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

A website about things to do in London

30 November 2012

Rather English - See the Hereford Mappa Mundi

The Mappa Mundi is held by Hereford Cathedral and is a fascinating map dating from around 1285, which shows the world as it was seen in medieval times. Apparently drawn on calf skin by Richard of Haldingham and Lafford, the map places Jerusalem at the centre, with the British Isles on the outer edges of the known world.

The map displays only what was known by Richard and his contemporaries, reaching no further than the River Ganges in India, the Nile in Africa and Norway and the Caspian Sea to the North, and for your author one of the most interesting aspects was the strange beasts, creatures and quasi-human animals which lurk around the edges of the map, presumably representing an acute fear of the unknown.

For more, see http://www.herefordcathedral.org/visit-us/mappa-mundi-1

^Picture from the Wikimedia Commons^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

29 November 2012

Rather English - Cross Sellack Swing Bridge

Your author has fond memories of catching minnows in the shallows of the River Wye below Sellack Bridge in Herefordshire as a child, and the swing bridge which crosses the river between the villages of Sellack and Kings Caple near Ross-on-Wye. The bridge was opened in 1898 to link the two parishes by public petition, apparently because the vicar was having trouble getting ferryboat men to take him across the river.

The bridge was commissioned by Hereford architect Mr Ernest G. Davies, and designed and built by Louis Harper of Aberdeen,, and opened in 1898. It has always struck your author as unusual as it stands in open countryside and does not carry a road, making it a pleasant inclusion to a walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside.

For more, see http://www.harperbridges.com/index.asp?id=29

^Picture © Trevor Rickard used under a Creative Commons license^

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

28 November 2012

Rather English: Visit Kilpeck Church

Despite being irreligious, your author particularly appreciates a good church, and the tiny sandstone Church of St Mary and St David at Kilpeck, Herefordshire, is a particularly interesting one, noted for its Norman carvings which include serpents, angels, a green man, a Sheela na Gig and a menagerie of beasts including a hound, hare and ram.

The church is entered through a spectacular Norman arch and is thought to contain remnants of its earlier Saxon foundations, and the St David referenced in its name is thought to be a local Celtic St David rather than the famous 6th century Welsh Bishop, and the name of the village itself is thought to derive from Pedic, a local early Christian hermit, Kil Peddeg thought to imply the "cell of Pedic".

For more, see http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/kilpeck-church.htm

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

27 November 2012

Rather English - Visit Bristol's M-Shed

Despite its rather confusing name, Bristol's M-Shed is an interesting an informative museum of the city's culture and history, which first assumed its moniker in the 1950s, and continued under the same name as when adapted from one of the alphabetically-labeled transit sheds in the docks.

The shed became a museum in 2011 following the approval of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bristol City Council and other funders, and the result is a very interesting exploration of the history and culture of the city often considered the capital Of the West Country.

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

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

26 November 2012

Rather English - Walk on Clevedon Pier, North Somerset

Originally built in the 1860s, Clevedon Pier in the small North Somerset town of Clevedon, was designed to allow paddle steamers to dock for services to South Wales and other places. Since 2001 it has been a Grade I listed structure making it - since the sad fire at Brighton's West Pier - the only Grade I listed pier open to the public, as well as being among the earliest Victorian piers still in existence.

Even after the building of the Severn Railway Tunnel to South Wales, the pier continued as a docking station for pleasure boats which took passengers around the Severn Estuary and recent years have seen a reprise, with boats such as the MV Balmoral and Paddle Steamer Waverley taking passengers from Clevedon to destinations such as the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm, as well as Penarth and Ilfracombe. Despite a collapse of two elements of the pier in 1970, an commendable campaign by the Clevedon Pier Preservation Trust saved the pier from demolition and after many years it was finally completely reopened in 1998.

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

^Picture © Matt Neale used under a Creative Commons license^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

25 November 2012

Rather English - Climb the Cabot Tower, Bristol

The city of Bristol has always been quite proud of its adopted son John Cabot, an Italian sailor who set sail from the port to become the first European to set foot on the mainland of North America, and at the end of the 19th century a tower was erected on top of Brandon Hill in the city to celebrate him.

The tower is still open to the public for free and whilst the staircase to access it is quite tight, the views from the top are exceptional, as Brandon Hill provides an excellent vantage point to survey the city.

