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



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31 March 2014

Find David Breuer-Weil's Alien in Grosvenor Gardens

Installed last year as part of the City of Westminster's 'City of Sculpture' programme, David Breuer-Weil's huge Alien sculpture is currently found in Grosvenor Gardens, where it is due to remain until April 2015.

The sculpture is cast in bronze and is designed to represent a visitor from a different world, crash landed in head first in the ground, in the heart of London. It features a tiny sign telling park-goers not to climb on it, but it did seem to be rather too tempting for two young visitors when your author popped by yesterday.

For more, see http://www.davidbreuerweil.com/alien.htm

30 March 2014

Attend the World Women Wembley craft market

Taking place today Cottrell House, a disused car showroom in Wembley that is now one of those 'creative hubs' your author keeps hearing about, is the World Women Wembley craft market, an event that promises to showcase all the creative talents of the women of Wembley and Brent, with a particular focus on craft.

We are told that it's the perfect place for last-minute Mother's Day gifts, and whilst it does seem that it might be rather too late by the time you get there, it is still might be a good place to take mothers to, and let them browse pretty things from fashion and textile designers, visual artists, dress-makers, jewellery-makers and film-makers, with works on sale from the 'local creative scene'.

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

29 March 2014

Watch the Head of the River race

London's other rowing race kicks off today at 2.15pm, an annual race along the 4¼ mile Thames Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney, undertaken by over 400 competing crews of 'eights', racing the river in timed sections rather than to be the first boat on the water, in an event known as Head of the River.

Head of the River was first held in 1926, when 21 crews took part, and by in 1978, more than 400 crews were participating. For safety reasons an top limit of 420 was imposed and if more crews apply to take part, the participants are drawn out of a hat. It's a great spectacle, and when your author witnessed the race by chance during a walk by the river a good few years ago, it was quite a surprise.

For more, see http://www.horr.co.uk/

^Picture © JB55 used under a Creative Commons license^

28 March 2014

Go late at the V&A

Tottenham is taking over the V&A this evening, with music, art and debate from, inevitably the area's 'vibrant music scene' and 'creative community'. Visitors are told to expect music from Tottenham DJs and the Tottenham Community Choir, art from POST Artists and the HAGA Photo Project and debate on the future of Tottenham High Road and Tottenham style.

If you've never been to Tottenham, it might be all a bit much, but on the other hand it might be an interesting introduction to the area and it is free. Events take place from 6.30pm until 10pm and it's probably a good idea to get there early if there's anything you're particularly keen on seeing as some are ticketed.

For more, see http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/friday-late/

^Picture © Annie Mole used under a Creative Commons license^

27 March 2014

See Hetain Patel's At Home at the Pump House Gallery

Your author has long been a fan of the Pump House Gallery, the art gallery that sits within an original pumping house built in 1861 to supply water to the lakes of Battersea Park, and when he popped in again recently to see what was on, the exhibition showing was At Home, a collection of pieces by artist Hetain Patel.

The exhibition is produced by Nottingham's New Art Exchange and is a bit of a mixed bag, with some interesting and thought provoking works, such as videos of Patel’s grandmother completing morning prayers on five separate days and the two animations that show on loop on the ground floor. Whilst your author felt that some other bits missed the mark a little, perhaps this was just personal taste and they were still part of a well-curated exhibition, and worthy of the gallery space.

At Home runs until the weekend. For more, see http://pumphousegallery.org.uk/exhibitions/at-home

26 March 2014

Find a Watering Hole in Green Park

An interesting drinking fountain designed by Robin Monotti Architects and Mark Titman and installed in June 2012, the Watering Holes are cut from an 800kg slab of Cornish granite, and the three holes offer a drink of water for adults, children and dogs, who find themselves in need of a drink in Green Park, via a small hidden spout near the bottom of each circle.

The fountain was installed thanks to a gift of $1.25 million from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation which helped to restore and install a number of fountains and drinking fountains the Royal Parks, and Watering Holes was chosen as a design for one of the new fountains.

