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



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30 May 2014

Watch the GWR Paddington Band

Your author is away to the West today for the second weekend in a row, and this website will as a result not be updated until the middle of next week. For all those heading in the same direction, or anyone who enjoys some classical music on a Friday night, the GWR Paddington Band are performing for all passengers at Paddington Station from around 19.30pm until around 21.00pm, just as they do each Friday between Easter and Christmas.

Concerts take place on Platform 9 and feature marches, tunes from the shows, classics and popular songs, in a tradition that can trace its history back to before 1923, when the Great Western Railway and Paddington Borough prize silver band would perform regularly, with its successor the Great Western Railway Staff Military Band later giving performances on the station lawn.

For more, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/tiredoflondon/14277926386/

^Picture © Helix Yoga^

29 May 2014

Explore the hidden history Of Putney Library

Many thanks to Londonist for tipping us off that it's Wandsworth Heritage Festival at the moment, continuing until 8th June. Today's highlight is a secret behind the scenes tour of Putney Library, including visits to staff areas and other hidden rooms, in an attempt to tell us about the history of an interesting building.

It may not sound like the most exciting Thursday night out at first glance, but these sorts of tours help us to understand how the world and the places we know fit together, and Putney Library is certainly an interesting building. Funded by the 19th century publisher Sir George Newnes - hence Newnes Public Library in raised lettering on the front of the building - the Library was designed by Francis J Smith and completed in 1899. It was extended nearly a century later in 1996-1997, and we are told that the tour will make specific references to the First and Second World Wars.

For more, see https://gll-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/asset/attachment/6240/WandsworthHeriatgeBooklet2014.pdf

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

28 May 2014

See a show at the Ovalhouse

The Ovalhouse is a south London theatre just across the road from The Oval cricket ground, and was originally established in the 1930s as part of a Christ Church (Oxford) United Club, an youth club through which graduates of Christ Church, Oxford, attempted to provide for disadvantaged youngsters in south London with access to sports, training and leisure.

During the 1960s, under the leadership of warden Peter Caddwalladder Oliver, the Ovalhouse took a new direction, establishing itself as one of London’s most exciting experimental arts centres. Though Oliver left the centre in the 1970s to tour as an actor, before retiring to Nova Scotia, where he established another Theatre. Meanwhile, the Ovalhouse continued to go from strength to experimental strength, fostering the talents of gay, lesbian and women's theatre in the 1970s & 80s, and new Black and Asian writing in the 1990s. Today, it continues to offer interesting and engaging productions from its home in south London.

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

27 May 2014

Embrace the esoteric at Watkins Books

London's oldest esoteric bookshop is found at 21 Cecil Court, trading from a premises it has occupied since 1901. We are told that John M. Watkins had been trading in books since 1893, when he had started selling books by catalogue in an attempt to embrace a late-Victorian tendency to question prevailing wisdom about the mind, body and spirit. Today, Watkins bills itself as one of the world's oldest and leading independent bookshops specialising in esoterica.

The shop passed to John's son Geoffrey following the founder's death in 1947, and though it was eventually sold to new owners, Geoffrey stayed on for many years before his death in the 1980s. It was then acquired by Donald Weiser in 1984, before being sold again in 1999 and saved from administration in 2010 by writer and entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld, who still owns it today.

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

26 May 2014

Attend the Anatolian Cultural Festival

London's annual celebration of all things Turkish has been running in Clissold Park in Stoke Newington since Friday and draws to a close this evening, but not before a whole day of Anatolian cultural events, including a display from the Turkish National Oil Wrestling Team, music from the Ottoman Marching Band, plays, shadow puppet shows and other exciting and unusual events.

There will also no doubt be a range of Anatolian food and drink, which in previous years has included traditional tea, coffee, breads, kebabs and ice creams, much of it prepared on site by professional cooks.

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

^Picture © Alan Denney used under a Creative Commons license^

25 May 2014

Attend the beer festival at the Red Lion, Isleworth

Thanks to Londonist, who tip us off that The Red Lion in Isleworth is holding its annual beer festival this weekend, with 50 beers, ciders and perrys, and music today from 3pm.

Entry is free, and there's a (paid) barbecue on offer, in a popular pub that has won accolades including Campaign for Real Ale local pub of the year award four times.

