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



For more regular updates, visit Tom's Britain, a new website about things to do in Britain.


17 July 2015


This blog has existed since October 2008, and has been written almost-daily since the 2 January 2009. It's given birth to books, it has taken your author to every corner of this beautiful city on a much more regular basis than before to explore the best London has to offer, and it has made him some truly great friends he hopes to have for the rest of his life. From this week, however, your author will be spending rather less time in the capital, and as a result it will become more difficult to add daily updates here. As such, less regular updates will continue here, and a new website Tom's Britain will also cover interesting things to see and do in other parts of Britain.

Of course, this will beg the question of whether your author is tired of London. This website began because he was beginning to get tired of it, but it not only cured that malaise, it helped to fall in love with the city in a far deeper way than he ever had before. Our capital city is the best in the world, but of course that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other things to see on this Great island which are outside London, and it's time to have another look at them. That said, whether it likes it or not, London is part of Britain and as well as things to do in London continuing to be covered here, they'll also feature on the new website, just not every single day as for the last nearly-seven-years.

So, keep visiting for less regular London updates, or visit http://www.tomsbritain.com/ for more from elsewhere.

15 July 2015

Listen to Brass on the Grass at Westminster Abbey

Each summer, Westminster Abbey hosts a free series of brass band concerts in College Garden, which is accessible for non-Abbey-ticket-holders via the cloisters to the rear of the Abbey. Today's concert kicks off at 12.30pm and features Regent Brass, a traditional brass band from Wembley in North West London.

The concert is part of a series of Wednesday brass concerts on the grass which continue until mid-September. Refreshments, sandwiches and cream scones are usually available and in case of rain the concert will decamp to St Margaret's Church in front of the Abbey.

For more, see http://www.westminster-abbey.org/music/concerts/2015/brass-on-the-grass-lunch-time-music

13 July 2015

Seek the site of the King's Bench Prison

Originally the King's Bench Prison, and later the Queen's Prison and the Southwark Convict Prison, a prison stood on the site of what is now the Scovell Estate in Borough from 1758 until 1880, replacing a medieval prison which had taken its name from the King's Bench court of law in which cases of defamation and  bankruptcy were heard, amongst others.

In an area with plenty of Dickensian connections, it is probably little surprise that the site is mentioned in his work, and Mr Micawber in David Copperfield is imprisoned for debt in the King's Bench Prison. The Scovell Estate which occupies the site today was built in the 1970s and consists of pleasant low-rise cottagey and rather homely houses administrated by Southwark Council, with some owned by long term leaseholders.

For more, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Bench_Prison

12 July 2015

Celebrate Bastille Day in Borough Market

It's Bastille Day on Tuesday, and to celebrate Borough Market is hosting a special French event, with food and drink,  traditional waiter’s races, bi-lingual storytelling, face painting, and petanque playing.

Then this evening from 6pm until 9pm, the Green Market host more celebrations, with music, eating, drinking, dancing and singing.

For more, see http://boroughmarket.org.uk/bastille-day-celebrations-sunday-12th-july-2015

^Picture © Catherine Sharman used under a Creative Commons license^

11 July 2015

Attend Barnes Fair

The 41st Barnes Fair kicks off on Barnes Green this morning from 9.30am, with live music, food and drink and some three hundred stalls, plus special medieval themed special element, celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

A grand parade of medieval themed floats will also feature, making its way around Barnes between about at 11am and 11.45am. Other demonstrations include ballet, youth dance and karate.

For more. see http://www.barnesfair.com/

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

10 July 2015

Watch tennis in King's Cross

Your author drank Pimm's and pretended to watch tennis until the sun set last night in the new Lewis Cubitt Square, a perhaps temporary place to be beside Central Saint Martins in the heart of one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe in King's Cross.

Children played in fountains, Murrays won at tennis, and everyone had a jolly nice time, whilst thirty-somethings tried to remember where they had spent hazy late nights nearby ("it was something to do with a freight yard and the clubs were called something like The Cross and The Key"). At lunchtimes, stalls serve food and in the evenings until the men’s final this Sunday, 12th July a big screen shows tennis to people lolling in deck chairs.