For more, see http://www.supporttheroyalparks.org/explore/tiffany_fountains/drinking_fountain_restoration/watering_holes_drinking_fountain

25 March 2014

Contemplate in Priory Park Philosopher's Garden

Named after The Priory Park Philosophers, a club for retired elderly men who we are told once met in Hornsey's Priory Park for ‘casual conversation during fine weather’, the Philosophers Garden is a quiet tree-rich spot where dogs are banned and nature dominates.

The garden is found at the western side of the Park, and features sculptures, a sundial, a pond and a tree seat. Usually a quiet space, it is occasionally a venue for performances of music and theatre, such as a production of Hansel and Gretel by The Crouch End Players in 2012.

For more, see http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/community_and_leisure/greenspaces/parks_and_open_spaces_parks_facilities/priorypark.htm

24 March 2014

Have a free haircut at the London School of Barbering

Your author had heard previously of London's hairdressing colleges, the promised land of student cuts and free haircuts, but had assumed they were the sort of places where only friends and acquaintances could realistically take advantage of a free cut. So, it was with surprise recently that he was made aware of the London School of Barbering on Drury Lane, where potential barbers train for a 9 week NVQ qualification, with an intensive 300 hours of training.

If you have the time to spend an hour getting your haircut on a weekday you too can take advantage of the School's free haircuts, which were very professional. The student cutting hair last Thursday was on his 7th week of training, and though he stopped twice to ask for advice from a teacher who paced vigilantly up and down throughout, it was only for the sort of extra touches which a normal barber probably wouldn't have even worried about, and the result was excellent. Perhaps the result would have been different from a student on week one, but your author had no complaints.

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

23 March 2014

Visit Marylebone Farmers’ Market

A weekly farmers' market held on Cramer Street Car Park in Marylebone, Marylebone Farmers’ Market boasts between 30 and 40 stalls, with a changing variety of produce and producers on show each week.

Visitors are told to expect something for everyone, with meats, cheeses, breads, vegetables, flower and a range of other produce, though you only have to look at the address to realise this isn't a destination for someone with a strong sense of thrift.

For more, see http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/marylebone/

^Picture © Magnus D used under a Creative Commons license^

22 March 2014

Watch Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill

South London's Dulwich Hamlet have been playing at Champion Hill in East Dulwich since 1931, and it famously witnessed international matches at the 1948 Summer Olympics. It remains an atmospheric ground, with quite a special feeling in the modest stands, where die hard fans mix with occasional visitors for some thoroughly watchable football.

This afternoon at 3pm, Hamlet take on Enfield Town, with entry to the ground a very reasonable £10 (or you can sponsor a match including four tickets, programmes, pre-match, half-time and full-time boardroom hospitality for a very reasonable £99), payable at the turnstile on entry. We are told that last time these two teams met, Dulwich Hamlet beat Enfield 4 - 3, so this afternoon promises to be an interesting match, though the home side come into the game on the back of four consecutive losses.

For more, see http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/dulwichhamlet/

21 March 2014

Meet the sheep at Mudchute City Farm

With a total area of more than 32 acres, Mudchute Park and Farm on the Isle of Dogs is one of London's largest city farms, with over 100 resident animals. When your author popped in a week or so ago, visitors and sheep were happily enjoying the sunshine in each others company on the hilltop, whilst a short distance away llamas were stretching their legs.

Mudchute takes its name from being a dumping ground for spoil and silt from the excavation and maintenance of Millwall Dock, but it was a place that residents became attached to and when development was attempted in the 1970s, the Mudchute Association was founded to protect it, giving rise to the farm park. Across a number of enclosures, the Farm attempts to educate us city types about what cows, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, chickens, geese and turkeys look like in the real world, before serving up a bite to eat at the Mudchute Kitchen.

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

20 March 2014

Eat at the Kipferl Garden Kiosk

An outpost of Islington's Austrian coffeehouse by the same name, the Kipferl Garden Kiosk in Gordon Square is a tiny little place with some outside tables bringing a slice of Vienna to this corner of Bloomsbury.

