British Holiday Traditions, Part III

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Be Merry . . .
Christmas Crackers have been a British tradition since the 19th century. They were introduced by confectioner Tom Smith who was inspired by French sugar almonds wrapped in paper. While his adaptation of sweets accompanied by a riddle were initially well-received, it wasn't until he came up with a way to make the cracker 'pop' did it gain popularity.

Beyond Christmas, crackers were created to celebrate major events, including The Coronation and The Paris Exhibition. Smith also specialized in exclusive crackers in collaboration with Wedgwood and ones for members of the Royal Family — a tradition that continues.

Today, while Christmas Crackers are still a favorite UK party favor, they can also be found

throughout the world during the holidays as well as other festive events. Typically, crackers are colorfully wrapped cardboard tubes placed at the dinner table.

The crackers 'pop' when it is pulled on either end by two people. For groups of three or more, it is tradition for each person to cross their arms to pull all the crackers at once. Each cracker contains a ‘crown’, gift or toy along with a joke. Similar to advent calendars, today’s crackers can be filled with a wide array of items, including alcohol, chocolate, jewellry, cosmetics and musical instruments.

They can be purchased from high-end retailers like Harrods or Selfridges to your local grocers — a perfect way to start the holiday season or the New Year with a 'bang'!

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British Holiday Traditions, Part II

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Drink . . .
Mulled Wine is a popular Christmas time beverage made with red wine and spices. The Romans were the first to heat wine in the 2nd century to combat the cold winters. As the Romans conquered Europe, the popularity of mulled wine grew, including the addition of spices for added health benefits and flowers to make the wine taste better.

It is not surprising that interest in the beverage spread in colder climates, such as Austria, Germany (glühwein) and Scandinavian countries (glögg).  Mulled wine became synonymous with Christmas when Charles Dickens mentioned 'Smoking Bishop', a popular mulled wine at the time, in his classic A Christmas Carol.

Today, mulled wine is served warm at outdoor markets and pubs throughout the holiday season. Two places to enjoy mulled wine complete with holiday shopping, include:

The Crusting Pipe (Covent Garden) — Located close to Jubilee Market, the only market in London that is owned by traders. Monday features antiques; Tuesday to Thursday is a general market; and Saturday and Sunday arts and crafts items are sold by 200+ vendors.
www.davy.co.uk/wine-bar/crusting-pipe+44 2078 361415
27 The Market, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD


OXO Tower Restaurant (South Bank) — Housed below the

rooftop restaurant with views of the River Thames, are 25+ contemporary designers selling art, ceramics, fashion, photography and other gift items.
www.oxotower.co.uk+44 2078 033888
Barge House Street, London SE1 9PH


If Pimm's is a sign of summertime, no winter season is complete without mulled wine!

Next post, how to Be Merry this holiday . . .


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British Holiday Traditions, Part I

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Eat . . .
Afternoon Tea is one of Britain's most popular and time-honored traditions. Introduced in the early 19th century, afternoon tea was intended to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner when dinner customarily started at 8 pm.

Today, afternoon tea is usually associated with a special occasion.  It generally consists of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam (interestingly, a 20th century addition) and cake.

In London there is no shortage of afternoon teas to indulge in — a perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Some of my favorite places have put a festive twist on their afternoon — making it even better to re-visit one you love or try a new one altogether.


Biscuiteers
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Brown's Hotel

Hotel Cafe Royal
Hotel One Aldwych — Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

The Ritz
Sanderson Hotel — Mad Hatter’s Tea Party


The Savoy
Watch this space for what you can Drink only this time of year . . .

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RCA Mini Masterpieces

1,800+ postcards to pick from

Established in 1994, the Royal College of Art (RCA) Stewarts RCA Secrets exhibition is one of the most popular art events of the year attracting both novice and serious art collectors. The exhibit will feature over 1,800 original postcard-sized pieces priced at £60 each by established and emerging artists. Postcards range from traditional drawing, painting and photography to even embroidery and sculpture. All proceeds of the annual sale benefit the RCA.

