Mayflower & Brunel River Walk & Boat Trip

While the origin of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving is not entirely clear, the epic Mayflower voyage from England to America in 1620 is well-documented. Located in the London Borough of Southwark, the Brunel Museum is less than 300 feet from the docking point of the Mayflower ship.

The Museum is hosting a number of activities in conjunction with Fantastic Feats : The Building of London that celebrates the city's architecture, invention and engineering, including:

Mayflower & Brunel River Walk – 10:45 am November 17th and 18th
Meet at Rotherhithe tube station for a guided walk to the Brunel Museum before descending below into the Grand Entrance Hall. This walking tour goes through the historic village of Rotherhithe. Highlights include a mortuary, a palace, pilgrim’s and pirate’s pubs and a tomb. The Hall is the world’s first underground theatre and half the size of Shakespeare’s Globe.
Cost: £10 per person (£8 seniors)

Brunel’s London Boat Trip — 10:30 am Daily until November 18th
Meet at Embankment tube station for the guided boat trip under three Brunel bridges (Hungerford, Blackfriars and Tower Bridge) on the river before descending into the Thames Tunnel – one of the oldest tunnels in the oldest undergrounds in the world. The Tunnel is Brunel’s first project and considered one of London’s great wonders of the Victorian age.
Cost: £10 per person (£8 seniors) plus transport (Zone 2 rail journey and £5 for the riverboat)


Even if you are not able to get by this weekend — you can visit the Brunel Museum year-round or get lunch or a pint at the famous Mayflower Pub, located at the original docking point of the Mayflower ship.

Fun Fact #1: The Mayflower is the only pub licensed to sell US and UK stamps
Fun Fact #2: If you can prove a family connection to The Mayflower 1620 voyage you can request to sign The Mayflower Descendants Book

www.brunel-museum.org.uk+44 2072 313840
Railway Avenue Rotherhithe, London, SE16 4LF

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St Paul's Cathedral Lit Up

October 25-27

St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most famous landmarks. The Grade 1 listed building sits on the highest point of the City of London and the dome of the Cathedral is one of the highest in the world. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren who was charged with rebuilding churches lost in the Great Fire of London.

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of since the start of World War II, St Paul's will be honoring those that risked their lives to save the Cathedral by illuminating the building with projections poetry entitled Where Light Falls. Free viewing outside the Cathedral will take place October 24th-26th 6:30-10 pm and October 27th 8-10 pm. There is also a unique opportunity to visit the Cathedral after-hours that includes reading from the Poetry Society October 25th 6:30-8:30 pm (Adults £10, Seniors 60+ Children 6-24 £5).

The event is part of the Fantastic Feats : The Building of London that celebrates the city's architecture, invention and engineering. Events include an array of activities, including exhibitions, performances and tours and will conclude December 1st.

To make the most of your visit to St Paul's, take this path:

Walk over the Millennium Bridge from Tate Modern on the south towards St Paul's Cathedral on the north.  Look carefully as you walk over the bridge for 400+ miniature pieces of chewing gum art created by Ben Wilson.

After crossing the bridge head to One New Change, a retail and restaurant building and take a lift* to the terrace. Here you have a chance to enjoy a stunning unobstructed view of St Paul's Cathedral from 6 am - midnight at no charge.

While inside St Paul's, it is worth climbing 528 steps up to the Golden Gallery of the Cathedral for breathtaking panoramic views Shakespeare Globe, Tate Modern and the Thames. Through November 30th, there is a special exhibition entitled The Great Restoration of the 1920s that recounts how St Paul's dome was restored after receiving a notice requesting its removal.

