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



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31 August 2014

Attend the Horniman Music Festival

Summer isn't quite over, and to show it there's a free mini music festival at the Horniman Museum and Gardens all afternoon, with world music on the bandstand and across the gardens, which we are told will feature carnival parades, 'extravagant' brass bands, 'curious' pop-up performances.

There will also be storytelling, family trails, face painting, food and dance in a free event which sounds like a great way to while away a south London afternoon.

For more, see http://www.horniman.ac.uk/visit/events/horniman-music-festival

30 August 2014

Mark National Paralympic Day in the Olympic Park

They're celebrating National Paralympic Day in the Olympic Park today, combining it with the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival and bringing live international sport to the Copper Box and the Aquatics Centre.

There's also the chance to meet ParalympicsGB&NI athletes, plenty of visual arts, lots of different types of dance, street theatre, live music, film, installations and children's activities throughout the park, and even a deaf rave.

For more, see http://paralympics.org.uk/npd2014-london

^Picture © The British Paralympic Association^

29 August 2014

Admire the view from the Shard

Always quite a way behind the curve, your author had often looked at it longingly from the platforms at London Bridge, but not yet found the time or money to go up the Shard. However, a few weeks ago in exchange for signing a few books in the gifty, the good sorts at the View from the Shard let him go up the tower, where the views were even better than expected.

Two lifts take visitors up to level 69 in a moment, where indoor galleries and funny little computers help to identify landmarks, and there is even a bar for those who can't bear being at this height without any booze. Then a few short flights of steps continue to level 72, where some panels of glass are absent, making it feel a bit like being outside.

Your author has flown over London in helicopters and aeroplanes, and been to a number of other London heights like the London Eye, the top of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), the dome of St Paul's and the Arcelormittal Orbit, but nowhere has competed with the Shard for understanding London's geography, with views across the vast Thames valley from the North Downs to the Chilterns, and all the way down the winding industrial Thames to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. Sure, it's a lot of cash to go up there and it's full of gawping grockles, but on a special occasion, and for those with a love of London, it's really worth it.

For more, see http://www.theviewfromtheshard.com/en/

28 August 2014

Sit out in Soho Square

Originally laid out in the 1670s, and named King's Square after the newly restored King Charles II, Soho Square was previously a private garden, and was only leased to the City of Westminster in 1954, after which it became permanently open to the public.

Sitting at the heart of one of the busiest parts of London, it is hardly surprising that the Square has been a frequent source of inspiration to writers and musicians, with Dickens featuring it in A Tale of Two Cities, and more recently the late Kirsty MacColl penning the song Soho Square, which features he lyrics: "One day I'll be waiting there, No empty bench in Soho Square", now fittingly preserved on one of the benches.

For more, see https://www.westminster.gov.uk/soho-square-gardens

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

27 August 2014

Go late at the Science Museum

Another late night event at the Science Museum this evening, this time examining the science of hedonism, exploring the scientific elements of sex and drugs and rock and roll with the team from Guerilla Science.

We are told the event will examine cures for hangovers, anatomical life drawing, an examination of sex in Britain, some mapping of the body, a talk on the evolution of pleasure and another on the taste of music, as well as offering some sort of sensory speed dating experience. There will also be live music, a pub quiz, Punk Science comedy shows and a silent disco.

For more, see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/plan_your_visit/lates.aspx

^Picture © The Drums of Science used under a Creative Commons license^

26 August 2014

See the Charter Oak

Recognised as one of the 'Great Trees of London', the Bexley Charter Oak in Danson Park is around 200 years old, and takes its name from  Bexley's Charter to become a Municipal Borough, which was presented by Lord Cornwallis underneath the Oak in 1937.

The Oak was originally part of the Danson House estate, and is now featured on Bexley's coat of arms. It now stands locked away behind a fence, either to protect it from escaping and wreaking havoc over neighbouring boroughs, or to protect its delicate root system from damage.

For more, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8256000/8256682.stm

^Picture © Marathon used under a Creative Commons license^

25 August 2014

Attend the Notting Hill Carnival

You'll need an umbrella if you're heading to west London today for the Notting Hill Carnival, as heavy rain and mist are forecast, but on the plus side the crowds should be smaller than you might have previously experienced. Usually crowds of up to a million people descend on the streets between Notting Hill Gate and the Regent's Canal, so that may be no bad thing.

