Category Archives: England

List of articles with tips for things to do in England; top English attractions, sights and museums.

spitalfields market jewwllery

Photo Tour of Spitalfields Market London

Spitalfields Market is located a five minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, very close to the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street where I was staying.

spitalfields market entrance

The market is open seven days a week from 10am – 5pm. There are different themes every day. I visited on a Thursday, which is Antiques Day in the Old Market.

spitalfields market egyptian bust

Anyone for an Egyptian bust?

spitalfields market

What about a soldier’s metal helmet?

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Crockery and glassware in Spitalfields Antiques Market

The other section of the market sells new items.

spitalfields market animal cushions

Colourful animal cushion covers

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Jewelry selection at Spitalfields Market

spitalfields market clothes and bags

Vast selection of clothing at Spitalfields Market

There are lots of cafes and restaurants in the Spitalfields Market with a mix of indoor and outside seating.

 

 

wellcome collection staircase

Visit the Institute of Sexology and See the New Staircase at the Wellcome Collection London

‘The Institute of Sexology’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London runs until 22 September 2015.

wellcome collection institure of sexology entrance

You’re not allowed to take photos in the Institute, but the video below gives an outline of the exhibition.

Having worked as an interviewer on the second National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in 1999, I found the filmed interviews with the four leading members of the research team fascinating. On the whole I did get a positive response from interviewees to the survey, but I was glad that the most personal questions were in a self completion section.

The day when I visited the Wellcome Collection was one day prior to the public opening of the new staircase  designed by architects Wilkinson Eyr, who are Stirling Prize winners. This meant that I wasn’t able to climb the staircase, so could only take photos from the ground floor.

wellcome collection new staircase

 

the nether2

‘The Nether’ is One of the Best Plays I’ve Seen

When I was in London last week, I went to see  ‘The Nether‘ at the Duke of York’s theatre in St Martin’s Lane. I paid £11, including all fees and credit card payment charges, for a third price ticket with restricted view, booked on the lastminute.com website.

The Nether ticket

Now the issue with my seat, in the front row of the Upper Circle, wasn’t the restricted view, which was easily remedied by leaning forward, but the restricted leg and foot room.

That discomfort was soon forgotten when the performance started, This is an amazing, gripping, chilling portrayal of virtual reality in 2050, which allows you to act out your desires with (supposedly) no consequences.

the nether1

Now with some plays, you could argue that a TV or movie production might be superior to being limited to a stage. However, with ‘The Nether’ the 3D dreamy sets give an eerie fairytale-like feel to the grotesque tale.

the nether3

I’d recommend that you go to see ‘The Nether’ as its run at the Duke of Yorks is due to finish on 25 April 2015.

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tune hotel liverpool st garden

Review of the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street London

I stayed at the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street in London for two nights in early November 2014. I didn’t choose to stay at this hotel. I’m not a fan of Tune Hotels, as I think their business model of charging for supposed extras is flawed, when things like a towel and daily cleaning are classified as extras. However, I ended up there after booking an Expedia Secret Saver.

I was looking for a budget hotel in central London about one month before my stay. It appeared that even Travelodges were charging around £100 a night, so when I spotted a 2.5 star hotel in the St Paul’s/Tower Bridge/City area of London for £160 for 2 nights it sounded like reasonable value, at least by London standards.

I was disappointed when the hotel name was revealed as the Tune Hotel Liverpool St. I know from previous stays at Tune Hotels that check out is a very early 10am and there’s no kettle in the room.

When I checked the price on the Tune Hotels website, it was £190 for 2 nights in a room with a window (windowless rooms are cheaper).  However, with the Expedia booking, the Comfort Package which includes towels, toiletries, WiFi, use of the TV, safe and hairdryer were included in the price. The Comfort Package usually costs £10 a night.

A total price of £210 for a direct booking versus an £160 booking through an Expedia Secret Saver represented a saving of around 23%. Much lower than the ‘up to 40%’ advertised on the Expedia Secret Savers.

tune hotel liverpool st exterior

Although the hotel was a five minute walk from Liverpool Street station, I found it difficult to locate. This may have been because there are so many exits from the station and a lot of construction in the area.

I arrived at Tune Hotel Liverpool Street before noon to drop off my suitcase, for which there was an additional fee of £2.50 per bag. The reception staff were really friendly. When I checked in later that evening, I was allocated a room on the third floor.

When I entered the room, I thought that the window must have been open as I could hear traffic noise, despite the fact that the room wasn’t that close to the main road. However, the window was closed. The double glazing was ineffectual at keeping out exterior noise. At least I hardly heard any noise from the adjoining rooms during my stay.

