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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Things to do in London’

What’s New On isango! In July

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With things picking up nicely on the travel front, now that summer is well and truly here, isango! has introduced some really interesting activities and tours to make your vacation outstanding.

Thames Jetboat Cruise

Thames Jet

When you are done with seeing the sights around London you can get your rush on by getting on a Jetboat and zooming on the Thames a la James Bond.  Up tempo music blasting out of the sound system will accompany you as the boat skims across the Thames.  You will get a unique perspective of London as you roar past The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  At 35 knots not only will your hair be flying, so will your heart.

Oxford & Downton Abbey Tour

Downton Abbey1

A visit to Oxford, the world’s second oldest university is a must.  The “city of dreaming spires” is famed for its academic excellence.  Oxford is also celebrated for the architecture of its beautiful buildings.  There are examples of every English architectural period dating back to the Saxons.

The added flavour to this tour is a trip to a Downton Abbey filming locations.  For Downton Abbey addicts, there is an exciting visit to the village and the elegant home used as the fictional Grantham House that features so prominently in the Christmas Special of the TV-series.

Barcelona On A Segway

Barcelona Segway

You are going to love this!  Barcelona is a large city and many of its iconic sites are quite spread out.  So to save you from tramping around in the warm Barcelona sun, now you can zip around on a soundless, smooth-running Segway.  The tour is designed for small intimate groups.  You can visit some of the instantly recognizable landmarks of this wonderful city.  Some highlights of the tour include the Arc Triomf, Passeig Luis Companys, the wonderful park and zoo of La Ciutadella Parc and the statue of Christopher Columbus.

Dubai Aquarium And Underwater Zoo

Dubai underwater zoo n aquarium

In the heart of Dubai, you will find a fascinating and interactive underwater world.  The Dubai Aquarium is located in the centre of Dubai Mall, the world’s largest.  There is a 48 metre long tunnel that runs under the aquarium and gives you a view of the wonderful aquatic creatures swimming all around.

The Underwater Zoo is marvelously designed so that you can interact with creatures as diverse as Otters and Penguins.  You can also observe, up close, such exotic ones as Piranhas and Scorpions and Giant Camel Spiders.  The zoo is divided into different ecological zones that give you a perspective of the creatures’ habitats.

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil – Vegas Show

Beatles

The Mirage, Las Vegas has custom built a theater for this show.  The unforgettable music and lyrics of the legendary Fab Four is combined by the incredible acrobatics and interpretive freestyle dance of the Cirque du Soleil.  Using over 6,000 speakers and 24 digital projectors, the show is a powerful experience and entertainment at its very best.

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5 Fantastic Pop Culture Tours Of London

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With iconic sights like the Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, travelers visiting London often pack their entire trips with popular sights before they even arrive. But London isn’t just the city of unflinching guards, crown jewels, and enormous clock towers. It is the city of dueling wizards, dwindling aristocracy, and names and faces that the public will always be interested in. London is a city of pop culture, and it offers travelers a chance to interact with the stories and people they know and love through its numerous London attraction tours.

Harry Potter

Arguably the most popular of London’s pop culture attractions is its handful of Harry Potter tours. There are two different tours that allow both long-time and new fans to experience the magic that is the world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter

Visit the bridge destroyed by death eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, see the famed Platform 9 & ¾, and discover numerous other notable locations along the way on a tour of London. See the magic that lies hidden in plain sight all around London! Participants can take the Harry Potter Walking Tour of London or the Harry Potter Bus Tour of London.

On the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, visitors can go behind scenes to view sets, props, and costumes from the record-breaking Harry Potter movies. There’s nothing quite as surreal for a fan of the series as seeing the Great Hall, Dumbledore?s office, the Ministry of Magic, and more. This Harry Potter tour includes transportation by coach to and from London.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

The Oxford and Downton Abbey Film Locations Tour is a must-do for fans of the hit period drama series Downton Abbey. Not only will you be able to see the iconic sights from the series, but you will also explore some of the most beautiful parts of UK. This tour from London takes you on a picturesque journey to Oxford, Bampton Village, where most of the outdoor scenes have been shot, and Basildon Park, where you will see Grantham House from the Downton Abbey Christmas Special episode. This Downton Abbey tour will satisfy even the most dedicated of fans.