The Carnival's history is vague in places, and it's unclear whether the first one took place in 1964, which would make this year the 50th anniversary, or 1965, or even 1966, the first year for which the Notting Hill Carnival Trust has documentary evidence to confirm a Notting Hill Carnival took place. It's probably all for the best, however, as this way it gets three important birthdays.

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

24 August 2014

Spend a regency weekend at Apsley House

The London home of the Dukes of Wellington is cared for nowadays by English Heritage, and this weekend they're throwing a themed Regency Weekend house party which we are told will help us discover the truth behind the glory days of Wellington.

Usual entry charges apply, and attendees should hope to explore the world of the Prince Regent and the rigours of courtly life, as well as the regimes of the Red Coats during their combat campaign and life and laughter in regency England. Available details are rather scant, but the house is an interesting place to visit so attendance isn't too risky.

For more, see https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/regency-weekend-Aps-24-08-2014/

23 August 2014

Attend the Notting Hill Panorama

For those who find Notting Hill Carnival a bit much, but still enjoy the music and want to get in the festive spirit, the Notting Hill, the National Panorama Competition is he perfect opportunity. On the Saturday before the Carnival starts, many of the steel bands participating on Monday come together for a special event to compete in a park and be judged on who is the best.

This evening from 7 - 10pm, the bands gather in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park, which from tomorrow will be right at the heart of the Carnival, as bands begin their route, for a free evening event which promises a Caribbean atmosphere.

For more, see https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-London-Notting-Hill-Carnival/

^Picture © David Hawgood used under a Creative Commons license^

22 August 2014

See Henry Moore's Large Spindle Piece

The new square in front of King's Cross Station will always be plagued by traffic, but it's doing its absolute best to make it as pleasant as possible. The latest addition, installed earlier this month and on loan for five years, is a three metre high bronze by Henry Moore known as Large Spindle Piece 1974.

We are told that this location is especially fitting for a work by Moore, as King's Cross is a good station to access his former home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire, now home to the Henry Moore Foundation, and his native city of Leeds in Yorkshire, now home to the Henry Moore Institute. This is true, but it's an interesting enough sculpture in its own right, and you don't need to create imaginary purpose for its location to enjoy it.

For more, see http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/aug/08/henry-moore-bronze-sculpture-kings-cross-station

21 August 2014

Eat burgers at Haché

Your author doesn't often write about restaurants, but chance took him to Haché in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, on Monday night and the experience was agreeable, so it seemed like a good opportunity to write about one. Established by former advertising bods Suzie and Beresford Casey in 2004 in Camden's Inverness Street, with the help of their family, the restaurants specialise in burgers, which are served quickly and to a high standard.

The staff were friendly, the food was good and the company was excellent, so - apart from music that was a bit too much for a quiet restaurant on a Monday night - there was not a lot to be changed, which is lucky considering that the Shoreditch branch only opened last year. It seems to be a big thing for Haché that they are a family company, so let's hope they can keep standards high if they expand further.

For more, see www.hacheburgers.com

^Picture © Ewan Munro (Hache Chelsea) used under a Creative Commons license^

20 August 2014

Sit on the wall at the Cutty Sark

The cooler days and longer nights are here to remind us that summer will soon be over, but this almost always happens, usually followed by a hot spell in September to remind us all how nice the weather can be. Regardless, there is not long now to take advantage of one of your author's top London pleasures, a half of ale on the wall at the Cutty Sark pub on Ballast Quay in Greenwich.

Thankfully, last year's rumours that a safety rail was to be installed on the wall came to nothing, with the removal of a step appearing to suffice and so this Greenwich pleasure remains intact, with plenty of boats still passing, and a little bit of industrial heritage just downstream - albeit being quickly eroded to make way for 'luxury flats'- to remind us of when this pub, dating in its current form from around 1795, stood among industrial dockyards with ships tied up to the quay outside.

For more, see http://www.cuttysarkse10.co.uk/

19 August 2014

See the John Lewis Roof Garden

John Lewis is 150 years old this year, and to celebrate they're holding an exhibition in their Oxford Street store, and inviting us to take in the sun in their Roof Garden until 31 August. Your author popped in recently for an event to promote new festival OnBlackheath and was both pleased that this new place had been opened to the public in the centre of town, and disappointed admiring the view that so few other rooftops in the area seemed to be inviting people onto them.

The Roof Garden has been open since 3rd May, designed by RHS Young Garden Designer of the Year 2013 Tony Woods to include nectar-rich plants such as roses, lavender and wild flowers, and living wall schemes to encourage biodiversity.

