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Monday, September 26, 2016

National Cycling Centre

Much of the success in recent years for British cycling at the Olympics and Tour de France can be put down to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. Riders such as Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins have made their base here.

National Cycling Centre, Manchester

The National Cycling Centre opened in 1994 and has a world class board track as well as a more recent indoor BMX track and outdoor mountain bike trails that run through the green space in Clayton Vale.

National Cycling Centre, Manchester.

The Manchester Velodrome as it was then called, was built for the World Track Cycling Championships in 1996. The velodrome was a central part of Manchester's unsuccessful bids to host the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000.

National Cycling Centre, Manchester, UK.

The track is available for use by riders of all abilities. Regular courses are held for novices to learn how to access the track safely and to ride safely with other solo riders. These novice starter courses feed in to accreditation courses for the over 15's who want to get more involved in the sport.

National Cycling Centre, Manchester, UK.

The velodrome hosts regular competitions including next month's World Masters Track Cycling Championships 2016 from October 1-8.

The National Cycling Center also has courses in basic bicycle maintenance and has facilities for other sports such as futsal, badminton, netball, handball and basketball.

The Velopark Cafe on site serves tasty refreshments after a hard day's cycling. It is also possible to book a weekday tour with the possibility of seeing Team GB training. The tour takes in the facilities at the National Cycling Centre and the British Cycling Hall of Fame, the Reg Harris statue and the Beryl Burton display.

Velopark Cafe, National Cycling Centre.

National Cycling Centre
Stuart Street
M11 4DQ
Tel: 0161 223 2244


From Piccadilly Gardens take bus number 216 to Sportcity (10 minutes). By Metrolink to Velopark Station. The National Cycling Centre is a short walk from Manchester City's Etihad Stadium and the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre.

National Cycling Centre.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Snowdon Mountain Railway in North Wales has been celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. The Snowdon Mountain Railway is one of several scenic railways in Britain.

Snowdon Mountain Railway began in 1896 and the 4.7-mile (7.2-km) railway has transported passengers from Llanberis, at the foot of Snowdon, to the 3560-foot (1085-metre) summit of the mountain (the highest peak in Wales) ever since (despite a fatal accident on its very first journey).

Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales.

In fact, so popular has the railway become that around 130,000 people ride the trains in season and advanced booking is usually necessary. The railway is now owned and operated by British Heritage plc.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is Britain's only rack and pinion mountain railway, and also has the nation's highest station, perched just below Snowdon's summit. On clear days the views over the surrounding Snowdon mountains are simply spectacular. An interesting new visitor centre has recently opened at the top station.

Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales.

Given the local geography it comes as little surprise that the railway is operated in some of Britain's harshest weather conditions. Services are stopped in cases of extreme weather, with the line remaining closed in the winter season from November through to mid-March. Steam and diesel locomotives hauling individual carriages take about an hour to complete the journey from Llanberis along a single track narrow gauge line.

Those lucky enough to have tickets on "The Snowdon Lily" or newer "The Snowdon Mountain Goat" carriages will be pushed by one of the railway's original 1896 steam locomotives.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway connects with the Llanberis Lake Railway at Llanberis Station on the A4086.

Online Ticket Prices
Adult: (16 years+)
Return From £29.00
Child: (3 - 15 years)
Return From £20.00

Snowdon Mountain Railway
LL55 4TT


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Jane Austen's House Museum

Jane Austen's House Museum is located in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire. The museum occupies the 18th-century house (also known as Chawton Cottage) in which novelist Jane Austen spent most of the last eight years of her life. Jane Austen lived in the house with her mother, sister, and a long time family friend from 7 July 1809 until May 1817. Shortly before her death she moved to lodgings near her doctor, where she stayed for six weeks before she died. The Jane Austen House Museum is a Grade I listed building.

Jane Austen's House Museum, Winchester, UK.

Upon her arrival at Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen had already written three novels in draft form: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. These novels may have been revised at the cottage prior to their publication. In addition, Austen wrote Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion while living at the cottage.

Jane Austen's House Museum.

Jane Austen's House Museum is located near the A31/A32 roundabout in the centre of Chawton Village. Visitors to Chawton may also like to visit nearby Winchester and view the magnificent cathedral in which Jane Austen is buried.