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

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

24 November 2012

Rather English - Visit a prison built for French and American prisoners of war

Viewing the world with a 20th and 21st century mindset, it's hard to imagine a situation when there Britain would capture French and American prisoners of war but there was a time when it happened, and a place was needed to put them the French prisoners - taken during the Napoleonic Wars - were first imprisoned in derelict ships but between 1806 and 1809 Dartmoor prison was built to house them, and after 1812 they were joined by Americans taken in the war of 1812.

It isn't hard to see why the location - at the centre of one southern England's last great wildernesses - was chosen, but this is not just a historical anomaly and the prison still operates today and is home to more than 600 inmates. Indeed, but for a short break when it was used for conscientious objectors during the Great War, it has been in use as a prison ever since and a small museum operated by the Prison charts its history and even sells benches and garden ornaments made by inmates.

For more, see http://www.dartmoor-prison.co.uk/

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

23 November 2012

Rather English - See the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Though the great 20th century sculptor Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield and spent time in Hampstead and Italy, moved to St Ives in Cornwall with her husband Ben Nicholson in 1939, and acquired a traditional stone building called Trewyn studios in 1949, working there until she was killed in a fire in the building in 1975.

The building which had become Hepworth's home was opened to the public - according to her wishes - in 1976 and remains open to the public all year round, allowing visitors the opportunity to see the place where Hepworth lived and worked and also to explore the beautiful garden she created with her friend, the South African-born composer Priaulx Rainier, who helped plant it with exotic plants.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives/barbara-hepworth-museum

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

22 November 2012

Rather English - Find Sir John Betjeman's final resting place

It was during childhood visits that the late poet Sir John Betjeman fell in love with the chapel of St Enodoc, a building tracing its history back to the 12th century which stands among sand dunes on the North coast of Cornwall, and it's easy to see why. Overlooking Daymer Bay and the Doom Bar now famous with ale drinkers across the land, the chapel had been buried in sand dunes between the 16th and 18th century, accessed for annual services through a hole in the roof.

When the sands eventually receded new life was breathed into St Enodoc's, and it was renovated in 1864 and this was the way Betjeman came to love it, first as a child, then when he immortalised it in his poem about the village of Trebetherick. In fact it was so important to him that as a seasoned visitor of thousands of churches he chose to be laid to rest in the graveyard, where he can still be found.

For more, see http://www.stendellion.org.uk/st_enodoc/index.php

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

21 November 2012

Rather English - Visit the Tate's southwestern outpost

It's easy for Londoners to think that the Tate empire extends no further than Bankside and Pimlico, but most will be aware that there are other galleries under the Tate banner and last week your author visited the Tate St Ives for the first time. Designed by architects Evans and Shalev on the site of a former gas works the gallery is on Porthmeor Beach and opened in a town long famous for its art in 1993.

Though the block of flats being rather noisily built next door was rather off-putting, a warm welcome awaited and the current show The Far and The Near: St Ives and International Art was a good introduction to art in St Ives and how it fits with the wider world, even if the film which accompanied it was rather full of puffed-up artspeak. From there, your author continued to the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, of which more in a couple of days.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

20 November 2012

Rather English - Visit Madron Holy Well

A couple of miles north of Penzance, and at the end of a winding muddy path, Madron Holy Well is thought to date from pre-Christian times and is still visited by passers-by. The well is easy to find, with signposts and more traditional 'clouties' - pieces of rag tied to the tree according to traditional custom at healing wells.

Nearby, a ruined chapel from the 12th century contains a well with running water in corner where it fills a simple baptistry before being piped away. Many suggest there was a simple building here from Celtic times onwards, and the water was thought to have healing properties, bringing many to bathe in its healing waters. Local folklore tells of John Trelill, who had been a cripple for 16 years, being cured by the water in the 17th century.

For more, see http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/sites/madron_well.htm

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

19 November 2012

Rather English - Drink at the Pandora Inn, Cornwall

A thatched pub at the end of a long Cornish lane, the Pandora Inn sits beside sleepy Restronguet Creek and was once a farmhouse until, in the 1200s it became a pub. Though it was the victim of a quite horrific fire last year and is also occasionally subject to flooding it is open

The pub has now fully recovered from the fire and when your author dropped in last week to do some afternoon reading, the only fire he found was one of two log fires quietly burning in the grates, whilst the interior of the pub had been restored quite brilliantly, and we are told that those responsible were keen to do so with according to traditional building methods and using correct materials, as per the Grade II listing.

