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

A website about things to do in London

30 April 2012

Visit the Guards Chapel

The original chapel at what is now the Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk held its first service in May 1838, it was tragically destroyed by a bombing raid in June 1944, in an attack that killed more than 120 people.


Work did not start to rebuild the chapel until 1962, and it was rededicated in November 1963. Though it looks rather plain and modernist from the outside, the interior is very atmospheric, decorated with regimental flags and various memorials. Given the Guards often-demonstrated musical talents, it is probably unsurprising that the chapel also hosts occasional recitals and concerts, and one was just about to start when your author popped in last week.

The Chapel is found at the Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk in Westminster. For more, see http://www.guards-shop.com/chapel.htm

29 April 2012

Walk Plymmes Brook

Up in Enfield's Pymmes Park today, the Parks Outreach Team are leading an interesting-sounding walk along Pymmes Brook, tributary of the River Lea named after a local land owner called William Pymme.


The 7 ½ mile walk begins this morning at 10am and requires stout footwear and a packed lunch. Walkers will follow the Brook from Pymmes Park in Edmonton, through various parks in Enfield and Barnet, to Jacks Lake at Monken Hadley approx. For those up for a less regimented ramble it sounds like a fine wander at leisure at other times.

For more information, see http://www.enfield.gov.uk/events/start/29-04-2012/end/29-04-2012

^Picture © Copyright Martin Addison used under a Creative Commons Licence^

28 April 2012

Attend Dickensfest

For anyone not yet suffering Dickens fatigue as a result of all the bicentenary events taking place in recent months, today's Dickensfest at King's College London looks set to be a real treat.


The festival offers a free day of talks, readings and film clips in association with the College and Westminster City Archives, in the company of Dickens enthusiasts from around the country, and chaired by Dickens experts Professor Brian Hurwitz and Professor Clare Brant.

For more, see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahri/centres/lifewriting/dickensfest.aspx

^Picture © Copyright Kevin Gordon and reused under a Creative Commons Licence^

27 April 2012

See the Brune Street Panels

Funded by the City Fringe Partnership and designed by artists Meena Thakor and Kinsi Abdulleh, the Brune Street Panels were added to the walls in Brune Street opposite the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in 1998.


The panels reflect the vibrant history of the local area, with a particular focus on the Jewish cultural influences in the street and surrounding neighbourhood. The former soup kitchen opposite was established to feed the Jewish poor in nearby Leman Street in 1854, and and relocated to the street, Butler Street in 1902. We are told that even in the 1950s it was still regularly feeding 1500 clients, and continued until 1992, when it merged with Jewish Care in Beaumont Grove. Today it is, as readers might expect, a block of flats.

For more, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiredoflondon/sets/72157629884778427/

26 April 2012

Explore the unexplained with London Fortean Society

Back in February, your author attended an interesting evening with the London Fortean Society, exploring various prophecies of the end of the world with an open minded audience. Tonight, the society is meeting again for its monthly gathering, this time examining the many theorists who suggest that William Shakespeare may not have been the author of the plays attributed to him.


The society meets in the company of writer and poet Dr Ros Barber and writer, actor and board member of the Francis Bacon Research Trust Susan Sheridan to explore the many theories around the subject in the room above the Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London, E1 7EX. There will also, as usual, be a recap of the past month's Fortean goings on.

For more, see http://forteanlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/was-shakespeare-shakespeare.html

25 April 2012

Talk to Strangers

About a year ago, your author decided that it would be nice to gather together people in London who wanted to talk to people they didn't know, based simply on the premise that conversations with different people are a social good, and should happen more often. Talking to Strangers was born, and first met in May 2011, at the Royal Festival Hall.


Eleven months later, it is still going strong and those who take part report that they are enjoying it. The next meeting is tonight, and bringing together a room of people who all want to have conversations with new people is an interesting thing, and removing the barriers which usually prevent the shy amongst us from sparking up a chat with someone new is great fun. For all those who want to try it, the event takes place tonight at the Devereux near Temple Tube, and costs £3.

For more, see http://www.meetup.com/talkingtostrangers/

24 April 2012

Visit St Mary's Willesden

This weekend, your author passed a very rewarding Saturday seeing the sights of Brent, and one particular highlight was St Mary's Church, Willesden, where by chance a member of the local history society was on hand to conduct a faultless guided tour.


The site has been a place of worship since around 938 AD, when was given by King Athelstan and it is thought that a small wooden church was created, in what was then a largely rural setting on the edge of a small settlement. By the 13th century, the church had become a place of pilgrimage, and the shrine of the Black Virgin of Willesden drew people from all around until it was destroyed in 1535, burned at Chelsea on the same fire as the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Some also float the theory that as a place of pilgrimage, Willesden was home to a Holy Well, though your author's enthusiastic guide, as a true historian, was reluctant to hypothesise and had never seen any proof.