BONUS : Kids Go Free through November 2nd
www.stpauls.co.uk+44 2072 468350
The Chapter House, St Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD

Stay tuned for more Fantastic Feats . . .
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Spooked in Surrey

Historic haunted houses and more

Surrey is home to two well-known haunted historic houses. They are worth visiting — if you dare:

Chartwell House (Westerham) — Sir Winston Churchill made Chartwell House his home for more than 40 years.  He is credited with his own ghostly sighting while  painting a portrait of his father.  Churchill recalled that he appeared in front of him, they proceeded to have a conversation and then he disappeared after lighting a cigarette.  Today, visitors have noted the scent of cigar smoke while touring the home.  
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell+44 1732 868381
Mapleton Road, Westerham TN16 1PS

Ham House (Richmond) — With at least 15 resident ghosts, Ham House is said to be one of the most haunted in Britain.  The Grade I listed building considered “unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th century fashion and power” was home to the Duchess Lauderdale.  The presence of the late Duchess is said to be particularly strong - from the sounds of footsteps, her rose scent and appearance of figures in her mirror.

Bonus : Fireside Ghost Stories (Fridays October 11-December 13), Evening Ghost Tours by candlelight (Daily October 21-25 and November 5-8) and Spooky Storytelling (Daily October 26-November 3)
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hamhouse+44 2089 401950
Ham Street, Ham, Richmond TW10 7RS

With Halloween falling on half-term, there are plenty of kid-friendly options, including:

  • Claremont Landscape Garden : Spooky Walk (Esher)
  • Denbies Wine Estate : Spooky Train Ride & Storytelling (Dorking)
  • RHS Garden Wisley : Wisley After Dark (Woking)
  • Skywalk Adventure : Scary Skywalk (Esher)
Happy Haunting!

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London Restaurant Festival

World Class Dining October 1 - 31

Since 2008, the capital city has hosted the London Restaurant Festival (October 1-31). This year's month-long festival will feature 60 events and exclusive menus at 250 restaurants.

Highlights include Chef-hosted Lunches, Restaurant-Hopping Tours and Champagne Gourmet Odysseys. While many of these are already sold out, there are still reservations available at some of the best restaurants in the city. In partnership with OpenTable, the restaurants have been cleverly grouped by themes, including London Legends, Amazing Spaces, Avant Garde, Flights & Pairings, London with a View and Talk of the Town.

Some my favorites with specially-priced menus include:


  • Coq d’Argent Restaurant - Game Tasting Menu 5 courses £60
  • Floral by Lima - 8 dishes to share & a pisco sour £40
  • Galvins at Windows - 3 course Menu Prestige & a glass of Bellini £82
  • Hakkasan - 2 courses & glass of wine £30
  • Hawksmoor - 2 courses & a choice from 3 cocktails £30
  • Hotel Café Royal - Champagne Afternoon Tea £55
  • Inamo - 4 dishes & 2 drinks £29
  • Launceston Place - 8 course tasting menu & wines for 2 £298
  • Leicester Square Kitchen - Lunch & Pre-theatre menu 3/4 dishes £22/£27
  • Sanderson - Tipsy Evening Tea: £58
  • Skylon - Pre-or Post-theatre 2 courses £25, 3 courses £30
  • Ting Restaurant - 4 course menu & a glass of champagne £40
Even if you managed to eat out three times a day - it would take you over 2-1/2 months to get to all the restaurants on the list. Regardless of how many you get to, at least you'll have fun trying!
www.www.londonrestaurantfestival.com


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Downton Abbey Returns

Beyond the big screen

Three years in the making, Downton Abbey finally hits the big screen. If you didn't make it down to Leicester Square for the star-studded movie premiere, there are still ways to celebrate Downton's highly anticipated return:

. . . . Visit the "real" Downton Abbey and and Drawing Room of Lady Violet:

Highclere Castle (Newbury) — Highclere Castle was designed by architect Charles Barry best known for building the Houses of Parliament. The Castle is used for exterior and most of the interior shots. Tickets book up quickly. However, they have a limited number of 'walk-up' tickets on each Public Opening day. I haven't known anyone who hasn't been able to purchase these. It is worth a try - even if it means seeing the 'country house' set on a 5,000-acre estate at a distance.
Bonus : Book afternoon at the Coach House before or after your tour for £30/person
www.highclerecastle.co.uk+44 1635 253210
Highclere Castle, Highclere Park, Newbury RG20 9RN

