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



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31 March 2013

Watch the Boat Race

Today is the day of the 159th Boat Race, taking place as it does each year along a 4.2 mile section of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake. The race began in 1829, making it one of the oldest sporting events in the world, with thousands of people showing up each year to watch it, and many more following it on the television..

This year everyone will be hoping that the race isn't disrupted by utterly meaningless protests, as it was last year, and for the second year running, your author will be on a Scottish island for the duration of the race, which is in a way its own tradition.

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

^Picture © HerryLawford used under Creative Commons^

30 March 2013

Celebrate the Smiths

Today is the second day of the ICA's festival celebrating The Smiths, with talks, performance, art and film, examining their cultural impact.

As a special tribute, we are told that the ICA Café Bar will even be turning vegetarian for the duration of Festival.

For more, see http://www.ica.org.uk/?lid=36715

^Picture © jeroen020 used under a Creative Commons license^

29 March 2013

Attend the Widow’s Buns Ceremony

Each Good Friday in East London pub The Widow's Son, a ceremony marks the passing of another year, referencing a legend of the widow who formerly lived in a cottage on the site, and awaited the return of her sailor son on Good Friday 1824, an occasion for which he asked his mother to bake him some hot cross buns.

The son never returned, and his mother continued to bake Hot Cross Buns every Good Friday, and leave them waiting for him. Today, sailors attend each Good Friday for a ceremony in which a new bun is added to a net above the bar.

For more, see http://spitalfieldslife.com/2012/04/06/the-widows-buns-at-bow-2/

^Picture © David Anstiss used under a Creative Commons license^

28 March 2013

Attend Maggie's Soapbox

This week has been a week of promotion for your author's side projects, largely because preparing for them has left little time to do any proper writing, for which apologies are due. However, this evening's diversion is certainly good to stand alone, with Maggie's Soapbox offering an evening of 6 minute presentations on any topic at the Create Place in Bethnal Green

For what it's worth, your author will be speaking for 6 minutes on "The 20 best pubs in Britain", but there will also be others probably presenting much more coherent presentations on much more interesting things. Entry is £3 and there will be cake, wine and beer on sale (?) during the evening.

For more, see http://www.thecreateplace.co.uk/maggies-soapbox/

^Picture © The Create Place^

27 March 2013

Talk to Strangers

Your author has been organising roughly-monthly conversation evenings in London for nearly two years now, and still thoroughly enjoys the fascinating mixture of people who show up if you book a room above a pub and ask people who are interested in conversation to come along.

The evenings are based around some thought provoking questions and some chances to move around and meet new people, and attract people of all ages, backgrounds, home countries and careers, and when you bring together a 28 year old who arrived from Brazil yesterday and a 70 year old who has lived in London all her life its amazing how much common ground they can find.

The latest event, organised in conjunction with Thinking Bob, is tonight at 7pm upstairs at the Globe opposite Baker Street Station. For full details, see http://www.meetup.com/talkingtostrangers/

26 March 2013

Visit St Stephens, Rochester Row

Built of Northumbrian sandstone to the designs by Benjamin Ferrey, a Gothic Revivalist taught by Augustus Charles Pugin alongside Pugin's son Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, the Church of St Stephen in Rochester Row, Westminster, was funded by Victorian philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts in memory of her father.

The church was built between 1845 and 1850 and contains a William Morris window designed by Burne-Jones. Ferrey's other churches include All Saints church, Blackheath. St Stephens is open to the public daily with an active congregation and regular music events, the church is a peaceful haven from the bustle of Victoria Street a short distance away, as your author found yesterday lunchtime when he dropped in.

For more, see http://www.sswsj.org

25 March 2013

Find the UN General Assembly's first meeting place

Though the UN is now more associated with New York and Geneva, in early 1946 - following the end of the Second World War - London was chosen for the inaugural meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which was held in London at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. The delegates were welcomed by Birime Minister Clement Attlee to a grand hall that we are told was specially decorated in blue and gold, and flags of all the participating nations lining the walls.

Though the UN had officially come into being the previous October, when the Charter of the United Nations was ratified by original five members of the Security Council, this was the first time the original 51 member countries had come together, in the early stages of an organisation charged with maintaining peace in the post-war period.

For more, see http://www.c-h-w.com/Venue/background-to-the-building/

^Picture © OwenBlacker used under a Creative Commons license^

24 March 2013

Tour 19 Princelet Street

Your author tries not to repeat himself too much but as he will be spending the afternoon volunteering at 19 Princelet Street, the Museum of Immigration and Diversity off Brick Lane, it seems fitting to mention that the house will once again be open this afternoon from 2pm - 4pm.