The cafe is open weekdays only, offering Austrian cakes, sausages and soups from 10am to 4.30pm. When your author visited he had the espresso chocolate cake and it was thoroughly revitalising.

For more, see http://www.kipferl.co.uk/new-page-1/

19 March 2014

See Jeremy Deller's English Magic at the William Morris Gallery

Originally commissioned by the British Council for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2013, Jeremy Deller's English Magic runs until 30th March at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, a venue presumably chosen due to Morris' central role in a large mural showing him throwing Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venice lagoon.

It's quite a political exhibition, which Deller says in the accompanying video that he hopes makes us mad 'for the wrong or right reasons', and politically-themed items associated with Morris have been chosen from the gallery's collection to display alongside Deller's material, which features houses being burned in St Helier, Jersey in protest at secretive banking and pencil drawings of the likes of Tony Blair and Dr David Kelly drawn by prison inmates who served as soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Whatever you make of the content, it's well executed and the messages are simply and forcefully communicated, and it's free to visit.

For more, see http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions-43/jeremy-deller-english-magic

18 March 2014

Visit New Covent Garden Flower Market

Realistically, if you're reading this at work, it's already too late to go shopping at New Covent Garden Flower Market in Nine Elms. Every Monday to Saturday, from 4am to 10am since November 1974 - when the Market moved from Covent Garden to its new location - traders have gathered together in a huge market a short walk from Vauxhall Station with a fascinating range of flowers and associated paraphernalia for wholesale florists, trade buyers and members of the public who descend on the market to access some of the freshest flowers in the business.

A few weeks ago, your author was lucky enough to be offered a tour of the Market by Helen Evans, the Director of Business Development and Support for Covent Garden Market Authority. Whilst her job title makes her sound a bit like a boring bureaucrat, in fact Helen is a passionate and interested member of the community at the Market, knowledgeable about the traders who sell from the market and their wares and her insight was excellent, and helped to understand the community at the Market and how the flowers arrive there each day, from Britain, Holland and around the world.

What at first might seem like a rather confusing atmosphere is actually easy to navigate with the help of the friendly traders, but a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich at the cafe beside the market's central clock, which still carries the bell from the old market, is recommended. Now is a particularly good time to visit as the Market is due to be redeveloped from 2015-2020, moving across the railway tracks to join the fruit and vegetable market.

For more, see http://www.newcoventgardenmarket.com/flower-guide

17 March 2014

Take a boat on Hollow Ponds

Found just east of Whipps Cross Road on the Leytonstone / Snaresbrook border, a short distance from Whipps Cross Hospital, the waters of Hollow Pond are situated within one of the southern outposts of Epping Forest. A small jetty offers rowing boats to hire, for around £12 an hour, seating up to five people.

A reasonable walk from Snaresbrook and Leytonstone tube stations on the Central Line, the Hollow Ponds were dug as a set of gravel pits, and a bathing pool was added as part of an unemployment project in the early years of the 20th century, fed by natural springs and eventually being developed into Whipps Cross Lido, which closed in 1982.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/hollow.lake

16 March 2014

Watch the St Patrick's Day Parade

The annual St Patrick's Day Parade takes place today in London, with 100,000 people expected. The event begins at noon with a parade which follows a 1.5 mile route from Piccadilly to Whitehall, before a stage in Trafalgar Square offers, we are told, "the best of Irish music, song, culture, arts and dance".

This year, that best includes Michael Flatley, Riverdance and actors from the West End musical The Commitments, which in your author's opinion isn't really the best the Emerald Isle has to offer, but we are also promised folk group Kila, and there will surely be some lesser known, and better, acts.

For more, see http://london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/st-patricks-day-parade-and-festival-2014

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

15 March 2014

Attend a table top sale at the Church of St Peter, De Beauvoir

Over at the Church of St Peter in De Beauvoir, The De Beauvoir Association are holding a table top sale today, with the promise of bric-a-brac, clothes, antiques and other second hand items in the crypt of a Victorian church in this area of west Hackney.

