Category Archives: Tourist Attractions

Tourist attractions of London

Open House London 2017: Highlights and tips to make the most of the weekend

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Step inside some of London’s special buildings, such as 18th century Drapers Hall

History and architecture buffs rejoice – Open House London is returning. Now in its 25th year, the weekend is essentially a festival of design, history and architecture. Over 16-17 September 2017, around 800 homes, government buildings, offices and more will open their doors to the public for free. While some usual fee-paying museums won’t be charging during the weekend, there are also rare opportunities to visit some very special buildings, such as 10 Downing Street or the clock tower of St Pancras, that are usually off-limits to the public. Some buildings, such as the latter two just mentioned, are only entry by ballot or booking in advance. However, most you can just turn up and enter. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have a long queue. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists what I consider the highlights of this year’s event, although the following section featuring reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, includes further highlights too.

Highlights of Open House London 2017

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin. Iconic skyscraper in the City of London, built in 2003. Open Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm (long queues likely). 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP. Nearest stations: Bank, Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Hindu temple, built in 1995. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD. Nearest station: Harlesden.

Drapers Hall. Livery Hall first built in 1530s, twice rebuilt. Featuring 19th century façade and Victorian interiors. Open Sunday 10am-4pm. Throgmorton Street, City of London, EC2N 2DQ. Nearest station: Bank or Liverpool Street.

Finsbury Town Hall. Art Nouveau, Victorian building from 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Rosebery Avenue, Farringdon, EC1R 4RP. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel.

Freemasons’ Hall. Art Deco meets classical, built in 1927-33. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ. Nearest station: Holborn or Covent Garden.

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery. Victorian brewery, built in 1828. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (booking required). Chiswick Lane South, W4 2QB. Nearest station: Stamford Brook or Turnham Green.

Guildhall. The City’s base of their municipal Government since the 12th century, built in 1440/1789. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Gresham Street, City of London, EC2V 7HH. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Mansion House or Moorgate.

Home House. Georgian townhouse with fine interiors, built in 1776. Open Sunday 3pm-5pm (book tour in advance). 20 Portman Square, W1H 6LW. Nearest stations: Bond Street or Marble Arch.

Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s London home, dating back to 13th century. Open Saturday 9am-2pm (book time slot only through website). Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, SE1 7JU. Nearest station: Lambeth North.

Masonic Temple. Greek Masonic Temple in the former Great Eastern Hotel, built in 1912. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Andaz Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate, EC2M 7QN. Nearest station: Liverpool Street.

One Canada Square. Nineties skyscraper in Canary Wharf with tours to the 39th floor. Open Saturday 10am-4pm (book in advance). One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf.

Rudolf Steiner House. Unique example of expressionist architecture, built in 1926-1937. Open Sunday 1-5pm. 35 Park Road, Regents’ Park, NW1 6XT. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Visit the Great Hall and Maggie’s Centre at the 18th century hospital. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (book in advance). West Smithfield, City of London, EC1A 7BE. Nearest station: Farringdon.

Two Temple Place. Victorian office/residential building in an Elizabethan style, built in 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 2 Temple Place, City of London, WC2R 3BD. Nearest station: Temple.

Underground Bunker. WWII bunker 40ft underground, used by Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet, built in 1940. Open Saturday 8.30am-5.30pm (book in advance). 109 Brook Road, Neasden, NW2 7DZ. Nearest station: Neasden or Dollis Hill.

Wrotham Park. Privately-owned Georgian, Palladian mansion, built in 1754. Open Sunday 10am-3pm (book in advance). Wrotham Park, Barnet, EN5 4SB. Nearest station: Hadley Wood or Potters Bar. Read the rest of this entry

A rare chance to get up close to the painted ceiling at the Old Royal Naval College

Guide to what’s on in London in August 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Fancy zorbing at St Katharine Docks?

Summer is in full swing… Schools are closed, there’s weddings and festivals up and down the country. However for those staying in the capital, there’s plenty of alfresco – and indoor – fun to be had around town. Of course, the final Bank Holiday weekend of the year takes place from 26 – 28 August so London will be buzzing.

  • 31 July – 27 August : Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe returns for its 12th year, bringing over 270 productions of theatre, comedy and fringe fun to 22 venues across the borough of Camden, including Camden People’s Theatre, Camden Comedy Club, Canal Café Theatre and the Hen And Chickens. For more information and tickets, visit the Camden Fringe website.

