diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ten ways to do London Open House (which is today and tomorrow, don't you know)
1) Log into the website at 10am on Monday, six weeks ago, and snap up all the really rare buildings (which I didn't do, alas, because I was in a life-changing meeting at the time)
2) Scan the guide and sign up for lots of interesting pre-book tours, then pray they don't overrun so you miss the next one (you're too late to do this because the list closed on Thursday, which means about 30% of the weekend's events are now closed to you)
3) Pick one very-popular building and get there first thing, at least 30 minutes before it opens, because arriving later in the day means you'll spend hours queueing before you get inside) (which is my plan for this morning, somewhere out west)
4) Plan nothing, then sort of amble around trying to find places, then discover they're very busy so give up, then go somewhere else (and repeat, and repeat, and see not much)
5) Pick one corner of town and stick to it, visiting as many places as possible (like I did a couple of years ago in Haringey and Southwark)
6) Try to visit buildings nobody else would dream of going to, because the queues will be non-existent (especially places on the Update & Amendments list, because nobody ever reads that)
7) Do the Gherkin, because the Gherkin's amazing (except it hasn't been open for Open House since 2006, sorry)
8) Head for the suburbs, because they'll be empty (or head for the City of London, because the City of London is compact and brilliant)
9) What do you mean you've never been to the Foreign Office & India Office? It's splendid, so go there immediately (ditto Lloyds of London, Portcullis House, the Royal Courts of Justice)
10) Go shopping at Westfield instead (Open House? What's Open House? Stuff culture - I so need some new clothes)

Ten places you could visit this weekend for London Open House
a) St Anne's Tower (Sat): Victorian church in Wardour Street - (M@ assures me that the rickety climb up the spire is unforgettable)
b) Village Underground (Sat): A couple of tube carriages used as artists studios, on top of a viaduct in Shoreditch, where else?
c) Drapers Hall (Sat): It's not in the printed guidebook, but this old City livery hall is most definitely open.
d) Broadgate Tower (Sat, Sun): A proper City skyscraper, with access to the 17th floor.
e) Lansbury Festival of Britain Walk (Sat, Sun): Lengthy guided walk around Poplar's housing stock built for a 1951 architecture exhibition.
f) City Hall (Sat, Sun): Ever since Boris scrapped monthly weekend openings, this is your only opportunity to see London's seat of government from top to bottom.
g) Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Sat, Sun): If you've never been inside a Hindu temple, start with the very best, in Neasden.
h) W Plumb Family Butchers (Sat, Sun): Edwardian meatshop on Hornsey Road, small but beautifully preserved.
i) Becontree Estate Bus Tour (Sun 10am): There are only 45 seats on this 4-hour council estate tour in Dagenham, but I bet they're not all full.
j) 67 Grange Walk (Sun): Queen Anne house, out Bermondsey way, now a delightful (and none-too scrubbed up) family home.

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