The house was built in the 18th century in green fields just outside the boundary of the City of London that once belonged to the Hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate - "St Mary Spital" - and its fascinating story saw it be home to a family of Huguenot weavers, before later as a synagogue at the centre of the local Jewish community, later cared for by reclusive caretaker David Rodinsky. Today, efforts are afoot to stabilise the fragile house for the future and the rare openings are a great opportunity to experience its magic.

For more, see http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/

^Picture © Jim Linwood used under a Creative Commons license^

23 March 2013

Watch buildings go dark

Things will be looking a little darker in parts of London tonight, as buildings switch off their lights for WWF's Earth Hour, which in the UK begins at 8:30pm.

Time Out tells us that venues on the South Bank are participating and the Earth Hour website also has a list of some buildings that will go dark.

For more, see http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/

^Picture © Earth Hour Global used under a Creative Commons license^

22 March 2013

Eat horse burger at the Lord Nelson

As many of you will probably already have heard, over at the Lord Nelson, on Union Street in Southwark, they've grasped the horse meat scare with both hands and are offering horse meat burgers daily as part of their extensive burger menu.

Your author dropped in last night as one of his party was keen on a topical dinner, and found the pub doing a strong trade in all sorts of food and drink, with a number of bookings implying that the Lord Nelson has developed a strong reputation. The menu even featured a 'Tesco burger'...half horse, half beef.

21 March 2013

See Peckham Peace Wall

Designed to mirror the wall of notes posted on the front of Rye Lane Poundland after the 2011 riots, the Peckham Peace Wall was opened on 8th August 2012 in what your author thinks is called Peckham Square to mark the first anniversary of the 2011 riots, recreating the original notes in a permanent display.

We are told that the notes were digitally hand-traced by artists Garudio Studiage, who worked in tandem with the young people of Peckham, with the support of Peckham Space and Southwark Council’s Greener Cleaner Safer fund, to create a piece of public art which no-one can accuse of lacking meaning.

For more, see http://www.peckhamspace.com/whats-on/exhibitions/peckham-peace-wall

^Picture © 生活童話 used under a Creative Commons license^

20 March 2013

Follow Surrey Canal Path

A thin stretch of green that cuts through South London, connecting Burgess Park and Peckham High Street, the Surrey Canal Path follows the route of the old Grand Surrey Canal, which connected Peckham to the old Surrey Docks from the early 19th century until the 1970s.

The strip of land which is popular with cyclists cutting between Peckham and the Old Kent Road, is optimistically known as 'Surrey Linear Canal Park', and finishes close to Peckham Library, which was built on the site of what was once the canal basin at which the canal terminated. The strip makes a pleasant walk with flowers and occasional birds, but occasionally gets busy with take-no-prisoners-cyclists at commuting times.

For more, see http://www.londoncanals.co.uk/grsurrey/gsc09.html

^Picture © Malc McDonald used under a Creative Commons license^

19 March 2013

See 'Britain's oldest door'

Deep within the Westminster Abbey complex, on the right hand side as you enter the Chapter House, is a door which the keepers of the Abbey claim is the oldest in Britain, installed when Edward the Confessor built Westminster Abbey around 1050.

We are told that the door is made from a single tree, and its rings suggest it grew between AD 924 and 1030, making it a physical link to the oak forests which grew in the vicinity of London in days before the Norman Conquest.

For more, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4743899.stm

18 March 2013

See Sir Jacob Epstein's 'Rush of Green'

Found at Edinburgh Gate on the edge of Hyde Park, Rush of Green is the last work by the celebrated sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, who was working on it until the day he died in August 1959.

The figures and their dog rush towards the green of Hyde Park urged on by Pan, playing his pipes. Since the demolition of the rather bland 1950s block Bowater House, the sculpture now stands in the shadow of the rather expensive One Hyde Park construction.

For more, see http://www.spikemagazine.com/londons-epstein-sculptures-hyde-park.php

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

17 March 2013

Celebrate St Patrick's Day

Your author can hardly believe it's that time of year already, but Londoners of all nationalities will be joining their Irish cousins in the streets today to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

The most visible celebration will be in the form of the annual parade of marching bands and floats which is scheduled to leave Piccadilly at noon, passing along Regents Street and Pall Mall and finishing in Trafalgar Square.

For more on this and other events today, see http://londonist.com/2013/03/where-to-celebrate-st-patricks-day-in-london-2013.php

^Picture © jaybergesen used under a Creative Commons license^

16 March 2013

Mark 75 years of HMS Belfast

Thanks to Ian for alerting your author that HMS Belfast is celebrating its 75th birthday this weekend, having been launched on 17th March 1938 in Belfast.