A truly magical place for even godless souls like your author, St Mary's Willesden and its graveyard are full of history, and run by a dedicated team of volunteers who organise regular events. For more, see http://www.stmarywillesden.org.uk

23 April 2012

Eat at Pimlico Fresh

A decent if slightly pricey little cafe in Pimlico, Pimlico Fresh is a popular lunch spot for those who work in the vicinity of Victoria railway station.


As the name suggests, a range of fresh food and drinks are served, and at busy lunchtimes it can be difficult to find a seat inside, though there are a number of seats on the street if the weather is right.

For more, see http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2%3A27125/pimlico-fresh

22 April 2012

Support the London Marathon runners

It's that time of year again, and as most readers will know from the scores of emails and social network updates from friends and acquaintances seeking sponsorship, the London Marathon kicks off this morning on Blackheath.


Runners will cover the usual between-26-and-27-miles, and the best place for supporters to cheer them on is probably in the vicinity of the Tower of London, where runners pass by at both roughly-13 and roughly-23 miles, and charities line up their branding to support those taking part, and get as much TV coverage as possible.

For more, and a map, see http://www.virginlondonmarathon.com

21 April 2012

Explore the gardens of Trafalgar Square

To celebrate St George’s Day this year, the Mayor of London is has decided to focus on gardens today, and whilst the forecast looks unsure, the plan involves engaging an award-winning horticulturalist.


Whoever it is they have been tasked with creating a flowery garden in the centre of London for a single day, and whilst your author isn't really sure what to expect, we are told there will be flowerbeds, inevitable pop-up gardening installations and also a bandstand with bands on.

For more, see http://www.molpresents.com/stgeorges

20 April 2012

Wander in Belair Park

An interesting local park in West Dulwich, Belair Park is formed from the gardens of the grand Belair House, built in 1785. The park is an interesting green space, with a large open area of grass, tennis courts, and even a stretch of the usually-subterranean River Effra.


Now maintained by the London Borough of Southwark, the park came into public ownership in 1965, and the landscape is Grade II listed, whilst the house is now home to the Beauberry House restaurant.

For more, see http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/461/a_to_z_of_parks/1290/belair_park

19 April 2012

Experience the Georgian Parlour at Dr Johnson's House

It must be no secret to regular readers that your author is a fan of Dr Samuel Johnson, and his former home at Gough Square. Tonight, another of the regular events at the House explores the world of the Georgian Parlour, encouraging us to step into the parlours and drawing rooms of Georgian England, and consider home entertainment, eighteenth-century style.


A talk by Dr Abigail Williams, from one of the universities in Oxfordshire, is followed by a musical performance and readings by singer and violinist duo Alva, drawing on contemporary miscellanies, popular poetry, music and prose to recreate an evening of music and readings as one might have expected in the mid-eighteenth-century, in the heart of the City of London on a weekday evening after work.

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

18 April 2012

Visit Syon Park

Whilst your author often reacts against the cult of aristocracy, looking around large houses & estates remains a pursuit that engages many, and Syon Park in West London is undoubtedly an interesting example of such an estate, which reopened in March for the summer season.


Still home to the Duke of Northumberland, Syon Park is a 200 acre park just across the river from Kew Gardens, and has been home to the same aristocratic family for more than 400 years, then as now separated from ordinary Londoners by just a short distance, and a vast wealth gap.

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

17 April 2012

Learn to sail on Island Barn Reservoir

Established in 1959 and sailing on Island Barn Reservoir in the outer ring of South West London, 15 miles from the centre of town, Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club is a fully operational Sailing Club, offering courses in sailing for beginners and more experienced sailors.


This year, the club is running its annual Tuesday Trysail training course, offering those new to the sport the opportunity to learn the ropes for 13 weeks from 1st May to 31st August, at a bargain basement price of just £75.

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

^Picture © Copyright Mike Bovington and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence^

16 April 2012

Explore Tooting Commons

Covering a sizable 221 acres, Tooting Bec Common and Tooting Graveney Commons are the largest open space in Wandsworth Borough. A remaining part of common land which once stretched as far as Mitcham, the Commons were protected from encroachment following the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866, when the Metropolitan Board of Works acquired the land in the 1870s.


Today, the Commons are an important centre for local sporting activities, with football pitches, play equipment, horse riding, fishing, an athletics track and tennis courts, as well as probably the most famous aspect of the commons, Tooting Bec Lido, which reopens in May.

