Tag Archives: London Attractions

Madame Tussauds, London

Founded by wax sculptor, Marie Tussaud, Madame Tussauds London in Marylebone Street, a major tourist attraction in London, and one of many branches in major cities around the world, was opened 14 July 1884.

madame tussauds london
one of London’s top attractions; Madame Tussauds

Operated and owned by Merlin Entertainments, Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction displaying wax work figures of historical & royal figures, infamous murderers, film and sports stars.

The collection changes regularly with new figures being unveiled as new people become famous or infamous! One of the main attractions is the Chamber of Horrors. The gallery origianlly contained some 400 different figures; many famous people were added to the exhibition in her time, including Horatio Nelson, Sir Walter Scott, Robespierre, George III and Benjamin Frankin and many of the sculptures done by Marie Tussaud herself still exist, as well as a self portrait wihc is on display at the entrance to the museum. Sadly fire damage in 1925 and German bombs in 1941 destroyed many of the older models, although the casts survived which allowed many of the historical waxworks to be remade.

Marie Tussaud Gorsholtz was born in 1761 in Strasbourg France. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for a Dr PhilippeCurtius in Bern Switzerland, a physician skilled in wax-modelling who taught Marie the art. She created her first wax figure in 1777, a figure of Voltaire. Over time she modelled many famous people including Jean-Jacque Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin and famous victims of the French Revolution; claiming that she would search through corpses to find the severed heads of those executed and make death masks.

After the good Doctor’s death in 1794 she inherited his vast collection and traveled around Europe for the next 33 years exhibiting the wax models. She married Francois Tussaud in 1795 and thus the name for the show: Madame Tussauds was conceived. Marie accepted in invitation from Paul Philidor in 1802 and travelled to London to exhibit her work alongside his show; magic lantern and phantasmagoria. Once the Napoleonic Wars broke out, she found herself unable to return to France and therefore travelled throughout Great Britain and Ireland exhibiting her work. From 1831 onwards she took short-leases on the upper floor of Baker Street Bazaar and by 1835 Marie had settled down in Baker Street.
Madame Marie Tussaud of the Madame Tussauds fame died in her sleep on 15 April 1850.

madame tussauds london
Madame Tussauds London

Her grandson Joseph Randall inherited the museum and waxworks, but by 1883 the restricted space and rising costs promted him to commission the building on Marylebone Street, which became the museum’s first permanent home in 1836, the new exhibition galleries opened on 14 July 1884 – a great success. Tussauds was sold to a group of businessmen in February 1889 and owned by Merlin Entertainments since May 2007, has grown to become a major tourist attraction not only in London but in many major cities around the world, known as “Madame Tussauds” without the apostrophe.

Madame Tussauds has featured in many songs, books, TV programmes and films.
Steve Taylor’s song “Meltdown (at Madame Tussauds), the film: Shanghai Knights, Hitchcock’s novel ‘The 39 Steps’, Elizabeth Bowen’s novel ‘The Death of the Heart’, mentioned in the Scarlet Pimpernel and features a scene in the Doctor Who serial; Spearhead from Space.

Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LR
Phone: 0871 894 3000
Opening hours: Sunday 9:00 – 18:00


While you are there – visit:
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Baker Street Station
Regents Park

Look out for:
Statue of the fictional Sherlock Homes betwen the exit of Baker Street Station and Madame Tussauds
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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World Rivers Day 28 September

I discovered yesterday via twitter that today is World Rivers Day.  London (England), to my mind, boasts one of the loveliest rivers in the world: the River Thames.

world rivers day - river thames london
The Thames is liquid history – John Burns

The River Thames;  centuries old and first identified as a discrete drainage line as early as 58 million years ago, has seen invaders, pirates, wars and plague, the Great Fire of 1666 and many others besides, been part of Naval celebrations and seen both military and pleasure craft sail into the Pool of London and moor alongside her banks from source to sea.

world rivers day - river thames london
HMS Enterprise

The longest river entirely in England, from a tiny stream in the Cotswolds to the vast stretches of the Thames Estuary between Essex and Kent, the River Thames, at approximately 215 miles, flows through many famous villages, towns and cities; Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Windsor and of course lovely London.

world rivers day - river thames london
QRB – Gloriana

She has carried Saxons, Romans, Kings and Queens, statesmen, architects, poets both up and downstream, as well as the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee Flotilla and the 2012 Olympic torch along her reaches.

