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

A website about things to do in London

28 February 2013

Buy a ticket for Curious City

Your author tries to steer away from too many previews here, but he so enjoyed speaking, listening and watching at the last Curiocity event that when an invitation arrived to their next event on Tuesday night (5th March) it seemed well worth sharing.


The evening at the 14th century St Ethelburga’s on Bishopsgate features Mark Mason, author of the fantastic Walk the Lines, and Marc Isaacs, the creator of an interesting-looking documentary called Men of the City. Tickets are £7.50.

For more, see http://www.curiocity.org.uk/curious-city/

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

27 February 2013

Eat at London's Kitchen Cafe

Your author hadn't realised until he was recently in the area seeking nourishment, but down in the basement of City Hall, on the South Bank near Tower Bridge, the cafeteria known as London's Kitchen Cafe is open to allcomers on weekdays, and sells reasonably-priced dishes to anyone who can make it through security.


It seems that not many others have noticed either, for when your author popped in to enjoy soup and a roll for under £1.50 he found the tables populated almost entirely by City Hall types conducting lengthy and dry-sounding meetings on various topics as tourists tried and failed to enter through the glass doors of The Scoop. Those wanting to gain access need to enter at the front of the hall via a security screening and descend along one of the curvy ramps towards the cafe.

For details, see http://www.london.gov.uk/city-hall/visitor-information/londons-kitchen

^Picture © Oliver Dixon used under a Creative Commons license^

26 February 2013

Wander in Hilly Fields

The park known as Hilly Fields - roughly between Lewisham and Brockley in South East London - was once surrounded by green pastures until, in the 19th century, the land was sold off as building plots and houses began to spring up. We are told that the fields on the hill were saved due to protests from local people, and today they remain a fine community resource and a testament to the foresight of those people.


One of those who helped with the fight was Octavia Hill, the driving force behind the National Trust, who helped to raise subscriptions from the likes of William Morris, the Duke of Westminster and some City Livery Companies to save the fields of Bridge House Farm and green a site which had once been a brick works to become the park that South East Londoners know and love today.

For more, see http://www.hilly.org.uk/history/


^Picture © Blowing Puffer Fish used under a Creative Commons license^

25 February 2013

Stay at Holland Park Youth Hostel

Last week, your author finally found an excuse to drop into Holland Park Youth Hostel, a peaceful budget haven for backpackers in an area that is home to some of the most expensive houses in the country. The hostel is situated inside the leafy park itself, based around a 17th century mansion built by Sir Walter Cope and originally known as Cope Castle.


We are told that the the mansion was once visited by Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron and Charles Dickens and, whilst they probably wouldn't have seen the tatty prefab dormitories at the back which are rather less impressive than the mansion, even these are a clean and pleasant place for a central London stay, based around a picturesque garden and ornamental duck pond which is presumably a great place to soak up the sun in summer.

For more, see http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/london-holland-park

^Picture © Richard Rogerson used under a Creative Commons license^

24 February 2013

Witness the arrival of Princess at Paddington

Your author is more used to seeing her as pictured in a pub in Porthmadog, North Wales,  and though she's not officially unveiled until 1st March, rumours suggest Princess - a steam engine built in London in 1863 to transport slate along the Ffestiniog Railway from the mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog - will come to Paddington Station today to take up a residency between platforms eight and nine as a promotional exercise.



The trip is a sort of homecoming for an engine built in George England's yard at Hatcham Iron Works in New Cross, which produced many steam engines during the period supplying not just to the Ffestiniog, but to other railways such as the Great Western Railway, the Somerset and Dorset Railway and the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. The engines were built to last and Princess' brother, Prince, still serves on the Ffestiniong - the oldest surviving railway company in the world - on a regular basis.

For more, see http://www.festrail.co.uk/content/publish/news/Come_and_see_Princess_at_Paddington_Station.shtml

^Picture © Phil_Parker used under a Creative Commons license^ 

23 February 2013

See 'Schwitters in Britain' at the Tate Britain

Your author dropped in at the Tate Britain yesterday morning and managed to find shelter from the hordes of marauding little people in an interesting exhibition about the work of German-born artist Kurt Schwitters, with a particular focus on his time in Britain after fleeing from Nazi Germany.


Thankfully, as your author's knowledge of European Modernism was basically non-existent, the exhibition provided all the necessary interpretation to make it thoroughly interesting. It charted Schwitters' journey via Norway to the British Isles - where he was held the Hutchinson internment Camp on the Isle of Man and  managed to scrape together enough materials to continue producing art - and examined his stay in London before settling later in Ambleside, where he continued to produce art until his death in 1948.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/schwitters-britain

^Picture © Cea. used under a Creative Commons license^

22 February 2013

See 'The Westway: A Portrait of a Community' at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Another London-centric post today, inspired by an unscheduled visit yesterday to St Martin-in-the-Fields, where your author enjoyed an exhibition by photographer Paul Wenham-Clarke documenting life for those who live in the shadow of the A40 flyover in west London.


