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



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31 January 2015

Attend the Destinations Show at Olympia

The biggest and longest-running travel show in the country is at Olympia this weekend, with hundreds of tour operators and tourist boards and best of all the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival bringing together an interesting collection of explorers, adventurers and travel writers in the same venue/

Like most of these shows, you have to be very interested in the subject matter and ready to be sold to, but if you're interested in tourism and how it works around the world, there will probably be enough to pique your interest.

For more, see http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/new-destination-travel-inspiration-olympia-london

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

30 January 2015

Mark 50 years since Churchill's Funeral

Today is the 50th Anniversary Of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on 30th January 1965, and to mark the occasion a river procession will take place this lunchtime led by the MV Havengore, the launch which carried Churchill on his final journey along the Thames during his State Funeral.

Today's procession involves a small flotilla leaving HMS President at around 12.40pm and make its way to the Houses of Parliament for 1.15pm, where a wreath will be cast into the Thames in memory of the great man.

For more, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/11358536/Boat-that-carried-Sir-Winston-Churchills-coffin-to-return-to-Thames-50-years-on-for-memorial.html

^Picture © cassettegirl used under a Creative Commons license^

29 January 2015

Admire 30 Cannon Street

Yesterday, English Heritage announced the listing of 14 of what it deems the finest post-war office buildings in England by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, including four in London. One of those chosen for listed status was 30 Cannon Street, built for Credit Lyonnais to designs by Whinney, Son & Austen Hall between 1974 &1977, when it was the world's first building clad with glass reinforced concrete.

Elsewhere, Peter Foggo's 1 Finsbury Avenue in the City of London was also listed, as was the fantastic 1968 Civil Aviation Authority House, by Richard Seifert & Partners, found just off Kingsway, Camden London and the rather more dull Brown Shipley on Moorgate.

For more, see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/Postwaroffice/

^Picture © Stephen Richards used under a Creative Commons license^

28 January 2015

Cross Clattern Bridge, Kingston-upon-Thames

Possibly Greater London's oldest original bridge, the Clattern Bridge crosses the River Hogsmill close to the centre of Kingston-upon-Thames. We are told variously that some of the bottom half dates from "the 12th century" or "from 1293", a date taken from the earliest recorded document which names it. The top half, meanwhile, features 18th century brick and 19th century iron railings.

The bridge is Grade I listed and also classified as a scheduled ancient monument. The stone arches on the downstream side are said to be the the oldest parts of the bridge, according to a plaque which tells us that until the 19th century was only 8 feet wide.

For more, see http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-203119-clattern-bridge-greater-london-authority

27 January 2015

Country postcard - Stay at 10 North Street, Cromford

Spending too much time in the same place is not good for the soul, so your author seized a gap in his January diary and spent three days over the weekend in Derbyshire, staying at the Landmark Trust's 10 North Street. This beautiful little worker's cottage in Cromford is in the middle of a World Heritage Site and was part of the first planned industrial housing in the world, connected to Richard Arkwright's pioneering cotton mill on the River Derwent.

The street was built in 1771 by Arkwright for the workers at what was then a groundbreaking water-wheel powered cotton mill, which can be visited just down the hill thanks to the Arkwright Society. Cromford's other highlights are the excellent Scarthin Books, and its proximity to the beauty of the Peak District. The house itself was a magical little place, with a warming fire in the range, views from the windows over the surrounding rooftops, twisty stairs, and an excellent pub on the street. If only all planned workers housing could have been like this, the world would be a better place.

For more, see http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/north-street-9834/

26 January 2015

See the Sigmar Polke exhibition at the Tate Modern

Always at the cultural cutting edge, your author popped in to the Tate Modern on Sunday to see the Sigmar Polke exhibition, just three months into its four month run. Thankfully, such foresight meant that it wasn't quite as busy as other parts of the gallery, and there was plenty of space to see the works of the experimental German painter and photographer, whose works range from 'Capitalist Realist' responses to consumer culture in post-war West Germany, to experiments with photocopiers and colouring in pigs in blown up photographs.

One thing seemed fairly certain, Pole was clearly a man who took a lot of drugs in the 1970s, as demonstrated in room 6, where the visitor is presented with paintings of giant psychadelic mushrooms paintings and lots of cut outs of sexy pictures, but by his final years he seemed to have calmed down somewhat, with large monochrome canvases, and moody watchtowers, before in Britta's pigs, he just blows up a big photo of some Dutch peasants and colours in the pigs in pink.