world rivers day - river thames london
The Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge; London 2012

The River Thames contains over 80 islands ranging from large esturial marshlands; Isle of Sheppey and Canvey Island to small tree-covered islets like Rose Isle in Oxfordshire and Headpile Eyot in Berkshire.
Islands are found all the way from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to Fiddler’s Island in Oxfordshire.
Some of the largest inland islands, for example Formosa Island near Cookham and Andersey Island at Abingdon, were created naturally when the course of the river divided into separate streams, while Desborough Island, Ham Island at Old Windsor, and Penton Hook Island were artificially created by lock cuts and navigation channels.   In the Oxford area the river splits into several streams across the floodplain; Seacourt Stream, Castle Mill Stream, Bulstake Stream and others, creating several islands like Fiddler’s Island and Osney.

world rivers day - river thames london
one of the many islands in the Thames, scene in Richmond

Historically interesting islands include Magna Carta Island at Runnymede, Fry’s Island at Reading, Pharaoh’s Island near Shepperton while Chiswick Eyot is a familiar landmark on the Boat Race course, and Glover’s Island forms the centrepiece of the spectacular view from Richmond Hill….a protected view. More recently Platts Eyot at Hampton was the place where MTBs were built, Tagg’s Island near Molesey was associated with the impresario Fred Karno, and Eel Pie Island at Twickenham was the birthplace of the South East’s R&B music scene.

world rivers day - river thames london
a foggy day on the river; mid-stream is Eel Pie Island

Historically famous Westminster Abbey, the Royal Church and the Palace of Westminster (commonly known today as the Houses of Parliament) were all built on what was known as Thorney Island, which used to be an eyot, and the London Stone at Staines, built in 1285 marked the customs limit of the Thames and the City of London’s jurisdiction.

world rivers day - river thames london
Palace of Wsstminster & Big Ben built on an area once known as Thorney Island

The River Thames has historically frozen over on many occasions ( link to a website with dates).  Frost fairs were held at London on the tideway of the River Thames when the river froze over during some winters between the 17th and early 19th century; a period known as the Little Ice Age. During that time the river was wider and slower, impeded by Old London Bridge and British winters more severe than now, one of the earliest accounts of the Thames freezing comes from AD 250, when it was frozen solid for nine weeks.

world rivers day - river thames london
Behold the liquid Thames now frozen ore…

The River Thames is managed by the Port of London Authority, covering 95 miles of the River Thames between Teddington Lock and the Estuary.

I first set eyes on this fabulous old lady in 2012 from the back of a taxi cab as we drove across Lambeth Bridge from Victoria to New Cross Gate on my very first day in London!  The second time I saw this wonderful river was from the ramparts of London Bridge when I ventured into the city on my own for the very first time.  I was immediately entranced.

world rivers day - river thames london
the River Thames as seen from London Bridge looking downstream

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth

I have since enjoyed many a happy hour either walking, strolling or meandering along her banks, sailing up and downstream on a tall ship,

world rivers day - river thames london
Tall Ships 2014

kayaked from Chelsea Harbour to Westminster Bridge and back again, taken a lunch cruise with City Cruises, sailed across the river via the Hammerton’s Ferry, the Emirates Cable car and walked beneath the river via the Greenwich Tunnel, seen in a New Year from the decks of a boat in 2011, followed the QRB Gloriana during the Tudor Pull in 2013 and 2014, watched the Great River Race, Admiral of the Port’s Challenge, Thames Barge Driving Challenge, The Doggetts’s Coat & Badge Race and the X-Changing Boat Race, seen the Gloriana sail majestically beneath Tower Bridge during the Lord Mayor’s Show in 2012 & 2013, and the cherry on top; I have travelled from St Katherine Docks to Bankside in the ever so delightful Trinity Tide (ever grateful thanks to @rowjoelane ).

I have visited a number of towns and locks along the Thames, Moseley Lock, Teddington Lock and Richmond Lock

watched the tide come in and go out from numerous points, watched high tide swamp the banks at Greenwich, Richmond, Twickenham and Hampton Court filling the moat of Hampton Court Palace in early 2014,

walked along the beaches at Gabriel’s Wharf, Tower of London, beneath Cannon Street Bridge and viewed the river from all the bridges from Hampton Court Palace to Tower Bridge, chased the sunset across each bridge from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge and saw in the first day of the New Year’s 2014 by walking across each bridge from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge between 7am and 11am.

