Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

31 January 2013

Rather English - Visit the Beamish Open Air Museum

Established in 1970, the Beamish Open Air Museum covers life in the North of England during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods and attracts more than quarter of a million visitors each year.

The museum does this through a recreation of the industrial town and a colliery village, including a station and farm complex, and an extensive collection of objects, photographs and oral history from the periods in question.

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

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

From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

30 January 2013

Rather English - Tour the HMS Trincomalee

The centrepiece of Hartlepool's Maritime Experience, a themed recreation of the town in the 18th century, HMS Trincomalee was built in Bombay, India, in 1817 and is the oldest British warship still afloat, and is said to be the second oldest floating ship in the world.

The boat sits in the town's Jackson Dock where she was brought in 1987 for 10 years of restoration following work as a training ship, and is now part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection.

For more, see http://www.hms-trincomalee.co.uk/
^Picture © Martyn Wright used under a Creative Commons license^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

29 January 2013

Rather English - Visit 'England's first seaside resort'

One of a handful of places that locals claim was England's first seaside resort, Scarborough had been an important town since the 13th century, when the Scarborough Fair brought merchants from around Europe for a six week summer trade fair, but it was not until the 17th century when, a stream of acidic water was discovered that the town was reborn as Scarborough Spa and began to attract the first people for what we might identify today as a seaside holiday.

The town's fortunes were significantly boosted in 1845, when the connection of the railway link to York coincided with the opening of the first hotel, the Crown Hotel at South Bay, followed by the opening of Grand Hotel - one of the largest in the world - in 1867. Though the town has had problems with coastal erosion, it has managed to avoid many of the issues of decline that have threatened other resorts and is still a popular destination, particularly with older crowds.

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

^Picture © www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com used under a Creative Commons license^


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28 January 2013

Rather English - Walk the cliffs at Flamborough Head

Known for its 400 foot chalk cliffs and its two lighthouses, one built by Sir John Clayton in 1669 and never used and another designed by Samuel Wyatt and first lit in December 1806, Flamborough Head in North Yorkshire is known for the seabirds who populate the cliffs during nesting periods.

The distinctive way that the Head juts out into the North Sea and it's high cliffs have long been recognised for their potential to protect and hide things - a virtue said to have been used by smugglers in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and to the West, Dane's Dyke is a Bronze Age or Iron Age earthwork which would have made the ideal site for a fortified settlement.

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

^Picture © Pauline Eccles used under a Creative Commons license^


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27 January 2013

Rather English - Stand on the Yorkshire Meridian

Greenwich isn't the only place in the country on which you can stand on the Prime Meridian, and the line stays on mainland England until it falls off into the sea at the rapidly-eroding cliffs of Tunstall in East Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Meridian passes between Sunk Island on the Humber Estuary and the point - which was once marked with a trig point that has now fallen into the sea, and passes the village of Patrington.

For more, see http://www.thegreenwichmeridian.org/tgm/markers.php

^Picture © Ian S used under a Creative Commons license^

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26 January 2013

Rather English - Visit Hull Maritime Museum

Situated in the centre of Hull at the Grade II* listed Victorian Dock Offices in Queen Victoria Square, the Hull Maritime Museum tells the story of Hull's nautical exploits. Originally opened in 1912, it moved to its current premises in 1974.

Sadly, your author had his fingers burned by a guidebook which promised the museum was "open every day", and arrived at the museum at 11.30am on a Sunday to find it locked and not opening for another two hours. A resultant lack of knowledge about the interior means that it is only possible to describe it as containing exhibits about the city's whaling and fishing industries and history as a trading port.

For more in depth analysis, see http://www.hullcc.gov.uk/portal/page?_pageid=221,631051&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

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

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25 January 2013

Rather English - Stay at Beverley friary

A truly beautiful Youth Hostel set in a 600 year old restored Dominican friary, Beverley friary sits close to the centre of the Yorkshire market town of Beverley and has been a youth hostel since the 1980s. Following a recent £340,000 refurbishment, the friary re-opened in October and the results are impressive.