It's great when the work of a talented artist who led an interesting life (Polke died in 2010) is given enough space to be seen, and the Tate has done a fine job by finding 14 rooms over which this exhibition takes place, plus four sub-rooms for films. You still have a little less than a month to go if you haven't already been.

For more, see http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/alibis-sigmar-polke-1963-2010

^Picture © Carsten ten Brink used under a Creative Commons license^

25 January 2015

Attend a Sunday concert at Conway Hall

Since the 1880s, Sundays has hosted a regular Sunday chamber music concert series now known as Conway Hall Sunday Concerts, offering "affordable classical music for all". This evening the Hall hosts the New Zealand Chamber Soloists for a selection of music by Haydn, Beethoven & Dvořák.

Tickets were still available at time of going to pixel, and are priced very reasonably at £10 for ordinary bods and free for the under 25s, and a pleasant-sounding evening in the company of violinist Amalia Hall, cellist James Tennant and pianist Katherine Austin.

For more, see http://conwayhall.org.uk/sunday-concerts-2

^Picture © Justinc used under a Creative Commons license^

24 January 2015

Celebrate the Year of the Bus in the Olympic Park

Antoher one of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's favourite mix-of-everything events today, as TfL's Year of the Bus offers the chance to see 60 bus sculptures, ride a 1914 wartime bus, visit a mobile exhibition and hear buskers from the London Underground.

The event also promises some artists and a chance to go on an actual genuine real bus to see what it's like on one. Exciting stuff!

For more, see http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/whats-on/events/2014/10/year-of-the-bus-weekend-on-the-park

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

23 January 2015

Sleep with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum

In an event of the type you thought was only available to children and Ben Stiller, tonight those with enough money are invited to sleep over in the Natural History Museum in an event called Dino Snores for Grown-ups.

Though the price is rather steep at £180 that includes a three-course meal, breakfast, science shows, comedy, live music, access to exhibitions, an all night monster film marathon, insect tastings and the chance to sleep on a thin-looking mat in Hintze Hall in the shadow of a Diplodocus skeleton. You do have to stump up extra for booze though...

For more, see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/after-hours/dino-snores-grown-ups/index.html

22 January 2015

Learn about Dirty Old London with Lee Jackson

London writer Lee Jackson has a new book out, Dirty Old London, which charts the squalor of Victorian London and how the city dealt with it. Tonight, he's giving a free talk about it at Dagenham Library and you're invited.

This isn't Lee's first book, and follows on from 7 historical crime novels, 2 anthologies about Victorian daily life and a guide to walking Dickens London, as well as his celebrated Victorian London website. With such a wealth of experince to talk about, it's sure to be a good night.

For more, see https://www.lbbd.gov.uk/event/dirty-old-london-pen-to-print-author-talk-dagenham-library/

21 January 2015

Tour the Jewish East End

Between 1881 and 1914, more than two million Jewish people fled the poverty and pogroms of the Russian Empire, with more than 100,000 of them choosing to make Britain their home, with London's Jewish community establishing itself in the in the East End and up to 150 synagogues established to serve them.

As they became more affluent, many Jewish families chose to move to more upmarket areas of the city, and in the second half of the 20th century so many did so that the area that had changed so markedly less than 100 years ago changed again. Despite this, many echoes of the Jewish East End remain and every Wednesday at 10.45am London Walks leads a tour of the area, exploring a fascinating period in the history of London via the alleyways and back streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel.

For more, see http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/Wednesdays_Walks/default.aspx#12859

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

20 January 2015

Visit the site of the first modern Parliament

750 years ago today, on 20th January 1265, Simon De Montfort summoned the Hilary Parliament to meet in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey in what some think of as the first real Parliament. Whilst this Parliament only lasted a short time, it was significant as both lords and commoners were invited to participate, with the election of two knights from each shire and two burgesses from each town.

Indeed, so modern was the Parliament that the BBC even points out that a fair system was in place to allow participants attending the parliament to recover the costs of attending, allowing those who might not have been otherwise able to afford to do so to attend.

For more, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30849472

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

19 January 2015

Commit no nuisance in Doyce Street

On a wander in the backstreets of Borough yesterday, your author noticed the charming sign below on Doyce Street, which turned out to be on the rear of the Welsh Congregational Church at 90 Southwark Bridge Road.

We are told that there has been a Welsh church on the site since 1806, and the current building dates from 1870, when it was built following the acquisition of the freehold of the site with the assistance of industrialist, politician and Congregationalist Samuel Morley.

For more on the church, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borough_Welsh_Congregational_Chapel


18 January 2015

Toast the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson

Toasting the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson in the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College was among your author's fondest memories of Greenwich last year, and today you are invited at 3pm to join the Nelson Society for a toast in memory of the great man, in the hall where he lay in state following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Prior to the Toast, the Society will also meet at the Chapel in the Old Royal Naval College to observe Haydn's Nelson Mass, before a wander down to the Thames and lunch, but it's probably a bit late to get involved in all that, so for now the Toast is the thing to do.

For more, see http://www.ornc.org/events/detail/immortal-memory-toast

17 January 2015

Go wassailing at the Brunel Museum

It's Old Twelfth Night tonight, and at the Brunel Museum's Midnight Apothecary cocktail bar they're celebrating with a wassail and a fire. We are told that the traditional blessing of the apple tree in the museum's garden will feature song, live music and a Wassail Queen.

There will also be a chance to descend into the top of Brunel's Thames Tunnel for a reading from the Lord of the Rings, if that's your sort of thing.

For more, see http://www.brunel-museum.org.uk/

16 January 2015

Attend the London Model Engineering Exhibition

The London Model Engineering Exhibition 2015 kicks off at Alexandra Palace today and lasts all weekend. The exhibition promises to be one of the leading model shows in the UK this year, attracting over 15,000 visitors. This year is the 19th year for the show, and attendees are promised Airfix kits, model rockets, trucks, boats, aeroplanes and helicopters as well as, inevitably, railways and traction engines.

The event will host over 50 UK & overseas model clubs and societies, including the Polly Owners Group who will be offering passenger rides behind their 5” gauge steam locomotives within the Great Hall at Alexandra Palace.

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

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

15 January 2015

Tour the Guildhall

The Guilhall has been the town hall of the City of London since the twelfth century, and yet the fact that it remains an administrative centre means it can be difficult to get inside and learn about its histoy. However, regular tours are offered by the City of London Guides, and one kicks off today at 10.45am.

The tour also takes place on the same day as the City of London's Common Council meeting at 1pm, in order for interested visitors to observe democracy in action at the heart of the Square Mile.

For more, see http://www.cityoflondonguides.com/tours/guildhall

14 January 2015

Learn the philosophy of erotic love at the Freud Museum

Over at the Freud Museum - the former home of father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud - they host regular evening events and classes focused on subjects related to the work of the great man. Tonight, a six week course kicks off, exploring the philosophy of erotic love with co-founder of the London School of Philosophy Jane O’Grady.

Based around the Western tradition of erotic love, we are told that the course examines the work of key philosophers from Plato to the present, and toucheson anthropology, literature and neuroscience, all for a very reasonable total price of £85.

For more, see http://www.freud.org.uk/events/75675/the-philosophy-of-erotic-love-/

13 January 2015

Admire the roof angels at All Saints, Kingston

The only Grade I listed building in Kingston upon Thames, much of the historic fabric of All Saints' Church dates the 14th and 15th centuries, but there was a church on the site as early as 838, when Egbert, King of Wessex, held a great council here.

The church was restored in the 19th century under the watchful eyes of architects David Brandon and John Loughborough Pearson, and features as one of its highlights a stunning roof flanked by roof angels which echo those popular in East Anglian churches. During extensive renovations last year, the angels were gilded whilst the roof timbers repainted in order to clarify the detail of the carvings.

For more, see http://www.allsaintskingston.co.uk/ or visit http://www.whereenglandbegan.co.uk/

12 January 2015

Play with Monday Musicians at Cecil Sharp House

Musicians of all calibres are invited to Cecil Sharp Hosue, the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society tonight, just as they are on the second Monday of every month, for a session of folk dance tunes drawn from around the British Isles and from other associated traditions

The session takes place from 7pm - 10pm and tickets are £5 (£4 concessions) and available on the door to all who wish to come and play.

For more, see http://www.efdss.org/component/content/article/21-shared/shared-events/2015-monday-musicians-12-01-15

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

11 January 2015

Attend the London Boat Show

The London Boat Show has begun, and continues until 18th January, and whilst nowadays it's more firmly pitched at the super-rich than ever before, there's still plenty to entertain us normal bods, from poking around on yachts, to an indoor watersports pool and, we are told, a confusing-sounding 4D Experience, which makes you feel like you're at the seaside with sounds and feelings.

Tickets are now £15, and for your author its the nostalgia of the old shows at Earl's Court that make it sound like reasonable value, but there is plenty you could do in London for £15. Having said that, it's not often you get to board a super-yacht, and fantasise about a life on the ocean wave, and it's a great way to do that without leaving E16.

