Day 30: Achievement 75. Notting Hill Carnival

“Bollocks!”, I thought, waking up rather later than I’d planned.  It was Monday, you see, and the last possible opportunity for me to attend the Notting Hill Carnival in the Year of Things (as it shall now be known).  P, one of my learned colleagues, had been advising me about Carnival a few days before.

“If you’re going there on the Monday,” she said, probably nursing a latte, “get there early. Before about two o’clock, because the police sometimes start closing it off if it gets packed.”  She also helpfully suggested going up towards the big Sainsbury’s (where the 295 normally terminates, bus fact fans) where things are a bit more family orientated and less prone to getting tasty.  Simple logistics required us to cast this particular bit of information aside.  I say ‘us’, for this was a Thing to do with Man In Shorts.  He’s my muscle and, in this capacity, had recently accompanied me to darkest Dagenham to buy some second hand turntables.  In other capacities, he’s my housemate, an excellent drinking partner and a worthy addition to any pub quiz team.  He also makes the best Bolognese sauce you’ve yet to taste.

Those simple logistics, then.  We live south-west of Notting Hill, the Sainsbury’s is at the north-east end of it all.  There’s no buses running through the area and the Hammersmith & City line was somewhat constrained by station closures.  Add to this a complete lack of geographic knowledge surrounding W11 and the solution is clear: go to Westbourne Park and follow the crowds.  And, wow, were there a lot of crowds.  And a lot of policemen.  And lady policemen, too.

Having neglected to bring any beer with us, the first task was Operation Red Stripe.  Thankfully, the good people at the local Best One were operating a beer-selling operation of magnificent — almost military — efficiency.  A commissionaire granted access to small groups of people at a time.  Once inside, chest freezers and open-fronted fridges were filled with the promised bounty of tins: Heineken, Red Stripe, Kestrel, Red Stripe, Fosters, Red Stripe.  For the motorist, Old Jamaican and Rubicon were also available.  Three lads were constantly replenishing the stock.  Six similar lads, behind the tills, were taking hundreds of pounds a minute.

In and out in no time, cold booze in hand, and time to explore with our new-found props.  Wasn’t long until we happened upon a sound system:

First sound system

Loudspeaker geeks will be interested in the following:

Loudspeakers

Discuss the combing effect.

We then walked past a guy who was dancing to Frank Sinatra.  On the top of some bay windows. Two floors up:

Dancer

On the way back down to Ladbroke Grove, a gentleman with a Flip camcorder stopped me and asked me for my thoughts on Carnival.  There was an incentive:

Horned tit

Continuing on, a rare chance to see some acoustic/unplugged/live entertainment:

Locals

And then we happened upon the Rampage sound system.  This was unique at Carnival, simply because it was the only think I’d heard of.  And that’s really only because my friend Ian (@iandeeley) works at the same radio station as them.  Anyway, it’s very much where the crowds were (and, if you’re getting bored with Ken Bruce or Woman’s Hour, Rampage are on 1Xtra at the same time):

Rampage

After having a good old wander, we settled down on Ladbroke Grove to watch some floats go past.  Once you’re accustomed to the incredible outfits, dancing, and general bonhomie, take a look at the trucks themselves.  Most had a generator big enough for a large town, trailers replete with concert speaker systems of every shape, size, make and vintage.   Booming times.  Noise exposure limit for the day exceeded, time to head for the barbecue. The man-sized barbecue:

Man-sized BBQ

It was very tasty (as it should have been for £6). Just look at Shorts’ face of delight!

Jerk Chicken

A repeat trip to the Best One, and some portable toilets that would make Michael Eavis blush, and we were back in business.  The booze had clearly tripped a fuse somewhere because, once back on The Grove, I decided it’d be a good idea to dance.  Now, let me put this very plainly: dancing is not a way I like to travel.  It’s not a way I can travel.  A gentleman of my stature and co-ordination simply cannot be graceful in rhythmic motion, no matter how much Red Stripe has been imbibed to assist.  Good job nobody seemed to mind, even though I was blowing a plastic horn and undoubtedly stamping on toes, accompanied by a man who was trying to assail floats at every opportunity. If you woke up with tinnitus and a fractured metatarsal on Tuesday, it was quite possibly my fault.  Sorry.

