Heritage Open Days

September 8-17

Founded in 1994, Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival celebrateing heritage, history, community and culture. This year's theme 'Creativity Unwrapped' is presented by National Trust with support from the players of People's Post Code Lottery features over 5,300 events and experiences around the theme of 'Creativity Unwrapped' — many of which that usually charge admission.

The robust website allows you to 'Design your day' by searching via post code, towns, county, date, key words and/or in-person/virtual events. Here are just a handful of highlights in London and Surrey:

  • British Library (Conservation Open House) Saturday, September 9 11- Noon, 1 - 2 pm, 2:30 - 3:30 pm
  • The Chocolate Museum (Maya chocolate demonstration and tasting) Saturday, September 16 10 am & Noon
  • The Guards Museum Saturday, September 9 10 am - 3:30 pm
  • London Bus Museum (Heritage Routemaster Bus Route 38 between Victoria & Hackney) Saturday, September 16 10 - 5 pm
  • Two Temple Place (William Waldrof Astro's London Estate Office) Sunday, September 10 & 17 10 am - 4:30 pm

  • Surrey
  • Box Hill (Literary walks and talks) Sunday, September 10 & Wednesday Setpember 13 11 am
  • Kingston Guildhall Saturday, September 9 & 16 10:15 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:15 pm
  • The Lightbox September 8-9, 129-16 10:30 am - 5 pm, September 10 & 17 11 am - 4 pm
  • Polesden Lacey Saturday, September 9 & Sunday, September 10 Gardens 10 - 5 pm, House 11 am - 3:30 pm
  • Runnymede Air Forces Memorial Saturday, September 9 11 am - 3 pm

  • Plan and book now for the best selection!

    Boatloads of fun

    Take advantage of these boat experiences while the temperatures are still mild:

    Caravel — This small, quaint restaurant located on a converted canal boat serves modern European bistro style food. The combination of delicious food and friendly staff make this a perfect date night or private group dining experience.
    Open Wednesday (Lunch), Thursday — Saturday (Lunch & Dinner), Sunday (Lunch)
    www.caravelrestaurant.com+44 2072 511155
    172 Shepherdess Walk, London, N1 7JL

    Lee Valley Water Centre — This white water slalom centre in Hertfordshire was used during the 2012 Olympic Games.  The inflatable boats are designed for Class IV or Class V rapids. Unlike traditional rafting where you pass one rapid after another, they have the ability to send you back through the rapids you just completed.
    £60 / person (minimum age 14)
    London Waterbus — The traditional narrow boat on the Regents Canal stops at Camden Lock and Little Venice. The route passes through London Zoo and windows that slide open for picturesque views. Booking online is suggested — especially on the weekends.
    Starting at £15 / adult and £11 / child

    Thames Rocket — The popular 50-minuted ‘Ultimate London Adventure’ is the original Thames speed boat tour. Departing from the London Eye, the 880 horsepower travels up to 30 knots past London’s famous landmarks and literally above the water at times. Fun you need to hold on tight for!.
    Starting at £54.95 (adult) / £49.95 (child)
    www.thamesrockets.com+44 2079 288933
    London Eye Waterloo Pier, London 1SW1A 1AE

    Uber Boat by Thames Clipper — Uber Boat is the fastest and most frequent boat service on the River Thames with 24 stops. Major attractions along the route include Big Ben, London Eye, Shakespeare Globe, St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London to name a few. Discounted fares are available for Oyster and contactless card travelers and a a 'hop on hop off' ticket is available
    Starting at £3.80

    Whichever one you choose — it's sometimes simply better by boat!

    Beat jet lag

    4 stop route to keep you awake

    With most of the US to UK flights leaving in the evening and arriving the next morning, staying awake to fight off jet lag can be a challenge.

    I have found the best way to adjust to the new time zone is having a packed schedule after you arrive. With the mixed weather forecast, this route includes both indoor and outdoor stops:

    Start at Waterloo Station
    9:45 am departure — 17 min underground Waterloo & City Line to Bank Station and 8 minute walk

    The Garden at 120 (Free) — The award-winning rooftop 15 stories up at 120 Fenchurch Street is the largest pubic rooftop space with 360-degree London views.  There is no pre-booking required to access the lifts following the security scanners
    Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10 am —  6:30 pm, Saturdays & Sundays until 5 pm
    Walk back to Bank Station and take 10:31 am Central Line to Oxford Circus Station — 22 min underground and 2 minute walk

    Twist Museum (Starting at £23.50) — This unique immersive museum developed by artists, neuroscientists and philosophers challenges how your mind interprets and explores the world around you. The interactive illusions put a 'twist' on what is real and what is not.
    Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 11 am —  8 pm, Saturdays 10 am — 9 pm, Sundays 10 am — 7:30 pm

