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



For more regular updates, visit Tom's Britain, a new website about things to do in Britain.


31 July 2013

Ride the North York Moors Railway

This summer marks 40 years since the North York Moors reopened, following a route that was originally opened as the Whitby & Pickering Railway in 1836, in a drive to halt the decline of the sea port of Whitby, where the local whaling and shipbuilding industries were already in decline.

Today, the railway offers a tourist route along the full route from Whitby to Pickering, with some beautiful scenery en route. The trains and stations are particularly picturesque, so much so indeed that they have appeared in a host of films and television programmes, hosting everyone from the Harry Potters to Heartbeat, Brideshead Revisited, All Creatures Great and Small and Poirot, alongside a particularly memorable feature in the music video for Simply Red's Holding Back the Years.

For more, see http://www.nymr.co.uk/

^Picture © Thomas Tolkien used under a Creative Commons license^

30 July 2013

Tour York Minster

When as a youthful undergraduate your author struggled with a taxing piece of work or needed inspiration for a difficult essay, the best solution always seemed to be to go for a wander around York Minster. For even the most cynical visitor would fail to find the Minster interesting, dominating the skyline of the historic city of York, and though your author is Godless the fact that nearly a thousand years ago people could manage to build such a huge and beautiful place for someone or something they had never seen and couldn't be sure existed helped to see that the minor trials of higher education could easily be overcome.

Begun in the 11th century on the site of a church that had first been constructed in wood around 627AD to baptise King Edwin of Northumbria, the Minster wasn't officially deemed complete until 1472, when it was formally consecrated. Since then, it has survived a siege of York during the Civil War, an attack by the Non-Conformist arsonist, Jonathan Martin, in 1829 and a fire in the 1980s after it was struck by lightning. It remains as inspiring as it always has been.

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

^Picture © andyspictures used under a Creative Commons license^

29 July 2013

Take a boat on the Ouse in York

A beautiful city from most angles, York is especially enchanting from the river, a fact not missed by the people from York Boat, who offer regular trips on their riverboat all year round, floods permitting. However, your author is someone who prefers a more do-it-yourself experience, and is therefore particularly attracted to the smaller Red Boats which can be hired by the hour - or half hour - putting users in control of their own smaller motor launch.

A full safety briefing is given but here the River Ouse is fairly peaceful and as there are only really two directions in which to travel and no way to get lost it is usually a fairly simple process. For those who are feeling even less adventurous the larger cruise boats offer a bar, explanation of different landmarks and ample opportunities to wave at people on the shore.

For more, see http://www.yorkboat.co.uk/shop/red-boats-2013/

^Picture © stephen bowler used under a Creative Commons license^

28 July 2013

Explore Wharram Percy deserted village, Yorkshire

Found in a tranquil setting in the Yorkshire Wolds, Wharram Percy is an abandoned village that was first settled by prehistoric man, and was a thriving settlement from the 12th and 14th centuries. However, by about 1500 all the villagers had been driven out by the local landowner, and their homes erased to make room for some much more profitable residents, in the form of sheep.

Today, the area is in the care of English Heritage, with the ruins of the church still standing, and visitors able to trace the layout of the village and learn about the lives of its residents through interpretation panels.

For more, see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wharram-percy-deserted-medieval-village/

^Picture © Verity Cridland used under a Creative Commons license^

27 July 2013

Visit Lincoln Cathedral

One of the finest Gothic buildings in Europe and claimed by some to have been the tallest building in the World for more than 200 years until the spire blew down in 1549, Lincoln Cathedral was begun in 1088 and consecrated in 1092, though the towers were not raised to their full height until the 14th century.

The Cathedral was commissioned by William the Conqueror, said to have been a result of his desire to place his Norman stamp on Anglo Saxon Lincoln, and few can doubt he managed to do that. Today, apart from its grand architecture, the Cathedral is known for its rose windows, its library and its fascinating history.

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

^Picture © brett jordan used under a Creative Commons license^

26 July 2013

Visit the Fenland and Wisbech Museum

Billing itself as one of the oldest museums in the country, the Fenland and Wisbech Museum is found in the 'capital of the fens', Wisbech in north Cambridgeshire, and opened in 1847.