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

If you are looking for a thrill while in London, embark on the chilling Ghosts of London and Jack the Ripper Tour. This tour is great for both London locals and incoming travelers. You will get goose-bumps when you see London’s most ghostly places, visit a haunted London pub, and see where Jack the Ripper murdered his victims. After this tour, you can consider yourself bravest of all your friends, and share your chilling and exciting stories with whomever you’d like. There is no better thrilling London tour!

Celebrities of London

Sherlock

Celebrity experts and novices alike agree that London is the place to be in Europe to spot and learn about the famed and noteworthy. Where else could you tour Abbey Road, see the Sherlock Holmes museum, see celebrity homes, and take stunning pictures of film sights? Only in London! Visit the capital’s greatest celebrity homes, famous film locations, music landmarks, superstar hangouts, tourist attractions, and much more on this Celebrity Tour of London.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Allons-y and experience the fantastic Doctor Who Walking Tour of London. Discover over 15 locations from the show that help recount the series’ past 50 years. Follow in the Doctor’s footsteps across London, a city that he visits again and again to either save it from villains like the Daleks and Cybermen or visit any of his companions. The tour has a strong focus on the classical series before the recent reboot and is a great way to relive the days of the past or learn about the history of the series and how it grew from its beginnings to today.

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Seeing London – Three Times The Pleasure

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“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…,” wrote Samuel Johnson.  More perceptive words were never written, for London never ceases to engage, impress and inspire.  It is a leading financial center of the world, home to the mother of parliaments, art and literary capital, fashion trendsetter and the inspiration for poets, romantics and dreamers.

Visitors from all around the world come to gaze at and admire London’s many historic sites, iconic buildings and monuments and also partake of its varied and exciting offerings.  London never ceases to attract and every year more and more come to stroll through its well-known streets and wander its famous lanes. There are different ways, besides the traditional coach or open top double-decker buses, to see London’s landmarks and experience its allure. You can read about the 3 most popular ones here-

The Thames – London’s most famous thoroughfare
For centuries the Thames has been the main route for commercial traffic and sailors heading off to or returning from distant lands.  That role has become even more exciting.  You can now marvel at most of London’s landmarks from a Thames River boat.  View Big Ben, the House’s of Parliament, London Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the city in an entirely different way.

thames river cruise facebook

You can choose from several boating options.  Take an all day cruise or spend the evening on a Thames dinner cruise and experience the beating heart of London town by day, or night when all the lights are on.  Or you could speed through London at 35 knots on a speedboat along the River Thames and get that James Bond rush!

The Shard’s View
Yes, it is called The View!  When you are standing at 800 feet (244 metres) above London, you understand why it is called The View.  With that great city spread out below your feet and every landmark clearly visible, you finally get a perspective of why it is one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is a visual experience that goes deep into your heart.

This experience begins when you whoosh upwards in one of two high speed lifts to Level 68 and the first of your highs kicks in.  You are at cloud level.  The next part of your skyward journey is Level 69 where you get a true 360? view of London.  You can see for about 64kms into the distance.  To broaden your experience the vista stretching out before you is brought to life in the multimedia displays.

view from the shard Twitter

The pinnacle of your sensory buzz is reached when you get to Level 72.  Here you are open to the wind and the sun and the sky.  With the city sounds drifting faintly up from the streets below, there is nothing above but the shards of glass reaching ever upwards.  As you make your way down to the ground floor of The Shard your memories will forever be up among the clouds above London.