  • 3 August : Zorbing @ St Katharine Docks

Try your hand at Zorbing with Hubbub. Time TBC. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information visit the St Kats website.

  • 3 August : Summer Fete @ Paddington Basin

A lunchtime fete featuring stalls, games, photo fun, music and more. 12pm-2pm. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Edgware Road or Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • Now until 3 August : Future Forest @ Westfield Stratford City

Food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr are creating an immersive forest experience for both adults and child. For children, the Forest Zorb Lagoon provides the chance to walk, tumble and jump on water, while both young and old can walk through the Fruit Cloud – a walk-in fruit-flavoured mist. Opening hours vary. Free to enter. Future Forest, Westfield Stratford City, Olympic Park, Montfichet Road, Stratford, E20 1EJ. Nearest station: Stratford. For more information, visit the Westfield website.

  • 4 August : The Fakery

Learn how to pass off store-bought bakes into looking homemade with a masterclass from ‘star faker’ Juliet Sear. The Food Network are hosting a pop-up ahead of their new show Bakers Vs Fakers where you can learn how to glam up your cake so it looks like you made it yourself. Classes at 11am-1pm, 2pm-4pm and 5.30pm-7pm. Free, but register for a place. Food at 52, 96 Central Street, EC1V 8AJ. Nearest station: Old Street. For a free ticket, visit Eventbrite.

  • 4 – 6 AugustLondon Craft Beer Festival

Forty-five breweries from London, the UK , Europe and USA will be showing off 100s of beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs from Hot Chip and Foals. Times vary. Tickets: £35-£42.50 (includes free glass and unlimited small pours). Shoreditch Electric Light Station, Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, N1 6HD. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.

  • 4 – 6 August : Summer In The City

The UK’s largest online video and YouTube event featuring Jack Maynard, Oli White, Emma Blackery, The Gabbie Show, Dodie, Nathan Zed and more. 11am-9pm. Tickets from £28. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For tickets, visit the Summer In The City website.

  • 6 August : King’s Cross Sports Day

Get sporty with a range of activities, including yoga, bootcamp training, rock-climbing, tightrope walking, sack racing, or egg and spoon. 11am-4pm. Free. Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.

  • 8 August : Summer Evening with the London Philharmonic Orchestra

A free concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, including Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. 7pm onwards. Free. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.

  • 8 – 12 AugustGreat British Beer Festival

Up to hundreds of real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers with be available to try, while there will also be plenty of entertainment and food. Tickets start from £11. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.

  • 9 August – 3 September : London Bridge City Summer Festival Theatre – The Odyssey

Watch God and Monster’s epic production of The Odyssey in three parts at this open-air free theatre. Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm (Pt 1 6pm, Pt 2 7.30pm and Pt 3 9pm). Free. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

  • 10 August : Dance Off

Different styles of dances will battle it out to be crowned the crowd’s favourite. 12pm-2pm. Free entry. Fountains at the Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 10 – 12 August : Mr Black Espresso Martini Fest

Fans of the Espresso Martini will love this three-day festival, from Drink Up London (London Cocktail Week, London Beer Week, London Wine Week). Over 50 bars across London will be offering £5 Espresso Martinis and other Mr Black cocktails. Wristbands: £10. For more information, visit the DrinkUpLondon website.

  • 12 August : River Rat Race

Watch the wettest obstacle race in the UK as participants swim, crawl, jump and slide through 35 obstacles over 10km. Money raised goes to Children with Cancer UK. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For more information, visit the Rat Race website.

  • Now until 13 August : Cubitt Sessions

A series of free concerts in King’s Cross, spanning music, immersive theatre, surreal comedy, movement, street culture, experimental jazz and improvised opera. Times vary. Free to watch. Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For listings, visit the King’s Cross website. Read the rest of this entry

Serpentine Pavilion 2017: Seek shelter under a canopy of triangles

Migration Museum review: Take a closer look at Britain’s cultural landscape

© Migration Museum Project

The Migration Museum has opened at The Workshop in Lambeth, central London

Following the Brexit vote last year, the Syrian refugee crisis and Donald Trump’s shock presidency, the issue of migration is bigger than ever. London is renowned for being a multicultural city so it’s no surprise most of the capital voted against Brexit. Most Londoners recognise the huge contribution migrants have given to the city. However, migration is no new phenomena, with waves from various parts in the world dating back centuries. London itself after all was founded by migrants, aka Romans, in the 1st century. As someone who was born, grew up and continues to live in London, I can’t think of many friends who are British going back generations. I myself am a first generation Brit born to Irish parents and most of my best friends have migrant parents.