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

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

18 November 2012

Rather English - Visit Newlyn Art Gallery

Opened in 1895 in Newlyn near Penzance, Newlyn Art Gallery was originally a place to exhibit the art of the Newlyn School of artists, a group of Victorian artists who had established themselves in the small fishing village to paint in plein air and observe the light and scenery of West Cornwall.

Today, the gallery is still going strong, and following redevelopments in 2007 it has been extended with the inevitable addition of an attractive first floor cafe with panoramic sea views.

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

From mid November to late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is becoming RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

17 November 2012

Rather English - See some art in a Bristol front room

In Bristol this weekend, the artists of Totterdown are throwing open their front doors and inviting you to see some art in their front rooms.

The trail has been going since 2001, and is an annual event, attracting thousands to see the work of 180 artists across 60 different venues. Only their boast that they are "the oldest of Bristol's art trails" seems a bit odd.

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

^Picture © Steve Daniels used under a Creative Commons license^

From mid November to late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is becoming RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

16 November 2012

Rather English - Visit Helston Folk Museum

A brilliant little museum in the Cornish Market Town of Helston, the Helston Folk Museum is run by Cornwall Museums and is quite deceptively large. A collection of many different aspects of life in a town with a small population but a proud heritage, it certainly puts many London borough museums to shame.

Whilst the contents might at first seem like a ramshackle collection of items, in fact they tell many aspects of the story of this little Cornish town, through artefacts such as a huge cider press, the paperwork and photographs of the town's first motorcar and various items referring to the folk history of the area and the the smugglers who were once rife on the Cornish coast.

For more, see http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=18157

^Picture © T J Wright used under a Creative Commons license^


From mid November to late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is becoming RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

15 November 2012

Rather English - Sit beside the fire at the Warren House Inn

Whatever the weather outside, visitors to the Warren House Inn can always be sure of a warm welcome, so warm in fact that the fire has burnt continuously since 1845. The Inn cuts a lonely figure in the middle of Dartmoor, on what was once a packhorse route serving local tin mines.

Formerly known as the New House, the pub was renamed after a rabbit warren which was once situated close to the Inn, the Warren House was built in the eighteenth century on the site of an earlier pub, and where once it served miners from what was then a thriving local industry, today your are more likely to find the pub populated by walkers enjoying the local scenery, sheltering from a shower as the miners did before them.

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

^Picture © Martin Bodman used under a Creative Commons license^


From mid November to late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is becoming RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

14 November 2012

Rather English - Climb Glastonbury Tor

Rising above the town like a pyramid, and topped off by a mysterious church tower, it is not hard to see why Glastonbury Tor so easily captures the imagination. Offering spectacular views, the Tor is thought to be the peak of the ancient Isle of Avalon, and was once literally an island, rising from the marshy Somerset levels.

Legend has it that the island was visited by King Arthur, Saint Patrick and even Jesus Christ's tin-trading uncle Joseph of Arimathea. The monks at Glastonbury Abbey even questioned whether a young Jesus himself visited, in a story immortalised in the hymn, Jerusalem.

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

From mid November to late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is becoming RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

13 November 2012

Rather English - Admire the view from Selsley Common

An area of common land overlooking the town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, Selsley Common comprises nearly 160 acres of limestone grassland with stunning views over the the Severn Vale and towards the Stroud Valleys, which once boasted around 150 woolen mills, creating cloth for export around the world.

The town of Stroud is lucky to boast significant areas of common land, grazed by cattle but open to the public to roam as they please and popular with paragliders. However, Selsley is the most interesting, said to have been used as a camp and lookout by soldiers loyal to Edward - who was later to become King Edward I - during the Baron's War of 1263-67 and also boasting the remains of a neolithic long barrow called The Toots. Beneath the common, Selsley Church, funded by Sir Samuel Marling, and designed by G. F. Bodley, is celebrated for its gallery of pre-Raphaelite stained glass by William Morris and others.

For more, see http://www.cotswolds.info/places/stroud/

From mid November until late January, Tired of London, Tired of Life is on a Rather English tour, featuring interesting things to do in England.

