WELCOME TO THE APRIL 2016 LIST
Welcome to my list of recommendations of things that you can do in London during the coming weeks or, in some cases, months.
With the evidence suggesting that the warmer weather is upon us, I've decided to venture outdoors with a few of this months offerings, so there are several gardens that are well worth visiting on this month's list.
Her Majesty, The Queen, turns 90 on April 21st so I've given details of how to get to the gun salutes that will mark the occasion.
Several unique things will be happening over the Bank Holiday weekend so I've featured a few of these as well.
SOME NEW WALKS
My walks programme gets underway with a new weekday tour of the Inns of Court - a truly magical enclave that, if you've not explored it is a true delight to discover. Click here for full details.
My Sunday morning Charles Dickens walk in Southwark also returns this month, after a break over the winter period. Click here for full details.
There's also a Wednesday Charles Dickens Walking Tour that will end with the opportunity to visit the wonderful Charles Dickens Museum.
THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHDAY WALK
On Saturday 23rd I'll be conducting a special walk to celebrate William Shakespeare's 452nd birthday, not to mention the 450th anniversary of his death on 23rd April. Click here for all the details.
REGULAR FACEBOOK UPDATES
So, all in all, there are some great locations to get out and about to in London and, as per usual, they're all free, so enjoy.
Just to remind you that I also post updates and additional venues on our Facebook page, so you might like to join us and like us (as in Facebook likes!) to ensure you're kept fully up to date on what's happening in London during the weeks ahead.
As ever, if something changes in the weeks ahead I will put the update on the Facebook Page, in order not to bombard you with emails.
So, without further ado, here is my April list of ten things to do in London.
10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON APRIL 2016
HAMPSTEAD'S SECRET GARDEN
off North End Way
The Nearest Underground Station is Hampstead (Edgware Branch)
The Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden, to give this place it's official name, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful gardens you will ever encounter and is, without doubt, one of London's hidden treasures.
It's origins go back to 1904 when Lord Leverhulme purchased the adjoining grand house and, in 1905, set about creating a landscaped garden which he added to and expanded over succeeding years to create his glorious Pergola as a setting for extravagant Edwardian Garden Parties.
This place, overlooking the wild expanse of Hampstead Heath, is a glorious place at any time of the year, but in the autumn it is particularly lovely.
You can get there by taking the underground to either Hampstead Station, or Golders Green Station and then getting a bus. Ask the driver to put you off at the Old Bull and Bush Pub ta dah dah dah dah (yes that one(!)) on North End Road.
With your back to the pub cross over the road, turn left and keep walking until you arrive at a large red brick house on the right. The track to its right takes you to the Pergola.
After your visit you might want to walk back to the Bull and Bush to enjoy a meal and/or a drink, or if you're feeling really energetic, walk across the heath to the Spaniard's Inn.
ENJOY A CITY RETREAT
THE CITY GARDEN
80 Basinghall Street
23rd April to 25th September 2016. Monday to Saturday from 10am - 5pm
The Nearest Underground Stations is are Moorgate or Liverpool Street Stations
This sounds wonderful.
It's amazing how many green spaces we have in the centre of London. Now we can celebrate and enjoy them in true style.
This is how the website describes this lovely project:-
"Artist Rebecca Louise Law has created "The City Garden", a site-specific installation of natural materials inspired by gardens within the City.
This micro-theatre of London's natural world will feature fresh flowers entwined with copper wire that are suspended above head height where they can be closely observed as they dry and preserve.
The City Centre has commissioned two films of City gardens that accompany the exhibition and a map of the gardens that inspired Rebecca's installation. The map will also be available in an app that leads visitors through the City's open spaces detailing the history, horticulture and design of some iconic gardens."
EXPERIENCE LONDON's MAGICAL CANAL
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
30th April to 2nd May 2016. For hours and what's on see their website
Paddington (Hammersmith & City line) station leads directly on to the towpath and Paddington (Bakerloo or Circle line) and Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo line) - both approximately 5 minutes walk.
At the risk of repeating myself, this sounds wonderful. You can see just how wonderful by watching the above video showing the 2014 Canalvalcade, add a year, and it sounds even more wonderful.
If you've never been to Little Venice, you've missed out on one of London's most enchanting enclaves.
