Tom Jones, author of new book ‘Tired of London, Tired of Life: One Thing A Day To Do In London’ and creator of the Tired of London, Tired of Life blog is a man who shares our view that the capital is constantly overflowing with good stuff to see and do.
2 Willow Road
The 1930s home of architect Ernő Goldfinger is one of a number of historic houses open to the public in Hampstead, and helps to understand the man who was responsible for many of London’s most iconic modernist buildings, such as the Trellick and Balfron Towers and Alexander Fleming House, beside the Elephant and Castle Roundabout. Willow Road was created by Goldfinger a simple family house, facing onto Hampstead Heath, and is kept exactly as it was when the Goldfingers lived there, open to the public with the help of National Trust. While it was controversial when built – and led to a conflict with James Bond creator Ian Fleming which inspired Bond villain Auric Goldfinger – it is now celebrated as an example of the style, and was one of the first modernist buildings acquired by the Trust.
Oxleas Wood Cafe
A favourite walking spot of many living in South East London, Oxleas Wood Cafe is perched on the slopes of Shooters Hill, offering commanding views Southwards over Oxleas Meadows towards the Kent borders. Operated by Mario Le Voci for about 10 Years, it was upgraded in 2007, and offers good value food and drinks, making it a popular stop-off for families and dog walkers exploring the surrounding woodland, or walking the Green Chain Walk, which passes nearby.
The Grenadier, Belgravia
Found in a hidden private Mews, a short distance from Hyde Park Corner, the Grenadier is a beautiful little pub, popular with repeat visitors who bring friends to their favourite hidden watering hole, as well as determined first-time visitors who come stumbling along the lane, usually having made a few wrong turns in their quest to find it. Used by soldiers during the Napoleonic wars as an officers mess and underground drinking den, possibly even patronised by the Duke of Wellington, the pub is reputedly one of London’s most haunted, after a junior soldier was beaten to death, and returned to haunt the establishment. Customers have as a result reported many ghostly goings on over the years and a crucifix in the cellar to warn off bad spirits.
Trinity Buoy Wharf
Now a centre for arts and creative industries, a stone’s throw from the Millenium Dome and Canary Wharf, a mention of Trinity Buoy Wharf still prompts blank looks on the faces of many Londoners. Created in 1803 as a place to experiment with lighthouse technology, the Wharf is home to London’s only lighthouse, constructed in 1864. Today, the lighthouse is home to the Longplayer project, a 1,000 year piece of music by Jem Finer, one of the founder members of the Pogues, which began in 1999 and is scheduled to continue without repetition until the last moment of 2999. The rest of the Wharf plays host to a range of different creative and arts projects and businesses, housed in an interesting range of new and historic buildings.
19 Princelet Street
A fragile building with a fascinating history, 19 Princelet Street is a unique building in the story of London, which hopes to become London’s first full time Museum of Immigration and Settlement. Built in the early eighteenth century, it was home to a Huguenot weaver’s family, who fled persecution in their native France, and later became a place of worship for Jewish immigrants, many of whom had come to London to escape the ghettos and pogroms of Eastern Europe. Today, run entirely by volunteers, the house is open just a few days each year, and the charity that owns it is battling to raise funds to preserve the fascinating fabric of the building, and ensure the stories of those who passed through it, and all those who came to London from elsewhere, continue to be told.
The Rivoli Ballroom
An immaculately preserved 1950s ballroom in south east London, the Rivoli is Grade II listed building with a beautiful interior. While it occasionally hosts live acts and video shoots for musical stars such as the White Stripes and Elton John, it is the regular dances and varied clientelle from the the local community and further afield which make it a particularly special place. The kitsch art-deco-inspired decorations inside see Austrian crystal chandeliers complemented with padded red velour walls, glitter balls and Chinese lanterns, while dancers tread the sprung maple floorboards beneath an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Get more inspiration from ‘Tired of London, Tired of Life: One Thing A Day To Do In London’, Virgin Books, £12,99.