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



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31 May 2013

Eat at Mon Plaisir

Though their claim to be London's oldest French restaurant seems to be a little optimistic, given that they've only been around since the 1940s, your author passed a very pleasant evening yesterday at Mon Plaisir on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden.

The basic set menu was good, and the house red was perfectly drinkable, whilst others in the restaurant seemed to be a mixture of those who had dined there before and were taking advantage of their knowledge of the further reaches of the specials menu and the fine-looking cheeseboard. Though the bill was significant, it was not overly expensive and the 12.5% service charge meant there was no tipping anxiety.

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

30 May 2013

Visit the View Tube

Some readers may remember the Olympic Games, one of the sporting tournaments that took place in London last year, and the slight frustration that followed when we were not immediately allowed to explore the park that was created for it. The most shocking thing is how quickly a year passes, for part of the Park will reopen in just a couple of months - at the end of July.

For those who want to be nostalgic, the View Tube that offered us views of the site being rebuilt reopened in December, and your author is amazed that unlike more diligent bloggers it has taken him nearly six months to notice. The View Tube is now - just as it was before the Games - a well placed community venue, with bikes, a cafe and interesting and not-so-interesting events.

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

29 May 2013

Have a conversation at the Boot and Flogger

This evening, your author will be hosting another of the regular "Talking to Strangers" season, this time at the Boot and Flogger, and as always in conjunction with the fine people from Thinking Bob.

The evenings offer a chance to meet and talk to people you might never have encountered in the course of your normal existence, based on the idea that it is good to create conversations with new people without any other motive than that they are good for us.

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

28 May 2013

Drink tea at Departure

Your author sought temporary shelter from Friday's rain at Departure on Commercial Road in Limehouse, and found an interesting community cafe and bookshop which also has a strong range of events and exhibitions.

Sadly, another appointment meant it was not possible to stay for the regular Friday evening film showings at 7pm, but they sound good, as do the classes in various things that are also held on site. Departure seems like a place that is worth revisiting.

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

27 May 2013

Have a picnic at Hampton Court

There's some sort of special picnic event running in the East Front Gardens at Hampton Court Palace this weekend, and whilst you don't really need an excuse to visit such an interesting building, the addition of special events and live music will probably make it feel more festive than usual.

Events seem to run from around 11am to about 5pm and will also include a sports day and tug of war, ice cream carts, a bar and - inevitably - cupcakes.

For more, see http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/WhatsOn/Thebigpicnic

26 May 2013

Climb St Augustine's Tower

Thanks to Ian for reminding us that St Augustine's Tower in Hackney is open today with a chance to climb the 135 stairs to the top of one of the few relics of the ancient village of Hackney, once a country parish.

It is, apparently, one of a regular series of openings, which will continue monthly until at least Christmas, and organised by the Hackney Historic Buildings Trust.

For more, see http://www.hhbt.org.uk/

25 May 2013

Attend the Enfield Pageant of Motoring

It's the Enfield Pageant of Motoring this weekend at Enfield Playing Fields, just inside the M25, in an event that has been bringing together classic motoring enthusiasts since 1978.

As well as looking at lovely old cars, we're told to expect "one of the most consistently successful events and autojumbles in the UK", which would be more of a boast if your author knew what an autojumble was. However, with 2,000 exhibits, 15,000 visitors and hundreds of stalls, the event sounds like a good day out for those with an interest in cars, and goes on all weekend.

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

^Picture © Jon Bennett used under a Creative Commons license^

24 May 2013

Eat at the Southbank Centre

Your author remembers when street food used to be just food, but like pop-ups and flashmobs suddenly something that has been happening for centuries is a new thing, and today and all weekend there is even a festival of it, the Real Street Food Festival on at the Southbank Centre.

Nevertheless, these things are good fun. Visitors get to eat nice food, the stallholders make some money and some money goes to the arts, so there are really winners throughout, unless you don't like spending too much on food. In which case, don't go.

For more, see http://www.realfoodfestival.co.uk/festivals/real-street-food-festival-2013

^Picture © Annie and Andrew used under a Creative Commons license^

23 May 2013

Eat at Moro, Exmouth Market

A good friend of the sort that knows about restaurants took your author to Moro on Exmouth Market last week, and the experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Established in 1997 by Samuel Clark and Samantha Clark, Moro was - we are told - the result of time wandering in Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, and remain popular today.

As a result of their journeys, the restaurant has tended to focus on Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean but there really is something for everyone who likes good food and wine, and certainly something for those who enjoy North African cuisine.