Visitors are told to expect gun firing, live music on deck, radio demonstrations, medallion-making and hourly semaphore demonstrations, in an event that continues tomorrow.

For more, see http://www.iwm.org.uk/events/hms-belfast/hms-belfast-75th-birthday-bash

15 March 2013

Catch the train to Edinburgh

The first daily London to Edinburgh passenger service left London's King's Cross on 18th June 1862, taking 10½ hours with a stop for lunch in York.

Thankfully, it takes slightly less time today, but costs considerably more as your author will be discovering when he makes the trip for a family birthday.

For train times, see http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/

^Picture © UniversityBlogSpot used under a Creative Commons license^

14 March 2013

See Oliver Cromwell

One of London's more controversial statues stands outside the Houses of Parliament where it was installed in 1899 to a design by Hamo Thornycroft. Cromwell is

Disliked by the Irish and monarchists due to his roles in the English Civil War and the conquest of 17th century Ireland, Cromwell was a controversial figure for a statue even before he was installed, and as recently as 2004 MPs were calling for him to be melted down, but for now he remains, holding a sword and bible and gazing pensively down into Abingdon Street from his plinth.

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

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

13 March 2013

Watch a play at the Bush Theatre

Your author is very tired but had a thoroughly pleasant evening yesterday at the Bush Theatre for the 50th birthday party of the Greene and Heaton Literary Agency, who are thoroughly good sorts and pulled a good crowd.

But regardless of that, the Bush Theatre is a great venue, established in 1972, and moved to the old Passmore Edwards Public Library building in 2011 after many years spent above The Bush public house on Goldhawk Road.

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

^Picture © Alex Williams and licensed under Wikimedia Commons^

12 March 2013

See the Horniman Walrus

Certainly the most famous animal in South London's Horniman Museum and possibly the most famous walrus in Britain, the Horniman Walrus was brought to these shores by Victorian hunter James Hubbard, who 'collected' it from Hudson Bay in Canada.

We are told that it was first exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1886 and has been at the museum  since 1901. The walrus - which even has its own twitter parody account -
is off for a well-earned seaside break in the summer, when it is to be exhibited at the Turner Contemporary in Margate as part of the travelling Curiosity: Art & The Pleasures of Knowing exhibition.

For more, see http://www.horniman.ac.uk/collections/browse-our-collections/object/190371

^Picture © clogsilk used under a Creative Commons license^

11 March 2013

Admire the view from Horniman Gardens

Despite the unpleasant weather, your author walked out to Horniman Gardens in South East yesterday to see how the improvement works have come on since the last visit. Though the animal walk - which will offer a visitors to walk between small animal enclosures - is still awaiting many of its residents, the hoardings which marked last summer have been removed and the gardens are once again a pleasant place to be, when the weather is right.

One of the best parts of any walk in the gardens is the view back to the centre of town, and also an excellent vantage point from which to view Dawson’s Heights in Dulwich, the interesting hilltop block of flats built between 1964 and 1972 and occasionally tabled - and turned down - for listing by English Heritage.

For more, see http://www.landuse.co.uk/project/horniman-museum-and-gardens or visit the Museum website

^Picture by Cmglee and licensed for use under Wikimedia Commons^

10 March 2013

Attend the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea

It's the final day of the latest Affordable Art Fair today, this time being held in Battersea Park and offering art from £40 to £4,000 from 100 different galleries beneath one roof.

If it sounds like your sort of thing, tickets are £15 on the door and it goes on until 6pm tonight, with paintings, prints, photos and sculpture in an event that has been taking place in the park since October 1999.

For more, see http://affordableartfair.com/battersea/

^Picture © radim99 used under a Creative Commons license^

9 March 2013

Watch the Women's Eights Head of the River

The 73rd Women's Eights Head of the River rowing race takes place along 4 miles and 374 yards the Thames between Chiswick and Putney today, as it has done since 1927, and up to 320 crews can take part.

The race will begin at 2.30pm, started by Anita DeFrantz, the American Olympic rowing medallist and Vice President of FISA, the international rowing federation.

For more, see http://www.wehorr.org/

^Picture © Dick Howe Jr (and not of the right rowing race) used under a Creative Commons license^

8 March 2013

Learn about the women of the Petrie Museum

A special event tonight for International Women's Day sees The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London celebrate the women who helped create and preserve the collection and offers a rare chance to get inside the museum in the evening, from 6pm - 8pm.