Whilst your author didn't meet the ghostly Dominican Friar who is said to live there he was thoroughly impressed with the amazing friary. It isn't often you get to spend a night in a place mentioned in the Canterbury Tales for a tenner, and explore your own medieval and Tudor wall paintings, high beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces. The friendly volunteer warden charged with greeting winter visitors was a particular pleasure, and the place was a fine example of the interesting buildings in which the YHA has hostels.

For more, see http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/beverley-friary

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24 January 2013

Rather English - Visit Grimsby's Fishing Heritage Centre

Grimsby's Fishing Heritage Centre opened at Alexandra Dock in 1991, aiming to tell the story of the town's fishing heritage, with a particular focus on what was like for trawlermen and their families in the 1950s.

The Museum offers the chance to climb aboard the Ross Tiger, a 1950's trawler acquired by the town in 1992 for £1, and moored beside the museum, with other highlights based around the recreation of '50s Grimsby.

For more, see http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/resident/museums-and-heritage/fishing-heritage-centre/

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


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23 January 2013

Rather English - See the Boston Stump

The parish church in the Lincolnshire town of Boston is one of the largest parish churches in England, known for its huge tower - visible for miles around in a particularly flat area of the Fens - which is affectionately referred to as the Boston Stump and used for navigation by everyone from 16th century farmers to Second World War bomber pilots.

Construction of the church started in 1309, but the tower was not begun for another century, until 1450, with the church completed by 1510. The church is known for its library, founded in 1634 and regarded as one of the best parish libraries in the country.

For more, see http://www.parish-of-boston.org.uk/

^Picture © The National Churches Trust used under a Creative Commons license^

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22 January 2013

Rather English - Walk on Skegness Pier

Opened in time for the summer season in 1881 and built by Head Wrightson of Stockton, Skegness Pier was designed to allow North Sea boat trips, which we are told ran as far as The Wash and Hunstanton in 1882.

Despite various bumps and scrapes - from a ship in 1919, floods in 1953, demolition work in 1971 - the pier remained intact until severe gales caused damage in 1978, and further damage caused the pier to be partially dismantled in the 1980s. Whilst only 118 metres of the pier remain, it has since been refurbished and is still a popular spot for visitors.

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

^Picture © foxolio used under a Creative Commons license^

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21 January 2013

Rather English - Spot birds on Frampton Marsh

A large nature reserve on the edge of the Wash in near Boston in Lincolnshire, RSPB is a coastal wetland reserve in one of Britain's most important feeding grounds for birds, particularly in winter.

The winter season - we are told - brings Brent geese from Siberia to feed on the saltmarsh in their thousands, and also offers us the chance to seeflocks of lapwings and golden plovers.

For more, see http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/f/framptonmarsh/index.aspx

^Picture © Graham Horn used under a Creative Commons license^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

20 January 2013

Rather English - Walk the Boudicca Way

Lovely weather for an East Anglian walk, and if you're looking for one, the Boudicca Way is an interesting trail through 36 miles of rural Norfolk between Diss and Norwich, named after the Queen of the Iceni, who led an uprising against the Romans in this part of the world. Helpfully connected to railway stations at both ends, and with occasional buses (though possibly not on snowy Sundays) connecting some places along the route, it's a pretty part of the world, ripe for esxploring.

Your author hasn't walked the whole route, but certainly enjoyed the area between Diss and Pulham Market when he visited, with sleepy lanes around Frenze, Shipling and Dickleburgh a pleasant place to be, though the walk would definitely be a bit too much to make in one day.

^Picture © Keith Evans used under a Creative Commons license^


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19 January 2013

Rather English - Visit Burgh Castle

Burgh Castle is a third century Roman fort overlooking the River Waveney in the Norfolk Broads. Some believe the fort was Gariannonum, one of nine forts referred to in Notitia Dignitatum - a rare surviving document of Roman administration - constructed by the Saxon Shore military command to defend against Saxon raids in East Anglia.

One of the best preserved Roman monuments in the country, the castle free and open to the public, owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, with the walls in the care of English Heritage.