^Picture © Kake used under a Creative Commons license^

24 May 2014

See a Spitfire flypast at Ruxley Manor

Over at Ruxley Manor Garden Centre in Sidcup today they're commemorating all things World War II, with a Spitfire flypast at 11am, and a chance to meet distinguished war veterans from Bomber, Fighter and Coastal Commands, as part of events to recognise the 50th Anniversary of Ruxley Manor.

The Garden Centre started trading in April 1964, part of a company originally founded in 1876 by Henry Evans as H. Evans & Sons Ltd, which acquired Ruxley Manor Farm in 1960. Today's events are being held in conjunction with The Shoreham Aircraft Museum, based in Shoreham, Kent.

For more, see http://www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/dates_for_your_diary.cfm?ThisEventID=232

23 May 2014

See the Goaloids of Shepherd's Bush Green,

Originally installed to mark the London 2012 Olympic Games, the 41ft Goaloid sculptures on Shepherd's Bush Green are the work of artist Elliott Brook, and apparently  reference the 1908 British Olympic football team, who themselves won gold when at the White City Olympics.

We are told that the sculptures are made from goalposts, which sit on rotating turntables that allow them to revolve one way for 45 minutes, then the opposite way for another 45 minute, like a football match.

For more, see http://nnet-server.com/server/common/hfolympics012.htm

22 May 2014

See Notting Hill's Barney McMahon mural

In 1997, artist Barney McMahon was commissioned by the Notting Hill Improvement Group to brighten up what was then rather a dingy alley just off Notting Hill Gate. McMahon spent three months on the work, using paint provided by Simpsons Paints, and the results are still visible today to passers-by.

The alleyway connects Notting Hill Gate to Victoria Gardens, and where once it ran down the side of Damien Hirst's Pharmacy restaurant, now a rather less interesting branch of Marks and Spencer's has taken its place.

For more, see http://www.mcmahonart.com/index2.cfm?pg=7

21 May 2014

Go bouldering in Pimlico Gardens

Just behind Westminster Boating Base, which faces the Thames in Pimlico Gardens, Westminster, three plastic boulders offer a brief diversion to potential urban rock climbers of any age who want to practice in the heart of London.

Sure, they're not the most taxing such example in the world, and it didn't take your author more than thirty seconds to get to the summit of the largest example, but it's always pleasing to see something a bit different in our parks and gardens and these certainly fit the bill.

For more on Pimlico Gardens, see http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=WST080

20 May 2014

Go foraging in Lesnes Abbey Woods

Time certainly goes by quickly, and it's amazing to think it's over a month since your author took up a Saturday invitation to go foraging in Lesnes Abbey Woods with semi-professional forager Monica Wilde of Napiers Remedies. It was an enlightening experience, re-exploring an area of ancient woodland which once surrounded a wealthy Lesnes Abbey, and making use of Monica's considerable expertise to decipher what each plant was and whether or not it was edible.

The woods cover more than 200 acres of hillside and are rich with wildlife and home to just as wide a range of plants as any rural woodland, so they make an excellent ground for the urban forager seeking sustenance from fungi and woodland plants. Only the most blinkered urbanite can have failed to notice that plants have well and truly sprung into life in every little green place in the city, and leaf cover has returned to shade to the floor, but nevertheless, our woodlands remain rich with edible plants such as Chickweed, Alexanders and Common Hogweed, allowing foragers to follow in the footsteps of monks, peasants and neolithic men, in seeking sustenance in the woods.

For more on the woods, see http://www.visitlesnes.co.uk/

19 May 2014

Browse at Walden Books

A decent little second hand bookshop on a quiet residential Camden backstreet, Walden Books has been trading since 1979, run by former gardener David Tobin for all that time. It's a pretty little place on a leafy street, and where other houses on the street have neat little gardens, at Walden Books we find shelves packed with cut-price paperbacks and poetry.

Nowadays, it's easy to believe that independent traders like Tobin can no longer exist, and their shops have all become franchised coffee outlets or multi-million-pound town houses, but Walden Books remains, with books of all kinds packed into its shelves and happy customers still popping in as they have done for more than 30 years, either making a deliberate trip, or chancing upon the shop as your author did on the way down Harmood Street.

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

18 May 2014

Attend the Rickmansworth Festival

Your author spent last weekend helping a friend with locks between Berkhamsted and Uxbridge on the Grand Union Canal, and posters were plentiful for this weekend's Rickmansworth Festival, the 21st such festival under that banner, which began yesterday and continues today, extending from Batchworth Lock through the Aquadrome area beside the lakes to Rickmansworth itself.

