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Archived Posts from “England”

South West England Offers a Beautiful and Relaxing Escape

11

September

Those who know they want a great holiday that they can afford and which will genuinely help them reduce stress are making a surprising choice in the United Kingdom today. Instead of the high action, high cost escapes that were part of years gone by, today’s UK holiday makers are looking for a more relaxed pace which can help them enjoy the full benefits of their holiday without all of the added costs for activities they may or may not feel like engaging in, say travel industry experts. What triggered this change? Many seasoned travel experts say that it has a great deal to do with the economy and its affect on the public’s mood. Instead of needing to be revived from sleepy work schedules and the drone of every day live where thrills were at a premium, today’s workers want to be able to get away from it all and surround themselves with nature and low level fun that works for their family and is gentle enough on their budget that they do not experience guilt over taking their holiday.

This is why the Devon area has become such a huge hit with today’s travelers. The pace of life is perfect for many who would prefer a cottage setting where they can breathe in the crisp fresh air from the Atlantic and get a sense that they are free of their duties for the time that they have. They can self cater and this helps them be able to reduce expense which does a great deal to help reduce stress, too. The beach side holiday cottages in North Devon have become exceptionally popular amongst today’s travel savvy UK citizens because the scenery really is impossible to recreate anywhere else in all of England today. That fresh air alone is well known across the UK as a source of vitality that bigger, faster paced cities could never offer no matter how exotic their thrills might be.

For an ideal escape, North Devon offers a type of beauty that only nature could make and a cost that is simply impossible to beat for great cottages that feel like an ideal home away from home to be shared with the good company of friends and family.


The London Underground

10

March

For travelers who have never been to, or aren’t familiar with London, the underground rapid transit system, much like the subway system in New York, can be a great help for getting around, quickly from place to London Undergroundplace. With hundreds of stops, detailed schedules, service near airports, hotels, popular attractions, and virtually everywhere, The London Underground is one of the most popular ways to traverse the city, for both locals and those there on vacation. Urban areas can be frustrating, and hard to reach if you’re not sure where you’re going, or don’t do so well with directions. However, reading over the schedules, many tourists will find that the rail runs pretty much everywhere, and at various times, which can help a frustrated situation as well.

The London Underground, despite being a very old rapid transit system, will never remain a stagnant railway. Throughout the years, quite a few different changes have been taking place in the Underground’s railways. The city of London has expanded over the years, which means that the city’s transit must as well, and several new projects for expansion are in the works for the Underground. Some examples of new projects are the new station for the Heathrow Airport, on the Picadilly line, another new station on Wood Lane for patrons at the Westfield London shopping center, as well as others. Some projects are more time consuming, like the re-extension of the Bakerloo line to Watford Junction; it used to end at Harrow and Wealdstone.

One of the newest ways for travelers to take advantage of the London Underground, is called The Oyster Card, which is basically a prepaid card for all public London transportation, whether it’s the tram, the Underground, or the bus system. This is probably the most convenient of travel fund methods for travelers; having to keep track of multiple tickets and payment methods and prices can be a hassle. The Oyster Card is also cheaper to pay for than so many separate tickets; there’s a lot of encouragement to use the Oyster Card so there are significant prices differences in the usual rates for the transportation were it to be all paid for with separate tickets instead. More and more frequently increasing as well, are the number of routes on which passengers can pay as they go.

Information for travelers is available in the many different Underground stations found throughout the city, as well as online. Some helpful trips for traveling are to keep your travel information and tickets readily available, in your wallet or purse, so that you can check on important information at the last minute. Also be sure to bring a map of the route, know where your stops are, and at least have a cursory knowledge of the area. If you’re traveling with a family, be sure to bring snacks if it’s going to be a longer trip, but keeping an eye on your small children is very important, public transportation is dangerous in many ways to small children, with strangers, and a fast-paced atmosphere. Keep a close eye on any baggage or belongings as well.


A Brief History Of The Tower Of London

12

November

The Tower of London has a fascinating history spanning nearly 1,000 years. It has served various purposes over the centuries – fortress, prison, royal palace, jewel house, mint, arsenal and place of execution.When work was begun by William the Conqueror in 1078, Londoners had never seen anything of the like before. He had stone specially imported from France to build the White Tower and its unique Norman style was quite outlandish to the locals.

William saw the need to build a fortress in this powerful and prosperous city not to defend it from foreign invasion, but to protect the conquering Normans from the city’s own inhabitants. For centuries afterwards, the Tower served the same purpose, providing safety and security for various monarchs from their own subjects in turbulent times.

As time passed and needs changed, the Tower was adapted and extended until it became an extensive complex of fortifications. The 13th century saw the establishment of a Royal Mint on the premises, as well as a menagerie. This private collection of exotic beasts is thought to have begun when Henry III received three big cats (leopards or possibly lions) as a wedding present in 1235. The Lion Tower was built to house the collection, which had become a public attraction by the late 18th century. However, with the opening of London Zoo in the early 19th century, the animals were transferred and the menagerie closed down. The Lion Gate is all that remains of the area where it was housed.

The Tower of London is probably most well known today for its notorious history of gunpowder, treason, imprisonment and murder. From the early days it was used as a prison and place of execution, often for very high profile or illustrious captives. Henry VIII had two of his wives beheaded on Tower Green – Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. The Reformation was a particularly gruesome time, when hoards of political and religious prisoners were incarcerated and executed. Probably the most famous is Lady Jane Grey, whom Edward VI declared his successor just before his death in 1553, fearing that his own daughter Mary would restore Catholicism. She was only a few days into her reign when Mary took the throne from her cousin and had her imprisoned and eventually executed on Tower Green in 1554. Mary also famously had her half-sister Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth I) imprisoned there for three months under suspicion of plots against her. Elizabeth herself had various notables incarcerated in the Tower upon her succession to the throne after Mary’s death – from aristocrats and dukes to clergymen and bishops.

