Every Friday night at the moment, my family and I tune in Let’s Dance on TV4. The Swedish version of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
My 6-year-old daughter loves it and so do I. If I was a celebrity, I wouldn’t miss the chance to be on the dancefloor. Seems like so much fun. Except for the harsh jury of course….
One of the judges, and perhaps the toughest of them all, is Tony Irving. A British dancer, dance teacher and nowadays a very popular TV personality. Tony is a very proud to be an Englishman in Sweden. He is proud to be British and loves his home country. VisitBritain was very curious to find out about his favourite places to visit in the UK, and he kindly shared his top 10 travel tips with us!
This is where you should go if you want to experience Tony Irving’s England:
1. Mousehole in Cornwall. Visiting this small quaint Cornish village gives a feeling of how things where . It’s Cornwall at it’s best.
2. Falmouth and Saint Mawes. A great place to visit to see Castels and small quiant villages and towns.
Visit the Jacobs Ladder Inn at Falmouth. (My Aunt ran this for years and I spent a lot of my youth there).
In Saint Mawes I reccommend the Ship and Castle Hotel on the Waterfront, the food is great and the location is amazing.
3. Windsor and Eton. Two towns seperated by the Thames. A perfect place to see England at it’s finest. Everything from historic Windsor castle to the prestigious Eton School. While you’re here a must is the House on the bridge restaurant.
4. Caernarfon Wales – A perfect spot to feel the history of Wales. It’s a place that as a child stimulated my fantasy and brought about a fascination for legends and stories that I still have today. It’s within easy reach of the Mennai Starights , The Island of Angelsey and Snowdonia so it’s a great place to base yourself for a long weekend holiday.
5. Bassenthwaite Lake near Keswick. Beautifull area if you like country walks in a ‘real’ English setting. My favourite place to stay is Armathwaite Hall. My family has been taking short weekend holidays there since the 80’s . If you want a Downtown Abbey feel it’s the perfect destination.
6. Ambleside at Lake Windermere. The heart of the Lake District. This picturesque town is a must if you visit this area. But just outside is a little village called Little Langdale. It’s a beautiful unspoiled area with a typical Inn called the Three Shires. A must! Especially if you’re looking for the William Wordsworth feel.
7. A day or night on the Northern Belle. Most people have heard of the Orient Express,well this is the Northern English extension of that famous rail service.
It’s an inexpensive way to treat yourself to a once in a lifetime experience. You’ll get a feeling for the Agatha Christie touch. It’s a wonderful experience for 2. My advice is try one of their dinner journeys. It’s a trip into a forgotten world. I love it!
8. Alton Towers, theme park and resort. In my opinion this is the best theme park and tivoli in England. Your kids will love it and if you don’t have kids you will thoroughly enjoy yourself.
9. Slaidburn and the forest of Bowland. This is for me one of the most exciting parts of the English countryside and I have many fond memories of our family outings to this area. The small rural village of Slaidburn is trapped in a time warp and is the stereotypical Lancashire country village. The best place to visit is the pub called the Hark to Bounty. They do a great traditional country pub food.
10. The one destination which I visit as often as I can is funnily enough Manchester. (My home District)
The city centre or the Trafford centre are amazing for shopping.
The restaurants are out of this world.
The nightlife is to die for and the theatre and musical scene is the best outside of London.
Close by to Manchester are lots of smaller towns with great access to the centre so you can always combine the two for a town and country feel. But I prefer the Midland hotel as its got a high standard and everything you want is on the doorstep.
My favourite restaurant is the Cafe Istanbul. Oriental food at its best… And of course the different districts in the City, China town, the Indian district and of course the Gay village all come together to make Manchester a great cosmopolitan area.
Thank you Tony! Lots of great travel tips.
To download a Swedish version of Tony’s tips, click here.
If you like me, live in a house and have your own private garden, it’s always fascinating to peek into other gardens in the neigbourhood or watch garden shows on TV.
