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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Platform Morecambe

The Platform in Morecambe is a restored Edwardian train station on Morecambe promenade and the northern seaside town's main event space.

The Platform Morecambe, UK

Now owned by Lancaster council, the Platform hosts a variety of events throughout the year including comedy, cabaret, music concerts and dance.

The Platform also houses the Morecambe Visitor Information Centre, The Station pub and a children's play area.

The Platform puts on regular workshops and lectures.

Platform Morecambe
Old Station Buildings
Marine Rd Central
Morecambe LA4 4DB
Tel: 01524 582 803
Google map

The Platform Morecambe, UK

The Platform is within easy walking distance of Morecambe railway station, the statue of comedian Eric Morecambe, unveiled by the Queen in 1999 and Morecambe Leisure Park. The The Midland Hotel is also right on the doorstep, if you wish to stay close to the venue.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Crown Liquor Saloon

The Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is one of Belfast's most historic drinking places and a tourist attraction in its own right due to its fantastic external architecture and unique internal decoration.

The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast, NI

The Crown Liquor Saloon dates from the 1880's and the exterior tiling and interior wooden snugs and stained glass are testament to the "overtime" of Italian craftsmen, whom the then owner Michael Flanagan paid to work on his pub after their day shift labouring on a number of churches in the city at the time.

The Crown Liquor Saloon is a superb example of a Victorian gin palace and well worth seeking out at lunch time or in the evening for a drink or something to eat.

The historic bar was purchased by the National Trust in 1978 after pressure by such luminaries as the poet Sir John Betjeman to preserve it and the Crown Liquor Saloon was further refurbished in 2007.

The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast, NI

The bar is now run by Nicholson's, who provide a wide range of cask ales and delicious Irish food including pork and black-pudding sausages and rare roast beef and mushroom salad.

The Crown Liquor Saloon
46 Great Victoria Street
County Antrim
Tel: 028 9024 3187

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Murals in Northern Ireland

The over 300 "quality" murals in Belfast and other towns in Northern Ireland, such as Derry, have recently become a new tourist attraction.

Ulster Freedom Fighters mural in Northern Ireland

Many of them depict support for both sides of the religious and political divide in Northern Ireland during the so-called Troubles of the late 1960's to the 1990's.

However other murals are dedicated to Trade Unions, football and footballers such as George Best and Jimmy "Jinky" Johnstone and more recently murals depicting social harmony, which aim to portray a different image of Northern Ireland, apart from the earlier "bombs and bullets" of the violent and deadly paramilitary struggle.

Red Hand Commando mural in Northern Ireland

Murals reflect the shared values and beliefs of the communities where they were painted and are mostly found in working class areas. They are often found on the end walls of terraced houses.

Unionist mural in Northern Ireland

Nowadays, a number of taxi companies in Belfast arrange guided tours of the murals and there are also a number of tribute websites to Northern Ireland's murals on the Internet.

Various books on the subject include Politics and Painting: Murals and Conflict in Northern Ireland, Murals of Derry and Drawing Support 4.

Football mural in Northern Ireland

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scarborough Spa Complex

Scarborough's history as a tourist resort dates back to the discovery of spa waters way back in the 17th century at South Bay.

Scarborough Spa Complex, Yorkshire

People began to come in numbers to take the waters in what was to become Britain's first seaside resort. In 1873, Britain's first funicular railway was built to bring visitors from South Cliff Esplanade to the Scarborough Spa.

The waters were declared unsafe in the 1930's but visitors continued to come for the entertainment on offer at the Scarborough Spa

The Scarborough Spa Complex visitors see today dates back to the 1880's and includes the Spa Theatre, the Grand Hall concert hall, the Promenade Lounge and the the Ocean Room.

Scarborough Spa Complex

The Scarborough Spa Complex now hosts jazz and classical music concerts, conferences, theatrical shows, dances and wedding receptions and also brings people to enjoy the bars, cafes and relaxing views.

The Spa
South Bay
North Yorkshire
YO11 2HD
Tel: 01723 82 1888

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough

The Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough is one of the best hotels in Scarborough.

Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough

The Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough is part of the Britannia Hotels chain with 47 hotels across the UK.

The Victorian era hotel, now a Grade II listed building, was built in 1863 around a theme of time, hence there were originally 365 bedrooms, four towers representing the four seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year and 52 chimneys for the weeks.

Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough

The V-shape of the hotel honours Queen Victoria.

Britannia Grand Hotel Scarborough
St Nicholas Cliff
YO11 2ET

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heathrow Terminals 1 2 3

For many visitors to London and Britain, Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 Station will be the first time they ride the London Underground (Tube) into central London.