Another event for which the Tower is infamously known is the mystery of the two boy princes in the 1480s. The two sons of Edward IV, Edward V and his younger brother Richard, were housed in the Tower by their Uncle (Richard, Duke of Gloucester) for ‘protection’ after the death of their father in 1483. Edward V was to be crowned King. However, the Duke took the throne himself and after remaining in the Tower for a short while afterwards, the boys vanished. Their fate is still a mystery today, although it is commonly believed that their uncle had them murdered.

In the 17th century, the Crown Jewels were first put on public display, and they can still be seen there today. It was also during this period that the Tower started to be used as an arsenal and armoury. During the 19th century, however, the Tower gradually lost many of its functions. As explained above, the menagerie was moved to London Zoo. The Royal Mint was moved to new buildings elsewhere in the city (although it’s now based in Cardiff) and the War Office moved the weaponry elsewhere. This wasn’t the beginning of the end for the Tower, though. In fact, it heralded a new and exciting period for the fortress. Medieval romanticism had started to become fashionable in Victorian times and architectural and historical interest in the Tower started to increase. The Victorians undertook an enormous programme of restoration and reconstruction, paving the way for it to become one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions. Indeed, by the mid 19th century visitors were coming in droves and a ticket office had to built at the main entrance to cope with the crowds.

The Tower was very much still in use as an official public building though. Even in the 20th century, it was used as a prison during World War Two. The last execution took place here in 1941 – a German army sergeant was shot in the grounds by firing squad for spying.

To this day, it still retains its function as a royal residence and home of the Crown Jewels. As a result, it’s still guarded by its own ancient regiment of Yeomen Warders (more commonly known as Beefeaters) whose role is to guide and entertain tourists as much as it is to defend the Tower.

Although no royals have lived at the Tower for a long time, it still has one very important set of residents – the famous ravens. These black, long-beaked birds have been here for centuries. An old legend states that Britain will never be invaded as longs as ravens remain there, so they can still be seen wandering around the grounds today and even have their own guards to look after them. No-one’s taking any risks though – their wings are clipped to ensure they’ll never leave!

About The Author

Pauline Wapping
Website: http://www.londoncityinformation.info
Pauline Wapping is a Londoner, having lived in the city all her life. She is a travel writer.


Five Things Every First-Time Visitor Should Do When Visiting London

04

November

London is a fascinating and historic city. The sheer volume of landmarks and attractions will make it impossible to see everything in a short trip. So if you are visiting London for the first time, be sure you don’t miss these five attractions:

1. The Tower of London

The Tower is perhaps the most famous attraction in London. This fortress, located right on the River Thames, is associated with kings and royalty, torture and beheadings. Over the centuries, it served as a jail, housing for the royal family, as well as an armory. The many buildings and towers give an authentic glimpse into life many hundreds of years ago.

The crown jewels are on display here, where you can see spectacular jewels, crowns and gold implements used during royal ceremonies.

Tours are offered on a regular basis by the Beefeaters, all retired military personnel.

2. Westminster Abbey

This abbey, nearly 1000 years old, contains the remains of 3,300 members of nobility, as well as many important members of the church and society. Markers, monuments and sarcophagi are spread throughout the church, detailing the name, birth and death dates, as well as information about the lives of many of those interred here.

The ornate architecture, featuring extremely high ceilings, creates a holy and solemn atmosphere within the church.

Guided tours are available through Westminster Abbey, or you can walk through at your own pace.

3. London Eye

Intended as a temporary attraction to celebrate the new millennium, the London Eye has become a permanent fixture on London’s skyline. This giant Ferris wheel is located directly on the Thames River, and affords a panoramic view of the city. The 443 foot (135 meters) tall “observation wheel” contains 32 capsules which can hold up to 25 people each.

Each ride, or “flight” as they like to call them, lasts 30 minutes, so you’ll have ample time to walk around the capsule and view the entire city.

4. Buckingham Palace

The most famous residence in all of England, home to Her Majesty The Queen, attracts thousands of visitors whenever the Changing the Guard ceremony is taking place. During the spring and summer, the ceremony is performed daily at 11:30 am, lasting about 45 minutes. During fall and winter, the ceremony is performed every other day.

Tours of portions of Buckingham Palace are available, and change depending on the time of year.

5. London Tour Bus

While not necessarily an attraction per se, taking a tour on one of the many tour buses in London is a fantastic way to see the city and its grand architecture and monuments. A handful of companies operate tour buses which offer unlimited use for a 24 hour period.

In good weather, the top floor of these double-decker buses is the perfect way to see the city, while relaxing your legs and feet. Live guides or pre-recorded guides explain the various attractions as you drive past.

While you may only use the buses as a means to reach one of the attractions on your list, the bus tour itself can be one of the most relaxing and entertaining experiences of your entire trip.

London is filled with literally hundreds of interesting and exciting things to see and do. Start with these five, then seek out others that suit your areas of interest.

About the Author

If you are planning a London vacation, be sure to read Fred Kelley’s London trip diary at http://www.OurLondonVacation.com for tips and a first-person glimpse of a visit to London.