The Festival attracts around 20,000 people each year, and today events take place from 10.30am til 5.30pm, with Morris Dancing, Folk Music, wildlife talks, canoeing, a dog show, exhibitions and an environmental fair.

For more, see http://www.rwt.org.uk/festival/

^Picture © Pete Coleman used under a Creative Commons license^

17 May 2014

Attend the Sommerbasar at the Danish Church

Each May, the Danish Church on St Katharine's Precinct on the eastern edge of Regent's Park, holds its Sommerbasar, offering Danes and others the chance to buy arts and crafts, design, food and books, and eat some hotdogs and Danish open sandwiches in the garden

This year's basar is open to non-Danes and takes place today from 11am until 5pm, also featuring children's activities in the sunny church garden, which will also have a beer and wine marquee for those who desire such things. The whole thing will be opened by Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, a Danish princess who lives in London.


16 May 2014

Have a nap at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Museums at Night continues this evening, with plenty of events for museum-lovers across London. Whilst some events are celebrating Friday with drink and even dancing in museums, over at the Guildhall Gallery they understand that we might have had a difficult week and are offering us a place for a power nap from 5pm-9pm.

The event features yoga teacher Erika Shapiro, who will be running taster sessions to help with  physical and mental relaxation, and artist Chantal Powell, who will be creating an art installation on the subject of sleep, which visitors will be able to take a piece of home.

For more, see http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/attractions-museums-and-galleries/guildhall-art-gallery-and-roman-amphitheatre/Pages/Events.aspx

^Picture © Elias Gayles used under a Creative Commons license^

15 May 2014

See some Museums at Night

The annual Museums at Night festival begins this evening, with more than 700 events taking place around the country over the weekend, including scores in London. Some, such as the band Public Service Broadcasting's gigs at the RAF Museum are already sold out, but there is plenty still on offer for Londoners who didn't know this was happening until now. Holborn's Hunterian Museum has an eerie free late night opening for fans of specimens in jars, Walthamstow's William Morris Gallery is teeing up a free workshop for anyone into letterpress, and for those who like big empty rooms and are in Westminster this evening, the Banqueting House on Whitehall will have a special opening.

In the City, the Museum of London will be holding a special digital city opening, whilst north London poetry fans could do worse than book a place at the Keats Museum in Hampstead (£8 including a drink), those based down south can enjoy an evening at the Horniman exploring Extremes and anyone left post-work in the very middle of town should hot-foot it to the National Portrait Gallery where they will find lectures, talks and a DJ.

For full listings, see http://www.culture24.org.uk/places-to-go/museums-at-night

14 May 2014

Find the Comedy & Tragedy Sculpture at the Barbican

Found on Gilbert Bridge deep within the highwalks of the Barbican Centre and beside the library-level entrance, the Barbican's Comedy & Tragedy sculpture was created in the mid-1990s by artist Matthew Spender.

The sculpture shows the golden Barbican Muse, a floating, reclining female figure, holding up the masks of comedy and tragedy, presumably in some sort of reference to the arts that go on in the neighbouring arts centre, apparently the largest in Europe.

For more, see http://www.shadyoldlady.com/location.php?loc=391

13 May 2014

Watch military displays at the Honourable Artillery Company

Even though they have a huge parade ground and barracks in the City of London, it can be amazingly easy to miss the Honourable Artillery Company, the second oldest military organisation in the world, the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army and an important part of the British Army Reserve. However, tonight the Company is on their annual charge to raise awareness of their existence with an open evening from 5pm - 8pm at Finsbury Barracks off City Road, and a variety of interesting and entertaining displays.

Visitors are told to expect a display by the Company's Pikemen, Musketeers, Light Cavalry and Band and Corps of Drums, as well as a chance to get inside the historic Armoury House including the acclaimed museum, and an opportunity to board a Chinook and watch a parachute drop by the RAF Falcons. There will also be music, bars and a free barbecue, and when your author last visited, a highlight was a rare chance to access the bar at the impressive Armoury House, the regiment's official home.

For more, see http://www.hac.org.uk/home/news/articles/hac-open-evening,-13-may-2014/

12 May 2014

Drink in Wilton's Mahogany Bar

The awful photograph below really doesn't do justice to the Mahogany Bar at Wilton's Music Hall, which is a beautiful spot, which we are told was built around 1725 as a public house, making it the oldest remaining part of Wilton's, the world's oldest surviving Grand Music Hall. Wilton's Music Hall is just beginning the latest stage of refurbishments to ensure this beautiful place remains open, so now is a great time to show your support for this amazing place.

