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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oxford Attractions

Oxford is one of Britain's most lovely towns especially the old centre where Oxford University's 39 colleges are located.

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford

The university at Oxford is one of Europe's oldest and has its roots in the 12th century and the rule of Henry I, the so-called "Scholar King."

The earliest colleges were founded by wealthy English bishops who imposed an ecclesiastical curriculum and architecture on the institutions they endowed, centred around the quad (quadrangles) with dining halls, student halls and the library in the surrounding buildings.

Oxford professors were forbidden from marriage until 1877 and women were not granted degrees at Oxford University until 1920 underlying Oxford's traditional Christian heritage.

Tower Views from St Mary's church, Oxford

Oxford's centre is Carfax from where the High Street, Cornmarket and St Aldgates radiate west, north and south. From Carfax is is easy to explore the historic centre on foot or by rental bicycle. The 14th century Carfax Tower here is the only surviving remnant of St Martin's Church and supposedly has an historic connection to William Shakespeare. Just south of here on Pembroke Street is the acclaimed Modern Art Oxford, a gallery showcasing modern British and European art in a variety of media.

A better view of Oxford than from the top of Carfax Tower can be had from The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the Radcliffe Camera (see above), England's earliest circular library, is clearly visible on a fine day, as is All Souls College (below).

Tower Views from St Mary's Church, Oxford

Merton College on Merton Street, close to Christ Church College was founded in 1264 and is one of the oldest colleges at the University of Oxford. Alumni include the writer Angus Wilson, Louis MacNeice, the poet TS Eliot, Kris Kristofferson and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan. Visitors enter Merton College into the Front Quadrangle (see below).

Merton College

The large chapel at Merton College (see below) was built from 1290 to the mid 15th century. Merton chapel features original stained glass from the 14th century and does not have a nave, thus unusually situating the choir in the main body of the church.

Merton College

The Mob Quad at Merton College is the oldest quadrangle architecture at Oxford. The Mob Quad was built between 1288 and 1378.

Close to the pedestrianized Cornmarket shopping precinct is the Ashmolean Museum - the world's first university museum. The Ashmolean Museum was built between 1678–1683 to house the curiosities Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) gave to Oxford University in 1677. These included the collections of John Tradescant, a gardener for King Charles I and his son of the same name. The present Ashmolean Museum building (see below) dates from as late as 1845 and underwent an expansion completed in 2010.

Ashmolean Museum

Oxford has a number of good hotels suitable for all budgets including the Holiday Inn Oxford, the exclusive MacDonald Randolph Hotel and the boutique Vanbrugh House Hotel on St Michael's Street.

Map of Oxford

© 2012 Britain-Visitor.com

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Hotels and Guesthouses in Oxford UK

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Aquatics Centre London

The Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park in east London was designed by the award-winning Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and forms part of the gateway into Olympic Park. The Aquatics Centre was used for the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Diving Pool, Aquatics Centre London

The Aquatics Centre's vital statistics are: completed in 2011 after three years of construction work, seating capacity 17,500 reduced to 2,500 post-Games, 160m long and 80m wide roof done in a wave motif, three pools - a 50m competition pool, a 25m diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool holding 10 million litres of water, creche and cafe.

Aquatics Centre Windows London

The windows of the Aquatics Centre have a steel design in the shape of the Olympic Rings. The Aquatics Centre is now undergoing extensive modification so it can be re-opened to the public in 2014.

Stratford Tube Station is the nearest station on the Central Line, Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway and North London Line.

Aquatics Centre London 2012

Aquatics Centre
Olympic Park
E20 2ZQ

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Cheltenham Attractions

Cheltenham's fame and grandeur can be traced back to the discovery of a spa in this once-sleepy Cotswolds town in 1716.

Neptune Fountain, Cheltenham
Neptune Fountain
Cheltenham developed rapidly over the next century as the rich and famous, from Kings and Queens to artists and admirals flocked to take the curative waters, which were thought effective for a wide range of ailments.

Nowadays Cheltenham is considered to have the best preserved Regency architecture in Britain.

