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

A website about things to do in London

31 October 2012

Take a Halloween walk

It's Halloween today, and whilst these American consumption festivals aren't really your author's sort of thing, the festival is supposedly based around the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, when the celts believed the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, so this evening is a good time to go on a London ghostly walk.

London Walks are as usual on hand with a few such walks, with the Ghostly Old City on Halloween leaving at 7 pm from St Paul's tube station, exit 2, Haunted London on Halloween leaving from Monument at 7.30 pm, Ghosts, Gaslight & Guinness leaving at 7.30 pm from Holborn and Apparitions, Alleyways & Ale leaving from 8pm from Embankment. Your author has only previously done the Apparitions, Alleyways and Ale walk, which was pleasantly spooky - especially the jaunt through St James' Park.

For more, see http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/HALLOWEEN_WALKS/default.aspx

^Picture © Metro Centric used under a Creative Commons license^

30 October 2012

Eat at Sofra

Your author had a decent bite to eat at a Turkish restaurant called Sofra in St Christopher's Place the other night, and whilst it turns out it's a chain, it's still worthy of a mention, not least because people were queueing outside to get in.

The creation of London-based Turkish chef and former goat herd Huseyin Ozer, the chain also has restaurants in Mayfair, near Oxford Circus and in Covent Garden and your author chose a menu with a main and a glass of wine for £10, which came swiftly enough, served by thoroughly polite staff.

For more http://www.sofra.co.uk/

29 October 2012

Visit The Guy's Chapel

Set within Guy's Hospital in the shadow of The Shard, The Guy's Chapel is a pretty little 18th-century Chapel which contains the tomb of Thomas Guy, as well as a marble sculpture to the hospital's founder by John Bacon.

Though the tomb can only be seen by arrangement with the hospital chaplain, the rest of the chapel is open daily and if you have faith the chapel also holds services a few times a week. The chapel - which stands within what is now part of King's College - is also noted as the resting place of Astley Paston Cooper, a celebrated 19th-century surgeon and scientist.

For more, see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/aboutkings/principal/dean/chaplaincy/guys/chapel/index.aspx

28 October 2012

Join the Londonist pub crawl of Hampstead and Highgate

Your author is a big fan of Londonist and their work in various aspects of London history, arts, culture and things to do. They are a great bunch and their selfless support for London pubs is particularly notable, as their alphabetical pub crawl of London series illustrates well. The latest installment sees a pub crawl around Hampstead and Highgate today.

Today's pub crawl visits six pubs around one of the best pubbing areas in London, and though you've probably left it a bit late to get a seat at the lunch table from 12.30pm at The Stag, everyone is free to join them for a pub stroll which will be at The Holly Bush from 2pm, The Spaniard’s Inn from 3.15pm, the The Flask in Highgate from 5pm, The Angel from 6pm and finally The Wrestlers from 7pm. So, if you want to face into a new week of work bleary-eyed but happy in the knowledge you've spent Sunday supporting one of London's best websites and some of North London's best pubs, grab your Oyster card and climb aboard your nearest Northern Line train.

For more, see http://londonist.com/2012/10/whats-the-best-pub-in-hampstead-and-highgate.php

27 October 2012

Celebrate the Old Operating Theatre Museum's 50th

Though the Old Operating Theatre in the roof of St Thomas's Church in Southwark was in fact built in 1822, rather surprisingly today it is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Whilst this seems odd, the Operating Theatre has been open to the public since 1962, when, having been rediscovered in 1957, it was opened to the public after 100 years standing empty.

As part of the celebrations, today you can visit for free and whilst the usual entry fee of £6 is well worth it, it is always nice to save money. The Operating Theatre and museum are open today from 10.30am to 5.00pm.

