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Book Review : London, The Weekends Start Here – Fifty-two Weekends of Things to See and Do by Tom Jones (Virgin Books)

weekend

London, The Weekends Start Here: Fifty-two Weekends of Things to See and Do is the third book by Tom Jones. His two previous best-selling books, Tired of London, Tired of Life and Mad Dogs and Englishmen were inspired by his popular website entitled Tired of London, Tired of Life.

As the author points out, it is often at the weekend that the city really comes alive and to make the most of our free time, the book offers a wide range of cultural, artistic, historical and outdoor experiences.  London, The Weekends Start Here offers 52 themed weekends, organised by season, with over 250 interesting  entries for unusual and surprising attractions.

Many of the themed weekends celebrate London’s position as a global city which attracts residents and visitors from all over the world. Therefore you can explore American London, Japanese London, French London, Russian and East European London, Immigrant London, Italian London, Nordic London and discover the many contributions these groups have made and continue to make to the London story. If these particular groups are associated with London, so are individuals such as William Morris, Charles Dickens and John Betjeman who merit a section on their own.

You can discover different aspects of London History by following the guides on Wartime London, Pirates’ London, Revolutionary London, Political London and Ancient London. The book takes you away from the usual tourist spots of London by providing guides to the Countryside of Croydon, The Back Roads of Bexley and Bromley, Along the River Lea and the Highlights of Hackney.
London is famous for its cultural attractions and on your themed weekends you can discover Artistic London, Poets’ London, Musical London and Scientific London.

One of the attractions of the book is that each themed weekend offers a great deal of variety, if you explore Scientific London, suggestions include a visit to the Science Museum, Attend a lecture at the Royal Society, See the Broad Street Pump, Drink at the Devereux, Visit the Home of Time, Climb an Experimental Lighthouse and explore the Wellcome Collection.

There are over 250 interesting entries which offers a short description of the attraction with information about location and transport.  Also dotted throughout the book are a number of weekend tips including suggestions of the best places to eat and drink.

Many books about London offer a large array of attractions to visit, however the main attraction of London, The Weekends Start Here is that it applies a certain amount of logic to the enterprise. Rather than keeping you to a particular location, different themes can take you all over London following a particular interest. Alternatively if you do not wish to follow a particular theme, the book offers over 250 intriguing places to visit within the confines of the capital.

This well designed and informative book really does have something for everyone, whether you are a Londoner or a visitor. The weekend is a great time to explore London’s large number of attractions and even the most ardent lovers of London will find that the author has provided a number of unusual and relatively unknown attractions to explore.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the book or buy a copy, visit the Virgin Books website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Book Review : Mindful London by Tessa Watt ( Virgin Books )

mindful london

There are many self books that help Londoners and visitors to cope with the stress of everyday life in the capital, however this book introduces the concept of Mindfulness which not offers the way to cope but offers strategies to  enjoy the richness of urban life. The concept of Mindfulness  has attracted considerable interest in recent times  especially through the work of Professor Mark Williams and his best seller Mindfulness : A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World.

The author of this book attempts to apply the Mindfulness concept to London life, she considers the term Mindfulness is a simple idea. ” It means being here in the present movement – right here, right now, without wanting it to be somehow different.” She also points out that Mindfulness is not all about finding quiet and relaxation but also enjoying being in the present by enjoying the small details that are part of our everyday life.

The first chapter concentrates on some of the basics of Mindfulness, as the author points out, ” When we practise mindfulness we make time to step out of our normal whirlwind of activity and cultivate our ability to be present ; to connect with a greater sense of spaciousness.” As part of many people’s strategies of dealing with stress, they tend to switch off and go into ‘autopilot’, this can lead to negative events when a small event can trigger anxiety and irritation. Mindfulness offer strategies to put things in perspective and appreciate the small elements that make up our everyday life. Part of the strategies is learning breathing techniques and becoming more aware of your body to feel grounded. The benefit of using theses techniques is shown to include reducing stress, reducing rumination, better coping with illness and increasing wellbeing.