Tiger

Slipstreaming a float along the eponymous street brought us to Ladbroke Grove station, beneath the Westway  and railway bridges.  I then chose to remember a bit more of the conversation I’d had with P a week earlier.  She said something about avoiding that place because “that’s where it all kicks off”.  And, indeed, it seemed to feel a little bit edgy.  Whoops.  Time to beat a hasty retreat to Holland Park Avenue, working against the flow of both float and human traffic.  Needless to say, with Red Stripe and survival instinct operating in harmonious unison, it wasn’t long before Shorts and I parted company.  Helpfully, he phoned and woke me up just seconds my bus home had left the stop outside our flat.  Timing’s never been his strong point.  He did make me a super bacon sandwich for supper, though.

Day 24: Achievement 14. Visit the newly interactive Museum of London

I don’t mean to keep bringing my personal life into the Project, as it shall now be known, but sometimes necessity overtakes desire in the quest to fulfil.  Just one post ago, I fleetingly referred to my holiday in order to explain a week-long absence.  Now it’s time to mention a new bed — a new bed which I had to wait in for —  to explain why I only managed to knock off a single Thing in a whole day off.  Note to self: need to up the game, Jeffery, if you’re going to succeed at this.

I’ve been to the Museum of London before but, because of the circumstances, never got to look around any of the exhibits.  As I remember it, the evening revolved around drinking wine of both colours, watching Stewart Lee analyse the cover of Franklyn Ajaye’s 1974 comedy album, ‘I’m A Comedian, Seriously’, then retiring to the rightly maligned and now-closed Slug and Lettuce.  If you want to relive the dream, wine of both colours is available in many shops, the Stewart Lee sketch is on the Comedy Vehicle DVD and many other Slug and Lettuce pubs remain open for business.  I don’t recommend getting as drunk as I did, though; the ugly lass from the Tube didn’t stop texting for days.  Anyway, the point I’m making is that this doesn’t count as a visit. So I could do it as a Thing.

So, bed delivered, I went off to meet Ian (@iandeeley) and Nick in one of the City’s many fine Pret-a-Mangers.  Then, after a short work down London Wall, the real fun began: there’s an escalator up to the museum.  From street level!  An escalator!  That goes from the pavement!  It was just like the inclined travelator episode all over again.  Up we went.  Up to the middle of a building site.  Turns out they’re having work done, although those with a penchant for builders’ hoardings and scaffolding will find it a complementary (and, much like the museum, complimentary) bit of fun.

Wordplay out of the way, we can safely move on to logistics.  There’s a Benugo (Coke £1.10), locker room (£1), voluntary donation box (£3) and toilets (free) in reception — the same reception desk where free tickets for guided tours are available.  We didn’t bother, but what did you expect?  Maps (free) in a variety of European languages are available.  After returning with leaflets entitled ‘Vous êtes ici’, it was suggested Nick’s well-meaning endeavour hadn’t quite come off.

It’s an odd place once you’re in.  None of the galleries feel the same — or even broadly similar. There’s a curious mashup of artefacts, mock scenes, dioramas, video shows, interactive  displays and artwork.  It’s probably fair to say that not all of it will appeal, especially if row after row of cripplingly dull and irritatingly similar hunting spears don’t rev your engine.  They’re in the London Before London section of the museum, by the way.  That’s where, perched just next to the reconstruction of the Shepperton Woman,  I saw Stewart Lee that time.   London Before London is the first part of the museum you come to and, should you wish, you can learn about the Thames (fact: it used to start in Wales and contribute to the Danube), look at animal skulls (including that of an aurochs) and look at row after row of cripplingly dull and irritatingly similar hunting spears.

Things get better as you move on (unless you’re a fan of ancient hunting tools, in which case the experience has peaked and you should leave).  The Roman London exhibit is based around a couple of mock living environments (one of which housed another, lesser, comic) replete with tiled surfaces.  There’s also a diorama of a typical Roman-era street scene.  I took an arty (well, f/1.8) photo of it:

Street scene

Continuing on through Medieval London, where 1150 years of history is condensed into a similar number of square feet, things very much remain at the ‘stuff to look at’ stage (including a pewter knight and some ‘fashionable shoes’, c.late 1300s) – although there is a dressing up box one can play with.  Not that we did, of course.  And, even though the opportunity was there, nobody pointed and sniggered at the displayed codpiece.

Things start warming up once you turn the next corner, though. WAR! FIRE! PLAGUE! Twenty five years of pure historical action, climaxing in a double whammy of pestilence and ruination.  For those whose dressing up appetite was whetted in the Medieval era, there’s a couple of fireman’s helmets to try on — one modern, one decidedly more seventeenth century.  Those with excessively styled hair can opt to watch moving pictures in one of the two mini-cinemas instead.  One shows a  film on the plague (standing only, although lightweight folding stools are available to take around) and the other rolls on the fire.  At this stage, about an hour in, the talkies provide a welcome opportunity to set the brain to neutral for a bit.

