WELCOME TO THE MAY 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.
It has to be said, and I will say this in a whisper so as not to tempt fate, but the weather has really come up trumps over the last week or so.
To that end, I've featured a few things that can be enjoyed out of doors for this month's list.
First off though, I've featured an old favourite in the form of the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, as it's just been voted Museum of the Year and it is a truly terrific museum.
Quite a few London fire stations are holding open days this month, although I've singled out Whitechapel Fire Station. Can I just assure the chaps at my local fire station that this in no way reflects favouritism on my part - just in case Jones Towers should burst into flames in the foreseeable future.
There's also a bit of free ballet in Trafalgar Square, and the opportunity to celebrate Buddha's birthday in Leicester Square, not to mention the chance to attend a medieval festival in the wilds of Essex, well down Dagenham way at least!
A great find this month, for which I have to give full credit to Mrs. Jones, is the Japanese Roof Garden over in Russell Square - what better place to (whisper's again) enjoy the sunshine while we have it?
Add to that the opportunity to hunt for Mulberries in the centre of London and, I think you'll agree, the May list, with its fresh fragrances, is the Lenor of the London listings world!
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.
THIS MONTH'S WALKS
I'll be doing my Hampstead Walk again on Sunday May 15th at 11.45am, and Hampstead will be truly delightful in the wake of the good weather of late. Click here for full details..
The Inns of Court Walk is now going strong and, I have to say, I'm really enjoying introducing people to this truly magical enclave. Click here for full details.
My Sunday morning Charles Dickens in Southwark Walk is operating on selected Sundays. Click here for full details; and there's also the Wednesday morning Charles Dickens Walking Tour that will end with the opportunity to visit the wonderful Charles Dickens Museum.
REGULAR FACEBOOK UPDATES
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 May 2016 list of ten things to do in London.
10 THINGS TO DO IN LONDON MAY 2016
EXPLORE THE HISTORY OF MENTAL HEALTHCARE
Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3BX
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm
Also on some Saturday's
Opens to the public on 19th February 2015
Admission is free
The Nearest Stations are Eden Park (30 minutes from London Bridge Station, or East Croydon 15 minutes from Victoria Station).
Although I featured this fascinating, and thought provoking, museum in a previous list, the fact that it has just been nominated the Arts Fund's Museum of the Year for 2016 has inspired me to dust off the previous list and bring it to you as a suggestion for May 2016.
Now, I know that, strictly speaking, this museum is not actually in London, but it is most certainly, rooted in London's past as the hospital whose history it charts was previously located near Moorgate and then in the building now occupied by the Imperial War Museum.
The hospital in question was the first in Europe to specialise in mental illnesses and it has been known by various names including St Mary Bethlehem, Bethlem Hospital, Bethlehem Hospital and, informally and most notoriously, Bedlam.
The Museum mainly displays items from the hospital's art collection, and features in paintings by artists who have suffered from mental health problems. These include works by former patients such as William Kurelek, Richard Dadd and Louis Wain.
Other exhibits include a pair of statues by Caius Gabriel Cibber known as Raving and Melancholy Madness, which came from the gates of the 17th century Bethlem Hospital in London; 18th and 19th century furniture; and documents from the archives.
DRIVE A FIRE ENGINE
OPEN DAY AT WHITECHAPEL FIRE STATION
Whitechapel Fire Station
27 Commercial Road
Tuesday 17th May 2016 1pm to 4pm
The Nearest Underground Stations are Aldgate East or Whitechapel Stations
London Fire Brigade is 150 years old and, to celebrate, lots of fire stations across the Capital will be holding open days throughout May.
I've singled out Whitechapel, for no other reason than I happened to be passing it and saw the advert! (See how carefully I plan!)
According to the official blurb you will be able to:- "Meet your local fire fighters and life-sized Playmobil ones, see exciting fire and rescue demonstrations plus receive fire safety advice and enjoy toys and activities galore."
ENJOY A GRAVE DAY OUT
NUNHEAD CEMETERY OPEN DAY
Saturday 21st May 2016 11am to 5pm
Nearest Station Crofton Park ( 5 minutes walk)
Consecrated in 1840, Nunhead Cemetery is the second largest of the Magnificent Seven Victorian cemeteries which were established in a ring around what were then the outskirts of London.
The cemetery's first burial was of Charles Abbott, a 101-year-old Ipswich grocer; the last burial was of a volunteer soldier who became a canon of Lahore Cathedral. So plenty of variety there then.
The annual open day will be hosted by the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery and it promises to be a great day out.
There will be music in the ruined chapel, free tours, a plant stall, the famous Bug Hunt for the kids, home made refreshments and many other stalls.
UNCOVER THE CITY'S MARVELOUS MULBERRIES
A GUIDED WALK
By The Flower Stall
Queen Victoria Street
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 from 6pm to 8pm
The Nearest Underground Station is Blackfriars.
This sounds like a great idea, in fact, I wish I'd thought of it, but I didn't and so I whole heartedly recommend Peter Coles's guided walk to launch The Conservation Foundation's Morus Londinium project and celebrate London Tree Week.
Peter will explore some of the Square Mile's heritage mulberry sites, and the area's wider history, before finishing with mulberry-themed refreshments.