The London Eye View
The London Eye has managed to become the most popular attraction in a city absolutely crammed with so much history, beauty and thrilling things to do.  A sedate half hour passes while you catch, literally, a bird’s eye view of London from one of its clear-screen high tech glass capsules.

shutterstock_151447973
When you get to the top of the wheel’s arc – 135 metres high – you get a wonderful view of central London and all its iconic landmarks.  The River Thames flows below with St James Park in front and the contrasting styles of the Gherkin Building and Big Ben looming upwards from the rest of the city.  As you gaze down on Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, you cannot help but be in awe of the spectacular view that the world’s tallest observation wheel provides.  It is truly one of the modern world’s architectural wonders and a ride not to be missed.

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The Year of the Horse Gallops into London

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This Chinese New Year will come galloping in.  The celebration for the Year of the Horse in London is slated to be as bright, noisy and happy as anywhere in the world.  London is reputed to host the largest celebrations marking the Chinese Lunar New Year outside Asia.

In China, Hong Kong and Taiwan the festivities and rituals carry on over a period of 15 days.  In London, however, it will be restricted to the weekend.  2nd February will be the highpoint and main day for celebrations.   The Chinese community and many others too will be celebrating just as vigorously.

Chinese new yearOfficially the celebrations will kick off around noon at Trafalgar Square.  It will be followed by several performances involving acrobatic troupes and traditional dancers from China.  Local artists will perform at a number of sets at a venue on Shaftesbury Avenue.

The West End too will put on a show as befitting its status.  In fact the New Year Parade, led by the Lucky Money God will start here at 10am.  It will then wind its way through the theatre district, down Charing Cross Road before arriving at Trafalgar Square for the official opening.

Chinatown, which stretches from Shaftesbury Avenue to the area around Gerrard Street and includes a part of Soho, will be the main focus of the celebrations.  There will be traditional Horse themed decorations, crafts and food stalls, plenty of dancing drumming and classical Chinese music.  One of the treats will be watching the dragon dancers making their way past the crowds on the streets.  Fireworks!  There are going to be plenty of those and lots of bangs to go along with them.chinatown london

Like the previous years, several thousands will turn up to watch the many events and participate in the numerous parties at the roughly 100 bars, restaurants and cafes in Chinatown.  Of course there will be plenty of delicious food to sample as the restaurants come up with special menus.

Not to be left out, Madame Tussauds will be lighting up the building in lucky red and festooning it with traditional Chinese decorations.  Among the likenesses of Chinese celebrities will be those of martial arts legends, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.  They have been specially brought in from Shanghai and Hong Kong for the New Year celebrations and will remain in London till April.

Joining in the New Year celebrations, the British Film Institute will be casting the spotlight on Chinese cinema by showing over 80 films.  This is part of an extended four month China season and will feature director Feng Xiaogang, China’s Steven Spielberg.

Besides the above, there will be plenty to see and do over this Chinese New Year weekend in London.

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A Bibliophile’s Guide to Britain & Ireland

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1.    Oxfordshire, England

Oxford University

Explore the rich heritage of the city that has long been a haven for authors, poets as well as dozens of note-worthy journalists, writers, politicians, and artists. As is typical of a university town, Oxford is packed full of great pubs, however unlike most university towns, Oxford’s pubs are famous. The Bear is one of England’s oldest pubs, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis regularly drank at The Eagle and Child, and The Lamb and Flag was frequented by the likes of Thomas Hardy and Graham Greene. Go on a hop on hop off tour to get a genuine flavour of Oxford’s glorious literary past and vibrant present. Visit the hallowed portals of the University which inspired Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy among others. In the University the historic Bodlein Library is one of the oldest and largest libraries in England. 

2.    Bath, England  

Roman thermal spril at Bath

Bath’s most famous resident, Jane Austen set two of her books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in the city and lived there in the 1800s. Bath has year round events and activities for Austen fans to enjoy. Every summer people dress-up in Regency finery and attend the annual Netherfield Ball to dance like Darcy, Lizzy, Bingley and Jane. In the Fall, Bath holds a nine-day festival celebrating all things Austen. This includes a world famous Grand Regency Costume parade where 600 Austen fans from all over the world descend on Bath in Regency era costumes to open the festival. If you can’t make it for the festival, the Jane Austen Centre is open all year with exhibitions on Austen’s time in this city and a Regency themed Tea Room. While in Bath, be sure to take a dip in its ancient open-air thermal springs like they did in the 18th century. 

