England is a beautiful place boasting so many tourist spots that not only promotes a warm ambiance but also provides inspiration to visitors. While a visit to the famous attractions is what many people often prefer to do, exploring the hidden gems can be as exciting and enriching.

If you’re heading towards the U.K. any time in the near future, you definitely should include these less traveled spots in your list of must-see places. Some of them may not be a real beauty spot but they can be areas that will delight you. Continue reading »

Being an international city, London has some of the world’s most advanced transportation system. It is the center of road, rail and air networks in the United Kingdom. Despite the advancements, however, it has also retained its traditional vehicles such as the double deck buses that travel around the city.

london trasport museum

A visit to the London Transport Museum is the best way to learn about the city’s transport heritage. Situated in the Covent Garden Piazza, its permanent location, the museum showcases old vehicles preserved since the 1920’s. From a small collection of two Victorian horse buses and a motorbus, the collection has grown to include all modes of transport such as bicycles, taxis, trams and river vessels to art (posters, films and photographs) and design works.

The museum’s main objective is to relate to visitors the evolution of the city’s transportation system from the past to the present and even up to the future. Different exhibitions are in place with themes such as public transport at war, London’s massive expansion in the 20th century and world city comparisons.

A library is also available providing valuable research materials plus a museum depot which stores more than 370,000 items not displayed at the Covent Garden building. The depot, however, is open to the public only during special events.

For this year 2013, heritage vehicle runs and other exciting events are lined up to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground entitled Tube 150. It was in January 1863 when the world’s first underground train made its first journey beneath London’s streets from Paddington to Farringdon. In its first six months alone, the train accommodated some 26,000 passengers.


Worth noting here is the fact that the London Transport Museum goes beyond merely displaying artifacts and transportation collections. Inside are shops where souvenir items such as posters, gifts, clothes, toys and vintage house ware can be purchased as well as a café and bar at the Upper Deck that offers snacks and drinks.

This popular tourist attraction is open daily starting at 10 a.m. except on Fridays which opens at 11 a.m. Individual tickets can be purchased but large groups can avail of lower fees. Guided tours are offered as well.

If visiting London is not possible, learning about this historical museum and the city’s different modes of transport can be done through its website ltmuseum.co.uk. The site provides comprehensive information covering everything you’d like to know from the history and collections to upcoming events and activities. A blog is also available where visitors can get updates on the museum’s activities, people and other valuable details.

Photo via londontown

About the guest author:

Regine is a travel writer who hopes to visit the London Transport Museum someday. She frequently visits Expedia for some great deals.

London has been the melting pot of diverse music genres for hundreds of years. The music scene has grown in the last few years and more musicians are encouraged to share their talents.  Considered as the “Los Angeles” of the UK, London has seen the evolution of rock and roll, pub rock, punk, brit-pop movements and it will most likely bump into so much more emerging trends in the music scene.

Some of the most famous nightclubs, night-spots and probably the best record stores are here, including many world famous bands and artists. Being a rock star will not be complete without the London experience, which is why many famous performers choose it as a venue for concerts and events which cater to the European market.

Within the city you can expect celebrities and budding artists in music venues or night clubs. Everyone here likes to party and groove to all sorts of music. It is the perfect venue to get your big break or if you simply want to mingle with people in the music industry. Just like in most places the places “to be” change from time to time. You may ask some friends or check the internet for any upcoming events, festivals or performances.

A music mecca in its own right, London’s diverse music preference allows you to experience music in your own terms. There are numerous venues where you can watch live performances every night. If you prefer more intimate venues, you may choose among the many pubs and clubs within the city.
Image from  mkis

“I’ve got to get back
To the House at Pooh Corner by one
You’d be surprised
There’s so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh…”

original pooh cast
Those are some of the words of the song “Return to Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins. I still remember hearing this song for the first time way back and feeling wistful about my childhood – and Pooh stories, of course. From toddlers to adults, this character created by A.A. Milne is forever imprinted in many people’s hearts.

But did you know that there really is a Pooh Corner? Did you know that the forest where Christopher Robin, Pooh, Eeyore, and Piglet played in really exists? Yes, they do – in Hartfield, Sussex. If you grew up on Pooh, then a visit to where it all happened should be at the top of your list.

Hartfield can be found at the south of London, easily accessible on a day’s trip. Once you get there, you can visit the print room, where all original artwork by E.H. Shepard is available for viewing. If you want to see all of it, you would have to allot several hours.

