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.


23 September 2013

Visit Stansted Airport

Your author is off on a holiday for the next week, and experience suggests that rather than trying to cobble together a few rushed blog posts before heading off, it's probably best just to have some days off. As such, this website will not be updated for the duration. So for today, let's look at everyone's second least-favourite London airport, Stansted. Now the fourth-busiest airport in the UK, Stansted Airport was opened during the Second World War to be used by the RAF and the USA Air Force.

The airport was taken on by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 1949, and though it was mooted for return to military use, this never happened, with it taken over by the British Airports Authority in the 1960s, with a terminal building opening in 1969 and further expansion between 1988 and 1991, and again from 2007 to 2009. In 2012 it saw more than 17 million passengers, and this year it was sold to the Manchester Airports Group after BAA was told to sell it by the Competition Commission.

For more, see http://www.stanstedairport.com/about-us/stansted-facts-and-figures/airport-history

^Picture © bjaglin used under a Creative Commons license^

22 September 2013

Visit Greenwich Yacht Club

Your author visited Greenwich Yacht Club - on the banks of the Thames between North Greenwich and Woolwich - yesterday as part of Open House London, and received a very warm welcome. The Club is hosting teas and an exhibition of art in its sail loft and regular tours of the site by very knowledgeable guides.

Even for those who have passed by many times it is still an interesting place to visit, with a thriving yard full of boats of all sizes and a dinghy race in full swing out on the river. One extra benefit - given that it was the last stop of the day - is that the Club has its own very reasonably-priced bar with a fine view out across the Thames as the race came to a climax.

For full details, see http://events.londonopenhouse.org/building/8298

21 September 2013

Tour the Old Royal Naval College

Hundreds of places are open today as part of Open House London, and it seems wrong to pick just one, but special tours of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich are on offer, providing a chance to see parts of the College not usually on show.

Though readers will probably have their own plans for the day, your author will be basing his day in London, seeing places such as Trinity Hospital, Ravensbourne College and the Old Royal Naval College.

For full listings, see http://events.londonopenhouse.org/Venues?

^Picture © Bill Hunt used under a Creative Commons license^

20 September 2013

Study the Open House London listings

Though the Institution of Civil Engineers at One Great George Street is open today from 3pm - 5pm, the other 800-odd buildings, tunnels and constructions that are open their doors to ordinary people for the annual Open House London architectural showcase this weekend do not do so until at least tomorrow, so today if you can sneak a few moments whilst your boss is off at a meeting you could do worse than browse the listings page and form your plan of attack.

There are far too many places to go in just one weekend, but like every day in London that's the joy of the event, with a might-as-well-be-infinite choice of things to see and do stretched out before you. The beauty of this choice is that even if you have other things planned you can fit in one or two places on your way to do something else.

For the listings, see http://events.londonopenhouse.org/

^Picture © damo1977 used under a Creative Commons license^

19 September 2013

Drink at Blueberry Bar

Your author went to Blueberry Bar on Paul Street on the border between Shoreditch and the City last night, and far from being an awful East End bar full of braying fashionably-haircutted types, it was actually a very decent place to pass a few hours, with friendly staff and a pleasantly varied clientèle.

They also do food at reasonable prices which seemed pretty good and there is - for what it's worth - a table tennis table out the back which people seemed to be enjoying, and more importantly a few places to sit outside if next week's scheduled heatwave takes you.

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

18 September 2013

Talk to Strangers

Your author has run a monthly event in London encouraging people to talk to others they don't know for more than two years ago, and following two successful events in the park, the latest Talking to Strangers moves back inside to face the autumn, taking place this evening at Blueberry Bar on the border between Shoreditch and the City. 

If you fancy coming along, the event is open to all, and usually draws a good crowd, leading to some interesting conversations about a lot of different things, which in a city that can sometimes be a bit anonymous is a good thing.

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

17 September 2013

Visit the Made in Greenwich Gallery

An interesting little shop on Creek Road in Greenwich, Made in Greenwich bills itself as a Gallery and Meeting Place, offering art of different sizes, shapes and mediums for sale or sight, with a strong focus on artists from the local area.

When your author popped in on Sunday it was a thoroughly participatory experience, and he was asked to help nail a picture hook up on the wall in the rear Hothouse gallery, and to join the Keep the Green In Greenwich campaign to save a nearby green space. The gallery is certainly worth a visit if you're in the area and is open six days a week (closed Mondays).

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

16 September 2013

Drink at The Phoenix in Windsor Walk, Denmark Hill

Situated in a grand building designed by Charles Henry Driver and built in 1865 in an Italianate style, the Phoenix in Denmark Hill occupies the old ticket office above what is now Denmark Hill Station. It takes its name from the fire that gutted the building in 1980, when it was only saved as a result of a campaign by the Camberwell Society, with support from the Southwark Environment Trust and others.