Cheltenham Regency architecture

Cheltenham's many attractions include the Pittville Pump Room, built by Joseph Pitt to the north of the town centre before he went bankrupt in the 1820s and the Neptune Fountain, designed by Joseph Hall, the town's borough surveyor at the time and modelled on the magnificent Trevi Fountain in Rome; the Promenade is the town's main shopping area and includes the Municipal Offices, a fine example of Regency architecture.

The Holst Birthplace Museum at 4 Clarence Road celebrates the life of Gustav Holst (1874 –1934), the composer of The Planets. Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum contains work by William Morris as well as ceramics from The Netherlands and China. (Note the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum is closed for renovation until 2013).

Regency Architecture in Cheltenham, UK

Cheltenham also boats some lovely parks and gardens: the large Pittville Park, Montpellier Gardens, Imperial Gardens and Sandford Park with its open air 1930s lido.

Cheltenham is also a city of festivals chief among them the classical music festival in July along with a jazz festival in April and May, a science festival in June and a folk music festival in February.

For horse racing fans the annual four-day Cheltenham Festival in March is a must. The steeple chase event at Cheltenham Racecourse in Prestbury Park attracts visitors from all over Britain and Ireland.

Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre
77 Promenade, Cheltenham GL50 1PJ
Tel: 01242 522878

Snowshill Manor

Within easy travelling distance of Cheltenham are many other things to see: Snowshill Manor, Chedworth Roman Villa, Sudeley Castle, the Gloucester Docks and Hailes Abbey.

Cheltenham is 2 hours, 10 minutes from London Paddington, around 45 minutes to an hour to Bristol Temple Meads and 10 to 15 minutes to Gloucester.

© Devon-Visitor.com

Hotels and Guesthouses in Cheltenham UK

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Charles Dickens Coffee House London

Charles Dickens was born 200 years ago. Dickens created some of the best-known figures in English literature including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Pip. Dickens is buried in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner, among other literary giants such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Hardy.

The Charles Dickens Coffee House in London's Covent Garden is on the ground floor of the building that was the office of All The Year Round, a magazine Dickens founded to publish his stories. At the peak of Dickens' popularity, crowds would gather outside to wait for the latest episode.

Charles Dickens Coffee House London UK

Dickens lodged in rooms above the office in the late 1860s for a few years before his death in 1870.

Nowadays, the Charles Dickens Coffee House serves a variety of light meals as well as sandwiches, snacks and beverages. Outdoor seating is available, weather permitting.

Charles Dickens Coffee House

The Charles Dickens Coffee House is located on Wellington Street in Covent Garden, London. Visitors to London may also want to visit other Dickens' haunts such a Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub or The George Inn.

26 Wellington Street
Covent Garden
Tel: 020 7379 7727

Charles Dickens Coffee Shop map

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Hotels and Guesthouses in London UK

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ye Olde Nag's Head Castleton

For a small village in the Peak District Castleton is blessed with some good pubs including the Bull's Head pub and The George.

Another local favorite in Castleton is Ye Olde Nag's Head a former stone coaching inn dating from the 17th century.

Ye Olde Nag's Head offers a full English breakfast from 8am-11am every morning and a wide range of food on offer at other times of the day including Fish and Chips, meat dishes, vegetarian and children's meals.

Ye Olde Nag's Head Castleton, Derbyshire

Cask ales on tap include Timothy Taylors and Black Sheep as well as Westons cider to be enjoyed in rooms with real log fires.

Ye Olde Nag's Head offers 10 bedrooms ranging in price from 50 to 80 GBP a night some with antique four-poster beds and all en-suite.

Other places to see in and around the Castleton area in Derbyshire include the Hope Valley, Peveril Castle, Buxton, Eyam Hall, Eyam Stocks, Mam Tor, Winnats Pass, Edale, Hathersage, the Blue John mines and the picturesque Hope Valley.

Ye Olde Nag's Head
Cross Street
Hope Valley
S33 8WH
Tel: 01433 620248
Map of Castleton

Hotels and Guesthouses in Britain

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blackstocks Fish & Chips Chester

Blackstocks in Chester is well-known locally for its excellent fish and chips.

Blackstocks Fish & Chips Chester Cheshire

As well as fish and chips, Blackstocks offers chicken nuggets, pies and premium sausages.

The interior is spacey and has a contemporary eye-catching design.

