London Calling

Some less than obvious things you could do in Europe’s most popular tourist destination. (With the added bonus that most of these are free.)

  1. ‘Ten Peak’ Challenge

Did you know that ten of the most popular destinations in the UK are all in London, mostly free, and within a mile or two of each other?

London Tourism
You can do this without brandy, a compass and mountain rescue, can’t you? Of course you can!

2. Six of the Best

Not just of London, or even the UK but the world. The Science, the V&A, the Natural History, the British, the National Maritime, and the Imperial War. Museums, that is.

You can easily spend a few hours in here
You can easily spend a few hours in here

Natural History

You’ll find the first three of these right next to each other, and the others are just a few tube stops away.

3. Absolutely Fabulous

Harrods, Selfridges and, of course, Harvey Nicks for some bubby Bolly.

Go forth and multi-buy darling.
Go forth and multi-buy darling.

4. Monopoly Marathon

Your challenge is to walk the Monopoly Board of famous place names including Piccadilly, Pall Mall, Oxford Street, Leicester Square, and the Angel Islington, plus all the stations. This is one time you can land on Mayfair without it costing you all your little green houses. You won’t need Free Parking either and you can skip the utilities. Just make sure you don’t Go To Jail!

5. Upstairs Downstairs

Before there was Downton Abbey , there was Upstairs Downstairs. Start from the TV location in Eaton Square and work your way round one of the most exclusive and expensive square miles on Earth, where practically every street is a celebrity and residents don’t order their rolls with butter.Kensington MewsSloane Ranger your way across Cadogan Gardens, Cruise the news in Kensington and count the Bentleys in Belgravia. Take a walk on the posh side!

6. Regents Park, Hyde Park, St James’ Park, Kensington Gardens

London has more green spaces than any capital cities in the world. If you’re near Hyde Park’s north-east gate don’t miss lively Speakers’ Corner (not to be confused with Hyde Park Corner), the last historic remnant of a once popular national pastime. shutterstock_222783799

7. Naval Gazing

Take a boat trip or water taxi to see the floating museum of HMS Belfast and the Cutty Sark.Cutty SarkStar gazers shouldn’t miss the chance to go round the Greenwich Observatory and the Planetarium.

8. I Spy with my London Eye

London is full of spy stories, ‘spooks’ nooks, ipcress File crannies, James Bond chase locations and real-life former KGB dead drops. MI6 lives in Vauxhall Cross, also known as Legoland, blown up in more than one Bond Film, while Blythe House, Kensington is the MI6 Location used in the 2011 film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Meanwhile MI5 can be found at Thames House, Milbank (although in TV’s Spooks they used the Freemason’s Hall in Convent Garden) while the KGB had a dead drop at Brompton Oratory. If you’re a fan of the Great Game, London is the perfect place for a snoop.

9. Tower Bridge Tower Bridge _74823865Did you know you could hire this and hold a party. Named 2012’s most unusual venue, this is free to walk across although there’s a charge to see the engine rooms and the exhibitions (the bridge has a lift where you can check bascule lift times.)

10. Camden Market, Petticoat Lane & Portobello Road Market

Camden MarketWhere people shopped before department stores, and still world famous today – no need to buy, just fun to explore.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our selection of ideas of what to explore when in London.

What would you add to the list?

 

 

 

Stratford Upon Avon and Shakespeare

A bit of Bardology… It’s almost impossible to think of Stratford-Upon-Avon without Shakespeare springing to mind but how well do you think you know the ‘Bard’?

Read on , we think you will find these facts quite interesting and if you find, as you read, that you have some Shakespeare knowledge you would like to share please leave us a comment.

Stratford Upon Avon is the home of whom?
Stratford Upon Avon is the home of whom?

Shakespeare’s plays are plenty and although they have never stopped being popular, in the 17th century it was very common for theatre producers to change his plays ‘for the better’, in order to appeal to taste. They would think nothing of taking out the corny puns and the frequent saucy bits, and even altering the endings to make tragedies like

Juliet Balcony Verona Romeo and Juliet

into comedies!

One extremely sanitised version of his collected works, which deleted around ten percent of the original text, was published by Henrietta Maria (aka Harriet) Bowdler in 1807. The title page of The Family Shakespeare informs the reader that it is an edition

‘in which nothing is added to the original text, but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family’.

The edition became notorious, and today the word ‘bowdlerisation’ is used to describe any work similarly cut, altered and heavily censored.

On a visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon simply wondering around the delightful streets is a really good way to spend a day, as our colleague Charlotte recently discovered on a break, but you may also like to visit

Holy Trinity Church Stratfordthe Church of the Holy Trinity in the Old Town, situated River Avon Stratfordright on the Avon just north of the Seven Meadows Bridge.Shakespeare was baptised and buried here, and there is a faded inscription threatening a curse on whoever disturbs his bones, which many think explains why he was not subsequently moved to Westminster Abbey.

There is also a small shrine-like wall monument, created just 7 years after the Bard’s death and bearing what is probably the most true and accurate likeness of him to be found anywhere.

Finally…have you ever wondered where the phrase ‘Bardolatry’ comes from? – you have, great!

Bernard Shaw coined this sarcastic term in frustration at the tendency of some enthusiasts to claim not only that Shakespeare was the best English Writer who ever lived, but also that he was the finest philosopher, psychologist, social theorist and political analyst who ever lived too…would you agree with this?

Well, Shaw was happy to recognise the ruff-collared writer’s creative talents, but thought this kind of ‘bardolatry’ was pushing it a bit far.

If you have any other Shakespeare snippets? Just let us know and we would love to add them in!