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



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28 February 2014

Draw at the National Portrait Gallery

As part of their regular Late Shift openings on Thursday and Friday evening, this evening the National Portrait Gallery offers a Drop-in Drawing event from 6.30pm - 8.30pm, with the opportunity to seek inspiration from the portraits and sketch in the Gallery in a session led by a specially-chosen artist.

We are told that the event will feature a short introduction at 18.30 but we should feel free to drop in whenever we like, and stay for any amount of time, in a session suitable for anyone from beginners to established artists. Materials will be provided.

For more, see http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/late-shift-1/drop-in-drawing-28022014.php

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

27 February 2014

Talk to Strangers at the Boot & Flogger

It's that time of the month again, and this evening, your author will be hosting another of the regular "Talking to Strangers" season, this time from 7pm tonight at the Boot and Flogger 10-20 Redcross Way, London SE1 1TA, and as always in conjunction with the people at top London social events organisers Thinking Bob.

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

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

26 February 2014

See the Jeremy Bentham auto-icon

It's rather alarming that it has taken your author more than five years to get around to writing about Jeremy Bentham, who sits encased in a wood and glass box in the South Cloisters at UCL in Bloomsbury, but until last Friday the moment just hadn't arisen to pop in and see him. However, sure enough there he sat, just as he has since 1850, in a display known as the auto-icon.

Upon his death in 1832, Bentham left instructions for Thomas Southwood Smith to create the auto-icon, with the skeleton and head preserved and stored in the wooden cabinet, and the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham's original clothes. Today, the hair and clothes we see are original, as is his skeleton beneath, but the head we see today is a wax model made by a French artist Jacques Talrich. The original head - which was famously kidnapped by King's College students in October 1975 - was mummified and is now kept in special environmental conditions in the Institute of Archaeology. The auto-icon case is usually open from around 8am and closed at 6pm, Monday – Friday, as long as he's not busy attending his occasional UCL board meetings.

For more, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/jeremy-bentham/

^Picture © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar used under a Creative Commons license^

25 February 2014

Drink tea at Regent Hall

The hustle and bustle of Oxford Street is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find a friendly and reasonably priced church cafe, but there is such a haven of tranquillity in the form of the Salvation Army's Regent Hall, at 275 Oxford Street. The Hall itself was once a skating rink, and when it became vacant in the early 1880s, Salvation Army Founder General William Booth bought the lease, opening the Regent Hall Corps on 18 March 1882.

The café might just be a fairly ordinary canteen with tea, cake and savoury snacks on offer, but it is certainly a bit of a haven if you've just spent half an hour being pushed off the pavement by the hordes of bag wielding shopaholics. The food and drinks are simple, as are the surroundings, but when your author dropped in last week it was very welcome.

For more, see http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/lcn/Regent_Hall_Cafe_Renew

24 February 2014

Find a standing stone in Gordon Square

Erected in Gordon Square last summer to celebrate 75 years of the UCL Institute of Archaeology is a Wiltshire sarsen stone, donated by a farmer from near Avebury, a place famous for its stone circle. The Institute itself was founded in 1937 by Mortimer Wheeler and is has its permanent home in buildings at 31-34 Gordon Square.

Most of us will be aware of sarsen stones even if we have not heard of them, as they were use extensively by prehistoric man at sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury. This one is a beautiful addition to this quiet corner of London.

For more, see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0613/05062013-IoA-unveil-monolith-in-Gordon-Square

23 February 2014

Help conserve Fryent Country Park

It seems unlikely that any readers will make this morning's 10am start time, but every Sunday the Barn Hill Conservation Group, which helps care for Fryent Country Park and Barn Hill in Brent, invites us to come along and join conservation projects in the Country Park.

Today's volunteers will be helping acid grassland by clearing scrub to connect glades and paths, and if you've already missed that then next Sunday, 2nd Marchm you are invited to come along and cutting overhanging vegetation along several paths in Cowlays Woodland to the south-east of the Country Park.