12 November 2012

Drink at The Bell, Aldworth

Yesterday afternoon, your author set out from South East London in brilliant sunshine to rediscover England, making his first stop at the Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, a beautiful pub which traces its origins back to the 14th century, and on a sunny Sunday is a fine example of how a village pub can still be right at the heart of a community.

The Bell has been in the same family for some 250 years, and your author understands by way of a talkative local that it is very safe in the hands of the latest generation. Tucked away beneath the Ridgeway in a village who all seemed to be happily passing their Sunday enjoying each other's company over ale and crusty sandwiches, it certainly seemed to be. If all villages could have a friendly local like the Bell, busy with village life and and so beautiful inside that it warrants a listing in the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, the world would be a better place.

For more, see http://www.aldworth.info/Aldworth/bell.html

Until late January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life is featuring things to do in England. Content is also available at http://www.ratherenglish.com/

11 November 2012

Visit the RAF Bomber Command Memorial

Today is Remembrance Sunday, and the perfect time to visit London's newest war memorial on, unveiled in June this year to commemorate those who flew with Bomber Command on missions during the Second World War.

The memorial is found in Green Park and is built in Portland stone. At its heart stand seven 9-foot-high bronze airmen, shown looking at the horizon, from which many of their comrades would sadly never return. 55,573 aircrew from all over the world lost their lives with Bomber Command during World War II.

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

^Picture © Bryn Pinzgauer used under a Creative Commons license^

10 November 2012

Watch the Lord Mayor's Show

London is now on its 685th Lord Mayor, and some date the Lord Mayor's Show back to as 1215, when King John granted his charter to allow citizens of London to elect a mayor. Today, nearly 800 years later, the show is still going strong and today it hits the City of London, promising the usual mixture of spectacle and marching.

For this year's show, we're told to expect a three and a half mile procession, with over 6,500 participants as well as marching bands, horses, carriages and more from 11am until 2.30pm. Though this year the fireworks will not be happening, we are told that a flotilla will be taking place before the show from 8.30am as some sort of replacement.

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

^Picture © SPakhrin used under a Creative Commons license^

9 November 2012

Eat at Paolina Thai Cafe

Your author had a good meal with friends last night at the Paolina Thai Cafe near King's Cross station, and apart from the odd deserts and the rather compact toilet facilities, found it to be good value.

Though the cafe interior feels a bit more like being on an Austrian train than being in a Thai cafe, service is swift enough and prices reasonable, plus it's BYO, which is very civilized.

For more, see http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/restaurants/paolina-cafe-and-thai-restaurant-info-3724.html

8 November 2012

Find St Faith's Parish Pump

Though the Church of St Faith has not existed for hundreds of years, St Faith's parish pump, dated 1819, still stands stranded by a fence between Paternoster Sq and St Paul’s Churchyard. The history of the parish of St Faith's is an interesting one. The original parish church of St Faith stood on the north side of Old St Paul’s until the 1250s, when we are told that it was demolished as part of work on the cathedral.

From the 1250s until the reign of Edward VI, the parish known as St Faith under St Paul's literally worshiped beneath St Paul's Cathedral, using a space the end of the west crypt under St Paul’s Quire. After this date the parish was united with St Augustine Watling Street. The pump was once situated against railings of St Paul's Churchyard close to St Paul's Cross, but was moved to its present position in 1973.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Faith_under_St_Paul's

7 November 2012

Visit the RHS Lindley Library

Describing itself as the world's leading horticultural library, the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library is the largest such library in the world, based over a three locations but headquartered at the RHS building in Vincent Square, Westminster.

The Vincent Square building is the largest part of the library, and contains books from books covering horticulture between 1514 and the present day. The library is open to the public and provides free access to books and journals, and a lending service for members, Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. They also hold regular talks and events.

For more, see http://www.rhs.org.uk/About-Us/RHS-Lindley-Library/

6 November 2012

**Announcement** - Tired of London's Rather English change

As from next Monday, 12th November, there will be a temporary change here at Tired of London, Tired of Life. Whilst your author is not and will never be Tired of London, he will be spending a disproportionate amount of time out of town over the next couple of months researching a new project, which will temporarily make writing about London rather more difficult.

Therefore, as your author will probably be seeing rather more of England than London between now and the end of January, during that time this website will suggest one thing a day of interest to see or do in England, returning to London-centric content at the end of January. This English content will also be available on a new blog called Rather English for those who want to see only things about England, but readers should probably note that even that will contain occasional bits and pieces about London, which is in England.

