Posts under ‘UK’

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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Blimey! this joint is haunted by Sid James

You might remember Sid James from the risque Carry on Series of Films or the ‘Bless This House’ TV series in the 70’s. Well poor old Sid had a hearty and died during opening night of the Mating Season in 1976. Now it is believed the ghost of Sid haunts the Sunderland Empire Theatre in Sunderland north East England. Originally called the Empire Palace and opening in 1907, the theatre seats about 1800 people and is home to some pretty impressive stage shows. The theatre has an impressive huge dome which has some amazing state of the art LED lighting which really makes the theatre very spectacular. It was recently redeveloped to house West End shows and has been home to such performances as Starlight Express, Miss Saigon and My Fair Lady. This year some of the great productions include Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream coat and an old favourite Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Let’s hope Sid doesn’t scare the crowds off for this.

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Beware the baboons


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Safari Parks are always a bit of a hoot, some of our favorites animals at many safari parks are the baboons who can be clever little devils as seen in the video above put out by the Knowsley Safari Park in the UK. Apparently the baboons have figured out how to open luggage boxes you find on top of cars to get to all the treats inside. The park is asking people who have the boxes to avoid the baboon section and staged the video above to show us all how the baboons get into the boxes.  If the little rascals ever get to see any of the Planet of the Apes movies we could all be in trouble.

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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.

A banquet room fit for a queen

Visitors to London are in for a real treat with the first ever opening of the Queen’s State Banquet Room at Buckingham Palce. The magnificent room can seat 170 guests in the most amazing splendor and specticale. The room is so special only 77 banquets have been held while Queen Elizabeth II has reigned, they are only held in honour of very special guests including special heads of state. The room is open to the public for a small fee from July 29th to September 29th this year and it is a once in a life time chance to see the lavishness and the precision of this room and events held there. The silver ware and porcelean, the art work and the workmanship is just amazing. You never know you might even get to get an invite for scones and tea with the Queen.

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Space Age toilets pop up in Lambeth

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Have you ever left the local pub late at night and needed a bit of a wee and had no where to go, well the English city of Laberth, in outer London has the answer with these great pop up toilets. Instead of having unsightly toilets all over town they are installing clever pop up toilets which disappear underground when not in use. They not only go out of sight they get cleaned underground making them sparkling clean for the next visitor. The council is expecting the urinals to be such a hit, they have budgeted for about 6 over the next year which will help keep the night life areas of the city free from nasty smells and much more pleasant for visitors- and they have done it with much more taste than the Chinese did it in our story a few days back!

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A little seaside retreat for Prince Regent

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Well Prince Regent who later went on to become King George IV knew how to live it up. He had a bit of gout so his physician advised him to get a bit of seawater, so after ‘slumming it’ in a rented farmhouse he decided to commission a Royal pavilion for his seaside retreat. Now the designers and builders didn’t build him a little fibro holiday house instead they built him what is probably the most spectacular palace in all of the British Empire. The building’s designer was John Nash who used themes from India and the sub continent while the interior was even more over the top, with Chinese, Indian and Islamic influences it was designed by Frederick Crace. The pavilion is a popular spot for wedding and up market functions and exhibitions. The pavilion is open to the public and special tours of the amazing complex can be arranged. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gherkin

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30 St Mary Axe in London is better known as the Gherkin, one of the city’s most controversial buildings. The 180 metre high tower is the second tallest building in the city of London and was designed by Lord Norman Foster and Ken Shuttleworth and constructed between 2001 and 2004. The building is a technological wonder with some pretty smart designs built in including using about half the energy of a similar size tower. The building uses natural ventilation and extensive use of double glazing which also helps heat the building in winter. The building is primarily office space but the 40th floor has a restaurant with some of London’s most spectacular views. The futuristic design of the building has caused some ho har in the often conservative London town, even good old Prince Charles has had a bit of whinge about the building and some of other futuristic plans for the city, instead preferring London to turn back to the dark ages. The Prince does have a point but as most visitors to London would agree this tower has been carefully planed and the designers and architects with much talent have been able to complement the skyline and surroundings with this building, and in a lot of ways it helps highlight the beautiful churches and historic structures nearby with the contrast.

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Hello Ducky in London

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Most people take the double decker bus, a taxi or even a river cruise to see London, but now there is a new way aboard the London Duck. The London Duck is a former military vehicle which not only cruises the streets of London it also takes to the water. This amazing amphibious vehicle was used in the World War Two D-Day landings and has been transformed into one of the city’s most fun and informative city tours. The 75 minute tour takes visitors past many of the city’s best sights on the street, then drives into the mighty Thames and shows people a completely different aspect of the city from the water. Ther commentary is another attraction- some very interesting attempts at stand up comedy, you won’t know whether to cringe or laugh, know what I mean governor? you get the drift. Make sure you book in advance because this is a very popular tour and one you wouldn’t want to miss on a visit to London.

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Brixton Market London

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The Brixton Market in Brixton, South London is home to Europe’s biggest African and Caribbean market. Open from 10 am to sunset six days a week, being closed on Sunday the market is a multicultural celebration of food, music, art, clothing and bargains everywhere. The market is made up of several smaller markets and a few arcades, including the Electric Avenue, which was the first street market to be lit with electricity, you might remember the Eddie Grant reggae song in the 80’s called Electric Avenue, this is about the market. The market has some of London’s freshest and best produce with plenty of ethnic specialties including Halal meats, tropical vegetables and fruits and even Caribbean bakeries. The markets date back to the 1870’s but the Afro influences have developed after the second world war when thousands of immigrants came to London with the labor shortages. Make sure to bring plenty of change for bargains and plenty of time to browse you won’t be going home empty handed. Read the rest of this entry »