With migration being such an important part of London’s history, it’s amazing there hasn’t been a museum dedicated to the subject until now. However this spring, the Migration Museum opened its doors at The Workshop in Lambeth. The Workshop, an arts and community space which is home to the London Fire Brigade Museum among others, is a temporary venue for the Museum until 2018. The museum aims to explore how the movement of people has shaped the country throughout history.

© Migration Museum Project

Call Me By My Name gives a voice to the Calais Migrants, a group generalised and stereotyped
© Migration Museum Project

I paid a visit recently and checked out two exhibitions: Call Me By My Name and 100 Images Of Migration. The latter was a collection of thought-provoking images of migrants in Britain from professional and amateur photographers, dating back decades to present day. Although some photos were very different, they collectively demonstrated up the variety of experiences and lifestyles of migrants in the UK. I especially liked a photo of children from different ethnic groups playing together, which was a lovely display of integration and reminded me of my childhood at a multi-cultural, south London primary school.

Call Me By My Name is a particularly powerful exhibition, giving a voice to those who experienced living in Calais’ infamous ‘Jungle’. Following a lot of negative criticism and pigeon-holing in the media, this multi-media exhibition humanises them. Through art, images and other media, it delves into individuals’ motivation for leaving their home country, their desperation to seek safe refuge and their hopes for a new life in the UK or Europe. Reading some of the first-person narratives was incredibly moving and I think many MPs should check it out before making decisions regarding the UK’s treatment of migrants. The exhibition is far from one-sided, giving the views of politicians, lorry drivers and others who hold more negative opinions of migrants. I was specially struck by the tear gas curtain – what looks like a piece of decoration from afar, it’s only on closer inspection you realise it is made of tear gas canisters used in ‘the Jungle’, provoking a disturbing image.

Overall, the Migration Museum provides a balanced, informative and moving collection, putting migration in context and demonstrating it cannot be generalised. Regardless of your background, it’s well worth visiting to explore how movement of people having shaped our country, particularly when Brexit is likely to make a huge impact on this in the coming years.

  • Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. Open Wed-Sun 10am-4pm. Free admission. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website.

To read Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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Competition time! Russian Revolution exhibition at the British Library

© Sam Lane Photography

Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths is on at the British Library until 29 August
© Sam Lane Photography

This year marks 100 years since Russian overthrew its Tsarist autocracy. Following the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, Russia embarked on a turbulent period as different political and social groups battled to lead the country. To mark the Communist uprising, the British Library have curated a collection of propaganda and memorabilia from different sides of the battles.

Admittedly I didn’t know too much about the Russian Revolution before visiting this exhibition. I had been fascinated by the story of the ‘missing’ Grand Duchess Anastasia as a child, who has since been confirmed as murdered along with her family in 1918. The Russian Revolutionary period is convoluted and involves many different groups with different agendas and methods. The various parties were not only seeking power, but complete overhaul of society as a whole, so they needed to convert and influence the Russian people to their way of thinking… with propaganda.

© British Library

Red Army poster
© British Library

In a bid to unravel this complicated period, the British Library have set out their exhibition in six stages – The Tsar and his People; Last Days of the Monarchy; Civil War; The Bolsheviks in Power; Threat or Inspiration?; and Writing The Revolution. The exhibition begins in the last days of the Russian Empire, featuring photos of the Imperial family juxtaposed against scenes of millions of Russians living in dire poverty. Peasants were being heavily taxed with little in return so it’s clear to see why there was rising resentment against the ruling classes. An amazing part of this initial section is a first-edition of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was published in London in 1848. Other impressive pieces are a coronation album of Nicholas II and a 1902 letter from the then-future Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin asking to use the British Museum’s Library under a pseudonym ‘Jacob Richter’, which he was using to evade the Tsarist police. Russia’s brewing social discord wasn’t helped by World War I, with conscription leading to labour shortages. Many Russians were unhappy over Tsarina Alexandra when she was put in control over the Government while her husband acted as Commander-in-chief of the military. Many were suspect about her relationship with the faith healer Rasputin – who is seen in photographs and as a caricature in pamphlets and posters.