For more, see http://www.thegarret.org.uk/
^Picture © Matt from London used under a Creative Commons license^

26 October 2012

Ride with the Critical Mass

Critical Mass is the name of a few bike riding collectives around the world, and in London they've been arranging monthly mass bike rides since April 1994. Their latest ride is tonight and they're meeting under Waterloo Bridge on the South Bank from 6pm as they do on the last Friday of every month.

Your author will limit the commentary to saying that the Critical Mass are a convivial bunch, but you probably should go elsewhere if you have an active dislike of militant cyclists. Having said that, it always seems like a very festive occasion and the weather looks likely to be clear this evening.

For more, see http://www.criticalmasslondon.org.uk/main.html

^Picture © C. G. P. Grey used under a Creative Commons license^

25 October 2012

Come to a talk at Waterstone's

Your author is rather honoured that Waterstone's at 421 Oxford Street have asked him to give a talk on the Tired of London, Tired of Life book and this blog tonight, and if you feel like it, you're welcome to come along.

So if you're at a loose end this evening and fancy coming along, please do. Tickets are £4, but that includes wine, making it cheaper than going to the pub and better for you than sitting at home downing a bottle of half-price-from-Tesco's £4 plonk in front of the telly.

To book, and for more, see http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=2&store=437|WATERSTONE%27S%20OXFORD%20ST%20%28WEST%29&sFilter=3

24 October 2012

Visit the Tanks at Tate Modern

Your author is ashamed to admit he still hasn't made it to The Tanks, the new space at the Tate Modern, and after a fifteen weeks of experimental and participatory art, their opening programme is due to come to a close this weekend.

Situated in what were once three large interconnected underground oil tanks for what was then Bankside power station, the future of these spaces is envisaged as a gallery for installation and video art specially commissioned for the space described by Richard Dorment in the Telegraph as "as far as I know, the first permanent exhibition spaces in the world specifically designated for showing art that involves film, sound, projection and performance" and by other reviewers rather less favourably. Your author hasn't been, so couldn't pass judgement, but will hopefully find time before the end of the week.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tanks-tate-modern/eventseries/tanks-art-action

^Picture © M Hooper used under a Creative Commons license^

23 October 2012

See Cecil Beaton's war photography

A celebrated photographer and designer, Sir Cecil Beaton was also a commissioned war photographer during the Second World War, taken on by the Ministry of Information in July 1940 to record the war in various ways, in a task that took him to the Middle East, India, China and Burma.

An exhibition of the results is showing at the Imperial War Museum until the end of the year, showing over 250 of the photographs of a man who was the longest serving high-profile photographer to cover the Second World War.

For more, see http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/cecil-beaton-theatre-of-war

22 October 2012

See the Greenwich Herb Garden

Still penned in rather sadly by the high blue fences which mark the part of Greenwich Park which was closed for the Olympic horse prancing, the Herb Garden is still a pretty place if you look in the right direction, with neat little hedges and a central fountain making it pleasant even during yesterday's unrelenting drizzle.


Though there was a reference to Queen Elizabeth I 'strewing herbs' in the Park as early as 1559, and medical herbs were thought to have been grown here in the 18th century for the nearby Royal Naval Hospital, it was not until 1969 that the present garden was established, and even that was redesigned in 1993 and 2000, most recently by artist Kate Malone to celebrate the Millennium.

For more, see http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2008/01/the-herb-garden-greenwich-park/

21 October 2012

Attend the Lewisham Pensioners Book Sale

Firstly, your author should point out that you could consider celebrating October Plenty with the Lions part in Bankside today, accidentally suggested yesterday due to your author's inability to read a simple date, there are plenty of other things on today, including the bargain book sale of the Lewisham Pensioners' Forum.

Your author thanks Stuart from the fantastic Great War London for reminding him that this year's sale - with thousands of books priced from 20p to £2 as well as tea and cakes, hand-made cards and free tombola - is today, and having triple-checked the date, it seems fairly certain that today's suggestion is actually taking place today.

