The ‘Curiocity’ chaps reveal their secret London spots

Posted at 5:45 pm, March 6, 2012 in Secret London

CuriocityWith a new issue of our fave ‘Curiocity’ nearly upon us, we talk to Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd about why they love this fair city and their favourite secret London spots…

‘London absolutely knocks our socks off. It’s so full of oddities and bizarre experiences that we decided to set up a magazine to celebrate its stranger side. Curiocity began in 2008 as a small, handmade effort with a circulation of 100. It’s grown since then and is now a quarterly ‘mapazine’ sold across the capital, as well as a lively online community. Our aim – online and in print – is simply to unearth and share ideas for the most unusual ways of spending time in this mad metropolis. Here’s our guide to a perfect city Saturday. We’ve chosen places that are hard – but not impossible – to access.

8am, Wild swim and a fry up

Lie-ins are for wimps. Start the day with a wintry swim in Hampstead Heath Mixed Pond, one of the wildest, most exhilarating experiences London has to offer. Keep your eyes peeled for cormorants and herons as you freeze your giblets off. Once you’ve towelled dry, head to the Royal Café on nearby Fleet Road for a mountainous fry up.

[To access the Mixed Pond from Oct-May you must be a member of the Winter Swimming Club.  To join send £15 (cash or cheque payable to ‘Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club’) to Marc Hutchinson at 72 South Hill Park, London, NW3 2SN. Alternatively try the Highgate Men and Women’s ponds, which are open all year round.]

11am, Esoteric erotica

Stuck for birthday present ideas? Who wouldn’t be delighted with a golden pig’s snout or a mummified phallus? Entering Vicktor’s Wynd’s Last Tuesday Society is like walking into the erotic nightmare of a deranged Victorian taxidermist. The walls and cabinets are crammed with objects that intrigue and repel. One of the most bizarre retail outlets in London. If you need an antidote, pop into the V&A’s cosily nostalgic Museum of Childhood nearby for lunch in the café.

[The Last Tuesday Society is open on Saturdays, 11am-8pm, and by appointment on other days.  See here for their superb programme of evening lectures]

2pm, Museum in hiding

The Cinema Museum is hard to find. It’s hidden in a quiet corner of Kennington and opens by appointment only. But don’t be put off. This trove of lovingly preserved cinema and cinema-going memorabilia is well worth a visit. The building used to be the Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin lived for a time.

[Call 0207 8402200 to book a visit, entry £7. Or consider attending one of the rare screenings in their reconstructed 50s cinema ] 

4.30pm, Bohemia in Brixton

Brixton’s markets have gone into overdrive. Ever since artists and foodies were offered three months’ free rent in a bid to revitalise the fading Granville Arcade, there has been an influx of superb cafés, bars and galleries alongside the existing Brixton businesses. An absolute revelation, we doubt if there is anywhere in London quite as exciting right now. We particularly recommend a visit to Seven, Brick Box and Etta’s Seafood Kitchen.

7.30pm, Russian fantasy bingo

Russian Orthodox iconography? Tick. Art Deco features? Tick. A high stakes game of Bingo? Tick. What’s not to love about the Gala Bingo in Tooting Broadway? Built by a Russian Prince in the early 30s as a cinema, it’s experienced a rather baffling change of use in recent years. Meditate on the murals as you stamp your card. Listen carefully and be sure before you shout. If you’re lucky you could go home with £1000 in your pocket. Finish off the evening with a drink at the Tooting Tram and Social.

[To play at Tooting Broadway Bingo you must join as a member, see here for further details.]

Curiocity is a London ‘mapazine’,  full of bite-size experiences that navigate the city in new ways. The new one is due out in March.

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