St Peter's Church was built in 1841, funded by Richard Benyon in order to enhance the character of De Beauvoir Town, then a very new area, having been in existence only around 20 years. The crypt where the sale is being held was used as a day school until 1885, when local board schools took over the education. Today's sale takes place from 11am - 4pm.

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

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

14 March 2014

Visit the Emirates Aviation Experience

Have you ever heard of London visitor attraction the Emirates Aviation Experience? No, not the cable car, but a place where you can learn about the airline via a corporate experience. Of course you haven't, unless you've stumbled across it by chance or are slightly obsessive about these things, and neither had your author until he noticed it out of the corner of his eye yesterday whilst topping up an Oyster card at the cable car station. If you haven't heard of it it's probably because it is just a single room flogging the Emirates airline, but in an off-putting move that surely can't cover costs anyway, they charge you £3 to receive this sales pitch.

The whole thing probably looked good in the presentation at the creative agency who designed it, but yesterday when your author popped in, it was empty. Whilst the staff were friendly, professional and interested, there is actually very little to do once you're inside the "world’s first Aviation Experience" other than watch promotional videos and have your picture taken in a mock cockpit. There are a number of (empty) flight simulators, but it does not really become clear until you are already inside that 30 minutes on these simulators is a relatively pocket-punishing £45, which you have to go back outside to pay.

Otherwise, you are given the opportunity to sit in a aeroplane seat (cattle class), see a Lego jet engine and watch some videos about Emirates before arriving at a gift shop selling nothing you really want. There is an empty cafe, with outdoor seating and then you're off back to the real world. If it were free it would be an interesting corporate showcase but charging for this is a bit silly. Never mind, they do give some funding to a cable car which is good fun and for that your author is grateful.

For more, see http://www.aviation-experience.com/

13 March 2014

Drink Gloucestershire beer at the Duke's Head

As some readers will know, your author has strong connections with Gloucestershire, so many thanks to Doreen from Five Points Brewing for alerting us to the Gloucestershire-themed Cheltenham [beer] Festival at the Duke's Head in Highgate this week, featuring beer from Uley Brewery, and Stroud Brewery, though sadly nothing from Wickwar.

This being trendy north London, the Duke's Head appears to be one of those 'craft beer' theme pubs which are so popular at the moment, but thankfully the genuine Gloucestershire beers on offer are not of the cold fizzy nitrogen-infused types, and it is particularly pleasing to see Chas Wright's Uley Brewery on show, a small place in a beautiful village, run for more than 25 years by a man who knows what he likes and makes it from pure ingredients and fresh spring water, still steadfastly bucking trends by refusing to serve it in bottles.

For more, see http://www.thedukesheadhighgate.co.uk/cheltenham-beer-festival/

12 March 2014

Find Hodge in Gough Square

A bronze of Dr Johnson's cat, Hodge, sits in Gough Square, opposite the home of his famous owner, unveiled by the Lord Mayor in 1997. Hodge sits upon a copy of Johnson's Dictionary, with an oyster shell beside him, remembering the food that Johnson would go out to buy for him, apparently refusing to send his servant to do so, as the process might turn them against Hodge.

Hodge was immortalised in James Boswell's Life of Johnson, with Johnson saying of his cat that 'he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.' Johnson's fondness for cats is documented in a publication available from the excellent Dr Johnson's House opposite, entitled Hodge and other cats

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodge_(cat)

11 March 2014

See Emil Nolde's 'The Sea B' at Tate Modern

During a couple of recent trips to the Tate Modern, your author has been particularly taken with one work, painted by the German Danish Expressionist painter Emil Nolde during a stay on the German island of Sylt in 1930.

The Tate website tells us that Nolde wrote in his memoirs that he 'wanted to see the sea again in all its wild greatness. Thunderclouds came driven by hail-storms – lightning flashed into the sea'. Nolde went on to describe working on 'The Sea B' and a number of other canvases as being 'in a state close to ecstasy.’