One of my favourites is the programme on the National Garden Scheme in the UK. I’m impressed by the dedication of amateur gardeners who strive to get accepted in the scheme and the hard work that goes into it. I would never have the patience!! And to be honest, it’s usually my husband who does the hard work in our garden, I just come up with ideas and a ‘wishlist’…
This year, over 800 gardens (!), some in every county of England and Wales, will open to the public on the weekend of 15 and 16 June in the National Garden Scheme’s first ever National Gardens Weekend. Quite a few to visit if you are dedicated fan!!
The weekend is designed to raise awareness of the scheme, whereby private gardens, not generally open to the public, throw open their gates on one or two days a year, to raise money for charity (while a number of gardens which do open regularly to the public, also dedicate the proceeds on one or two set days, to the charity).
This year a record 3850 gardens will open throughout the year, including nearly 600 which are new or “returning” to the scheme. The scheme attracts serious gardeners – for example there are 80 plant heritage collections among the openings - as well as more amateurs so this is very much an opportunity for an enjoyable day out with friends and family. An indication of this is that while 2453 offer plants for sale, even more (2750) offer tea and home-made cakes! Yum, yum!!
More info on www.ngs.org.uk, or buy “The Yellow Book” as the book of dates and openings is known, and see what is open when you are visiting a particular part of the country.
As you will have seen in my previous posts. Me and my family had a fantastic weekend in London. Here’s my top tips on how to make it fun and memorable for everyone!
1. Get a decent sized hotel room, Look for Premier Inn or other chain hotels that cater for families. Apartments are another option. Compared to travelling as a couple or by yourself, you will be in the hotel more, so get a comfortable decent sized room.
2. Location, Location, Location, isn’t as important as in other cities, but make sure you are close to an underground station or even better a good bus route (my kids loved riding on the double-decker buses)
3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Pick max three activities/attractions per day – and everyone will be able to enjoy each experience.
4. Research before travelling and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check out our website www.visitbritain.se also look at www.visitlondon.com – when you are in London make friends with the concierge at the hotel, they are generally very helpful, as are policemen, taxi drivers, people working for sightseeing companies and really Londoners in general.
5. If you want to eat at a good restaurant at the weekend, it’s a good idea to reserve a table, I use http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restaurants/london/ but there are lots of alternatives.
6. Some attractions might need to be booked in advance, for example the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour. You can buy tickets here.
7. Getting around London. It’s easy by bus or tune, you can buy on the day at underground stations, but you should also check out buying in advance, www.visitbritain.se/shop . London cabs are not expensive for short journeys and are part of the experience.
8. Take in a show. Going to see a musical in London is a fantastic experience, you can get discounted tickets on the day, but if you want to guarantee a good seat and the show you want, book in advance online.
9. If you are going for afternoon tea, have it on the same day as you go to the theatre/musical. It saves you from rushing dinner pre-theatre (as you probably won’t be hungry).
10. Go now! The pound is cheaper than it has been for 20 years.
A hairy stone, not bad for a fiver!
Time to do some last minute sightseeing before our afternoon flight. We headed off to Covent Garden, to be greeted by bring sunshine and +8 temperatures, not to mention a host of live performers and an interesting market selling everything under the sun! A great place to be on a Sunday morning, I bought a solar powered model of the Queen that waves, Adam bought a hairy stone.
A last lunch before heading off to Victoria – we headed back towards Leicester Square, to try out Yo Sushi. A fun dining concept where you pick dishes from a conveyor belt, yes it’s a bit of a gimmick, but a big hit with the kids, and we headed off to Victoria all smiles and happy.
Stay tuned and I will share my top tips for a fun family trip to London!
Up early and a light breakfast, then we took the bus to the Tower of London, changing at Trafalgar square on the way.