For more, see http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_open_spaces/264/the_commons/2

15 April 2012

Find Thomas Cubitt in Pimlico

A statue of Thomas Cubitt, the master builder whose work shaped large areas of 19th Century London, stands on Denbigh Street in Pimlico.


The son of a Norfolk carpenter, Cubitt's work covered significant areas of Bloomsbury, and Belgravia around Belgrave Square and Pimlico, as well as the east side of Buckingham Palace, and nearly a kilometre of the Thames Embankment, built and funded by the great man.

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

^Picture © Jim Linwood used under Creative Commons^

14 April 2012

Attend the Hammersmith Irish Book Fair

The Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith is holding its annual Book Fair today, with hundreds of Irish and non-Irish books brought together by new and second-hand book dealers, and a lineup of various authors, performing and speaking about their work and the work of others.


The event takes place today from 10am - 3.30pm, and is followed by a one-man show by Irish actor and writer Frank Grimes titled "the he and the she of it..." A portrait of James Joyce. Entry to the fair is free, but tickets to the show cost £10.

For more, see http://irishculturalcentre.co.uk/?q=content/annual-book-fair

^Picture © SoniaT 360 used under Creative Commons^

13 April 2012

Visit Kensington Palace

Newly reopened after a two-year, £12 million refurbishment, Kensington Palace is arguably one of London's best-positioned buildings, with a central location in Kensington Gardens, looking Eastwards towards Round Pond. Originally built in the early 17th century by a wealthy nobleman, the palace was acquired for King William III, in 1689, because the King wanted to live near London but suffered from asthma and needed somewhere with clean air.


The Palace is, we are told, an official residence of world-famous multi-millionaires, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and they also bunk up with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent when they are in town, so visitors should expect an onslaught of Monarchism if they visit, but this is, of course, part of all our histories, so is understandable.

For more, see http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/

12 April 2012

Celebrate British design at the V&A

A new exhibition focusing on design since the Second World War began recently at one of London's greatest Museums. However, this being the Olympic year, the exhibition couldn't just look at design since one of the most important conflicts to ever hit mankind, it has to focus on the Olympics, hence British Design 1948–2012 is born.


That said, the exhibition looks fascinating, and it's good to see the sort of showcase usually confined to the limited space of the Design Museum brought to one of London's finest venues. Based around various themes which chart the history of design from the Festival of Britain to 21st century architecture, it looks like a great visit.

For more, see http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-british-design/british-design-about-the-exhibition/

11 April 2012

Visit St Augustine's Kilburn

A Grade I listed building Victorian Gothic Revival church on Kilburn Park Road in North London, is a huge church, the construction of which began in 1871. The church was consecrated in 1880, with the the tower and spire not completed until nearly two decades later in 1897-1898.


The church was founded by Richard Carr Kirkpatrick, the son of an Irish landowner, and in 1870, an area of what we are told was rather swampy land was acquired, on which the church was built. The large church is today often referred to as "the Cathedral of North London", apparently due to its size and ornate designs.

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

^Picture © Peter2010 used under Creative Commons^

10 April 2012

Drink at the Three Stags

Almost unique in that it is a pub run by Greene King that isn't awful, the Three Stags, on the corner of Lambeth Road and Kennington Road in Lambeth, is a good place for a drink on a spring evening, whatever the weather.


On the downside, it does describe itself as a 'gastropub' and has a cocktail menu, and whilst your author has had some very nice chips in there late on a Friday night, and once ordered a shandy at the bar, he is regrettably unable to vouch for whether either the title or the cocktails are worthwhile, or indeed necessary. Still, it's a decent pub, which hasn't had its character ripped out by the pub chain that owns it, and for that we must be thankful.

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

^Picture © Ewan Munro used under Creative Commons^

9 April 2012

See the Queen Mary Clocktower

The impressive Grade II listed stone clocktower at the Mile End Campus of Queen Mary, University of London, was erected in 1890, presented for the benefit of the people of East London by Herbert Stern Esq, in memory of his father Baron de Stern.


The tower's design incorporates marble basins for drinking fountains on north and south sides, though these are not used today, and we are told that the clock tower is surmounted by a double cupola and has wide cornices above and below clock, whatever that means.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/baron-de-stern-clock-tower

8 April 2012

Walk the lines

Last week while browsing the always-excellent Londonist events guide, your author stumbled across a walk with Mark Mason, author of the fantastic Walk the Lines book, and it sounded too good not to share.


Walk the Lines is a great book which documents Masons's experiences walking the whole of the London Underground system overground, meeting some London characters along the way, and seeing the real London above ground. The walk is your chance to walk a section of the line with Mason, from Bank to Chancery Lane along the Central Line, and leaves today at 2.30pm, when hopefully London traffic is at its quietest.

