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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Britain Calling

March edition of Britain Calling. Showcasing Britains new and upcoming products and events.

Polo returns to central London
The Windsor Tattoo will take place this May in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s official residences and the largest occupied castle in the world.
The Tattoo – a performance of music, marching and military displays – will host the biggest band of bagpipes and drums seen in England for many years, involving up to 200 pipers and drummers from the British army. The massed bands include two bands from the household division, two bands of the Household Cavalry (the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals) and a band from the Royal Marines, all of whom will be accompanied by a troupe of Highland Dancers. The Trinidad and Tobago Steel Band, the only military steel band in the world, will also be performing.
Tickets to the Tattoo offer visitors access to the Royal Windsor Horse Show which takes place in the showgrounds at the Castle during the day from 13 to 17 May. There will be over 200 shops and restaurants and bars at the Horse Show. During last year’s show, 1,500 bottles of champagne, 5,000 pints of beer and 2.1 tonnes of salmon were consumed.
The Windsor Tattoo begins at 8.30pm every evening from 13 to 16 May. Tickets £15–£60. There is a regular train service to Windsor from London.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
Website: www.windsortattoo.com


A festival for Nottingham’s outlaw
The life and times of Robin Hood, one of the world’s most famous outlaws, will be celebrated in August with a week-long festival near the village of Edwinstowe, in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. The annual event is one of the Midland’s biggest free festivals.
This is the 25th year of the festival which is organised by the staff of Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. The festival programme features jesters, jousters and children’s theatre, strolling players and costumed characters, and masked beasts dancing to medieval music played on period instruments.
Whether or not there is any historical origin to the stories, Robin Hood is a popular charcter, known for his gallantry. He robbed the rich to feed the poor and fought against injustice and tyranny. The legend of the outlaw of Sherwood Forest comes from ballads and stories first written down before 1550.
Director Ridley Scott is currently filming a movie about Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe.
Robin Hood Festival 3–9 August
Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire NG21 9HN
Website: www.robinhoodfestival.info


The Scottish Highlands come to Edinburgh
The Royal Highland Show is one of Scotland’s top summer attractions. The four-day event is held on the outskirts of Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh and will take place this year on 25–28 June.
Prize-winning livestock, traditional rural skills, cookery demonstrations, forestry events, farm machinery, handcrafts and heavy horses are some of the attractions that bring 160,000 visitors to the show every year.
The showgrounds have different designated areas including the Outdoor Living Area, Agricultural Machinery Area, Livestock Judging Area, Countryside Area, Craft Fair, Equestrian Village, Motor Zone, Food & Drink at the Royal Highland, Forestry Arena, Lifestyle Area and the Shopping Arcade.
This year the show is planning to welcome many overseas visitors as part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations. There will be pipe and drum bands and other Scottish traditions on display.
The show is held at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, which is near Edinburgh International Airport and a few hundred metres from the main UK motorway network. Daily admission is £22.
Royal Highland Show
Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh EH28 8NF
Website: www.royalhighlandshow.org

Flowers will fill an ancient Abbey
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies and one of the special events being planned is a Festival of Flowers in Westminster Abbey in London on 7–9 May.
The Abbey will be decorated by 300 flower arrangers representing NAFAS areas and clubs from around the United Kingdom. Teams representing each of the 21 areas, arrangers from a club in each area and up to 60 individual designers will fill the Abbey with more than 100 flower arrangements. There will be a special area featuring individual exhibits from junior members.
Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church for Kings and Queens of England since 1066. The present building was begun by Henry III in 1245 and is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country. Some of the most significant people in British history are buried or commemorated at the Abbey. The tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture in the United Kingdom.
The normal admission fees to the Abbey will apply during the Festival: £12 adults, £9 concessions and under-16s. The Festival of Flowers is open 9.30am–3.30pm on 7–9 May and 9.30am–1.30pm on Saturday 10.
Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA
Websites: www.nafas.org.uk
www.westminster-abbey.org