If you prefer the great outdoors, then you should visit Poohsticks Bridge – where you can play Poohsticks – and then head on to the Pooh Corner, which used to be the candy store where Christopher Robin got his Bullseye candy.

co_335x240_roseodeacharterboatSummer is the time to get out of the confines of the house and enjoy the weather. While it may not be sunny all the time, this is the best period in the year to enjoy what nature has to offer. You don’t even need to go far or out of the country. Just take a look around you and you will find a lot of options.

One of these is a floating picnic at the River Thames. The best online resource for this kind of outing is Visit Thames, which compiles most anything that you can do related to the river. There are lots of restaurants by the river, from the outskirts of London to the Cotswolds. The Guardian recently had a feature on these floating picnic outings and suggests these:

The Beetle & Wedge Boathouse in Moulsford near Goring (beetleandwedge.co.uk) makes up hampers of cheese, salads, gravadlax, baguettes, melon and strawberries, then puts you in a wooden launch that seats up to 10 people (one hour boat hire £50, hampers from £15pp).

Or cruise the Thames in style from Marlow on the Compleat Angler’s Edwardian-style electric launch, while tucking into poached salmon, sandwiches, salads, scones, cheese and biscuits and strawberries and cream (macdonaldhotels.co.uk/compleatangler, boat hire £75-£95 per hour, hampers £25-£36).

If you want to pack your own hamper the website also lists boat hire companies such as Cotswold Boat Hire (cotswoldboat.co.uk), based in Lechlade, which has open-top motor boats from £80 for four hours for up to five people, and rowing boats from £15 per hour.

Now that sounds pretty good to me. What about you?

london undergroundThe London Underground (locally known as the Tube) is the biggest and oldest metro system in the world. It’s also one of the most convenient, serving about 20 hours on a daily basis. Each of the Underground lines has a different name and colour. This helps you easily follow your route on the map.

Upon your arrival at a station, you should have a look at the colour-coded signs that will direct you to the line you’re looking for. The London Underground system is divided into 6 different fare zones. The London city centre is of course in Zone 1. Your ticket price depends on the number of zones through which you travel. You can easily buy your ticket from an automatic ticket machine or alternatively at the ticket office at any station. Both single and return tickets are available and they are valid only on the date shown.

If you know where you want to go, I recommend you should use the ticket machines because they can save a lot of your time. The instructions are easy to follow. The ticket machines usually give change, but I would suggest that you use the correct money if possible. By doing this, you will help keep change for other passengers who really need it.

Most London Underground stations have ticket gates. You need to pass through them quite a few times throughout your journey. Upon your arrival, just insert your ticket into the slot of the machine through which the ticket will pass. You can then take it from a slot at the top and the gates will open to let you through. When you have completed your last journey, the gates will open and let you through but your ticket will be retained by the machine.

As far as I’m concerned, London’s Tube is probably one of the most famous in the world. However, I feel that there is something about being underground I am not very keen on. For instance, the massive crowds swarm towards the train platforms, rushing up and down stairs, following the signs and the annoying ‘Mind the gap’ thing. Based on my experience, the trains are also absolutely packed. I have so many times been pushed up against someone really stinky. It’s never easy to find yourself a seat, and you can hardly see anything. Having said that, I still believe it is the cheapest and quickest way to get around London though.

To sum up, The London Underground is really easy to use so long as you are equipped with a map. To avoid wasting your time, simply validate your ticket and pass through the gates, stand on the right hand side of the steep escalators, or just walk down on the left if you are in a rush. The Tube normally arrives every few minutes so you don’t need to run. In summer the tube can be really hot and smelly, but again it is another part of travelling around the capital of England.

Angel Of The North

angel of the north
The Angel of the North is a relatively new landmark in Great Britain. Some say it is popular, some say it is controversial. If you have not heard of it, then it is about time that you did. This landmark is a modern sculpture made of steel and is located in Gateshead. As the name implies, the steel sculpture is of the figure of an angel. Wikipedia describes the Angel of the North as:

Standing 66 feet (20 metres) tall, with wings measuring 178 feet (54 metres) across — making it wider than the Statue of Liberty’s height. The wings themselves are not planar, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward, which Gormley has said aims to create “a sense of embrace”.[1] It stands on a hill, on the southern edge of Low Fell overlooking the A1 road and the A167 road into Tyneside and the East Coast Main Line rail route.