33 Northgate Street
Chester CH1 2HQ
Open seven days a week
11.30am - 7.45pm Sunday to Thursday
11.30am - 8.45pm Friday and Saturday

Things to see in Chester include the Roman Amphitheater, the Roman Gardens, Grosvenor Park, the River Dee, St John's Church, the Meadows, Chester Cathedral and the Rows.

Chester's pubs include the riverside Boathouse, Ye Olde King's Head and the Victoria at the Cross.

Hotels and Guesthouses in Chester UK

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why Is Britain Getting Fatter?

British waistlines have expanded considerably since the 1960s. Indeed government figures show that 25% of British adults are considered clinically obese, making the Brits the fattest nation in Europe followed by Italy, France and Germany.

Obese Britain

The national diet of full English breakfasts, beer and fish and chips may not help along with a climate that keeps people stuck indoors in front of an admittedly decent TV offering.

The decline of the specialist shop and the subsequent growth of out-of-town supermarkets have seen British people increasingly drive to shop and buying in larger and larger quantities of food and drink.

This deadly mix of gluttony and sloth has meant clinical obesity levels have doubled in the UK in the last decade.

Why Britain Getting Fatter?

In the fat league of British cities London is the slimmest with Birmingham ranking as the fattest.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Saturday, November 17, 2012

British Pillar Boxes

The red pillar box is a veritable icon of the UK's streets. The first pillar boxes started to appear in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century for the collection of mail.

British Post Boxes

The very first pillar box was erected in Carlisle in 1859 and over the following years the initial design changed from green to its now distinctive red,  a colour which has been adopted by many other countries including Japan, India, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Italy and Argentina.

British Pillar Box, Chester

Britain's post boxes often display the initials of the reigning monarch at the foot of the pillar box. The first pillar boxes were made in cast iron though today other materials are used such as glass fibre and plastic.

Post Box and Telephone Box

As well as pillar boxes, some post boxes in the UK are built into walls and in large cities such as London double pillar boxes collect both ordinary and franked mail. Collection times are noted on the front of the box. The British Postal Museum Store in Essex has a large collection of historic pillar boxes.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Friday, November 16, 2012

Traveller's Call Pub Great Moor Stockport

Located on the A6 on the 192 bus route to Stepping Hill Hospital from Stockport and Manchester, the Traveller's Call pub is well-known for its fine local Robinson's beer.

Traveller's Call Pub, Stockport

At the back of the pub is a cobbled beer garden with a number of oddities including a classic red phone box. The interior is cozy and woody. The Traveller's Call is within easy pub crawl of the nearby Crown. There's an historic painted pub sign on the side of the building on Cherry Tree Lane.

Further attractions in the Stockport area of Greater Manchester include Stockport Town Hall, Stockport Air Raid Shelters, St Mary's Church, Bramhall Hall, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, Stockport Market, Fred Perry's birthplace, Woodbank Park, the Viaduct, the Hat Works and Stockport Art Gallery.

Traveller's Call Pub Great Moor Stockport.


Traveller's Call
351 Buxton Road
Great Moor
Tel: 0161 456 6550
Map of Traveller's Call

There is another Traveller's Call pub on Stockport Road in Bredbury. Just across the A6 is Ashton's Fish & Chip Shop.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

MediaCityUK Manchester

MediaCityUK in the Salford Quays area of Manchester close to The Lowry, The Lowry Outlet Mall, and the Imperial War Museum North is a large new development in this canal side area.

Quay House, Media City UK

MediaCityUK on the Manchester Ship Canal is now home to BBC North (BBC Breakfast, Children's TV, Sport including Match of the Day, Learning, Radio 5 Live and Future Media and Technology), various ITV departments, media related faculties of the University of Salford, Satellite Information Services Ltd (SIS) and a new Holiday Inn Hotel.

MediaCityUK, Salford, Manchester

The development also includes residential property in the form of 378 apartments and a number of shops and restaurants: WH Smith, Costa and a branch of the Japanese-style noodle chain Wagamama are some of the tenants.

Work began on the site in 2007 with the first stage of construction completed in 2011. MediaCityUK utilizes a gas-powered tri-generation energy plant using water from the ship canal for heating and cooling the buildings.