For more, see http://www.kingscross.co.uk/event/strawberries-screen-2015

9 July 2015


There's supposed to be a tube strike today, and so it seems the perfect opportunity for some evangelising about cycling in London. The best thing your author has done since he arrived in London is to buy a bike. It saves time, it helps you exercise and it helps you to understand the city better. Sure, it's rather dangerous, and our medieval street pattern isn't even designed for bicycles, let alone cars, buses and cycles all vying for the same piece of tarmac, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

You don't need thousands of pounds, an outfit made of lycra, or an encyclopaedic knowledge of bike maintenance to cycle in London. You just need a cheap bike and a willingness to follow confusing cycle routes, and probably an A to Z. You won't save the world, you shouldn't be angry with drivers, and you shouldn't go on and on and on about it. But perhaps it's ok once in a while to mention it as something worth trying...

For more, see https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/

8 July 2015

Attend the City Beerfest

Timed to coincide with the City of London Festival, the City Beerfest returns to Guildhall Yard today for its third year, featuring beers from 15 popular breweries and live music from Galway's We Banjo 3, 'powerhouse ensemble' The Kansas Smitty’s House Band, imaginary-island-based-conceptual-music-project Malphino and Cuban-born violinist and jazz musician Omar Puente.

So, it's not really raining, and your job really isn't that important, so switch off that computer early this afternoon and head to the City for boozing and music.

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

7 July 2015

Walk in Tavistock Square

Ten years ago today at 9.47am,18 year old Hasib Hussain blew himself up on the number 30 bus in Tavistock Square, killing Anthony Fatayi-Williams, Jamie Gordon, Giles Hart, Marie Hartley, Miriam Hyman, Shahara Islam, Neetu Jain, Sam Ly, Shayanuja Parathasangary, Anat Rosenberg, Philip Russell, William Wise, Gladys Wundowa and himself. The senseless loss of these lives will never be forgotten.

To mark ten years since the bombings, Londoners are being invited to get off their bus, train or tube a stop early and walk the last bit of the journey, in a simple moment of reflection and unity to remember those who lost their lives on 7th July 2005.

For more, see http://www.tavistocksquarememorialtrust.org/news/join-us-and-walktogether-on-7-july

^Picture © Duncan Harris used under a Creative Commons license^

6 July 2015

Risk booking a swim in the King's Cross pond

This time last week - having bought a ticket - your author trekked all the way to the new King's Cross man-made natural swimming pond for a lunchtime swim, only to be told on arrival that there was no swimming that day after all due to poor water quality. Though a refund has not been forthcoming, and the pond website was no longer working at the time of writing, those who have managed to take a dip insist it is worth the risk.

The 40 metre chemical-free pond is a temporary construction at the heart of the King's Cross construction site, and if you can manage to secure a booking, are lucky enough to be allowed to fulfil your booking and enjoy swimming in full view of a building site and a public viewing platform it's a great setting to do so, open weekdays from 6am - dusk and weekends from 8am - dusk. Tickets are£3.50 - £6.50 depending on time.

For more, see http://www.kingscross.co.uk/kings-cross-pond-club

5 July 2015

Seek the Secret Princess of Severndroog

A special interactive event as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, The Secret Princess of Severndroog sees Severndroog Castle in south east London imagined as a fairytale castle,by a theatre company.

Families are invited to help free a princess from a spell which has locked her up in the castle in a woodland walking adventure, whilst adults are still free to visit the interesting folly in its own right.

For more, see http://www.festival.org/whatson/160/the-secret-princess-of-severndroog/

4 July 2015

Attend the Bermondsey Carnival

The free Bermondsey Carnival takes place in Southwark Park today, with music, a funfair, food stalls, a rumble in the jumble jumble sale and a headline set from Deptford. New Cross' 70s rock hero Steve Harley and his band Cockney Rebel .

The carnival continues from noon until 8pm and also features the SE16 Dance Hall programmed by SE16 Dance and giveaways from Millwall FC.

For more, see http://www.southwark.gov.uk/events/event/3633/bermondsey_carnival_2015

3 July 2015

Watch the Waterloo Carnival procession

A miniature Waterloo Carnival takes place today, with a myths and legends theme featuring a mythical picnic at 11.30am, a carnival at 1.30pm and a musical finale at 2pm featuring Westminster legend Kate Hoey MP.

This evening sees a myths and legends themed after party at the Horse & Stables on Westminster Bridge Road, where attendees are invited to come as their own myth or legend.