Following some successful fundraising, the building was restored and opened as a pub - The Phoenix and Firkin - in 1984. Nowadays, it is a smart bar with an impressive range of different beers and an amenable staff who are willing to go that little extra mile to make guests happy, as they did when your author visited with friends for a Saturday afternoon hot chocolate after a concert in nearby Ruskin Park.

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

15 September 2013

Play football for food

Your author recently ran into Richard Loat, creator of the Canadian Five Hole for Food campaign, which encourages people to play hockey whilst supporting local food banks, and today the campaign launches in London as Footy For Food, with anyone wanting to play football whilst supporting food banks encouraged to get themselves to Warren Street Multi Use Courts by Euston station from noon until 3pm to support the campaign.

Those who want to play five-a-side are encouraged to just show up, bringing some spare food with them for donation to Westminster Food Bank, in support of an event that will benefit the Trussell Trust.

For more, see http://www.footyforfood.com/the-tour/london2013/

^Picture © Richard Loat ^

14 September 2013

Attend a Big Bookshop Party with Books Are My Bag

Hundreds of events are taking place across London and the UK today for Books Are My Bag, a new campaign which has just launched to encourage people to visit their local bookshop. In the capital, an almost uncountable number of shops are taking part, including Stanfords, Brick Lane Bookshop, Foyles, Clerkenwell TalesLutyens and RubinsteinVictoria Park Books LtdThe Bookseller Crow on the Hill, Dulwich Books, Review Bookshop and scores of others.

It's hard for your author to stay objective about these sorts of campaigns, given that most of the shops listed above have at least one of his books on their beautiful shelves, but most humans would agree there's something nice about the experience of browsing in your local bookshop, and given that the forecast today is not particularly pleasant, there are not many better places to be. For anyone who hates them, there's always Heritage Open Days.

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

13 September 2013

Drink IPA at the Gun

Most people who drink ale will know the story of IPA, India Pale Ale originally brewed to be extra hoppy to survive the heat and journey to the subcontinent. This weekend The Gun - basically the best pub in Docklands - is having a celebration of this special beer, taking place in their on-site Gin Garden.

Ambitiously, the festival starts at noon today, and is billed as a free event, though presumably you have to pay for beer. We are told to expect more than 30 different ales, and a barbecue, in a celebration of a beer that was - we are told - once brewed and shipped from the local area.

For more, see http://www.thegundocklands.com/index.php/calendar/ale-festival-sept/

12 September 2013

Join the London Latin Circle

Your author always maintains that there is in London all that life can afford, so of course there is a Latin Circle, which meets on the second Thurday of the month at an undisclosed location in London. This month's meeting takes place tonight and is run by Jácóbus.

Whilst attendees must have some Latin ability, the meeting is open to those of all levels, and seems to usually meet in a pub, restaurant or university of members' choosing with an egalitarian alphabetic rota deciding who is responsible for organising. Rumours of the Mayor of London's frequent attendance and dominance of the group could not be confirmed at the time of writing.

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

^Picture © Julie Mac used under a Creative Commons license^

11 September 2013

Enter the Open House London ballots

The annual Open House London weekend is only a week and a half away, which means the deadline is approaching if you want to join the ballot for special entry to a handful of particularly special buildings

Thankfully those with balloted entry - 10 Downing Street, The  Shard, the London Eye and Gray's Inn - are only a tiny fraction of the 830 buildings that will be open over Open House weekend, but at least it gives participants something to plan around, for the weekend is often as much about what you didn't have time to see rather than what you did.

The full list of buildings open is here, and the ballot can be entered here.

^Picture © Damien Everett used under a Creative Commons license^

10 September 2013

See Rebecca Hendin's All Paths Lead to Foyles

Your author went to the launch of the new Books Are My Bag campaign last night at fantastic bookshop Foyles on Charing Cross Road, and whilst it left little time for blog-writing, it was impressive to witness the passion of book people for the campaign, which aims to support bookshops everywhere. It was also interesting to see how work is coming on on the old Central Saint Martins building, next door, which is being converted and will soon become some flats and a part of an expanded Foyles.

It is particularly pleasing that - rather than the usual dull advertising hoarding - the scaffolding on the side of the building is covered with an art work by Rebeca Hendin, a graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design who has created an interesting artwork of the area supported by Foyles, the University of the Arts London and Future City.