The angel is definitely something that you must see if you ever find yourself in this part of the world. As you can see from the description above, it is VERY big and can be quite overwhelming. You can just imagine the effect that the work of art can have on a person. While it was being built, there were some sectors who were saying that it would never work; that it would be a menace to motorists. Some even went as far as to call the work as an angel of death.

Well, we now know that Antony Gormley, the designer, has been right all along. The Angelf of the North is a sight to behold.

British passport
We all hear these terms a lot but which means which? Can we interchange the names or do they refer to something specific? The truth is, they each refer to something specific although even the British may not all be aware of that.

Great Britain refers to the largest island in the whole of Europe. When you say Great Britain you use it to mean three countries. That is, England, Scotland, and Wales. Other small adjacent islands are included except for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. When did this term come into being? It was actually during the reign of King James VI of Scotland (also known as King James I of England), when England and Scotland became one kingdom. This union didn’t mean that only one government managed the two countries. It was basically having one crown recognized as the head of two separate states.

When you say United Kingdom, you are referring to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In fact, British passports now say “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” This term came into use in 1922.

The third term, the British Isles, is quite different from the other two in that is of a geographical nature and not political. When you hear someone talk about the British Isles, he probably means this group of islands:

Great Britain, the whole of Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Islands, Lundy Island, the Channel Islands and many other smaller islands

Cerne Abbas Giant
Want to have children? Have you been trying for years to no avail? Then I suggest that you head on over to Dorset in southern England. Just outside the village of Cerne Abbas, you will find a legendary chalk figure – The Cerne Abbas Giant. It is also called the Rude Man or the Rude Giant due to its exposed phallus.

So why should you visit the Giant if you want to have children? Legend has it that if a childless couple made love (on a certain part of the giant), they would soon have children. Another legend says that if a woman walked around the figure three times, she would keep her lover faithful to her. Oh, just make sure you’re fit enough to do three rounds – this giant is not called a giant for nothing!

The Cerne Abbas Giant’s is thought to be created way back in Ancient times. However, its history has only been traced to the late 17th century. Wikipedia presents one version of its origins:

Some believe that the giant was carved during the English Civil War by servants of the Lord of the Manor, Denzil Holles, and was intended as a parody of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was sometimes mockingly referred to as “England’s Hercules” by his enemies. The Hercules connection is strengthened by the recent discovery of an obliterated line perhaps representing an animal skin (see below). The suggestion that the figure is Hercules was first made in 1764 by William Stukeley.

Whoever the Giant may really be, the fact remains that it is one of the more popular sights in that part of England.

Long rambling walks in the countryside, the unmistakable scent of fresh air, the peacefulness that one finds only outside of the city – these things and more are what you can expect from a visit to Cumbria. Cumbria is a shire county in Northwest England and is predominantly rural. It is actually considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the whole country.

Being predominantly rural, the Cumbria area is one of the best places – if not the best – to go walking in England. If going on leisurely walks is your idea of relaxation, then Cumbria should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

The two main footpaths in this area are the Cumbrian Way and the Dales Way. If you take the former route, you will start by the sea side and head on northward to experience some of the most spectacular sceneries. The latter route will take you west into Yorkshire. Either way, you will have a one of a kind walking experience.

Of course, there are other options for those who are not “heavy duty walkers.” There are countless other footpaths wherein you can take more leisurely and shorter walks. Cumbria Calling lists down some of them:

• Buttermere – a two hour walk takes you all the way round this lovely lake
• Derwent Water Ferry – take the Derwent ferry from Keswick to Hawes End. Walk to Lodore Falls and take the ferry back to Keswick
• Stiffer than a stroll, but possible without being a mountaineer is to climb Skiddaw from Keswick.
• Ullswater ferry and walk. Take ferry from Glenridding pier to Howtown. It is then a three hour walk back along the lake shore to Howtown
• Take the ferry from Bowness to Sawrey, walk along the lake shore to Bass Rock, return through the National Trust woods
• Grizedale forest. There are a number of waymarked walks. Details from Forestry Commission
• Round Grasmere. A pleasant walk all the way round the lake at Grasmere will take about two hours

So put on your walking shoes and head on over to Cumbria!

Photo courtesy of Pikaluk