London gardens open their gates
Visitors to London will be able to visit more than 170 of London’s private community gardens and squares during the weekend of 13–14 June. The eleventh annual Open Garden Squares Weekend in London includes historically important gardens and contemporary and eco-friendly gardens, all of which are normally closed to the public.
Among the gardens taking part for the first time will be the British Museum, which has collaborated with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to create an Indian-themed landscape on the Museum’s west lawn, and the gardens of Gray’s Inn (one of the four Inns of Court to which barristers belong). Known as the Walks, they were laid out by Sir Francis Bacon in 1606 when he was Treasurer at Gray’s Inn.
In London’s West End, the house of St Barnabas in Soho will also be open. The house has been helping homeless people change their lives for over 160 years. The 18th-century building has a private chapel forming two sides of a small secluded courtyard garden.
Among the other open spaces to the public will be Kensington Roof Gardens, Lambeth Palace, Montagu Square in Marylebone, the Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden near Regent’s Park, Garden Barge Square near Tower Bridge, the Hammersmith garden of the Arts and Crafts printer Emery Walker and HM Prisons Holloway, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs. The Garden Museum, beside the River Thames on Lambeth Palace Road, will be holding a two-day Lavender Festival as part of the Open Squares weekend
One ticket (£6.75 in advance and £8 at the weekend) allows entry to all venues over the two days. Tickets are available in advance by phone, from the Britain and London Visitor Centre on Lower Regent Street, and from selected gardens during the weekend.
Open Garden Squares Weekend
Tel: +44 20 8347 3230 (advance tickets)
Website: www.opensquares.org

Scotland’s cycling heritage
The Original Bicycle Festival will be held across Dumfries & Galloway on 9–24 May as part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations.
The 16-day festival draws on the rich cycling heritage of this area of Scotland. The inventor of the pedal-driven cycle, blacksmith Kirkpatrick ‘Pate’ Macmillan (1813–1878), was born in Keir Mill, near Dumfries. Today the area has an extensive network of mountain bike and road cycling trails.
The Festival will promote access and participation in cycling in the region through a programme of guided rides and coaching sessions, open mountain bike and road cycling events, a cycle expo, youth and women’s activities, a film festival and music. One of the Festival’s supporters is Mark Beaumont, world record holder for his 195-day cycle ride round the world.
Festival events will take place in venues across the region including Keir Mill, Castle Douglas, Drumlanrig Castle near Thornhill and the 7 Stanes mountain bike trail centres, as well as DG One, Easterbrook Hall, Heathall and other venues in Dumfries town. Castle Douglas and Dumfries will each host a road race through the town streets.
The programme of cycling-themed activities and events will complement the World Mountain Bike Conference on Sustainability being held in Dumfries on 12–15 May.
Website: www.originalbicyclefestival.co.uk

Kites fly over Bristol
The Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creations takes to the air this year on 12–13 September. Visitors and kite flyers from around the world are expected to join the many flyers and enthusiasts from the UK. The aerial extravaganza will feature flying displays, kite fighting battles, synchronised routines flown to music, power kites and ground-based inflatables and air sculptures.
Festival highlights will include a 30-metre (100-ft) multicoloured manta ray and a gaggle of geckos designed and made in New Zealand by Peter Lynn. There will be man-lifting kite surf wings and kite-propelled buggies and land boards. Some sea-themed kites will include octopuses, a giant mermaid, a flying scuba diver and Roly the killer whale. There will also be aerial combat sessions with traditional Japanese fighting kites and free children’s kite-making workshops.
The festival takes place in Ashton Court Estate, 350 hectares (850 acres) of meadows and woodland two miles from the centre of Bristol in the west of England.
Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creation
12–13 September 11am–5pm
Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9JN
Website: www.kite-festival.org.uk

Derbyshire’s annual chicken run
The World Championship Hen Races take place every year on the first Saturday in August at the Barley Mow village pub in Bonsall, Derbyshire.
The area has a long history of hen races. It was 18 years ago that the landlord of the Barley Mow Alan Webster decided to revive the tradition. Since then the World Championship races have featured on TV documentaries and have even been broadcast live.
Any breed of hen is eligible for the Bonsall hen races. Former contestants range from the Rhode Island Red to the rare Derbyshire Redcap. Between 20 and 30 hens take part each year and although most competitors are local, some entrants have come from as far away as Finland, Gibraltar and Chicago.
The chickens race along a 9-metre (30-ft) track under strict world championship rules: birds must begin the race with both feet on the ground, with no assistance from the handler such as an airborne launch. Pecking is not allowed and there are yellow cards and disqualifications for fighting. Sometimes a race is a very slow affair, with hens stopping halfway along the track and returning to the start. If a race is not completed in three minutes, the hen nearest the finish is declared the winner.
The owner of the hen that wins the grand final receives the Kimberley Classic Trophy – a large wooden running chicken. There are also prizes for runners-up, deportment, appearance and colour.
The hen races are free to watch and anyone with a hen can take part.
The World Championship Hen Races
1.30pm Saturday 1 August
The Barley Mow, The Dale, Bonsall, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 2AY
Website: www.barleymowbonsall.co.uk


Henry VIII at Windsor
A special exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne will be shown at Windsor Castle, one of the King’s homes and where he is buried.
Henry VIII was proclaimed king on 23 April 1509, just before his 18th birthday, and reigned for almost 38 years until his death in 1547. The exhibition explores the life of one of the most significant figures in the history of the English monarchy, bringing together treasures from the Royal Collection and the archives of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Henry VIII is known for marrying six times and executing two of his wives, and for his split with papal authority in Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries.
Young Henry’s court attracted some of the most important European artists and scholars of the period. Among the highlights of the exhibition are a number of works by the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger. Holbein arrived in England in 1526 became the king’s painter, portraying many of the key personalities of Henry’s reign. Among the works by Holbein in the exhibition are a preparatory study for a portrait of Jane Seymour and a miniature of a lady thought to be Katherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, who was executed less than two years after her marriage to the king
Henry VIII: A 500th Anniversary Exhibition runs from 8 April 2009 to 18 April 2010 in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor. The castle is open daily 9.45am–5.15pm (closes at 4.15pm Nov–Feb). Admission prices to the castle and exhibition: adult £15.50, over 60/student £14, under 17 £9, under 5 free; family ticket (two adults and three under-17s) £41.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
Website: www.royalcollection.org.uk

The Science Museum’s birthday year
The Science Museum in London is celebrating its 100th birthday on 26 June with a three-day party for its many visitors.
Then on 23 July the museum will launch a new exhibition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the British astronomer Thomas Harriet using a telescope to study the moon. The Cosmos and Culture exhibition will be staged in the new Ingenious gallery. This gallery will enable the museum to build on its tradition of innovation in display and multimedia to create a visitor experience that captures the wonder of exploring the skies.
Cosmos and Culture will look at how different cultures have studied the stars, and how science fiction has been inspired by astronomy. Striking objects and innovative multimedia will give visitors the opportunity to engage with the challenging science of astronomy, and see how it has helped to shape our everyday world. Themed displays will explore how we have developed ways of seeing across the vast distances of the cosmos. Visitors will explore how astronomy is intertwined with our daily lives and our imaginations.
In July there will also be many special events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon. The museum has objects from the 1969 Apollo moon mission on display.
The Science Museum is open daily 10am–6pm, admission free (including entry to the Cosmos & Culture exhibition).
Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD.
Tel: +44 870 870 4868
Website: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

A new look at Rabbie Burns
The Mitchell Library in Glasgow is staging a major exhibition commemorating the life and work of Robert Burns. Inspired will be on display in the Main Hall at the Mitchell and is an important part of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations for the 250th anniversary of the birth of the poet.
The exhibition will include work by around 50 contemporary artists from the UK, Russia, Israel, Australia, Japan and the USA. Well-known artists such as Tracey Emin and Ed Ruscha will feature, along with established Scottish artists including Douglas Gordon and Peter Howson. The contemporary work will be presented alongside a collection of previously unseen relics including the Auld Alloway Clootie Horn, linked to an incident that is reputed to have been an inspiration for Tam O’Shanter, as well as letters, books and a small portrait.
Bailie Liz Cameron, Chair of Culture and Sport Glasgow, says: ‘Inspired is bound to be one of the highlights of the Year of Homecoming. The mix of relics relating to Burns and the contemporary works should help give people a fresh insight into the man and his works. Staging it in the Mitchell Library, where so many have studied the work of Burns, will make it extra special.’
The Mitchell Library is an important research library and contains one of the world’s largest collections of material relating to Robert Burns – over 4,000 items, including approximately 900 different editions of Burns’ poetical works and the original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne.
Inspired runs from 4 April to 20 September. The library is open 9am–8pm Mon–Thu, 9am–5pm Fri–Sat, closed Sunday. Admission free.
The Mitchell, North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN
Tel: +44 141 287 2870
Website: www.inspired2009.com

