Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

31 March 2012

Attend the spring bazaar at Limehouse Town Hall

The spring bazaar takes place at Limehouse Town Hall today, offering a showcase for community groups in the Tower Hamlets area in the grand hall of the beautiful building. Designed by A & C Harston, and opened in 1881, Limehouse Town Hall has just undergone extensive roof repairs, and the bazaar is being heralded as a celebration of their completion, with free entry for all.


We are told to expect local community groups such as Stitches in Time and Hackney & Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth, as well as arts and crafts and plants from the East London Garden Society. There will even be live music from jazz singer Chantal Santos and folk singer/ songwriter Caroline Grannell, as well as photography by local photographer Marian Spiers.

It all sounds excellent, and to find out more, see http://www.towerhamletsarts.org.uk/?guide=events&cat=10&cid=46285

^Picture © HerryLawford used under Creative Commons^

30 March 2012

Stay at the DoubleTree Hilton Tower of London

When a particularly persistent offer to stay at a generic central London hotel arrived recently on your author's desk he decided, unlike perhaps more scrupulous London bloggers, to give in and explore the life of a London hotel-based tourist. Largely free from note other than its boast of 'the largest living green wall in Europe', the Double Tree Hilton on Peyps Street, EC3 is a pretty soulless place, serving business people and occasional tourists. That said, it is certainly a well-positioned and comfortable place to stay.


There are even occasional chinks in the armour of anonymous corporatism, and in the shiny rooftop bar, international cocktails and lagers are served alongside bottled English Ales, and whilst some staff focus on checking business cards and recite carefully prepared lines, others even make proper conversation like real people, musing about walks into work along the river, and joining in jokes about how the place would be better with wood paneling, an inglenook fireplace and a nice pub dog.

These glimmers of hope, combined with good views to the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and the impressive range of gadgets and furniture in the rooms, makes it a decent place for a rest, and as your author emerged into the Sunday morning light he even found a family of guests playing football under falling tree blossoms on the pavement outside the lobby window, demonstrating that not everyone who stays in London hotels is a lonely businessman.

To see some pictures of the visit click here, or for more in the hotel, see http://doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/LONTLDI-DoubleTree-by-Hilton-Hotel-London-Tower-of-London-/index.do

29 March 2012

Take a twilight tour of Apsley House

Often referred to as Number One, London, the most famous address in London, The Duke of Wellington's former home at Apsley House, on Hyde Park Corner is a Grade One Listed house, originally built for Lord Apsley in the 1770s.


Tonight from 6pm - 8pm, English Heritage offer a rare chance to visit in the evenings, for a twilight tour guided by torchlight, in the company of a knowledgeable guide, to help visitors discover the fascinating history and beautiful collection of art of the building.

For more, see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/twilight-tours-ah-29-mar/

28 March 2012

Eat in the Whitechapel Gallery Library Dining Room

Whitechapel Gallery is a fantastic place, and not just because they have the Tired of London, Tired of Life book right by the till in their bookshop. They also have loads of art and stuff, and even an award-winning restaurant.


A personal highlight, in which your author passed a very pleasant evening last week, is the Gallery's Library Dining Room, designed by Artek furniture, with artwork by artist Christian Boltanski, which is available for groups of 8-14 people to hire for free as long as they are eating. It is a great place for group conversation, and the staff are excellent, meaning you barely have to step outside before the end of the night.

For more information, see http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/venue-hire/the-spaces/library-dining-room

27 March 2012

Sit in the Channel 4 Garden

A peaceful enclave sits behind Channel 4's imposing headquarters at 124 Horseferry Road in Westminster, where fig trees and park benches provide a restful diversion for weary Westminster-ites.


The Channel 4 garden is maintained by the media giant and open to the public all year around. When your author popped in last week it was a haven for lunching office workers and naughty schoolkids having a crafty cigarette in a quiet corner.