3.    Dublin, Ireland

Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin

Dubliners love words and Dublin has given the world such towering literary figures as Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Shaw and Wilde to name but a few. Designated UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, Dublin’s written tradition stretches back to 800 A.D. with the Book of Kells, one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world on display at Trinity College Dublin. One Merrion Sqaure is the home of Oscar Wilde, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture restored to an approximate version of their appearance in Oscar’s day and can only be visited on a guided tour. Across the road, is a flamboyant statue of the man himself, reclining on a huge granite stone seemingly without a care in the world! Prose and pints go together in this city which has produced four Nobel Prize laureates in Literature. Participate in the popular Literary Pub Crawl on the cobbled streets of Dublin which promises to give you “the pleasant notion of simultaneously replacing brain cells as you drown them…” 

4.   London, England

London at dusk

London has cemented its reputation as the culture capital of the world and for good reason. A bibliophile or an aspiring writer can spend a lifetime in London and still not see everything! For Londoners and tourists there are all kinds of walks to trace the literary legacy of some of English language’s greatest writers from Chaucer to Dickens, Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, J.K. Rowling to Arthur Conan Doyle who have lived in London or been inspired by the city at some point in their life. Though an obvious choice to include, The British Library cannot be denied by bookworms. It houses one-of-a-kind manuscripts including hand-written excerpts from Beowulf, King Henry IV and many more. A highlight is Jane Austen’s personal notebook as well as her writing desk. The mix of the old and the new is what captivates thousands of visitors. No literary buff's educational adventure would be complete without taking a tour of the fashionable Bloomsbury area in the London Borough of Camden. It's a great way to learn the literary history of the neighbourhood. The Lamb bar and pub in the heart of Bloomsbury district has long been frequented by Charles Dickens, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Another landmark is the Charles Dickens Museum, where the permanent exhibition is a representation of what the house looked like while Dickens resided there and is home to an extensive collection of surviving possessions. 

5.   Edinburgh, Scotland 

Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh has been the home of many well respected and popular writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Arthur Conan Doyle; along with contemporary authors J.K. Rowling, Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh and Alexander McCall Smith. Edinburgh's streets are steeped in literary history and there is never a dearth of inspiration in this awe-inspiring Scottish capital. In the centre of Edinburgh is St Andrew Square, Edinburgh's Poetry Garden where you can float poetry written on paper lotus across the square's pond and make it part of the garden permanently. A must see for Pottermaniacs is The Elephant House, a gourmet tea and coffee shop, where J.K. Rowling wrote much of her early novels in the back room overlooking the Edinburgh Castle. Walk down the West Port street in Edinburgh’s Old Town which features taverns that have opened their doors to William Wordsworth, Robert Burns and Walter Scott. An essential part of Scottish culture are these pubs and taverns where famous literary figures would go and mix with the common people over Scottish ales and whiskies.

6.    Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

Anne Hathaway childhood home

This delightful little town is famous as the birthplace of England’s greatest poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. Home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, five historic houses linked to the Bard and a wealth of other tourist attractions, there is a lot to see in this Heritage city. Visit the house where the world’s most famous playwright was born and grew up. Tour Mary Arden's House, the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother and learn about Tudor life on Palmer’s Farm, an experience that transports visitor’s back to the 1570’s. Also visit the picturesque family home of Anne Hathaway where young Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne. Watch a play at the historic Royal Shakespeare Theatre situated on the western bank of river Avon. The best time to visit Stratford is between April and July when there are plenty of festivals, parades, concerts, and workshops for young and old to take part in.