For more, see http://www.bhcg.btck.co.uk/, or for a full programme of events see http://btckstorage.blob.core.windows.net/site1601/News/BHCGPROGNewYear2014.pdf

22 February 2014

Drink Yorkshire Beer at the Bricklayer's Arms

They proudly boast that every day is a beer festival at the Bricklayer's Arms in Putney, but this weekend is even more of one than usual, as since Wednesday they have been celebrating their 'legendary' Yorkshire Beer Festival. Today, a Festival highlight sees the Hammersmith Morris Men join the party for a dance from 1pm.

The festival finishes tomorrow, which also sees the monthly last-Sunday-in-th-month Brick Folk folk music singaround which welcomes singers who know the words and listeners who don't. Beers on offer include York Brewery's Great Walls of Fire (5.1%), Rudgate's Odin’s Horn (4.1%) and Bad Seed's Espresso Stout (7%).

For more, see http://www.bricklayers-arms.co.uk/

^Picture © Matthew Black used under a Creative Commons license^

21 February 2014

Attend the RHS London Plant & Design Show

Spring is on its way, and for those who can afford a garden or balcony the time has come to think about what will happen there in the new season. The Royal Horticultural Society seem firmly aware of this, and in order to help their members and friends kick-start the gardening season today and tomorrow they are holding their annual London Plant and Design Show.

The shows are being held at Lawrence and Lindley Halls in Westminster and offer the chance to see the best winter colour and early-flowering plants exhibited by nurserymen and growers, buy bulbs and plants, talk to garden design experts from the Society of Garden Designers and hear talks by experts.

For more, see http://www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-London-Flower-Shows/London-Plant-and-Design-Show

20 February 2014

See the Lion of Knidos at the British Museum

Now found greeting visitors in the Great Court at the British Museum, the six ton Lion of Knidos was once part of a clifftop tomb overlooking Knidos harbour in modern-day Turkey. The Lion was discovered in 1858 near the ancient port by the British archaeologist Richard Popplewell Pullan, three miles from where he was helping to excavate the ancient city.

The Lion dates from 350-200 BC, and is carved from a single piece of marble. It once sat on the very top of a monument on a sheer cliff that falls 200 feet to the sea, and it has been suggested that its hollow eyes were originally inset with coloured glass, the reflection of which might have aided sailors navigating along the coast.

For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/gr/c/colossal_marble_lion.aspx

19 February 2014

Find the Plumber's Apprentice at Cannon Street

A somewhat out-of-place addition to Cannon Street Station, the seven foot tall, bronze 'Plumber's Apprentice' was unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester in October 2011, on what was the site of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers' livery hall until 1863, a compulsorily purchase order meant it was demolished to allow for expansion of the station.

The Company hadn't been very lucky with its livery halls, as the previous hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and subsequently rebuilt on the site where the station now stands in 1690. The erection of the statue was designed to symbolically mark 400 years since the granting of the Plumbers' royal charter by James I.

For more, see http://www.heatingandventilating.net/news/news.asp?id=9070

18 February 2014

Say goodbye to the Trocadero

Thanks to the always-on-the-ball IanVisits, who alerts us to the fact that the Trocadero Centre will be closing its doors for good a week today, 25th February 2014. Though the Trocadero has only existed in its current form since 1984, for many readers this will constitute a significant proportion of their lives, and a school trip featuring an unscheduled trip to the Trocadero is among your author's earliest memories of London.

Ian tells us that the Trocadero is due to become a Japanese style pod hotel, which will have 527 bedrooms and 56 "aparthotel rooms", which is good or bad news depending on how you look at it. Gone will be the out of date arcade games, the escalators that once led to Sega World, and the place where there was once a Guinness Book of World Records Exhibition. From the outside, it will still look much the same, and seemingly no one went inside any more anyway.