For more, see http://www.johnlewis.com/our-shops/oxford-street/oxford-street-roof-garden

^Picture © Neil McCrae used under a Creative Commons license^

18 August 2014

Visit Charlton House Peace Garden

Opened in 2006 in support of Amnesty International’s ‘Stop the Violence Against Women’ campaign, the Amnesty International Peace Garden at Charlton House is certainly a peaceful place. The Peace Garden neighbours the Sensory Garden laid out in the 1950s, which leads into a the Pond Garden, which sadly no longer has a pond.

Found within the old walled gardens of Charlton House, the Peace Garden is a light-touch place, with just a few overtly political items such as a bronze by Margaret Higginson called Portage, designed to reflect the historical strength and spirit of women worldwide, who have to balance a variety of roles, and a Japanese Peace Pole, donated by Keiko Ito. Other than that, it's mostly peaceful flowers, bugs and butterflies.

For more, see http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/directory_record/2011/charlton_house

17 August 2014

Ride a Barclay's Bike for free

Amazingly, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has already been on London's streets for four years, and to celebrate their birthday, this weekend they're free to use. You'll still need a debit or credit card to hire one, but you won't be charged a penny providing you get it back to a docking station within 30 minutes and don't cause any damage.

Your author has never quite got on with the big clumsy things, but many swear by them and they have certainly helped to increase cycling in the city. Well done to Serco for making them work so well.

For more, see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/free-barclays-cycle-hire?cid=fs199

16 August 2014

Watch World Music in Richmond

It's the On the Edge free World Music festival by the river in Richmond all weekend, with musicians taking to the stage from noon until 8pm today and tomorrow for a mini-festival that encompasses line-up African, Creole, Moroccan, Latin, Spanish and Caribbean music.

With one band an hour on both days, and steel bands, reggae, Bollywood and more on offer there certainly isn't any chance of getting bored during the day, and even if you tire of the music the setting is perfect.

For more, see http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/leisure_and_culture/arts/arts_festivals/on_the_edge.htm

15 August 2014

Go late at the AcelorMittal Orbit

It seems like everything in London is having late openings nowadays, and last Friday your author attended the first in a series of late events at the AcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park. Though at the start the event was slightly shambolic, with long bar queues and a chilly wind blowing through, eventually it settled down to be quite a nice evening with sounds and some music from Astronauts and a "synth-folk drone-ballad" band called Transept.

Tonight, there's another event, and this evening will witness a silent disco at the top of the tower. Tickets are £17.50, which seems like an awful lot of money until you remember it's usually £15 to go up, and you don't usually get to watch it get dark over London.

For more, see http://arcelormittalorbit.com/orbit-lates/

14 August 2014

Have a sit in the Geffrye Museum reading room

Your author loves it when he finds a quiet place in a museum for a dedicated sit, and there is no better example than the light-filled Garden Reading Room at the Geffrye Museum in Hackney. The Room, just off the original chapel of the Geffrye Almshouses offers a selection of books on interiors and gardens that is thoroughly relevant to the museum, in a great example of a "for more information, read books" philosophical nudge.

Built in 1914 as a walkway around the chapel, the Room is built in timber with a calming garden mural and light-filled windows looking out onto the Museum's well-kept gardens. If you love it so much you want to help, the Museum is also fundraising to help to preserve the mural.

For more, see http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/explore-the-geffrye/also-explore/

13 August 2014

Listen to brass on the grass at Westminster Abbey

The summer season of free brass band concerts at Westminster Abbey has begun, stretching out before us into September, and today the Barclay's Bank Brass Band will be tooting their horns for our enjoyment, with coffee, tea, soft drinks and scones with clotted cream and jam available to buy, or a relaxed bring your own picnic policy.

It all kicks off at 12.30, and in the event of rain the band will decamp to St Margaret’s on other side of the Abbey. The concerts are in the College Garden, and to get there you need to enter via the cloisters off Dean's Yard, and explain to the friendly stewards why you're there.

For more, see http://www.westminster-abbey.org/music/concerts/2014/brass-on-the-grass-2014-barclays-bank-brass-band

^Picture © Abel Cheung used under a Creative Commons license^

12 August 2014

Eat breakfast at Simpson's in the Strand

For the past year or so, your author has been meeting a few friends every once in a while for an early breakfast somewhere in London, and Simpson's in the Strand has long been on the cards for some time. Yesterday, the chance arose for breakfast in the Grand Divan restaurant, originally opened in 1828 as Samuel Reiss's Grand Cigar Divan, and soon becoming a chess club and coffee house, before eventually finding its niche as the place to eat traditional meaty English dishes about 1870, attracting such notable customers as P.G. Wodehouse, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used it as a location in Sherlock Holmes short story The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.

The Grand Divan restaurant on the ground floor is certainly a luxurious place to eat breakfast. It was eerily deserted at first, but slowly began to fill with a few customers as the 9am witching hour approached. The food was good, and not prohibitively expensive, although the serving staff did have a frustrating habit of bringing things that were not ordered, which subsequently appeared on the bill. All in all, it was a good place to breakfast though, and the best thing about eating early is that things can be kept relatively inexpensive even in the grandest settings in London, as wine is not on the menu.

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

11 August 2014

Drink tea at the Tea House Theatre

Opened in 2011 by co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys Hal Iggulden, the Tea House Theatre was once a strip pub called the Queen Anne, but a lot has changed since then, and this former Victorian pub, built in 1886, is now much more of a tea, cake and knitting sort of a place than its former pound-in-a-pint-pot days.

When your author popped in a little while ago, there was a toddler sing-a-long taking place, with acoustic guitars, but the atmosphere was still pleasant, and the tea and cake were excellent. This is less of a pub closure than a pub reinvention, with plenty of evening events, many of which even feature wine, and the results are positive.

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

10 August 2014

See Ryoji Ikeda's Spectra

The tower of light which has been visible across London over the past week, commemorating the beginning of the First World War, will be permanently extinguished at dawn tomorrow, 11th August, bringing to an end a thought-provoking week for London. The installation, created by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda and London-based arts organisation ArtAngel, consists of a twenty-metre grid on Victoria Tower Gardens beside the Houses of Parliament containing forty-nine searchlights, all pointed skyward to create an intense column of light.

The light was unannounced, and when your author rode by on his bike in the days before he was even slightly annoyed that the public park appeared to be being appropriated for some sort of corporate summer party. In fact, when the column appeared in the sky at dusk on Monday it was a poignant echo of the start of the War, and over the last seven nights as we all go about our business in various part of the city between sunset and sunrise, it has continued to remind us of what was happening a century ago.

For more, see http://www.artangel.org.uk/projects/2014/spectra/about_the_project/spectra

^Picture © Jim Crossley used under a Creative Commons license^

9 August 2014

Remember the Bow Suffragettes at Toynbee Hall

The East London Suffragette Festival has been running since the beginning of the month, culminating today in a free day-long session at Toynbee Hall with talks, discussions, poetry and storytelling sessions, and more informal stalls with arts, crafts, facepainting, refreshments and a jumble sale throughout the day.

It's all part of the celebration of 100 years since the radical East London Federation of Suffragettes was established in Bow, and its a great chance to engage with local history in east London and hear from some interesting and engaging types on the way.

For more, see http://eastlondonsuffragettes.tumblr.com/toynbeehall

^Picture © Tom Bastin used under a Creative Commons license^

8 August 2014

Eat and drink at the London Beer Dispensary

Your author has largely shunned the 'craft beer revolution' on the basis that he has always drunk ale and there is a danger with fashionable things that they may go out of fashion again, but in a time of closing pubs, flickering screens and blaring music it's hard to fault the London Beer Dispensary in Crofton Park, a beautifully-put-together place so keen to dispense with peripheral distractions that it has removed its bar, and just offers good beer in aesthetically-pleasing surroundings.

The bar is the work of the Late Knights Brewery in Penge, which despite its questionable website produces good beer, and clearly knows how to put a nice bar together. The food (served daily 12noon-3pm and 5pm-10pm) was also good, and the staff were so friendly and polite it was difficult to believe it was all true. It only leaves one question...is the London Beer Dispensary a pub? Yes, of course it is.

For more, see http://www.lateknightsbrewery.co.uk/bars.html

^Picture © London Beer Dispensary - Late Knights Brewery^

7 August 2014

See Old London Bridge at St Magnus the Martyr

Every other time your author has tried to visit the Church of St Magnus the Martyr, beside London Bridge, the doors have been shut, but yesterday volunteers were on hand to open them, and display the particular highlight that had been so enticing, the model of Old London Bridge that sits just inside the door, created in 1987 by model maker and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers David Aggett.

The model obviously involves a little artistic license, but shows the bridge as it would have looked in about 1400, when St Magnus the Martyr stood at its northern end, just as it does today. There are plenty of other things to see in this historic church, which has been a place of worship since at least the 11th century dedicated to St Magnus of Orkney, but rebuilt following the Great Fire of London to designs by Sir Christopher Wren and repaired after bomb damage during the Second World War. One highlight is a piece of Roman wharf beneath the tower outside.

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2012/09/30/a-scale-model-of-old-london-bridge/

6 August 2014

Drink tea at the Mulberry Tea Rooms

Certainly a distinctive place to have tea, the Mulberry Tea Rooms are situated in the galleried central hall of Charlton House, south east London's Grade I listed Jacobean mansion, with tea, coffees and sandwiches available weekdays from 9am - 4pm to enjoy inside, or on the terrace outside overlooking the gardens.

The House was originally built for Sir Adam Newton, Dean of Durham, as parts of the building are sometimes attributed to architects John Thorpe, Norman Shaw and Inigo Jones, it is amazing how the use of the building by a local council can transform what should be a magical place, especially considering its setting in urban sprawl, to a utilitarian setting where bureaucrats shuffle papers and the grandest room in the building is chosen for a purposeless security desk, placed at its centre. This said, it all added to the charm of London's grandest council house for your author.

For more, see http://charlton-house.org/visit/tea-rooms

5 August 2014

Visit the Imperial War Museum's First World War Galleries

The Imperial War Museum reopened a few weeks ago, after £40 million worth of work to add lots of extra gift shops, cafes, and space for commercial events. Whilst your author wasn't particularly taken with the changes to the other galleries on a recent visit - full of unlabelled exhibits, sponsor advertising & politics - the new First World Galleries are stunning and well worth a visit.

At present, during school holidays and at the time of the centenary of the beginning of the war, you are likely to have to queue or face timed entry to get into the galleries, but when you do there is certainly enough information to go around. In fact, the approach of the new galleries seems to be to engage everyone individually all the time, rather than making it a collective experience, which is rather welcome. The galleries, designed by Foster & Partners, inevitably examine life on the various fronts, via photography, video, first hand accounts, interactive push-button distractions and original artefacts. It's well worth a visit if you can find a quiet time to do so.

For more, see http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/first-world-war-galleries

4 August 2014

Watch the Great War Centenary Parade

As part of numerous events to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War today, a Great War centenary parade of Edwardian cars will be making its way around central London, departing from from Royal Chelsea Hospital at 10am.

The vehicles will travel initially from the Hospital to Lancaster House via the Chelsea Embankment, Millbank, Parliament Square, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and The Mall, where the cars will be on show from about 11am - 12.30pm. From there, they will depart for The Imperial War Museum via The Mall, Horse Guards Road, Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Palace Road and Lambeth Road, then depart for Chelsea Hospital again at 4pm.

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

3 August 2014

Attend the Hackney WickED Art Festival

It's the final day of the Hackney WickED Art Festival in east London today, with film, music, art installations, workshops, tours, talks, debates and trendy art types clustering together here in the sunshine to look at things of differing quality.

Expect a food market and bar in Queen's Yard and a stage with bands, a fete and graffiti in Forman's Yard and art across Hackney Wick, with other participating venues including Forman's, the CRATE Brewery & Pizzeria, the Yard Theatre, the View Tube and the Arcelor Mittal Orbit.

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

^Picture © eatingeast used under a Creative Commons license^

2 August 2014

See steam trains on the Hammersmith & City Line

Heritage and steam trains return once again to the Hammersmith & City Line this weekend and next to celebrate its 150th birthday.

It's too late now to pick up a ticket, but the trains will be out for the day, on a strict timetable between Northfields and Moorgate and Moorgate and Hammersmith, so you have every chance of spotting them, either today or next Saturday, when they'll be doing the same.

For more, see http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/heritage-vehicles-outings

^Picture © adam w used under a Creative Commons license^

1 August 2014

Visit the Clowns Gallery Museum & Archive

Many thanks to Ian Visits, who alerts us that the despite changes at Holy Trinity Dalston - which is lending space to a nearby school - the Clowns Gallery Museum and Archive remains intact and is open today to visitors.

It is open today, as it is on the first Friday of every month from 12 noon – 5pm.

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2014/07/29/this-friday-visit-the-clowns-museum-in-dalston/

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