Information on the garden is scarce, but for more on the building, see http://www.channel4.com/info/corporate/about/our_building

26 March 2012

See the Mottingham Ice Well

A relic of the days before mechanical refrigeration, the Ice Well, beside the Tarn in Mottingham, was built around 1760 as an ice store for Eltham Lodge.


Though it is some distance from the Lodge, the well was placed here so ice could be cut from the Tarn in winter and placed in the well, which is mostly underground, and the brick lining, shady situation and damp ground would keep the ice cool, allowing the affluent residents access to ice at a time when this was the last word in luxury.

For more, see http://www.london-footprints.co.uk/articehse.htm

25 March 2012

Visit the Roots and Shoots Garden

A half-acre wildlife garden in Kennington, the Roots and Shoots Wildlife Garden Study Centre is part of a broader project to allow local people to study learn about wildlife.


The garden is home to an array of insect species, as well as breeding and migrating birds and pond life, and is open today for an open day with storytelling, microscope workshops, pond dipping, art and refreshments for all the family.

For more, see http://www.rootsandshoots.org.uk/2012/03/spring-open-day-2/

24 March 2012

Attend a Vintage Furniture Flea at York Hall

Whilst your author is aware that the 'Vintage Furniture Flea' being held today at York Hall in Bethnal Green is, in fact, a jumble sale for second hand furniture, there is nothing wrong with that, and the sale offers an extra bonus of entrance to the atmospheric hall, opened in 1929, and venue for countless boxing bouts and East End weddings.


We are told to expect atomic-prints, ornaments, cushions, crockery and glass, as well as other furniture and homewares from up to forty vintage traders celebrating the kitsch & the collectible. It all sounds like a pleasant way to while away an hour and entrance is only £2.

For more, see http://www.judysvintagefair.co.uk/events/event/bethnal-green-furniture-flea/

^Picture © bobaliciouslondon used under Creative Commons^

23 March 2012

Browse at Chelsea Military Antiques

Chelsea Military Antiques' main shop appears to actually be quite a long way from Chelsea, in Whitcome St off Trafalgar Square. It specialises in medals, covering a range of different arenas of conflict, with a strong selection of WWI and WWII memorabilia.


We are told that the shop stocks both British & Foreign Decorations and medals, with some dating back as far as the Napoleonic Wars. When your author visited there also appeared to be helmets and uniforms on sale.

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

22 March 2012

Attend a talk at Dr Johnson's House

It won't surprise many readers to hear that your author is an admirer of Dr Samuel Johnson, and his house in Gough Square is a fascinating place to visit. There could be no better opportunity than tonight, the museum's very talented curator, Stephanie Chapman, is giving an illustrated lecture on Johnson's visits to different country houses around the country, which sounds fascinating.


We are told that the talk will concentrate on Johnson's visits to Kedleston and Chatsworth, taking a look at the great man's experiences and his predictably vociferous opinions of his visits. As the museum is small, tickets (£12) are limited so please check the website, and telephone ahead if necessary.

For more, see http://www.drjohnsonshouse.org/events.htm

21 March 2012

Walk on Streatham Common

A welcome green space in South London, Streatham Common has a history dating back to the Domesday Book, and 66 acres of common land were formally protected by an Act of Parliament in the 19th Century. Today, it is a lovely spot for a wander, and offers spectacular views over South London.


The Common offers locals and visitors access to a great range of amenities including an area of woodland, where your author kicked through the last of the wintry leaves. Other treasures include a cafe, tennis court, some lovely benches with great views in various directions, the historic Rookery, of which readers can expect to hear more at a later date, and a playground and paddling pool for the children.

For more, see http://www.freewebs.com/streathamfriends/

20 March 2012

Have lunch at Wesley's Cafe

Whilst your author regularly hears a complaint from visitors that there is nowhere to eat in Westminster, there are in fact quite a few places, though some of them are rather more hidden than others. Though it certainly isn't gastronomic, Wesley's Cafe, in the bowels of Westminster Central Hall, is a functional place to get a bite to eat and a cup of tea without breaking the bank.