The journey to the present day continues after a flight of stairs.

The Modern London (1670-) areas are set around an outdoor garden (which, I’m happy to report, is both bee-friendly and non-smoking) and feels much more modern than the upper part of the museum.  Rather than putting artefacts at upper-body level, where they can be seen, some latter-day joker (probably a descendent of the chap who designed Bank station) put them under the floor:

I will crush you

The Wellclose Sqaure prison cell (c.1750) is worth a look.  Its wooden walls are engraved with the names of those incarcerated within.  Some went for quality, others quantity.  On the outside wall of the cell is an exhibition my nervous disposition won’t let me entertain, namely: ‘dark hole with an object in it, stick your hand in and work out what’.  (Top tip to anyone like me: you can open the doors and a little light will illuminate whatever’s in there. Darwin will sort out those who put their hands into dark, mystery-filled, holes.)

Following your entirely expected escape from prison, you can celebrate with hatters, housewives and harlots in the nearby Pleasure Gardens.  The floor is covered in AstroTurf, the ceiling changes from daylight to night time and a number of projectors show an evening’s goings on across all the walls.  For the record, an evening’s goings on is largely restricted to catering, cavorting and courting (and hat-wearing).  Look out for the bloke relieving himself against a tree, just as the lass he’s chasing passes.  Hilarity and innuendo ensue (something about ‘a small one’).

Just beyond the Pleasure Gardens is the Victorian Walk.  You can visit it once you’re over the comedic thrill of the Pleasure Gardens’ thinly veiled knob gags.  The Victorian Walk is a mock-up of a Victorian high street, complete with tobacconist, public house, bank, tailor, baker and gentleman’s urinal.  It’s all very nicely done, even down to the scents in each shop.  There’s also the odd thing to raise your eyebrow:

Tobacco! Snuff!

After some art deco loveliness, accented by a 1928 lift from Selfridge’s, the horrors of World War II are available for inspection.  As someone who is more interested in the anthropological aspects of history, it was bloody marvellous.  A spotlit bomb is suspended from the centre of the ceiling in a darkened, black-walled, room.  A video wall shows wartime imagery.  Disembodied voices recountmemories of camaraderie and friendship, hand in hand with experiences too gruesome and harrowing to imagine today.  A surround sound system assaults the room with a barrage of overhead aircraft, falling bombs, anti-aircraft guns and nearby explosions.  It’s incredibly well done and well worth the time to sit through.

The rest of the Modern London area is filled with things that’ll be familiar anyone who’s not been in a fifty year coma; a Vespa scooter, some Bill and Ben puppets, a model railway set.  You know the sort of thing.  You can even mock-up a plate for the front page of a newspaper:

London Throws Mayor

All said and done, the Museum of London is splendid.  It’s clean and well presented, everything works properly, there’s plenty of staff – but they’re hands off.  Photographers and lingers can rejoice in equal measure; the whole place exudes a wholly pleasant and laid-back atmosphere.  If you’re not massive into history or archaeology, the first half is hard going: there’s lots of reading and not much to get involved with.  But it’s worth studying some of it to get the context of London’s foundations.  It’ll also allow you to leave feeling like a rarefied academic.

Allow two to three hours.  Walk there from Barbican LU (Metropolitan, H&C, Circle) or ride a Boris Bike to the large dock on London Wall, just below the museum.

Day 22: Plan 30(7b), 39. Brunel’s tunnel, heritage Tube stock

Thanks to @LDN for bringing to my attention a chap called Ian Mansfield (@ianvisits).  It transpires that Ian is a ‘London based  blogger and photographer’.  That’s what he calls himself, anyway.  Nomenclature aside, his blog has helpfully indicated a couple of Things that can be done in mid-September:

The afternoon of Saturday 11th September will involve a jolly passage in to Brunel’s tunnel in Rotherhithe (Thing 30(7b)).

On Sunday, much fun will be had riding an old Tube train (Thing 39).

Let me know if you’d like to come and, for the heritage Tube train trip (mmm, alliteration), which of the journeys you would be interested in.  Just pop a comment on here or hit me on twitter (@nickjeffery)

Day 16: Achievements 2, 32, 34. Bank of England museum, Woolwich Ferry, Waterloo & City line

I’ve been on holiday. It was lovely, thank you. Hope you didn’t miss me too much.