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

^Picture © Jason Cartwright used under a Creative Commons license^

10 January 2015

Attend Great Big Kiss

When the Buffalo Bar, beside to Highbury and Islington station, sadly closed at the end of last year there were fears it mark the end of the monthly Great Big Kiss club night but the night quickly found a new home at The Phoenix in Cavendish Square where it continues to be held on the second Saturday of each month from 9pm-3am.

The night promises the best in northern soul, Motown, girl groups and rock'n'roll and rarely dissapoints anyone with any taste at all, with loyal members and newcomers all dancing together, this month in the company of guest DJs The Actionettes.

For more, see http://www.howdoesitfeel.co.uk/greatbigkiss.html

9 January 2015

Have afternoon tea in the Orangery at Kensington Palace

Your author passed a very pleasant couple of hours in the Orangery at Kensington Palace on Sunday, enjoying afternoon tea with a gernerous old friend. Whilst the afternoon tea is a little pricey for what you get, compared to some London hotel afternoon teas it seems like reasonable value, and you will at least take home change from £30.

The Orangery itself was built by Queen Anne in 1704-5 following her succession to the throne in 1702.  Designed to house citrus trees and other exotic plants during the winter, it was also used regularly for summer evening suppers and entertainment.

For more, see http://www.orangerykensingtonpalace.co.uk/afternoon-tea/

8 January 2015

Find the Stone of Free Speech

Though its origins are a little unclear, the bollard known as the Stone of Free Speech on the eastern slopes of Parliament Hill has often been seen as a rallying point when free speech is challenged, and today certainly seems like a fitting day for a visit.

Some suggest that the stone dates from the late 17th century, and marks a spot where assembly and free discussion was permitted, but evidence seems to be scarce. Regardless of its origins it has been taken as a beacon of free speech in recent years, and that is a noble thing.

For more, see http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/639233

^Picture © ceridwen used under a Creative Commons license^

7 January 2015

Attend a free recital at St James' Piccadilly

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1.10pm St James' Church on Piccadilly hosts a free lunchtime classical music recital lasting approximately 50 minutes, in order to allow office types who still take a full hour for lunch to pop in and enjoy a full concert.

Today's recital is part of a series by supported by music and the arts charity the Concodia Foundation and features Edgar Bailey on violin and Charis Hanning on piano, with music by Delius, Prokofiev, Szymanowski and Saint-Saëns.

For more, see http://www.sjp.org.uk/lunchtime-recitals.html

6 January 2015

Stand at the exact centre of London

This week, we are told, London will become the largest it has ever been. It is easy to forget that this city which has always seemed so busy has until now never surpassed the 8.615 million population peak it experienced in 1939, as the dark days of war approached. But now, London is becoming the biggest it has ever been, buoyed by nearly a million extra people since 2001 and nearly two million since 1981, when the population was just 6.8 million.

To get the real measure of modern London it is perhaps best to stand at its heart, and a small plaque at the top of Whitehall, beside a statue of Charles I marks the traditional centre of London, where once an Eleanor Cross stood, and from which all mileages in London are traditionally measured.

For more, see http://www.londontoolkit.com/blog/visiting/bobs-oddities/the-spot-that-marks-the-centre-of-london/ or for alternative centres of London see http://londonist.com/tags/centre-of-london

^Picture © Dario Sušanj (velikabritanija) used under a Creative Commons license^

5 January 2015

See Eduardo Paolozzi's Head of Invention

One of a number of public works of art in London by the Scottish sculptor Sir Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi KBE RA, Head of Invention is found in front of the Design Museum at Butler's Wharf. The work is in bronze and dates from 1989, featuring a large human head presented as though it is a machine, with mechanics visible at the back.

The sculpture was apparently inspired by a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci which is found in bronze lettering upon it and reads "Though human genius in its various inventions with various instruments may answer the same end, it will never find an invention more beautiful or more simple or direct than nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous".

For more, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersg/5271324556/

4 January 2015

Celebrate Twelfth Night in Bankside

The end of the Christmas season is upon us, and in Bankside today the Lions part are marking a traditional Twelfth Night from 2.15pm.

This special event kicks off with the arrival of the Holly Man from the Thames, followed by wassails, a mummers play and the distribution of cakes offering your chance to become King or Queen for the day and be crowned in a special ceremony.

For more, see http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/twelfthnight/index.html

^Picture © Stephen Craven used under a Creative Commons license^