a stream, not far from what is now Cannon Street Station, from the 12th until the 17th century.

One of 86 churches to be destroyed by the Great Fire of London, St John's was passed over for rebuilding under Sir Christopher Wren's grand plan, and was never to be reconstructed. The church was dealt a further blow when the building of the District Line meant that the remaining churchyard had to be dug up in 1884, and now all that remains of the church and those buried there is a vault and memorial on Cloak Lane.

For more, see http://www.burial.magic-nation.co.uk/bgwalbrook.htm

24 September 2012

Remember William Wallace

Though for many of us, a questionable film adaptation of his life may spring to mind when remembering the man, of course William Wallace was a real man, celebrated for the part he played in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

Sadly, Wallace's visit to London is not one to be celebrated, for he was brought here as a prisoner, facing trial in Westminster Hall before being subjected to torture and a particularly gruesome execution in Smithfield, where today he is commemorated in a plaque on the walls of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/st-bartholomew-s-hospital-sir-william-wallace

23 September 2012

Tour the Argentine Ambassador's Residence

Ever wondered what life is like for an ambassador, when not attending drinks parties and eating Ferrero Rocher. Today as part of Open House London, the Argentine Ambassador's residence is open to the public for you to poke round.

Designed by Thomas Cubitt and built in 1851, the building was once the home of the Duke of Richmond, but since 1936 it has been owned by Argentina.

For more, see http://events.londonopenhouse.org/Building/16260

^Picture © La Malula used under a Creative Commons license^

22 September 2012

Attend Open House London

It's that time of year again, the special weekend when nosey Londoners get a chance to poke around the architectural gems of Greater London, and get inside the buildings they've always wanted to see with Open House London.

This year's big news is that 30 St Mary Axe - The Gherkin - isn't one of the ones that you have to prebook for, but by the time you read this it probably isn't worth joining the long snaking queue, as that means you'll be missing out on literally hundreds of other highlights. Wake up early tomorrow instead. Your author might usually go into more detail, but as usual Open House is clashing with something and today he is in another country, marking a birthday.

For a full programme, see http://events.londonopenhouse.org/

^Picture © RachelH_ used under a Creative Commons license^

21 September 2012

Find Robert Falcon Scott at Waterloo Place

A life sized statue of the explorer Robert Falcon Scott stands proudly in Waterloo Place, standing on a lofty plinth and made of bronze.

The plaque beneath the statue reminds us that Scott died with his companions returning from the South Pole in 1912, with a quote from his diary:

"Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman these rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale"

For more, see http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMC584_Robert_Falcon_Scott_Statue_Europe_Waterloo_Place_London_UK

20 September 2012

See Matisse's 'The Snail'

Completed by Henri Matisse in 1953, 'The Snail' is a collage, created by the artist using gouache paint on pieces of paper, which were then cut and pasted onto paper mounted on canvas.

We are told that Matisse created the piece at the Hotel Regina in Cimiez, Nice, and the date places its creation at the very end of his life, when he was more than 80 years old. At this stage of his life, Matisse was confined to a wheelchair and had stopped painting altogether, instead producing these cutouts with the aid of assistants. 'The Snail' is part of the Tate's permanent collection and can be seen in the Henri Matisse and Bridget Riley room on Level 4 at the Tate Modern.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/matisse-the-snail-t00540

^Picture © appelogen.be used under a Creative Commons license^

19 September 2012

See the Sailor's Homecoming Window at John Betjeman's

Anyone who has ever come across the blue plaque at number 43 Cloth Fair, the former home of Sir John Betjeman, may like your author be interested to know why the window beside it appears to be a false window, with a painting behind it.

Over at the excellent Secret London website, the answer is found, and we are told that it was installed by a firm of architects who had first bricked up the window, and then decided that the wall was actually in need of one.

For more, see http://www.secret-london.co.uk/Smithfield_2.html

18 September 2012

Attend the London Design Festival

The London Design Festival is in full swing, as anyone who has seen the contents of your author's inbox will be only too aware, with over 200 events taking place over ten days, ending on Sunday.

We are told that the festival has been running since 2003, and this year's Festival offers events at a range of venues across our city, with a special focus on the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Festival's own Landmark Projects, which include an intriguing sound portal opening in Trafalgar Square tomorrow.

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

^Picture © edoardocosta used under a Creative Commons license^

17 September 2012

Tour a replica of the Cutty Sark

Readers will remember that Victorian tea clipper, The Cutty Sark, burned down in 2007, and this summer a replica of the ship was opened in the dry dock the original once sat in, using some of the original metal & bits which survived the fire, but using plenty of shiny new wooden bits.

Your author visited a few weeks ago and was - as expected - rather underwhelmed by the experience, for there are plenty of things worthy of preservation and when one is completely gutted by fire, it is a little odd to pretend the replica you have created is the same as the original. The views of the tasteful sorts at the Victorian Society on the design of the surroundings for the ship are also pretty spot on.

But of course, you should probably decide for yourself, just think of the money which you pay to visit as an unprompted donation to charity. For details, see http://www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark/

16 September 2012

Attend Lambeth Country Show

This weekend sees the annual Lambeth Country Show hit Brockwell Park, now in its 38th year of attempting to bring a slice of semi-rural life to the urbanity of South London, and promising the likes of farm animals and horticultural shows juxtaposed with live music and slightly more urban pursuits.

The word 'eclectic' is overused, but a programme that promises sheep dog and owl displays, horse jousting, flower and vegetable competitions, bonsai trees and latin dub, afrobeat, roots and reggae bands, is probably about as close as one can get in a free event in a park.

For more, see http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Country-Show/

^Picture © Tabsinthe used under a Creative Commons license^

15 September 2012

Tour 13 Princelet Street

Your author is rather keen on 19 Princelet Street, London's Museum of Immigration and Settlement, and thoroughly enjoys volunteering there on open days, but there is another house in the same street which occasionally opens to the public. 13 Princelet Street is owned by the Landmark Trust charity, which restores old buildings and rents them out to the public for holidays.

This weekend, however, is a bit different, as the Trust is opening the house to all comers, and in a street of houses which historically were homes to Huguenot silk weavers, it is fitting that the London Guild of Weavers will also be demonstrating silk weaving over the weekend.

For more on the opening, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/visiting/opendays.htm#Princelet

14 September 2012

See Wimbledon's Artesian Well

An interesting anomaly on Arthur Road in Wimbledon, the Artesian Well is was originally the site of a well dug in 1763.

The well was then deepened in 1798 on the orders of Earl Spencer to more than 500 feet deep taking - we are told - over a year to reach that depth an strike water. By the early nineteen century, the well had silted up and eventually it was finally converted to a house in 1975.

For more, see http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-204990-the-artesian-well-greater-london-authori

13 September 2012

Watch VHS at Roxy Bar and Screen

In what could either be an terribly entertaining or completely awful evening, old favourite the Roxy Bar and Screen on Borough High Street this evening screens a tribute to VHS from the 80s and 90s.

For your author - who is not exactly a digital pioneer - it's a bit of a surprise that VHS is some sort of retro thing, but this tribute specialises in amateur film making, hence "rarely seen classics" from all presented as they were meant to be...off of VHS cassettes.

For more, see http://www.roxybarandscreen.com/listings.php?event=2116

^Picture © futureshape used under a Creative Commons license^

12 September 2012

Drink at the Faltering Fullback

Your author wouldn't usually go for a pub which sells itself on big screen sports, or self defines as a 'hidden gem', but there's something quite pleasant about the Faltering Fullback, covered in ivy on a backstreet in North London.

The charming front bar at the pub is immediately appealing, with lots of wood and real pub charm, and whilst the odd cavernous room out the back doesn't suit everyone, presumably that's where they put the big screen, and the interesting tiered garden has plenty of space to escape it, and wasn't packed with smokers unlike at some pubs. Add in the usual pub extras like Thai food, a quiz and regular music on a Sunday and it's a decent sort of place to while away an hour if you're in the mood.