The kids adored it, Adam (5) because of all of the knight’s armour, swords and canons and that it looks at bit like his toy castle and Ellinor (8) because it was so lively with actors playing roles, and the lovely and funny beefeaters and not forgetting the impressive Crown Jewels.
We were here for 2 hours and we could have spent a lot more time here but Hamley’s was calling… E-vouchers for the Tower can easily be pre-booked via the VisitBritain Shop.
Hamleys is a 250 year old Toy store on Regent Street. Probably the best toy store in the world, it’s manic but a whole lot of fun.
The staff are really friendly and fun which brings to life the 7 floors of games, models, sweets, cars, superheroes, puzzles, dolls, you name it they have got it and it totally took my children’s breath away (and mine if I’m honest).
I put a one hour time limit on this for my own sanity, yes it brings out the wallet, but it’s guaranteed to bring out the child in you! And the kids will love you forever!!!
From madness to tranquillity, next stop was Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea. A short walk from Hamley’s and a truly British quintessential way of relaxing after a hard days shop!
Afternoon Tea at Fortnum’s was a real treat for the whole family. A selection of over 200 teas, a multitude of dainty sandwiches, tempting cakes and pastries, the whole family found this a truly enjoyable and fun experience. Adam is a sweet tooth so he was in 7th heaven while Ellinor decided put on her best Oxford English “Please daddy could you pass the Darjeeling”.
Fortnum and Mason is as much a part of British culture as afternoon tea itself, the perfect place to relax,’ treat yourself’ and it’s wonderful for people spotting! The service is simply exquisite, but its popular so I suggest you book in advance, reservations can be made here.
Back to the hotel to relax, feeling very full and satisfied!
After a few of hours of relaxation, we headed to China Town to round off the evening.
The easiest way to get to China Town (around Wardour Street and Gerard Street)in central London is to walk from Piccadilly Circus towards Leicester Square, just before you get there turn left onto Wardour street and you can’t miss it. I tend to eat here often in London, the kids found it really mind-blowing to be in the middle of London and suddenly be transported to another land. There is a real buzz around China town, we just strolled around taking in the atmosphere, then chose a random restaurant. I’ve never managed to find a favourite but the standard is usually better than the average in Sweden, the quality of service isn’t always great, but we just took it as part of the experience and had a laugh.
I’m in London frequently with work; sadly all I tend to see is the inside of meeting rooms and the occasional pub visit or meal with colleagues. A family weekend in London was long overdue, last weekend I put it all right and honestly had one of the best family holidays so far!
The Gatwick express took us to Victoria in 30 minutes and from there we jumped into a taxi to the hotel, the Marriott Marble Arch. Really friendly greeting at the hotel and the room was perfect for us. So, first things first, a bite to eat!
We stumbled upon a good value pasta chain ‘Spaghetti House’ on Bryanston street close to Marble Arch; good food, great service, excellent value for money, plus a photo of Michael Jackson with the staff, if it was good enough for the Prince of Pop, It’ll do for me.
Time for a quick shop and Oxford street is no secret to Swedes, we heard more Swedish voices on that street than any other nationality this weekend, perhaps because it is a great mixture of high street brands such as Next, River Island and the ‘ultra cheap’ Primark, with luxury shopping at the likes of Selfridges and House of Fraser.
Time to see the bright lights; there are always a few child-friendly shows going in the west end, I chose between Matilda and Lion King, Matilda is incredibly popular and it’s hard to get tickets, so we ended up with Lion King. We booked our tickets in advance via Londonmusikaler.se an easy process, all we had to do way pay by credit card and pick the tickets up at the theatre at least 15 minutes the show started. So after a quick pre-theatre, very good value meal at Café Rouge, we hurried off to the show. The opening number was simply breath-taking and I can strongly recommend The Lion King for children and adults alike. Adam, who is 5, lasted until the last 15 minutes of the show, then nodded off, not bad after an early start and a busy day. So a taxi back to the hotel and to sleep.