Each chapter is organised around a theme : nature, commuting and travelling, art and architecture, silence and solitude, sounds and music, food and drink, movement and learning mindfulness.  Within each chapter there are an overview of the theme, some mindfulness techniques, some suggestions for interesting pastimes and finally a small guide to some of the best places in  London to visit.

Talk to any Londoner and sooner or later the conversation will come around to the stress related to travelling around the city. Therefore the chapter Mindful Commuting and Travelling will be of particular interest to many people. Some practical suggestions offered include leaving yourself extra time, breathing techniques when in stressful situations, taking a different route to add variety and mindful walking. Many of the chapters  relate to making better use of  our senses Seeing (Chapter 4 ), listening (Chapter 6), tasting (Chapter 7) or the physical sensations of our body ( Chapter 8 ). However it is often a matter of having a holistic approach that will pay the highest dividends, therefore the chapter entitled ‘ Learning and Practising Mindfulness ‘ offer a series of practical exercises and advice if you want to take the method further.

In the final chapter, the author looks at the growth of Mindfulness and the way it is being used in the workplace and by health practitioners to  deal with stress and depression. She makes the point that both of these ailments are on the rise with people working for longer hours under greater stress. There are more people unable to cope and stress has now become the most common cause of long-term sickness leave.

There are many books that offer advice on how to deal with the stresses of a busy urban life, although most tend to concentrate on finding peaceful havens to rest and relax.  Mindful London includes these strategies but take it further by suggesting that a change of mindset is needed, so that what we find stressful episodes can be turned into a more positive and pleasant experience. The Mindful method  quite correctly points out that the many people who go into ‘autopilot’ miss out on some of the wonderful parts of the city and fail to enjoy some of the pleasures of urban life.

This well written and insightful book will appeal to those people who would like to find ways of dealing with the many stresses of London life, it will also be popular with those who seek to introduce a more balanced approach to urban life.  Even if you are not  completely attracted to the meditation or reflective side of the book, Mindful London offers places to visit and practical advice to enable Londoners and visitors to get the most of the capital.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the book or buy a copy, visit the Virgin Books website here

 London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Book Review : Little London by Kate Hodges and Sunshine Jackson

lillelll

Little London by Kate Hodges and Sunshine Jackson

London is not short of attractions for children, but many parents would testify that many of the attractions can be very expensive or not really suitable for particular age groups.

It was seeking to answer these types of problems that is the origins of the book, Little London which was developed from the Hopscotch Newsletter in which parents wrote in with their recommendations for places to visit.

It was this insider knowledge that the writers began to bring together ” to distil the experience of as many parents as we can find for the benefit of all parents, grandparents, godparents, nannies, aunts, uncles (we could go on !)  and the children  they accompany around London.”

It is part of that experience that Little London tries to present as wide range of attractions as possible because as the writers correctly argue all children are different, some like the rough and tumble of an adventure playground, other may prefer a more creative art based activity.

The book sections are based on the Months of the year , therefore each section takes into account what is available in London for that month but also what activities are suited to that time of the year.

For example January features New Year Day celebrations, Sledging and Stargazing, but to get out of the cold includes visits to Museums and a trip to the Barbican Conservatory. There is also a Things to Do feature with further suggestions to coincide with traditions for that time of year. As well as the more familiar attractions there are numerous suggestions for some of the hidden treasures of London including  City Farms or Wildlife centres.

Each month brings numerous suggestions that will provide a multitude of options  to entertain children of all ages..

As if all this information is not enough, throughout the book is recipes and little art projects that often coincide with events you may take your children to in London.

Considerable effort has been taken in the design of the book to make it attractive not only to adults but to children as well.

Each page has colourful text with numerous attractive fun graphics dotted through the book.

Often people write a book because it is the sort of book they were looking for, this book definitely falls in that category and many parents  will be grateful that someone has created this invaluable resource.

Little London is a wonderful book, attractively designed and full of insightful information to enable adults and children to get the most out of the numerous attractions of London.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended