HMS President

Take a winter’s walk along the Southbank to the Oxo Tower and prepare to be  dazzled.

HMS President (1918), one of only three remaining WW1 warships, has received a makeover by artist Tobias Rehberger in homage to the Dazzle Ships of the First World War.

The Ship will be docked on Victoria Embankment until January 2016.

Website: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions
Location: Best view is from Oxo Tower on Southbank


Jerwood Space

Jerwood Space is lunch and a break. The art gallery has different exhibitions on during the year along with Cafe 171 providing healthy meals from seasonal ingredients at a reasonable price.

I recently went along to see Photoworks Award 2015 and Luke McCreedie’s work “Be in the air, but not be air, be in the no air” And that is quite fitting because I couldn’t find it. Eventually found it in the cafe area.

Jerwood Space
171 Union St, London SE1 0LN
Jerwood Space:
What’s on:
Cafe 171 Menu:

Sky Garden , 20 Fenchurch Street

Some people call this building the “Walkie Talkie”, others the  “Walkie Scorchie” but one thing is for sure, 20 Fenchurch Street has the most amazing views of London.

And the Sky Garden is just that, tropics in the sky , 37 floors up.
Well worth a visit, very relaxing. I spent about 45 minutes here, but could have done in less if time was an issue. I hear they have a yoga class at 6 am.

Tickets must be booked in advance, there is no charge, but you must bring ID.

Sky Garden
20 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 4BA
Cost: Free
Note: Book in Advance

The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret.

A twisty turny wooden staircase will lead you into the roof of St Thomas’ Church, Southwark.
Here you will find the oldest operating theatre in Europe (built 1822) and the Herb Garret (built 1703), used by the hospital’s apothecary to store and cure herbs.

The operating theatre was in use up until 1862 until the hospital was relocated, and then it lay hidden, for nearly a hundred years .

Wonderfully atmospheric, beautiful Herb Garret, slightly eerie operating theatre (and tools). Interesting to imagine a time when anaesthetics and antibiotics had not yet been discovered.

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The Old Operating Theatre
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY (One minute from London Bridge Underground)
Open:10:30 – 5pm Daily
Cost Adult: £6.50

Benjamin Franklin House

Step back in time to 1757…

Benjamin Franklin’s London lodgings, near Charing Cross,  have been lovingly restored to their former glory.  Take a “Museum as a Theatre” experience to be guided around the house by actors in costume.

Fascinating, so much condensed into a theatrical show with actors, audio and video. Scientist, Politician, Founding Father. I am left wanting to know more!

Tour takes 45-50 minutes.

Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF
Cost Adult: £7 – Pre-book ticket online

The Monument

Monument is a 62m high column built circa 1671 to commemorate the Great Fire of London.
For the price of 4 English pounds you can climb up inside the column (311 steps), enjoy the view from the platform and get a certificate on your descent.

I can’t think of a better way to spend my lunch break.

Not for the frail, infirm, those who have vertigo, claustrophobia or climacophobia.


Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH
Website: The Monument
Cost Adult:£4

Florence Nightingale Museum

Although small, the museum is cleverly divided into threes sections.  
The first tells the early family life of Florence and her sister Parthenope, exploring their upbringing and how, against the odds, Florence pursued her “calling” to become a nurse.

The second sections explores Florence’s commission to head up a team of nurses going to Scutari, during the Crimean war  “The Lady with the Lamp . And the final section looks at Florence’s return to the UK and her unrelenting work as a social reformer and so much more.

Each section has six or more audio guides dotted around interesting artefacts as well as little “spy holes”  through hedging to see photographs and drawings (can’t really explain, you will just have to go see for yourself!)

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Do find time to see the other heroes of the Crimean War and First World War, including Edith Cavell, a nurse who managed to save 200 prisoners of war escape, with the aid of her trusty dog, Jack. This year marks the centenary of her death.

Also Mary Seacole, a Jamaican born nurse, who, after her offer of assistance was refused by the war office, set off independently to the front line to offer “succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.”

Did you know funds are being raised to create a memorial statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’s hospital?

Also, in 2015 a competition called Kings Cross 1-10,000, chose “Mary Seacole Street”  as one of 34 short listed out of 10,000 suggestions for their new road names!

Florence Nightingale Museum
2 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EW
Cost Adult: £7

Other Sites of interest:

Kirkaldy Testing Museum

The museum is open the first Sunday of each month

In 1874 the Kirkaldy Test Works was set up by David Kirkaldy, a  Scottish engineer. Its purpose was to independently test construction materials. The first of its kind.

Kirkaldy’s machine and other machines have been restored and preserved in the same building that is now a museum. So if you know your tension from your torsion you have come to the right place.

“Facts not Opinions” was David Kirkaldy’s mantra, emblazoned  onto his building.

On a recent visit (3/10/2015) I had an excellent tour guide, a German engineer. As well as knowledgable we even had demos of the machines. All the guides are volunteers.

The museum was also taking part in Merge Arts Festival (Bankside) and the downstairs basement had been converted into an interactive art installation that was thoughtfully reflective of the museum.

Kirkaldy Testing Museum
99 Southwark St, London, SE1 0JF
Website: Testing Museum
Cost Adult: £5
The museum is open the first Sunday of each month

Garden Museum (closing from the end of October 2015 until 2017)

The Garden Museum is a small museum inside a beautiful church celebrating gardens and equipment through history. It also has a small ornate garden.  There are a few exhibits and a shop with great gardeney gifts.

The cafe has a range of “fresh vegetarian lunches from 12”.

But beware this museum is closing from the end of October 2015 until 2017 for a complete refit. So if you always planned to go, check it’s still open.

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Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB
Website:Garden Museum
Cost: No cost to enter Cafe
Cost:£7.50 to view exhibit rooms.

Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar and Cafe

(Open Daily 10 am to 10 pm until late September)

Although I have strolled along the South Bank for many years, I’ve failed to notice the sign to Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden. So, just to give you a gentle hint, look for the GIANT YELLOW CONCRETE STAIRCASE.

I enjoyed a coffee here from the café bar. The menu looked appetising.  I had a stroll around the wild flower meadow and mini allotment, not what you expect in London, a real secret garden, serendipitous.

There’s also a family craft centre, someone asked me if I wanted to join a clay workshop. Alas I would, but I had to get back to work.

Wonderful hideaway, useful to know to impress family and friends when taking them along the South Bank on a sunny day.

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Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden
South Bank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX
Open Daily 10 am to 10 pm until late September
Cost : Free