Category Archives: England

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

geffyre museum 1960s living room

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

I always like to visit less well known attractions when I’m in London. I had a look at what was within striking distance of the Travelodge London Bethnal Green and thought that the Geffyre Museum in Hoxton sounded interesting.The museum focuses on the history of the home over the last 400 years. It’s free to enter the musuem, which is closed on Mondays.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Exterior of Geffyre Museum

I received such a geniune warm welcome from the member of staff at the reception desk when I entered the museum. There were plenty of free lockers; great for dumping my jacket and backpack. The first section of the Geffyre Museum is in the original building and features rooms from earlier periods.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1830s room at the Geffyre Museum

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1870s room at the Geffyre Museum

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1890s room at the Geffyre Museum

The Garden Reading Room was the museum’s cafe until the extension was built in the 1990s.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Garden Reading Room at the Geffyre Museum

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Strangely proportioned horse on mural in Garden Reading Room

Unfortunately, the Herb garden is only open from 1 April to 30 October, so was closed during my visit in early November.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Herb Garden at Geffyre Museum

The new wing of the Museum, designed by architects Coates Branson, opened in 1998.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Cafe at Geffyre Museum

I loved the staircase.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Beautiful staircase at the Geffyre Museum London

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1930s room at the Geffyre Museum

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

Painting of Madge Garland, Lady Ashton, at the Geffyre Museum

It was quite strange looking at the 1960s room, as some elements, especially the dining table, the wall shelves and cabinets. looked very similar to my childhood home. We certainly didn’t have such a trendy, small TV.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1960s room at the Geffyre Museum

Speaking of TVs, this futuristic Videosphere TV was manufactured by JVC in 1967.

Photo Tour of the Geffyre Museum in London

1967 VideosphereTV at the Geffyre Museum

I’d recommend that you visit the Geffyre Museum in London. It gives a great insight into how homes have changed over the century. The fact that the staff are so amiable and ethusiastic about their workplace makes a visit even more enjoyable.

london canal museum rear

Visiting the London Canal Museum

I saw a sign for the London Canal Museum as I walked up York Place to start my stroll along the Regent’s Canal to Camden Lock Market. It seemed very appropriate, as I was about to walk along a canal. However, as my walk was planned to coincide with the one dry morning during my stay in London, I decided to visit the Museum another day.

Upon entry to the London Canal Museum, I was drawn to the colouful narrow boat ‘Coronis’.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

‘Coronis’ narrow boat at the London Canal Museum

I can’t imagine how cramped it must’ve been for a family to live onboard. There wasn’t much space to move with just me aboard.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Interior of the ‘Coronis’ narrow boat

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Range on the ‘Coronis’ narrow boat

Many narrow boats would be kitted out with ‘canal art’ untensils.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

‘Canal Art’ at the London Canal Museum

To reduce constuction costs, canal tunnels were as narrow as possible. This meant that there was no space for a tow path for the horse pulling the boat to walk along. Therefore the vessel had to be powered by ‘legging’, whereby two people would lie on their backs on a piece of wood on the front deck  and use their feet to propel the boat forward.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

‘Legging’ through a canal tunnel

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Ground floor of the London Canal Museum

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Winching equipment at the London Canal Museum

The museum building was formerly an ice storage facility. From the 1820s most of the ice used for food preservation and ice cream making in the UK was imported from Norway.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Ice wells information board

Swiss Italian immigrant Carlo Gatti stared his ice importation and storage business on the site in 1857.  By 1901, Gatti was the largest ice merchant in London.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Carlo Gatti information board

There’s a door at the rear of the London Canal Museum.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Rear of the London Canal Museum

You can sit at the picnic bench there to admire Battlebridge Basin on the Regent’s Canal.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Battlebridge Basin from the rear of the London Canal Museum

Upstairs there was a temporary exhibition of lino print style art by Eric Gaskell.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

‘Canal Linocuts’ poster

Visiting the London Canal Museum

‘Canal Linocuts’ at the London Canal Museum

After looking at the detailed map of Regent’s Canal, I decided that next time I come to London I’d like to walk along the Regent’s Canal in either the Hoxton or Little Venice areas.