The ‘secret’ is part of the fun and intrigue. The postcards are displayed anonymously, and the artist’s is not revealed until the postcard is sold. Past contributors include David Bowie, Manolo Blahnik, David Hockney, Orla Kiely, Stella McCartney, Yoko Ono, *Grayson Perry and *Paul Smith (*confirmed for 2018).

The free exhibit opens November 30th (online viewing on November 29th) and runs until December 3rd. Purchases can be made on a first come first serve basis beginning on December 1st. The maximum number is four, but additional ones may be purchased on December 3rd, the final day of the exhibition. Online registration is required to view postcards online or to make a purchase.

Exhibition
November 30 : Noon – 7 pm
December 2, 3 : 10 am – 6 pm
December 1 : Noon – 6 pm

Collection
December 6 : 4 – 8 pm

Here’s your chance to purchase a masterpiece by an internationally known or an up-and-coming artist at a bargain price!
www.london.secret.rca.ac.uk
Senior Common Room, Darwin Building, Jay Mews, Kensington London SW7 2EU

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London's Best Holiday Windows

5 displays in 50 minutes

Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving holiday (fourth Thursday of the month), is considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Since 2010, it has gained popularity in the UK.

Even before this tradition crossed the pond, London has had a long history of some of the best window displays in the world. So while everyone is nabbing deals inside, get into the holiday spirit outside at five of the very best . . .

Harrods — Harrods is a British retail institution known throughout the world. Luxury merchandise is featured in 330 departments covering seven floors at its London store — the largest department store in the UK.
Walk 4 minutes to Harvey Nichols
www.harrods.com +44 2077 301234
87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL


Harvey Nichols — Established in 1831, Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge is an eight-story high-end department store featuring hundreds of beauty, clothing, food and wine brands.
Walk 24 minutes to Selfridges
www.harveynichols.com +44 2072 355000
109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ


Selfridges — Voted as one of the top department stores in the world, the Oxford Street flagship store includes beauty and food halls, shoe gallery, restaurants, spa and even an in-store psychics.
Walk 12 minutes to Liberty
www.selfridges.com +44 2077 301234
87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL


Liberty — Since 1875, Liberty has been best-known for its in-house collection of print fabrics. Today, Liberty continues to collaborate with designers and has expanded its eclectic offerings beyond fashion to include cosmetics, home decor and jewellery*.
Walk 10 minutes to Fortnum & Mason
www.libertylondon.com ✆ +44 2077 341234
Regent St, Carnaby, London W1B 5AH, UK

Fortnum & Mason — Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason located in Piccadilly is considered to be London's oldest department store. Fortnum's signature, luxury picnic hampers, which made their debut in Victorian times at Royal Ascot and Henley Regatta, are still popular today. 
www.fortnumandmason.com +44 2077 348040
181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

. . . all without spending a single pence!

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Poppies are back

Display ends November 18th

One of the most viewed London public artworks, the Tower of London poppies are back. In July - November 2014, the Tower of London featured a public art installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Britain’s involvement in World War I. Each of the 888,246 ceramic red poppies represented serviceman killed during the War.

The majority of the poppies from the installation were sold benefiting six charities. The ceramic artist Paul Cummins and conceptual designer Tom Piper received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in honor of this civil achievement in 2015.

Two segments of the installation, The Wave and Weeping Window, will be on tour until Remembrance Day November 18th to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the War. These installations will then enter the permanent collection of the Imperial War Museum (IWM).

A visit to IWM London to see Weeping Window and/or IWM Manchester to see The Wave before they are removed is well worth it!


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Seasonal Shopping in Surrey

High Street alternatives

Now that Halloween is over, the true holiday shopping season has begun. Mark your diary for some of the best off the High Street shopping Surrey — all with onsite free parking:

Squires Garden Centre (Multiple) November 8thShopping Evening 5 - 8:30 pm : Free glass of welcome Prosecco, live music, curry dinner in cafe from 6 - 8 pm and 15% off everything in the store. Given how early this event is they have promised no Christmas music.
www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk

Garson's Farm (Multiple) November 14th and 28thLate Night Members Shopping Event 5:30 pm - 8 pm : Welcome bubbly, holiday activities, samples and 10% off all purchases.
www.garsons.co.uk