I have viewed the river from the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Tower Bridge walkways, Tate Modern, the O2, the London Eye, and The Shard and watched ships sail through the Thames Barrier.

Wherever you go in London you are in one way or the other in contact with the river and the lifeblood of the City depends on this river and has done since Roman times and before.  London Bridge, although not the oldest bridge across the Thames is located in most certainly the oldest river crossing and the subject of an age old nursery rhyme: London Bridge is falling down.

world rivers day - river thames london
London Bridge

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all nigh,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

A great number of organisations are connected to and linked to the River Thames; The Worshipful Company of Watermen, Thames Alive, Port of London Authority, RNLI (who rescued 372 people in 2013 – enough to fill four of London’s double decker buses), Totally Thames (an annual series of events in September), Thames21, Thames Traditional Rowing Ass, Trinity House (located on Tower Hill) and many more.

For more information about World Rivers Day.

world rivers day - river thames london
The River Thames London


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Beating Retreat 2014

After 12 years in London/UK I finally found myself in a position to be in London for Beating Retreat!

beating retreat london 2014
Hooray!!! Beating Retreat 12 June 2014, Horse Guards Parade, London

I had seen the posters, read the web, been to Trooping the Colour a number of times but not yet, despite so badly wanting the opportunity, been to watch Beating Retreat.

A few weeks before the event, and after I had already booked my ticket, whoo hoo!!! I read in the Evening Standard that ‘no-one ever went to what was quoted as being London’s best kept secret’.

Hmmm, not too sure you can believe what you read in the papers….I knew about it!! :)
and so did a great many other people as it turned out….the stands at Horse Guards Parade were quite literally packed out…altho I did see sections of unoccupied seating on the farrrr side of the stands, I’m not sure they were even meant to be utilised and were probably to accommodate the audience for Saturday’s Trooping the Colour (which I am so going to apply for next year!). As for the most expensive seats in the house….not one was empty!! (mind you one family who have a front-row seat is himself; the PM and his family – the back of the house overlooks the parade ground)

beating retreat london 2014
bright and early for Beating Retreat 2014 :)

So on with Beating Retreat…….
First off, let me say this….if you have not yet been, GO!!! It’s terrific. A not to be missed event. If you love all the pomp and ceremony of the UK’s Ceremonial Troops when the Massed Bands of the Household Division (with a history spanning over three centuries) gather together with units from other divisions, then this is a must see. Right up there with, and as spectacular as Trooping the Colour, albeit quite different. Beating Retreat is held each year on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings preceding the Queen’s Birthday Parade, or “Trooping the Colour” at Horse Guards Parade

beating retreat london 2014
The Union Jack flies at Horse Guards Parade

Scottish pipes and kilts, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, Massed Bands and Drums, Mounted Horse Guards, and on and on….Beating Retreat is a magnificent display of pomp and pageantry that Britain does so well; spirited marches, military music, precision drill, cannon, fireworks and colour set in the very heart of London. Besides our fabulous bands and troops we were also treated to the Vancouver Police Pipe Band from Canada.

beating retreat london 2014
The Massed Bands and Corps of Drums of Her Majesty The Queen’s Household Division – combining 250 Foot Guards and Mounted Cavalry musicians and choral accompaniment from the Royal Choral Society.

The participants of Household Division Beating Retreat are drawn from the bands of the two Household Cavalry Regiments and the five Foot Guards Regiments which make up the Household Division. Not only do they participate in Beating the Retreat, they also play a part in: Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the State Opening of Parliament and of course Trooping the Colour; the Queen’s Birthday Parade held each year on the 2nd Saturday of June.

This year was particularly poignant. The 100th anniversay of the First World War and 70th anniversary of D-Day. On the parade ground were troops dressed (inadequately may I add!) as they would have been for that terrible war, and the bands played tunes such as ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ (at which memory I’m getting all emotional) and a number of other fantastic tunes so reminiscent of the spirit of the men and troops of that era, the fighting spirit that although smashed into the ground, never broke. A terrible war by all accounts but the spirit of the men was what in my mind makes it the Great War.

There were so many amazing spectacles that night, I am quite unable to say which was the best…fireworks and cannon fire accompanied some of the music, loud explosions with vivid clouds of red and white…sounds and sights that I’m sure sent the chill of terror coursing through the veins of the men who heard them for real on those battle fields so far away.