For details, see http://www.moro.co.uk

22 May 2013

See John Constable's The Hay Wain

Originally painted in 1821, John Constable's The Hay Wain now hangs in room 34 at the National Gallery, having been presented to the Gallery in 1886 by art collector Henry Vaughan. In 2005, the painting was voted the second favourite painting in a British gallery by listeners of Radio 4.

Though it was one of many painted by Constable of his native Suffolk - showing the River Stour near Flatford - we are told that Constable painted in in his London studio, as at the time he was dividing time between the city and country, spending winter in London and summer in East Bergholt.

For more on the painting, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/john-constable-the-hay-wain 

^Picture used under Wikimedia Commons^

21 May 2013

Relax in Spa Fields

Once an open common of more than 30 acres, Spa Fields, in Clerkenwell behind Exmouth Market now comprises just over two acres, but is still a pleasant haven with distinctive rounded grass mounds, and a beautiful lavender garden, and various other shrub beds.

The fields are particularly associated with the Spa Fields riots, which saw many thousands of Spenceans - followers of the revolutionary land reformer Thomas Spence - gathering in November and December 1816 to voice their opposition to the Government of the day.

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

20 May 2013

Eat pie and mash at Goddard's

When your author first arrived in London, with a negligible income and a  Zone 1 and 2 Travelcard, a Thursday evening trip to Greenwich for a pint of ale and a pie and mash at Goddard's was one of the few luxuries available. Goddard's was an institution, established in 1890s in Deptford, with a shop in Greenwich since 1952 and a beautiful interior. It was a sad day when in November 2006, the Greenwich shop closed its doors.

However, last year a new Goddard's Pie Shop opened on King William Walk in Greenwich, operated by the same family, who have continued to make pies in the interim, selling them at Greenwich Market. Your author made his first trip to the new shop yesterday lunchtime and it was not a disappointment, with all the charm and style of the old shop and prices that are still very reasonable, despite inflation.

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

19 May 2013

View art in Dulwich artists' homes

Dulwich Festival finishes today, meaning it is also the final day of the festival's Artists' Open House, which has seen artists across the area open their homes in Dulwich and beyond to exhibit art over two weekends.

Yesterday afternoon, your author dropped in to just three of the 100+ homes that are open and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, seeing ceramics, illustration, lino cuts, painting and photography over just a few streets and discovering a hidden field behind one of the houses.

For today's full programme, see http://www.dulwichfestival.co.uk/content/artists-open-house-3

18 May 2013

Celebrate Nunhead Cemetery

There's an open day at Nunhead Cemetery today, and your author will be heading there just after lunch to see what is on offer. Posters across South East London suggest woodcraft demonstrations, stalls by local groups, homemade cakes will be available, as well as visits to the chapel and crypt.

We're also told to expect choirs in the chapel, tours, a bug hunt and an exhibition in the mausoleum, in an event organised by the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery that continues until 5pm.

For more, see http://www.fonc.org.uk/open-day.html

^Picture © fotologic used under a Creative Commons license^

17 May 2013

Discover the nose, late at the Wellcome Collection

They're opening the Wellcome Collection, on Euston Road, late this evening, for an event celebrating the Nose, covering everything from hay fever to the smell of envy.

Your author has thoroughly enjoyed previous late events at the Wellcome, and this one - featuring such highlights as photographic collection of false noses, and nose flute lessons, sounds great.

For more, see http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/events/the-nose.aspx

^Picture © Green Lane used under a Creative Commons license^

16 May 2013

Buy books at Clerkenwell Tales

A decent little independent bookshop on Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell, Clerkenwell Tales was founded in July 2009 by owner Peter Ho, apparently as a reaction to a frustration with larger bookshops, and a desire to found shop with a community, a goal which all the best bookshops seem to share.

Well over three years later, the shop seems to be thriving and is a joy to visit, as your author discovered when he popped in yesterday. Books are beautifully laid out over the relatively small interior, and regular events and a monthly book club are also on offer. “We’re not intellectual, but opinionated and enthusiastic”, the owner told blogger art-lit-geek and where bookshops are concerned, that's often the best way to be.

 For more, see http://www.clerkenwell-tales.co.uk/

15 May 2013

Book a summer course at City Lit

Established in the aftermath of the First World War, City Lit began life as the City Literary Institute, one of five literary institutes across London established by what was then London County Council to provide non-vocational adult education, and allow people with full-time jobs to take evening and other courses alongside their work. Today, we are told, the City Lit offers over 4,000 courses, and maintains a base at Keeley Street in Covent Garden, as well as three other sites in the area.