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

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

2 July 2015

Attend the London Folkfest

Now in its 5th year, the London Folkfest begind at the Bedford in Balham today, and continues until Sunday, offering live music across three stages and a number of genres with a special Country & Americana flavoured evening on Saturday, especially for the 4th of July.

A celebrated Balham landmark, the Bedford was built as a hotel in the 1830's, and became famous in the 1960s and 70s as a live music venue which hosted early gigs by bands like The Clash and U2. Doors open at 7pm tonight and on Friday and Saturday and at noon on Sunday 5th July.

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

^Picture © Ewan Munro used under a Creative Commons license^

1 July 2015

Watch the sunset from the wall at the Cutty Sark

This post has been written before, but once again the sunset over the Thames at the Cutty Sark - on Ballast Quay in Greenwich - was fantastic. The pub is a fantastic spot, in a beautiful part of town, with little traffic except the boats and swans to interrupt the slowly setting sun. The pub dates in its current form from around 1795, and once stood among industrial dockyards with ships tied up to the quay outside.

Yesterday, the quayside was busy but far from packed, and the wall in front of the pub had plenty of space for latecomers to show up and enjoy the last rays of sunshine shimmering across the river estuary. Today is set to be another beautiful one, so make sure you get out and enjoy the evening. The most difficult step is the first one out of the door...

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

30 June 2015

Watch lunchtime comedy in Paternoster Square

If you've ever wondered what sorts of jokes would be told at a multinational-banking-and-financial-services-corporation-sponsored comedy show in a privately-owned public square which is home to the London headquarters of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and the third-largest stock exchange in the world, this lunchtime is your chance to find out.

At 1pm, in a free show as part of the City of London Festival, critically-acclaimed musical comedian Jay Foreman takes to the stage for a show in front of an audience who will presumably mostly be wearing smart clothes and eating hastily-bought pre-packaged sandwiches, for high finance types probably aren't really that different in their lunchtime plans, except that most of them will still be at their desks.

For more, see http://www.colf.org/whats-on/?EventID=1632

29 June 2015

Visit Culpeper Community Garden

Established in 1982 on half an acre of land behind what is now the big Sainsbury's at Angel Islington, the Culpeper Community Garden is run by people from the local community, and is divided up into 65 plots for local people and groups without gardens.

The garden takes its name from Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century English herbalist, and is run by an annually elected management committee of up to eleven, most of whom are active plot holders. It is open to the public daily and is a venue for regular events.

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

28 June 2015

Attend the Marylebone Summer Fayre

For around 300 years, one family have owned 92 acres of some of the most expensive land in the country, around Marylebone High Street and Harley Street. The land owned by the Howard de Waldens isn't the biggest aristocratic estate in central London, but it is worth some £3.2bn and makes a decent profit each year. The Estate also helps to promote the area and bring people to it and for the past eleven years, they have been hosting the Marylebone Summer Fayre in June, and this year's takes place mainly this afternoon.

The Fayre is held partly to give something back to the community and raise money for charity, and partly to ensure the continued profitability of their property portfolio by fostering a sense of community and bringing people to Marylebone to spend money, and today visitors to Marylebone can enjoy food, drink, music, craft stalls, a farmers’ market, tombola and 'community spirit', as well as a music stage and the chance to go shopping.

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

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

27 June 2015

Visit Eel Pie Island

The twice-yearly opportunity to get visit the usually-closed buildings of Eel Pie island in Twickenham takes place this weekend and next, with the Eel Pie Island Open Studios event

The private island is home to 26 artists' studios, in and around the boatyard, and this weekend and next you're invited to come inside as they open their doors to interested visitors, to flog their wares and have nice chats with visitors.

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

26 June 2015

Attend the Hampton Beer Festival

A brand new beer festival begins in Hampton in Middlesex this evening, with beers, ciders, and fundraising for a number of worthy charities.

The festival is based at the scout hut on Station Road, a short walk from the river and Hampton railway station, and not too far from Hampton Court itself. Beers are available from nearby Twickenham Fine Ales, Kew Brewery and the Windsor & Eton Brewery.

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

^Picture from Wikimedia Commons^

25 June 2015

Attend the Coffee, Cake and Book Group at Hackney Library

There's nothing like a book to help you relax and put things in perspective and at Hackney Central Library today you're invited to a regular book group aiming to offer you a lively discussion based around the classics and international texts.

