Kew’s Summer Cycle

World’s largest and most diverse garden

For only the second time in its 220-year history, Kew Gardens in southwest London is opening its gates for cyclists to ride around the UNESCO World Heritage Site August 13th 5:30 — 8:30 pm. Established in 1759, Kew Gardens is the largest (330 acres) and most diverse (more than 50,000 types of plants) botanical garden in the world. 

While the glasshouses themselves will not be open, this is a chance to ride past four Grade I listed buildings, 36 Grade II listed structures — not to mention the ‘The Great Broad Walk Borders’ (world’s longest herbaceous borders), fragrant Rose Garden, glass Dale Chihuly sculptures and iconic Syon vista.

With flowers in full bloom, summer is a spectacular time to visit this top tourist attraction. Enjoy performances by live, roving musicians and get a bite to eat or a drink from the Pavilion Bar and Grill or bring your own picnic.

While the Kew Explorer land train service has been suspended due to the coronavirus, following the 40-minute route starting at stop 7 will loop you around the main parts of the garden.

Entry is via Elizabeth Gate is £20 / adult, £10 / child (£18 / adult member, £9 / child member) and £5 for parking (entry via Brentford Gate). Bring your own bike since bike hire will not be available.

A truly unique experience — one night only!

www.kew.org+44 2083 325655
Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE


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Magna Carta pilgrimage


The Jurors is a permanent piece of artwork that was commissioned to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymeade field in Surrey. When the piece was unveiled in 2015, the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with hundreds of dignitaries were in attendance.

The 12 intricately carved bronze chairs feature panels with images and symbols of past and current struggles for freedom. The interactive art installation by world-renowned British-Guyanese artist, Hew Locke, encourages viewers to sit on the chairs themselves as ‘jurors’; a reference to Clause 39 of Magna Carta that states no man can be imprisoned “except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land”.


Locke chose 24 moments in history to depict complex and difficult issues of injustice that still affect us today — freedom of speech, gay rights, race equality, refugees and rights of women to name a few. Symbols include references to:
— individuals — Mahatma Gandhi’s hand-spinning wheel (resistance against British imported goods) and Nelson Mandela’s cell (representing prisoners locked up for their beliefs)
— groups — boat with refugees (includes names of vessels connected to legal cases) and many portraits of ‘The Disappeared’ (representing those who have been taken away by state or political organization)
— words — Clause 39 in Latin and the Golden Rule in 14 languages (treat others the way you would like to be treated)
Additional details on each of the chair panels can be found here.

The individual rights and freedoms highlighted in the Magna Carta inspired key documents, including the United States Constitution (1791) and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) among others. While it is believed that the field itself has not changed much since 1215, only three of the 63 clauses are still law today.

Regardless, perhaps now more than ever — a pilgrimage to Runnymeade is a poignant reminder of the impact Magna Carta had and continues to have.
Windsor Road, near Old Windsor, Surrey, SL4 2JL


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England’s best vineyard experience

High Clandon Estate Vineyard

It is hard to think of a better day out than visiting High Clandon Estate Vineyard in the Surrey Hills.  The award-winning boutique vineyard produces sparkling English wines from a trio of champagne grapes that mature at least five years.


The charming couple from South Africa, Sibylla and Bruce Tindale, is knowledgeable and passionate about wine and openly welcome guests to enjoy the wonders of their wildflower meadow, truffle orchard and glass barn. It is no wonder the International Wine Challenge and VisitEngland named High Clandon ‘England’s best vineyard experience’.

This year’s 'Art in the Vineyard' event takes place July 19th until August 2nd (11 am - 4 pm daily) and features artwork by 150 Surrey artists and the launch of their Endymion Cuvée 2015 vintage. A voluntary donation of £5 per person is requested and a percentage of every purchase of art or wine supports a children’s charity, Cherry Trees.

With plenty of fresh, wide open spaces and beautiful views, it is a perfect place to come out of covid hibernation. Cheers to summer in the vineyard!
www.highclandon.co.uk+44 1483 225660
East Clandon, Surrey, GU47RP

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Wimbledon plays on

Tune in June 29—July 12

Over its 125-year history, Wimbledon has only been cancelled two other times, World Wars I and II. Despite the cancellation due to coronavirus, the All England Club (AETC) launched Wimbledon Recreated campaign in advance of it scheduled run from June 29th — July 12th. The promotional video montage narrated by BBC commentator Andrew Cotter includes footage of Novak Djokovic, Simona Halep, Serena Williams and other special guests reliving favorite traditions of the oldest and most famous tennis tournament in the world.