The cafe is popular at lunchtime, but refreshingly for this part of town there are enough seats so that when your author dropped in yesterday it was busy but there were plenty of tables free. Thankfully a school group decided to leave just after your author arrived, as well, making lunch a more peaceful experience.

The cafe is open daily until 4pm and the daily lunch special is £4.99. It's just a shame about the UHT milk. For more, see http://www.c-h-w.com/wesleys-cafe/

19 March 2012

See Alexander's Jubilee Oracle

One of a number of pieces of art on the South Bank, Alexander's Jubilee Oracle dates from 1980 and is a bronze sculpture found on the walkway between the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye.


The Oracle stands on a plith, inscribed with a quote from the artist, reading 'Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects'.

For more, see http://www.southbanklondon.com/walkthisway/SculptureStroll.html

18 March 2012

Attend the St Patrick's Day Parade and Festival

It's that time of year again, when everyone remembers their Irish heritage, and Diageo relaxes, happy that it will once again be a profitable year. Cynicism aside, it's a great opportunity to celebrate the importance of Irish people to modern London, and the cultural contribution they have made, to help make the city the diverse and interesting place it is today.


Today's St Patrick's Day parade is set to draw over 100,000 people, for a lively celebration with floats, marching bands and groups representing the Irish Counties, processing through Central London, and a programme of music and events in Trafalgar Square from noon.

For more, see http://www.london.gov.uk/stpatricks

^Picture © AlmazUK used under Creative Commons^

17 March 2012

Watch the Head of the River

London's other boatrace, Head of the River, is a bit more of a democratic affair, with over 400 crews participating, each made up of eight rowers. This makes for quite a spectacle, as around 3500 participants take part, having travelled from all over the UK, and around the world.


The race takes place between Mortlake and Putney, starting at 11am today, with various prizes on offer. Whilst it's usually fairly impossible to follow it as a formal racing spectator event, the sheer number of boats on the river makes for a festive atmosphere.

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

^Picture © Brett Jordan used under Creative Commons^

16 March 2012

See the British Museum in twilight

Often Londoners roll out of work on a Friday and go to the pub, which can be a lot of fun, but if you're in the mood for something a little more cultural after work on a Friday, selected galleries and the Great Court of the British Museum are open until 8.20pm.


There are also regular lectures and events, with tonight's considering the magnetism of Mecca, and exploring Hajj as artistic inspiration with British artists Idris Khan and Peter Sanders, and Saudi Arabian artist Ahmed Mater. However, if you're in the mood for something a little less highbrow, there is also an excellent cafe/ bar and restaurant.

For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/admission_and_opening_times/late_opening.aspx

^Picture © npmeijer used under Creative Commons^

15 March 2012

Listen to jazz at Hideaway

Some of London's best venues are a little way out of the centre of town, and Hideaway in Streatham seems to be making efforts in the right direction, with a full calendar of music nights and other events, including jam sessions and jazz workshops.


Hideaway also offers decent-looking food and drinks, and often reaches beyond jazz to funk, soul, R&B and other types of music.

To see what's on, see http://www.hideawaylive.co.uk/calendar

14 March 2012

Explore West Norwood Cemetery

Sprawling across forty acres of South London, West Norwood Cemetery was opened in 1837 as one of the 'Magnificent Seven' metropolitan cemeteries founded to deal with the huge growth of London during the period.


The cemetery is an amazing place to visit, with more than sixty Grade II and II* listed monuments inside, and memorials to many London greats, including underground engineer James Henry Greathead, Sir Henry Tate - the sugar magnate whose collection of art began the Tate galleries - and famous Household Management writer Mrs Beeton. Your author also understands it has some remarkable catacombs, which will have to be saved for another visit.