The result of a bringing together of the town's Literary and Museum Societies, formed in 1781 and 1835, and - we are told - remains virtually unchanged since its foundation, except for a gradual expansion of its collections.

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

^Picture © Paul Shreeve used under a Creative Commons license^

25 July 2013

See the roof angels at St Nicholas' Chapel, King's Lynn

The largest chapel in the country is found in the Norfolk town of King's Lynn, originally constructed around 1200 but rebuilt and increased in size between 1380 and 1410 as the town became wealthier and expanded, and the congregation sought to compete with the parishoners of St Margaret's on the other side of town.

Today, the huge chapel is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, and is noted for its elaborate decoration, demonstrated best in the 22 life-size choir of roof angels that hang from the beams of the 15th-century wooden roof - with some playing musical instruments - and also the newly-restored medieval church doors, now once again carrying the same colouring that they did more than 500 years ago.

For more, see http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/St-Nicholas-Chapel-Kings-Lynn-Norfolk/

^Picture © The Churches Conservation Trust^

24 July 2013

Drink at the Jolly Sailors, Brancaster Staithe

A decent little pub in the upmarket North Norfolk village of Brancaster Staithe, built in the 18th century and still popular with locals and visitors, especially due to its attached brewery which produces ales such as Brancaster Best, Malthouse Bitter - named after one of the country's largest malthouses which stood in the village from the 18th century onwards, built from Roman bricks - Oystercatcher and The Wreck from local ingredients.

When your author visited for a beautiful wedding last month at nearby St Mary's Church, Burnham Deepdale - known for its Saxon Round Tower, its Norman Font and its Medieval Glass - he managed to sneak in two trips to the Jolly Sailors in 24 hours, and was even lucky enough to stumble across the pub's 4th Norfolk Ale and Music Festival.

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

^Picture © Howard used under a Creative Commons license^

23 July 2013

See Maggi Hambling's Scallop at Aldeburgh

A tribute to Aldeburgh's most famous resident, Benjamin Britten, Scallop stands on the beach between the town and Thorpeness to the north, and was unveiled in 2003, designed by local artist Maggi Hambling, initially to some scepticism, but seemingly popular with visitors and walking locals when your author dropped by last week.

The sculpture rises 15ft high from the shingle and features six and a half tonnes of interlocking stainless steel scallop shells, featuring the words "I hear those voices that will not be drowned" from Britten's opera Peter Grimes.

For more, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/enjoy-england/aldeburgh-thorpeness-suffolk-maggi-hambling-benjamin-britten

22 July 2013

Catch the Harwich Harbour Ferry

Alongside ships taking cargo around the world and larger ferries to Holland and the continent, a smaller ferry operates in Harwich Harbour, connecting Harwich, Felixtowe and Shotley to avoid the long road route around the Stour and Orwell Estuaries.

The ferry caters mainly for visitors and operates from Easter until the end of September, helping to access some picturesque walks in the area, whilst another smaller ferry connects the village of Felixstowe Ferry to Bawdsey Quay to the north of the town.

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

^Picture © Harwich & Dovercourt used under a Creative Commons license^

21 July 2013

Rent a beach hut at Frinton-on-Sea

More than 1,000 colourful beach huts line the promenade at Frinton-on-Sea, an orderly little seaside town on the Essex coast, and their owners are fiercely proud of them.

In 1994, the Frinton Beach Hut Association was formed to protect interests of hut owners, and some members of the Association rent their huts out to those holidaying in the area.  The experience doesn't come cheap, however, and renters can expect to pay in excess of £100 a week for a hut.

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

20 July 2013

Climb the Naze Tower

The Naze Tower at Walton on the Naze is an 86 foot tower built in the 1720s by Trinity House to aid ships navigating along the Essex coast, and to line up with Walton Hall as a guide for ships passing through a gap in the offshore shoals known as Goldmer Gap.

Today, visitors can climb the tower for a very reasonable £2.50 and there is also a tea rooms on the ground floor, and 1st and 2nd floors, as well as plenty of art for sale and fantastic panoramic views into the Walton Backwaters, and area of creeks, islands and marshes made famous by author Arthur Ransome in his book ‘Secret Water’. When your author visited earlier in the week those working at the tea room also firmly recommended boat trips to see seals in the backwaters with Tony Haggis on the boat Karina, which they had recently taken.