Visiting the London Canal Museum

Map of Regent’s Canal a the London Canal Museum

I enjoyed watching some old films about life on the canals.

The London Canal Museum is lcoated in New Wharf Rd, a ten minute walk from King’s Cross station. It’s  open from 10am to 4.30pm from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays). Admission costs £4 for adults, £3 for seniors and £2 for kids aged 5-15.

war horse

Why You Should See War Horse When You Visit London

On my most recent trip to London, I decided to look for some cheap theatre tickets. A lot of the lower priced tickets, starting at £10 for a midweek evening performance, were for shows which didn’t receive the greatest of reviews.

When I found a ticket for ‘War Horse‘, which gets rave reviews, priced at £17.50 for a restricted view seat on lastminute.com, I thought it was a good deal. I also thought it appropriate to see a show based on the First World War, as it’s the centenary of the beginning of WWI this year.

Why You Should See War Horse When You Visit London

Although I’d read about the wonderful life size horse puppets, they were absolutely amazing. The ‘horses’ movements and behaviour, e.g. their ears pricking up and changing direction, their play fighting and breathing, was so realistic.

Why You Should See War Horse When You Visit London

I did wonder what the view of the stage would be like from my cheap seat. I didn’t know my seat number until I picked up my ticket at the box office just before the performance. I was in the first row of seats in the balcony, with a a side view of the stage. The restricted view was because of the safety rail on the balcony. However, by leaning forward slightly, my view was uninterupted. You can pay up to £90 for a seat right in front of the stage.

So if you’re visiting London, go to see ‘War Horse’; it’s an outstanding show.

lucy jones exhibiiton at kings place london11

Lucy Jones ‘Looking Out, Looking In’ Exhibition at Kings Place London

I loved the ‘Looking Out, Looking In – Portraits and Landscapes‘ exhibition by the artist Lucy Jones which runs from 31 January to 21 March 2014 at Kings Place in the King’s Cross area of London.  The paintings are displayed on the gallery and lower level of this music, art and restaurant complex in York Place. There’s a very relaxed atmosphere and plenty of benches on which to sit to admire the art.

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

Lucy Jones Looking Out, Looking In Exhibition at Kings Place London

The exhibition moves to the University Gallery at Northumbria University in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne from 4 April to 23 May 2014.

british library piazza

The British Library Piazza in London

If the weather is good and you’re in the King’s Cross area of London, then the piazza of the British Library is a good place to spend some time outdoors. It’s very close to King’s Cross and St Pancras rail stations. There’s plenty of seating and a cafe in the piazza.

When I visited, the ‘Georgians Revealed‘ exhibtion was running at the British Library; it’s on until 11 March 2014. In  tandem with this theme, the Cityscape garden in the piazza featured the Georgeobelisk which coincides with the 300th anniversary of the beginning of the Georgian period.

The British Library Piazza in London

The Georgeobelisk

The British Library Piazza in London

Georgeobelisk information board

Eduardo Paolozzi’s huge bronze sculputre of Sir Isaac Newton, the British physicist and mathematician, holding a pair of callipers to measure the distance between two points,  dominates the piazza.

The British Library Piazza in London

 Sculpture of Isaac Newton in the British Library’s piazza

There’s a good view of the gothic style roof of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel from the piazza.

The British Library Piazza in London

The roof of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel from the British Library Piazza

The British Library Piazza in London

Entrance to the British Library

Unforuntately, it was wet during my visit, so I didn’t linger in the British Library Piazza.

Woolwich foot tunnel1

Under the Thames in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

Once I decided to walk through the Woolwich Foot Tunnel my first challenge was to find the entrance. I’d seen a sign pointing to the tunnel, but after walking for five minutes I hadn’t found it. I asked a woman out walking her dog and she pointed me back in the direction from which I’d come. Sure enough, under scaffolding and blue plastic covers was the south tower of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel.