I got there really early…7pm on the dot.

To my dismay I did not have enough money with me to buy a programme :( I didn’t realise, but should have known really that they would have programmes and souvenirs. Anyway, the event was superb!! They had a lone Piper play a haunting tune on the Cenotaph with five life-size bronze figures representing the Foot Guards Regiments (Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish). The inscription is by Rudyard Kipling. located at the head of St James’s Park, which very nearly had me sobbing. I was so thrilled to be there and so adore the bagpipes that it was quite overwhelming. A truly unforgettable evening with hundreds of musicians, drummers and pipers.

One of the most remarkable things about these events is that they start at exactly the time they say on the tin!! If they say the Queen will arrive at precisely 1pm, she arrives at precisely 1pm. Big Ben could set his watch by her! 😉

The salute is usually taken by Her Majesty The Queen or another member of The Royal Family. This year her Majesty wasn’t at Beating Retreat….but…..we were treated to a glimpse of William!!! Yes, our lovely, lovely HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards (amongst many other titles) took the salute. And how dashing he looked in his wonderful uniform. Okay so I won’t go on at length here about the lad…suffice to say I am a HUGE fan!!! of him, his brother and now his wife who is such a credit to the ‘family’ and of course the latest addition…Prince George.

beating retreat london 2014
Arriving for Beating Retreat 2014; HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge & Colonel of the Regiment Irish Guards

The Senior Director of Music was from the Irish Guards and the concert this year was performed by the Massed Bands and Corps of Her Majesty the Queen’s Household Division that combined 250 Foot Guards with Mounted Cavalry Musicians and the gun carriages of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

beating retreat london 2014
The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery

They were accompanied by the Royal Choral Society and three guest bands: The Troupe de Marine Band and Band of the Legion d’Etrangere (Foreign Legion) from France and the aforementioned Vancouver Police Pipe Band from Canada. We were treated to wave after wave of troops, bands, gun-carriages, pipes and vivid spectacles, so many that I have quite lost count…..I am so planning on going again next year! In fact, I may just go every year now till I leave this mortal plane.

Beating Retreat is held on two days June and tickets go on sale a few months beforehand. If you happen to be in London over that period and haven’t been able to book a ticket, then just hang around The Mall between oh say 7.30pm-8.30pm…..the troops have to come from somewhere…..and they do….right along The Mall!!! In fact, besides the displays and spectacles on the parade, you would likely have a better view of them as they march to the parade grounds….which, now that I have sat on one of the stands, is a heck of a lot bigger from that perspective than I imagined. Thankfully there was commentary throughout and two big screens on the parade grounds for us to get a larger view of what were quite tiny little figures from where I was sat! I have also cased out the joint in terms of viewability and I know just where I am going to book my seat for 2015!! See you there :)

Now a bit of history:
“Beating Retreat has its origins in the early years of organised warfare when the beating of drums and the parading of Post Guards heralded the closing of camp gates and the lowering of flags at the end of the day”.
Beating Retreat; refers to a military drum call that traces its origins back to the 16th century, an age-old ceremony, the ‘Retreat’ has its origins from the early days of chivalry when beating or sounding retreat put a halt to the days fighting and recalled nearby units to the garrison. The drummer would sound ‘the retreat’ and soldiers who had just minutes before been fighting would break off fighting and ‘retreat’ from the fields and return to the safety of camp, mount the guard for the night, then gather wood to prepare fires, cook food and settle for a night’s sleep before heading back onto the battle fields.

From their website: An order from the army of James II of England, dated to 18 June 1690, had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat and a later order, from William III in 1694, read:
“The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard are to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered. They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards, and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters”.

Military Beating Retreat concerts have a tradition dating back to the 1690s, however, today, Beating Retreat, a pageant marking the lowering of the Regimental flag at sunset, is a major event in the Army’s ceremonial calendar. An evening concert with participants drawn from the Household Cavalry Regiments and the five Foot Guards Regiments that make up the Household Division. Beating Retreat cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

This is an absolute must see event on the London summer calendar. I am already trying to persuade my sister to come over next year for the 2015 event!!

For more information and to keep an eye on future dates, visit The Household Division website

The tickets will give you the details of which entrance to use.