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nolde-the-sea-b-t00865

10 March 2014

Remember John By

A modest memorial on a wall close beside the Thames at the southern end of St Thomas' Hospital remembers Lieutenant Colonel John By, a Londoner and British military engineer who was born nearby and was instrumental in the building of the Rideau Canal, during which he founded a settlement called Bytown, a place to which he gave his name that went on to become Canada's capital city, Ottawa.

By was called out of retirement to build the 200km canal, which connects the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario, and it took six years to complete. However, he soon faced accusations of unauthorised expenditure, and though he was exonerated, he died back in Frant in Sussex just four years after its completion, at the age of 56.

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

9 March 2014

Attend Alexandra Palace Farmers' Market

Alexandra Palace Farmers' Market takes place every week in North London, with 30 to 50 stalls selling produce and up to 2,000 visitors browsing them close to the Muswell Hill entrance to Alexandra Palace Park, or occasionally at Campsbourne School when the Park location is not available.

The market has been running since 2001, and is operated by the City and Country Farmers Markets, which organises seven markets across London, with others taking place in Eltham, Hammersmith, Lewisham, Oval, Herne Hill and Stepney. Alexandra Palace is their largest market, taking place from 10am to 3pm with plenty on offer that will make a great Sunday lunch.

For more, see http://weareccfm.com/AlexandraPalace.html

^Picture © Steve Way used under a Creative Commons license^

8 March 2014

Attend the Saturday Night Swing Club

The London Swing Dance Society has been around since 1986, the the UK’s biggest and longest running swing dance club teaching the people of London how to Swing. Tonight, their monthly Saturday Night Swing Club returns to the Magpie and Stump, at 18 Old Bailey in the City, offering three floors of dance and classes.

Attendees are advised to "wear [their] best vintage inspired attire", and whilst that doesn't actually mean anything, the dancing and music from the 1930s, 40s & 50s is very real, and even absolute beginners can join a lindy hop session with Caron, though some swing dance experience is probably advisable.

For more, see http://www.swingdanceuk.com/calendar/saturday-night-swing-club/

^Picture © Nicholas Blake used under a Creative Commons license^

7 March 2014

Attend a talk at the Royal Institute of Philosophy

Founded in 1925 as the British Institute of Philosophical Studies, the Royal Institute of Philosophy is found at 14 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury, where it moved in 1930 to join Dr Williams’s Library, a small research library specialising in English Protestant nonconformity.

The Institute was granted the 'Royal' title in 1947, having struggled on throughout the Blitz as the bombs fell around it. The Institute continues to hold regular lectures, just as it has always done, and this evening's free lecture at 5.45pm sees David Bakhurst from Queens University in Ontario, Canada, speak for an hour on ‘Training, Transformation and Education’.

For more, see http://royalinstitutephilosophy.org/7-march-david-bakhurst-training-transformation-and-education/

6 March 2014

Admire the Fitzrovia Mural

Though it is now a little faded, and has been subject to graffiti on its lower reaches, the Fitzrovia Mural is still an inspiring sight for visitors to Whitfield Gardens, off Tottenham Court Road. Painted in 1980 by Mick Jones (top half) and Simon Barber (bottom half) it stands over 60 ft high.

Originally commissioned by Camden Council for local people, the style is said to mirror that of Diego Rivera, and features Horace Cutler, who was then the leader of the GLC, the Post Office tower, a cat, and local workers in offices, people in restaurants, nurses and, apparently, Dylan Thomas.

For more, see http://www.urban75.org/blog/the-fitzrovia-mural-whitfield-gardens-off-tottenham-court-road-w1/

5 March 2014

See the UK Picture Editors' Guild Awards Exhibition

Currently showing in the rotunda outside the Museum of London is an interesting exhibition by the UK Picture Editors' Guild, showing a number of pictures, some of which will be instantly recognisable and others of which are worth a look.