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

19 July 2013

Attend the Latitude Festival

Your author is off to Latitude Festival this weekend with Ebury publishing to talk about books and that sort of thing. Indeed, if you're interested there will be a talk based around the new book at 1.30pm on Sunday in the Ebury Library and Bookshop.

The whole festival looks like a decent combination of bands, arts, theatre and people talking about funny and interesting things, and it will hopefully be good fun.

For more, see http://www.latitudefestival.com/line-up/artist/ebury-library-does

^Picture ©  Ebury Piblishing used under a Creative Commons license^

18 July 2013

Out Today - 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A year of things to see and do in England'

Excuse the rather shameless selling, but your author's new book is officially released today, and he couldn't let it pass without mentioning that 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A year of things to see and do in England' will be on the shelves of shops around the country this morning, once again featuring beautiful illustrations by Hannah Warren and design by Lottie Crumbleholme.

Putting the book together was a thoroughly interesting experience, involving a lots of trips to far corners of our snug little nation, and seeing things that are worth talking about. We live in a fascinating part of the world, with some amazing things to see and do at any time of the year - not just when we're having a very welcome heatwave - and hopefully this book might help someone to discover something they haven't seen before.

The best way to buy the book is to ask for it in your local independent bookshop, or even one of the sometimes-struggling highstreet ones or buy one of the signed copies available from the fantastic Stanfords in Covent Garden. Otherwise it is available from the usual online retailers.  If you were to go to the shops right now and get one you could be sat in a deckchair in the sunshine reading it by noon...

17 July 2013

Come to the launch of 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A year of things to see and do in England'

This evening, the fantastic Stanfords in Covent Garden have kindly agreed to host a launch party for your author's new book, 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A year of things to see and do in England', and you're all invited to come along for a glass of wine and a chat about the new book.

The book is officially out tomorrow, 18th July 2013, so more about it then. For now, if you're interested in hearing a little about its story and contents, consider a trip to Covent Garden this evening for a glass of wine.

For details, see http://www.stanfords.co.uk/events/Events-at-Stanfords/Mad-Dogs--Englishmen-Book-Launch-with-Tom-Jones_EVENT-TJ.htm

16 July 2013

Walk on Cleethorpes Beach

Perhaps not the first choice of many people looking for a trip to the seaside, Cleethorpes is an interesting little resort town with a long stretch of soft golden sand which came into the popular consciousness in the 19th century when the neighbouring fishing town of Grimsby began to grow rapidly and rail connections opened it up to day trippers and holidaymakers from industrial towns like Sheffield, Scunthorpe and Nottingham started to come on stream.

The beach has won awards, has blue flag status and is cleaned daily during the season to keep in a nice place to be, and the town itself has all the trappings visitors might usually expect from an English seaside town, with arcades, amusement parks and a pier, but also local nature reserves and a chance to taste freshly caught Grimsby Fish as nature intended, on the beach with some chips.

For more, see http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/resident/environment/the-sea-and-the-beach/

^Picture © Christine Matthews used under a Creative Commons license^

15 July 2013

Spend at night at Woody's Top, Lincolnshire

Your author spent a very peaceful night yesterday at Woody's Top Hostel, a remote former barn in a beautiful area of the Lincolnshire Wolds near Louth which has been run by the Youth Hostels Association since 1948.

We are told that the hostel's name is derived from "Mr Wood's Top Barn", and it certainly has a remote barn feel about it, surrounded by fields of swaying barley and offering beautiful sunsets over the rolling hills. The Lincolnshire Wolds is an underrated area of the country, and as many make their way to seaside resorts such as Skegness and Cleethorpes, or RSPB reserves at the coast, they would do well to stop and explore this line of hills which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

For more, see http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/woodys-top

14 July 2013

Watch the balloons at Tiverton Balloon Festival, Devon

It's the final day of Tiverton Balloon & Music Festival today, and as well as the mass balloon ascent scheduled to take place this evening, there is also live music over two stages, a car boot sale, falconry displays, fly-pasts by vintage aircraft and mountain bike stunt riders.