7.    Wales, England

Medieval castle ruins in Wales countryside

2014 marks the centenary of the Welsh poet, author and legend Dylan Thomas. Explore the vast seascapes, village tracks, dusky moorlands, brimming meadows and lush parklands that have inspired his works. At the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, see the permanent exhibition, ‘Man and Myth’ which includes Dylan Thomas' worksheets, recordings, artwork and even the suit Dylan wore in New York in 1953, the year he died. They also conduct the annual Dylan Thomas Festival that takes place each year from 27th October to 9th of November. Social historian Raymond Williams often embedded his work in Wales and Welsh cultural themes. Malcome Pryces noir novels set in Aberystwyth, Eve Green by Susan Fletcher and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle have all used Wales as a setting. 

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London’s Hidden Gems

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Anyone who knows anything about London is well aware of the city’s top tourist attractions: the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London. London, it turns out, is a pretty touristy place. You can’t go anywhere without running into someone carrying a giant camera around their neck, holding up a crumpled city map, and standing on a street corner looking unbearably confused. I know you all know what I’m talking about. Because we’ve all been there. This is the tourist’s right of passage. You can’t visit London – or any major city – without experiencing this at least once. It will make for great stories one day. But, in the event that you want to escape the madness, avoid tourist traps, and explore some of London’s lesser-traveled roads, here are my picks for London’s hidden gems and some of my favorite places outside the city centre.

In no particular order:

1.  Primrose Hill

watermarkprimrose

If you’ve ever wondered what London looks like to a bird, Primrose Hill is probably the closest you will get. Primrose Hill is, as the name suggests, a big hill on the edge of Regent’s Park. Now, I know that most people these days are likely to avoid hills at all costs (is there an escalator anywhere?), but you absolutely must climb this one! The view is absolutely stunning and totally unparalleled. I promise you, the climb is completely worth it (like that Miley Cyrus song from way back when). Once you make it to the top, a view of the entire city down below awaits you. You can see everything from the London Eye to Big Ben to the Shard. It’s all there. Don’t forget your camera! It makes for excellent panoramic shots. If you want to make the trip extra special, go just before sunset and bring along a bottle of wine. Who says happiness doesn’t come cheap?

2.  Brick Lane

dankunzbrick

Brick Lane is most famous for its delectable Indian food (and with good reason), but don’t leave after you eat. The East London area is the cultural hub of the city. If artsy and alternative is your thing, East London is the place for you! After indulging on the delicious food, take a walk around the Brick Lane area (just don’t get up too quickly. You might split your pants). Here, you can find markets selling even more food and any other number of things from jewelry to paintings to clothing to trinkets. Brick Lane is also famous for the murals of graffiti and street art. This isn’t the kind of graffiti you see on under overpasses and in tunnels and at train stations. It’s art. And it’s really cool. Go!

3.  Hampstead Heath

watermarkhampstead

Hampstead Heath is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in all of London. Just 25 minutes outside of the bustling city centre, Hampstead Heath is the perfect getaway for  nature lovers. You’ll know you’ve made it when all you can hear is silence, and the sound of birds chirping has replaced the sound of honking horns. You can practically feel all of the tension escape from your body and your muscles unknot as you breathe in the fresh clean smell of nature. Everyone needs a break every once and a while.

Hampstead Heath is really just a big park with sprawling green fields and ponds and forests of big tall trees and all of that naturey goodness you’ve been missing in the city. It is the perfect place for frolicking. If you go to Hampstead Heath you absolutely must frolic. It makes the experience 100 times better (that’s a proven fact). At this point in the blog, you’re probably looking at your computer screen like I’m crazy. I know what you’re thinking. Frolic, you say? Do I look like a pony? A deer? Well, I am almost 100 percent certain that you are neither. But frolic you must! When you visit Hampstead Heath, you will instantly understand this and thank me for giving you this wonderful suggestion. You are out in nature, so frolic it up! Hop, skip, jump, roll, tumble. Do whatever your heart desires. That’s what parks are for, after all! 

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British Summer Time Hyde Park

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Barclaycard British Summer Time Hyde Park

We aren’t even done nursing the hang-over from the Glastonbury festival yet, but there’s gonna be another exciting mini-festival at London’s Hyde Park already! How about 10 awesome days of music and entertainment?! Yep, that’s right; be prepared – for there will be entertainment galore over back to back weekends!