Your author is thankful to the regular readers who continue to return to this website daily, and hopes that this time-limited change in format will continue to provide something of interest. Writing every day does take effort and this website isn't done to make money, so your author hopes that readers will accept this brief change and maybe even embrace it, as a way to learn about some interesting things to see and do in England. If for any reason you do not wish to hear about things to do in England, please take a break from reading until the end of January and click "un-follow" or "un-like" on the social media ones. If you aren't able to cope without a suggestion of one thing a day to do in London there is a great book available to buy for a very reasonable price, which coincidentally makes a great Christmas present.

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

See the first President of the United States of America

Today, the voters of the United States of America go to the polls to chose who will be the President of their country for the next four years. There are many statues of Presidents in London one of the first President, George Washington, stands on the lawn in front of the National Gallery.

The statue was installed in 1921, having been given by the US state of Virginia, and is a bronze copy of a marble statue by Jean-Antoine Houdon which stands in the rotunda of in Richmond, the capital of Virginia.

For more, see http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0811F83D5A1B7A93C3A9178CD85F458285F9

^Picture © ell brown used under a Creative Commons license^

5 November 2012

Visit St Sepulchre-without-Newgate

The largest parish church in the City of London, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate dates back to 1137, and an earlier Saxon church is known to have stood on the same site. Though the church was subsequently rebuilt in the 15th century, almost destroyed by the Great Fire of London, modified in the 18th century, and restored by the Victorians it maintains a timeless quality and is an interesting place to visit.

Nowadays, the church is known for its musical reputation and as well as being known as the National Musicians’ Church, a Musicians’ Chapel was established within the church in 1955 around the grave of Sir Henry Wood - the founder of The Proms who learnt to play the organ at St Sepulchre - to commemorate deceased British musicians and house the Musicians’ Book of Remembrance. The church still holds regular concert and is open to the public daily.

For more, see http://www.st-sepulchre.org.uk/

4 November 2012

Go ice skating at Canary Wharf

It may not feel anywhere near wintry enough yet, but the ice skating rink at Canary Wharf reopened for the season yesterday in Canada Square Park, offering 720 square metres of ice to skate on.

It's a common seasonal occurrence in London, but your author was not aware the rinks were rolled out quite this early in the year, but the rink will now be open seven days a week - with the exception of Christmas Day - until 13th January.

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

^Picture © EEPaul used under a Creative Commons license^

3 November 2012

Watch the Blackheath Fireworks

One of London's biggest firework displays, Blackheath Fireworks takes place this evening, with around 100,000 people gathering on the Heath for a fireworks display, with no news yet on whether they have been the subject of the usual inter-borough wranglings.


Last year's was an impressive display and there are additional attractions to entertain including funfair rides from 4pm and bar and food stalls from 5pm. For what it's worth, your author will this year be returning to Brockham in Surrey in search of a proper village bonfire, but as that's outside the M25, the excellent display at Blackheath earns its place here.

For more, see http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/events/whats-on/fireworks/Pages/default.aspx

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

2 November 2012

Watch the Brockwell Park Fireworks

It's the biggest fireworks weekend of the year this weekend in London and across the country, and the festivities kick off this evening with Lambeth Council's annual displays in Brockwell Park and on Streatham Common.

Whilst the fireworks display itself kicks off at 8pm, the events will be open from 4pm with stilt walkers, magicians and fire dancers if that's your sort of thing, and other entertainment and stalls running through until 9pm.

For more details click here or for a full breakdown of displays head over to Ianvisits

^Picture © michaeljesusday used under a Creative Commons license^

1 November 2012

Drink at the Newman Arms

A busy little free house in Fitzrovia, just north of Oxford Street, the Newman Arms was built around 1730 and served as a chandler, an ironmonger, a picture framers and a brothel before finding its new calling as a tavern around 1860. Since then, we are told, it's played host to the likes of George Orwell and Dylan Thomas and - for those with sharper cultural antennae - appeared in both the The Bill and the Ali G show.

Today, it's a characterful pub, run by three generations of the Bird family and is pleasantly eccentric, with a typically eclectic West End crowd, an annual "Soup Off" and an upstairs Pie Room serving a range of pies that were sadly unavailable at the time of your author's recent visit.

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