It all sounds like good fun, and is run in tandem with a Devon Food Festival at the combined Petroc and Tiverton High School campus and a Taste of the West Food and Drink Pavilion on site.

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

^Picture © 96tommy used under a Creative Commons license^

13 July 2013

Watch the Newquay Carnival Parade

It's Carnival Week in Newquay, culminating today with a parade organised by the local Lions club with lots of fancy dress and decorated floats. We are told that this afternoon will see float building at the Buccaneer Bay attraction thing in the town and then from 6pm the procession will make its way across town.

Parading alongside the floats will be bands of various kinds, including a jazz band, two samba bands and three marching bands as well as some dancers.

For more, see http://www.visitnewquay.org/events/family-events/2013-newquay-carnival-week

^Picture © Radio 1 Interactive used under a Creative Commons license^

12 July 2013

Walk to Lynmouth Foreland Lighthouse, Devon

Perched on a clifftop on the North Devon coast more than 60 metres above the sea, Foreland Lighthouse was completed in 1900 and has been protecting ships in the area ever since, with electricity finally arriving as recently as 1975.

The decision was made to automate the lighthouse in 1994, and now the former lighthouse keepers cottages are available to rent as a National Trust holiday cottage to allow visitors to spend a night pretending to be a lighthouse keeper and looking North across the Bristol Channel for passing ships, and to the South Wales coast beyond.

For more, see http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/lynmouth_foreland.html

^Picture © Philip Halling used under a Creative Commons license^

11 July 2013

See the house at Arlington Court

Another one of those shrines to aristocracy, Arlington Court is found in North Devon and tells the story of the rich family who lived there with everything they wanted for hundreds of years.

It's a perfectly nice place to visit and if you're particularly interested it also has a collection of carriages from various periods in English history.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court/

^Picture © Becks used under a Creative Commons license^

10 July 2013

Stay at the Anderton House

A perfectly formed 1970s Modernist house in the Devon hills just outside Barnstaple, the Anderton House designed by Peter Aldington of Aldington & Craig for Ian and May Anderton in the 1970s. Now in the care of the Landmark Trust, the house differs from many of the other houses in the Trust's care, which tend to be older, but is recognised for its architectural merit, which has earned it Grade II* Listed status.

The house was designed to make the most of the views across the valley, and to allow Ian Anderton to work close to his family without them having to put up with his clutter of papers. Staying here really helps to see how Aldington made this work, with the large glass windows doing a fine job of keeping the rain out when your author visited for a family birthday.

For more, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/anderton-house-4644

9 July 2013

Explore Brean Down, Somerset

Poking out into the Bristol Channel at Brean in Somerset, Brean down is a limestone outcrop which reaches a height of 320 feet, and has attracted people since Pre-Roman times, when it is thought to have been the place of a pagan shrine. Various pieces of Roman coinage and prehistoric earthworks have been found at the site, demonstrating the length of human habitation on the site.

Now in the care of the National Trust, the Down is a popular spot for visitors, with many taking a walk out to the Victorian Brean Down Fort at the end of the promontory, one of a group of forts known as the Palmerston Forts which were built to protect Britain from the French Navy.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brean-down/

^Picture © The Dewdrops used under a Creative Commons license^

8 July 2013

Eat at the Black Horse, Amberley, Gloucestershire

Your author was out in Gloucestershire this weekend, for a pub cycle around the South Cotswolds. The participating cyclists arrived just in time for dinner at a great little pub which has always been a favourite, and benefits from fine views across the green valley towards Woodchester Park, owned by the National Trust.

Originally built as two weavers cottages, we are told that the building has been a pub for more than 250 years, and maintains an exterior of beautiful Cotswold stone, with plenty of room inside and out for drinkers and diners. One of two licensed premises in the village, it was busy when your author popped in, with plenty of customers and even the local MP dining quietly with a group.

For more, see http://www.gloucestershirepubs.co.uk/AllGlosPubsDatabase/RAIGConnection.php?pubid1=0787

7 July 2013

Admire Salisbury Cathedral

Completed in the 13th century, and immediately recognisable for having the tallest church spire in England, Salisbury Cathedral has been attracting visitors and pilgrims for more than 750 years.