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

20 October 2012

Celebrate October Plenty (**tomorrow**)

The good folks from the Lions Part continue their seasonal celebrations around the South Bank **tomorrow** with October Plenty, an Autumn harvest celebration held annually.

Starting by the Globe and embracing seasonal customs and theatre, the day promises a Corn Queene, a Berry Man, a Story Orchard and plenty of apples in celebration of the season

For more, see http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/octoberplenty/

(Please accept your author's sincere apologies that this item was originally listed as taking place today. Human error is to blame)

^Picture © SPakhrin used under a Creative Commons license^

19 October 2012

Eat at the Bleeding Heart Bistro

Yesterday evening, your author ate with friends at the Bleeding Heart Bistro, on Bleeding Heart Yard, and whilst it was a bit like eating in the nineties, the food was decent enough and it wasn't that expensive, though the wine was pretty pricey.

As regular readers and most with an interest in London will know, Bleeding Heart Yard takes its name from Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who following a Winter Ball was found torn limb from limb in the yard with her still beating heart pumping blood out onto the cobblestones. The bistro is rather less interesting than the legend, but is pleasant enough, with staff who pretend to want to speak to you in French but then aren't up for following it through, and overblown French wine posters the name of the game.

For more, see http://www.bleedingheart.co.uk/bistro/

^Picture © Mike Quinn, used under a Creative Commons Licence^

18 October 2012

Attend the London Independent Photography Exhibition

Currently on show at the Strand Gallery, part of the Proud Galleries group, London Independent Photography’s Annual Exhibition is in its 24th year.

The self-defined highlight of the group’s calendar, the exhibition brings together work from members of a community organisation of more than 600 amateur and professional photographers, with 116 selected to be exhibited from more than 741 prints submitted.

For more, see http://www.londonphotography.org.uk/exhibitions/LIP24Annual/

17 October 2012

Buy art materials at Stuart R Stevenson

Your author was walking along Clerkenwell Road in heavy drizzle at the end of last week, and was delighted to find shelter at Stuary R Stevenson, a fantastically stocked artist's and gilding materials shop.

Established in 1980, Stevenson's even has a Royal Warrant of Appointment meaning - presumably - that the Queen buys her watercolour pads and calligraphy pens over the counter here, or at least by mail order.

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

16 October 2012

Attend the Churches Conservation Trust Annual Lecture

Your author has been doing a piece of work for a charity called the Churches Conservation Trust recently, and respects their efforts to preserve more than 300 Grade I and II* listed churches around the country no longer used as regular places of worship, and whilst no one pays for articles here, when a room of people asked with a smile yesterday if their annual lecture could feature here, he was happy to oblige.

The lecture is at the Royal Academy this evening and is being given by the writer Candida Lycett Green, the daughter of the late great poet, broadcaster and architectural campaigner Sir John Betjeman, and explores Lycett Green's love of churches in many different parts of the country. The proceeds go towards saving buildings which are more than just religious spaces, and are fascinating to Godless souls like your author as receptacles for the architecture, art and history of many different areas of England spanning more than 1,000 years.

For full details, see http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Whatson/Fulleventslist/2012-10-16/For-love-of-Churches-CCTs-Annual-Lecture/

15 October 2012

Find William Edward Forster

One of many statues in Victoria Embankment Gardens, a memorial to William Edward Forester is found just to the east of the Temple tube station.

Forster was involved in the Victorian wool industry, but is commemorated for his work as a politician, where he was involved in education, including the Elementary Education Bill, which established a framework for schooling of all children between 5 and 12 in England and Wales.

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

14 October 2012

Attend the Knitting and Stitching Show

Billing itself as the best textile exhibition in Europe, the Knitting and Stitching Show is in full swing up at Alexandra Palace today, with everything you could ever need if you're into knitting, crochet, embroidery, patchwork and quilting, felt-making, shibori dyeing, jewellery-making, card-making, felt, embossing and that sort of thing.