Under the Thames in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

The scaffold clad south tower of the Woolwich Tunnel

The lift was under renovation, so it was the steps down. I thought that the tiles looked very grotty and that a good hose down with bleach was required as part of the renovation.

Under the Thames in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

Steps down to the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

It was quite eerie walking the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, as I was the only person there for a few minutes.

Then along came a skateboarder, although skateboarding is banned, and one woman who told me she’d just missed the ferry.

Under the Thames in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel

The Woolwich Foot Tunnel

I felt knackered by the time I climbed up the steps to the north entrance. I crossed back on the Woolwich Ferry.

royal arsenal woolwiich academy and greenwich heritage centre

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

It’s rather incongruous that there’s a busy main road behind the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse that you have to cross to enter the Royal Arsenal site.in Woolwich. The former armaments manufacture and explosives testing site is now a mix of historic buildings, many of which have been converted to residential use, and new-build blocks of flats.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Royal Arsenal Gatehouse

The first thing that I noticed upon entering in Woolwich was the sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

The Nike sculpture

A former workshop has been transformed into the Dial Arch Gastro Pub.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Dial Arch Gastro Pub

Opposite the Dial Arch Pub there’s a sculpture of a football commemorating the founding of Arsenal Football Club

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Arsenal FC plaque and sculpture

The Royal Military Academy dominates Artillery Square, where you’ll also find the Greenwich Heritage Centre.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Information board in Artillery Square, the Academy to the left, Heritage Centre to right

Opposite Artillery Square is the Firepower – the Royal Artillery Museum. Unfortunately, as I visited the area on a Monday, both the Greewich Heritage Centre and the Firepower Museum were closed. It seemed strange to me that they are both also closed on Sundays, you’d think that’d be one of their busy days. It’s free to get into the Heritage Centre, but there’s an admission fee for the Firepower Museum; £5.30 for adults, £4.60 concessions and £2.50 for kids.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Firepower – the Royal Artillery Museum

As you’d expect, there were plenty of cannons dotted around Royal Arsenal.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Cannon on wheels

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

A monster cannon in Royal Arsenal

By the entrance to Woolwich Arsenal Pier, a stop of the Thames Clipper water bus service, there’s the Assembly Sculpture by Peter Burke. The sixteen hollow cast iron figures seem quite appropriate for an ex-industrial setting.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

The Assembly by Peter Burke

The Shell Foundry Gates were made in 1856 but were moved to another Royal Ordnance factory near Manchester in the 1960s. However, they were brought back home to Woolwich in the early 1990s.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Shell Foundy Gates at Royal Arsenal Woolwich

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Close up of Shell Foundy Gates

The Grand Store Warehouse is so different to the steel shed style of most modern warehouses.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

The Grand Store Warehouse in Royal Arsenal

It was quite strange wandering around Royal Arsenal. Although many of buildings have been converted to homes, it was like a ghost town during the day, although there were lots of parked cars everywhere. I noticed several security and cleaning staff employed by the Royal Arsenal Riverside (the name of the residential development). It felt like a pristine gated community without the gates.

Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

Wellington sculpture in Royal Arsenal

I didn’t quite know what to expect when visiting Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, but I found it to be very interesting.

travelodge woolwich room

Review of Travelodge London Woolwich

I stayed at Travelodge London Woolwich in December 2013. It cost £118 for a family room for four nights, which worked out at under £30 a night. It took me around an hour to get from King’s Cross to Woolwich Arsenal station via the Circle Line and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It was a five minute walk from Woolwich Arsenal Station to Travelodge London Woolwich. The Travelodge is located at the nothern end of Powis Street, one of the main shopping streets in the area. The building was the former Woolwich Co-operative HQ, originally constructed in 1903; the.attractive facade is now Grade 2 listed.

Review of Travelodge London Woolwich

The lobby was bright and welcoming.

Review of Travelodge London Woolwich

I could see some un-Travelodgesque touches of past grandeur inside the buliding, such as the decorative wrought iron work on the bannister.