Quay House, MediaCityUK, Manchester

The nearest Metrolink station is MediaCityUK or Harbour City - take a tram from Piccadilly Station on the Eccles Line. The #9 bus links Salford Crescent rail station and Salford Shopping City with MediaCityUK and The Lowry at Salford Quays.

Other attractions within the cities of Manchester and Salford include the Canal Street Gay VillageKing StreetChinatown, the Arndale CenterUrbis, the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester Cathedral.

MediaCityUK Manchester UK

© Britain-Visitor.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

London To Manchester Trains

London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly Station is one of the UK's busiest rail connections connecting the capital, London to Manchester, the largest city in the north west of England.

London To Manchester Virgin Trains

The rail franchise is currently held by Richard Branson's Virgin despite a seeming setback earlier this year when the lucrative West Coast route was initially awarded to FirstGroup in August only to be later reversed by the government.

London To Manchester Trains

The current West Coast Line runs between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly and between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street with connections to Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn, Stoke, Macclesfield and Stockport.

London To Manchester Trains Map

Journey times for the fastest express trains between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly are just over two hours as are the fastest connections between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

Euston Station is on the Victoria and Northern lines of the London Underground and a short walk from Euston Square Station on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. Piccadilly Station connects to the Manchester metrolink.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bollington Cheshire

A short drive from Macclesfield and its silk museums is the former mill town of Bollington.

Bollington was a centre of cotton production with the Swindells family building the Clarence and Adelphi mills in the town.

Stone Railway Viaduct, Bollington Cheshire

The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway was opened in 1869 as an alternative route from Manchester to Macclesfield until its closure in 1970. The former track is now a linear park popular with hikers, walkers, joggers and cyclists. An impressive 23-arch stone viaduct over the River Dean was saved from demolition by a local campaign and forms part of the Middlewood Way of Route 55 of the National Cycle Network.

Bollington, Cheshire

The Macclesfield Canal connects Bollington and Macclesfield running over the impressive Bollington Aqueduct and past the Clarence and Adelphi mills.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Macclesfield Silk Museum

Macclesfield has a long association with the silk industry and that history can best be understood by a visit to Macclesfield Silk Museum.

The museum traces the development of silk production from its earliest beginnings in China and charts the growth of the silk industry in Macclesfield, which at one time was the world's leading producer of finished silk from its over 70 working silk mills.

Macclesfield Silk Museum, Cheshire

On display are silk costumes, machinery for making silk thread and even a silk parachute.

Macclesfield Silk Museum, Cheshire

Macclesfield has other sites dedicated to its silk heritage including the Silk Industry Museum located in what was the Macclesfield School of Art, which trained designers for the silk trade and the restored Paradise Mill complete with 26 Jacquard Looms on the top floor. The one hour guided tour introduces the industrial process of silk weaving and gives an impression of 1930s' factory life.

Macclesfield Silk Museum displays

Macclesfield Silk Museum
The Heritage Centre
Roe Street
Macclesfield SK11 6UT
Tel: 01625 613210

© Britain-Visitor.com

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lyme Park Lyme Hall & Gardens

Lyme Park with its hall and gardens is one of the major attractions near Manchester on the fringes of the Peak District.

Lyme Park Lyme Hall & Gardens, Cheshire

Lyme Park in Disley has grounds of over 1300 acres and was owned by the Legh Family from the late 14th century before being acquired by the National Trust in 1946. The extensive grounds are home to both red and fallow deer and a walk up to the Cage (overlooking the main house) gives the visitor a good chance to see the deer from this elevated spot.

Lyme Hall & Gardens

Lyme Hall is the largest building in Cheshire and a Grade I listed building. The house's heyday was in the Edwardian period and the restored buildings and delightful gardens attempt to remind visitors of those times.

The original house was extended by the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni in the 1720s and underwent further work and restorations into the 20th century.

Lyme Hall & Gardens, Lyme Park, Disley

The formal gardens include a Dutch Garden created by William Legh with formal flower beds around a central fountain. There is also an orangery designed by architect Lewis Wyatt in the 1800s, a reflection lake, lawns, rhododendrons and rose gardens. The exterior of Lyme Hall was used during the filming of the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice in 1995.

The main entrance to Lyme Park is ½ mile from Disley Station on the line to Buxton from Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport Station. By car the main entrance is on the A6 and there are buses from both Buxton and Stockport.