    Walk to Tottenham Court Road Station and take 12:15 pm Northern Line to Battersea Power Station — 25 min underground

    Battersea Power Station — The Grade II listed station gained worldwide attention after being featured on Pink Floyd's 1977 album cover Animals and has been featured or used as a filming lcoation for movies, music videos, television programs and video games. In 2022, Battersea Power Station was re-opened to the public for the first time after a 10-year restoration project and is considered one of London's newest 'destination' with places to eat, drink, live, work and play.
    Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 10 am —  9 pm, Sundays 12 pm — 6 pm
    www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk+44 2081 766500
    44 Electric Boulevard, London SW11 8BJ

    Walk to Battersea Park/Chelsea Gate Stop and take 1:42 pm Bus 44 Tooting — 29 minute ride or 42 min walk for river views along the way

    Rafayel on the Left Bank (£45 for 2) — Enjoy an afternoon tea with a Mediterranean twist at this riverside restaurant complete with a glass of Prosecco or mocktail. Select from calamari, breaded shrimp, duck or vegetable spring rolls and mozzarella sticks along with scones and clotted creaam and jam, chocolate dipped strawberries and cheesecake.
    Served between 2 — 4 pm daily (reservations required)
    www.hotelrafayel.com+44 2078 013600
    34 Lombard Rd, London SW11 3RF

    Return at Waterloo Station
    Walk to Clapham Junction station to take 4:21 pm train back to Waterloo Station

    Since this route does not include major tourist attractions, it will be a bit more relaxing and a good transition to full tourist mode!

    Wimbledon in full swing

    Snag a seat at this bucket list event

    This week marks the official second week of Wimbledon, the oldest and considered one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.

    If you have never been, it is worth a visit and can be done without pre-booking. I have not participated in the ballot, purchased tickets in advance or camped overnight, but instead have always done the Queue. Over the years we have seen some of the top players, including Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams play on the show courts (Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2).

    Key pages from the 2023 Queue Guide, include:

    Page 9
    Subject to availability, you can purchase returned Show Court tickets (after 3pm), for £15 for Centre Court and £10 for No.1 Court and No.2 Court tickets, from the Ticket Resale Kiosk north of Court 18 near the top of St Mary’s Walk. The proceeds (net of VAT) from Ticket Resale are donated to the Wimbledon Foundation.
    Page 11
    There are 500 tickets sold each day for the Show Courts, which people camp overnight for.  Instead of doing this, we have purchased grounds passes and then purchased returned Show Court tickets – we have been able to do this up through quarter finals play.  Basically if people have camped overnight or have been at Wimbledon for the better half of a day, they are ready to go home.  My daughter and I sat at what could be considered '50 yard line seats' less than 10 rows from the net on Centre Court and even got a wave from Serena Williams.

    For hints and tips on how to pick which days to go and queue and what time, click here. Not only is it a well-organized and civilized process, they have activities once you get to the main grounds of the queue, such as mini tennis matches for prizes, photo ops, champagne and coffee bars, which makes it eaiser and more pleasant to pass the time.

    If you have time, Wimbledon Museum is very well-done and just re-opened after refurbishment last year honor of its 100th anniversary and is limited to Championship ticket holders during the tournament.

    Lastly, Wimbledon Village is charming and a lot of the stores will do creative displays during Wimbledon. You can also book a place to eat before or after Wimbledon. Our favorites include Fox and Grapes (pub), The Ivy Wimbledon (reasonably priced-afternoon tea / cream tea and themed cocktails), Megan's Restaurant (breakfast / brunch or drinks) and Sticks & Sushi.

    The 136th Wimbledon Championships runs until July 16th.  If you don’t make it this year – there is always next year!

    Best of Kids Week

    Tickets on sale June 13th

    There are 45+ musicals, plays, comedies and children's shows participating in Kids Week. Kids 17 and under go free to shows in August with a full price paid adult ticket (plus half-price tickets for two additional children).

    Some of the best shows also host workshops and Q&As with the cast and creative team. These shows are some of the first to go. Check your diary and be ready to book on June 13th at 10 am.

    Open to all bookers
  • Back to the Future Cosplay Q&A Thursday, August 10th, 5:10 pm - 5:35 pm following the matinee performance
  • Les Misérables Technical Demonstration Tuesday, August 15th 4 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Mamma Mia! Q&A Wednesday, August 2nd, 5:30 pm - 6 pm following the matinee performance
  • The Mousetrap Q&A Tuesday, August 22nd, 5:20 pm - 5:50 pm
  • The Phantom Of The Opera Q&A Thursday, August 24th 5:15 pm - 5:45 pm prior to 7:30 pm performance
  • Six Q&A Thursday, August 24th 4:30 pm - 5 pm before 5:30 pm performance
  • Wicked Q&A Thursday, August 3rd 5:30 pm - 6 pm after the matinee performance
  • Witness For The Prosecution Post-Show Talk & Q&A Thursday, August 10th 5 pm - 5:15 after the matinee performance