For details, see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/burgh-castle/

^Picture © Ashley Dace used under a Creative Commons license^


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18 January 2013

Rather English - See the Britannia Monument, Great Yarmouth

A Grade I listed monument, standing 144 ft above Great Yarmouth, the Britannia Monument is East Anglia's own Nelson's Column, built between 1817 and 1819 to commemorate Horatio Nelson.
Also known as the Norfolk Naval Pillar, the monument was restured in 2004 - 2005 ahead of the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and is open for tours during the summer months. For more, see http://www.nelson-museum.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid=14

^Picture © shirokazan used under a Creative Commons license^

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17 January 2013

Rather English - Find the UK's most easterly point

Ness Point in Lowestoft is the most easterly point in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a fact marked by the Euroscope, a large circular installation designed by John Wylson and installed in the 1990s,which marking distances to various points in Europe.

Fittingly, the distances are marked in miles - rather than kilometres - and we are variously told that the point is 465 miles from Dunnet Head, the most northerly point in mainland Britain and 352 miles from the Lizard, the most southerly point. Other extremities are available.

For more, see http://www.ness-point.co.uk/Information/Ness-Point-Euroscope/

^Picture © Roger Jones used under a Creative Commons license^


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16 January 2013

Rather English - Visit St Andrew's, Covehithe

A Medieval church on the Suffolk coast, St Andrew's, Covehithe was a huge church until the 17th century, when it became too expensive for the parishioners to maintain. Rather than build a new church, they decided instead to remove the roof and to build a much smaller church within it.


The smaller church is still active, and when your author popped in a few weeks ago the congregation were busy decorating it with festive flair, and even had a spare mince pie, which was very welcome. The beautiful ruins of the older church are also still maintained, in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, and the fact that the church may ultimately be taken by the sea - which is fast eroding the nearby beach - even feels like it may be a sad but fitting end for this fascinating place.

For more, see http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/St-Andrews-Church-Covehithe-Suffolk/

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15 January 2013

Rather English - Book a sail on a Thames Barge

Topsail Charters was established in the late 1980s by Stephanie Valentine and Paul Jeffries, with a plan to preserve Thames barges by giving them something to do, and by 2006 around 11,000 people a year were taking up their invitiation to enjoy a trip on their boats.

The company operates five barges, including grain barge Kitty, built by Cann of Harwich in 1895, Cabby, the the last wooden sailing barge ever to be built in 1928 and Hydrogen the largest surviving wooden barge. Their extensive 2013 programme of day trips has already been released, offering some interesting trips in East Anglia and the Thames Estuary as far up as Tower Bridge, with birdwatching trips, sightseeing and lunches amongst others.

For more, see http://www.top-sail.co.uk/

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


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14 January 2013

Rather English - Visit Sutton Hoo

Though the treasures of the Sutton Hoo ship burial are now held by the British Museum, the 255 acre site on which they were found, beside the River Deben in Suffolk, is now in the care of the National Trust and is open to the public.

The estate is home to cemeteries from the 6th and 7th centuries, in the fields of grassy mounds, inside one of which was the undisturbed 7th century ship burial - excavated in 1939 - which gave up the treasures now held in the British Museum. The site also has a visitors centre, which is open at weekends at this time of year.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo/

^Picture © p_a_h used under a Creative Commons license^


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13 January 2013

Rather English - See the roof angels at Holy Trinity Blythburgh

A spectacular church in the Suffolk countryside, Holy Trinity Blythburgh is a huge church which stands on the site of earlier constructions dating back as far as the 7th century, and is noted for its stunning collection of roof angels. The church is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Marshes and at the time of Domesday Book, Blythburgh had one of the richest churches in Suffolk.

The church has many interesting features including a priest’s room, used for private prayers for the church’s benefactors, and extant marks on the door from a lightning storm which took place during a morning service in the 16th century. It has also notably been used by Benjamin Britten for some of the concerts of the annual Aldeburgh Festival. The church is open daily and when your author arrived - two minutes before the scheduled opening time - he was pleased to be met by the keyholder strolling merrily up the path.

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

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12 January 2013

Rather English - Spend a night at the House in the Clouds

Another unusual Suffolk holiday let, the House in the Clouds in Thorpeness, Suffolk, was built by the Braithwaite Engineering Company in 1923 as a water tower to provide a water supply to the village, pumping water from the mill well and letting it be distributed by gravity in what is a rather flat part of the country.

The appearance of the House was added to make the water tower appear to be a cottage, and it continued to be used as a water tower until 1963 when a mains water supply was connected and in 1989, work began to convert it into the five floor cottage which is available for holiday lets today.

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

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


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11 January 2013

Rather English - Walk on Southwold Pier

Originally built in 1900 and 810 feet long, Southwold Pier once offered a landing stage for steamships carrying passengers from London Bridge. However, by 1979 a combination of storms and deliberate dismantling had reduced it to just 60ft. Rebuilding work started in the late 1990s, restoring the pier to 623 feet by 2001, leading to it being named Pier of the Year in 2002.

Today, the pleasantly-modern pier is owned by the Bourne family, combining a mix of cafés and restaurants, shops, installations such as Tim Hunkin and Will Jackson's Water Clock and the inevitable amusement arcade.

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

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10 January 2013

Rather English - Take tea at Tilly's of Southwold

A distinctive little cafe on Southwold High Street, Tilly's is themed in a 1920’s style, but potential visitors shouldn't let that put them off, for the cafe's real speciality is good food and drink and good service.

Open seven days a week 9am to 7pm, the cafe has its own brand of speciality teas and a good choice of breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea dishes, as well as soft and alcoholic drinks, all served in a well-presented setting with second hand books on the tables. And if that isn't enough, they also do bus tours in a 1950s green omnibus called Olive.

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

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9 January 2013

Rather English - Celebrate 150 years of the Tube

Though there's some dispute about on which day the anniversary technically falls, we can be certain that roughly 150 years ago the world's first underground railway started along the line between Paddington (Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street.

It's a line that has served us pretty well ever since, and a very high proportion of people who have been in London over that time will have at some point found themselves crammed into a loud carriage underground, staring through a window as the nothingness flashes by. The first underground was a remarkable engineering achievement, using steam trains to transport people along cut-and-cover tunnels just beneath the surface, and this coming Sunday a steam train will once again make the journey. If you want to see it, Ian has the details.

For more, see www.tfl.gov.uk/tube150

^Picture © bortescristian used under a Creative Commons license^


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8 January 2013

Rather English - Stay in a Martello Tower

Part of a line of towers built to keep out Napoleon's French forces, the Martello Tower at Aldeburgh in Suffolk is now an interesting holiday cottage, rented out by the Landmark Trust charity, who do a fantastic job refurbishing historically-important landmarks and allowing ordinary people to live in them, albeit only for a week or so.

The Tower was built between 1808 and 1812, and stands just outside Aldeburgh, on the Orford Ness peninsula, a huge shingle spit on the Suffolk coast. The Landmark Trust acquired it in 1971, and let it out following restoration, as they have done ever since.

For more, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/BuildingDetails/Overview/199/Martello_Tower

^Picture © foshie used under a Creative Commons license^


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7 January 2013

Rather English - Drink at the Ship Inn, Blaxhall

Your author recently spent a agreeable evening at the Ship Inn in Blaxhall, a historic Suffolk pub known for its folk and traditional music and traditional Suffolk step dancing.

A Grade II listed, 17th century pub in rural Suffolk which claims to include smugglers, shepherds, seafarers, pilots, tourists and locals among its previous customers, the Ship offers bed and breakfast and is also located conveniently close to a hostel run by the YHA, offering a choice of where to lay your head after an evenings step dancing.

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

^Picture © Chris Holifield used under a Creative Commons license^


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6 January 2013

Rather English - See David Shrigley's HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Your author popped in to see David Shrigley's HOW ARE YOU FEELING? at the Cornerhouse in Manchester yesterday and as ever thoroughly enjoyed the amusing and thoughtful works of the Glasgow artist. The exhibition - which has its final day today - features a mix of Shrigley's trademark small drawings alongside some larger interactive pieces.