The flyover was built in the 1960s, and the exhibition explains how the road was bulldozed through North Kensington, displacing around 1,000 people as 600 homes were bulldozed, but many still live in the immediate area, including the residents of the Westway Travellers' Site, which is home to around 20 families from the Irish Gypsy and Traveller Community.

For more, see http://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/visiting/art-and-exhibitions/

21 February 2013

See Ice Age art at the British Museum

Your author is grateful to readers for their patience as he spends a little longer than expected outside the capital, and promises he is prepares for the return of some more London-based content soon. To keep London-centrists happy until then, this morning your author went along to the stunning 'Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind' exhibition at the British Museum, an exploration of objects created by our ancestors up to 40,000 years ago.



The objects on show offer a direct connection to our distant ancestors, reflecting the human form and those of animals - mammoths, horses, birds and others - with whom they shared their world. These offer a fascinating insight into their more artistic side, with a flute made from bone and various different materials used to create the works. The exhibition also examines the connections between the earliest known art and more recent works, with an emphasis on how early objects inspired artists such as Pablo Picasso.

For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/ice_age_art.aspx

^Picture © Julian Osley under a Creative Commons license^

20 February 2013

Rather English - Visit the Museum in the Park, Stroud

A fantastic little museum in the heart of Stratford Park, on the outskirts of the Cotswold market town of Stroud, the Museum in the Park takes visitors through the story of the area's development, social and industrial history from the Iron Age to the present day.


Highlights for your author include a recreation of a country kitchen where visitors can sit and hear a recording of author Laurie Lee recounting his childhood memories of life in the area, and a huge painting showing bright red 'Stroudwater Scarlet' wool cloth drying in the summer sunshine in the Stroud valleys.

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

^Picture © Mike Baldwin 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

19 February 2013

Rather English - Eat Winstones Ice Cream

Whilst it may seem an odd time of year to suggest it, the forecast is sunny and people can be found enjoying an ice cream from Winstones Ice Cream Factory - on the slopes of Rodborough Common above Stroud in Gloucestershire - in all seasons. The Winstones have been making Cotswold ice cream since 1925, when Albert Winstone began trading in it from a motorbike and sidecar.


Today, still run by members of the same family, the ice cream remains a local favourite, with many walking up from Stroud to enjoy it. There is good news for ice-cream-lovers as well, as the Winstones have just received planning permission to build an ice cream parlour, sure to help the business live on for the next generation.

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

^Picture © rvacapinta 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

18 February 2013

Rather English - Walk in Woodchester Park

Known for its unfinished 19th century Gothic revival mansion - abandoned around 1870 by workmen who never returned - Woodchester Park can be an eerie place, not least because the high wooded sides of the valley prevent winds from penetrating too far and make for a quiet and atmospheric setting.


The Park itself is maintained by the National Trust, and is open to the public, allowing visitors to wander a network of paths around the lakes, trees and fields and wonder what it might have looked like when the house was occupied during the 18th century.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woodchester-park/

^Picture © Stewart Black 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

17 February 2013

Rather English - Drink at the Old Spot, Dursley

Your author had a fine lunch yesterday at the Old Spot in Dursley, Gloucestershire. Though Dursley isn't a place known for its pubs, the Old Spot is a great place, and has won various awards including national pub of the year back in 2007 from the people of the Campaign for Real Ale. The pub is known in the area for its late landlord, Ric Sainty, who took it over in 1992 and is largely responsible for its success.


When your author dropped by yesterday the pub was bustling with Saturday lunchtime customers and the sun was streaming through the windows. Though many tables were already taken there was room at a snug table beneath a huge painting of the former landlord and a doorstop sandwich and a pint of Old Ric - named after the great man and brewed by his friend Chas Wright at the nearby Uley Brewery - filled a hole at the end of a good walk, and thankfully a friendly local was on hand to transport hitch-hikers back to the beginning of their stroll.

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

^Picture © Ruth Sharville 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

16 February 2013

Rather English - Walk the Cotswold Way

A quick post today as your author is off for a wander along a section of the Cotswold Way this afternoon, a 102 mile trail along the edge of the Cotswold Hills from Chipping Campden to Bath.


Though the route is not an ancient trail, it has been attracting walkers for more than 50 years, and offers some fantastic scenery. Your author has particularly fond memories of joining sections of a sponsored walk along the length of the trail a decade or so ago, ending at Bath Abbey.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold

^Picture © Cotswold Year^

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

15 February 2013

Rather English - Tour the potteries of Stoke

The potteries of Stoke-on-Trent were once among the most famous in the world, producing ceramics on an industrial scale from the 17th century onwards in factories such as Royal Doulton, Wedgwood and Spode.