Though the other other Literary Institutes which were once found at Plumstead and Woolwich, Marylebone, Dalston, Peckham have sadly died, the City Lit continues, to the benefit of thousands who work in London and seek education after work. Though your author has perhaps been unnecessarily scathing recently about what the youngsters would probably describe as 'hipster' courses in things like cup-cake-baking and ukulele-playing, it is important not to dismiss the great work of the institution, the fine courses that do run, and the value of the scores of courses running at any one time to those who take them. Long may it continue.

For more, see http://www.citylit.ac.uk/

^Picture © wirewiping used under a Creative Commons license^

14 May 2013

Face off with Ramesses II

A huge statue of Ramesses II, also known as the 'Younger Memnon', stands in Room 4 at the British Museum, remembering a man who became ruler of Egypt around 1279 BC, and stayed in power for more than 60 years.

We are told that the statue was cut from a single block of two-coloured granite, and weighs more than 7.25 tons, with its sheer size apparently catered for by the sculptor, who angled the eyes down to make it appear to acknowledge slightly more those that view it.
For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/c/colossal_bust_of_ramesses_ii.aspx
^Picture © Averain used under a Creative Commons license^

13 May 2013

Play in the Horniman Sound Garden

An innovative idea, that your author hopes is not a constant source of frustration to those who live within earshot, the Sound Garden is found in Horniman Gardens in South East London and was developed as part of the £2.3m garden renovation project which will shortly be complete.

The large outdoor musical instruments can be played by visitors of all ages and are a nod to the Horniman Museum's interesting instrument collection in the Music Gallery of the main museum, which has its own interactive instrument area and is well worth a visit.

For more, see http://www.horniman.ac.uk/visit/displays/gardens#image-0

12 May 2013

Buy books at the Lewisham Pensioners' Forum Booksale

Your author has bought countless books over the years at the Lewisham Pensioners' Forum booksale, and with a strong selection and paperbacks priced at 25p or five for £1, it isn't hard to understand why.

The latest booksale takes place today from 11am til 3pm and as well as the books there is tea, coffee, cake and squash, and a bric-a-brac stall. However, above all it's a great place to pick up as many books as you can carry - and more than you'll ever read - knowing that the money will go to a good cause.

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

11 May 2013

Tour HMS Illustrious

Thanks to Ian for highlighting that HMS Illustrious is back in Greenwich this weekend, and is once again open for public tours today and tomorrow.

Unfortunately, your author is away in Yorkshire for the weekend and will therefore miss the ship, which is in town as part of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic which will also include a Fleet Air Arm flypast over Greenwich this evening at 7pm.

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2013/05/03/public-tours-of-hms-illustrious-next-weekend/

10 May 2013

Visit the inaspace Gallery, Crystal Palace

A interesting little private art gallery on Westow Street in Crystal Palace, the inaspace Gallery sells contemporary and traditional paintings, prints and pottery from a range of artists.

Your author enjoyed the eclectic range of paintings by artists he - as a philistine with little knowledge of the London art scene - had never heard of but regardless the staff were welcoming and friendly and the experience was a positive one.

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

9 May 2013

See the Horniman's Ijele mask

Found in the Africa gallery at the Horniman Museum in South East London, the Ijele mask is up to 15 feet high and was created for the Museum by Ichie Ezennay and others from Odawa village in  Nigeria.

The Mask is constructed from bamboo and cane structure is covered with multi-coloured cloths. We are told that the town near Odawa, Achalla, is one of the few in the area to have kings, and hence this Mask is thought to be fit for a king.

For more, see http://www.horniman.ac.uk/object/1999.11

8 May 2013

See the Queen in Westminster

The Queen heads to the Palace of Westminster today to open the next session of Parliament, and whilst we're all hoping that the Government will have put some decent ideas in the speech they have prepared for her, the decision to invite Prince Charles to attend for the first time in 17 years reminds us that she will not be around forever.

TV schedules suggest that events run between about 10.30am and noon, and those who find the time to stand out on Whitehall or Parliament Square will get to enjoy a spectacle of pomp and pageantry with military bands, a series of horse-drawn coaches bringing the Queen and various hangers on to and from Westminster in a fine setting.

For more, see http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/stateopening/

7 May 2013

Sit out in Parliament Square

Your author has been spending more time in and around Westminster than usual in recent weeks, and has been quite amazed as the weather has got better to see scores of people sitting out having lunch in Parliament Square, enjoying the sunshine.