We are told that the women in question include writer Amelia Edwards, Egyptologist Margaret Murray,  curator Barbara Adam and Pre-Raphaelite model, archaeologist and wife of the pioneering Egyptologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie, after whom the museum is named, Hilda Urlin Petrie.

For more, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/petrie/whats-on

7 March 2013

Eat lunch on Strutton Ground

Every lunchtime, hundreds of civil servants and others descend on Strutton Ground, off Victoria Street to seek sustenance, making their choice from many competing outlets including David Miliband's favourite chippy the Laughing Halibut and a number of market stalls which spread out along the cobbled streets.

Though a few national brands have tried to muscle in in recent years, the street is still marked by independent outlets and one of your author's favourites is Stiles Bakery, which offers a range of baguettes, as well as drinks and cakes and probably something more healthy for a price that blows the chains out of the water, all served quickly and with a friendly smile.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strutton_Ground_Market
^Picture © Graham Horn used under a Creative Commons license^

6 March 2013

Learn about St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate

It's almost every day that your author learns something new about London and he didn't realise until he visited last night for the launch of Issue C of Curiocity Magazine that tiny 13th century St Ethelburga's Church on Bishopsgate is no longer an active City church, but is in fact a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace with regular programmes and events to help individuals and communities resolve conflict, complete with an exotic-looking tent space at the back.

This use was presumably chosen for the church after it was almost destroyed by an IRA bomb on Bishopsgate in 1993, and saved from destruction following a public campaign. Today, it is home to lunchtime meditation, musical evenings and courses on topics such as conflict resolution.

For more, see http://www.stethelburgas.org
^Picture © RachelH_ used under a Creative Commons license^

5 March 2013

Drink at the Windsor Castle, Francis Street, SW1

A decent Sam Smiths pub in the backstreets behind Westminster Cathedral, the Windsor Castle was controversially renamed in 2011, losing its previous moniker 'The Cardinal' after ex-Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Manning.

Despite the rename, the pub remains much as it was, still serving a healthy mix of civil servants and others who work in the area and still very pleasantly decorated, if a bit fresher than it once was.

For more, see http://www.fancyapint.com/Pub/london/the-windsor-castle-ex-the-cardinal/1041
^Picture © PAUL FARMER used under a Creative Commons license^

4 March 2013

See Paddington at Paddington

The Peruvian bear created by Michael Bond in the 1950s became almost as famous as the station itself, and so it is fitting that a statue of the bear now sits on the concourse at the station, designed by Marcus Cornish in 2000, based on the original illustrations of Peggy Fortnum.

Paddington was based on a real teddy bear that Bond found alone on a toy shop shelf on Christmas Eve 1956 when he lived close to the station, and it seems fitting to find him sat here, bearing his tag which famously reads "Please look after this bear".

For more, see http://blog.onetravel.com/travel/paddington-bear-at-paddington-station.aspx

3 March 2013

Learn about brains at the Barbican

A new season of events at the Barbican celebrates the Art & Science on the Brain and this weekend a special 'Weekender' event offers brain-inspired dance, theatre, music and art for all ages.

The season is being held in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust and continues until 10th April, with lunchtime and evening talks, participatory events, films and theatre.

For more, see http://www.barbican.org.uk/wonder/

^Picture © simiant used under a Creative Commons license^

2 March 2013

Visit Poet's Corner

Found in the South Transept, deep within the walls of Westminster Abbey, Poet's Corner is home to memorials and final resting places of some of Britain's greatest writers, playwrights and poets. The tradition began after Geoffrey Chaucer was buried here in 1400, in recognition of his work as Clerk of Works to the Palace of Westminster, and then in the 16th century, he was given a new more elaborate tomb, and a tradition of memorials and tombs of other writers began.

Literary visitors can find many greats in Poet's Corner, with the graves of Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy and memorials to William Shakespeare, Sir John Betjeman William Wordsworth, Robert Burns, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. It makes a welcome change from countless Kings, Queens and aristocrats. It's just a shame that the £18 entrance fee means that today the Abbey is often more visited by foreign tourists than by Londoners.

For more, see http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/highlights/poets-corner

^Picture © ah licha! used under a Creative Commons license^

1 March 2013

Stay late at the Design Museum

This evening, the Design Museum is holding a late opening until 10pm as part of a regular series of late openings. Tonight's event offers the chance to see the current Unexpected Pleasures jewellery exhibition and meet contemporary jewellers and jewellery designers for talks and workshops.

We are also told to expect speed sketching, which is presumably as simple a concept as its name suggests organised by Off Life, who bill themselves as the UK's only street press comic magazine, whatever that means.

For more, see http://designmuseum.org/design-overtime