Though it has moved out of town, the Wedgwood Pottery is still in operation and open to visitors daily. Meanwhile, for a more historic view of the industry the Gladstone Pottery Museum allows visitors to step inside an authentic brick-built Victorian pottery.

For more, see http://www.visitstoke.co.uk/see-do/potteries.aspx

^Picture © Ted and Jen 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

14 February 2013

Rather English - Stay at the Royal Oak, Hurdlow

A great little pub in the heart of the Peak District, the Royal Oak is shown on the map as being in the tiny hamlet of Sparklow, about half way between the villages of Monyash and Crowdecote near Hurdlow. The pub is renowned for its great hospitality and food, which when combined with a campsite and bunkbarn make for a winning combination.

When your author visited the rain was rather unrelenting and the weekend spent in and around the Royal Oak could easily have been a washout, but the positive attitude of those running the pub made it a great base from which to explore the Peak District - with highlights such as Lathkill Dale and Arbor Low Stone Circle within walking distance - and they managed to find room at a table despite already being quite busy.

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

^Picture © Graham Hogg 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

13 February 2013

Rather English - See Lud's Church

A huge chasm, cut deep into the Staffordshire hillside above Gradbach, Lud's Church has a long history as a sacred place, thought to have been revered by Pagans who are said to have visited when it was bathed with light on midsummers day and later possibly a venue for the secret worship of the Lollards, followers of church reformer John Wycliffe, who are rumoured to have met here in the 15th century.
Other possible visitors include Robin Hood, Bonny Prince Charlie and Knight-of-the-Round-Table Sir Gawain, and like everything about its story the origin of the name of the cave is unclear, possible named after the Celtic god Llud or maybe after Lollard Walter de Lud Auk.

For more, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2009/apr/04/luds-church-derbyshire-caves-holidays
^Picture © Smabs Sputzer 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

12 February 2013

Rather English - Walk in Lyme Park

Found on the edge of the Peak District, just inside Cheshire and not far to the south west of Greater Manchester, Lyme Park is a 1,300 acre country estate which has been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1946. Though the house and gardens are only open to the public at weekends this time of year, the huge deer park offers some good walks, and a coffee shop is available in case of showers.

The park was first enclosed in the 14th century and is home to a distinctive hunting lodge, called The Cage, referencing the estate's history as a place for sport hunting. Many may also remember the estate as the fictional Pemberley, home of Mr Darcy, in the BBC's 1990s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

For more, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme-park/

^Picture © ARG_Flickr 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

11 February 2013

Rather English - Visit the Lowry

Named after the Stretford-born painter L.S. Lowry, famous for his industrial landscapes, The Lowry opened its doors at Salford Quays in Manchester in October 2000, and contains an art gallery, two theatres and a drama studio, with a regular programme of shows.

The galleries display a range of art, with a particular focus on the paintings of Lowry of which there are around 400. The building itself is also considered to be something of a work of art, designed by James Stirling and Michael Wilford and is said to resemble a ship, fitting as it stands beside the Manchester Ship Canal.

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

^Picture © Bernt Rostad 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

10 February 2013

Rather English - Celebrate Chinese New Year in Manchester

There has been a significant Chinese population in Manchester since the 1950s and 1960s, when what had been a small population dating back to the beginning of the 20th century saw a sudden expansion, particularly of refugees who had arrived in the city from mainland China via Hong Kong. Significantly, the first Chinese restaurant in the area, Ping Hong, had opened in 1948 at the beginning of this period.

Today, the Chinatown area in Manchester - an area bordered by Mosley Street, Portland Street, Princess Street and Charlotte Street - be the setting for celebrations to mark the arrival of the Chinese New Year, with up to 50,000 expected for special events featuring Chinese lanterns, and dancing dragons and lions in the streets, as well as exhibitions, markets and food stalls.

For more, see http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/thousands-to-gather-to-celebrate-chinese-new-1299838

^Picture © Grey World 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

9 February 2013

Rather English - Vist Housesteads Roman Fort

Once a bleak outpost of empire, home to 800 Roman soldiers, Housesteads Roman Fort sits on one of the most beautiful parts of Hadrian's Wall near Haltwhistle, at what is surprisingly the rough geographical centre of Britain.

The fort dates from AD 124, and was developed at the same time as the wall itself, and the remains that can be seen today show include a system of rainwater collection and some well-preserved Roman toilets.