Anyway, eager to make up for lost time, Day 16 brought about three Achievements.  If you’ve read the title of this post, you’ll already know what they are.  If you didn’t, you should go read the title of this post to find out what they were.

Living out west, and never having worked in or had much cause to visit the square mile, I’ve had little call for the services of the Waterloo & City line.  But, with nearly ten million passengers a year, I had to be sure I wasn’t missing out on something.  So off to Waterloo I went (on the big train, no less).  This, should you be interested, is what the platform at Waterloo looks like:

The Drain

A couple of things struck me about the Drain.  Firstly, there’s no gate-line, just Oyster readers.  The trains are small, too, comprising only four carriages.  Thankfully, the carriages themselves are full-size and very nearly identical to those in operation on the Central line (save a different moquette and overt CCTV cameras).  It’s not some sort of underground railway for midgets, you know.  But perhaps the most exciting thing about the whole experience was seeing inclined travelators. Not a stepped escalator, not just a travelator. A cross between the two: a travelator on an incline.  Just in case you still can’t get your head around this crazy concept, here’s a picture:

Drain travelator

The only other place I’ve seen such a beast is in a now-knocked-down shopping centre in Leeds. (I can’t remember the name, but it was that horrid, dingy, town-planning-nightmare one bordered by Boar Lane/Briggate/Commercial Street/Albion Street. They were outside the Co-op, now Wilkinson’s.)  Of course, if you can think of any others…
Once at Bank, it seemed sensible to go to The Bank (of England).  Their museum is open on weekdays and it’s free to get in.  The entrance is on Bartholomew Lane.  To quash any confusion, here’s a photo:

Bank of England Museum

Once inside, you’ll be able to learn about the Bank’s history, see a glorious array of bank notes, hold a bar of gold (at the time of writing, to the value of £313k), visit the toilet and mentally remark at quite how naff the gift shop is.  As history is boring and bank notes you can no longer spend are a bit dull, let’s get down to the good stuff: holding a bar of gold is pretty sweet.  Heavier and tougher than you might imagine, the bar on display being a standard 12.4kg.  Looking at it, you’d expect it to be soft (a bit like a Milky Bar) but it’s not.  The things you learn when you try to scrape a bit off with your fingernail…

Fans of vintage news presentation might also like the Economic Shocks display, featuring Sue Lawley, Nicholas Witchell, Michael Buerk, Edward Stourton and Peter Sissons.  All of whom, apart from Peter, have carved out a successful post-TV career at BBC Radio 4.  Relive the glory of the 90s virtual set and the double-headed SIX, wince at the original 1998 rebrand and redesign.  It’s all there.  You know you want to.

One potentially pub-quiz-winning bit of knowledge for you: Kenneth Graham, author of Wind in the Willows, was the Bank’s Secretary until 1908. He retired on grounds of ill-health, aged 39, with a £400pa pension.

The Bank of England is participating in Open House London this September.  Half-hour tours will be offered on a first-come, first-served, basis.

After the Bank, it was time to head east.  To the DLR, to King George V, to the Woolwich Ferrry.  This sounds remarkably simple and straightforward, so much so you’d expect the whole thing to pass without incident.  Unfortunately, though, it involves navigating Bank station.  From the orbital corridor around the main ticket office, through a warren of corridors, escalators, stairs, over and across a working platform, back into a different warren of corridors, escalators and stairs and finally to the DLR platform.  I can only conclude that Bank station was designed: a) for people on drugs, b) by people on drugs, c) both.  It’s truly bonkers, even without adding Monument to the equation.

I digress.  Seventeen minutes after entering the station, I’d found my platform, boarded my train, got my book out and knuckled down for the twenty-minute jaunt across east London, past London City Airport, to King George V — the nearest station to the Woolwich Ferry’s north terminal (and, as it goes, Arqiva’s London teleport).  North Woolwich is probably one of the few places in the world you can wait for a boat while looking at big satellite dishes.  In fact, the satellite dishes were far more interesting, entertaining and fun than the boat journey itself.  Here’s a really dull video of the crossing if you don’t believe me:

Took that on my knackered old Mini DV camera.  And I’m not a cameraman. Or film director. It shows, doesn’t it? YouTube have blocked the sound, too — they were offended that I chose to use Rod Stewart as a backing track. At least, I think that’s what they said…

Stay tuned for details of more Things: planning for the Underground Challenge is underway. More info soon.