Jane Austen's House Museum
Chawton, Alton
GU34 1SD
Tel: 01420 83262

Hours: 10.30am-4.30pm

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bela Bartok Statue in Onslow Square

A life-size statue of the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok (1881-1945) stands in Onslow Square a short walk from South Kensington underground stationin London. The bronze statue on a granite base is the work of Hungarian sculptor, Imre Varga.

Bela Bartok Statue in Onslow Square, London.

Bartok visited London on a number of occasions from 1922 on. His stayed at 7 Sydney Place in South Kensington, which was the home of Sir Duncan Wilson and Lady Freda Wilson at the time. A blue plaque at the house records his stays while performing in London.

Bartok is shown in the statue wearing a trilby and overcoat. There are other statues of Bartok by the same sculptor in Brussels, Budapest and Paris.

Bartok is considered one of the most important classical composers of the 20th century. His work is full of the rhythms of Hungarian folk music, which he studied, recorded and collected during his time in Europe. Bartok fled his native country for New York in 1940 to escape the Nazis.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Walmer Castle

Walmer Castle in East Kent in the south east of England makes for a pleasant half-day tour along with nearby Deal Castle.

Walmer Castle, Kent, England.

Walmer Castle, like Deal Castle and Sandown Castle, was built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to protect England from overseas invasion from France.

Walmer Castle consists of a central keep, four circular bastions and a moat. During the 18th century, the castle morphed into a private residence for the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Extensive gardens were added during this time and are one of the main reasons to visit this lovely English Heritage maintained site.

Walmer Castle Gardens, Kent, UK.

The castle interior is a museum with various exhibits relating to the castle's history and its various residents.

The superb Queen Mother's Garden was designed by the noted garden designer Penelope Hobhouse.

Walmer Castle
Kingsdown Rd, Walmer, Deal
Kent CT14 7LJ
Tel: 01304 364 288

Walmer Castle has various opening times depending on the season. Summer is generally 10am-6pm daily. Please consult the website above for full details.
Admission £10.10 (adults)

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Manchester Museum

The Manchester Museum is on Oxford Road in the university area of Manchester.

The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester.

The Manchester Museum is housed in an historic red brick building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905) in 1890. Waterhouse was also the architect of Manchester's Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in London. Later extensions to the museum were undertaken by Waterhouse's son and grandson.

The museum is a real mix of different exhibits including archery, dinosaur skeletons, ethnography, mineralogy, natural history and entomology exhibits, Egyptian mummies and even a vivarium.

The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester.

The origins of the museum go back to the 19th century and the collection of the local Manchester manufacturer John Leigh Philips (1761-1814). After his death the Manchester Natural History Society was established to preserve the collection, which also expanded rapidly, thanks to donations by the members over the years.

Highlights of the Manchester Museum include the large Egyptology collection with stone temple sculptures and the Living Cultures collection with a range of exhibitions from all over the world including exhibitions of Japanese art and furniture.

The Manchester Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. The museum also has a shop with fair trade gifts and a cafe. The latter has reductions for students with a student card.

The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester.

The Manchester Museum
Oxford Road
The University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: 0161 275 2648
Hours: 10am-5pm; daily
Admission: Free

Manchester Oxford Road Station is 15 minutes on foot. From Manchester Piccadilly Station take a 147 bus (weekdays only). Other buses that run close to the museum are the 85, 86, 250, 41, 42, 43 and 111.

A visit to Whitworth Art Gallery can easily be combined with some time at The Manchester Museum.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Scuttler's Wine Bar

Next door to the The Lower Turk's Head pub in the Northern Quarter of central Manchester is Scuttler's Wine Bar.

Scuttler's Wine Bar, Manchester.

Scuttler's Wine Bar offers a wide range of excellent wines as well as several cask ales and decent food. Despite the narrow shop front the bar is surprising roomy once you enter and you can walk through from The Lower Turk's Head.

Scuttler's Wine Bar is close to the Arndale Centre.

Scuttler's Wine Bar
34 Shudehill
M4 1EZ
Tel: 0161 834 2910

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