The strategically-placed napping mattresses for those overcome with fatigue during their visits were particularly appealing, as was the opportunity to sound a huge gong and whilst your author didn't attempt to draw a naked humanoid figure designed by Shrigley in the third floor gallery or act out a play by the artist, both were well-executed and typically thoughtful.

For more, see http://www.cornerhouse.org/david-shrigley/

^Picture © Karen Cropper used under a Creative Commons license^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England

5 January 2013

Rather English - Join the Waldron Wassail

The last gasps of the Christmas season are fading away and Wassailing season is upon us, the time of year when apple trees are blessed to ensure a good harvest later in the year. The Waldron Wassail takes place this evening at Waldron in Sussex, with Long Man Morris, Old Star Morris and Winter Solstice Mummers gathering at the Star Inn for a Wassail.

Those visiting are told to expect Morris dancing at the village war memorial and a mummers play, followed by the wassailing in the garden. As the events take place outside, visitors are advised to dress warmly and prepare to join in.

For more, see http://www.starinn-waldron.co.uk/upcoming-events/

^Picture © Paul Farmer, used under a Creative Commons license^

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4 January 2013

Rather English - See the site of a Viking Invasion

In 991 AD, after sacking the town of Ipswich, a huge Viking fleet sailed down the coast and landed at Northey Island in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, preparing to take Maldon. Here as they waited for the tide to fall, they were trapped on the island by the East Saxon forces of Æthelred the Unready, led by Earl Byrhtnoth and his forces.

When the Viking forces requested payment to leave, Byrhtnoth refused and challenged them to battle, but as the high tide prevented proper battle, the Vikings were allowed onto the mainland and the Battle of Maldon commenced, ending in defeat for the Anglo-Saxons. Today, the site is remembered as the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain. Today the island, which is in the care of the National Trust, can be visited by prior arrangement.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/northey-island/

^Picture © terry joyce used under a Creative Commons license^


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3 January 2013

Rather English - Walk to the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall

One of the oldest intact churches in England, it is believed that there has been a chapel on the site of St Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex since around 653 AD when St Cedd arrived from Lindisfarne at the invitation of Sigeberht the Good, then King of the East Saxons. Though the current chapel probably dates from around 660 AD, it is remarkable that it has survived so well.

The chapel was built using bricks from the Roman fortress which once stood on the same site and is built against the wall of the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona, and takes its name from this. Today, it stands at the end of a long distance path from Chipping Ongar called the St Peter's Way, which makes a lovely if tiring walk over a few days.

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

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2 January 2013

Rather English - Walk in Hadleigh Country Park, Essex

Whilst many might dismiss the area around Southend on Sea, your author finds the tidal creeks between Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea particularly beautiful, and the stretch beneath Hadleigh Castle - itself am impressive 13th century construction refortified during the Hundred Years War and open for free by English Heritage - is this part of the world at its best.

Between the castle and the creekside, Hadleigh Country Park offers more than 350 acres of parkland, with a mix of woodland, grassland and marsh, with a nearby bridge - just outside the park - enabling walkers to cross to the Essex Wildlife Trust's nature reserve at Two Tree Island.

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

^Picture © Edward Clack used under a Creative Commons license^


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1 January 2013

Visit 19 Princelet Street

To London, where today sees a special and rare opening of a building close to your author's heart, 19 Princelet Street, a house built in 1719 by Samuel Worrall in what were then open fields on the edge of the City of London, which quickly became home to a family of Huguenot weavers called Ogier who had escaped from persecution in France. Thus began a fascinating story retold at 19 Princelet Street, the Museum of Immigration.

This beautiful timeless building is open only rarely at the moment and 2012 saw not a single opening, so we are lucky to have two openings so early in 2013, today and Saturday, 5th January, both 2pm - 4pm. Your author encourages anyone who has not visited to make the trip, and also to wrap up warm, as 19 Princelet Street is cold even on a bright summer day.

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

^Picture © ceridwen used under a Creative Commons license^


From November 2012 until January 2013, Tired of London, Tired of Life will briefly be posting as RatherEnglish.com and featuring interesting things to do in England