AWS Gift Fayre (Cobham) November 18thAWS 28th Gift Faye 10 am - 4 pm: One of Surrey’s longest running gift fayres featuring 120 stalls with all proceeds benefiting local charities takes places at ACS Cobham International School.
www.awsurrey.org
Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1BL


Priory Farm (Redhill) November 24th and 25thChristmas Food Festival 10 am - 4 pm, Saturday and 10:30 am - 4 pm Sunday : With free samples from all exhibitors - it is a chance to try before you buy (if you have recovered from Thanksgiving!).
www.prioryfarm.co.uk +44 1737 823304
Sandy Lane, South Nutfield, Redhill, Surrey RH1 4EJ


Best of all you’ll have the satisfaction of having holiday shopping completed before December 1st!

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Half-Term Haunted Happenings

Halloween family fun

Claremont Landscape Garden (Esher) — Covering nearly 50 acres, Claremont is one of the oldest English landscape gardens with an original 18th century layout. Once enjoyed by royalty, including Queen Victoria, the Garden is on the Register of Historic Parks and described as the "the noblest of any in Europe". Unlike formal gardens of the past, these 'pleasure grounds' were designed to be natural, but in essence were made up of a series of planned views and vistas. Features include a turf amphitheatre, serpentine lake, stone grotto and thatched cottage complete with a kids play area and updated cafe. On October 26th Claremont will offer Spooky Walks around their garden for an additional £1 / child from 5 - 7 pm.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/claremont-landscape-garden+44 1372 467806
Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9JG

Edible Cinema (London) — Intrigued by the idea of seeing and tasting a film at the same time? When you get to your cinema seat, there will be a tray of small numbered boxes that are to be opened at specific times during the film. The menu is based on an interpretation of what is happening on the screen. The team behind the creative menu includes experimental chefs, food designers and mixologists. Past films include Grosse Point Blank, Trading Places, and When Harry Met Sally. This year's Halloween screening is Silence of the Lambs on October 31 at Curzon Cinema, Mayfair in London. Tickets are £37.50 and includes bite-sized canapés and mini Conker Spirit and Fentimans cocktails.
www.curzoncinemas.com

The Ivy (Multiple) — The original location of The Ivy, West Street has been popular with celebrities and theatre* patrons for over 100 years. The Ivy Collection now features modern British dishes in upmarket brasseries and cafes in London and Surrey.  The Ivy in Cobham, Wimbledon and Marlow Garden in London will feature a special menu during Halloweek October 24-31 beginning at 4 pm.  Dishes include Tombstone Tartare Steak through the Heart' and 'Chocolate Skull' dessert along with Halloween-inspired cocktails and kid-friendly non-alcoholic juice. Halloween night will include some special Trick-or-Treats for the kids.
www.ivycollection.com

The Lightbox (Woking) — Located in Woking, The Lightbox is an award-winning museum designed by the same architects as the London Eye.  In addition to three permanent collections, The Lightbox hosts 20 temporary exhibitions a year, Past exhibitions include Gertrude Jekyll, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, William Turner and Andy Warhol. General admission is free and main and upper gallery exhibitions admission is £5 for a day or £7.50 for a year. A variety of Halloween-themed drop-in art and craft workshops will be offered for children ages 4-12 years old October 23-26.
www.thelightbox.org.uk +44 1483 737800
Chobham Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 4AA

Skywalk Adventure (Esher) — Located at Sandown Sports Club, Skywalk Adventure features two treetop adventure courses, including bridges, swinging logs, tightropes and zip wires landing into nets. The minimum age is 8 years and minimum height is 1.3 metres tall. There is an on-site cafe with hot pots, salads, sandwiches, snacks and wraps along with a fully stocked bar. They will be open extended hours October 25 - 31 as part of their SPOOKtacular Skywalk experience complete with supernatural sightings.  For a less Scary Skywalk adventure, they will be open as usual during the daytime. Admission is £15 for kids and £20 for adults for both courses (over 40% off regular prices). Booking by October 22 for discounted prices.
www.skywalkadventure.co.uk +44 1372 701107
Sandown Sports, More Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AN

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Two Popular West End Shows Return

Blood Brothers & Curious Incident

Blood Brothers is a musical that tells the story of twin brothers separated by birth  one raised by a wealthy family and another a poor family.  They are reunited when pursuing the same woman only to be tragically separated again.