Day 5: Works in progress 4, 76, 78. Ceremony of the Keys, PMQs and Big Ben

Fresh from this week’s successes and letter-writing, Day 5 presented itself with a bounty of communication.  Avid readers will remember the paper missives I sent to my MP, Mary MacLeod, and to the good people at the Historic Royal Palaces.  Those who are late to the party, or forgetful, can check the details here.

Best news first: an ‘Invitation to witness The Ceremony of the Keys’ (Thing 4) arrived by Royal Mail this morning.  The good people Jen, Martin, Charlie will join me to witness this fine, 700-year-old, tradition.  From the excitement-inducing covering note from Resident Governor Major General Keith Cima CB:

Set amidst the mighty battlements of this ancient historic fortress, the Ceremony of the Keys is one of the oldest and most colourful surviving ceremonies of its kind, having been enacted every night without fail for approximately seven hundred years, in much the same form as we know it today.

The exact origin of the Ceremony is somewhat obscure, though it probably dates from the time of the White Tower – the great Norman fortress commenced by William the Conqueror and completed by 1100.

We’ll be going on Tuesday, 14th September.  It’d be lovely to see you there and possibly enjoy a drink afterwards; you can apply for tickets by writing to the Tower of London.
More mixed news came in the form of a very pleasant e-mail from Ms. MacLeod’s office.  The good news, subject to me not being considered a miscreant or general ne’er-do-well, is that a tour of St. Stephen’s Tower (Thing 78) is very much available.  I say good news through only partially jangled nerves; there’s 334 steps to ascend.  Whether I’ll be able to appreciate the campanological delights at the top, or simply slouch and gasp for air, will be seen later in the year.  Slightly disappointingly, though, there’s no tickets left for PMQs (Thing 76) — although I’m welcome to be a guest in the public gallery at any other time.

Does anyone know of alternative avenues to witnessing Prime Minister’s Questions?  Get in touch; leave a comment below or hit me up on twitter (@nickjeffery)
A day of good progress.

Day 4: Achievement 28. Be a rampant commercialist at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

So, the first thing to say about this place: it’s tricky to find.  It’s tucked away on a mews, off a quiet side road, in a residential part of Notting Hill.  There’s precious little sign-posting, so make sure you’ve got the location marked on your map.  Also, there’s no bicycle parking outside the museum, in the mews or on the road.  The best you’ll do is a lamp post or somebody’s house-front railings, both on Lonsdale Road.

Once you find Colville Mews, you’ll find the museum in the back left-hand corner:

Entrance to The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

No more pictures; the museum has a sign to suggest photography isn’t allowed.   £5.80 to get in, and they harvest your details for Gift Aid.

The museum is a walk through time; you start in the late Victorian era and, as you follow the museum’s warren-like path, head towards the 1990s on a decade-by-decade basis.  Each decade’s display comprises contemporaneous artefacts ranging from groceries to toys to household electrical goods, along with small notices for background information.  If you welcome a diversion, there’s a number of amusing typographical errors and spelling mistakes on these signs.  For example, a martian would: believe Edward V11 to be a monarch; consider wasdemonstrated to be a noun; and think the inaugural Wimbledon tennis championships were held in 1977.  There were others; see how many you can spot.

Being a radio type, the display of wireless paraphernalia from the 1920s and 30s was of great interest.  In modern parlance, radio really had a buzz about it back then.  Board games (Listen In – The Great Wireless Game!), travel games (get the valves on the radio), a cat’s whisker receiver fashioned from a wooden cartoon cat and a Top Trumps-style game of transmitting stations (5XX, Daventry High Power, is worth 100 points) are particular highlights.  There’s also a splendid display featuring tens of 1960s transistor radio sets, all in mint condition.

After you reach the 1990s, there’s a wonderful series of displays charting how products’ appearances have changed over the years.  There’s evolutionary sequences of tens of household brands; Domestos, Pepsi and Coke, Dairy Milk, J&J Talcum Powder, Swan Vestas, and more are represented.

If your visit’s like mine, you’ll be there with a small group of old ladies and the odd transient design student.  There’s no interactive exhibits, just well-lit, nicely-presented, artefacts.  And it’s quite nice for that, really.  Worth a look if you’ve an hour or two to kill in Notting Hill.  Just don’t expect anything flash.

Day 3: Achievement 26. Snap a decent wildlife photo at the London Wetland Centre

Keen followers of the One Hundred Things project will have seen this morning’s tweet about my plans for the day.  A trip to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s site in Barnes, the London Wetland Centre (T26), and a gallop around the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (T28).