So for the convenience of spectators who want to see the bands but are not on the parade ground:
Nearest tube: Westminster – Jubilee and Circle & District lines. St James’s Park – District & Circle lines. Green Park – Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Leicester Square – Northern & Piccadilly lines. Or slightly farther afield you can also use Charing Cross – Bakerloo & Northern lines.
These stations will all give you access to The Mall or St James’s Park (where there is a small area from where you can watch proceedings on the Parade Ground, although the view is not terrific).

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

National Rail: Charing Cross or Waterloo – plan your journey: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk

What you can see in the area – there is so much to see here, so a few of the highlights:
St James’s Park, Green Park, Buckingham palace, Admiralty Arch, The Mall, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, King Charles Street, Parliament Square, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Supreme Courts and the Jewel Tower.

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London Events, Exhibitions, Locations, Embassies & much more

A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes will no longer accept cash.

Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.

Types of refund
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.
To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post us your Oyster card
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays
Please note this does not apply to Travel Cards, one day or otherwise. It is only for Pay as you go Oyster Cards.

Please note too that I am not an agent for TfL, I have added this for your information only. If you have an enquiries please head over to their website. Have a great stay in London.

More about the Guards Memorial

LEGO Advent Calendar and Christmas at Covent Garden, London

What do you get when you mix a LEGO Advent Calendar, a towering Christmas Tree, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, a Jack Daniels Barrel Tree and petting reindeer with lots and lots of baubles and balls?    Why! You get Christmas at Covent Garden of course :)

I recently did a guest post for Nika of @myLondontours and liked it so much I decided to write another one with more about some of the fun events and of course Christmas at Covent Garden….

covent garden market christmas lego advent calendar
Christmas at Covent Garden Market

I love going to Covent Garden and thoroughly enjoy the historical aspects of the market area and the beautiful St Paul’s Church (not to be confused with St Paul’s Cathedral – which is my favourite building in London) :)

covent garden market christmas
a mecca for tourists and Londoner's alike...



As I said in the article for Nika, Covent Garden at Christmas time in London is a hive of activity with so many things to do and see! An ancient site with a history longer than your arm…..Covent Garden is usually a mecca for tourists and Londoner’s alike at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.








christmas at covent garden, great christmas pudding race
The Great Christmas Pudding Race



Covent Garden hosts events like The Great Xmas Pudding Race, an annual event in December, most amusing with much hilarity and people running around in silly costumes…a must on the Christmas calendar.









faberge big egg hunt covent garden
the fabulous Fáberge Eggs



The fabulous Fáberge Big Egg Hunt in the Spring of 2012 when after 40 days all the eggs were collected together from around London and gathered together in one spot for us to enjoy and admire…that I can tell you brought masses of people….the piazza was so crowded by 11am you could barely move!








btartbox covent gardens
BT Art Box at Covent Garden



Covent Garden also played host to some of the BT Boxes, a marvellous collection of the iconic UK telephone box artistically decorated and ‘hidden’ around London for us to find…a bit like a treasure hunt! Loads of fun that was.

So much else happens at Covent Garden that I could compile a huge list…but for now I won’t, suffice to say much happens all year round, and of course you can always find a busker or two in the area as well….they are highly entertaining and some just a wee bit crazy!! Like the chap who juggles with the buzz-saw…like I said…a wee bit crazy!!!





This year at Christmas we have the UK’s biggest LEGO Advent Calendar. Built by Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only certified LEGO professional, the calendar features a new window that opens each day at 4pm to reveal a 3D LEGO surprise. :) It has been good fun to pop by and see what’s in the next box; a delightful selection of scenes, why not pop along between now and the 24th to see what each window holds.

LEGO advent calendar at covent garden
the UK's biggest LEGO Advent Calendar at Covent Garden
rudolph at covent garden christmas
Rudolph with your nose so bright......



Besides the lovely advent calendar we have a massive reindeer out front; the erstwhile Rudolph I believe! Well he does have a red nose so it must be him!!…..and there are even real live reindeer to be seen and petted. Check the Covent Garden calendar and Click here for more details. The reindeer will be on the East Piazza Saturday from 12pm to 4pm  Last day is tomorrow; Saturday 22nd I believe…. so get there quickly :)








jack daniels barrel christmas tree
the towering Jack Daniels Christmas 'tree'



This year you can also see the Jack Daniels first ever ‘barrel’ festive tree: a 26ft, nine-tier monolith that stands proudly in the piazza until the first week of January 2013.     It glitters with gold, towering above shoppers, revellers and Rudolph alike.









covent garden xmas tree
the beautiful Christmas Tree at Covent Garden



And of course at Christmas you would expect to see a Christmas tree….and in the piazza in front of St Paul’s Church, is an ever so beautiful, towering Christmas tree decked out in bright sparkly baubles and balls.








covent garden apple market at christmas
Covent Garden Apple Market at Christmas

The Apple Market is a very popular venue at Covent Garden but at the moment the stalls are overshadowed by the huge red balls that hang precariously from the ceiling, vying with the glitter balls to be brightest of all.