Blood Brothers premiered in London's West End in 1983 and won the Olivier Award that year for Best New Musical. Following a UK tour in 1984 and a revival in 1988, the show than ran for 24 consecutive years before closing in November 2012. With more than 10,000 performances, it is the fifth longest running musical in West End history.

As part of its 30th anniversary, Blood Brothers is touring the UK with a limited run in Surrey October 29-November 3 at the New Wimbledon Theatre
.  
General tickets £17.90 - £52.90 (plus £3.65 transaction fee)
Theatre Card members £15 - £49
www.atgtickets.com+44 8448 717627
New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1QG



The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a play based on Mark Haddon's mystery noel by the same name.  It is about Christopher, a 15-year old boy who is mathematically gifted but has behavioral differences.

The play debuted in 2012 and has won 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awards including Best Play. Following a successful UK and international tour, the National Theatre production returns to London for a three month run November 29-February 23 at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.
Tickets £18 - £92.50
www.nationaltheatre.org.uk+44 2074 523000
Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London W1D 7DY
 


Book now to avoid disappointment!


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Time Out for London Eye

London Eye rides with a twist

Time Out's Eye Openers are back! The summer barre and yoga classes in a London Eye capsule return for the fall — but now they have added drinking, music and storytime.

At 135 meters (443 feet) high, the London Eye is the worlds largest cantilevered observation wheel and on a clear day you can see up to 25 miles from the top. When it was erected in 2000, it was meant to be temporary installation. Now it is hard to envision the London skyline without it. The award-winning structure is the UK's most popular attraction with over 3.75 million visitors annually.

While each capsule can hold up to 25 people, these unique experiences offer a much more intimate size group (our barre class in June was a total of six people).

Fitness
Yoga (September 27, October 2-4) by The Refinery — £25
Barre (September 29, October 6) by The Refinery — £25

Kids
Baby Sensory under 3's (September 27, October 3, 4, 17 and 18) — £12.50
Baby Music under 3's (October 2) — £12.50
Storytime for under 3's (September 27, 29 October 2-4) — £12.50
Paddington Storytime for 4 - 7 year olds (September 27, 29 October 2-4) by London Dreamtime — £12.50 (includes Paddington Bear book to take home)

Drink
East London Liquor Company (September 29) — £25
Old Kent Road Brewery (September 29) — £25

There is also the added benefit of going through a dedicated entrance and skipping most of the queue (regular Fast Track tickets are £33). Book now for a fun, affordable way to ride the London Eye!
www.timeout.com
Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB


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Open House London

World’s largest architecture festival

There is still time to plan where to visit during Open House London September 22nd and 23rd. This year’s 26th annual event provides free admission to 800 buildings and includes talks, tours and walks, covering 30 boroughs.

Some of the iconic buildings that usually charge, include:
  • The Banqueting House
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • Dennis Severs House
  • Design Museum
  • Ham House & Garden
  • Leighton House Museum
  • Mansion House
  • Middle Temple Hall
  • Museum of London
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • The View from the Shard
For those that are willing to brave the elements, the two-day event also includes special talks and walks, including:
  • Cycle Tour of Olympic Park
  • Walking Tour of David Bowie’s Beckenham
Best of all it is all free - so grab a family member or friend, download the app and be one of the 250,000 that participate!
www.openhouselondon.org.uk

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Zip Line Across London

Birds eye view of London

Last year's summer pop-up at Archbishop’s Park is back. Here’s your chance to catch Zip Now (formerly Zip World London), the world's longest and fastest city zip line before it closes September 9th.

You will begin by climbing up 115 feet (more than 9 double decker buses!) where you will enjoy unparalleled birds eye view of London’s skyline. Attractions include Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye and The Shard.

You will then travel 225 metres (738 feet) at speeds 50 kph (31 mph). This year, there are three ziplines located side by side so family and friends can ride together. Also, new this year is the Mega Drop. For £10 more, instead of walking down a flight of stairs, you can take a 15 metre (49 feet) freefall down.