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

11 September 2012

See the London Bridge City Sculpture Exhibition

Situated alongside the Thames in front of Cottons Centre, close to Hay's Galleria, London Bridge City Sculpture Exhibition 2011-12 brings eight sculptures by established artists to the riverside.

The eight colourful sculptures use various media, including cast iron, galvanised steel, fibreglass and cold cast bronze and are designed by artists Jilly Sutton, Michael Lyons, Charles Hadcock, Martin Griffiths, Oliver Barratt and Sheila Vollmer.

For more, see http://www.rbsdevelopment.co.uk/events/london-bridge-city-sculpture

10 September 2012

Play bingo at Palace Bingo

One evening last week, your author unexpectedly found himself at the Palace Bingo Club in Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. It was hard to tell whether the experience was good or bad, and it is best described as like going numb in a vast room void of natural light.

An expanse of humanity seemingly sits up there at all hours, listening to the trundle of numbers coming from an apparently disembodied voice, and repeated on screens as far as the eye can see, occasionally hooking up with other clubs around the nation who are presumably playing with similar disinterest.

That said, there's something vaguely exciting about the experience, and whilst your author would have been too worried about getting it wrong to actually call out, the playing was the main thing and the whole experience was relatively cheap. There are also vendors to keep you fed, watered and to fulfil any sort of gambling habit you may have.

For more, see http://www.thepalaces.co.uk/london.php

9 September 2012

Watch the Paralympic Marathon

Sure, our city will be just as good, and the year 2012 actually goes on for a few months yet, but the event which has billed itself for more than seven years as London 2012 basically ends today, with the Paralympic Closing Ceremony. Before then, there's another chance to witness sport on the streets and for free with the Paralympic Marathons.

There are actually four different marathons taking place today, with the men’s T12 and T46 events kicking off at 8am and the men’s and women’s T54 event beginning at 11.30am. It's an eight-mile looped course, starting and finishing on The Mall, and as far as your author can work out it's broadly the same as the Olympic one.

For more, see http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/venue/marathon/visitor-information/

^Picture © The Department for Culture, Media and Sport used under a Creative Commons license^

8 September 2012

Attend the Mayor's Thames Festival

Starting today and ending tomorrow, the Mayor's Thames Festival always offers a fitting end to the summer season in London and, in what has - like it or not - been a rather good summer for London's mayor, it seems rather fitting that the annual huge party plastered with his title arrives in London on the final days of the Paralympics.

Boris has effortlessly managed to associate himself with almost everything good about London in 2012 whilst avoiding major incident, and London’s free end-of-summer festival is always a joyous celebration, so there is nothing to suggest that he will slip up here. Held since 1997, the festival is London’s largest outdoor arts festival, and all finished up with a big firework display. It can't really go wrong.

For more, see http://thamesfestival.org/

^Picture © fotologic used under a Creative Commons license^

7 September 2012

See Ruskin Park Community Garden

A small area of one of London's lesser-known parks, Ruskin Park Community Garden is a peaceful spot, and has been run by volunteers since May 2010. It's all about growing vegetables, aiming to educate and enthuse local people about them in an area with scant vegetable patches and open to all who are willing to come along and have a dig.

Though their mission statement reads like something straight out of the hippy buzzword encyclopedia - think inner-city carbon-reducing sustainable inclusive diverse community volunteering & recycling - it's clear enough that they like growing their own food and teaching urbanites about the joys of nature and gardening, and that is very admirable.

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

6 September 2012

Pop into St Benet's, the metropolitan Welsh Church

Shuffling into the porch of St Benet's Church last month during a break from the rain of the Women's Olympic Marathon, it took a moment to work out in what language the service inside was being conducted. Though your author's mother suggested it was 'Roman', it turned out to be Welsh, for since 1879, when Queen Victoria granted the Welsh community the right to worship here St Benet's has been a Welsh church for the people of London.