Heathrow Terminals 1 2 3

This is the station to buy your Oyster Card for travel on London's buses, tube and overground network during your stay in the English capital.

Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 Station is on the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground in Travelcard Zone 6.

The station opened as Heathrow Central in 1977, but was later renamed with the opening of Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5 stations.

The next station heading west into central London from Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 Station is Hatton Cross which is above ground.

Heathrow Terminals 1 2 3, London, Piccadilly Line

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tyne Bridge Newcastle

The Tyne Bridge is an icon of the city of Newcastle and is an arch bridge across the River Tyne linking Newcastle with Gateshead.

Tyne Bridge Newcastle

The Tyne Bridge opened in 1928 and has a span of 162 metres. The road is 26m above the level of the river. The towers at either end of the bridge are made of Cornish granite and were originally designed as warehouses.

Other bridges over the Tyne nearby include the Swing Bridge and the High Level Bridge.

Tyne Bridge Newcastle

The historic road and railway High Level Bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson and constructed between 1847 and 1849.

The Swing Bridge was the largest swing bridge ever built when it opened in 1876. Now the bridge can be turned by electric power rather than the original hydraulics. The swing bridge is said to stand on the site of the Roman Pons Aelius, the first bridge to span the Tyne.

Altogether seven bridges span the River Tyne.

Tyne Bridge Newcastle

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Albert Dock Liverpool

Albert Dock on the waterfront in Liverpool is an integral part of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City listing. The Albert Dock complex of docks and warehouses make up the largest single grouping of Grade I listed buildings in Britain.

Albert Dock is named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.

Albert Dock Liverpool, England

The history of Albert Dock dates back to 1837 with a plan to load goods directly to warehouses from ships. The warehouses in Albert Dock are built from brick, cast iron and stone, without a wooden frame, making them the first totally fire-proof warehouses in the world.

Albert Dock Liverpool

The main architects behind the design of Albert Dock were Jesse Hartley (1780-1860) and Philip Hardwick (1792-1870), the latter the architect of Birmingham Curzon Street in Birmingham, the oldest railway terminus in the world.

Cargoes of brandy, cotton, hemp, ivory, silk, sugar, tobacco, tea, and wood were unloaded here during the high volume trading period of the British Empire.

Albert Dock Liverpool, England

Post-war, the Albert Dock area went into decline.

Larger ships could not enter the narrow harbour, which was designed for sailing ships, and war damage had destroyed some of the buildings. The disused site was taken over by the government in the 1980's and gradually redeveloped.

New development of the existing buildings included the Liverpool Maritime Museum, the Tate Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum and the Beatles Story. The other spaces on Albert Dock is now occupied by hotels, shops, cafes, various companies and a selection of restaurants.

Albert Dock Liverpool, UK

Albert Dock

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Glasgow Subway

The Glasgow Subway in Glasgow, Scotland, opened in 1896, making it the third oldest subway in the world after the London Underground and the Budapest Metro.

Glasgow Subway, Glasgow, Scotland

The Glasgow Subway is a 10.5km circuit of 15 stations taking 24 minutes to complete. The circuit runs north and south of the River Clyde.

There are two lines: an Outer Circle running clockwise and an Inner Circle running anti-clockwise. The Glasgow Subway runs from 6.30am to 11.45pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6.12pm on Sunday.

The 15 stations on the Glasgow subway are Bridge Street, Buchanan Street, Cessnock, Cowcaddens, Govan, Hillhead, Ibrox, Kelvinhall, Kelvinbridge, Kinning Park, Partick, Shields Road, St. Enoch, St. George's Cross and West Street. Some of the stations have free WiFi.

A single ticket to anywhere on the network is presently £1.60 with the Smartcard fare £1.40.

Glasgow Subway Map, Scotland
Glasgow Subway Map copyright SPT

Glasgow Subway
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
Consort House
12 West George Street
Glasgow G2 1HN
Telephone: 0141 332 6811

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Glasgow

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum (or just "Kelvingrove" to locals) in Glasgow opened in 1901 and was financed by donations from the city's Victorian industrialists.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Glasgow Scotland

Kelvingrove was constructed as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901 and designed by English architect Sir John William Simpson using red sandstone in Spanish Baroque style.

This architectural wonder is now a free to enter museum and one of the most visited museums outside London.

The exhibits include one of the largest collections of European arms and armour in the world and a large natural history collection.