The sections of the exhibition centring on the revolution itself features a range of propaganda and memorabilia from the period, including handwritten notes from Leon Trotsky with annotations by Lenin and pieces of Red Army uniforms. I particularly liked the electronic map of the different groups’ movement around Russia – seeing the Red Army swell, then retreat, before eventually achieving national dominance. Finally, the exhibition concludes with how the Revolution was captured in past tense, with the ruling party using propaganda to keep the status quo.

Using a varied collection of objects, posters, film, photos and other memorabilia, the British Library has provided a fascinating insight into the motivations behind the Revolution and breaks down the myths of what it achieved. It’s certainly heavy stuff and requires a clear head, but is a worthwhile visit from Russian history aficionados or novices.

  • Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths is on now until 29 August 2017. PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest stations: Euston, King’s Cross or St Pancras. Open Mon, Wed-Fri: 9.30am-6pm, Tues 9.30am-8pm, Sat 9,30am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tickets: £13.50 (free for members). For booking, visit the British Library website.

Competition time!

To win a pair of tickets to Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths at the British Library, like our Facebook page and fill out the form below. Closing date: Monday 24 July 2017. (Competition is now closed!). The winner must live in the UK and be able to visit the exhibition before it ends on 29 August 2017. Only the winner will be contacted after the competition closes.


For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in July 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Live music at the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park

Summer is in full swing with the capital bursting to life with indoor and outdoor events as every turn. Of course, Wimbledon dominates a big chunk of July (3-16th) with tennis, Pimm’s and strawberries the order of the day. The end of the month, the school holidays kick off so there will be plenty of harassed parents looking for ways to entertain their children. So find some inspiration whatever your age or budget in Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on this July.

To find out where London’s urban beaches are this summer, click here.

  • 1 July : Art Night

A free contemporary arts festival takes over spaces, venues and landmarks in the capital for one night only, featuring art, architecture, dance and music. Every year, a cultural institution is invited to focus on a different part of London. This year, the event will take place in the East End with the Whitechapel Gallery and independent curator Fatos Ustek. 6pm-4am. Free. For more information, visit the Art Night website.

  • 1 – 2 July : Eat Drink Ealing

Food and drink festival returns for a second year, featuring gourmet food stalls, artisan beverages, wine tasting, live music, cookery courses, children’s activities and more. Tickets: £3 (children under 12 go free). Ealing Common, W5. Nearest station: Ealing Broadway or Ealing Common. For more information, visit the Ealing Summer Festival website.

  • 1 – 2 July : Chorus Festival

Annual festival celebrating the power of the voice, featuring choirs from the Nordic regions. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Embankment or Westminster. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 1 – 31 July : Rum Festival @ The Jam Tree

Both branches of The Jam Tree will be hosting a month-long celebration of the mighty rum. Featuring Bottomless Brunches with live steel bands, cocktail masterclasses, salsa lessons, Caribbean supperclubs, BBQ and more. The Jam Tree, 541 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW6 2EB. Nearest station: Fulham Broadway or Imperial Wharf or The Jam Tree, 13-19 Old Town, Clapham, SW4 0JT. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit The Jam Tree website.

  • 2 July : Eid Festival

Festival to celebrate Eid and mark the end of Ramadan. Including a food festival, live music, performances, shopping and children’s activities. 12-6pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • Now until 2 July : Hampstead Summer Festival

The festival takes place in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (2 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are free. For more information, visit the Hampstead Summer Festival website.

  • Now until 2 July : Carters Steam Fair @ Hornsey

The vintage travelling funfair sets up camp in Hornsey, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open 11am-9pm. Free admission. Priory Park, Hornsey, N8 8QR. Nearest station: Hornsey. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.

  • Now until 2 July : East End Film Festival

For its 16th year, the East End Film Festival has been spread out to five weekends. Featuring screenings, Q&As, a Twin Peaks-themed ball and more. At venues across East London, including a Masonic temple. For more information, visit the East End Film Festival website.

  • 4 July : La Traviata – Royal Opera House BP Big Screen

Watch the Royal Opera House’s production of La Traviata live on the big screen. 7pm. Free. At Lyric Square (Hammersmith), Trafalgar Square or General Gordon Square (Woolwich). For more information, visit the Royal Opera House website.