  • 8-12 Year Olds
  • Disney's Frozen Music & Movement Workshop Thursday, August 17th 3:15 pm - 4:45 pm prior to 7 pm performance
  • Disney's The Lion King Music & Movement Workshop Wednesday, August 16th 3:15 pm - 4:45 pm prior to 7:30 pm performance
  • RSC's Matilda The Musical Music & Acting Workshop Thursday, August 10th 1:30 pm - 2.30 pm
  • Wicked Musical Theatre Workshop Thursday, August 16th 12 pm - 1:30 pm prior to 2:30 performance

  • 9-15 Year Olds
  • The Play That Goes Wrong Comedy Workshop Thursday, August 17th 11:45 am - 12:45 pm

  • 13-17 Year Olds
  • Jersey Boys Dance Workshop Wednesday, August 16th 3 pm - 4:30 pm prior to 7:30 pm performance

  • For the best selection, pre-pick your show dates/activities and be online Tuesday, June 13th at 10 am when the tickets are released.

    Free Rooftop Views

    7 stops in 1-1/2 hours

    The only thing better than London in the sunshine is rooftop views of London in the sunshine.  Start at Waterloo and make seven stops ending with a rooftop drink or lunch:

    National Theatre The Royal National Theatre Garden public terrace on level 3 boasts both London Eye and river views.  
    National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

    Royal Opera House — Located on the 5th floor, The Piazza Terrace Bar overlooks Covent Garden, London's most famous market.
    Opening Hours: Noon — 10 pm  
    www.roh.org.uk+44 2073 044000
    Bow Street, London WC2E 9DD

    The Post Building — Although only 9 stories up, the rooftop terrace offers uninterrupted views of the City given the lack of tall buildings around it.  To access, look for a sign off New Oxford Street that reads 'Public Roof Terrace'.  You will need to sign-in, provide ID and go through security scanners before proceeding to the rooftop. 
    Opening hours: 10 am — 7 pm 
    Museum Street, London WC1A 1PB

    One New Change  Take a lift to the 6th floor of the retail and restaurant building to enjoy a stunning unobstructed view of St Paul's Cathedral.  Book a table at Madison, the bar and tapas restaurant with outdoor patio and indoor seating.
    Opening Hours : 6 am — Midnight
    www.onenewchange.com+44 2070 028952
    One New Change, London EC4M 9AF

    Sky Garden — Free access tickets to London's highest public garden are released every Monday.  If you are not able to book a ticket, reserve a table one of the restaurants or bars to be able to access the Garden after you eat or drink.
    Opening hours: Weekdays 10 am — 6 pm, Weekends 11 am —  9 pm

    The Garden at 120 — The award-winning rooftop 15 stories up at 120 Fenchurch Street is the largest pubic rooftop space with 360-degree London views.  There is no pre-booking required to access the lifts following the security scanners
    Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10 am —  6:30 pm, Saturdays & Sundays until 5 pm
    Tip : Make plans to go now to catch the 85 wisteria trees in bloom.
    120 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 5BA

    The Culpeper — Located close to Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Shoreditch High Street, The Culpeper offers a great view of East London.  
    In addition to the pub, restaurant and hotel, the 1,400 square foot rooftop includes a working 500 square foot garden where garnishes, herbs and salad used in the dishes are grown – giving 'farm' to table a whole other meaning.  Stop in for an impromptu drink and bar bites or book the Regen Rooftop Set Lunch Menu £35 served 12 pm — 3 pm.  
    Tip : Request a table for 2 — 4 along the rooftop entrance wall to benefit from some shade.
    Take advantage of these views while the sun is shining!

    Belgravia in Bloom

    Into the Wild

    If you want to add to your flower fix, head to Belgravia to see more flowers for free. While Chelsea in Bloom and the Chelsea Flower Show finish today, the 8th annual Belgravia in Bloom, runs through Bank Holiday Monday.

    While smaller and more compact, there are still 45+ displays to see in one of London most luxurious neighborhoods. Using the map start at Knightsbridge on Montcomb Street, walk to Eccleston Yards, Elizabeth Street and end on Pimlico Road (Sloane Station is close by). Or alternatively start on Pimlico Road and head to Eccleston Yards and Victoria Station will be close by.

    Tip : Some of the displays are a bit hidden from the street down a passageway.

    The ‘Into the Wild’ theme reflects their partnership with London Wildlife Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting the capital's wildlife and wild spaces and responsible for 36 nature reserves across the nation’s capitol.

    Like Chelsea in Bloom, there are free activities, tours, flower-themed menu
    items and giveaways to enjoy.

    While these free blooms will fade, save the date for London Open Gardens weekend June 10-11. The weekend ticketed event features 100+ gardens not normally open to the public.