Tag Archives: Jonathon Forman

Lovely Lido

It may have got colder and wetter recently, but that shouldn’t put you off the great outdoors.  Not when you could be getting wet anyway, at one of the lidos around our fair city.

Jon Forman went to check out the one at Tooting Bec.

Supposedly, I’m currently in training for a Triathlon which is taking place in the near future. I say supposedly; a more accurate reflection would be I’m eating lots of Pizza (carb loading……) and occasionally thinking about going to the gym.  Anyhoo, this week has featured a couple of days which could at least be described as warm, and so I packed the bag and cycled off to Tooting Bec Lido in search of some aqua themed exercise.

According to the website the Lido is; “the second biggest outdoor pool in Europe, and has been voted “Best Outdoor Pool” by the London pools campaign for the second year in succession….” Phew, quite some pedigree.

I have to agree, the place has a lot of Art-Deco charm. The pool is surrounded by sea-side style changing rooms, there’s plenty of space to sun-bathe after some strenuous laps, and it isn’t difficult to imagine many a happy Bank Holiday being spent here since it opened in 1906. (Although mixed sex bathing was not introduced until 1931!) There’s also a paddling pool for the younger members of the family and a café serving the usual assortment of snacks, drinks and iced cream. I also found the water to be extremely clean.

There’s only one thing….it’s cold. Gaspingly cold. A-thousand-tiny-knives-stabbing-you, Jack-from-Titanic-style-cold. OK, I might be exaggerating slightly – Yes, I am a wimp. There were however other people training for Triathlons wearing wet-suits!

Back in the day, this sort of thing would have been called ‘character building’ in schools. Not going in for this style of child abuse myself I’d still maintain it was cold. Let’s not labour the point…… Out of the water the weather was warm if not balmy, and aside from the training I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon reading, napping and taking the occasional dip.

I’d thoroughly recommend a day out here, just make sure the sun is out. Fingers crossed for an Indian summer at the Lido……….

Entry:

Adults (17+) £5.00
After 6pm £3.20
Child (5-16) £3.20
OAPs (60+) £3.20
Concession/ student/ unemployed £3.20
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £13.20

The lido is open 6am-5pm throughout September, and is located on Tooting Bec Road.

Nearest Tube: Tooting Bec

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Filed under Local interest, Sports, SW London

Tower of London

My roving reporter Jon Forman has been out and about exploring the city again.  Here’s his take on the Tower of London.

The parents have been down this weekend, staying in a hotel on Gloucester Road. They were promming over at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night – I think it was a Hungarian Orchestra playing some Mahler and Beethoven – and then Sunday left us free to dive into some good old fashioned tourism. Father expressed an interest in visiting The Tower of London; something which initially struck me as a little strange. Does he have a passing interest in History? Yes. Does he often express an interest in exploring the nationalistic embodiment of the hegemony of the monarchy? No.

The Tower of London (Picture courtesy of FreeFoto.com (c) )

Anyhoo, explore we did and upon my arrival at the nominated location at the anointed hour, Father was already looking rather pleased with himself having successfully negotiated the ‘interweb’ to pre-book tickets. We decided a good plan of attack would be to take on the wall walk, and on heading up the first of perhaps a hundred narrow spiral staircases the day would bring, we were thrust into the full history and atmosphere that The Tower has to offer.

It’s easy to forget the impact that some of The Tower’s past residents and internees have had on the country, nee the world. Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Kray Twins don’t often appear in the same sentence but have all spent time within the walls of The Tower for varying reasons.

The general ambience and presentation of information really gives you  this sense, whilst also providing interesting facts that you might actually stand a chance of remembering. The exhibits are genuinely engaging and err just on the side of what I’d a call ‘glam historical macabre’. See the Block and Axe with which Lady Jane Grey met her grizzly end, sit on the chair which bore the weight of the final soul to be dispatched at the tower. (A WWII German spy – death by firing squad whilst sat down!)

I was genuinely surprised to find myself lapping up this same atmosphere which keeps those lovable Yanks coming back year on year. If there’s one thing we Brits do well it’s Pomp & Circumstance and the epitome of this was the excellent exhibition on the various Crown Jewels to which The Tower is a home.

Impressive day out

I was impressed with the ‘overall attitude’ and packaging of the day out. Ice creams weren’t too expensive, the place is excellently maintained, and exhibits are modern and labelled in an informative manner. If you stay to take in everything on offer, you’ve got a full day out on your hands. The parents and I got through the majority of the exhibitions (including the Ravens) and this took us from 10am until 4pm once we’d included a short break for lunch!

Overall the day brought tired legs and full minds, and there was a real buzz about the place. I found a particular pleasure in the failed actors unleashing their inner jester to entertain the cue for the Crown Jewels.

On this showing, I’d say that The Tower has cemented itself as one of the Capital’s top-flight and most value for money attractions. To coin a phrase one might call it the Jewel in the Crown…….

Adult: £17 (£16 online). Concession: £14.50 (£13.50 online).

Nearest station: Tower Hill

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Filed under Central London, Historical, Local interest, SE London

London Aquarium

As you can tell from my lack of posts, I’ve been rather busy recently – apologies for not updating the site for a while.

No worries though – my lovely friend Jon Forman recently went down to the London Aquarium and wrote this little review of it for your reading pleasure…

What the eff am I doing here?

I’ve taken my first day off since March, it’s a Monday, I’ve got a hangover and somehow in the deep and dark memory of last night (when she wasn’t drunk) my housemate has persuaded me this would be a good idea.

Ever get that thing where you kind of come-to and you’ve brought yourself to somewhere you might not quite want to be? This is one of those. Last time I came to somewhere like this I was 7 and in Scarborough. I think.

Things don’t immediately get any better. The invalid nature of my – now well out date – student card means I have to pay adult whack. Not a parent in sight to take the hit. £18….resists mentally converting this amount into the opportunity cost of something else. There’s also some shoddy attempt at cross marketing in the foyer; a lifeless Ant (or is it Dec?) tries in vain to point you in the direction of Madame Tussauds up at Baker Street.

Ahh but here are the fish! A quick skip down a flight of stairs – lift available – and you’re thrust into the heart of the ocean. The tanks are logically arranged (most boring first through to the Shark Walk finale i.e. we start with the coastal waters of Great Britain) and there’s a tonne of information to read. Any more of this and my day off is going to become a little too educational for my liking.

Leaving Blighty’s pond behind we take a trip around the world including the most exotic the Seas have to offer.  Highlights remain as they were back when I was 7 – sticking my hand in the tank with the Rays (though the sign says don’t touch) and the Sea Horses. Can you believe the Male carries the babies? I know!

Good day out (of the rain)

Our trip goes without a hitch, oh, except for the fire alarm going off twice. In all seriousness, it was a good day out, though some of the information boards looked a little tired and the Shark Walk wasn’t quite what I remember. Some would say that this can be explained away by the touristy City Hall location and the fact that I’m almost 25. If I had a serious criticism it would be that too many of the ‘exhibits’ were actually differing views into the same (admittedly interesting) tank. I would go again, although I think I’ll hold on until I have a child (or can at least borrow one) till the next time. You know what you’re getting with this kind of activity; out of the rain.

Prior to exiting, I made sure to collect my tacky London Aquarium Medal for completing all of my quiz questions correctly (advisory quiz age 6 to 10) so it’s not all bad.

I’d give it 6 ½ arbitrary stars out of 10.

London Aquarium costs £18 for adults (£16.20 online price), children 3-15 yrs costs £12.50 (£11.25 online price).

The Aquarium is located on the South Bank next to the London Eye.

Nearest Tubes: Westminster and Waterloo

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