We are told that lovers of Austen to Tolstoy via Dostoevsky and cake are especially welcome and this particular meeting will offer the chance to discuss Stoner by John Williams, copies of which are available at the library.

For more, see http://www.hackney.gov.uk/libraries-whats-on.htm#.VYsacvlViko

^Picture © Julian Walker used under a Creative Commons license^

24 June 2015

See Turner's view of Calais Pier

The small packet boat pictured arriving at Calais in J.M.W.Turner's Calais Pier is based on sketches made on the artist's first ever trip abroad, as he observed a small boat in similar difficulty approaching the port of Calais in 1802.

The painting was originally painted in oil on Canvas for the Royal Academy in 1803, and now hangs in Room 34 at the National Gallery, having been received as part of a bequest in 1856.

For more, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/joseph-mallord-william-turner-calais-pier

^Picture from Wikimedia Commons^

23 June 2015

Take breakfast at the Wolseley

In your author's experience there are very few restaurants in London where breakfast is completely unaffordable, and getting a reservation somewhere before 9am is almost always possible. As a result before work is a great time to explore some of the places where you otherwise might not dare, and though the Wolseley pushes price decency with a £5.75 bacon roll and a £16.50 Full English, it isn't a bad place to take breakfast, relaxing in the splendid setting of a Grade II* listed building that was once the Wolseley Motors Limited showroom,the 1920s creation of architect William Curtis Green.

As with most restaurants at this end of the market, things are never quite as good as everyone says they are, especially when you're on a budget (your author prefers Terry's), but when the company is right and the service is up to scratch, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King's modern take on a grand European cafe is as good a place as any to gear up for the day ahead

For more, see https://www.thewolseley.com

22 June 2015

Learn about the Ffestiniog Railway at Paddington

For many years, your author has been taking irregular holidays in Porthmadog in north Wales, a small town with an interesting history as a port fed by the slate mines of Snowdonia. The town is known for its transport and as well as the famous Porthmadog Ships it is served by the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway. The railway marks 150 years of passenger services this year, and this week one of its Pullman carriages is on show at Paddington to celebrate.

Built by craftsmen in the railway's Boston Lodge workshops, Pullman carriage 150 cost a cool quarter of a million pounds to build, and offers passengers the most comfortable journey possible along the little railway. It will be on platform eight of the railway until Saturday, 27th June and is free to visit, although the persuasive volunteers will probably convince you to take a trip to Snowdonia, so it is not entirely free...

For more, see http://www.festrail.co.uk/content/publish/news/458.shtml

21 June 2015

Enjoy the West End Live

The annual West End Live showcase kicked off yesterday, and continues today, offering the chance to see some of the most popular shows from West End theatres, with showcases from thirty-two different productions and plenty of other performers and exhibitors as well.

A short distance away in Leicester Square, the spiritual home of West End Live, a 1920s style Spiegeltent will also offer the chance to see some costumes up close, alongside a set box, kids’ activities, props and - we are told - dinosaur petting.

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

20 June 2015

Attend the Amnesty Blackheath book sale

The Amnesty International book sale returns to the Church of the Ascension in Dartmouth Row, on the western slopes of Blackheath today. The sale is one of Amnesty International’s most successful fundraising event in the UK, offering thousands of books and raising more than a quarter of a million pounds for the organisation over the last 40 years. Today, their annual book sale continues until 5pm, with carefully-sorted and generously donated books at very reasonable prices.

The church itself was first established as a chapel in 1697 by a relation of George Washington, the first president of the United States, and then rebuilt in 1750 and extended in 1838, before finally being declared a parish church on Ascension Day in 1883.

For more, see https://amnestybg.wordpress.com/next-booksale/

^Picture © Matt Jones used under a Creative Commons license^

19 June 2015

Admire the ceiling at Euston Station

You can read as much as you like on the internet, but there is nothing quite so convincing as a conversation in a pub, and so it was that a conversation began on Monday night with IanVisits on the virtues of the ceiling at Euston Station. Unconvinced, your author dropped in yesterday to see what all the fuss is about, and found a Brutalist masterpiece, hidden in plain sight above the wires, shops, shelves and  heads of people staring at screens.