Lyme Park near Disley

Lyme Park
SK12 2NR
Tel: 01663 762023

© Britain-Visitor.com

Friday, November 9, 2012

St Peter's Church Prestbury

St Peter's Church, opposite the Legh Arms in the Cheshire village of Prestbury, is an historic church with lovely stained glass windows and an atmospheric graveyard.

St Peter's Church Prestbury, Cheshire

St Peter's is a Grade I listed building and the churchyard contains a Norman chapel.

St Peter's Church Prestbury, Cheshire

Parts of the present church date from the early 13th century, which has been enlarged and restored over the following centuries. The churchyard contains some ancient yew trees and a sundial built in 1672.

St Peter's Church Prestbury, UK

St Peter's Prestbury
Parish Office
Flat 1, Swanwick House
SK10 4DG
Tel: 01625 827625

St Peter's Church Prestbury, UK

Buses 19 and 19X run from Prestbury to Macclesfield; Prestbury Station is on the Manchester Piccadilly via Macclesfield to Stoke-on-Trent railway line.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Legh Arms Prestbury

The Legh Arms in up-market Prestbury is an occasional haunt of Premiership football players such as Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, Manchester-based TV celebrities and their WAGs and hangers-on.

This former coaching inn provides both contemporary and traditionally-styled rooms as well as a bar, restaurant and private dining/meeting area.

Legh Arms Prestbury Near macclesfield.

Other attractions in Prestbury include the Jacobean National Westminster Bank building, St. Peter's Church and the stocks.

Legh Arms Prestbury, Cheshire

Legh Arms
Prestbury Village
SK10 4DG
Tel: 01625 829 130

Buses 19 and 19X run from Prestbury to Macclesfield; Prestbury Station is on the Manchester Piccadilly via Macclesfield to Stoke-on-Trent railway line.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stockport Viaduct

Stockport Viaduct is one of the world's largest brick structures with an estimated 11 million bricks used in its construction. The viaduct was widened from 1887-1889 and was featured in the art work of L.S. Lowry as an example of imposing industrial architecture.

Stockport Viaduct Arch

The original Stockport Viaduct was built as long ago as 1839-40 by the architect John Lowe in partnership with the engineer George Watson Buck. The electric power lines were added in the 1960s.

Stockport Viaduct Manchester

Stockport Viaduct is 1786 ft long and 111ft high with 27 arches. Travellers will pass over Stockport Viaduct on their journey north by train from Stockport Station to Piccadilly in Manchester. The Stockport Viaduct gets a brief mention in Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North and South.

Stockport Viaduct

Things to see in Stockport in Greater Manchester include Stockport Town Hall, Chadkirk Chapel, Staircase House, Stockport Story, Stockport Air Raid Shelters, St Mary's Church, Bramhall Hall, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, Stockport Market, Fred Perry's birthplace, Woodbank Park, the Hat Works and Stockport Art Gallery.

© Britain-Visitor.com

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Routemaster London Bus

The Routemaster, a double-decker bus, was built by the Associated Equipment Company and Park Royal Vehicles between 1954 and 1968. The Routemaster was introduced by London Transport in 1956 and saw continuous service in London until 2005. Two heritage routes in central London remain, however, and approximately 1,000 Routemasters are still in existence. The Routemaster was a pioneering design and outlasted several of its replacement types.

Routemaster London Bus

The Routemaster became one of London's most famous symbols, and a lot of tourist paraphernalia still bears Routemaster imagery. Despite the retirement of the original version, the Routemaster has remained an icon, and an updated version entered service in February 2012.

Visitors to London wishing to ride one of the famous buses can try one of two routes. Route 9H (Heritage) stops at the following locations: Kensington High Street Addison Road, High Street Kensington Station, Royal Albert Hall, Knightsbridge Station, Hyde Park Corner Station, Green Park Station, Piccadilly Circus Station and Trafalgar Square. Alternatively, Route 15H covers the folowing stops: Tower Hill Station, Cannon Street Station, Mansion House Station, St Paul's Churchyard, City Thameslink Station, Aldwych, Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square.

Visitors to London may also want to visit one of London's many other attractions such as the Tate Modern or Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub.

© Britain-Visitor.com