And, if that has made you want to jump on a narrow boat and drift aimlessly as the rush of the City hurries by, then what better time to do it than on a Bank Holiday weekend when the Cavalcade is in town?
As to what to expect? Well I'll let the organisers tell you:-
"View the spectacle of the decorated boats in the pool, or watch a Punch and Judy show in Rembrandt Gardens. As well as boating competitions and parades, there will be lots of activities to keep the children amused.
Visit the tasty selection of food stalls, see what's on offer at the real-ale bar, or peruse the stalls selling the weird and the wonderful.
There really is something for everyone at this special event.
IWA Canalway Cavalcade is a unique waterway boat gathering organised by IWA volunteers, that has been taking place at Little Venice since 1983."
At the risk of repeating myself, this sounds wonderful.
WISH THE QUEEN A HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY
ROYAL GUN SALUTES
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Thursday 21st April 2016 at Midday at Hyde Park, and 1pm on the Riverside by the Tower of London.
The Nearest Underground Stations are Hyde Park Corner (For Hyde Park) and Tower Hill (For the Tower of London).
I don't have to repeat myself on this one because the big guns will most certainly be repeating.
Did you know that the salute with open hand was intended to show the other person that you didn't have a sneaky weapon concealed in your hand?
Did you also know that Gun salutes are customarily fired, both on shore and at sea, as a sign of respect or welcome?
Did you know that the Queen will be 90 this year? You probably did as it is a big occasion.
Each year on the Queen's birthdays - yes, she has two - an actual one (April 21st) and an official one ( on a Saturday in June) - visitors and Londoners alike can enjoy (or endure) a celebratory gun salute at the Tower of London - well on the riverside walkway in front of the Tower to be precise - and at Hyde Park.
They're loud. They make the unsuspecting jump out of their skins. But they're great.
So, on April 21st 2016, why not mosey on along to these two locations and prepare for a serious ear bashing?
DINE IN THE TOILET
The Attendant, 27A Foley Street, W1W 6DY
Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm. Saturdays 9am to 6pm. Sundays 10am to 5pm
The Nearest Underground Stations are Goodge Street or Oxford Circus
Oh, the jokes I am tempted to attempt about this unusual venue, but I'll instead restrain myself and simply suggest that you enjoy London's most original location for a coffee bar: a Victorian gents toilet, no less, that dates from the 1890's. It is a truly unique venue that is not a part of one of the ubiquitous chains (oops) that you find all over London.
The urinals themselves have been utilised to provide seating with small tables, and you'll find additional seating at the back.
It's not the largest venue in London, in fact it doesn't even come close, so it does get very crowded at lunchtimes.
But, hey ho, the experience of having drunk in a toilet should leave you flushed with pride.
HOB NOB WITH THE SERVANTS
SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET
The Geffrye Museum
136 Kingsland Road
Tuesday 15th March 2016 to Sunday 4th September 2016.
Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays 10am-5pm
The Nearest Station is Hoxton
You can also take buses 149 or 242 from Liverpool Street Station
I have it on very good authority that the servants have taken over the living room. At least, they have at the Geffrye Museum.
I've been looking for a good excuse to avoid my weekly vacuuming duties and this exhibition proved the perfect distraction. So, if you seek a similar excuse, then just quote the exhibition's Press release and all will be well.
"This special exhibition will explore domestic service and the experiences of servants living and working in middle-class homes over the last four hundred years.
It will show the ways in which servants' work formed the backbone of domestic life, giving a glimpse into a world often overlooked by historians.
New scenarios and subtle interventions in the museum's period rooms will illustrate the changing nature of the relationship between servants and their employers over time - from the intimacy of a maid checking her master's hair for nits in the late 17th century, to an ayah caring for the children of an Anglo-Indian family in the late 19th century, to an au-pair picking up after the children she looks after in the middle of the 20th century.'
TAKE YOURSELF TO COURT
THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE
The Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL
Monday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm
The nearest Underground Stations are Temple or Holborn
Why not venture into the cathedral like interior of the Royal Courts of Justice on Strand?
It can look somewhat intimidating, but don't be put off just march in, make your way through the elaborate security (you have to go through x-ray machines and put your bags on a conveyor for inspection) but, once inside, look up and take in the majesty of one of London's most breathtaking buildings.