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2014/02/16/your-last-chance-to-visit-the-trocadero/

^Picture © London Attractions Guide used under a Creative Commons license^

17 February 2014

Seek out Old St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury

On a largely direction-less walk in north London yesterday, your author took a wrong turn and found himself transported to the beautifully wild graveyard of Old St Andrew's Church in Kingsbury, almost exactly between the Welsh Harp Reservoir and Wembley. The Churches Conservation Trust cares for Grade I listed St Andrew's, and it is thought to be the oldest building in Brent. Indeed, we are told that the exterior of rendered flint rubble contains some Roman bricks and tiles, and whatever its age it is certainly very pretty, like a little country church in a quiet corner our city.

The church dates from the 12th to 13th centuries and though it was subject to restorations in the 19th century, it is known to contain many earlier features including brasses and memorials from the 16th to 19th centuries and a 13th century font. Though it is sadly usually locked, it may be possible to arrange access by appointment for particularly keen visitors, and the graveyard is certainly worth a visit in its own right.

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

16 February 2014

Walk in Tower Hamlets Cemetery

Often overlooked, Tower Hamlets Cemetery is a 33 acre cemetery opened in 1841 and still in use for burials up until 1966. Nowadays, it is largely maintained as an urban woodland and nature reserve, and a variety of wildlife is found there, including trees, plants, birds, insects, bats, beetles and butterflies.

The walk is organised by The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, who manage the park with two dedicated members of staff, a board of trustees, and the support of over 3,000 volunteers. Today the Friends are organising an organised guided walk in the Cemetery Park, which takes place from 2pm-4pm, examining the Park’s natural history, and celebrating its spring bulbs.

For more, see http://www.fothcp.org/

^Picture © Barney Moss used under a Creative Commons license^

15 February 2014

Attend a winter wildlife open day at Stoke Newington East Reservoir

A special open day is being held at the London Wildlife Trust's Stoke Newington East Reservoir Community Garden today, with bird watching hot drinks and bird bingo on offer for visitors.

The day continues until 3pm, and promises to connect you with winter wildlife, but the garden itself is open daily and you can visit at any time.

For more, see http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/events/2014/01/27/winter-wildlife-open-day

^Picture © ㇹヮィㇳ used under a Creative Commons license^

14 February 2014

Take an evening spotlight tour at the British Museum

The British Museum is currently open until 8.30pm on Fridays, offering a chance to tour one of the world's most visited museums after work, and if you want a new perspective on galleries you may have been through countless time before, three 'spotlight' tours will be running this evening, with volunteer guides helping visitors to better understand certain objects and periods.

The tours are free and you can learn about the Rosetta Stone at 17.00 and 17.30, the Parthenon at 17.00 and 17.30 and the Enlightenment at 18.30 and 19.00, in the company of knowledgeable guides. Just meet in the relevant gallery a few minutes before the time listed above.

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

13 February 2014

Drink gin at Charles Dickens' House

It's good when you get organised and buy tickets well in advance, and so this evening your author is off to 48 Doughty Street, Charles Dickens' former home and now the location of the Charles Dickens Museum, for an evening visit featuring gin and live music. If you judge it only by the number of pubs he drank at, Dickens seemed to like a drink, and we know he visited gin shops as he described them in Sketches by Boz.

But if you fancy it and haven't already booked tickets, all is not lost, for this morning they were still available to buy directly from the Museum website. They cost only £15, which is admittedly more than the usual £8 bargain for ordinary entry to the museum, but here the ticket price includes a drink, access to a special gin bar with live music, a bookbinding workshops and a chance to take home your own handmade journal.

For more, see http://www.dickensmuseum.com/events/no-48-doughty-st-and-no-3-gin-present-the-literary-gin-palace/

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

12 February 2014

See Sir John Soane's Tomb

It won't be a surprise to most who are aware of his work that Sir John Soane, the celebrated architect of the Bank of England and the Dulwich Picture Gallery and creator of the collection that has become the Sir John Soane Museum, came to design his own tomb, which is Grade I listed and sits within the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, one of the oldest places of Christian worship in London, between King's Cross and Camden. However, it was actually built before his death for his wife, and completed in 1816, more than 20 years before his death.