Be sure to look at the back of the LEGO Calendar too!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS :)

covent garden merry christmas lego advent calendar
Merry Christmas.....from 3 Days in London and LEGO :)

Be sure to include Covent Garden in your itinerary this Christmas and if you have enjoyed this post, please would you retweet it.

You can find me on twitter where I tweet about the history of London, things to do in London, events that are happening and post photos from my frequent #walkabouts.  You can also join my facebook page if you wish where I post more links to what’s happening in the city and regularly upload photo albums of scenes and the goings-on of this marvellous city; London!! :)   See you there and thank you for dropping by.

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Churchill War Rooms and The Battle of Britain 1940

 “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”. Winston Churchill – The Prime Minister

sir winston churchill at guildhall
Sir Winston Churchill at Guildhall

2010 marks the 70th anniversary of  The Battle of Britain – the Battle fought over Britain the summer of 1940, generally agreed to be between the 10th July and 31st October 1940.  On 28th August 2010, a Hurricane and Spitfire flew over parts of England and the English channel, that saw some of the fiercest aerial combats, on a commemorative flight alongside an Airbus A320, as part of the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary celebrations.

the battle of britain war memorial
‘The Few’ The Battle of Britain War Memorial on Victoria Embankment

Fourteen Battle of Britain veterans took to the skies in this special memorial flight accompanied for part of the way by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the period.  The battle for air supremacy, involving 71 Fighter Command squadrons and allies from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and across Europe, between the RAF and the Luftwaffe in 1940 was a decisive chapter in WW2.

a royal air force spitfire
A Royal Air Force Spitfire at the Churchill War Rooms in 2009

Last week, while I was on walkabout through London, part of my journey took me past the Churchill War Rooms, situated off Horse Guards Parade, between King Charles Street and Parliament Square.  Today the Churchill War Rooms, are an outstanding place to explore life on the home front, as you wander through the Cabinet War Rooms which operated round the clock from the beginning of the war in 1939 to its end in August 1945.

the churchill war rooms
The Churchill War Rooms

I was thrilled to see a replica Spitfire Mk1 outside on the pavement. (I was also dismayed to discover that the day after my visit they hosted an anniversary event! :( if I had but known……..)  However, at the time I did not, so with that depressing knowledge still in the future, I made my way downstairs to have a quick peek.  I did not go on the tour this time around as my time was limited, but from what I did see….it looks awesome….I will be back.

I spent a few more minutes looking around and then made my way back aboveground and into the present, where I enjoyed some time admiring and photographing the Spitfire.

On the same pavement area and just a few feet away is this heart-breakingly beautiful memorial to the 202 people who lost their lives in the October 12th, 2002 Bali bombing.  It is greatly upsetting to see the ages of the victims, as young as 18 years.

bali memorial london
The highly poignant Bali Memorial at Clive Steps on Horse Guards

This is one of the traits of Britain that I truly love…… the memorials that dot the city and the country; memorials to people who lost their lives in acts of terrorism or acts of nature and accidents. Lest we forget………….

The Churchill War Rooms can be found just off King Charles Street between Horse Guards Parade and Parliament Street.

The Old War Office, a magnificent building designed in the baroque style, served as the centre of all military affairs in the British empire between the late 18th Century and 1963, the decisions made in this building completely changed the world forever, painting a 3rd of the world pink, then eventually creating the commonwealth and dismantling the empire.

admiral clive 1725-1774
Admiral Clive 1725-1774 at the head of Clive Steps

It was from these rooms that the First World War battles were masterminded and the Second World War was won. (and no it’s not an illusion, the buildings do appear to be lopsided…they are not…it’s my photo! I have no idea why, perhaps coz I took it while in a hurry).
nearest tube station: Westminster – Jubilee Line

Churchill War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AQ
Open daily 9.30am – 6.00pm – last admission 5.oopm (closed 24, 25 and 26 December) There is an entrance fee.

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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