Stay tuned and I will tell you how a trip to London will make your kids love you forever!
The London underground is the oldest in the world and next year it celebrates 150 years! The very first Tube journey was made between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan line.
Here are (20)13 facts you didn’t know about the London Underground:
1. Today the Tube carries 1,107 million passengers each year to 270 stations.
2. London Underground is colloquially known as ‘the Tube’, which originally referred to the deep-level train lines which were used by trains of a smaller and more circular cross-section, as opposed to the less deep “cut-and-cover” lines that were built first and originally used steam locomotives. The term now embraces the whole system.
3. The average speed of a Tube train is 33km per hour/ 20.5 mph
4. The number of miles/km travelled by each Tube train each year is 114,500 miles/184,269km
5. The length of the Tube network is 402km/249 miles
6. Every day over 1000 people accidentally leave something on the Tube. All the items are sent to a basement office in Baker Street that employs 40 full time staff. At any one time it holds 200,000 items of lost property; some of the weirder items in the past have included Samurai swords, false teeth, three dead bats and a 14 foot boat. Items not claimed after 3 months are either sold at auction or given to charity.
7. The disused tube station Aldwych is often seen on screen, and was used as a location for scenes in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Atonement and V for Vendetta
8. The maximum depth of the Tube below ground level is at Holly Bush Hill in Hampstead, where the deep level lines run 68.8 m/221ft under ground
9. The longest escalator is at Angel station: it’s 60m/197ft, with a vertical rise of 27.5m/90ft
10. Baker Street is the station with the most platforms – it has 10
11. London’s busiest Tube station is Waterloo, with 57,000 people entering during the three-hour morning peak. The busiest station in terms of passengers each year is also Waterloo with 82 million
12. During 2011-12 The London Underground carried a record numbers of passengers with 1.171 billion journeys made
13. Albus Dumbledore, a character from the Harry Potter series, has a scar just above his left knee in the shape of the Tube map
Which one is your favourite tube station in London?
P.S To celebrate the anniversary there is a special 150th souvenir Oyster card on sale. The cards are a limited edition and will be available at London Undergroubd stations and TfL Travel Information Centres in London.
The hotly anticipated new album by One Direction ‘Take Me Home’ has just been released!
If you visited Stockholm this weekend , perhaps you were lucky enough to get on the 1D Bus for a ride even? Or at least have your photo taken? Some of you may also have received a copy of our new travel guide presenting One Direction’s favourite Britain.
If not, don’t you worry: Here’s a digital copy for you!
One Direction’s top 10 Britain:
1. On 23 July 2010 One Direction were put together as a band for the first time at Wembley Arena, where they qualified for the ‘Groups’ category of The X Factor. It’s where their phenomenal journey began, so the famous music venue holds a special place in the boys’ hearts and is a must-visit for any music fan: artists from The Beatles and Bob Dylan, to the Spice Girls and Madonna have performed there. Catch the X Factor Live at Wembley next February – perfect time to talent-spot the next hot act.
2. Zayn Malik comes from Bradford, home to the nation’s favourite dish: curry. Visit the best curry houses in Zayn’s home city .
3. Zayn is dating Perrie Edwards from Brit girl group Little Mix. The couple were recently spotted in Perrie’s home city of Newcastle, one of Britain’s hotspots for clubbing by night and shopping by day. With over 200 pubs and some of the best clubs in the country, the pair can dance til dawn, but not before they shop til they drop at Europe’s biggest indoor mall the Metrocentre in Gateshead or maybe more refined Jesmond, known as the ‘Notting Hill of the North’, with lots of cute one-off boutiques and cafés.
4. Harry Styles grew up listening to the music of The Beatles, introduced to him by his father. No doubt Harry will have explored Beatles Britain to find out about another British band that shot to stardom and invaded the worldwide music scene. The best place to head to is Liverpool, the Fab Four’s home city, where you can catch a gig at The Cavern Club where today’s upcoming bands often play, or else make your way to Abbey Road in London and recreate their famous street crossing.