After Elizabeth Soane died in 1815 she was buried in the churchyard, with Soane describing it as 'The burial of all that is dear to me in this world, and all I wished to live for!'. The tomb was designed to sit above the vault in which Elizabeth was interred, and it was constructed in Carrara marble and Portland Stone. We are told that the Tomb's design was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott's telephone box design, and is one of only two Grade I listed monuments in London, the other being Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate.

For more, see http://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/soane-s-tomb

11 February 2014

Set your watch by the Shepherd Gate Clock

Constructed and installed by Charles Shepherd in 1852, the Shepherd Gate Clock outside the gates at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich was one of the first electrically-driven public clocks, and one of the first to display Greenwich Mean Time to the public.

Unusual due to its 24-hour analogue dial, which always displays Greenwich Mean Time rather than switching to British Summer Time, the clock was originally networked to a number of other clocks around the Observatory, in a system Shepherd had demonstrated at the Great Exhibition where he had been responsible for installing public clocks.

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

10 February 2014

Eat at Adulis Eritrean Restaurant

Trading since 1996 from their restaurant and bar on Brixton Road near Oval Station, Adulis takes its name from an ancient port city on the Red Sea in what was then the Kingdom of Aksum, 30 miles south of the modern Eritrean city of Massawa.

The restaurant has styled itself as 'London's Little Eritrea' and whilst various other Eritrean restaurants do exist in London, this one is certainly competitive, serving up decent Eritrean specialities with spongy Injera bread in pleasant surroundings for a reasonable price.

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

^Picture © Kake used under a Creative Commons license^

9 February 2014

Forage on the foreshore

A month ago, your author joined Jane Parker (aka Amelia Parker) and friends at Rotherhithe for a walk along the foreshore and thoroughly enjoyed it. Jane's company Amelia Parker creates jewellery and other gifts from clay pipes found on the Thames Foreshore and sells them at regular markets and in her Etsy shop.

Today, Jane has organised another of her monthly foraging trips, which are open to all. Walkers meet at 11am in the City of London so you'll have to be quick if you want to join this trip. Email jane@amelia-parker.com for full details of this or future forages now.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/events/241794062667655/ or http://www.amelia-parker.com/

8 February 2014

Join the Waitangi Day Pub Crawl

For more than 30 years New Zealanders in London have been celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of New Zealand, with a pub crawl. This year's pub crawl, following the Circle Line as has become traditional, begins at the Pride of Paddington at 10am.

The day finishes up with a Haka at 4pm at Old Palace Yard, just off Parliament Square, and other pubs that will form part of the rough route include the Bayswater Arms in Bayswater, The Old Swan near Notting Hill Station, the Prince of Wales near High Street Kensington station, the Stanhope Arms near Gloucester Road station, the Zetland Arms near South Kensington station, the Duke of York near Victoria station and The Old Star near St James Park station.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/waitangidaypubcrawl

^Picture © Mark Steele used under a Creative Commons license^

7 February 2014

Attend the London Orchard Project Wassail Party

In apple-growing areas there has long been a tradition of orchard wassailing, to bless cider orchards for the forthcoming year, with singing, poetry, dance and drinking. This evening, Alara Wholefoods and the London Orchard Project have invited us all to take part in a London Wassail, with fire, music, cider and food.

For some years now, Alara Wholefoods on Camley Street have been creating gardens in their spare time, using unused land around commercial buildings on an industrial estate just to the north of King's Cross. It appears the Wassail is being held at their "young orchard", and on their site, much as their 2013 wassail was.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/events/222824787841150/?fref=ts

6 February 2014

Eat at Terry's Cafe

Opened in 1982 by south Londoner and former Smithfield market butcher and pig farmer Terry Yardley, Terry's Cafe in Great Suffolk Street, a short walk from Borough Tube Station, is a characterful and timeless place adorned with old photographs, union jacks and well-turned-out staff, and serving good food six days a week from 7am - 2pm, Monday to Friday, and 7:30am - 12 noon on Saturdays. Though Terry himself passed away back in 2010, we are told that the cafe is now run by his son, Austin Yardley, who has worked in the family business since he was a young boy.