Because the weather was reasonable and I’m from Yorkshire (ie. tight), the bike was today’s method of transport.  And, because it’s closer, the London Wetland Centre was the first port of call.  Arriving by bicycle, first impressions are super – they’ve got a couple of rows of cages in which to put your bike, along with a shelf for helmet, bags and other cycling paraphernalia.  Then you just use your bike lock on the cage door.  Brilliant stuff.

To business: it’ll cost you £9.95 to get in with an additional £2.50 for a 20-odd page guide.  Knowing pretty much naff-all about mammals, birds, plants and insects, the pamphlet became a wise investment.  The site is big (over 100 acres) and human access is pretty much limited to two of the edges. From the main visitors’ centre, you can go one of two ways: the first option is to an actively-managed area with fourteen zones, each with creatures from particular environments and parts of the world.  The second route is rather more organic, with a number of hides allowing different views of the wetlands.

I decided to sit around in hides. Even with a reasonably long zoom lens on my camera, I was beginning to regret not shelling out a fiver to hire a pair of binoculars.  Ho hum.  It was pleasant enough, but perhaps I wasn’t best equipped (or of the necessary disposition) to be entertained for too long.  Fortunately, there’s also some more child-orientated attractions.  Two of my favourites: a television microscope to put something under (I chose my little finger; my cuticles are wrecked, I tell you) and a remote controlled underwater camera.  Although, true to form, I didn’t manage to spot anything.

Lunchtime. (A couple of ham, cheese and tomato sub rolls with a banana and an orange, if you must know.)

Each day, a there’s a couple of guided walks (11am and 2pm) around one half of the site.  After not having had much luck on my own, I decided to team up with three hardy souls from Ilford to bask in the company of WWT guide Andrea.  (At least, I’m pretty sure it’s Andrea.  But it might be Anthea.  Apologies, Anthea, if it is.)  The fourteen managed habitats are a lot more open to visitors than the rest of the site.  As the birds in this area are born and bred on the site, they’re a lot more accepting of human interaction than those elsewhere — so it’s possible to get really rather close.

Over the course of an hour and a half, Anthea imparted a decent wack of knowledge as she guided us around the place.  If you’re an amateur like me, I’d wholly recommend it.

Anyway. That’s a very nice story, isn’t it? But there was a challenge to this, wasn’t there? I had to take a decent wildlife snap. With nothing but my trusty Canon and the threat of failure hanging high above me, off I went.  My efforts are over on Flickr.  Here’s a few of my favourites:

Wingspan

“Wingspan”


Heron

“Heron”


Icelandic swan

“Icelandic swan”


Baby bird

“Baby bird”


Flap

“Flap”

So, a nice few hours at the London Wetland Centre.  Now, a quick word on Thing 28:

The Museum of Brands, Design and Advertising is in a difficult-to-find mews in Notting Hill.  There’s also no bike parking nearby.  So, by the time I’d found the place, then gone away to find somewhere to put my bike, it wasn’t really worth paying the £5.80 to go around.  Another day…

Anyway, dear reader, here’s where you come in. Do you think I’ve achieved my objective of snapping a decent wildlife photograph? Let me know on the blog, on flickr, or by Twitter.  Ta.

Day 2: Plan 4, 76, 78. Changing of The Keys, PMQs, Clock Tower.

An unfortunately timed driving lesson scuppered the opportunity to do anything big on the first full day of Things. Add to that the closure of two local attractions, the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (Thing 28) and Hogarth’s House (Thing 21) , and the back burner looked to be well and truly lit.  However…

A number of Things require a bit of planning, be that writing a letter, reading the In The Courts column of the Times newspaper, or embarking upon a complicated mathematical problem (Thing 36).  Not having a copy of The Times to hand, nor feeling particularly adept at solving the travelling salesman problem single-handedly, I embarked upon something of a letter-writing session.

Armed with Google Docs, I wrote a couple of champion letters.  One to my MP, Mary MacLeod, the other to the good people at the Historic Royal Palaces.  After a couple of revisions, things looked good.  So good, in fact, that I’d forgotten I don’t actually have a printer.  At least, not one that works with my computer.  After some dismay, and a ham and cheese sandwich, I happened upon the idea of writing the letters out by hand.  After all, it’s cheaper than a new printer (and quicker than going to get one) and some would consider it to be a tried-and-tested method of communication.

Mary MacLeod MP will hopefully help me achieve two Things: 76 (watch PMQs from the public gallery) and 78 (have a tour of the Clock Tower).  Here’s a picture of the polite prose her researcher will receive in the next day or two:

A letter to my MP

I’m sure my handwriting used to be much neater than that, but not to worry.  Was probably just a naff pen.