Being allocated a twin room worked well. There were only four coat hangers on a tiny rail. I used the other bed to lay out my clothes. I was glad I was staying alone, as the room was small. I didn’t find the bed to be as comfortable as the double beds in other Tune hotels. The WiFi signal was very good and you could connect up to four devices per room.

tune hotel liverpool st room

One of the best things about the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street was the garden. The Cafe was shut during my visit.

tune hotel liverpool st the garden

I liked the location of the hotel. It was a two minute walk down to Spitalfields Market. There are lots of pubs, restaurants and cafes close by.  It only takes a few minutes to walk up to Shoreditch.

In summary, if you manage to find a cheap room at the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street, fair enough – you can live with the small room and paying for extras. It’s worth paying the additional £10 per night for the Comfort Package if you book direct. If I stayed there again, I’d request a room overlooking the garden.

Review of Tune Hotel Liverpool Street LondonKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

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Walking Along Regent’s Canal from Victoria Park to Islington Tunnel

I’d already walked along Regent’s Canal from Mile End to Victoria Park previously, so I decided to walk the section between Victoria Park to the Islington Tunnel.

I did this in two parts. In the morning, I visited Broadway Market and walked the relatively short section east to Victoria Park.

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regent's canal victoria park to islington tunnel6

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regent's canal victoria park to islington tunnel2

regent's canal victoria park to islington tunnel1

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In the afternoon, I decided to walk to King’s Cross station from my hotel, the RE London Shoreditch, mainly along Regent’s Canal. It would’ve taken me at least 15 minutes to walk to the closest Underground station at Bethnal Green, whereas to walk the whole way was supposed to take around one hour. I allowed two hours, factoring in stops to take photos and a few sit downs to give my case-dragging arms a rest.

With hindsight, I’m not so sure that was a great idea, mainly because it was a sunny Saturday; the tow path was crowded with pedestrians and cyclists, whom I had to weave between while wheeling my suitcase. There was still mud at the side of the tow path after recent rain. The first part of the tow path heading west was closed, the next part hardly had any benches and there was a lot of litter around.

I wished that I was in a canoe with my suitcase.

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I spotted a swan with some cygnets.

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The nicest part was at City Road Basin, between Wharf Rd and Danbury Street.

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There were plenty of benches and raised garden areas.

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There were some beautiful mosaics.

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regent's canal victoria park to islington tunnel11

I was relieved to get off the tow path at the Islington Tunnel. The last part of the walk to King’s Cross, south through Duncan Terrance Gardens and west along Pentonville Rd, was plain sailing, as it was downhill on wide, smooth, uncrowded paths and pavements.

hackney city farm english classroom

Hackney City Farm in London

Hackney City Farm is in Hackney Road at the southern end of Haggerston Park, is a ten minute walk from Hoxton Overground station.

hackney city farm sign

It looked as though the goats were in love, as they only had eyes for each other.

hackney city farm goats

They seemed unperturbed by a chicken pecking around close to them.

hackney city farm goats and chicken

The pigs were enjoying an afternoon snooze in their hut.

hackney city farm sleeping pigs

There were a couple of donkeys grazing in the field.

hackney city farm donkey

I liked the donkey stable.

hackney city farm donkey stable

There’s a small garden with a vegetable patch.

hackney city farm garden

You can buy fresh eggs and organic vegetables, as well as gifts and souvenirs at the Hackney City Farm Shop.

hackney city farm shop

The shop extension opened in September 2013. It was constucted of recycled materials including scaffolding boards and sash windows.

hackney city farm modern bulding

The farm gets a lot of school visits. Some of the classes on the environment, nature and food take place in brightly painted caravans.

hackney city farm english classroom

There’s a ‘Woodland Trail’ close by in Haggerston Park, where I spotted several squirrels.

hackney city farm woodland trail sign

It’s free to enter Hackney City Farm, although donations are welcome. It’s open all year from 10am–4.30pm everyday except Mondays.

mumbai square exterior

Review of Mumbai Square Indian Restaurant in Aldgate London

I saw a sign advertising the £10 buffet lunch at the Mumbai Square Indian Restaurant when I was walking back from Tower Gateway station to the Tune Hotel Liverpool Street. The restaurant is very close to Petticoat Lane and less than a ten minute walk from both Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations.

On my last day in London I had lunch there. The first thing I noticed upon entering was a pianist. I’ve never had a live music accompanient in an Indian restaurant. I later spoke to the pianist, Tristran from Galway in Ireland, to compliment him on his playing.

mumbai square live music from tristan

The interior was spacious, but I thought that all the dark wood and chairs made it slightly gloomy.

mumbai square interior

The starters weren’t part of the buffet. They were cooked freshly and served at the table.

mumbai square xtarters

There was a good choice of main courses at the buffet including three chicken and three lamb dishes, My favourites were the Prawn Curry and Aubergine Bhaji. Nan bread was brought to the table.

mumbai square main course

The staff were all friendly and attentive. After I’d eaten and paid,  I said I was going to take some photos of my restaurant for my review. The staff volunteered to be photographed.

mumbai square waiting staff

I was happy with the quality of the food for the £10 paid and I’d recommend the buffet lunch at the Mumbai Square Indian restaurant if you’re in the area.