The art sections includes works by French Impressionists such as Monet, Renoir and Pissaro in the French Gallery, Old Masters in the Dutch Gallery, the Scottish Colourists Gallery and Salvador Dali's brilliant Christ of Saint John of the Cross.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Glasgow, Scotland

Other much-loved exhibits are a World War II Spitfire and Sir Roger, an Asian Elephant from Glasgow Zoo, later donated to the museum, after he was put down in 1900.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Argyle St, Glasgow
G3 8AG
Tel: 0141 276 9599
Hours: 10am-5pm except Friday and Sunday 11am-5pm

Kelvingrove has a Study Center, Museum Shop, cafe and Research Library. The museum is within Kelvingrove Park and close to Glasgow University. Take the subway to Kelvingrove Station or any of buses 2, 3, 7, 19, 19A, 23 or 747.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Betty's Tea Rooms York

Betty's Tea Rooms in York are justly famous for their delicious cakes.

Betty's Tea Rooms York

Betty's began life in 1919 in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, where the founder, Frederick Belmont, opened his first cafe. The York branch of Betty's dates from the 1930's and there is another more recent branch in Stonegate, close to York Minster.

Betty's Tea Rooms York, England

The interior of Betty's Tea Rooms were created by the designers and craftsmen who also designed the luxury Queen Mary liner and the curved windows and wood panelling give the store an art-deco, nautical feel.

Besides the delicious cakes, pastries and specialty teas, the menu includes mouth-watering open sandwiches, afternoon tea, wines and desserts. There is a seperate "Little Rascal" menu for kids.

There are other Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate, Harlow Carr, Northallerton and Ilkley.

Betty's Tea Rooms York

6-8 St. Helen's Square
Tel: 01904 659142
Hours: 9am-9pm

46 Stonegate
Tel: 01904 622865

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Books on Britain

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Selfridges Birmingham

The Selfridges department store in Birmingham in the Midlands is the city's most iconic piece of modern architecture.

Selfridges Birmingham, UK

Opened in 2003, Selfridges in Birmingham, is a sister store to the original shop on Oxford Street in London.

Selfridges in Birmingham is part of the revamped Bullring and the curved structure, made up of 15,000 anodised aluminium discs on a blue background, wraps elegantly around Moor Street and Park Street in the city centre. The building cost £60 million to construct and was designed by London-based architecture firm Future Systems, whose work also includes the Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground.

Selfridges Birmingham, UK

Selfridges Birmingham has four above ground floors and a basement food hall. Designer brands include Armani, Barbour, Boss, Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Paul Smith, Givenchy, McQueen, Ted Baker, Fred Perry, Gucci, and Cath Kidson.

Dining options in the basement include Krispy Kreme, Yo Sushi and Itihaas Brasserie.

Selfridges Birmingham, UK

Selfridges Birmingham
The Bullring
Upper Mall East
Birmingham B5 4BP
Tel: 800 123400

Selfridges Birmingham, England

Other Selfridges stores are at the Trafford Centre opened in 1998 and Exchange Square (2002) in Manchester.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hunstanton The Wash

Hunstanton ("Hunston") is a small seaside town in west Norfolk on the east coast of England facing The Wash. Hunstanton is known for its red sandstone cliffs topped with chalk and also for the fact that as it faces west, it is one of the few places on the east coast of England where you can see a sunset over the sea.

Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk

Hunstanton grew as a resort in the 19th century when a railway line was built from King's Lynn in the 1860's (now closed).

The existence of the resort built close to the existing village of Hunstanton was due to the considerable entrepreneurial talents of Henry Styleman Le Strange (1815–1862).

Nowadays, Hunstanton still draws extensive summer crowds to visit the aquarium, fairground, the Esplanade Gardens, the Oasis Leisure Centre, seal sanctuary, Wednesday and Sunday local produce markets and to ride the Wash Monster for tours of the coastline.

The Wash Monster, Hunstanton

The amphibious Wash Monster offers tours along the Norfolk coast to see the lighthouse, the village of Old Hunstanton, and the wreck of The Sheraton, a trawler requisitioned by the Royal Navy during World War II, that ran aground in a storm in 1947. The Wash Monster also ferries visitors to a boat to view the seals on the sandbanks, where over 3,000 Common Seals can be seen.

Hunstanton, The Wash, Norfolk

The beach at Hunstanton was first awarded Blue Flag status in 2011 and the sea is popular with wind surfers. Dogs are not allowed on the beach from Easter until the end of October.

The Wash Monster, Hunstanton, Norfolk

Hunstanton offers a variety of accommodation from holiday chalets to hotels. Bed & Breakfast places include the Sunset Inn, the Gate Lodge Guest House and the 4-star Shellbrooke. The Caley Hall Hotel in Old Hunstanton comes recommended. View a complete listing of accommodation in Hunstanton.

Hunstanton The Wash

Hunstanton is a 30 minute drive from King's Lynn on the A149.

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