We are delighted to say welcome back Måns Zelmerlöw! Swedish celebrity and previous guest blogger on Britain by heart. Last time Måns fell in love with Scotland. This time he spent a weekend in London – and not just any weekend! The last weekend during the London 2012 Games.
Follow Måns in London and his experiences from the city that never fails.
Standing on the table and dancing the Macarena together with 400 others is not very common in Sweden. At Little Italy in London it happens pretty often.
I have been to London many times, most often to watch musicals but also for tennis and football. For the musical enthusiast there is never enough time when you are here. The West End choice is enormous, and each year several new musicals open their doors, one better than the next.
My company on this trip was not a musical enthusiast, and already at departure I realised that it would be difficult to tempt her to go to something like that.
The Olympics were on at the time, the last weekend of the Games. Flags of all kinds could be seen everywhere, and the queues for the tourist attractions looped long. In spite of this, we chose to get into the queue for the most touristic of all, The London Eye.
It was my friend and I, five hundred Orientals and one Russian.
Friday night had consisted of drinking at Kosmopol and clubbing at The Dorsia, so that when we finally left the sun-drenched que and stepped into the air-conditioned London Eye cabin, the relief was great. But the 45-minute queuing was worth the trouble, at least on the voyage up to the top. Dizzily high up you get an overview of London which will almost enable you to find your way later on in this otherwise impossible city!
For that same evening I had fixed tickets for the Phantom of the Opera, something that I had “forgotten” to tell my company. So, as if by coincidence, I insisted that we head for Soho to eat at a restaurant close to Her Majesty’s Theatre. At the restaurant my bluff was called — and half an hour later we sat in the first row and watched Peter Jöback star in the role of The Phantom. Even my friend was impressed!
Every time I’m in London, I try to fit in a visit to The Comedy Store at Leicester Square, and that is where we went after the musical. Here you are never bored; this evening too, we hardly had time to catch our breath between the laughs.
On Sunday the Olympic finale in handball was taking place. Impossible to get tickets; we would not have had time to see it anyhow, since we were flying home in the afternoon.
But then the call came. Two cancellations.
I travelled home with a smile on my lips.
A weekend in London cannot fail.
P.S Stay tuned for my top 10 tips in London.
1. Take a tour of Buckingham Palace.
Beckham says: “I’ve always been brought up to love the Royal Family and this year is a special year with the Queen’s Jubilee. Buckingham Palace is in the heart of London and it’s been the scene of so many great moments in British history – none of us will ever forget the amazing wedding last year and best of all, it’s open for visitors during the summer so you can have a look around the State Apartments.”
2. Experience some real East London food at Tony Lane’s Pie & Mash shop.
Beckham says: “And here’s an insiders tip for a real East London food experience– you’ve got to try Pie & Mash (Tony Lane’s Pie & Mash shop in Waltham Abbey is a favourite)”
Beckham says: “I’ve been fortunate to play in The Premier League, one of the greatest football leagues in the world, and you can’t beat the atmosphere of being there for a game. If you can’t catch a Game across the country then check out the fantastic stadium tours at places like Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge, and of course, Wembley”
4. Grab some fresh air at one of the Royal Parks like Hyde, The Regent’s or Richmond.
Beckham says: “Families can get out in the fresh air at one of the London’s Royal Parks with the kids – Hyde and Regents Park are like an oasis in the Central London. Or get away from it all in Richmond Park where you can see wild deer, horse ride and amazing views across London.”
5. Play a round of golf at St Andrews.
Beckham says: “It seems like many sports in the world have their origins in Britain and Scotland is the home of Golf. It’s where the game was invented and where you’ll find some of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world. If you love the game, make your way to the Old Course at St Andrews Links.”
Beckham says: “Britain leads the world in fashion and has some of the best shopping experiences in the world. Manchester’s designer stores around the Northern Quarter are a match for anything in London, but if you don’t have time to leave the capital then you will be spoilt for choice around town and some fantastic markets like Camden, Portobello and Spitalfields.”
Beckham says: “Kids can’t get enough of theme parks as I know being a father of four. You’re never far away from one in Britain: Alton Towers is close to Stoke and just outside London you’ll find Thorpe Park. New in town is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour where you can see the making of Harry Potter movies.”
8. Don’t miss London’s theatre scene and plays like War Horse or Jersey Boys;
Beckham says: “If there’s one thing you can’t miss when you’re in London, its Theatre land, I love going out with the family to a show. The West End is famous for musicals and shows and they are great for a night out or a family matinee. Young and old will love the Lion King or Matilda, and there’s always something to see when I’m back in London like like War Horse, or Jersey Boys.”