It isn't hard to see why Austin decided to take on the family business, and when your author dropped in recently a little after 7am the cafe was already fairly busy, and was turning out good food at reasonable prices as it has for more than 20 years. Some say Terry's is among the best breakfast fry-ups in London and though your author never really likes to choose the best of anything, it was certainly a great feed.

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

5 February 2014

Learn about money at St Paul's

If you can get there, Felix Martin, author of 'Money: the Unauthorised Biography' gives a talk at St Paul's Cathedral this evening, open to all-comers. We are told will cover the nature of money and the mythologies that we build around it, in a venue fittingly at the heart of the City and only thirty second's walk from the London Stock Exchange.

The free talk is this evening from 6:30pm - 7:30pm and promises to use stories from throughout history and all corners of the world to change our understanding of the world and its money. Booking is essential.

For more, see http://www.stpauls.co.uk/Visits-Events/Special-Services-Events/Lecture-What-is-Moneyand-Why-Does-it-Matter

4 February 2014

Admire Boris Anrep's National Gallery Mosaics

Some of your author's favourite artworks at the National Gallery are found not hanging on a wall or standing on a plinth, but instead beneath the feet of the hundreds and thousands of who enter via the Gallery's Portico entrance each day. Four mosaics by Russian-born artist Boris Anrep were installed between 1928 and 1952. First came, 'The Labours of Life' and 'The Pleasures of Life', installed in 1928-9 and then 'The Awakening of the Muses' on the half-way landing, featuring Clive Bell as Bacchus, Diana Mitford as Polyhymnia, Virginia Woolf as Clio and Greta Garbo as Melpomene.

The final mosaic, 'The Modern Virtues', did not arrive until after the Second World War, and features among others, Sir Winston Churchill as defiance, fighting a beast in a shape of swastika, T. S. Eliot as Leisure and Bertrand Russell as Lucidity.

For more, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/history/sculptures-and-mosaics/

^Picture by Mike Quinn used under a Creative Commons license^

3 February 2014

Climb the King's Cross Viewing Platform

Though Central Saint Martins moved to their new buildings at Granary Square in 2011 and the new King's Cross concourse opened in Spring 2012, much of the area is still building site. In fact, it is one of the largest areas of urban redevelopment in Europe, as you can observe from a specially-installed viewing platform at the junction of King's Boulevard and Goods Way.

A friend recently told your author that the installation of viewing windows on building sites is evidence of the progress of humanity and perhaps this platform is evidence of an even more civilised development. The Goods Way viewing platform is made of old shipping containers you can peer into building sites to the south and east, or look north and across Granary Square and the canal to the UAL Central St Martin's buildings or west to Camley Street nature park.

For more, see http://www.kingscross.co.uk/the-development

2 February 2014

Celebrate Chinese New Year

Today is the day of the main Chinese New Year celebrations in London, centred around Gerrard Street in Soho and Trafalgar Square in Westminster. We are told to expect a parade from 10am with the official opening ceremony at noon launching the celebrations in Trafalgar Square.

Among a fantastic range of events, we are told that there will be acrobatics, traditional dances and a lion dance from Chinese performers. A group of visiting children from Nanjing performing their Little Red Flower Art Troupe variety show, a traditional Chinese Opera, craft stalls and food stands, and a mini festival in Horse & Dolphin Yard with tombola, piñata, calligraphy and live performances.

For full details, see http://www.chinatownlondon.org/news/details-confirmed-for-chinese-new-year/48/428

^Picture © Paul used under a Creative Commons license^

1 February 2014

Take a guided walk in Richmond Park

The Friends of Richmond Park offer a guided walk in one of London's finest parks this morning from 10am - noon, meeting at Pembroke Lodge car park. The walk is free and is part of a regular series of events run by the Friends, which all look fantastic.

Should you be interested in joining the Friends, you would also be able to take part in upcoming courses, including Birds of Richmond Park and Spring Birds & Bird Song, but most of the programme looks good. The 5am Dawn Chorus Walk on 21st April looks particularly enticing.

For more, see http://www.frp.org.uk/walks