For more, see http://futurecity.co.uk/rebecca-hendins-all-paths-lead-to-foyles/

9 September 2013

See the Meridian laser

The evenings are already starting to lengthen, making it much more likely that we all find ourselves wandering around outside after dark. If doing so in a particular part of South East London, a green laser is often seen in the sky over the Thames and Greenwich, marking the Prime Meridian of the World – Longitude 0º.

A laser has been shining out from the Royal Observatory since 1993, and the current version has been doing so since 1999, when a more effective Millennia VS Diode-Pumped laser was installed.

For more, see http://www.thegreenwichmeridian.org/tgm/articles.php?article=14

^Picture © Toms Bauģis used under a Creative Commons license^

8 September 2013

Attend the Cally Festival

A free festival takes to the area around Caledonian Road today, with Cally Festival returning for its third year, and looking to attract thousands of people between now and 6pm.

It's all free, and there will be lots of stalls, live music and workshops celebrating a great London community.

For more, see http://thecallyfestival.com

^Picture © Caroline Ford used under a Creative Commons license^

7 September 2013

Attend the Mayor's Thames Festival

The Mayor's Thames Festival has begun, and whilst this year it's going on all the way to next weekend, there are some great free events in London today and tomorrow to be taken advantage of.

Whilst sadly there will be no night carnival or firework show this year there is still plenty to see and do, and today we can expect an open house event at the Ragged Schools in Vauxhall, a lot of YES'es from artist Ildikó Buckley and a food festival and craft market, as well as a host of other things.

For more, see http://thamesfestival.org

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

6 September 2013

Take a pub walk along the Thames

The good people at London Walks are organising a guided pub walk this evening - as they do every Friday - led by one of their experienced guides.

The walk leaves at 7pm from Blackfriars Tube Station, and is open to all, taking in the Globe Theatre, and learning the history of one of London's most interesting areas.

For more, see http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/Fridays_Walks/default.aspx#12894

^Picture © Ewan-M used under a Creative Commons license^

5 September 2013

See the Fuller Brooch

An interesting item previously on display in room 41 at the British Museum, though currently visible in room 2 until refurbishment of its previous home is completed in late 2013, the Fuller Brooch dates from the late 9th century, and is said to be the earliest recorded personification of the five senses, showing sight in the middle, surrounded by taste, smell, touch and hearing.

The piece is relatively intact and as such is celebrated as a fine example of Anglo-Saxon art. In fact, it is so complete it was previously thought to be a fake by Museum staff, leading to it being sold to a Captain Fuller, who subsequently donated it back to the Museum in 1952.

For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/t/the_fuller_brooch.aspx

^Picture © Johnbod used under a Creative Commons license^

4 September 2013

See the BP Portrait Prize exhibition

Your author dropped in to the National Portrait Gallery last week for the annual pilgrimage to stare at the portraits of the BP Portrait Prize exhibition. The exhibition - which has been on since June and only has another couple of weeks to run - is always a highlight, particularly as its entries are drawn from open competition and by living artists, and throw up some interesting stories as a result.

We are told that the exhibition is now in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery, and this year's £30,000 prize was won by South African-born artist Susanne du Toit, who submitted a portrait of her eldest son Pieter.

Entry is free, donations requested. For more, see http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2013/the-exhibition.php

^Picture © WAVE:Galleries, Museums, Archives of Wolverhampton used under a Creative Commons license^

3 September 2013

Go late at the British Library

Each Tuesday the the exhibition galleries and shop of the British Library stay open an extra two hours, closing at 8pm and offering visitors a chance to see their exhibitions after work.

The current exhibition Propaganda: Power and Persuasion only has another couple of weeks to run, so now is the time to see it.

For more, see http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions

^Picture © Peter Moore used under a Creative Commons license^

2 September 2013

Find London's Gromit Unleashed

Out in Bristol all summer, residents and visitors have been searching around town for eighty specially-designed 5 foot sculptures of the animated plasticine dog Gromit in a trail that itself seeks to raise funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital charity. London has its own single Gromit, standing on the platform at Paddington Station, and it seems just as popular with visitors as those in Bristol.

This week is the final scheduled week for the Bristol Gromits and their London friend, having been on the streets and in the station for for ten weeks from 1st July.

For more, see http://www.bristol-culture.com/2013/07/08/a-forlorn-gromit-at-paddington-station/

1 September 2013

Enjoy the London Mela

Back to London today, where the London Mela kicks off from 1pm in Brentford's Gunnersbury Park, hoping to attract thousands to a free family festival focussed around Asian culture, in an event that has been running since 2003

Visitors are told to expect urban artists, dancers, comedy and cabaret, as well as Asian-influenced street theatre and circus over nine different zones. It sounds well worth making the trip to West London for.

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

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