There is an interesting exhibition of legal robes which you can reach by walking straight ahead, passing under the balcony at the far side and then go left up the stairs and left out of the swing door.
But the main reason to pay a visit is the opportunity to visit a court case.
The appeal cases are largely heard in the courts reached up any of the staircases on the right from the centre of the main hall. There is a board in this main hall that tells you what cases are being heard in which courts.
There is also a notice on the board outside each court that tells you what the case is and if it appeals (if you'll pardon the pun) simply walk in and sit in the back two rows of benches.
Don't worry about going in to the court, you have the right to be there unless there is a notice on the door that read Court In Camera or Court In Chambers, in which case don' even think about going in!
But otherwise, just walk in, ease your self into one of the back benches and enjoy the wonderful theatre of the English legal system.
One more tip. You can stay in for as long as you like. So if the case is boring, as some of them can be, get up and leave, even if you've only been in there for a matter of minutes.
You can view the Daily Cause List here
WATCH HENRY V111 DRIFT BY
THE TUDOR PULL
Hampton Court to the Tower of London
Sunday 17th April 2016 from 9.45 am approx. at Hampton Court to approx. 4.30 at the Tower
The Tudor Pull is a ceremonial event for Thames Watermen's Cutters which is organised each year by the Thames Traditional Rowing Association (TTRA).
The cutters escort the Thames Royal Shallop 'Jubilant' rowed by members of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, from Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London to deliver a 'Stela' (a piece of wooden water pipe in a special glass case) to the Governor of the Tower for safekeeping.
The 'Stela' is handed over to the custody of her Majesty's Bargemasters at King Henry's Royal Palace at Hampton Court and carried by river to the Tower of London accompanied by His Gracious Majesty King Henry VIII and his Queen (although I'm not sure which one) on board the royal barge, Gloriana, in the vanguard of a procession of Thames cutters.
GO WILD IN PERIVALE
PERIVALE WOOD NATURE RESERVE
Entrance is between 36 and 38 Sunley Gardens, Perivale (UB6 7PF)
Sunday 24th April 2014 10am to 4.30pm
The Nearest Underground Station is Perivale
This idyllic Nature reserve is kept locked in order to protect the abundance of wildlife harboured within. But, once a year it opens to the public and, in 2016, that open day is on Sunday 24th April from 10am to 4pm.
Perivale Wood is a 27 acre (11 hectare) area of ancient oak woodland in west London. It is bounded to the north by the Grand Union canal, to the south by a railway embankment and houses, to the west by industrial units and to the east by houses and recreational open space.
CABBAGES, FROCKS AND DOG DANCING
The grounds of St Marylebone Parish Church, opposite the Conran shop at the north end of Marylebone High Street.
SATURDAYS 11am to 5pm
Free, apart from purchases
The Nearest Underground Station is Baker Street
The "Cabbages and Frocks' market takes place in Marylebone every Saturday from 11am to 5pm.
However, on Saturday 16th April "Dog Day Afternoon" will return "by public demand" and so it might be worth pawsing from your usual weekend activities and padding over to Marylebone for what promises to be terrific event.
One of the highlights of the day will be the "Good Boy Dog School", headed by Dima and his doggy dance partner George, who will be presenting "new and exciting routines" at 12 noon and 2pm.
Previously Dima and George have been seen on "Britain's Got talent", so they certainly come with a good pedigree. George, "who is a wow with the ladies", even upstaged Lady Gaga on Comic Relief - and she was barking mad at the indignity of it.
There will also be free doggy competitions (stop sniggering over there) from 2.30pm, which will be judged by Chamois Rose-Wood of The Independent and Rob Alleyne of Dog Owners Club and seen on BBC3's "Dog Borstal".
Each heat takes approx. 10 minutes and comprises "A bit of ruff" for mixed breeds - Best dog trick - Waggy tail - Miniatures and toy breeds - Matching pairs - New kid on the Block - Best Puppy - Oldies but goodies - Best in show
At the risk of repeating myself - it sounds wonderful.
I hope you find the April list useful and that you get to enjoy at least some of the things that I have suggested.
If you require further directions to any of the places suggested could you ask it via the Facebook page as that then enables me to answer quickly and, should it be something that everybody wants to know, it becomes useful to everyone.
All the best. Richard