Star-gazing in Greenwich
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is observing the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) with a monthly programme of astronomy and science-related events, exhibitions and activities including an Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition to be held 10 September–10 January 2010.
The International Year of Astronomy, endorsed by UNESCO, is a celebration of astronomy and its contribution to society and culture. The year ties in with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations made using a telescope by Galileo Galilei.
In June scientists working with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn, will meet at the Royal Observatory to talk about the latest discoveries from the ringed planet. Other themes and events throughout the year include a look at the science behind science fiction in books, films and popular TV shows and an exploration of the contemporary debate and the science behind climate change.
The Royal Observatory, the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian line, is one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. It was founded by King Charles II in 1675 and is by international decree the official starting point for each new day, year and millennium (at the stroke of midnight GMT as measured from the Prime Meridian). Visitors to the Observatory can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres simultaneously by placing their feet either side of the Prime Meridian – the centre of world time and space.
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is open daily 10am–5pm, admission free.
Royal Observatory, Blackheath Avenue, London SE10 8XJ
Tel: +44 20 8858 4422
Website: www.nmm.ac.uk

Civic theatre’s diamond jubilee
Britain’s oldest civic theatre celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield, Derbyshire is a Victorian 546-seater theatre that originally opened in 1879 as the Stephenson Memorial Hall, a venue for classes and lectures. It was named in tribute to the pioneering railway engineer George Stephenson, the inventor of the early locomotive the Rocket and one of the town’s most famous residents.
Chesterfield Corporation bought the building in 1889 and it served as a cinema before becoming the country’s first civic theatre in 1949. In 1982 it was renamed the Pomegranate Theatre – a name suggested by the public and influenced by Chesterfield’s ancient Common Seal that bears a pomegranate tree.
Some of Britain’s finest actors made early career appearances at the Pomegranate. Peter Sallis was a member of the inaugural repertory company, Nigel Davenport and David McCallum appeared here in 1954, and Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1958 as a young assistant stage manager in The Passing of the Third Floor Back.
There will be a special programme of events at the theatre to mark its diamond anniversary, with professional drama, musicals and ballet and amateur productions showcasing local talent.
Pomegranate Theatre
Corporation Street, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 7TX
Tel: +44 1246 345334
Website: www.pomegranatetheatre.co.uk

Lundy Island’s anniversary
Lundy is a small island in the Bristol Channel, about 18 km (11 miles) off the coast of north Devon in the south-west of England. The island was privately owned until 1968 when the National Trust bought it and leased it to the Landmark Trust. The following year Lundy was opened to the public for the first time and this year it is celebrating this 40th anniversary.
Lundy is a granite outcrop, 5.6km (31⁄2 miles) long and only 800 metres (1⁄2 mile) wide. It rises 122 metres (400 ft) above sea level and is a place of outstanding natural beauty with views of England, Wales and the Atlantic Ocean.
The island is popular with day trip visitors as well as holidaymakers choosing to stay in one of the 23 buildings carefully restored by the Landmark Trust. Acccommodation ranges from a 13th-century castle and a late Georgian gentleman’s villa to a lighthouse and a fisherman’s chalet.
Most of the island’s buildings are made from Lundy’s light-coloured granite and many have been adapted from previous uses or made from stone reclaimed from long--redundant buildings. There are three lighthouses (two in use) on the island, a castle, a church, a shop, a tavern, a working farm, several handsome houses and cottages – and a population of about 18.
Entrance fee to the island is included in the fare for ferry passengers: £32 adults, £17 children, £29.50 National Trust members.
Websites: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
www.landmarktrust.org.uk
www.lundyisland.co.uk

