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



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30 April 2013

Book tickets for the One Tree Hill Festival

Your author climbed One Tree Hill in South East London on Sunday and - alongside finding that their display boards already featured the completed Shard - was pleased to find a poster for the second annual One Tree Hill Festival, which has just begun.

The largely musical festival based in and around St Augustine's Church, continues until 19th May 2013 and alongside a rich programme of concerts from local musicians, there will also be a May Fayre and a crafts activity morning, culminating on the final Sunday with a Festival Celebration Service and drinks reception.

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

29 April 2013

Buy bike bits at Blue Door Bicycles

A friendly local bike shop on Central Hill in Crystal Palace, Blue Door Bicycles was set up by David Hibbs - a former transport civil servant who worked for many years on railways - and Dave Barfield on a site that had been home to a cycle shop since the 1920s, most recently the Central Cycle and Auto Stores which closed in 2010 following the death of owner Jeff Talbot and about which David runs an admirable tribute site.

Blue Door is the typical jack-of-all-trades style independent shop that those who are going to compete in the modern market place, and as well as its well-resourced bike showroom and shop there is also the necessary workshop and even a juice bar and coffee bit with free wifi. When your author dropped in recently the service was excellent, the prices were reasonable and nothing was too much trouble, which was welcome given the lack of attention often given in some bicycle shops.

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

28 April 2013

Take a pedalo in Crystal Palace Park

Pedalos have returned to Crystal Palace Park for the season, offering the opportunity to get afloat for half an hour on the lake once known as the 'Tidal Lake' as a result of Constructed as the lower reservoir, the boating lake was also known as the ‘Tidal Lake’, as it acted as a reservoir for Sir Joseph Paxton full system of waterworks, and water was often drawn off to feed the Park's fountains.

Today, the lake, which is also known for its nearby dinosaurs, is a relaxed boating pond, and the pedalos have just returned for the season, on offer at £4 for adults, £2 per child or £10 for a family.

For more, try http://pengeandcatorcouncillors.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/boats-return-to-crystal-palace-park/

27 April 2013

Have cheese and wine at the Southbank Centre

The seemingly now annual Cheese and Wine Festival is running this weekend in the market at the back of the Southbank Centre, offering sellers of decent cheese and wine and events and talks in their special Cheese & Wine Cookery Theatre.

Probably not a destination in itself, it nevertheless sounds like they have some decent cheesemongers and wine merchants in, so it's almost certainly worth popping by if you're in the area.

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

^Picture © Great British Chefs (main website) used under a Creative Commons license^

26 April 2013

Pay tribute to Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras Station

We owe a lot to Sir John Betjeman, whose foresight and appreciation of Victorian architecture at a time when it wasn't considered important helped to protect many great buildings, and most notably to save the buildings of St Pancras Station -  including the Midland Grand Hotel by George Gilbert Scott and the 1868 train shed designed by William Henry Barlow - from destruction. It is fitting, then, that Sir John still stands on the upper terrace of the station, in the form of a statue by Martin Jennings unveiled in 2007.

The former poet laureate is captured larger than life size gazing up at the grand roof of the train shed, on a slate base featuring words from his poetry, whilst other pieces of Cumbrian slate feature other lines of poetry, and if you're thirsty afterward there's a pretty-average-but-not-completely-awful-for-a-station pub named after him too.

For more, see http://www.martinjennings.com/Betjeman.html

25 April 2013

Have an early night

Those willing to put a bit off effort for an unusual experience in London should make sure they are tucked up in bed nice an early tonight, in order to prepare for a special Dawn Chorus walk in Sydenham Hill Woods from 4.45am tomorrow morning, led by the Wood’s official bird surveyor Dave Clark.

We are told that those with the sort of steely resolve that can get them to an urban nature reserve before 5am may expect to hear great, blue, coal and long-tailed tits, robins, wrens, nuthatches, blackbirds, song thrush, tawny owls, chiffchaffs, sparrowhawks, and even ring necked parakeets that are known to visit. Forecast was good at the time of writing, though if it isn't on Friday morning it probably isn't worth it, and it might be cancelled anyway.