5. Wanna party like the 1D boys? The group have been seen out and about at London’s Mahiki, Aura and Funky Buddha. Although they’ve dined at hot new Soho Mexican La Bodega Negra, the boys are just as happy at Nando’s or can be spotted having a sneaky ice-cream fix at Milkshake City where they’ve even got their own flavour!
6. Before he auditioned for X Factor, Louis Tomlinson performed as Danny Zuko in Grease at school and says it gave him the confidence to try out for the programme. The West End has great shows for music fans, like We Will Rock You based on the band Queen and Viva Forever – the new musical about the Spice Girls. How long until One Direction’s story is taken to the stage?
7. Harry Styles bought a house in London’s Primrose Hill earlier this year, joining other celebrities like supermodel Kate Moss (who favours local cupcake shop the Primrose Bakery) and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in the tranquil North London neighbourhood. It’s not hard to see why – the hill itself is in the capital’s beautiful Regent’s Park, with edgy Camden to the east for a live music fix, plenty of cute neighbourhood restaurants and pubs to visit as well as the ZSL London Zoo right in the park – the perfect spot for Harry to take a first date!
8. Harry originally comes from a village in Cheshire, in the North of England, and celebrated his 18th birthday in the nearest big city to his hometown: Manchester. The singer dined at Rosso, an elegant Italian restaurant that has seen David Beckham and many other famous footballers pass through its doors (its owner is footballer Rio Ferdinand) for the excellent food and ultra-chic atmosphere.
9. Speaking of football, Louis Tomlinson is a huge fan of the game and recently played a football match for charity in his hometown Doncaster in South Yorkshire – and of course his besties from the band were there to support and cheer him on. Bigger football clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal offer stadium tours, a great way to find out more about your favourite club and life behind the scenes. Also recently opened is The National Football Museum in Manchester, a free attraction that shows you everything you need to know about football – you can even try out a penalty shoot-out!
10. Before he was famous, Liam Payne gave a live performance at a Wolverhampton Wanderers game to an audience of 26,000; when the group was asked to perform at the London 2012 Olympic closing ceremony it was to a somewhat bigger crowd! The boys are in their element on stage in front of their fans, and played at a number of UK Festivals this summer. Keep up to date on what’s happening in the UK Festival scene and find out if One Direction is playing with the digital UK Live Festival Map.
A new album by British pop icons One Direction is released today. If you happen to be in Stockholm, 9-10 November, don’t miss our red routemaster travelling around the city centre – playing the new tunes and revealing the secrets of their favourite Britain!
Be the first one to hear their new album and to find out about the band’s top ten places in Britain. We’ve produced a One Direction travel guide that will be distributed on the bus.
The bus will be circulating in central Stockholm the following timings:
Friday 9 November, 11-17
Saturday 10 November, 10-16
A digital version of the One Direction travel guide will be published here on the blog on Monday, 12 November. So stay tuned!
Check out our new darlings at Madame Tussauds in London. Swedish ABBA!!
I haven’t been to Tussauds myself in years so think it’s about time now. Can’t wait to get my picture taken beside these glamorous legends!
The new wax figures are captured in the unique style from their 1975 video for ‘SOS’. I love the outfits!! Agnetha and Anni-Frid are wearing replicas of their striking yellow and blue feline themed mini-dresses teamed with pristine white knee-high leather boots. Benny and Björn wear outrageous white seventies outfits encrusted with diamantes and sequins, finished off with flares and platform boots.
The group cost an amaxing £600,000 to create and took a dedicated team of sculptors and hair and colour artists four months to create!!
To find them in the musuem, look out for other music legends like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. ABBA is positioned close to them, in the interactive Music Zone.
Su pa pa tru pa pa….
P.S Save 20%and get priority access by buying tickets online.