Barclaycard presents the first-ever British Summer Time Hyde Park – a fabulous summer concert series – from Friday 5th July to Sunday 14th July 2013; with Bon Jovi headlining followed by The Rolling Stones.

In addition to these headliners, top-class support acts will be performed across 4 different stages by such artists as Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines, Palma Violets, Bush, Tribes, Jake Bugg, Tom Odell, Chic. Featuring Nile Rodgers, Eliza Doolittle, Beverley Knight, Charlie Simpson, The Temper Trap, Gary Clark Jnr, All The Young, Leogun, Rival Sons, Little Barrir, The Coronas, The Virginmarys and many more…

The event includes a village green with a pub and farmers’ market. There will be four themed zones across the park, each with its own installations and entertainment including restaurants, bespoke salons, pubs, cocktail bars, cafes, bistros and food stalls.

What’s unique about this BST Hyde Park event?
Each live music-packed weekend will be sandwiched by a midweek programme of various entertainments. From Monday to Thursday, visitors will get the chance to be involved with smaller events including film, music, sport, literature, specific family day etc. to expand the Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park experience to genuinely appeal to the whole family.

There will be three zones during the week: The Village Green (that offers a rural retreat in the city), the Piazza (that captures the atmosphere of a buzzing European square) and the Carnival (appreciation of the spirit of Hispania, South America and the Caribbean), which will all be free to access from 8 to 11 July.

There will also be four nights of live comedy in The Barclaycard Unwind Theatre that will include such big name as Russell Kane.

For full line-ups for the concert, check out the official website.

When: 5th to 14th July 2013
Where: Hyde Park, Rangers Lodge, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge Station

ARE YOU READY FOR MORE FUN, LONDON?!

 

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10 Interesting Facts about Wimbledon

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Wimbledon Logo

The Championships or simply Wimbledon is the oldest, and perhaps the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. This annually-held tournament is also the only Major (Grand Slam) still played on grass (the game’s original surface – giving the game its original name of "lawn tennis").

When not in the game, you can visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum or go for the Wimbledon Tour experience.

Here are 10 fast facts about the Wimbledon:

1. The tournament is distinguished for the absence of sponsor advertising around the courts.

2. Players are required to bow or curtsy if Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales is present.

3. The Wimbledon has a tradition of having a strict dress code for competitors, as well as the eating of strawberries and cream by the spectators and   Royal patronage.

4. All trophies are usually presented by The Duke of Kent, the President of the All England Club.

5. During World War II, a bomb ripped through Centre Court, damaging 1,200 seats.

6. A team of 45 ground staff tend the 19 courts that are all made of 100 per cent rye grass – chosen for its ability to stand wear and tear.

7. Wimbledon is also the only Grand Slam tournament where fans without tickets can queue up and still get seats on Centre Court, Court 1 and Court  2. Although, you’d normally have to queue overnight!

8. The Ladies' Single Trophy of Wimbledon is called 'Rosewater Dish' or 'Venus Rosewater Dish'.

9. A wooden racket was last used at Wimbledon in 1987.

10. Highest attendance ever recorded was in 2001 with 490,081 spectators turning out to watch the event.

11. The longest ever Wimbledon match lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes (between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner on 22nd, 23rd and 24th June, 2010); while the shortest match ever lasted only 37 minutes (when William Renshaw defeated John Hartley in 1881).
 

Oops…that’s 11 facts! Feeling a bit generous or over-excited are we? What other facts do you know about The Championships? Please share with us on the comments section.

Here’s to a great summer and a great Wimbledon!
 

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The London Shard

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Long before it was completed or opened, the London Shard was the centre of swirling controversy, contradictions, conspiracies, rumours and stories. No one could quite agree on a name for the structure. I mean it was only just recently that it came to be known as the ‘The Shard.’ It was previously known as London Bridge Tower, Shard London Bridge and Shard of Glass. The building was also opposed by local authorities, the Royal Parks Foundation and English Heritage.