  • 4 – 9 July : Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Celebrity and expert speakers include Chris Packham, Charlie Dimmock, Michaela Stracham, Pippa Greenwood, Christine Walkden, Helen Bostock, Martin Hughes-Games, David Domoney, Justin Fletcher, Hemsley & Hemsley, among others. Open Tues-Sat 10am-7.30pm, Sun 10am-5.30pm. Advance tickets range from £19 to £36.50 depending on full/half-day and RHS membership. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.

  • Now until 5 July : Masterpiece London

An imaginative art and antiques fair for traditional and contemporary. Featuring a week of cultural, culinary and social experiences. Tickets from £28. Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Masterpiece London website.

  • 5 July – 8 October : Frieze Sculpture

Free outdoor sculpture exhibition in Regents Park, featuring 23 new and significant creations by 20th-century masters and leading contemporary artists, including Rasheed Araeen, John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, Gary Hume, KAWS, Alicja Kwade, Michael Craig-Martin, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jaume Plensa, Thomas J Price, Ugo Rondinone and Hank Willis Thomas. Regents Park, Marylebone, NW1. Nearest station: Regents Park, Great Portland Street or Camden Town. For more information, visit the Frieze website.

  • 6 July – 17 August : Tales Of Silk & Music Festival

Historic Devonshire Square in the City of London is celebrating UK-India Year Of Culture with an Indian dance festival. Featuring performances from world class dancers. During the festival, Cinnamon Kitchen will be hosting a Summer Pavilion and Bombay Sapphire Gin Garden. Performances every Thursday at 12.30pm. Free to watch. Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival.

  • 7 – 9 July : Just V Show

Lifestyle festival for vegans, vegetarians or those who want to live a more plant-based diet. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £10 (includes entrance to Love Natural Love You and The Allergy & Free From Show, also on in the same venue). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Just V Show website.

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Pavilion Lates review: After hours fun at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Dulwich Picture Gallery are hosting late night events every Friday at their Pavilion throughout June and July

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the opening of Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public art gallery in the UK. To mark the occasion, the Gallery hosted a competition to rising architects to design a temporary summer pavilion for the grounds. If_Do won the competition with their airy wood and mesh creation, which will remain outside the Gallery all summer. Throughout June and July, the gallery are hosting late night openings every Friday, featuring special themed events both in and outside the gallery.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The alternative tour of the gallery gives you interesting stories behind some of the art

Earlier this month, I visited the Gallery for their late night opening, entitled ‘Baroque Mash Up’. The DPG is renowned for its collection of French, Spanish and Italian Baroque paintings, so the night took inspiration from this particular genre of art. Entering the gallery grounds, our eyes were immediately drawn to the main attraction – the Pavilion. Within the structure was a pop-up bar from the Camberwell Arms serving cocktails, wine and snacks, so our first priority was to order a drink and soak up the atmosphere. There was plenty of seating both around the Pavilion and the manicured lawns so a lovely space to relax on a warm summer evening. The gallery’s café is also open late serving food if you’re in the mood for something more substantial. While sipping our cocktails, we were entertained by musicians Benjamin Tassie and Liam Byrne playing their original, experimental music, which really complemented the history of the gallery and the social setting. Also in the Pavilion were guests taking part in a cross-stitch workshop, using patterns from some of the Gallery’s works.

During Pavilion Lates, there is free access to the Gallery, which normally costs to enter. We joined one of the hourly tours of the gallery, billed as an ‘alternative tour’. Our guide showed us some popular paintings in the gallery and gave us a list of facts about the subject or the painter – but added an untrue ‘fact’ which we had to guess. As well as injecting a bit of fun into a typically straight-laced activity, it also showcased some surprising facts about artists and the art world I had never heard before. Following the tour, you were free to explore the collection or take part in the collage making workshop.

Overall, it was a lovely, interesting evening – particularly when the weather is good so you can really make the most of the Pavilion and its setting. I’ll definitely be returning to another Pavilion Lates this summer.

  • Pavilion Lates take place every Friday in June and July (except 7 July) 2017 from 6-10pm. In the grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, SE21 7AD. Nearest station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. Tickets: Free, but you must register for a ticket on the Dulwich Picture Gallery website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

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London Hong Kong Dragon Festival 2017: Boat racing, street food, entertainment and more

The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place in Docklands in June

Forget about the Oxbridge Boat Race, it’s so last season. This summer sees the return of the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. The annual spectacle is Europe’s most prestigious dragon boat racing event, attracting 10,000 visitors from across the UK and overseas. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the LHKDBF as it returns to the Docklands’ Regatta Centre on Sunday 25 June.