In the late 1820s, the pub that had been known as The Albion Saloon and The Prince of Denmark was refurbished with a mahogany bar and fittings, rumoured to be one of the first such refits in London, and leading to the bar being rebranded as "The Mahogany Bar". Such was the recognition of this moniker that when John Wilton bought the building around 1850, in order to expand it to resemble the Music Hall we know today, he kept the name, as did the East London Methodist Mission, who acquired it in 1888 it was renamed The Mahogany Bar Mission.

For more, see http://wiltons.org.uk/text.php?p=532

11 May 2014

Step into the artists studios of Dulwich

The annual Dulwich Festival has begun, and this weekend and next weekend the artists of the area are opening up their homes to display and share their wares, often in the very rooms where they are created.

A truly remarkable 200+ artists are opening their doors to the likes of us over this weekend and next weekend, celebrating what is the 10th year of Artists' Open House at Dulwich Festival. The art on offer covers most media and style, with a necessary tendency to be the sort of thing that can be displayed in a house, and sold to members of the public. Those looking to get the most out of their days should definitely download the programme or pick it up along the way, as it has some very helpful maps.

For more, see http://www.dulwichfestival.co.uk/openhouse

10 May 2014

Visit Catford Bus Garage

TfL's Year of the Bus continues today with a special open day at Catford Bus Garage, and whilst that certainly won't appeal to everyone, readers can expect it will be a popular event. Those who make the trip are told to expect more historic vehicles and special family events.

Highlights will include free vintage rides, a Year of the Bus exhibition, the chance to ride a bus through a bus wash a behind the scenes look at the maintenance area, bus-themed craft sessions, a London Transport Museum pop-up shop and various stalls.

For more, see http://www.stagecoachbus.com/Catford%20100.aspx

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

9 May 2014

Watch a film at Herne Hill Velodrome

Herne Hill Free Film Festival began last Friday, and this evening sees a screening of Haifaa al-Manso's critically acclaimed 2012 Saudi Arabian–German film Wadjda, which tells the story of a girl who joins a Koran recitation competition to raise the money she needs to buy a bike,fittingly enough screened at Herne Hill Velodrome.

Those who live within easy commute of Herne Hill can look forward to a good few weeks of films in pubs, parks, lidos and cafes, with Herne Hill Free Film Festival running until the end of the month.

For more, see http://www.freefilmfestivals.org/whats-on/herne-hill/details/244-wadjda.html

^Picture © Stuart used under a Creative Commons license^

8 May 2014

Observe the time by tree and bee

Since April and until June, the brilliant Cathy Haynes is spending some time as Chisenhale Gallery's artist in residence in Victoria Park, exploring the concept of time by re-imagining the park as Stereochron Island, a place outside the reach of the standard clock. Today, Stereochron Island hosts a lunch hour examination of time, which we are told is an "opportunity to break that rhythm and luxuriate in a different sense of time from the rush-rush of the mechanical clock", and sounds very nice indeed.
Today's event draws on the expertise of London Wildlife Trust ecologist Tony Wileman to examine how we can observe the natural rhythms of other species and relearn how to not be beholden to mechanical time. It's one of a series of events on Stereochron Island, culminating with a Making Midsummer Solar Clocks workshop on 22nd June.

For more, see http://stereochron.org/events

^Picture © Cathy Haynes^

7 May 2014

Buy floating books at Word on the Water

You've almost certainly heard of Word on the Water, the self-styled London Bookbarge that plies its trade along London's canals, but it is such a great addition to our city that it seems worthy of another mention. The barge has been open for a couple of years now, spending its time at various locations usually between Hackney and Paddington, via Camden and Angel, and the last few times your author has seen it, it has been moored up right outside the Hammersmith and City Line Station entrance at Paddington Station.

The Telegraph tells us that the boat is owned by Paddy Screech, John Privett of Archway's Word on the Street, and "a mysterious Frenchman called The Captain", which along with resident cats, poetry slams, readings, live music and a great selection of books makes for a charming and interesting addition of London's second hand book scene.