For more, see http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/Pages/Events/Display.aspx?Title=&IDPost=5f7f118f-3564-4706-a422-ed35b7ff7196

24 April 2013

Take a London Helicopter Tour

Thanks to the birthday-present-buying generosity of a very kind Aunt and Uncle, for a slightly-surreal 35 minutes on Sunday afternoon, your author took to the skies by helicopter to see London - and the London Marathon - from a different angle, travelling at 90 miles-an-hour from Redhill Aerodrome, over the North Downs, and then from Richmond Park along the Thames to Greenwich and back to base.

Regular helicopter sightseeing trips leave from the London Helicopter Centres up to ten times a day, and the one taking the trip on Sunday took six passengers, so it didn't feel cramped. Before being waved out onto the airfield by a personable ground crew, they even did a full safety briefing on the grass beside a Discovery 4x4, assuming that if the helicopter hit the Thames everyone would fuss around putting on life jackets before swimming to shore. It turns out helicoptering is quite good fun, but whilst obviously it would be a bit vulgar to look how much a birthday present had cost, your author is fairly certain he can't afford to go again next week.

For more, see http://www.london-helicopters.co.uk/

23 April 2013

Find Guy the Gorilla

As your author wandered passed David Wynne's 1961 statue of Guy the Gorilla in Crystal Palace Park at the weekend it was, as it so often is, covered in little people, climbing all over him and enjoying the experience thoroughly. It is perhaps fitting that Guy remains an attraction for youngsters, given that the statue remembers a real gorilla who delighted many thousands of children at London Zoo.

We are told that the original Guy arrived at the zoo as a baby on Guy Fawkes night in 1947 and lived there until his death in 1978, and it is surely a testament to Guy's achievements in gorilla-ing that this huge black marble statue of him was commissioned when he had not yet reached the age of 16, and that a bronze, sculpted by William Timyn, can also be found at ZSL London Zoo’s Barclay Court, erected after his death.

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

^Picture © Beatnic used under a Creative Commons license^

22 April 2013

Buy books from the Bookseller Crow

During a walk along through South London in the Saturday sunshine, your author finally found the opportunity to visit the Bookseller Crow, a lovely little bookshop on Westow Street in Crystal Palace run by Jonathan Main and Justine Crow.

A bustling community bookshop, the Crow has been going for about 12 years, and even sells its t-shirts, which are worn by its well-read band of supporters. It also has a blog, which is an interesting read, and is notable for its strong selection of local interest books. In fact it is generally a great source of information about what's going on in Crystal Palace, with plenty of leaflets, posters for nearby events and tips from the owners and those who work there.

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

21 April 2013

Watch the Marathon

As your author wandered through Blackheath village and across the heath yesterday, the participant pens were all laid out and the local pubs were already advertising bacon sandwiches for the next morning for runners and their loyal supporters, for today is marathon day in London.

The course covers the usual 26-miles-and-385 yards, and the best place for supporters to cheer usually seems to be around the Tower of London, where runners pass by at the around 13 and 23 miles stages, and charities, supporters and TV correspondents line up their to support participants.
For more, see http://www.virginlondonmarathon.com/

20 April 2013

Celebrate St George's Day in Trafalgar Square

Though St George's Day isn't actually until Tuesday, an event to mark it is taking place in Trafalgar Square today, offering stalls selling English food from hog roasts to afternoon tea to all, from noon until 6pm.

We are told there will also be 'pop up entertainment', which your author believes to be the same thing that used to be referred to as street entertainment, as well as cookery demonstrations and that sort of thing. It doesn't sound like it'll be enough to take up a full six hours, but it's probably worth popping by if you're in town.

For more, see http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/feast-of-st-george

^Picture © A.Davey used under a Creative Commons license^

19 April 2013

See Lucy Orta's Cloud: Meteoros at St Pancras Station

Over at St Pancras Station they're following up on the success of the suspended Olympic rings that were a hit with visitors last year, and have come up with a new rotating art space they're calling 'Terrace Wires', suspended from the very same gantry. The first in the series of artworks chosen to appear in the space is Cloud: Meteoros by Sutton-Coldfield-born artist Lucy Orta, which was unveiled yesterday. 

The artwork features two suspended clouds measuring about 15 metres long, with figures on top of them, at least two of whom are based on the artists children. As St-Pancras-based artworks go, it's better than The Lovers but not as good as the statue of the late great Sir John Betjeman.

For more, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2310966/St-Pancras-station-unveils-new-artwork.html

18 April 2013

Find Dick Whittington's House

As many will already be aware, the chap with the cat from the pantomimes was based on a real man, and one from England's best county at that. For Richard Whittington was born in Pauntley in Gloucestershire and came to London - with or without cat - to become a textile trader, before eventually becoming Lord Mayor of London and then a Member of Parliament.

The evidence seems to suggest Whittington gave a lot of money to the City, paying for drainage, a public toilet, Greyfriars library, and the rebuilding of St Michael Paternoster Royal and Guildhall. He is also credited with leaving money in his will to rebuild Newgate Prison, repair St Bartholomew's Hospital and install some of early public drinking fountains. A plaque remembers Whittington at 20 College Hill, EC4, in the City of London.

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

^Picture © Dave Pickersgill used under a Creative Commons license^

17 April 2013

Watch the Thatcher funeral procession

One of the country's Prime Ministers died last week, and if you haven't heard about it already, it turns out that some people really liked her, others didn't and a few were even of no opinion at all. Your author tends to quite admire elected politicians of any party for putting themselves in the firing line by stepping up to give it a try, and it doesn't seem out of order to try to mark the deaths of the Prime Ministers we elected in a similar way to those of the Royals we didn't.

Today, London will come to a halt for a little while to do this, and we're told to expect Big Ben to stop chiming as well, which seems a fitting tribute to someone who was once the most senior member of staff in what is ultimately just a building. Perhaps £10 million seems a bit much, but it's less than the cost of some town houses in Notting Hill, and maybe it will be worth it to remind the gathered masses of the world's media of the importance of Great Britain, of Thatcher's role in negotiating towards the end of the Cold War, and of our abilities to do pomp and ceremony with style.

Democracy needs people who are willing to devote their lives to trying to do things that they believe are best for their community, for society and for the country as a whole, and those who dislike what a politician has done should, although they are perfectly entitled to protest thanks to the rights that have been protected by elected politicians throughout the generations, perhaps consider instead putting time and effort into developing their own ideas of how to make the country a better place, and then spend many years of their life trying to get elected based on those ideas.

For full details of today's events, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22096613

^Picture © UK Parliament used under a Creative Commons license^

16 April 2013

Spend a night at Tanners Hatch

Though it is in no sense in London, Tanners Hatch in the Surrey Hills is a stunning example of just how quickly and easily tired Londoners can find themselves in a rural idyll, with minimum outlay of time or money. On the edge of a wood deep within the grounds of the National Trust's Polesden Lacey estate, it is a Youth Hostel less than five miles outside the M25, only accessible by foot or by bicycle along tracks through the woods.

Your author spend Saturday night at the hostel, converted during the 1940s from two cottages which date back to at least the 17th century, and set in gardens fringed by a tiny campsite run in tandem with the hostel. The place is cosy and the welcome first sight of it was the smoke drifting up from its chimney in the still valley, demonstrating that a fire was smouldering in the grate. A trip is highly recommended, and the reception from friendly fellow guests was as warm as the fire, which was welcome for a rather soggy cyclist who had just trudged up the long track.

For more, see http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/tanners-hatch

15 April 2013

Cycle National Cycle Route 22

A cycle route that begins inside the M25 at Banstead, National Cycle Route 22 eventually winds its way to the South Coast, where it crosses onto the Isle of Wight and then off again, terminating in Lymington. Your author enjoyed this weekend cycling stretches of the Surrey Cycleway, and though the hills made him tired and he also got rather wet at one point, it is a great route for getting a sense of cycling into real countryside and it seemed worth recommending.

Though Banstead is not technically in London - lying within Surrey - it is possible to arrive on an Oyster card, and the route involves passing beneath the London Orbital, but the scenery is rather more rural than committed Londoners will be used to, with winding lanes, singing birds and even the promise of new leaves on the trees. In places in Surrey the route connects with the Surrey Cycleway and Surrey Cycleway Link routes, which are also good fun.

For more, see http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/route-22 or for the Surrey Cycleway try this site

14 April 2013

Decide the future of the Ivy House

As covered over on the always-excellent Londonist, the community in Nunhead were so determined not to see another pub converted to luxury apartments that they've mobilised and bought the freehold of the Ivy House in Stuart Road, SE15, saving it for the community and forming Ivy House Community Pub Ltd.

Today, they're holding a public meeting at the pub at 10.30am for investors, interested parties and local people to discuss the plans for the future, and their efforts are admirable. Your author has only ever been to one pub-by-committee but the results were better than he might of expected. Let's hope the future for the Ivy House will be a profitable one.

For more, see http://ivyhousenunhead.com/

^Picture © Ewan Munro used under a Creative Commons license^

13 April 2013

Find Dickens at Holborn Bars

Hiding away under a terracotta canopy at the side of Waterhouse Square, part of the privately-owned Holborn Bars building, formerly the Prudential Assurance Building, a bust of Charles Dickens was installed in 1907 to commemorate Dickens stay at Furnival's Inn on the same site in 1836 while writing part of Pickwick Papers.

For some reason known only to the owners, Dickens is imprisoned in a glass case, and watched over by a rather incongruous CCTV camera, but his continued presence at least is something to be thankful for in this age of companies intent on removing the characters of interesting buildings.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/dickens-bust-ec1

12 April 2013

Browse the Asia House Fair

Thanks to Ian for drawing your author's attention to the annual fair taking which is place at Asia House on New Cavendish Street this weekend, bringing together arts and crafts from across Asia for a special fair organised by the organisation, which seeks to build cultural, business and educational links between Britain and Asia.

The event promises "all the buzz of Kashgar and the Silk Road" with 35 stalls boasting things like jewellery, silk shawls, ceramics and Japanese prints, and for those who don't enjoy shopping there is the option of tea in Asia House's own Mackwood’s Tea Room.

For more, see http://asiahouse.org/arts-and-culture/asia-house-fair/asia-house-fair-2013

^Picture © Asia House used under a Creative Commons license^

11 April 2013

Celebrate Huguenot London

As anyone who has had to listen to your author banging on about 19 Princelet Street will know, your author is interested in the history of the Spitalfields area, and the peoples who have passed through it over the centuries. So, it was with particular interest that he learned that a festival celebrating the Huguenots of Spitalfields is taking place this week and next, with various locations in and around the area.

The Huguenots were French protestants, many of whom fled France in the 17th century following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. Like many immigrants before and after them, those who came to Britain were rather industrious, and some went on to achieve great success, including the first Governor of the Bank of England, the grandson of a Huguenot refugee. The festival tells the stories of Huguenot London through talks, walks and events running this week and next.

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

^Picture © Derek Voller used under a Creative Commons license^

10 April 2013

Seek out the first blossom of Spring

Though it's taken an an awfully long time coming, the first bit of Spring touched us on the weekend and though the forecast for today is pretty poor, the first blossom has started to arrive on the trees.

If you are looking for places to enjoy it at its best when the time comes, you should thanks  Susie Symes and Fran Pickering, who alerted your author to a fantastic blog post on the best places to enjoy spring blossoms, with old favourites Kew Gardens, Richmond Park and Regents Park all rated highly.

For more, see http://sequinsandcherryblossom.com/2013/04/03/london-parks-cherry-blossom-top-five/

^Picture © jojof used under a Creative Commons license^

9 April 2013

See the Thatcher statue at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Whatever your opinion of Britain's first female Prime Minister, you cannot have failed to notice that Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke yesterday, and the news has understandably been dominated by her passing ever since. One quiet place where she will be remembered is the Guildhall Art Gallery, current home to an 8ft tall marble statue of the Iron Lady, designed by sculptor Neil Simmons.

Originally commissioned in 1998 by the House of Commons Speaker's Works of Art committee and funded - at a cost of £150,000 - by an anonymous donor, the statue was the victim of an attack in 2002, when it was decapitated by a man with a cricket bat. Though it has now been restored, another (better) statue has since been erected in the House of Commons, so it remains in the gallery until another home is found.

For the full story, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decapitation_of_a_statue_of_Margaret_Thatcher

^Picture © tpholland used under a Creative Commons license^

8 April 2013

Find the North Korean Embassy

Ealing's leafy Gunnersbury Avenue is perhaps not a place you would expect to find on the front line of world diplomacy, but as the situation of British diplomats in Pyongyang begins to look increasingly uncertain, the people at Number 73 might also be in a flap, for this is the home of the North Korean Embassy in London.

Perhaps we might have expected to find something a little more Stalinist and and grey than the seven-bedroom bay-windowed 1920s semi which we are told stands on the street where Sid James grew up, but then the North Koreans have always been an unpredictable bunch.

For more, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2305072/London-semi-North-Korean-Supreme-leaders-man-keeps-watch--The-X-Factor.html

^Picture © Mark Hillary used under a Creative Commons license^

7 April 2013

Celebrate Spring at Camley Street Natural Park

It seems like perhaps spring might be on the way after all and over at Camley Street Natural Park near Kings Cross today sees a timely Urban Spring Festival to mark it.

We are told to expect tours, arts and crafts, canal boats, wildlife and treasure hunts, as well as music, food and drink and gardening workshops, today until 5pm.

For more, see http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/Events/urban-spring-festival

6 April 2013

Have lunch at Brockley Market

Your author had a lovely lunch from Brockley Market - held in the car park of Lewisham College on Lewisham Way in South East London - two Saturdays ago, but such was the weather that he was forced to retreat to a friend's house nearby to eat it.

Today we are blessed with better weather, and as the market runs every Saturday from 10am until 2pm, the clement weather presents a good opportunity to choose from a range of stalls and enjoy a wholesome lunch. The burritos from Lunardos are particularly recommended.

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

5 April 2013

See Monet's The Thames below Westminster

Now found hanging in room 43 at the National Gallery, Claude Monet's The Thames below Westminster was painted when he came to London as a result of the Franco-Prussian War,  studying the work of Constable and Turner during his stay.

Monet returned to London a number of times, and between 1900 and 1905 he produced a series of works depicting the Houses of Parliament and Charing Cross Bridge. This earlier painting was probably painted during the spring of 1871, as spring leaves are visible on the trees, but by May Monet had left London for Zaandam in Holland.

For more, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/claude-oscar-monet-the-thames-below-westminster

^Picture from Wikimedia Commons^

4 April 2013

See 'This is London’ large at Tower Bridge

Your author has always liked the books of 1950s Czech author and illustrator, Miroslav Sasek, and despite the time that has elapsed since their first publication, they still sell very well in London shops, enjoying a renaissance with their global counterparts in recent years.

Last night, your author dropped into an exhibition on the walkways between the towers of Tower Bridge, which opened on 29th March reproducing the original artwork for visitors to enjoy. It's not a particularly clever idea - thought up presumably to sell more books - but it does bring the fantastic originals to a new audience, for which we can all be grateful.

For more, see http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/NewsAndEvents/ThisIsLondonLaunch.htm

3 April 2013

Wander in Camberwell New Cemetery

Purchased in three lots in 1901, as an extension to the original Camberwell Cemetery, Camberwell New Cemetery is a short distance from the original along Brenchley Gardens. 

Still an active cemetery, and an area particularly associated with recent bereavements as a result of being home to the Honor Oak Crematorium, Camberwell New Cemetery is a poignant place. It has been the final resting place of some interesting characters, including Kray contemporary George Cornell, London crime lord Charlie Richardson and weight-lifting champion William Pullum.

2 April 2013

Watch Zippos on Blackheath

Zippos Circus has returned to Blackheath over the weekend, with a new show Carnaval featuring Cuban acrobats, a Ukranian strongman called Hercules and Brazilian motorbike riders.

We are told to expect a two hour show full of action from around the world, with tickets from £7.

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

^Picture © MattLake used under Creative Commons^

1 April 2013

Walk on Beckton Beach

One of the few places in London where the waters are clear enough to swim when the temperatures are right, Beckton Beach was formed using sand brought to the site for use in the old gasworks and waters softly cleansed by Sizdah Bedar Reeds.

When the weather fails to raise the temperatures high enough for swimming and buckets and spades, nature-lovers can still be found on Beckton Beach, and reports of whale sightings and also otters and the rare poisson d’avril continue to attract many in the winter months, whilst in the evenings drinkers come to enjoy a sunset tipple in the champagne bar at Gallions Point Marina.

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