Towering above everything and standing on London’s South Bank, it has dramatically altered the London skyline, notwithstanding the Gherkin, Millennium Dome, City Hall and London Eye. It is claimed that on a clear day you can see France from its viewing galleries.  London Bridge Rail and Tube Station, located at its base, is the closest rail station. The Shard was designed with an irregular pyramidal shape from base to the top and inspired by the church steeples that once defined London’s skyline.

Scheduled to open to the public on 1 February 2013, this tower of glass is the tallest building in the European Union. On the night of July 5th, 2012, the building’s inauguration was accompanied by a choreographed light and laser display comprised of twelve lasers and 30 searchlights that lit up the city. Thousands of Londoners clambered to rooftops and other high public spaces to watch the blue, green, purple and gold laser show.

Its shiny, glistening bluish look definitely takes the eye and has also attracted the attention of conspiracy theorists. Some have even likened it Sauron’s (the bad guy in The Lord of The Rings) tower as depicted in the movie series. There are supposedly plenty of Freemason and Illuminati symbols openly and covertly embedded in its pyramid-like structure.  Perhaps only the architect, Renzo Piano, can clear up these perceptions.

Some Facts about the Shard

•    It is 1016 feet (309.6 metres) tall
•    95 storeys
•    It has 11,000 glass panels
•    The area of the glass façade equals eight football pitches
•    95 percent of the construction materials are recycled substance
•    72 of the floors will be occupied
•    15 levels are the ‘spire’
•    4th to the 28th floors will be office space
•    31st to 33rd will be restaurants and other dining facilities
•    34th to 52nd floors are taken by the Shangri-La Hotel and Spa (200 luxury rooms
•    53rd to 65th for 10 exclusive residences
•    68th to 72nd – public observation decks and galleries
•    The 72nd floor has an open-air observation deck
 

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Diamond Jubilee Events

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Imagine doing your job for 60 years without a real vacation or sick day? That is something worth being honoured for! The Royal Family are attending numerous engagements, not just in the UK, but in far-reaching places of the Commonwealth from Jamaica to Australia, to commemorate the Queen’s impressive six decades as Monarch. The celebrations will culminate with a series of spectacular events on ‘The Central Weekend,’ 2-5 June 2012. Here are just some of the not-to-be missed activities:

1.      The Big Jubilee Lunch – Sunday 3 June, 2012

Every good celebration involves food, so get together with your friends, family and neighbourhoods and celebrate the Jubilee by sharing a meal. The idea comes from the Big Lunch initiative whose goal is to foster a sense of community and togetherness among residents. After all, nothing bonds people more than breaking bread. If you’re in the UK, your local authority may already have a party planned so contact them directly to find out further details. Not in the area? You can still get in on the action and host your own Big Jubilee lunch in your hometown, be it a street party, picnic or celebration in your backyard.

2.     The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant – Sunday 3 June, 2012

A thousand boats will join Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh as they travel in their Royal Barge from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge, in one of the largest flotillas ever on the River Thames. Roads and bridges will be closed so people can gather along the Thames to view the spectacle and viewing screens will be set up, if you don’t get a spot at the front!

3.      BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace – Monday 4 June, 2012

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to this prime event, you’ll see some of the best of British perform at Buckingham Palace. The line up includes Jessie J, JLS, Elton John, Tom Jones, Annie Lennox, Sir Paul McCartney, and Ed Sheeran, just to name a few. For the rest of us, the concert will be broadcast live in the UK and around the world.

4.      Carriage Procession and Flypast – Tuesday 5 June, 2012

The final day of the Jubilee celebration is jam-packed full of activities. After The Queen attends a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, a reception and a Jubilee lunch, she and the other members of the Royal Family will travel along a Processional Route by Carriage from the Palace of Westminster to Buckingham Palace. At Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family will make an appearance on the balcony and there will be a Flypast. For front row seats, you better starting queuing now!

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