Conveniently located within 10 minute walk from London Waterloo, this is a thrilling start or end to a day in London. Book on-line for discounts, including special prices 2:30 – 5:30 pm weekdays. No experience or previous training required – just a sense of adventure!
www.zip-now.co+44 3300 583477
Carlisle Lane, Lambeth, London SE1 7LE


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Pilot's Hub & Hanger

Brasserie and coffee house adjacent to historic 1930s hanger

With the temperatures cooling down, it is a perfect time to visit The Pilot's Hub. The brasserie and coffee house is located adjacent to the historic 1930s Redhill Aerodrome. Beginning in 1937, Redhill featured an Elementary Flying Training School that continued until the beginning of World War II. Through the course of the War, it served as a Royal Air Force Station for deployments of fighter squadrons and used by support units.

Today, Redhill offers a range of commercial aviation services, including aircraft maintenance, flight training, along with helicopter and charter services. Seating is first-come first served, with exception to holidays (we made the mistake of making a trip there on Father's Day without a booking*).  Only a runway separates guests seated on the deck from the planes.  Alternatively, bar height seating inside is a perfect for viewing planes taking off and landing. The food is homemade, including made-to-order burgers, sandwiches and cakes, with bread and pastries from Chalk Hills Bakery.

Be sure to take a walk to the loos*. The route passes through the hanger filled with plans, including a historic G-ABWP Spartan Arrow, the last one in existence from 1932. The Pilot's Hub is worth the drive for a leisurely bite!
www.pilotshub.co.uk+44 2086 529027
Hangar 9, Redhill Aerodrome, Redhill, Surrey RH1 5JY


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Summer Exhibition

World's longest display of contemporary art

There is still time to catch the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) Summer Exhibition which closes this Sunday, August 19th. Founded in 1768, the Summer Exhibition is the world's longest running annual display of contemporary art. The committee for the 250th anniversary display is chaired by Grayson Perry, English contemporary artist known for his ceramics and tapestries. 

Hung by RA artists, each room is as unique as the pieces within them.  The works range from monumental pieces by well-known artists such as Joana Vasconcelos' Royal Valkyrie to small-scale pieces by first-time exhibitors like Nicholas Allan's On.

Even the medium used to create the art invites visitors to take a closer look – from El Enatsui's Change of Fortune made of bottle tops sewn together with wire to Lee Cutter's Prison Culture made of etched bars of prison issue soap.

  
With over 1,300 pieces of art selected from 20,000 entries, some rooms are literally filled floor to ceiling with pieces of art. The casual, collage-like display draws an audience that is as diverse and interesting as the artwork itself.


Gallery III with its bright yellow walls even features a gin bar where traditional drinks like London Cup (similar to Pimm's) and snacks are available for purchase. With this addition, it is no surprise that there is truly something for everyone!
www.royalacademy.org.uk+44 2073 00800
Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD


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War Horse Returns

UK Tour until April 2019

Winner of 5 Tony awards, War Horse, is famous for its larger than life puppeteering. Based on Michael Morpugo’s 1982 children’s novel by the same name, it is about an army horse named Joey and efforts by his original owner, Albert, to bring him home after World War I.

The book was adapted to the stage by National Theatre in 2007 and had a successful 8 year run on West End. Since then, War Horse has been performed in 11 countries to over 7 million people. The play has become an integral part of British history with Joey making appearances at the Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee celebration.

As part of its 10th anniversary year, War Horse is touring the UK. In Surrey, the play runs August 1-18 at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. General tickets £22.40 - £59.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee), Theatre Card members £19.50 - £55.50
www.atgtickets.com+44 8448 717627
Ambassadors,Peacocks Centre, Woking GU21 6GQ


War Horse returns to National Theatre on November 8th to mark 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and runs through January 5, 2019. All matinee performances £15 – £52, Friday and Saturday evenings £18 – £67 and Half-price tickets for under 18s

National Theatre will also host a number of special events and talks, including:
"Writer Michael Morpurgo on War Horse" Tuesday, November 20th at 5.45 pm
"Inside the Horse: Exploring the War Horse Puppets" Thursday, November 22nd at 5:45 pm
www.nationaltheatre.org.uk+44 2074 523000
Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX


Don't miss your chance to see War Horse again or for the first time!

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