CELEBRATE BUDDHA'S BIRTHDAY
SEE LEICESTER SQUARE TRANSFORMED
Leicester Square Garden
May 14th 2016 12.30pm to 4.30pm
The Nearest Underground Station is Leicester Square
On 14th May Leicester Square Gardens will be transformed into the Garden of Lumbini - Buddha's birthplace - where London Fo Guang Shan Temple will celebrate Buddha's birthday with serene blessings, performances and music, Chinese Tea Ceremony demonstration, and many more family friendly activities. Come join us to pray and play!
There will be a colourful parade featuring a procession of the baby Buddha through Chinatown.
You will have the opportuity to "Bather The Buddha and Purify Your Mind.
There will be a "Bless You All" ceremony for World Peace and Compassion.
And there will be a "Bless Your Baby" ceremony, in the course of which children will be blessed to live a happy and fulfilled life under the protection and guidance of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
SING AND PIROUETTE ALONG
FREE BALLET AND OPERA
18 May 2016 to 14 July 2016
Various Dates And Times (See their website)
The Nearest Stations are Charing Cross, Embankment and Leicester Square
In the words of the late, great David Bowie "Let's Dance."
It's time to resole those dancing shoes, dust off those tutus and pirouette over to Trafalgar Square where you can experience live opera and ballet in the centre of London with The Royal Opera House's BP Big Screens 2016.
This year, two operas and one ballet will once again be relayed directly from the Royal Opera House to big screens specially set up in Trafalgar Square, together with exclusive backstage looks and competitions.
As they say on their website, this is the perfect opppornity for a terrific knees up (or should that be tiptoes up?) "with friends and family, bring a picnic and a blanket, and enjoy these free screenings suitable for newcomers and fans alike on three summer nights".
However, heed their advice and "make sure to arrive early to secure a space."
ASCEND UPTO PEACE
THE JAPANESE ROOF GARDEN
University of London
Head for the Brunei Gallery and you get to the garden by the shop.
Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm except when exhibitions are being changed or during private functions. Please phone the recorded message service for current details - 020 7898-4046. The recorded information is about the Brunei Gallery, but if it's open then the Roof Garden is open.
The nearest Underground Stations are Russell Square and Tottenham Court Road
One of the great things about London is just how many hidden locations there are, often hiding in plain sight.
In to this category falls the wonderful Japanese Roof Garden, which is located in the north west corner of Russell Square.
In this case, however, you would be forgiven for not knowing it's there because, when all is said and done, the garden is, after all, dedicated to forgiveness.
Whether in the rain or the sun, the garden has a lot of character. Its character also changes with the time of day and the season, so it is worth a repeat visit!
TheJapanese-inspired roof garden provides an area away from the noise and bustle of London streets, and visitors can relax and meditate in truly tranquil surroundings.
ATTEND A MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL
RM8 3HT, UK
28th May 2016, 11am to 4pm
Nearest Stations. Chadwell Heath Station (TFL Rail) then a 62 bus or 15-minute walk. Becontree Station (London Underground, District Line) then a 62 bus
This exciting two-day event will spirit you back to the 14th century where you'll be able to enjoy period themed activities that will included knightly tournaments, medieval crafts, dancing and many more besides.
For some reason, I find myself drawn to th "Fool's School".
There will also be large quantities of medieval food to enjoy, after which you can burn off the calories with some rigorous medieval dancing.
All in all, it sounds like it's going to be a great and enjoyable few days.
GO UP ON THE ROOF
Floors 7 & 8
Stratford multi storey car park
Great Eastern Way
London E15 1XE
Tuesdays to Fridays: 5pm to 11pm. Saturdays and Sundays: 12noon to 11pm
Stratford's finest rooftop bar, event space and open air cinema return for another season with new and exciting line up to entertain you this summer.
With new street food by Hawksmoor Knightsbridge Head Chef Rockadollar Dogs, cocktails by the award winning Spirited Mixers and the ultimate outdoor cinema experience by Rooftop Film Club.
The new season brings improved space design incorporating a large seating area overlooking the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a play zone with games and activities, and a fitness area with number of outdoor fitness classes and workshops.
New shrubs have been planted and our signature cars converted into plant pots refilled with fresh lavender, transforming the rooftop into a green oasis above the bustling streets of Stratford.
And, given it's on top of a car park, parking shouldn't be too much of a problem. But don't quote me on that!
SPEND AN EVENING WITH DRUNKEN BAKERS
25 Red Lion Square
Tuesday, 17th May 2016 from 7pm to 10pm
Free, although an optional donation is requested on the door.
The Nearest Underground Stations are Holborn or Russell Square
Conway Hall is another of London's hidden treasures and is tucked away just a few minutes walk from Holborn Underground Station.
On Tuesday 17th May, they'll be hostng an evening with the Drunken Bakers which, to quote from their website, will consist of "an evening with Barney Farmer, writer of the celebrated Viz comic strip Drunken Bakers, and artist Mark Leckey."
Who cannot be tempted to investigate further Art and the decline of the independent baker? Especially when cake and bargain booze are included.
The evening will also include a screening of Mark Leckey's notorious film version of the Drunken Bakers.
I hope you find the May 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