For more, see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/housesteads-roman-fort-hadrians-wall/

^Picture © Dick Penn 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

8 February 2013

Rather English - Trace the Devil's Causeway

A Roman road through 55 miles of Northumberland, the Devil's Causeway once connected the mouth of the River Tweed at Berwick to Dere Street, another Roman Road which followed a route from York to towns further north in modern-day Scotland.
The route can still be traced at various points - some clearer than others - and gives an interesting insight into what life must have been like for the Roman forces trudging around this part of northern England.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil's_Causeway

^Picture © Andrew Curtis 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

7 February 2013

Rather English - Cross Berwick Old Bridge

Your author mentioned the beautiful bridge which crosses the River Tweed in Berwick-upon-Tweed yesterday, it deserves a feature on its own. Built in the mid-17th century to replace the 14th century bridge which James VI of Scotland crossed on his way to begin the Stuart age and become King of England after the death of Elizabeth I.


Though it is no longer the main river crossing, the 355 metre sandstone bridge and its 15 arches are protected by a Grade I listing, the latest in a succession of crossings at this point, with the earliest swept away by flooding in 1199, one destroyed by the English in 1216 and others removed variously by floods and the building of the current bridge.

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

^Picture © Alan_D 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

6 February 2013

Rather English - Drink at the Barrels, Berwick-upon-Tweed

A decent little pub in the heart of the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Barrels Ale House is found close to the old Berwick Bridge, which has provided a crossing over the Tweed for centuries, has won various awards for its ales and atmosphere over the years, and prides itself on a good range of drink.
When your author visited on a weeknight in December, the pub was busy with friendly and welcoming people of all ages, and the range of accents on show revealed both the proximity of the Scottish border and the diversity of the Berwick locals. Whilst the music events which are regularly held in the cellar bar of the pub were absent on the evening in question, they sound like great fun, with the self-defining as "world famous".

For more, see http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g504038-d2508885-Reviews-Barrels_Ale_House-Berwick_upon_Tweed_Northumberland_England.html

^Picture © Miss Steel 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 February 2013

Rather English - Cross the sea to Lindisfarne

A 1,000 acre island in the North Sea, connected to the mainland by a causeway which is only open a couple of hours either side of low tide the Northumberland Island of Lindisfarne is a beautiful place, best known as a centre of English Christianity after a monastery was founded here by Saint Aidan, at the request of King Oswald in 635 AD.

As well as the ruined priory, the island is home to a castle - a 16th-century fort redesigned by Edwin Lutyens as an upmarket holiday retreat for Country Life owner Edward Hudson - and an attractive little village with a few shops. However, most of the island is farmland or sand dunes, and all is covered by the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.

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

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

4 February 2013

Rather English - Visit St Aidan's, Bamburgh

A beautiful church beside the North Sea, St Aidan's in Bamburgh was founded in 635 AD by Aidan himself, when at the request of King Oswald, a wooden church was constructed, probably on the same site as the one which is in place today.

The main part of the church that exists today dates from the 12th century. For centuries pilgrims arrived to pay tribute to Aidan, and many still do at a small memorial in the chancel, though modern pilgrims are more likely to be searching for the memorial to lighthouse keeper's daughter Grace Darling, which is also found in the church.

For more, see http://www.staidan-bamburgh.co.uk

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

3 February 2013

Rather English - See Bamburgh Castle

Another imposing Northumberland castle, overlooking the village of Bamburgh, Bamburgh Castle was built on a rocky outcrop which has been the home of castles and fortifications since at least the 6th century, when it was chosen by the Kings of Northumbria as their capital.

Though the original fort was destroyed by the Vikings, a Norman replacement was soon built, and it became the basis for what we see today, with Henry II adding a keep. The castle was the subject of a nine month siege during the Wars of the Roses, before coming under the control of the Forster family. Since 1894, when Lord Armstrong bought it, responding to an advert in the Times, the Castle has been owned by the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public.

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

^Picture © Delmonti 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

2 February 2013

Rather English - Visit Dunstanburgh Castle

A beautiful 14th century castle on a remote headland, Dunstanburgh Castle - a short walk along the beach from Craster in Northumberland - was once one of the largest in Northern England, built by the Earl of Lancaster during the reign of King Edward II, at a time of rivalry between the King and the Earl.

Despite not really being involved in hostilities between the English and the Scots, the castle did see fighting during the Wars of the Roses, and was twice besieged and captured by the Yorkists. Though when your author visited the castle was shrouded in mist, the weather today looks rather brighter.

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

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

1 February 2013

Rather English - Walk to St Mary's Island

Though visitors should always be careful to check tide times before venturing across, a causeway connects St Mary's Island - on the North Sea coast near Whitley Bay - with the mainland, offering a chance to explore its rockpools and see the lighthouse, which is open to the public in the summer and on select winter weekends.

St Mary's Island has had a number of failed careers, including playing home variously to a hermitage, a chapel, an inn called the Square and Compass, and a lighthouse, which finally ceased to function in 1984, but remains in place as a visitor attraction.

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

^Picture © Chris Downer 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