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

13 March 2012

Stock up at Dulwich Pot and Plant Garden

As we all suddenly realise that spring is coming, those lucky enough to have London gardens were hitting garden centres en masse at the weekend. One smaller example your author popped into was the Dulwich Pot and Plant Garden, perched above North Dulwich Station in South London.


Claiming to have one of the largest and most diverse ranges of plant pots in London and the South East of England, Dulwich Pot and Plant Garden is very much pot-based, with hundreds of offerings and plants to go in them, for use both inside and outside the home.

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

12 March 2012

Buy books at My Back Pages

Though in places the books are rather pricey, presumably to match the big boy of the second hand book market, The Oxfam, My Back Pages in Balham opened in 1991, and is a pleasant place to while away an hour or so, and has a fantastic array of books.


Stuffed onto the shelves, in a way that seems ramshackle, but is actually rather well sorted and ordered, the shop is larger than many London second hand bookshops, and has the intriguing trait of offering new books beside the old on the shelves. My back pages boasts second-hand, antiquarian and new books, and for real bargain-hunters there are also a few boxes of 50p specials out the front.

For more, see http://www.abebooks.co.uk/my-back-pages-balham-london/4714790/sf

11 March 2012

Walk in Perivale Wood

Though the atmosphere is still rather wintry, the first signs of life are starting to stir in Perivale Wood, a 27 acre area of ancient oak woodland beside the Grand Union Canal in North West London.


Owned and managed by the Selbourne Society, we are told that the woodland is home to an array of wildlife, including 600 species of fungi, hundreds of moths, and various molluscs, mammals and mosses, as well as trees and other plants.

For more, see www.selbornesociety.org.uk

^Picture © Copyright David Hawgood and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence^

10 March 2012

See London's transport in miniature at the LTM Acton Depot

Transport fans in need of something to do in London this weekend are in for a treat, with the latest in the regular series of open weekends at the London Transport Museum's Acton Depot.


This weekend's theme is London’s transport in miniature, with professional and amateur modellers arriving to display London's unique transport infrastructure in different sizes and scales.

For more, see http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/museum-depot/events

^Picture © Kradlum used under Creative Commons^

9 March 2012

Attend the Docklands Cinema Club

Screening films on the second Friday or every month, the Docklands Cinema Club allows film-lovers to watch films in the Grade I listed surroundings of the Museum of London Docklands, a former Georgian warehouse in the heart of Docklands.


Tonight's choice is the Ipcress File, a 1965 film which sees Michael Caine cast as as a spy who caught up in a brainwashing plot in London during the Cold War. Tickets are £7 and it all kicks off at 7pm. Your author apologises in advance as at the time of going to pixel tickets were looking limited. If it sells out, please make a note for next month.

For more, see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/Whats-on/Adult-events/DocklandsCinemaClub.htm

8 March 2012

Sit in St George's Square

A rarity in Pimlico in that it is a green space which isn't behind locked gates, St George's Square is a peaceful place to pass half an hour or so, with plenty of quiet benches around the edges, and the central fountain broken only by occasional noise drifting over from the playgrounds of Paddington Academy.


We are told that the Square was a byproduct of the laying out of two streets in 1839, and by 1843 it had been developed into a formal square, open to the Thames at one end. Today, but for the A3212 which slices through it, it remains much as it might have been when Bram Stoker lived at number 26 until his death in April 1912. To your author, the square is also known as 60p tea square, thanks for the Cabbie's Shelter which sits on Lupus Street at the Northern end.

For more, see http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/landandpremises/parksandopenspaces/st-georges-square-consultation/

7 March 2012

See the flowering of the English baroque memorial

An interesting bronze in the heart of Westminster, 'The flowering of the English baroque' by Glynn Williams is a memorial to the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell, and was unveiled in 1995 by Princess Margaret to mark 300 years since the death of the composer.


