Temple Gardens – Hidden Shade in the Heart of London

Middle Temple GardensAt last summer has arrived, and, like the ungrateful folk we are, we’ve started sighing for respite from the sun beating down on hot city pavements. But where can you find a cool garden when you want one when you’re in the middle of London? Come with me to a hidden enclave a few minutes walk from the Strand and I’ll show you. Continue reading

Lincoln’s Inn, where the seventeenth century comes to life

Lincoln's Inn Wildy & Sons LtdFirst things first: Lincoln’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn Fields are not the same place, though they are next to each other. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a public open space with tennis courts and a café; Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court and it’s private. But, despite the sign on the entrance saying you can’t go in, it’s okay to visit on weekdays. Just wander through one of its arched gates and you’re there. Continue reading

Five odd places to visit in London

Oldest phone box in LondonSo you’re on a trip to London and you’ve seen all the obvious places. Big Ben? Tick. Buckingham Palace? Tick. Tower of London? Tick. Now you want somewhere that’s different, not full of crowds of people doing the same thing you are. Somewhere your friends have never heard of. Welcome to my odd places to visit. Continue reading

Inside Canada House

Canada HouseThere’s always something new to do in London, and my new thing this week is visiting Canada House in Trafalgar Square. It’s home to the High Commission of Canada in the UK and it’s recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. To showcase the result they’re running public tours on selected Fridays – so I went along to see what it’s like. Continue reading

Commune with the bees in the Hive in Kew Gardens

The Hive at Kew

So what exactly is the hive? Well, it’s a new attraction at Kew that hopefully will help visitors understand the life of the bee. It’s a gleaming seventeen-metre-high aluminium structure that’s like a beehive you can walk into. Plus it’s an immersive, multi-sensory experience which is driven by activity in a real beehive in the gardens that activates lights and music. With me so far?  Continue reading

The new Tate Modern extension

Tate Modern extensionThe new extension to the Tate Modern opened this week. It’s a ten story brick structure called the Switch House, that towers over the original six story Tate Modern, now called the Boiler House. Naturally, I headed down there as soon as I could, to take a look before the shine wears off. Here’s what I found.

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Want to see the new Kusama exhibition? Join the queue!

Kusama pumpkinsBack in 2012 the Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama which featured several of her infinity rooms – spaces which use mirror to give the illusion of vast distances. I remember lingering in them at my leisure, admiring the infinitely receding spots (a Kusama trademark). But that’s all in the past. Nowadays Kusama is hot, and to see her infinity rooms at the Victoria Miro gallery you need to queue. Continue reading

The Wallace Collection – French art for free in the heart of London

Wallace CollectionA lot of Londoners have a soft spot for the Wallace Collection. It’s just round the back of Oxford St and it’s free, so you can pop in for a browse any time you like. And it’s quite spectacular, filled with French eighteenth century painting, furniture and porcelain with famous Old Master paintings and, the icing on the cake, a world class armoury. So how does it come to be there? Continue reading

Missoni at the Fashion and Textile Museum

IMG_3073Back in the 1950’s Ottavio and Rosita Missoni did something remarkable – they made machine-knitted fabric into cutting edge fashion. Their company, founded in 1953, brought together Ottavio’s love of art, design and colour with Rosita’s understanding of fashion to create an eclectic combination of colour and style – one that’s been sought after ever since. This summer there’s an exhibition of their work at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey so Yannick and I went to take a look. Continue reading

Fenton House: Hampstead’s hidden gem

Fenton House HampsteadA short (uphill) walk from Hampstead tube station takes you to a little enclave of old houses, where a seventeenth-century merchant’s house and its walled garden occupy a quiet corner. Grade I listed Fenton House, now owned by the National Trust (bequeathed to them in 1952 by Lady Binning, its last owner and resident), is a lovely place to visit on a fine spring day, as Yannick and I recently discovered.  Continue reading