While ‘The Greatest Championships’ will not be the same this year, the 50 hours of programming will certainly be unique. IBM has been working behind-the-scenes to assemble new digital content and the BBC will run daily shows with special guests and the best matches in Wimbledon’s history. In-studio guests will include legendary players Boris Becker, Tim Henman and John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova via video along with current players.


The public will also have a chance to play along — including quizzes, votes, a special version of Tetris on Facebook, opportunities to have trick shots reviewed and even asking for a Wish from Wimbledon to be granted.

To ensure that the Wimbledon spirit continues long after the programming ends, there are tips on how to create the Wimbledon look at home, including Wimbledon colored florals and lawn care tips.

Now all that awaits is a pint of Pimm’s and some strawberries with cream!
www.wimbledon.com

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Holiday by book

With over three months at home, most of us are probably caught up on Netflix, consumed digital content of closed museums and cancelled events — not to mention countless Zoom calls. If you need screen relief from too much tech time, but aren’t quite ready to travel — venture out to two of the ‘world’s most iconic bookstores’ in London:

Daunt Books — The two-story Edwardian style branch in Marylebone was originally established in 1910 and is considered one of the first custom-built bookshops in the world. James Daunt founded Daunt Books in 1990 and is known for specializing in travel books — all neatly organized geographically by country. Additionally, Daunt is an executive of Waterstones and more recently Barnes & Noble. If there is even a touch of the charm similar to the Marleboyne location, book lovers are in for a treat.
www.dauntbooks.co.uk+44 2072 242295
83-84 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW


Word On the Water Located canal side near King’s Cross railway station, a 1920s Dutch barge has been repurposed into a charming floating bookstore also known as The London Book Barge. Operating since 2011, they were able to cleverly open up as an outdoor market beginning June 1st by only selling selections from their exterior shelves and have continued their tradition of treating passer-bys with live music performances. One can only hope that other floating businesses may pop-up in the future.
www.wordonthewater.co.uk+44 7976 886982
York Way, Granary Square, London, N1C 4LW

While the two shops could not be more different, they have both mastered the art of getting people to travel for the experience of buying a book in person — which might be all we are comfortable with for a while!
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Chelsea Flower Show Virtual Views

Horticulture from home

Thanks to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and its 520,000+ members, the world’s most famous flower show opened online earlier this week. This is only the third time in the history of the Chelsea Flower Show that it had to be cancelled — the first two was World War I and World War II.

Virtual Chelsea runs through May 23rd and features talks by famous garden designers and experts, behind-the-scenes tours, activities for kids and more — streamed throughout the day along with its usual BBC broadcasts. Just some of the segments so far:

Ironically, this year’s show coincides with Mental Health Week and perhaps now more than ever people are realizing just how important gardens and green spaces are especially during lockdown. RHS is encouraging people to share images of their favorite flowers and green spaces. Even the members of Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have all shared their favorite flowers #mychelseagarden.

With the opening of local garden centres, there is no better time to stop and smell the roses — and perhaps even plant one too!

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Downton Abbey from Home

It is hard to imagine that it was just over a year and a half ago that Downton Abbey returned to the big screen after nearly a four-year hiatus. For fans, it was like catching up with old friends and a bit of an escape from the everyday.

Sadly, Highclere Castle which served as the main film location for the television series and movie has been closed since March 23rd due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, despite being closed to the public, the real-life residents of Highclere Castle, Lord and Lady Carnarvon are still graciously hosting fans from around the world.


‘At Home at Highclere Castle Fridays’
Airs on Viking TV at 11 am PST
The first episode featuring the historic library aired April 3rd can be watched here along with subsequent episodes. Best-selling author, Lady Carnarvon, takes viewers behind-the-scenes sharing details on items found in the room, highlighting the important role the castle has played over the years and fielding questions from the viewers.

‘Virtual Cocktail Party at Highclere Castle’
Takes place every other Friday via Highclere Castle Gin Facebook Live 1 pm PST
The first party took place April 17th in the Library with Lord and Lady Carnarvon sipping period '20s and '30s cocktails (made with Highclere Castle Gin of course), discussing the history of the castle, filming of Downton Abbey and answering questions posted by fans. The event proved so popular, they hosted a second event on May 1st in the Drawing Room and will continue every other week.

Much like the Crawleys in Downton Abbey, spending time with the Carnarvons is like catching up with old friends and a welcome escape from the everyday.

No doubt when Highclere Castle opens again, we will all be cordially invited to visit having gotten to know them and the ‘Real Downton Abbey’ just a bit better!

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