The new Euston Station opened in 1968, built to designs by British Rail architects in consultation with Richard Seifert & Partners. It was a replacement for the original station known for its lost arch and grand Great Hall, which had been demolished in the early 1960s, and is not as grand or impressive as the original, but others agree that perhaps rather than mourning the loss of the original Victorian masterpiece, we should learn to love the station that replaced it and give its smooth functional lines a bit more space to breathe.

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2013/04/21/in-praise-of-euston-railway-station/

18 June 2015

Take a wildflower walk in Wanstead Park

This evening from 7.30pm as part of the Wanstead Park Festival the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group invite you for an evening walk among the wildflowers of Wanstead Park, in the company of botanist Tricia Moxey.

Run as part of the Epping Forest by the City of London Corporation, Wanstead Park covers 140 acres of east London and much of it was part of the grounds of Wanstead Manor until it was acquired by the corporation in 1880.

For more, see http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/epping-forest/sports-events-and-activities/Pages/wansteadparkfestival.aspx

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

17 June 2015

Watch free music at the Scoop

Much as your author objects to the sinister proliferation of privately owned public spaces, it's easy to distract anyone with free stuff, and each summer, the confusing named More London near City Hall holds its Free Festival at the Scoop an half-amphitheatre originally designed by Townshend Landscape Architects.

This lunchtime "old style RnB to 21st Century jazz" pianist, keyboardist and singer songwriter Arthur Lee plays a free gig at the Scoop from 12.30pm until 2pm.

For more, see http://www.morelondon.com/events/calendar/free-music-arthur-lea/?eID=5925

16 June 2015

Climb the Tulip Staircase

In just over a month the Queen’s House in Greenwich closes for refurbishment for nearly a year, with reopening set for the beginning of July 2016, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the building. That means you have only a few weeks before the closure to climb the Tulip Stairs - the first geometric self-supporting spiral stair in Britain - which is named after the flowers on its iron balustrade, even though they are really fleurs-de-lis.

Things being what they are, the staircase also has its own ghost story, based around a picture taken by Canadian couple the Reverend and Mrs Hardy in June 1966, although this seems unlikely to be true.

For more, see http://www.rmg.co.uk/queens-house/great-hall

^Picture © Kevan used under a Creative Commons license^

15 June 2015

Take the 'Magna Carta and the City' walk

Today marks 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede, and whilst that field near Windsor is almost certainly the most important location associated with it, the City of London played its own role in the events that led to this great moment in our history and was specifically named in the document, with London's Mayor appointed to ensure its provisions were adhered to.

The City of London is organising free daily walks exploring the City's connection with Magna Carta on a daily basis from now until 20th September. Those wishing to take one should meet at 11am at the underground entrance to Blackfriars Station on the northern side of Blackfriars Bridge.

For more, see https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/whats-on/Pages/Magna-Carta-800.aspx

^Picture © James Joel used under a Creative Commons license^

14 June 2015

Visit 19 Princelet Street

Refugee Week begins tomorrow, and continues until next Sunday, and in anticipation today your author will be spending the day at 19 Princelet Street in Spitalalfields, a fragile building in East London which opens only occasionally and is London's Museum of Immigration.

The house was built in 1719 by Samuel Worrall and quickly became home to a family of Huguenot weavers called the Ogiers, who had escaped from persecution in France. Since then, the story of the house has mirrored the history of the East End, in a fascinating story retold at 19 Princelet Street, the Museum of Immigration.

The building is open today Sunday 14th June from noon until 5pm and again next Sunday 21st June, from noon until 5pm. For more, see http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/

13 June 2015

Visit London's secret gardens

It's London Open Garden Squares weekend today and tomorrow, with 200 gardens - many of which are usually closed to us proles - open to explore across 27 boroughs.

The event offers a real mix of private gardens, those which aren't usually open to visit at weekends and some which are always open, but you might not have got round to visiting.

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

^Picture © Nick Jeffery used under a Creative Commons license^

12 June 2015

Take the Jermyn Street Experience

Some time ago now, your author joined Dr Cindy Lawford - Education and Development Officer at the Jermyn Street Theatre and part-time tour guide - for one of her regular Jermyn Street Experience personal tours. Today at 4pm - as every Friday - her latest tour leaves from the front of the Jermyn Street Theatre and explores a street with a fascinating history as the heart of London's shirt-making, perfume-brewing, cheese-selling and art-hawking.