Not wanting to suffer from clasping-related fatigue, it was time to tout for interest in Thing 4. Thing 4, you’ll no doubt recall, is to visit the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of The Keys. A cup of tea later, and Charlie and Jen had registered their interest on Facebook. Back to the Pukka Pad in order to transcribe another letter, then:

A letter to the Tower of London

Splendid?  Almost.  Just as I’d sealed everything inside the envelope, Martin declared he’d like to come as well.  It would seem unfair to exclude him, particularly as he asked so nicely.  Just hope they don’t mind crossings out:

A last-minute edit...

Don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to the responses.  Let’s hope pen and paper gets results!

Day 1: Partial achievement 48(A). Pub quiz in W

Wasting no time, the first of August (and the first day of planning and doing Things) involved heading to The Goldhawk in Shepherd’s Bush (W12) for the weekly pub quiz. It’s £2 per player, perhaps not the cheapest quiz in town, but all the kitty goes to the prize fund; two-thirds for the winners, a third for runners up.  I was joined by Shorts, Cotler, Rozzy and Jen.  Because it was Yorkshire Day (but mostly because this quiz doesn’t have any prizes for team name) we called ourselves ‘Happy Yorkshire Day’.

After an hour and a half and forty-five questions (ten of which were the picture round) it was time to hand it in, with an air of reasonable confidence…

Answer sheet

And, with 32 out of 45, second place.  £30 for us:

Prize money

I ended up with all the shrapnel, for what it’s worth.  Cotler took the £5 note.

If you go to, or know of, a decent pub quiz in NW, N, E, SE, SW, EC or WC, please let me know.  I’d love to join you or form a team of my own.  Add a comment here or hit me up on Twitter (@nickjeffery).

The One Hundred Things

So, here we are. One Hundred Things I’m going to do in London before 1st August 2011. Once whittled down, my ideas (and your suggestions) mostly slot into a handful of categories:

  • Museums and parks
  • Tubes and transport
  • Food and drink
  • The Media
  • Music and performance
  • Politics, justice and religion
  • Sports and leisure
    and, er…
  • Things that don’t quite fit

Museums and parks

  1. Visit Madame Tussaud’s
  2. Visit the Bank of England museum
  3. Visit the HMS Belfast
  4. Visit the Tower of London; witness the Ceremony of the Keys
  5. Go to the London Dungeons
  6. Mooch around Kew Gardens
  7. Monkey about at London Zoo
  8. Behave regally in Buckingham Palace
  9. Visit Kenwood House
  10. Go to Highgate Cemetary; be sure to look at Karl Marx’s grave
  11. Visit the Crossness Pumping Station
  12. Eat a picnic in Temple Gardens
  13. Nod approvingly at Changing the Guard
  14. Visit the newly interactive Museum of London
  15. Fail to be interested by paintings at Tate Britain
  16. Get the DLR down to the Museum of London Docklands
  17. Clamber up Monument
  18. Get excited by engineery things in the Tower Bridge Exhibition and attend an event on the walkways
  19. Assess the decor in Doctor Johnson’s house
  20. Make it to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
  21. Walk around Hogarth’s House
  22. Escape the maze, and look at dinosaurs, in Crystal Palace Park
  23. Sir John Soanes’ Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields
  24. Old Operating Theatre in Southwark
  25. Find a way out of the Hampton Court Palace maze
  26. Snap a decent wildlife photo at the London Wetland Centre
  27. Explore Dennis Severs’ house
  28. Be a rampant commercialist at Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
  29. Bee excited at the Chelsea Physic Garden
  30. Go on an east London Culture Line museum crawl
    1. Hackney Museum
    2. Geffrye Museum
    3. Wesley’s Chapel
    4. Royal London Hospital Museum
    5. Whitechapel Gallery
    6. The Women’s Library
    7. The Brunel Museum; keep an eye out for Thames Tunnel tours
    8. Horniman Museum
    9. Crystal Palace Museum
    10. Museum of Croydon
  31. Get around to visiting the Wellcome Collection

Tube and transport

  1. Go on the Waterloo & City line
  2. Drive around the M25 (might not seem a challenge, but I need to pass my driving test first)
  3. Be a foot passenger on the Woolwich Ferry
  4. Hire a boat on the Thames (or canal)
  5. Pass through all Underground stations in one day of operation
  6. Ride on London’s only steam railway
  7. Visit a disused Tube station
  8. Ride on old Tube stock
  9. Partake in an Alternative Tube Challenges day