Beckham says: “You can get great food from all over the world in Britain and some of the best restaurants in the world can be found in London. Whether it’s a special night out at the Ivy, Ceconnis or Nobu, somewhere new like the Bread St Kitchen or Nopi in London.”
10. Go for a walk in the countryside and stop off at a pub along the way.
Beckham says: “Britain is famous for its countryside, and where better to end a bracing walk than sat by a log fire in one of our beautiful country pubs. The best places will always welcome kids and serve great local food.”
If you are lucky enough to have a Samsung Galaxy, these top tips are also featured on the ‘Best of Britain’ app, which we launched in partnership with Samsung Electronics earlier this year. Recently upgraded with great content on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games too.
Let the Games begin!
With less than 5 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games we thought we’d share some quirky facts about the sports and Olympic venues around Britain. Did you know why the marathon is the length it is – for example?
And as London 2012 takes place in East London, we’ll also give you a taster of how to speak Cockney and rhyming slang.
Cyclists may not have time to enjoy the view from Box Hill on the road race, but many others have done so from this beauty spot, not least the characters in Emma, in the book of the same name by Jane Austen – a pivotal scene in the story took place at a picnic on the hill.
The town of Much Wenlock may not be hosting the London2012Games, but it has been credited with inspiring Baron Pierre de Coubertin, creator of the Modern Olympic Games. He visited the Shropshire town and was inspired by the ideas behind the Games, first held there in 1850. The programme for this year’s games included archery, athletics and other London2012 events, but also sports not on the Olympic calendar such as bowls, and golf.
THE COTSWOLD GAMES
Even older than the Much Wenlock Games is Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olympick Games, which have just celebrated their 400th anniversary, and began as an annual sporting fair that honoured the ancient Games of Greece. The programme here includes shin-kicking (yes, competitors literally try to kick each others’ legs) and tug-of-war.
The most valuable item on show at Lord’s Cricket Ground, venue for the archery events, is a small urn – containing the Ashes of English cricket! After England lost to Australia (for the first time on home soil) at The Oval in 1882,the Sporting Times carried a mock obituary to English cricket which concluded that: “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”. A few weeks later, an English team set off to tour Australia, with the captain vowing to return with “The Ashes”. They are now played for by the two national teams every few years but are kept permanently at Lords. The term is also now commonly used to describe other sporting encounters between England and Australia such as rugby league .
Wimbledon, the world’s greatest tennis tournament, could be said to exist because some gardening equipment broke down! The story goes that a Pony Roller was donated to the club in 1872 to keep the croquet lawns flat (tennis not having been invented by then – the club adopted tennis in 1875). In 1877 the Pony Roller broke and it was going to cost £10 to fix it and the club could not afford it. So they held a small tournament of gentlemen in July of that year, sold tickets to the public at one shilling each and raised just over £17, so the pony roller got fixed and they had a bit of a profit. That prompted them to make it an annual event. The roller can be seen on a tour of the grounds – it was only “retired” in 1983 (the pony wore leather shoes so that it did not leave hoof prints in the grass).
Tennis players at the Olympics will be able to wear coloured clothing – normally the rule at Wimbledon is that tennis kit must be predominantly white. White was the adopted colour for tennis clothes because if you wore patterns and colours and ran around on a warm summer’s day you would sweat, and the darker colours showed sweat stains but white did not, so the ladies still looked elegant when they came off court. Gentlemen wore the same clothes as they wore for cricket. (No-one knows where the club colours of purple and green came from – although the club has checked every minute book of every committee, and the decision was never made).
And last, but not least – a taster of Cockney. Try the cash ATM outside Victoria Station where you are asked if you want the information in English or Cockney: if the latter, you will be asked to insert your Bladder of Lard (card) then input your Huckleberry Finn (pin) and then you may want to choose Sausage and Mash (cash) – and so on. Good luck!!
They have kindly shared some great pictures as the torch was handed over. Thank you so much!
The wonderful town of St Andrews, with locals opening their doors for an early morning celebration.. all were welcome! Eager crowds began to gather already at 6.45am to see the torch be handed over. Before heading off to school, work or a round of golf…
When the torch reaches Edinburgh this evening, a total of 155 torch bearers will have carried it through 18 communities!
Tomorrow - day 27 - we follow the torch on its way from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
Swedish radio personality Anton Körberg visited St Andrews in Scotland, and the Old Course Hotel recently. We asked him to share some of his best experiences and pics from his trip. And as his story will tell, he’s a great golfer too.
Golf & whisky weekend in St Andrews: part I
Early birds…0715 and the two branded-to-the-max-guys are good to go after British Airways lost their luggage. (We got it the next day and the claim is pending, but I just had to explain why we look like a two bridesmaids…)
What are the odds of us BOTH ending up in this Lion’s Den, Ye Ol’ Mine Field or whatever it’s called. How do you think we did? A painful defeat obviously…
But what is this! A par 4 reached in one??? The ninth hole at The Old Course? But he putt couldn’t possibly… For an Eagle… It’s just… No… Check out the next picture and you will know…
TADAAAAAA! One Eagle, one classic hamburger at the Jigger and one pint of Guinness later and this little fellow is the happiest guy in Scotland! Thank you Old Course Hotel for making this a weekend to remember for many years to come… Oh, yeah I made an Eagle on the 9th… Did I tell you that?
It’s getting real now! The Olympic flame arrived the UK today and tomorrow morning, at 07.08, 19 May, the Olympic torch will begin its epic 70 day relay around Britain from Land’s End, Cornwall. Isn’t it exciting?!!
The starting point for the relay will be the famous signpost at Land’s End, which is the westernmost tip of the English mainland. Land’s End has been the setting off point for many a memorable journey: people have struck golf balls, skateboarded, cycled, run and walked the 874 miles from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in the north east of Scotland, mostly to raise money for charity.
1. 23 May – Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol
The torch will be carried over the iconic suspension bridge that spans the Avon Gorge, the symbol of the city designed by a then 24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
2. 29 May – Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park
The highest mountain in Wales. The Flame will be taken up the Snowdon Mountain Railway to summit of Snowdon
3. 4 June – Giant’s Causeway and Derry, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
The Flame will pass over ancient volcanic ground at Northern Ireland’s natural adventure playground, as well as lighting up next year’s City of Culture, Derry, Londonderry
4. 9 June – Loch Ness, Scotland
The torch will travel over the lake of myth and legend, potentially illuminating a sighting of Nessie on its way…
5. 16 June – Angel of the North, Gateshead and Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads
The Torch will pass the Angel of the North, one of the most striking works of public art in the country, before heading to World Heritage site, Hadrian’s Wall, the iconic reminder of Britain’s Roman history.
6. Sunday 24 June – Old Trafford, Manchester
The Torch will be carried past one of the most famous football stadia in the world, home of Manchester United.
7. 9 July – Stoke Mandeville Stadium
The National Centre for Disability Sport and the Birthplace of the Paralympics
8. 12 July– Stonehenge, Wiltshire
The world famous Neolithic stone circle will be one of the main highlights of the relay.
9. 13 July 2012 – Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast, Dorset
The flame will pass one of Britain’s most stunning natural attractions and a World Heritage site. 10. 20 July – Tower of London, London
The Flame’s first night in London will be spent at the Tower, guarded by Beefeaters.
12. 27 July – The Torch’s final journey will begin from Hampton Court Palace (which will host part of the Olympic Road Cycling competition), and go through its grounds before journeying along the River Thames towards the Olympic Stadium.
Let the Games begin!!!
Did you know there are several non-ticketed events that you can experience for free during the Olympic Games this summer? Take a look at our list below.
There will also be 22 live screens spread across the country, as well as all the pubs of course. Visiting a pub is always a great way of engaging and getting to know the locals, as well as taking in the festive atmosphere.
1.) Olympic and Paralympic Cycling Road Races
July 28 – August 1, 2012
There are lots of ways to enjoy the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games without a ticket. Some of the most iconic events will be able to be viewed from great vantage points at no cost. The men’s and women’s Road Races will begin on The Mall, a popular backdrop for formal ceremonies and major sporting events throughout the year. From The Mall, the riders will head southwest through London, cross the famous River Thames at Putney Bridge and continue out through Richmond Park past Hampton Court Palace. Before the riders make it back to The Mall for a dramatic finish, they will head to Surrey, travel north through Leatherhead, Esher and Kingston.
2.) Olympic Marathons
July 5 and 12, 2012
The Olympic and Paralympic marathons will start and finish at The Mall, an iconic location in central London most recently famous as part of the wedding route for the marriage of Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Each race will have around 80 athletes taking part, making it a heart-pumping spectacle worth watching.
3.) Olympic Sailing
July 29 – August 11, 2012
The deep sapphire blue waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour will play host to 10 sailing events over the course of 14 days during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These free events will offer fans excitement and drama as they watch teams race in the beautiful but testing waters on the southern coast of England.
4.) Olympic Race Walks
August 4 and 11, 2012
Known for its regal beauty and nature, visitors can watch the Race Walks which begin and finish at The Mall in St James’s Park. Along the 2 kilometer race loop, visitors can take in the sites of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen, and the Commonwealth Memorial Gates.