Review of Travelodge London Woolwich

I was allocated a room in the main building; there’s a separate modern annexe at the back. My room was spacious with two windows. There were large trees outside the windows.The street outside was one way and I didn’t hear much traffic noise through the secondary double glazing.

Review of Travelodge London Woolwich

Travelodge has introduced a new look. The curtains now have light blue and red stripes with a matching throw on the bed. But the real improvement is the Dreamer beds, which are really comfortable.

All the staff which whom I had contact were helpful and friendly.

I was in London to attend the World Travel Market at Excel. I took me around 45 minutes to reach Excel on foot via the Woolwich Ferry from the Travelodge. Another day I took the DLR for two stops to London City Airport and then it was a 15 minute walk to Excel. Alternativelly, you can do the whole journey by DLR, with a change at Canning Town.

In summary, I was very happy with the standard of my room, the location and the value for money offered at the Travelodge London Woolwich.

Review of Travelodge London WoolwichKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

street art hackey featured image

Street Art in Hackney London

As there was no direct route by public transport from Bethnal Green to the Geffyre Museum in Hoxton, I decided to walk. I ended up slightly off track from my proposed route. After consulting the map at a cycle hire point in Columbia Road, I decided to walk northeast up Hackney Road and then turn west into Cremer St. It turned out to be a good choice, as I stumbled upon a lot of street art on my way.

The main batch was in a car park on Hackney Road. It was difficult to get photos of the paintings due to the parked cars. In fact I’m surprised that I wasn’t mistaken for a car thief loitering around the car park.

Street Art in Hackney London

There’s slippy mud by the walls as it’s not been tarmaced, so you need to wear sensible shoes, and an old jacket in case you rub against a dirty vehicle. The car park is pretty grotty, you can spot a discarded paint roller, tubes of sealant and a CD in the photo of Darth Vader below.

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Street Art in Hackney London

Just before turning in to Cremer Steet, there was an Incredible Hulk.

Street Art in Hackney London

At the western end of Cremer Street was Johnny Deep and a homage to the groups The Who and The Jam.

Street Art in Hackney London

‘Love will tear us apart’ was opposite Hoxton Station on the side of a tyre shop premises.

Street Art in Hackney London

Finding all this street art in Hackney was only possible as I was walking around without a tight schedule, my preferred style of travel.

travelodge bethnal green room1

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

I stayed at the Travelodge London Bethnal Green for four nights in November 2013. I paid £128 i.e. £32 a night when I booked the room seven months in advance. The hotel is located less than a five-minute walk from Bethnal Green tube station. There’s a Sainsburys Local supermarket by the station.

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

Exterior of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

Reception is on the first floor in the Bar Cafe. I paid £10 to check-in early as I arrived at 12.30 and check-in is at 3pm. The receptionist was very honest as when I requested a quiet room she told me that no rooms with particularly quiet as there was a road at the front and a railway line at the back of the hotel.

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

Bar Cafe at Travelodge London Bethnal Green

I was happy with my fourth floor room at the front of the hotel overlooking the park. It was very open view; you often look directly onto other buildings from hotel rooms in cities.

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

View from my room at Travelodge London Bethnal Green

I didn’t hear the traffic noise too much through the secondary double glazing.

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal Green

Family room at Travelodge London Bethnal Green

The room was bright as it had two windows. I liked the layout of the room with the desk at the side of the room and the sofabed at the other end of the room. The room has been made over with the new Travelodge look, the best aspect of which a very comfortable Dreamer bed. Some of the old Travelodge beds are pretty spongy.

I didn’t try the free WiFi in the Bar Cafe, as I had my USB modems with me to get online in my room.

The Museum of Childhood is less than a ten minute walk from the hotel. I walked to the Geffyre Museum in Hoxton in around 40 minutes.

In summary, I thought that my stay at the Travelodge London Bethnal Green offered excellent value for money in a clean, spacious, comfortable room fairly close to the city centre.

Click here to check availability and prices for the Travelodge Bethnal Green.

Review of Travelodge London Bethnal GreenKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff