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What to do this May Bank Holiday

What to do this May Bank Holiday

It’s that time of year in England when we seem to have a bank holiday every other week – and with the current splattering of sunshine to enjoy – what’s better? If you’re in or around the capital – whether you’re a local or on holiday – make sure you check out a couple of the May Bank Holiday events that are taking place between Friday and Monday.

Chelsea in Bloom is a free festival that runs during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show –  shops and restaurants in and around Sloane Street, Sloane Square and Duke of York Square will be decorating with floral installations in this year with the theme of ‘Creation in Colour’.  There’ll also be pop-up ice cream sellers, champagne bars, plenty of flower displays, family friendly activities and even free rickshaw tours.

Hammer & Claw at the Farr’s School of Dancing on Saturday will be a bit of an American style foodie celebration. A crab feast. You’ll be able to enjoy everything from pork skins with chipotle dip, peanut butter ice cream, corn on the cob and of course the star – crabs in a spicy seasoning.

The Rite of Spring – The Great May Masquerade at the Coronet (Elephant and Castle) will be celebrating the one hundred and first anniversary of the Parisian premiere of Russian ballet ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’.  A Curious Invitation are hosting this enticing extravaganza, featuring live performances, cabaret, dance and music designed to transport you back to the wilder part of the early 20th century. You’ll find everything from The London Gay Symphony Orchestra playing live, a baroque buffet, a life-drawing room and even (hot tubs) with film screening.

Meantime Brewfest at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is for those who feel like a drink in less extravagant, but none the less enticing, settings. This spring festival will see some 40 breweries from all over the world gather at The Old Royal Naval College for three days of beer tasting – afterwards, you can head into Greenwch park to soak up the sun.

Finally, if you feel like escaping the capital or if you’re in the south already head to Dover for Second World War weekend at Dover Castle. Dover castle is already a pleasure to explore, what with its underground tunnels and proximity to the coastline – but for this weekend you’ll be able to dress up in military uniforms, try some ration-time style cakes and dance to a live swing band.

 

What To Do In London This Easter Weekend

What To Do In London This Easter Weekend

Easter is as good a time as any to jump in a car and head to the capital – it’s vibrant with events all over the city – from parties, easter egg hunts and crafts activities for the kids to the usual round up of markets, museums and attractions – many of which a special Easter twist.

If you’re looking to get your hands a little dirty then head to the colourful toy store Hamley’s on Regent Street on Friday and have a go at their Easter Bonnet decorating workshop. Keeping in with the family spirit – head to Rosebery Avenue and the Sadlers Wells’ Family Weekend where as well as watching some captivating, Rapunzel themed, family theatre, you can also take part in games and activities before and after the show. Though make sure you book ahead. If you find yourself in the Hampstead area without a trail to follow – then you could try heading to the beautiful 17th century Fenton House – which will be hosting the Cadbury Easter Egg Trail. The trail is included in the admission price and will take you around an easter themed trail of the gardens with a (chocolatey) surprise at the end.

If that doesn’t satisfy your craving for Easter eggs, then we suggest heading to the always lovely Kew Gardens, who this year will be hosting a plethora of Willy Wonka themed activities alongside an easter egg hunt. This hunt will see you traversing the Royal Kew gardens, collecting tokens as you go which later on you can swap for eggs! It’s free with entry to the gardens but is immensely popular so we suggest booking ahead. There are of course plenty of other egg hunts going on around the city for you and your family to get involved with too – our pick of the rest would be the egg hunts at Kensington Gardens and The Cutty Shark, Greenwich. There are a range of activities going on around London’s museums too though the most intriguing will be at the Foundling Museum where you can make a Handel inspired 3D badge.

It’s true of course that Easter has become very much a family affair – but if you’re in the mood for something a little more adult-orientated, then look out for some ping-pong balls that have been hidden around the capital. Inside you’ll find special prizes such as membership to the London dating site Doing Something, free ping pong and entry to several London attractions. Every egg will include entry to a special Easter Sunday dating event – it will be an attempt at the largest ever ping-pong date.

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

The Boat Race between Oxford University Boat Club and Cambridge University Boat Club is a much loved annual event that takes place on the River Thames at the beginning of April. First launched in 1829, the race now attracts thousands of visitors who all hunt for great spots to watch along the River Thames and its bridges.

Whether you’re just visiting England or you’re a resident – you really should make it your mission to catch at least one of these exhilarating events This year, the race falls on Sunday April the 6th and  the four and a quarter mile course that runs from Putney to Mortlake is littered with great places to watch from. Just a little down river from Putney bridge, you’ll find spectators in droves hoping to catch the two teams as they warm up – and ultimately begin the race, while The Dove Pub or the Old Ship pub are nice places to head for both views of the race and for a nice light refreshment. Elsewhere in Bishop’s Park there will be a ‘Boat Race in the Park’ event with screens showing the race, beer tents, food and live music or you could simply head to the banks of the (usually very crowded) Thames with friends and a bottle or two of wine and find a spot of your own.

It doesn’t matter if you have no particular allegiance to either team – as this is a social event as much as anything, though if you’re wondering who to shout for, then consider the facts: Oxford have won 77 races to Cambridge’s 81 – so perhaps the underdogs Oxford would appreciate the moral support.

 

London Taxis

London Taxis

London is home to a variety of somewhat strange tourist attractions – from the London dungeons, through to iconic Red Busses and black cabs. The latter of which is also one of the most relied upon methods of transport in the capital – particularly for those that are new to the capital and find it difficult to navigate. But should you really take the London taxi? Or should you opt for something different?

As well as the black cab – there are another 2 forms of taxi in London – these are the Mini cab and of course Chauffeured Executive services. Mini cabs are much like anywhere else in the world – though beware, it isn’t similar to cities like Moscow where you can pretty much hail any car and they will be happy to drive you. Mini cabs have to be licensed and will have an easily identifiable badge with all the relevant credentials. However, these cabs are often driven by inexperienced drivers with a limited knowledge of the streets but are generally much cheaper than the Black Cabs – best for those on a budget. Chauffeured services are for those who prefer to travel in style – so if you require your driver to be well turned out and driving a shiny Jag or BMW, and of course, if you don’t mind the cost – then go for this.

Of course you can avoid all of these options and take the busses and the underground – or for the most convenience you can take a hire car in London. If you do opt for a hire car do remember that they are much more expensive if you buy them on the day. We recommend booking ahead with Car Rentals Network to help beat the costs of travel in London.

London Congestion Charges and what to Expect

London Congestion Charges and what to Expect

When you’re travelling to London on holiday or on business, and using your own car or a rental car, then there are many things to consider. Firstly you’ll need to arrange your travel, your car hire and then you need to prepare yourself for London’s often chaotic traffic and the congestion charges that are in place in Central London.

As with most things when it comes to travel, it is better to plan ahead. If you’ll be driving at all in Central London, then it’s more than likely you’ll need to pay the charge – especially if your driving takes you by such tourist hot spots as Buckingham Palace and Green park. So to avoid any non payment fees – such as the £130 penalty charge for not paying – and to ensure your trip to London goes by without a hitch, we would suggest you pay the congestion charges in advance if possible.

Luckily there are some dates in the year when the charge doesn’t apply, namely on bank holidays and between Christmas day and New years day. You can also avoid the charge entirely by driving a car with low emissions such as the Nissan Leaf, Renault ZOE, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Porsche Panamera.

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