Food and drink

  1. Have a drink at Vertigo 42
  2. Enjoy a refreshing pint, at 6am, in Smithfield’s market
  3. Go on the Fuller’s brewery tour
  4. Do some wine tasting at Vinopolis
  5. Have afternoon tea somewhere you have to dress smartly
  6. A Monopoly board pub crawl
  7. A Circle line pub crawl
  8. Be involved in a pub quiz in each London postal area (E, EC, N, NW, SE, SW, W, WC)
  9. Eat at Konstam, where most ingredients are sourced from within the M25
  10. Have a shisha on the Edgware Road
  11. Go for a curry in Tooting
  12. Go to all of Fancy A Pint‘s five pint London pubs
  13. Drink port in a St. James’s club
  14. Cocktails at The Savoy
  15. Cigar and champagne at The Terrace Garden
  16. Eat meat from The Meat Wagon

Media

  1. See a film at the Imax Cinema
  2. Present a programme on a London radio station
  3. Pay homage to Top Minder Locations
  4. Be an extra in something (preferably EastEnders)
  5. Watch an edition of London Tonight
  6. Phone in to the Robert Elms programme on BBC London 94.9
  7. Rock out to a gig at The Roundhouse
  8. Have a letter printed in the Evening Standard
  9. Try to find the Big Breakfast house

Music and performance

  1. Soak up some culture by attending a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall
  2. Go to the Lord Mayor’s Show
  3. See Chas & Dave live
  4. See a funny person tell jokes at the Hammersmith Apollo
  5. Form a joke band; get a photo on Abbey Road zebra crossing; perform once; disband
  6. Speak at Speakers’ Corner
  7. A night out at Ronnie Scott’s
  8. Go to a Richard Herring gig with people mentioned in his book (now with 50% off at Amazon)
  9. Stand up at The Globe (short play preferred)
  10. Lord it at the Notting Hill Carnival

Politics, justice and religion

  1. Watch Prime Minister’s Questions from the public gallery at the House of Commons
  2. See someone get sent down at the Old Bailey
  3. Tour the Clock Tower
  4. Attend a function for each of the three major political parties
  5. Watch Mayor’s Question Time at the Greater London Assembly building
  6. Mutter things in the Whispering Gallery at St. Paul’s Cathederal
  7. Attend a choral service at Westminster Abbey
  8. Visit Neasden Temple
  9. Cover my head at the Bevis Marks Synagogue

Sport and leisure

  1. Watch darts at Alexandra Palace
  2. Go ice skating at Somerset House
  3. Get into the Long Room at Lord’s
  4. Attend a football match at Wembley
  5. Attend a rugby game at Twickenham
  6. Cycle the Regent’s Canal towpath
  7. Banger racing at Wimbledon Stadium
  8. Do a length, and back, of Tooting Bec Lido (180m; best swimming certificate I have is 100m)
  9. Join in the Chap Olympiad
  10. Organise a Boris Bike race

Things that don’t quite fit

  1. Watch butch men sell flowers at Covent Garden Flower Market
  2. Take a trip to Eel Pie Island. Don’t try to annexe it (like Danny Wallace did)
  3. Make an investment on the London Stock Exchange
  4. Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Leicester Square
  5. Window shop at London Silver Vaults
  6. Enter a Shoot London photography competition

So, what’s gone?

There were 112 suggestions for things to do.  Some have been merged, some I don’t consider achievable, others I just don’t want to do.  In the interests of transparency…

  1. Swimming in the Serpentine
    My friend Alice did a fresh water swim and it made her very ill. So don’t much fancy that…
  2. Visit Stringfellow’s
    Not my cup of tea…
  3. Pretend to be a tourist
    I’d annoy myself too much (by dawdling, no doubt)
  4. Buy seafood at Billingsgate; cook it
    Can’t stomach it… (no jellied eels on the list either!)
  5. Dine at The Ivy
    An associate suggests it’s overpriced and not that good…
  6. Go for a tour of the sewers
    Unlikely to be achievable…
  7. Visiting the Brunel Museum
    Merged. Now a part of the east London Culture Line…
  8. Lounge in all Royal Parks
    Pretty sure I managed it already…
  9. Jeer at a York Hall fight
    Not for me, that one…
  10. Eat at an Angus Steak House
    Best done as a tourist in future years…
  11. Have a helicopter tour of the city
    Bit too pricey, this one…
  12. Do an open mic spot
    I don’t really play anything…