It's all thanks to the new crossings which - though controversial in their reasons for being established - have breathed new life into a space which had too long been cut off from real people via three lanes of traffic, allowing them to take time to enjoy their surroundings and see statues of some great men up close. After all that it seems that Brian and the village unwittingly managed to be a democratising force after all.

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

6 May 2013

Celebrate May Merrie in Kingston

Kingston-upon-Thames celebrates May Merrie today, with seemingly scores of activities around town and down by the river, with summery activities such as Morris Dancing, juggling, face painting, live music, craft fairs and hula hooping at various venues.

We are told that the event will have a special focus on traditional games with giant versions of Hungry Hippos, Magnetic Fishing, Kerplunk, and the old favourite, ‘Crown Those Saxon Kings’ all playing a part and a programme that turns Kingston into a Monopoly board.

For more, see http://www.kingstonfirst.co.uk/visitkingston/whatson/maymerrie2013.aspx

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

5 May 2013

Celebrate Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square

Today, Trafalgar Square marks Vaisakhi from noon until 6pm, a traditional Punjabi celebration of harvest that holds particular significance for Sikhs as the moment in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh ji 10th Guru of the Sikhs, established the Khalsa.

In the Square today, we are told to expect music and Bhangra and Punjabi dance from the like of Alaap, Shin of DCS, Navin Kundra, Juggy D, Foji, The Phat Kat Koalition, as well as food and family bits and bobs like face-painting, henna artists and a mango festival.

For more, see http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/vaisakhi-2013

^Picture © estherase used under a Creative Commons license^

4 May 2013

Attend the Canalway Cavalcade

The annual Canalway Cavalcade begins at Little Venice today, with a collection of boats having made their way there over recent days for an event that runs until Monday, and which we are told this year features floating events and competitions, guided walks, boat trips by various operators, food stalls, a licensed bar, a trade and craft show, music, theatre, puppets, kayaking and a Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Nowadays, these sorts of events need a specific theme - often thought up by a lot of earnest people sitting around a table for a long time - and we are told that this year's is 'Celebrating London’s Waterways*' (the star seems important), which your author is pretty sure it has been doing since its inception in 1983. Nevertheless, it's a great event, now part of a series of events organised by the Inland Waterways Association.

For more, see https://www.waterways.org.uk/iwa/calendar/event/view?id=418

^Picture © Krypto used under a Creative Commons license^

3 May 2013

Step into St Simon Zelotes, Chelsea

A pretty little church on the corner of Moore Street and Milner Street in Chelsea, St Simon Zelotes was built in 1859 to designs by Joseph Peacock and was, we are told, later describe 'eccentric' by Sir John Betjeman, known for its carving, including that on its interesting font, which plans are afoot to move as part of a restoration project.

When your author dropped in yesterday, the evening sunshine was streaming through the large four-light window above the entrance, and through the high trefoil clerestory windows. In the darkened interior, noted for its polychrome brickwork, the atmosphere was calm and cool, with a solitary pair of reading spectacles resting beside a book in one of the wooden pews the only sign of life. It provided a welcome place for some silence.

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

2 May 2013

Take tea at Alexandra Nurseries

A quiet little haven on Parish Lane in Penge, Alexandra Nurseries is a garden centre, café and second hand home and garden ware shop with a lot of charm, run by landscape gardeners John and Sarah - who live next door - and at its best on the sort of warm sunny days we've been having this week.

We are told that the nurseries occupies a former caretaker’s office and maintenance workshop for the Alexandra Cottages, a development of 181 homes built during the 1860s by the Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes. It's a nice spot, and even though your author doesn't have a garden of his own it was a nice place to have tea and cake among the flowers and pretend he did.

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

1 May 2013

Mark International Workers Day

The first of May has been celebrated as International Workers Day since the 1880s, when it was first established to commemorate the Haymarket affair which occurred following a strike in Chicago. Though the struggle for workers rights has thankfully moved on a great deal since Victorian Britain, many still march in solidarity with workers around the world.

Today, a march meets at Clerkenwell Green around noon, leaving for Trafalgar Square around 1pm. Though numbers are no longer as high as they were when many marched (and more) with vigour it in the late 1990s, there will still be a rally featuring the ancient tradition of a speech from Tony Benn, which has been part of International Workers Day in London for roughly centuries.

For more, see http://www.londonmayday.org/docs/MayDayA4flyer2013-v2.pdf

^Picture © Trowbridge Estate used under a Creative Commons license^