Byfleet Manor (West Byfleet) — Located closer in is Byfleet Manor, also known as Dowager Violet's house in the Downton Abbey. Book afternoon tea in the Downton Room, the Drawing Room of Lady Violet. The traditional tea includes a selection of homemade finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and selection of cakes and pastries. Our visit included a talk about the filming that takes place there and a walk around the gardens, complete with a river and island.
www.byfleetmanor.com
Byfleet Manor, West Byfleet, Surrey KT14 7RS

. . . . Surround yourself with all that glitters and gleams

The Silver Vaults (London) — The Silver Vaults is the world's largest retail collection of silver. Behind safe doors and within its vaulted walls are 30 specialty shops featuring designs and objects from around the globe. Pieces date from the 16th century to today and include tableware, cutlery, decorative pieces, gifts, jewelry, watches and more. Film A-listers, rock stars and royalty have all shopped here. In fact, Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson, Lady Edith, Lady Rosamund and Mrs. Hughes took part in a charity shopping evening featuring a Downton-inspired exhibition of silver pieces.

. . . . Enjoy a cuppa tea or shot of gin from the comfort of your own home

Across the pond in the US, The Republic of Tea based in California is known for packaging loose leaf teas and tea bags in cylinder-shaped tins.  The Downton inspired teas features some of the favorite characters from the show, including Lord & Lady Grantham, Mary and Violet, Mr. and Mrs. Bates and Mr. Carson.

Residents of Highclere Castle, Lord and Lady Carnavon, along American entrepreneur Adam Von Gootkin recently launched Highclere Castle Gin. The gin is produced at The Langley Distillery, home to some of the oldest working copper gins in the UK.

Hint : It may be easier (and more affordable) to find these products in their respective countries of origin.

If the movie is even a fraction as successful as the TV series, I would book, purchase and visit early to avoid disappointment!

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London Landmarks by Bike

Tally Ho!

If you told me that it was perfectly safe to ride through the streets of London visiting top landmarks, I would not have believed you. But the award-winning tour company Tally Ho! specializes in just that. Their unique tours have earned top honors, including TripAdvisor Hall of Fame and TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 7 years running.


Part of the fun is going around on their traditional British bicycles complete with ding-dong bells and wicker baskets.  Not to mention the knowledgeable local guides who are passionate about London and a bit eccentric too. While the 3-1/2 hour Landmarks & Gems tour covers a mere 5 miles - considering the City of London is known as the Square Mile (since it is 1.12 square miles in area), the tour covers quite a few of London's top attractions and hidden gems.


There are photo opps of landmarks, such as Lambeth Palace, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and Covent Garden Market to name a few. Highlights include riding up to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, viewing the Household Calvary, visiting a top historic pub and even an opportunity to unleash your inner-Banksy by ‘tagging’ London with spray paint.

Whether you are new to the area or lived here for years, this is a completely different and memorable way to see the landmarks of London!
www.tallyho.cc
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Portobello Road Market

Tips to navigate world-famous street market

Located in Notting Hill in London, Portobello Road Market is considered one of the world's most famous street markets and a must-see destination thanks to the popular 1999 film "Notting Hill". While the market is open daily, Saturdays are the most popular featuring 1,000+ antique vendor along with farmers, fashion and flea markets.

How to navigate the market and avoid the crowds at the same time:

- From Notting Hill Gate Station walk 7 minutes to Farm Girl Cafe (breakfast or coffee)
- Between Chepstow Villas and Elgin Cresent : Antiques & Bric-A-Brac (open at 9 am)
- Between Elgin Cresent and Talbot Road : Fruit & Vegetable

- Walk 3 minutes to Books for Cooks (lunch)
- Walk across the street to The Notting Hill Book Shop (photo opp)

- Walk 1 minute to Electric Cinema (movie) - Walk 1 minute to Biscuiteers (dessert)
- Between Talbot and Westway : New goods
- Westway : Fashion
- Between Westway and Golbourne ; Second hand goods

- Walk 2 minutes to Ladbroke Grove Station

With this combination of culinary and entertainment stops, even the most resistant shoppers will be able to endure the sensory-filled market walk.
www.portobelloroad.co.uk

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