For those who don’t know, dragon boat festival date originated in ancient southern central China some 2,500 years ago along the banks of Yangtze River. Today it is one of the biggest water sports in China and internationally.

Over competing club, corporate and amateur teams will battle it out for six cups during the event. Meanwhile, on land, the food festival will represent cuisine from across South East Asia. Among the entertainment will be live music on the East West Festival stage, martial arts displays, and traditional Chinese lion dancing.

Organised by the London Chinatown Lions Club, the event raises money for the club’s nominated charities, and is supported by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, The Hong Kong Executives Club, London Chinatown Chinese Association and The London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre.

  • The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place on 25 June 2017 from 10am-6pm. Free entry. London Regatta Centre, Dockside Road, Docklands, E16 2QT. Nearest station: Royal Albert (DLR). For more information, visit the LHKDBF website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.

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Charles Dickens Museum: Discover the man behind the books at the author’s only surviving London home

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Charles Dickens Museum is situated in one of the author’s former homes in Bloomsbury

Charles Dickens is without a doubt one of our greatest authors. Although he was born in Portsmouth and died in Kent, he spent an awful lot of his life in London. During his decades in the capital, the writer lived in many residences, most of which no longer exist.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The desk where Dickens wrote Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Today, the only remaining home is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. The author and his wife Catherine (1815-1879) moved to 48 Doughty Street in Bloomsbury in March 1837 – just a few months before Queen Victoria came to the throne. Previously they had been living in rented rooms at Furnival’s Inn in Holborn, but the birth of their first son Charles Jnr (1837-1896) meant they required more space. He signed a three-year lease on the five-floor Georgian terrace, costing around £80 a year. Built in 1807-9, the building is now Grade I-listed.

During the Dickens family’s three years in Doughty Street, Catherine gave birth to their eldest daughters Mary (1838-1896) and Kate (1839-1929), as well as raising their son Charles Jnr. Mrs Dickens’ 17-year-old sister Mary Hogarth also lived with the couple to help them with their expanding brood. Charles became very attached to his sister-in-law and she died in his arms following a short illness in May 1837. She is believed to have inspired several of his characters, including Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist and Little Nell Trent in The Old Curiosity Shop, among others.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Drawing Room on the first floor includes some of Dickens’ actual furniture

While living at the Bloomsbury terrace, Dickens completed The Pickwick Papers (1836), wrote Oliver Twist (1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39) and started on Barnaby Rudge (1840–41). As he became more successful in his career and his family expanded, Dickens and the family left Doughty Street in December 1839 and moved to the grander 1 Devonshire Terrace in Marylebone. They lived at Devonshire Terrace until 1851 before moving on to Tavistock House, where the family remained for a further nine years. One Devonshire Terrace was demolished in the late 1950s and now an office block called Ferguson House stands on the site on Marylebone Road.

While most of Dickens’ London residences are long gone, the Doughty Street premises nearly ended up consigned to the history books as well. By the 1920s and 1930s, demolition of Georgian properties was becoming popular with the government, the majority of those being part of the ‘slum clearance’ programme. Many homes from this period had not been maintained well over the decades, providing unsanitary and unsafe living quarters for predominantly poor Londoners. Forty-eight Doughty Street was ear-marked for demolition in 1923, but was fortunately saved by the Dickens Fellowship, founded 21 years earlier. They managed to buy the property and renovate it, opening the Dickens’ House Museum in 1925. In 2012, the museum was re-opened following a £3.1million restoration project and now encompasses neighbouring No.49.

After having it on my ‘to do’ list for some time, I finally paid a visit recently and really enjoyed it. Upon entry you are given an audio tour which guides you around the five floors, including the kitchen and the attic. The museum really brings to life the man behind the books – his complicated private life, his feelings about his tough childhood and his many inspirations. The rooms have been decorated as the author may have known it, in a typical Victorian style and often with his actual furniture – many of which had been bought from Gad’s Hill Place – the Kent home where the author died in 1870. If you’re a fan of Dickens or history, I highly recommend a visit.

  • Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 2LX. Nearest station: Russell Square or Chancery Lane. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adult £9, Child 6-16 years £4. For more information, visit the museum website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The basement kitchen

For a guide to London’s Dickens landmarks, click here.

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