Aside from its external beauty, it also contains many treasures including the world's oldest working clock and one of  four original copies of the Magna Carta.

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

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

6 July 2013

Attend St Paul's Carnival, Bristol

One of Bristol's biggest parties, the St Paul's Carnival returns to the streets of the north-eastern suburb of St Paul's today for a Caribbean street-party that continues from 11am until late.

The carnival has been running regularly since the late 1960s, and though it took an unscheduled fallow year last year we are told its return today will see as much energy as ever.

For more, see http://www.bristol247.com/2013/07/04/guide-to-bristols-st-pauls-carnival-2013-2013/

^Picture © Milla and Mark used under a Creative Commons license^

5 July 2013

Visit the George Inn, Norton St Philip

Yes it's another pub - this time in the wilds of North Somerset - but the George Inn in Norton St Philip is worthy of mention for so much more than being a simple pub. One of so many that claim to be England's oldest your author has stopped counting, it was probably built in the 14th century, originally as a wool store and inn for travellers in a village that held annual wool fairs, with a license to sell alcohol as early as 1397.

Quite apart from its history, the George is a beautiful building and arriving by bicycle downhill from Hinton Charterhouse it is a sight for sore eyes. It's staying power as a village pub in an age where people would seemingly often rather stare at a screen in the corner of a room while mindlessly necking cans of cheap larger than have an interesting conversation with friends in a fascinating place is evidenced by the presence of another across the road and as a result it seems like a particularly fine place to stay the night, as others have before, for this was once an important stagecoach route used by the likes of Samuel Pepys.

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

4 July 2013

Cross Pulteney Bridge, Bath

A beautiful bridge built to connect the ancient city of Bath with the newly built Georgian town of Bathwick on the other side of the River Avon, Pulteney Bridge was completed in the 1770s and designed by Robert Adam.

The bridge still has rows of shops running across it and is one of only a handful of such bridges, and was named after Frances Pulteney, an heiress to the estates of the Earl of Bath who married William Johnstone, a Scottish Lawyer and Member of Parliament, who took his wife's name to become William Pulteney and had the bridge built to connect to the property in Bathwick which helped to build his fortune.

For more, see http://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/attractions/pulteney-bridge-p56151

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

3 July 2013

Ride the Two Tunnels Greenway, Bath

A brilliant shared-use bike and walking path that takes riders from near the beautiful centre of Bath right out into the Somerset countryside, following the route of an old railway line through tunnels beneath Combe Down, a hill on the south side of the city.

The route only opened this year, in April, and is a great ride, with eerie musical installations in the tunnels and plenty of people enjoying it when your author rode it earlier in the summer as part of a pub cycle. Plus it avoids all those big hills around Bath, which can be troublesome.

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

2 July 2013

Take the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

On to our second day of English exploration, and an experience from your author's childhood, when family would meet in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for picnics and bike rides, and an occasional visit to the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, a four mile walk around some interesting sculptures which when it opened in 1986 was one of the first of its kind.

The trail is maintained by the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, which continues to add new works such as  Annie Cattrell's Echo, which was installed in 2008 and David Cotterrell's imposing eleven metre high Hill33, added in October 2010 and weighing 1,300 tonnes.

For more, see http://www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk/

^Picture © Stuart Richards used under a Creative Commons license^

1 July 2013

Drink at the Red Lion, Ampney St Peter

For the start of our tour of English delights in the run-up to the publication of 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen: A year of things to see and do in England', the Red Lion in Ampney St Peter in Gloucestershire is a beautiful 300-year-old Grade II listed pub constructed in beautiful Cotswold Stone.

The real highlight is the interior of the pub, which is listed in The Campaign for Real Ale's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, based around two small rooms and no bar, one of a tiny handful of pubs left in the  the country without a proper bar. It's timeless atmosphere is further enhanced, we are told, by the fact that the current landlord is fourth since 1851.

For more, see http://www.heritagepubs.org.uk/pubs/national-inventory-entry.asp?PubID=31