Posts under ‘UK / Ireland’

The Royal Albert Hall


Since its opening by Queen Victoria on 29 March 1871 the Royal Albert Hall has played host to a multitude of different event s It has been estimated that the venue has been used for over 150,000 different events from Royal Gala performances to rock concerts. Some of the huge names in rock to perform the Royal Albert include The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Abba and Led Zeppelin and even some of the newer names like Muse, The Killers and Them Crooked Vultures.

The Royal Albert Hall is in Knightsbridge and only a short stroll from many of the other local attractions like Kensington Gardens and Harrods Department Store.

Although hard to depict in our photograph which we took at night the craftsmanship of the hall is magnificent. There are amazing mosaics frieze depicting The Triumph of Arts and Sciences around the rim of the hall. There are some 16 scenes. Many visitors are also interested in seeing the stones laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria both as a foundation stone and at the opening of the hall, where she was too emotional to speak and left the opening remarks to her son Prince Edward the Prince of Wales. Interestingly the acoustics were pretty bad in the hall at opening and they didn’t get addressed properly for nearly 100 years in 1969.

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Travel pods for Heathrow


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Heathrow airport is one of the world’s busiest and with its five different terminals it can be a nightmare to navigate with sometimes huge distances to travel between flights and to the carpark.

Well they have come up with a futuristic and novel way to help move people around, with the trial introduction of a pod system which should move travellers easily and swiftly around the complex.

Starting trials in the next few weeks from the brand new terminal five will be a driver-less pod system which runs on a 4 km track. Each pf the pods carry a family and luggage from the terminal to the airport. The system is that smart all the rider needs to do is swipe tickets, or frequent flyer card onto the computer or type in the flight number and the pod will instantly take them there travelling at speeds of about 40kph. 

It is hoped the 4km trial will extend to the whole airport and cover the 48km needed to move between all terminals. The pod is a battery powered vehicle which recharges when not in use and it is environmentally friendly emitting no CO2 and uses about 70 percent less energy than that of a modern vehicle, and with much of the system on elevated rails it keeps away from the nasty traffic of the airport.

Called ULTra Personal Transport System the initial investment has cost in the vicinity of 25 million pounds for the 18 pods and tracks.  There are also plans underway for Daventry and Norhamptonshire to use similar systems, and if successful we might see them rolled out throughout the world.

U2’s City of Blinding Lights in Dublin

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We did a story a few months ago on Windmill Lane Studio’s in Dublin which is being redeveloped as a 120metre high tower called the U2 tower and will include their new recording studios. Well what will be Ireland’s tallest building isn’t the only bit of U2 property getting a huge overhaul. The Clarence Hotel on Wellington Quay Dublin is a renowned hotel which dates back to the 1850’s. U2’s Bono, The Edge and a few other investors have been planning a spectacular development which has been years in planning and approval stages. The plan is for the historic hotel to be demolished to make way for a spectacular modern building which has a dramatic atrium surrounded by rooms with a roofline which could only be described as a flying saucer shape. The architect Norman Foster from Foster + Partners have been responsible for some pretty spectacular landmark buildings including the new terminal at Beijing Airport, The Al Raha Beach Development in Abu Dhabi and London’s Gherkin – the Swill Re HQ. IT is hoped the new Clarence will be open in 2010 and will be a bold new landmark for Dublin. Read the rest of this entry »

The finest of Irish Whiskey

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The Irish love their whiskey nearly as much as they love their beer and potatoes and Jameson one of Ireland’s most popular drops has a magnificent distillery experience for anyone traveling around the Cork area. The Old Distillery in Midleton on the banks of the Dungourney River is home to the Jameson Experience. Not only does the distillery have a great gift shop where you can purchase a few bottles and some pretty cool memorabilia they have a tour of the distillery with plenty to see and learn. You will see how whiskey is produced from grain to the years of maturing in wooden kegs and you will even get to sample a drop or two at the beautiful old bar. The Jameson Experience is in Midleton which is about 18 km from Cork, there is also the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin which has a visitors centre.

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Westminster Abbey London

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Westminster Abbey or as it is really know the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster is London’s most important churches. With a history dating back to 616 the abbey was built during the 1500’s with construction commissioned by Henry III in 1245. The church has become an important coronation and burial site for many English monarchs over the years. The abbey is today recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still used as one of London’s most important churches. The beautiful gothic western towers as seen on our photograph were built between 1722 and 1745 and were constructed out of Portland stone which is the same limestone used on Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral it is mined from the Isle of Portland in Dorset. Inside the Abbey is some of England’s most beautiful treasures, artworks, sculptures and magnificent tile work and stained glass windows make this abbey astonishing. Over a million people visit the Abbey each year and thousands come each day to worship, details on guided tours and opening times can be found on the official website.

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The giants causeway

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The Giant’s Causeway is located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland and is one of the most amazing natural features on this planet. Protected by Unesco’s world heritage listing this 40,000 or more black basalt columns are believed to be the result of volcanic activity some 50 million years ago. The tones are an incredible hexagonal shape- which really do look as if they are man made. Well maybe they were there a local legend that suggests the stones were placed there by Finn MacCool who was a giant who roamed the north coast of Ireland. The story goes that he built a bridge to Scotland so another giant Benadonner could walk across the bridge to Ireland for a battle. Looking at the striking shapes and patterns of these rocks we think this is probably the best explanation of their existence. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold

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The Ulster Hall is one of Belfast City Councils oldest buildings and dates back to 1862 and features one of the most amazing and oldest classical English organs in the world. But that’s not what today’s story is about, the title of our story might be a give away. It is the opening line of one of the rock world’s most famous and most loved songs- Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Well the Ulster Hall is the venue Led Zeppelin first performed this amazing song. Back on the 5th of March 1971. Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham belted out the classing song which although is believed to be the most requested song on radio, never actually was released as a single. The Ulster Hall is currently going through some very extensive restorations and will be open later in the year showing all of it’s former glory, and maybe in time for the rumored reunion tour by the band.

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Spend the night in a shipping container


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We think shipping containers are pretty cool, after they spend their lives moving products around the world they can be recycled into other products either by being squished up into a new metal item or being used as is for the very popular shipping container storage shed. Well here is another use for the humble shipping container, a hotel. Traveloge in London is constructing a hotel made out of shipping containers, the containers are fitted out in China and then lifted in to position to form a multi story hotel in Uxbridge, West London. It may be ugly but its recycled and construction has been fast and cheap, its also possible to move the hotel when the need arises making the concept a good idea for short term events also. Check out the video above and let us know if you would stay in a shipping container hotel. Read the rest of this entry »

The Guinea Pig Restaurant – fish on the menu

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We were doing a bit of a search and came across the Guinea Pig Restaurant in Dublin and thought – oh thats just so wrong. How could you eat fluffy, well much to our relief the Guinea Pig dosen’t have fury rodents on the menu just great fish. The restaurant has become quiet an institution in Dublin opening in 1957 and was a favorite dining venue for some fairly famous people including Peter Ustinov, U2’s the Edge and Bono and even Sir Cliff Richard, and looking at the menu you can see why it looks delicious. Monk Fish, Sea Bass, Salmon and even honey roast duck not forgetting some tasty lamb and free range chicken, and no Guinea Pigs!

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