Cindy is an exceptional guide, and can get you into shops most people without a considerable amount of money might feel too timid to enter. Her charm and keen grasp of the area's history makes the tour well worth the £20 per person price.

For more, see http://www.cindylawford.co.uk/jermyn-street-experience/

11 June 2015

See Carsten Höller's Decision

Your author faced various quandaries at Belgian installationist Carsten Höller's latest exhibition, Decision at the Hayward Gallery, and at least three of them were about whether it was worth doing all that queueing for whatever art was at the end. Such is Sunday afternoon on the South Bank, but for those with the time and inclination to go on a weekday lunchtime, this is certain to be less of an issue.

There were also some learning experiences on offer. Visitors may find themselves surprisingly easy goaded into taking and swallowing a pill from a big pile, positively indifferent about a big aphid on a wall and thoroughly interested in the music scene in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, such is the diversity of works on offer. Most of all, however, visitors will discover that all exhibitions are best exited by slide, though even when they are the gifty is still mandatory.

For more, see http://carstenholler.southbankcentre.co.uk/

Learn about Shopgirls at the Fashion and Textile Museum

A special event at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey tonight sees Historian Dr Pamela Cox and television producer and writer Annabel Hobley expand upon their 2014 three part television series and follow-up book Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter, a history of women in retail.

We are told that the evening will encompass a glass of wine and chance to view the Riviera Style exhibition, a talk and questions at the end and a book signing.

For more, see http://ftmlondon.org/talk-event/shopgirls-life-behind-the-counter/

10 June 2015

Learn about human rights at the LSE

One of the regular free open events which take place at the London School of Economics this evening sees Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti and research fellow of the LSE Human Rights Centre Professor Francesca Klug in conversation with human rights barrister Jane Gordon. The event  promises to explore human rights through the prism of Magna Carta - which sees its 800th birthday on Monday.

The lecture will see Klug draw on her book A Magna Carta for all Humanity Homing in on Human Rights, and Chakrabarti using her considerable expertise to examine issues which are as close to our minds than ever at the moment.

For more, see http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2015/06/20150610t1830vSZT.aspx

^Picture © Umezo KAMATA used under a Creative Commons license^

9 June 2015

See Allan Sly's The Window Cleaner

A jaunty bronze which stands on the forecourt of Capital House on Chapel Street, across from Edgware Road Station, Allan Sly's The Window Cleaner is a commission contemporary with the House, and dates from 1990.

A veteran of both London Art School and the Royal Academy,Sly is now a Senior Lecturer at the Wimbledon College of Arts, and a professional sculptor and modeller with nearly 40 years of experience.

For more, see http://www.secret-london.co.uk/Workers.html

^Picture by Rept0n1x from Wikimedia Commons^

8 June 2015

Pass through the Hole in the Wall

When your author stumbled across a quaint plaque beside a doorway in a Knightsbridge wall on Saturday, it felt as though he was one of the first to ever notice it. However, such is the case in modern London that many have written about it before - and indeed, Ian discovered it more than eight years ago - but it nevertheless felt worthy of a short mention on a quiet Monday.

Standing on what was the original boundary wall of the Rutland Estate - named as it was the former site of Rutland House, home of the Dukes of Rutland - the hole in the wall was destroyed along with the wall by a bomb in autumn 1940. When the wall was rebuilt around 1948, local residents insisted the doorway was reinstated, and it continues to offer a convenient short cut between Ennismore Street and Rutland Street

For more, see http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2007/02/18/the-hole-in-the-wall/

7 June 2015

Attend the London Map Fair

Yesterday afternoon, your author made a last minute decision to attend the London Map Fair at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington, a collection of 40 of the World's leading  antiquarian map dealers who gather together at the Society's headquarters once a year to offer their wares for sale to other collectors, cash-rich millionaires and ordinary punters.

The fair claims to have a range of maps which extends from the 15th century to the 20th century, and prices from £10 to £100,000, and whilst these are very interesting indeed, the real pleasure was the chance to get inside Lowther Lodge, the grand house in South Kensington which has been the home of the Royal Geographic Society since 1912. The fair continues today until 6pm.

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

22 May 2015

Have a break

Tired of London, Tired of Life is away.