Purcell was born just a few streets away in St Ann's Lane, off Old Pye Street in Westminster, and attended Westminster School, before going on to work at Westminster Abbey, so the memorial is one to a local boy who went on to be widely recognised as one of the great composers of his era.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/henry-purcell-statue

6 March 2012

See the Map Room at the Charles Lamb

Your author passed a thoroughly enjoyable evening last week on the Londonist A-Z Pubcrawl, sampling a few of the best pubs in Angel, and beginning at the Charles Lamb on Elia Street near Angel Tube Station.


The pub is a testament to what can be achieved with love and care at a backstreet local and one particularly interesting aspect for lovers of cartography like your author is the map room, with walls adorned with a number of beautiful London maps, in fine surroundings with a friendly crowd. Not to mention good food, ale and atmosphere.

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

5 March 2012

Find the Yuri Gagarin statue

One of London's newer statues, at the end of the Mall near Admiralty Arch, and in front of the headquarters of the British Council, commemorates Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.


The statue was unveiled last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's 108 minute journey to space, and is placed on a spot where crowds gathered to greet Gagarin on a visit to the UK in July 1961.

For more, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/14/yuri-gagarin-statue-unveiled-london

4 March 2012

Attend the RYA Dinghy Show

The RYA Dingy Show takes place at Alexandra Palace today, bringing together thousands of amateur sailing enthusiasts to see products from 200 exhibitors, across 12,000 square metres of exhibition space.


Sure, it's a commercial exercise, but there are also talks and presentations about all aspects of dingy sailing, and it is always a real draw for sailing enthusiasts across the country. If you're one of them, your author thinks this would probably not a bad way to spend £13.

For more, see http://www.rya.org.uk/programmes/dinghyshow/Pages/RYAVolvoDinghyShow.aspx

^Picture © Sarah G... used under Creative Commons^

3 March 2012

See the arrival of the Bristolian

The King Edward I steam engine arrives in Paddington Station today for one of its final journeys before it is withdrawn from main line service mid-March for an overhaul which could see it out of service for up to ten years.

Built at Swindon railway works, the King Edward I, also known as no. 6024 was completed in the second batch of ten locomotives on the 30th June 1930, for a cost of £7,500. Whilst it withdrew from British Rail service in 1962, it was acquired by the King Preservation Society in the 1970s and returned to the main line in 1990 for a special service.

The train arrives at London Paddington at 12.10pm and will be leaving again at 16.35pm. For more information click here, or visit http://www.6024.com/.

^Picture © Gareth James and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons^

2 March 2012

Visit Harrow Museum

Out in the London Borough of Harrow, they have local history just the same as those of us in inner London, and the Harrow Museum, located across listed buildings in the beautiful grounds of Headstone Manor, is an educational museum examining that history.


Headstone Manor itself dates back to roughly 1310, but is sadly only open for tours on summer weekends due to its fragile nature. However, the rest of the museum is open all year round, with permanent exhibition in the Small Barn and the Granary, and the museum's temporary exhibitions and cafe in the historic Tithe Barn, built in 1506 on the orders of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

For more, see http://www.harrow.gov.uk/info/1017/local_museums/934/harrow_museum/1

^Picture © Max Warren used under Creative Commons^

1 March 2012

Attend an evening opening of Zarina Bhimji at the Whitechapel Gallery

Your author dropped in to the Whitechapel Gallery for one of their weekly late openings (Thursdays til 9pm) last week, and apart from being delighted to find one particular book in the bookshop, he was also quite taken by the Zarina Bhimji exhibition which is showing until 9th March.


Ugandan-born Bhimji seems to thrive on creating a real sense of place in her stunning photographs. We are told that this is her first major survey exhibition, tracing 25 years of work and opening with the premiere of her long-awaited film, Yellow Patch, which is inspired by trade and migration across the Indian Ocean.

For more, see http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/zarina-bhimji

^Picture © Reading Tom used under Creative Commons^