Needless to say your author isn't into those sorts of things, so this is very much a public service announcement, but if you are there look to be hundreds of stalls with all sorts of things for crafty types.

For more, see http://www.twistedthread.com/pages/exhibitions/viewExhibition.aspx?id=39&view=overview

^Picture © tpholland used under a Creative Commons license^

13 October 2012

Attend the Southbank Centre Cheese & Wine Festival

As readers of Ian's event guide will already be aware, the Southbank Centre is hosting a Cheese & Wine Festival this weekend.

We are told that the festival offers tutored wine tastings, top chefs demonstrating their favourite cheese recipes and 45 stalls of artisan cheese and wines.

For more, see http://ticketing.southbankcentre.co.uk/find/tickets/cheese-wine-festival-1000320

^Picture © KarenICZ used under a Creative Commons license^

12 October 2012

Drink in the Equus Bar

Last week, your author relented and accepted a PR invite from a hotel he has long been interested in visiting, the Royal Horseguards. Despite reservations, the experience was actually quite interesting, with stories of Churchill's drinking sessions during the Second World War, and mysterious corridors leading to a block of expensive flats to the West, and the National Liberal Club to the East.

Readers with deep pockets wishing to experience it for themselves should probably head to the Equus Bar, where despite a modern refurbishment, redcoated Horseguards still stare out from portraits on the wall, and English beers and gins, and Scottish Whiskies are all available. The downside, however, is that even at the low end of the menu a beer is £5.75 and the modern refurbishment and the politician-themed cocktails aren't quite to your author's tastes.

For more, see http://www.guoman.com/hotels/united_kingdom/london/the_royal_horseguards/restaurants_and_bars/equus_bar.html

11 October 2012

Locate the first home of the BBC

A stone plaque on the side of 2, Savoy Place, a building now occupied by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, marks the spot where its predecessor the Institute of Electrical Engineers also had its headquarters, in which the Institute offered accommodation to the British Broadcasting Company in 1923.

Then a fledgling organisation, we are told that the BBC at Savoy Hill was a rather civilised place, where early radio contributions from the likes of HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw were often made over whisky and soda in the days before the corporation moved to Broadcasting House. By the time the BBC vacated the site after nearly a decade in 1932 it had already begun to grow into the behemoth that it is today and was on the verge of making its first TV broadcast.

For more, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/collections/buildings/savoy_hill.shtml

10 October 2012

Talk to Strangers

Your author hosts another of his series of Talking To Strangers events in central London this evening, which as readers of inflight magazines will be aware, promises the opportunity to have some interesting and enlightening conversations with people you have never met.

The event is open to all and is run in association with Thinking Bob, who run great evening and weekend events in London every week, and always attracts a diverse and interesting crowd.

To sign up, see http://www.meetup.com/talkingtostrangers/

9 October 2012

Browse Bellerby's Globes

Sure, it's just an overblown salesroom, but your author was particularly taken with the Geographical blueprint: the art of the handcrafted globe exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society when he popped into the launch last week.

Displaying the works of Bellerby & Co. Globemakers, the exhibition is a great opportunity to see these beautiful globes - some of which sell for in excess of £30,000 - up close. Though your author could never afford them and even if he could he would spend the money on something else, they certainly have an aesthetic beauty which makes the exhibition well worth dropping into if you're in the area.

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

8 October 2012

See Bela Bartók

A statue to the Hungarian composer Bela Bartók was first unveiled outside South Kensington Tube Station in October 2004, taking a brief break between 2009 and 2011, and being re-installed last Autumn.

The position was chosen for the statue due to its proximity to 7 Sydney Place, where Bartók stayed when performing in London, and it was designed by Hungarian sculptor, Imre Varga.

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

7 October 2012

Celebrate the apple harvest

The London Orchard Festival takes place at Camley Street Natural Park in Kings Cross today, offering a range of apple-based activities, including training in apple growing, a longest peel festival and cider tasting.