Your author is off climbing mountains, paddling in cold streams and falling asleep to the sounds of chattering oyster-catchers in Wales, but inspiration for interesting Whitsundays out in London and England is available in these books, out now:


21 May 2015

Drink at the Victoria, Pages Walk

A refreshingly friendly pub - found on a backstreet between the Bricklayers' Arms roundabout and Bermondsey - the Victoria was built in the 1880s for railwaymen working in the area, and is today run by brothers Pat and Mike McKenna, as it has been since 1984. Today it's an attractive backstreet haven where all are welcome.

The pub benefits from its quiet side street setting, where only those who are passing are likely to stumble across it, and its immediately recognisable original Truman's Brewery tiling, although now it is an excellent freehouse. Any pub that was Evening Standard pub of the year in 1972 is worth a visit in your author's book.

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

20 May 2015

Take a Dickensian walk

Sure, the idea of a costumed tour is the sort of thing you may expect to find in North America, or the smaller market towns of northern England, but it's good when people get into character and today a special regular tour of Dickensian London leaves the Dickens Museum at 11:30am and 5pm.

The hour and a half tours cover the area between the Charles Dickens Museum and Holborn Circus, led by Richard Jones, the author of Walking Dickensian London, who has been giving walking tours of Dickens' London for longer than your author has been able to walk.
For more, see http://www.dickensmuseum.com/events/costumed-dickensian-walks/
^Picture © Peter Curbishley used under a Creative Commons license^

19 May 2015

Attend a lunchtime concert at St Martin in the Fields

Prize-winning Croatian pianist Diana Brekalo comes to St Martin in the Fields this lunchtime for a free concert as part of the St Martin's monthly Embassy Series, which brings international acts to the famous church in an attempt to bolster its reputation as an international church and world-famous concert venue.

The Embassy Series runs monthly, taking place every third Tuesday, and invites performers based on the recommendation of their embassy in the United Kingdom.

For more, see http://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/event/free-lunchtime-concert-st-martins-embassy-series-diana-brekalo/

18 May 2015

See Hans Haacke's Gift Horse

There's a bronze skeleton of a horse with a bow on it on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square at the moment, and the bow shows some numbers from the London Stock Exchange. It's not the cleverest or most innovative thing to stand on the plinth, but the skeleton at least is a nice contrast with London's other equestrian statues, and some people seem to like the bow.

It's great that they're still doing this, but why on earth they never commissioned the pipe-organ cashpoint, your author will never know.

For more, see https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/arts-culture/fourth-plinth/2014-2015-commissions/hans-haacke

^Picture © stu smith under a Creative Commons license^

17 May 2015

Visit 13 Princelet Street

Over the last 20 years or so, your author has had some of his best holidays in cottages, castles, follies and forts owned by the Landmark Trust, a national charity which takes on buildings with interesting stories and makes them available for holiday lets. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Trust are this weekend opening 25 of their buildings around the country to the public for a pair of open days. In London, 13 Princelet Street - an 18th century Huguenot silk weaver's house in Spitalfields - has been chosen to open.

Admission is free, and leaflets are available on the building's history. It's a great chance to get inside this hidden east London gem, as normally you would almost certainly have to part with a thousand pounds or more to do so.

For more, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/news-and-events/upcoming-events/princelet-open-day113/

16 May 2015

Attend the Rickmansworth Festival

The 22nd Rickmansworth Festival takes place today and tomorrow along the Grand Union Canal between Batchworth and Stockers Locks in Rickmansworth - just inside the M25 near Watford - and also in the neighbouring Aquadrome.

Visitors can expect live music, a dog show, a Spitfire flypast, medieval living history displays, canal boat trips, a funfair and a bar, as well as all the usual food, craft and charity stalls common at these sorts of festivals.

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

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

15 May 2015

Spend an evening at the Bank of England

An interesting museum exists within the Bank of England, but sadly many of those who work a usual Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm week, there's usually no chance of getting inside without skipping work. Well relief is at hand with a special late opening this evening as part of the excellent Museums at Night weekend. Tonight, doors will open from 5:30pm - 9:00pm, with the chance to meet banknote experts and question the Bank's mysterious Bullion team.

These extra events, plus the permanent displays we don't normally get to see when we're sitting at a desk sending emails, including the chance to lift a genuine bar of gold, and view the temporary exhibition flora and fauna, which examines the animals and plants depicted on banknotes and on the Bank of England building.

For more, see http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/museum/exhibitions/night.aspx

^Picture © Sean O'Neill used under a Creative Commons license^