The small church near the Thames in the City, St Benet's stands on a site which has been a place of worship since 1111, and though the surrounding area was badly damaged during the Second World War, the present building - designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1685 - survived intact, and as such is the only undamaged and unaltered Wren church in the City.

The small church hides a rich history, and was mentioned in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, claims it may have been where Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey received the last rites, is the final resting place of Inigo Jones and was where Henry Fielding - the author of a book called Tom Jones - married his second wife.

For more, see http://www.stbenetwelshchurch.org.uk

5 September 2012

Visit the Invisible Picture Palace

As with all the best finds, your author stumbled across the Invisible Picture Palace - in a greenhouse outside the Wapping Project - just after leaving a good pub. In this case, it was the Prospect Of Whitby, over the road, which was good preparation for a warm welcome from the two staff who had recently taken over the greenhouse previously operated by the Wapping Project Bookshop.

An interesting if presumably-not-that-profitable venture, the Invisible Picture Palace bills itself as "London’s only record store that sells stories and soundscapes instead of albums". It also hosts workshops and listening events based around a similar theme, with support from a group calling themselves In The Dark who seem to have a focus on spoken word radio.

It all seems a bit confusing but they seemed perfectly nice, so can probably explain it to you. For more, see http://invisiblepicturepalace.com/

4 September 2012

Wave goodbye to the Heygate Estate

It's been coming for a fair while, but with the final residents now evicted from the Heygate Estate, and property behemoth Lend Lease submitting a detailed planning application for the first phase of the proposed £1.5 billion 'regeneration' of the site, the time has come to admit that the iconic 1970s estate near Elephant and Castle is not long for this world.

Built in the 1970s, the Estate was once home to more than 3,000 people but in 2004 a regeneration plan for the area around the Elephant and Castle brought forward the seemingly-inevitable. Though a tiny number of residents have previously refused to leave the estate, and have vowed to fight the compulsory purchase order for the site, it seems unlikely that they will win.

Your author has always been rather a fan of the brutal grey Estate, but then again he never had to live there and barely knew it when it was fully operational. Perhaps it is for the best, but for the past few years it has seemed a bit sad to see it standing empty.

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

3 September 2012

Visit St George's churchyard and gardens

Separated from the Church of St George the Martyr in Southwark by a short pedestrianised section of Tabard Street, St George's churchyard and garden is a fairly peaceful place, set back from the hustle and bustle of Borough High Street.

The church itself dates from the 18th-century and the churchyard was opened as a park as early as 1882, when Southwark Metropolitan Borough Council made the necessary arrangements, and in 1903 part of it was lost when the now-pedestrianised section of Tabard Street was extended through it.

In an area with strong Dickensian connections, it is perhaps unsurprising that the church featured in Little Dorrit, but a more intriguing memorial in the alleyway behind the park reminds us that this site once bordered the old Marshalsea Debtor's Prison, where the writer's father John Dickens was imprisoned for three months in 1824.

For more, see http://www.burial.magic-nation.co.uk/bgstgeorgemartyr.htm

2 September 2012

Attend Kingston Carnival

It's Kingston Carnival today, promising to bring the world to Kingston, with a procession, music and try the international foods from noon- 6pm.

It might not be an event as big as last weekend's, but often these smaller events are just as rewarding and with two stages - in the High Street and the Market Place - as well as Street Theatre, stalls and children’s areas it should be enough to while away an hour or so.

For more, see http://www.kingston.gov.uk/kingston_carnival_2012

^Picture © Darren Foreman used under a Creative Commons license^

1 September 2012

Embrace the Cultural Olympiad

There are now only nine days left of the Cultural Olympiad, or London 2012 Festival, or whatever it's called, and though you might have forgotten all about it there are still plenty of events on, especially if you're into the arts.

Plenty of events are on offer, from sporty-art ones like BT Road to 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery, to filmy ones like Helen Petts: Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing at the Royal Festival Hall, and multi-sensory ones like Maurice Orr's the Screaming Silence of the Wind in the Festival Village at the Southbank Centre. Sure London has great arts all the time but many of these are free, due to the unique way the Olympics is over-funded.

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