There will also be cooking, apple bobbing and apple juicing, as well as games and activities for children, apple-themed food and drink and live acoustic music. It all takes place from 11am until 7pm on the banks of the Regents Canal.

For more, see http://thelondonorchardproject.org/training-and-events

6 October 2012

Attend the London Pen Show

Bit of a niche one this one, but everyone likes a good pen. Some people, however, take it even further, and the London Writing Equipment Show is where real stationary addicts go to get their fix.

Last year's event attracted nearly 100 traders and exhibitors and over 300 visitors, which seems a slightly odd ratio, but at least you can be sure of the undivided attention of your trader, and you might pick up a pen to last you for many years.

For more, see http://lwes.wesonline.org.uk/

^Picture © rargerich used under a Creative Commons license^

5 October 2012

Read some bus stop poetry

Postry-fans waiting for the number 37 bus on Half Moon Lane in Herne Hill are in luck, for at the local Oxfam Bookshop they are posting up Bus Stop Poetry to lift the spirits of tired commuters.

When your author wandered by the other day, the poem on offer was Ode to the West Wind is an ode written by Percy Shelley, which seems to be becoming a bit of a theme here, but presumably we can expect a range of poems.

For more, head over to http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/local-shops/oxfam-bookshop-herne-hill

4 October 2012

Draw for free at the Prince's Drawing School

For anyone like your author who has ever fancied doing a drawing class in London, but been slightly put off by the price, help is at hand. Every first Thursday of the month The Prince’s Drawing School on Charlotte hosts a free life drawing session, in collaboration with Time Out and the Whitechapel Gallery’s First Thursdays programme.

We are told that sessions run from 6.30pm until 9pm and participants are welcome to stay for the full session or drop in anytime, although places are offered on a firstcome, first-served basis. Free upcycled paper and charcoal are provided.

For more, see http://www.princesdrawingschool.org/calendar/main.asp

^Picture (of the road if not the School) © Payton Chung used under a Creative Commons license^

3 October 2012

Browse cheese at International Cheese

Your author always imagined that the cheese shop in Liverpool Street Station was a fleeting business idea on the brink of failure, and so it was particularly surprising to find out following a recent visit that International Cheese is more than 25 years old and is still going strong.

The International Cheese Centre first opened its doors - we are told - in October 1987 at its original site in Goodge Street, and owner Ray Kenny has since expanded to shops in Liverpool Street, Victoria and Marylebone Stations, self-defining as "one of the few remaining family run businesses in London today". Whilst the last bit is probably clever marketing, Ray and his team should almost certainly be congratulated on pursuing what might have sounded to many in the 80s like a hair-brained scheme.

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

2 October 2012

See Fred Daniels' Cinema Portraits

It is probably no coincidence that your author seems to see more of the exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in the free stairwell area next to their excellent bookshop than any other, and last week saw the start of an exhibition by the pioneer of British stills and portrait photography Frank Daniels.

We are told that this is Daniels' first solo display at the National Portrait Gallery and as usual in the area officially called 'The Bookshop Gallery', it coincides with the publication a monograph on his work, which is available in the shop.

For more, see http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2012/fred-daniels-cinema-portraits.php

1 October 2012

Drive down Lower Robert Street

A favourite escape route for cabbies stuck in traffic in the vicinity of the Strand, Lower Robert Street dates from the 1770s, when it was constructed by the Adams brothers as part of the 24 house 'The Adelphi' development.

Today, the original arches are still open to traffic, and your author has even driven through on one of the rare occasions he is let loose behind the wheel of a car in London, and when he wandered through alone yesterday - with the Sunday streets quiet - he failed to spot 'Poor Jenny', the ghostly prostitute who is said to haunt the road.

 For more, see http://blackcablondon.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/lower-robert-street-a-ghostly-tunnel-in-the-heart-of-london/