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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dover Castle

Dover Castle in the port town of Dover in Kent is England's largest castle and one of its most important and historic fortresses.

Dover Castle, Kent UK.

Dover Castle was founded in the 11th century and built by the invading Normans on what was thought to have been the site of an early hill fort and the Roman light house (Pharos). Adjacent to the light house is the Anglo-Saxon church of St. Mary in Castro.

The castle as we know it today was begun during the reign of Henry II (1133-1189) with improvements to the castle occurring at regular intervals thereafter including during the reign of Henry VIII and during the Napoleonic Wars, when Dover Castle's strategic importance as the "key to England" was recognised. The first and only underground barracks for troops were built here during the wars with Napoleon's France.

Dover Castle, Kent, UK.

During the Second World War the underground tunnels were converted into a command center and hospital and Dover castle was once again part of Britain's defences against attack from overseas. Today Dover Castle is a Grade I listed building and a major tourist attraction now owned and operated by English Heritage, who have renovated the castle's interior.

Dover Castle, Kent, UK.

Dover Castle
Castle Hill, Dover
Kent CT16 1HU
Tel: 01304 211 067

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016



For whisky enthusiasts, no visit to the Isle of Skye would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Talisker distillery. Dating back to 1830, Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland.

Talisker's five copper stills boast a stunning location on the shores of Loch Harport in the village of Carbost, on the beautiful Minginish Peninsula.

Talisker is one of the world's most respected whiskies, and has been for a very long time. Robert Louis Stevenson regaled its virtues in 1880, and Talisker is one of James Bond's favorite nips. The malted barley used in production comes from Muir of Ord, while its sweet, distinctive flavour is infused with spicy, peaty smokiness.

Talisker tours range from the £8, 45-minute "classic" distillery tour, which includes a single tasting, through to a £35, 2-hour "tasting" tour, which includes a sampling of five whiskies.

Carbost, Isle of Skye
IV47 8SR

See the Talisker website for opening times.

Talisker distillery.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Forest Aqua Park

New Forest Aqua Park in Hampshire includes two picturesque lakes set in the heart of the New Forest countryside playing  host to a range of water activities such as wake boarding, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing.

The summer of 2015 saw the park open a large inflatable obstacle course inspired by the game show "Total Wipeout". Visitors have the option to camp on site by one of the park's lakes or in nearby woodlands.

Ringwood Road

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Carisbrooke Castle

Historic Carisbrooke Castle is located in the village of Carisbrooke, near Newport, on the Isle of Wight. King Charles I was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle in the months leading up to his trial and subsequent execution in 1649. A museum on the premises describes how he tried to escape from the castle in 1648, but was unable to get through the bars of his window. After his death, his two youngest children were confined in Carisbrooke Castle, and Princess Elizabeth died there.

Carisbrooke Castle, England.

The site of Carisbrooke Castle has probably been occupied since pre-Roman times. The site became an Anglo-Saxon stronghold during the 8th century. Around 1000 AD, a wall was built around the hill in order to defend against Viking raids. Between 1066 and 1086, William FitzOsbern was granted the Isle of Wight, and he probably built the first castle to secure the Isle of Wight for the Normans.

Carisbrooke Castle, England, UK.

The visitor to Carisbrooke Castle can climb the seventy-one steps leading up to the keep which commands a fine view. Domestic buildings, which are mostly from the 13th century, occupy the centre of the castle enclosure. Some of these buildings are in ruins, but the main rooms served as the official residence of the Governor of the Isle of Wight until the 1940s, and they are in good repair. Rooms open to the public include the Great Hall, Great Chamber and several smaller rooms.
Carisbrooke Castle, England.

Visitors to the Isle of Wight should also view the nearby Needles and Tennyson Memorial.

Carisbrooke Castle
Castle Hill
Isle of Wight
PO30 1XY

Carisbrooke Castle on Facebook

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Oxford Street Christmas Lights 2015

The Oxford Street Christmas Lights have been turned on again this year.

Oxford Street Christmas Lights, London

Kylie Minogue flicked the switch as early as November 2 this year from a booth outside Pandora store close to Marble Arch and Selfridges department store to light up London's premier shopping street.

Oxford Street Christmas Lights, London

The 750,000 LED lights on Oxford Street, which give the impression it is snowing will remain illuminated until January 6, 2014.

Oxford Street Christmas Lights, London, UK

Fleur East, Foxes, Gabrielle Aplin and X-Factor winner Ben Haenow performed before the lights were turned on.

Oxford Street Christmas Lights, UK

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park

If you're in London over the Christmas period there's no better way to get into a festive mood than a visit to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. This free-to-enter event in one of the capital's most famous parks includes a host of Christmas-themed fun and activities, including big top shows, an observation wheel, an ice bar and a sprawling German-style Christmas market.

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, London.

This year visitors to Hyde Park can skate around a picturesque ice rink, enter the Magical Ice Kingdom with its "ice forest" of frozen sculptures and gleaming ice castle, and enjoy the acrobatic wonders of shows at the award-winning Zippos Circus and Cirque Beserk. Younger children will enjoy more sedate rides such as carousels and helter skelters, while high adrenaline roller coasters cater to a thrill-seeking older crowd.

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, London.

2015/2016 dates: November 20, 2015 to January 3, 2016. Open from 10am to 10pm every day (except Christmas Day).

Find more things to do and see during winter in Britain.

Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line) Marble Arch (Central Line) Green Park (Victoria, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines)
Victoria (Victoria line and National Rail)
Paddington (Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Circle & District lines and National Rail
*Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch get very busy and visitors are advised to use alternative stations.
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth

Black Friars Distillery, also known as the Plymouth Gin Distillery, is located in the Barbican neighbourhood of Plymouth in Devon. Black Friars has been in operation since 1793.

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth Devon.

The beautiful distillery building dates back to the early 1400's, with the most intact part of the complex - a medieval hall with a fine hull-shaped timber roof known as the Refectory Room - one of the oldest buildings in the city and formerly a Black Friars monastery. After Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries the buildings were used as a debtors' prison, a meeting hall and a reception centre for Huguenot refugees from France. The Pilgrim Fathers stayed here on their last night in England before setting sail for the New World in 1620.
Not surprisingly with this history, the Plymouth Gin distillery is the oldest working distillery in England.

Soon after Black Friars was established Plymouth Gin became a firm favourite in the numerous countries it was shipped to. The gin drinking of the Royal Navy considerably enhanced gin's prestige and Plymouth became popular across the world. In more recent times there has been an increase in the popularity of the distinctive sweeter and lighter but stronger Plymouth flavour, compared to the more usual London Dry Gin.

Black Friars Distillery Plymouth Devon.

Black Friars offers a range of tours, ranging in price from a 40-minute, £7 inspection through to an in-depth, 2.5-hour "Master Distiller's" outing (£40) where visitors get to create (and take away) their own bespoke gin. The distillery complex also has its own cocktail bar and brasserie.

Black Friars Distillery
60 Southside Street
The Barbican
Plymouth PL1 2LQ
Tel: 01752 665 292
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am to 5pm; Sunday 11am to 5pm

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