For more, and current location information, see https://twitter.com/wordonthewater

6 May 2014

Find the Robert Hooke Biodiversity Bell

Found in the Festival Garden beside St Paul’s Cathedral is the Robert Hooke Biodiversity Bell. Designed by sculptor Marcus Vergette and cast at Taylor's bell foundry in Loughborough using a mould of fossil-rich Portland limestone, the Bell is a scale model of a much larger version proposed for MEMO, the Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory on the Isle of Portland, designed to be rung every time a new species becomes extinct.

The Bell is cast from Portland Stone in reference to Robert Hooke, the polymath often described as one of the most brilliant and versatile of English scientists, who deduced that species become extinct after observing giant ammonites found in Portland stone. Hooke sounds like a thoroughly interesting chap, and was at one time curator of experiments and a member of the council at the Royal Society, Gresham Professor of Geometry, and a Surveyor of the City of London in the aftermath of the the Great Fire.

For more, see http://www.roberthooke.org/page7.html

5 May 2014

Attend the May Fayre at Petts Wood Hall

It's May Fayre time at Petts Wood Memorial Hall in far South East London today, with maypole dancing, drumming, choirs, dance and various festive stalls to help welcome the summer.

Visitors can expect representations from The Quilters' Guild, fine art, Botton's Family Fun Fair, and live music and performance from the likes of Liam Smith, the Petts Wood Operatic Society, and the Pip Squeaks.

For more, see http://mayfayre.pettswoodhall.co.uk/

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

4 May 2014

See the Seething Freshwater Sardine Festival

Over in Seething Wells in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames today, they're celebrating the humble sardine, with the Seething Freshwater Sardine Festival, part of Surbiton Food Festival. The event is a nod to Surbiton's historic freshwater sardine industry, which saw catches of freshwater sardines in this part of the Thames from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries.

Sardines were reintroduced to the area around 2005, and some are even said to have escaped into the Thames, so the Sardine Festival will feature a chance to see (small) sardine catch, as well as join a sardine procession, and have some barbecued sardines, and do all the other things we do at festivals.

For more, see http://www.seethingwells.org/Seething_Freshwater_Sardines.html

3 May 2014

Go to the Canalway Cavalcade

Over in Little Venice today, and all weekend, the canal boaters of London and beyond gather for the annual London Canalway Cavalcade, a mini festival on the water and in the surrounding areas with festive offerings such as Morris dancing, Punch and Judy, boat rides, song and a boat pageant.

As well as around 100 canal boats we're also told to expect stalls and exhibitions from various canal-centric and community organisations, as well as competitions, games, food and a real ale bar. As long as it's good weather it promises to be a great festival, which continues until Monday at 5pm.

For more, see https://www.waterways.org.uk/events_festivals/canalway_cavalcade_2014/canalway_cavalcade_2014

^Picture © Eugene Regis used under a Creative Commons license^

2 May 2014

Attend a folk club on a pirate ship

Sure, Sir Francis Drake wasn't technically a pirate, but he did a lot of plundering treasure on the Spanish Main and privateering was a grey area. Regardless, tonight your author is off to the Tiller Flat Folk Club on the Golden Hinde II, a replica of Drake's famous circumnavigating flag ship, for folk music and some booze from 7pm - 11pm.

The evening is hosted by Woody Newman III, and we are told that tonight we will be given the chance to see Stick in the Wheel, The Rough Island Band and Vronsky, if that means anything to you. Entry is £3, the Golden Hinde II is moored in St Mary Overie dry dock near London Bridge, and there is a bar on board.

For more, see http://www.goldenhinde.com/tiller-flat-folk-club/

1 May 2014

Follow the Deptford Jack

It may be a drizzly Thursday morning, but summer is nearly here, and today is May Day prompting the Deptford Jack to take to the streets of South East London to mark the season. The Blackheath Morris Men - under the guise of the Fowlers Troop - performs its traditional start-of-summer Jack in the Green each May Day, having revived an event which the original Troop performed until about 1906.

The event kicks off at 11.30am at the Dog and Bell in Deptford, and proceeds via the pubs of Deptford and Greenwich to the Ashburnham Arms, where events finish up about 5pm. If you're one of the vast majority of people who have to work today, you can see the Jack just after 1.30pm at the Old Royal Naval College if your work is in Greenwich and you have a lunch hour or otherwise consider asking your boss for holiday next May Day, or heading to Hastings over the weekend for their much bigger celebrations.

For more, see http://www.deptford-jack.org.uk