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London Chinatown Gateway. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year in London

The wonderful Christmas lights in Central London are coming down, and red lanterns are beginning to appear around Soho and in particular Chinatown. This is part of the celebration for Chinese New Year which is also known as the Spring Festival. This year it falls on the 28th January, the first day of spring in the lunisolar calendar.

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Agatha Christie Memorial. Photo Credit: © Diagram Lajard via Wikimedia Commons.

The Queen Of Crime, Agatha Christie in London

Who is the best-selling writer in history after Shakespeare and the Bible? The answer is Agatha Christie who was born in Devon in 1890 but whose stories often feature London and who wrote what is the capital’s (and the world’s) longest-running play The Mousetrap, which is still playing at Saint Martin’s theatre sixty-five years after it opened. One of the original cast was the late Sir Richard Attenborough, who was paid partly with a share of rights from the play. These were never expected to be worth much but later in his career he was able to sell them to help finance his film about the life of Mahatma Gandhi starring Sir Ben Kingsley.

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London New Year's Eve Fireworks. Photo Credit: © Visit London.

5 Fun Ideas for New Year in London

The end of December through January is a fun time to be in London.  Christmas may have passed but the atmosphere is still quite festive and there are loads of events to ring in the New Year and get you excited about the start of the year.   Below are some of the major events and activities to entice you to plan a visit to our fair capital London –  recently ranked #1 on the list of the world’s best city for 2018.

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Bronze statue of Paddington Bear, by sculptor Marcus Cornish. Photo Credit: © Lonpicman via Wikipedia Commons.

Winnie The Pooh & Paddington – Britain’s Best Loved Bears

Blue Badge Tourist Guides need to keep up with the latest cinema releases in order to make their tours relevant and up-to-date. One of the most interesting and popular films to come out this year was Goodbye Christopher Robin, the story of the creation of our best-loved bear Winnie the Pooh.  His position though may be threatened by Paddington, created by the late Michael Bond and also the subject of a recent film Paddington 2 which is currently doing good business at the box office.

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Dickens's Dream by Robert William Buss, portraying Dickens at his desk at Gads Hill Place surrounded by many of his characters. Photo Credit: © Wikipedia Commons.

A Dickens Of A Christmas in London

More than anyone else, Charles Dickens invented the British Christmas with A Christmas Carol, his story about Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. This book was first published in 1843 and has been adapted for stage and screen many times. Now a new film and exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum London celebrate this famous story.

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Windsor Castle fire

25 Years Since Windsor Castle Fire

One question Blue Badge Tourist Guides always seem to be asked when they take groups to Windsor Castle is “where did the fire take place?” It took place twenty-five years ago this month on 20 November 1992 on the Queen and Prince Philip’s forty fifth wedding anniversary during what the Queen later referred to as her “annus horriblis”, when the marriages of three of her children came to an end and the oldest royal home was engulfed in flames.

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NFL International Series: Wembley Stadium in London. Photo Credit: © Paul Metcalfe.

National Football League (NFL) International Series In London

Here in London we feel very privileged to have hosted the National Football League (NFL) games now since 2007, known as the International Series. At first it was just one game each year. The Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium on October 28, 2007. The Giants defeated the Dolphins 13–10 in the first regular season NFL game held outside North America. The first 40,000 tickets sold out for the game in the first 90 minutes of sales, and mainly to British and other Europeans.

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London St James's Street: Berry Brothers & Rudd. Photo Credit: © Edwin Lerner.

5 Posh Shops on St. James’s Street in London

Since 1661, St. James’s Street in London has been a go to destination for luxury retailing. Many of the posh shops on the street originally catered to the clientele from some of London’s best-known gentlemen’s clubs on the same street, including Brooks’s, the Carlton Club and White’s.  Now St. James’s Street in London is world famous and a go to place for top of the range products and services offered with traditional English flare. With that in mind, below are 5 of the posh shops on St. James’s Street in London.

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Tower of London: Chief Raven Master, Chris Skaife

Meeting The Raven Master at Tower of London

A group of Guide London Blue Badge Tourist Guides recently had the privilege of going “behind the scenes” at the Tower of London, on a warm, witty and informative tour hosted by Chief Raven Master, Chris Skaife. Below is an account of the tour.

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Bank of England: Polymer Notes

Britain’s Changing Money

The new £10 is the second plastic or polymer note issued by the Bank of England and features a portrait of Jane Austen. It follows the introduction of the first polymer note in September 2016, a fiver with a picture of Winston Churchill and an extract from his famous speech: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, tears and toil.’ The new twenty-pound note, with a portrait of a young J. M. W. Turner and a version of his painting of the Fighting Temeraire in the background will be released in March 2020. As yet no decision on a polymer fifty-pound note has been made and who would feature on it.

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Tower of London: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Poppies. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

Tracing The Tower Of London Poppies

Who can forget the wonderful site of the 888,246 handmade ceramic poppies by the artist Paul Cummins filling the moat of the Tower of London and cascading down the walls and over the drawbridge area three years ago? Created to represent every British fatality during WWI and to remember the 100 years since the outbreak of war ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, grew daily, aided in a small way by many Blue Badge Tourist Guides who helped to plant some of them.

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Sandycombe Lodge: Turner's House post-conservation front view. Photo Credit: Anne Purkiss ©Turner’s House Trust Collection.

Sandycombe Lodge – J.M.W. Turner’s Thames House Re-Opens

Sandycombe Lodge, the Thames-side villa designed by J. M. W. Turner, has now been re-opened to the
public, following a £2.4 million conservation programme. Built in Twickenham in 1813, it was a peaceful retreat for him and he lived there with his father until 1826. Using Turner’s sketches, a William Havell drawing of 1814, architectural evidence and paint analysis, the Turner’s House Trust has returned the house to its original form and decoration as closely as possible.

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