A bug’s life in Liverpool
A new attraction at the Albert Dock in Liverpool is the first of its kind in the UK. The BugWorld Experience plans to show visitors the world through the eyes of invertebrate creatures, and the state-of-the art insectarium will offer interactive challenges and games as well as live creepy-crawlies.
There will be simulated environments including a rainforest, a savannah and an everyday British home. Visitors will be able to handle live insects such as the giant hissing cockroach and taste insect food delicacies from around the world including chilli locusts, mealworm pancakes and oven baked tarantula.
General manager Jenny Dobson says: ‘This is a must for all budding scientists, adventurers and travellers. Nowhere else in Britain can they get up close and personal to insects and bugs like this in a fun and educational way.’
BugWorld Experience will include a number of endangered species and the organisers say they are committed to helping maintain and boost their populations through conservation, education and carefully planned breeding programmes. Many of the bugs featured will be supplied by local breeders. All have been selected for their uniqueness or endangered status.
The creatures on display will include the praying mantis, death stalker scorpion, red spotted assassin bug, giant centipede, Mexican red knee tarantula and the critically endangered partula snail which is extinct in the wild.
Adult ticket prices will be under £10, with concessions for children, seniors and groups.
The BugWorld Experience
318 Queens Dock Commercial Centre, Norfolk Street, Liverpool L1 0BG
Tel: +44 151 708 4938

Self-catering that’s fit for a king
Visitors to Wales can now stay at Prince Charles’s Welsh country home near Llandovery in Carmarthenshire.
Llwynywermod, a former 18th-century coach-house and farm bought by the Duchy of Cornwall estate, has been renovated to become the first Welsh home for the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The royal couple have their quarters in the old coach-house and visitors are now able to book the two neighbouring 18th-century style cottages when the royals aren’t at home.
The properties feature Welsh slate and stone, with interiors that mix period and contemporary furniture, including many Welsh pieces and local fabrics. Prince Charles says: ‘It is above all a tribute to Welsh craftsmanship, which is of a very high order, and that unique rural and industrial craft inheritance that has formed so many equally unique Welsh characters that I have been so proud and privileged to have known during the past 50 years.’
Both the cottages have stone floors, large fireplaces, oak-shuttered windows and high quality furnishings. They also include a fully-equipped kitchen with a timber work surface and modern comforts such as flat-screen TV, DVD player, dishwasher and washing machine. Heating and hot water is provided by a woodchip boiler, and sustainable natural products have been used in the construction, including sheep’s wool insulation and hemp plaster.
North Range Cottage sleeps up to six people and West Range Cottage sleeps up to four. Prices start at £550 per week, which includes electricity and heating, towels and linen, toiletries, logs for the fire and a welcome pack.
Llwynywermod, Myddfai, nr Llandovery, Carmarthenshire
Tel: +44 1579 346473
Website: www.duchyofcornwallholidaycottages.co.uk

New rooms in Wren’s old home
Sir Christopher Wren’s House Hotel and Spa in Windsor has opened a new Conference and Business Centre with five meeting rooms.
The Buckingham Room is the largest, seating 27 as a boardroom or 65 as a theatre. The slightly smaller Balmoral can seat 26 or 20. Each space can be divided into two rooms. The Sandringham Room, the smallest meeting room, seats eight delegates boardroom-style.
In addition to the new business centre, the hotel has six other rooms that can be used for meetings and small conferences, ranging from small rooms suitable for up to eight delegates to conferencing rooms that can hold 90. Four of the meeting rooms overlook the River Thames. All rooms are on the ground floor and have the latest AV technology.
The hotel has a dedicated conference and events team to help arrange all the relevant services and facilities. It is also possible to arrange private dining facilities in the hotel.
The Sir Christopher Wren’s House Hotel and Spa has 96 bedrooms, the award-winning Strok’s Restaurant, a gym and a health and beauty spa. The hotel building was once the family home of the British architect Sir Christopher Wren who designed St Paul’s Cathedral. It is beside the River Thames, a short walk from Windsor train station.
Sir Christopher Wren’s House Hotel & Spa
Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1PX
Tel: +44 1753 861354
Website: www.sirchristopherwren.co.uk

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