5.) Olympic Live Sites
With large screens carrying live broadcasts of the Olympic events, visitors in 22 locations around the UK will have the best seat in the house to watch their favorite event. Screens will feature a broad range of UK-wide and local content in partnership with community, arts and media organizations.
And as London is less than three hours away from all our major Scandinavian airports, it’s even possible to go to experince the Olympic atmosphere in London, just for the day!!
Or why not take the chance to experience some of the other destinations in which the Olympics is taking place: Cardiff, Glasgow, Coventry and Manchester for football, for example. Or Eton-Dorney (near Windsor) for rowing.
2012 is finally here! There is so much GREAT to see and do in Britain this year. Olympics of course, but there are more to 2012 than sport!
Here’s a few highlights that hopefully will get you in the mood for a British holiday!
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating 60 years on the throne. Lots of events throughout the year but the but the major weekend is 2-5th June.
London 2012 Festival: This is the biggest festival that UK has ever seen. 10 million opportunities to get involved – for free! 21 June – 9 September 2012.
50 years and 50 cars of James Bond: at the National Motor Museum.
Charles Dickens : 200th anniversary.
The making of Harry Potter : Warner Bros Studio Tour opens in London, Spring 2012.
National Football Museum: opens in Manchester.
And for those of you who live in Sweden (or understand Swedish), don’t miss Resfeberbloggen! They have a special feature on Britain at the moment, where you can get lots of inspiration and valuable holiday ideas around London, Manchester and other places around the country.
Last weekend representatives from the Swedish Olympic Committee with teams visited London, to prepare for the Olympic Games next summer. And we are proud to be able to present some pictures from their visit!
Some 15 countries were invited to compete in fencing and boxing. The boxer Anthony Yigit was the only athlete competing from Sweden. He made it all the way to the final but lost against a boxer from the host nation (UK), by15-14.
The ladies boxing- and fencing teams flew in over the weekend too, to capture the London atmosphere and prepare mentally for next summer.
The Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) is encouraging all Swedish athletes to visit London before the games, to familiarise with the location in which they will possibly be competing, and the Olympic village where they will be staying. The intention is also to make sure the athletes have some time to visit attractions, go sightseeing, to get a feel for the city and just be a “tourist” for a day. By doing this, they can focus solely on their sports performance when it’s time for the Olympics.
Shopping was also on top of the agenda but the girls also supported Anthony and attended all his matches until the final.
The team found the London visit very inspiring and useful in preparing for the tough and challenging year ahead. Many of the Swedish athletes will not know if they have qualified to the Olympics until a matter of weeks before the opening ceremony!
For the ladies boxing team, the World Cup in May 2012 that will be the qualifying game. For the ladies fencing team, it has already started but there are still 4 more tournaments to go before we will know who will be qualified for London 2012.
We wish them best of luck and hope to see them back in London next summer!
Easter is here and a lot of families go on spring vacation. And what a better place to visit than Britain when everything is in full spring? Here are some ideas for any families spending their Easter or Spring holiday in Britain:
Ludlow Spring Festival, Shropshire, England
Visit Ludlow Spring Festival, held at Ludlow Castle on 7-8 May. Taste local sausages, 140 different ales, organic chocolate, homemade bread and much more. There will also be foodie talks and demonstrations, live music and children’s activities and for those of you who likes old cars the Marches Transport festival has an impressive display of classic cars.
Alice in Wonderland Easter Festival at Tatton Park, Cheshire
If you love Alice in Wonderland, this easter festival at Tatton Park is a must. On 23-25 April you can step through the looking glass in the Georgian mansion and follow the trail through the beautiful state rooms. Join the Mad Hatter’s tea party in the garden, follow the Cheshire Cat trail, listen to the Queen of Hearts telling stories at the farm or watch an Alice themed show in the stable yard and much more.
Horse back riding, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
With thousands of acres of hills, moors and fields, spectacular scenery, a wealth of wildlife, the Brecon Beacons National Park is perfect for a horse back ride. For those who doesn’t enjoy riding, there are plenty of other things to do. Go walking, canoeing or castle sightseeing.
Easter revelry at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
On 23-25 April Edinburgh Castle is hosting an easter event for families. Enjoy a series of fun-filled and interactive shows at one of Scotland’s top attractions. See a magic show, juggling, comedy and dance or get close to beautiful birds of prey.
Road trip through the Scottish countryside, Scotland
Scotland is full of beautiful scenery, castles and historic sights and there is no chance to see it all during a short spring break. But with one of VisitScotland’s themed itineraries you get to see the best at your own pace.
Have a great spring holiday in Britain! And if you didn’t get the chance to visit this year, perhaps this will inspire you to book an Easter break in Britain in 2012? You’re invited!!