For more, see http://www.theimportanceofbeingtrivial.com/a-walk-the-lines-walk.html

^Picture © UggBoy♥UggGirl [ PHOTO // WORLD // TRAVEL ] used under Creative Commons^

7 April 2012

Watch the Boat Race

The 158th Boat Race kicks off in West London today, with oarsmen of six nationalities competing to find out which is the best one out of the Oxfords and the Cambridges. First raced in 1829, we are told that the Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world, and thousands of people show up each year to watch it.


This years, we are told, is particularly special due to 2012 being the most amazing year ever when all our dreams come true, but actually it is another example of a great sporting event which London puts on every year come rain or shine, at a fairly low cost.

Your author, for what it's worth, will be not watching any rowing in the Outer Hebrides today, but for more on the race, see http://www.theboatrace.org

^Picture © HerryLawford used under Creative Commons^

6 April 2012

Mark Good Friday at the Widows Son

A creature of habit, your author is once again away for Easter, and will be therefore conducting his annual tradition of missing the Hot Cross Bun Ceremony at the Widow's Son, E3, an East London tradition which takes place each year on Good Friday.


As previously covered here, we are told that the pub takes its name from a cottage which once stood on the site, inhabited by a widow and her only son, a sailor due to return home on Good Friday 1824, who had asked for hot cross buns to mark his return.

When the son failed to materialise, his mother continued to bake Hot Cross Buns every Good Friday, and left them waiting for him. The ceremony sees a new bun hung from a beam in the pub, as the mother had hung them from the beam in her cottage, and has been kept alive since 1848, when the cottage was replaced by a pub

For more, see here

^Picture by LoopZilla^

5 April 2012

Have a Chocolate Adventure at Kew

In an attempt to appeal to the family market this Easter, Kew Gardens are trying their best to make chocolate seem educational, bringing together the ancient history of the Maya and the Theobroma Cacao growing in their Princess of Wales Conservatory, which weary parents can use to try to teach the kids about where chocolate comes from.


Your author can't fault them for trying, and if you have little ones in tow it sounds like Kew have put on some entertaining stuff over the holidays, with a pretend ruined Maya village, craft workshops and even origami to hopefully divert even the shortest attention span.

For more, see http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/easter/maya-chocolate-adventure-trail/index.htm

4 April 2012

See the Arctic Convoys Exhibition

Opened to mark the 70th anniversary of the first Arctic convoy to Russia in August 2011, the Arctic Convoys, 1941-45 exhibition at the National Maritime Museum is a particularly poignant exhibition telling the stories of the men who kept supply lines to Russia open during the dark days of the Second World War.


The exhibition includes photographs, paintings by war artists, ship models, articles of clothing and other objects, showcasing the experiences of those involved and attempting to tell the story of the men who worked on ship in freezing conditions.

For more, see http://www.rmg.co.uk/visit/events/arctic-convoys-1941-45

3 April 2012

Book a ticket for the Theatre Royal Stratford East

In an area which has undergone many changes over the years, the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a constant, tracing its history back to 1884, when actor-manager Charles Dillon engaged architect James George Buckle to convert a wheelwright's workshop into a permanent playhouse.


Today, the Theatre Royal Stratford East offers world-class productions in a Grade II listed theatre which maintains much of the Victorian charm which has helped it to woo audiences for more than a hundred years.

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

^Picture © Jim Linwood used under Creative Commons^

2 April 2012

Explore the formal gardens of Canons Park

Once part of the grand estate of the 1st Duke of Chandos, Canons Park is now maintained by Harrow Council, and is combines 18th, 19th and 20th Century landscape gardens in a park that is recognised by the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Interest in England.


A beautiful spot, offering a quiet place to be in any season, the park is surrounded by Grade II listed buildings, including the remnants of the original Canons Mansion, The Temple and the Grade I listed St Lawrence Church.

For more, see http://friendsofcanonspark.org.uk

^Picture © Copyright I M Chengappa and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence^

1 April 2012

Take a boat on the Crayford Backwaters

A labyrinth of nearly 150 miles of palm-fringed canals, rivers and lakes, connected to the River Thames at Crayford Creek in South East London, the Crayford Backwaters are an internationally recognised area of wetlands as defined by the Ramsar Convention. Today, they are a mecca for tourists, plied by hundreds of Crayuvallams (Crayford Backwater Houseboats) which take passengers on tours of the area.


Since the closure of many of the large industries in Crayford's industrial past, such as the Maxim Nordenfeldt Gun and Ammunition Factory and the April Premier Fictional Publishers, tourism has become Crayford's largest industry, although the tea gardens of the Joydens Wood also employ a significant number of local people, along with Crayford Greyhound Racing Track and Gala Bingo Bexleyheath.

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