The free outdoor exhibition runs until 16th March and offers up pictures by Fleet Street's finest, with awards categories including sports, business, fashion and entertainment, citizen, regional and news, as well as various others. Though a little Royal, Sporting and Celebrity heavy for your author's liking it was nevertheless worth visiting.

For more, see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/uk-picture-editors-guild-awards/

4 March 2014

Watch the Parliamentary Pancake Race

Today is Shrove Tuesday, and there are plenty of pancake races taking place around town, but one that caught your author's attention is the 2014 Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race, which has now been taking place for 17 years, and kicks off this morning at 10am. 

The race pitches members of the House of Commons, Lords and members of the press, with some of the more well-known participants scheduled to take part this morning including the BBC's Nick Robinson, George Parker from the Financial Times, Gary Gibbon from Channel 4 News and Ealing North MP Steve Pound, though presumably numbers might dwindle if any big political story breaks

For more, see http://www.rehab.ie/pancake-race/index.aspx

^Picture © Charlotte Coneybeer used under a Creative Commons license^

3 March 2014

Spend the night at Hampton Court

Deep in the heart of Hampton Court Palace, through a door off the network of Tudor brick courtyards that surround Henry VIII’s great kitchen, is Fish Court, a small holiday flat once used by the Officers of the Pastry, which later became part of a grace-and-favour apartment, and is now available to all who can afford to hire it for a stay within the walls of the great Tudor palace. Whilst it is still available to rent by the week through the Landmark Trust charity, it was with some disquiet yesterday that your author discovered that there will be no more bookings available at Fish Court after the end of 2014.

There is no explanation as to the reason for this change, or suggestion on whether it will be permanent, and perhaps it is the Landmark Trust who no longer consider the apartment viable, but if you don't want to risk never staying in this apartment just off the tourist route through the palace, a number of chances still exist to book your stay. When your author visited the experience was quite magical, offering plentiful people-watching opportunities from the upstairs window, and even the chance to join the night watchmen on their after-dark patrol around the precincts of Henry VIII's palace.

For details, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/fish-court-7006

2 March 2014

Attend the Maslenitsa Russian Festival

If the passing of the Sochi Winter Olympics has left you in the mood for more things Russian, or at least hasn't put you off Russia altogether, then there's a free festival in Trafalgar Square today just for you. The Maslenitsa Russian Festival offers an onslaught of Russian culture which we are told will feature live Russian folk music, dancing and children’s shows, with plenty of scope for audience interaction.

We are told that the festival is a Russian Orthodox religious celebration with an older pagan festival welcoming the arrival of spring, and hopefully some springtime weather will be on offer today to make it pleasant, though at the time of writing the forecast was inconclusive. If it's cold, at least there will be Russian food, such as beef stroganoff, borscht, pelmeni dumplings and bubliki and vatrushki pastries available to warm attendees from stalls on the square. Zdravstvui Maslenitsa! as the mayor would no doubt want us to say...

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

^Picture © Maks Karochkin used under a Creative Commons license^

1 March 2014

Eat in the Global Generation Skip Garden Cafe

Your author paid a visit to the Global Generation Skip Garden Cafe in King's Cross at the end of last week, and enjoyed a reasonably-priced lunch in a yurt in the garden just to the North of the new(ish) Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London buildings. The Skip Garden is an organic vegetable garden in skips and movable containers on an old bus car park in a quiet corner of what is one of the biggest development sites in Europe, and its cafe is open to all Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 10am - 4pm and the first Saturday of each month.

The cafe offers tea, filter coffee and home baked cakes, and lunchtime favourites including vegetable soups and stews, vegetable sides, and specials like macaroni and cheese, and as today is that first Saturday of the month, the 'pop-up cafe' opening will be offering an expanded menu. You can choose to eat and drink at tables outside the cafe, or among the plants used to prepare your food in the Skip Garden, or even - in case of inclement weather - in the cosy on-site yurt which sometimes boasts a roaring fire in its wood burning stove.

For more, see http://globalgeneration.org.uk/news-growing-a-garden/505-the-skip-garden-cafe-is-open