Review of Mumbai Square Indian Restaurant in LondonKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

broadway market tarts

Photo Tour of Broadway Market in East London

When I was staying at the RE London Shoreditch Hotel in Hackey Road, I took a walk to the nearby Broadway Market, a Saturday food market located between the northern bank of Regent’s Canal and the southern end of London Fields.

broadway market pies

Whilst there were plenty of tempting wares, I thought that everything was very expensive e.g. £3 for a loaf of ‘Artisan’ bread and £2.50 for a square of ‘Cherry Crumble Cake’. If I’d been hungry I’d probably have nipped into the Greggs bakery shop for something a bit cheaper.

broadway market pastries

Still, it costs nothing to have a wander around and soak up the atmosphere.

broadway market scottish flavours

broadway market spices

broadway market flowers

broadway market risotto

broadway market tarts

broadway market salmon bites

broadway market friut juice stall

The closest Underground station to Broadway Market is Bethnal Green on the Central Line. It’d take around 20 minutes to walk to the market from there. Cambridge Heath rail station is closer, it’d take around 10 minutes to walk to Broadway Market from it.

After visiting the Broadway Market, I’d recommend a walk along Regent’s Canal to Islington Tunnel.

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The Horniman Museum in London

I resolved to finally visit the Horniman Museum in south London when I noticed that I could get a direct London Overground train from Hoxton station, fairly close to the RE London Shoreditch Hotel where I was staying, to Forest Hill, where the Horniman is located. It was raining during the rail journey, but fortunately dry for the ten minute uphill walk from Forest Hill station.

The Horniman Museum, built in the Arts and Crafts style, opened in 1901 to house the collections of tea-trader Frederick Horniman.

The ‘Humanity in the House of Circumstance’ mosaic at the top front of the building illustrates human aspirations and constraints.

horniman museum mosaic

I was impressed by the Conservatory which was being used by visitors who’d bought drinks and snacks from the Cafe and those who’d brought picnics.

horniman museum conservatory

I didn’t spend much time in the gardens, as I didn’t arrive at the Horniman Museum until after 4pm, I thought I’d better get into the museum, as it closed at 5.30pm. When I came out of the museum, it had started raining again. It’s a pity as I would have liked to follow the ‘Sundial Trail’.

horniman museum sun dial

My favourite section of the Horniman Museum was the ‘Whisper of the Stars’ temporary exhibition depicting life in Artic Siberia.

horniman museum whisper of stars child

horniman museum whisper of stars feeding

horniman museum whisper of stars reindeer

The Natural History Gallery was dominated by an enormous walrus.

horniman museum walrus

There were some very vivid Scarlet ibis.

horniman museum red ibisi

The collection of central nervous systems in various species was interesting.

horniman museum central nervous system

Entry to the Horniman Museum is free of charge, but you do have to pay to get into the Aquarium and some temporary exhibitions. During my visit the cost for a combined ticket, giving access to the ‘eXtremes’ exhibition and the Aquarium, was £8.80 for adults and £4.40 for children.

horniman museum extremes

There were some colourful photos in Gallery Square on the lower ground floor.

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The Ijele (a giant Nigerian mask), which honours the dead, on display in the ‘African World’ section, was commissioned by the museum.

horniman museum mask

The Midnight Robber mask is a representation of a character who is a traditional part of carnival in Trinidad.

horniman museum skeleton

I wish that I’d had more time to explore the Horniman Museum and Gardens. I recommend that you make the effort to visit.

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A Morning in Lincoln’s Inn Fields London

I spent an enjoyable morning visiting the Sir John Soane’s and Hunterian Museum, both free to enter,  in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. Unfortunately, photography isn’t permitted in either museum.

Sir John Soane’s Museum was built in as the home of Neo-Classical architect. In 1833, four years before his death he established his home as a museum on condition that the interior be maintained as it stood.

john soane's museum exterior

Exterior of John Soane’s Museum

The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeon’s is directly opposite the Sir John Soane’s Museum, through Licoln’s Inn Field Sqaure, the largest public square in London.

lincoln's inn fields fountain

Fountain in Lincoln’s Inn Flields

lincoln's inn fields modern sculpture

Modern sculpture in Lincoln’s Inn Fields

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The Royal College of Surgeon’s in Lincoln’s Inn Fields

In the Hunterian Museum, there was the skeleton of the ‘Irish Giant’, Charles Byrne, who was 7’7″ tall. The most interesting section for me was about plastic surgery, developed largely in response to the many facial injuries inflicted on troops during WW1. This theme was continued in the ‘War, Art and Surgery’ exhibition which runs until 14 February 2015.

huntarian museum war art and surgery

 War, Art and Surgery exhibition poster