Showing posts with label United Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Kingdom. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

LONDON - Is it on Your Bucket List?

London.  The city which is steeped in pomp and pageantry; the city where history and tradition are not merely prized, but rather integrated into daily life; the city of modernity in art, fashion, music, education, commerce, and entertainment; the city that claims itself to be the capital of the 21st-century Europe.  London, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of today.”

   

  

London has served as the capital of England, and the United Kingdom since the 10th century.  It is the largest metropolitan city in England and is generally considered the largest metropolitan city in all of the European Union.  It was originally founded nearly 2,000 years ago by the Romans, as Londinium.  

London has always been a popular destination within Europe.  Given its’ age as a city, and the vast array of historical, political, and social events and movements that have taken place within the community, there is a dramatic number of museums, gardens, palaces, galleries, cathedrals, parks, concert halls, neighborhoods and shopping destinations to visit.   Depending on the length of an individual stay, visitors to London will have ample opportunity to take in many of London’s most famous sites – including such historic places as:

  • Westminster Abbey (dating back 1066)
  • Windsor Castle (similarly dating back to the 10th century)
  • Tower of London (dating back to the 11th century)
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral (dating back to the 17th century)
  • Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens (dating back to the 1730s)
  • Buckingham Palace (dating back to 1705, expanded to its’ current size in the 1830s)
  • and so many more.

When was the last time you visited this enchanting city?  If you haven't yet visited, is London on your bucket list?  When would you like to visit?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - United Kingdom Pavilion

The United Kingdom pavilion found in Epcot's World Showcase features eight different architectural styles for a tour of the islands that make up the U.K.  Styles include:  London Victorian, Yorkshire manor, Tudor, Georgian, Hyde Park, Regency and Shakespearean cottage.  



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where in The World Wednesdays - Destinations to Explore Before Leaving This Life


Once again, in honor of the Summer Games, today we take a look at another destination within the United Kingdom.  This time it’s Britain’s most historic spa town - Bath.  A city that dates back to around 45AD, when the Romans first arrived in the region, and sports hot springs, which prompted the construction of elaborate saunas, bathhouses, and temples beginning in about 60AD.

The city is located about 115 miles west of London, in the southwest county of Somerset, at the bottom of the Avon Valley, and near the southern edge of the Cotswolds, a range of limestone hills.

1610 Map of the city
A Benedictine monastery was established in Bath in the 7th century, with Bath Abbey being constructed shortly thereafter.  During that time period, the old Roman layout of the city was lost as many structures fell into ruins, and King Alfred re-laid the city when it was taken under royal possession.   Later, in 973, Bath Abbey played a royal role as Edgar was crowned King of England. 

During the ensuing centuries, Bath rose and fell in popularity, as well as disrepair.  It was in 1702, during a visit by Queen Anne, that the city officially saw its rebirth as the country’s premier spa town.  Soon thereafter, Britain’s “high society” would journey to Bath to “take the waters”, as often depicted in the novels of Jane Austen.  The city was soon transformed into the preeminent architectural wonderland, filled with grand and beautiful Georgian structures.  Parks, theatres, hotels, and beautiful homes were built throughout the city, including the huge, semi-ellipse Royal Crescent – a massive structure of 30 identical stone houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park, on which construction began in 1775.  Today Bath is a shopping and dining paradise, and still known for the Roman baths.

The Royal Crescent
For more information about how you might be able to experience the splendors of Bath or other remarkable destinations throughout the British countryside, contact me at 317.776.1733 or simply visit my website.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where in the World Wednesdays - Destinations to Explore Before Leaving This Life


In honor of the Summer Games, today we take a look at another destination within the United Kingdom.  This time it’s the Scottish home of the British Royal Family – the Balmoral estate.  

In the shadows of Lochnagar, set amongst the spectacular scenery of Royal Deeside, the Balmoral Estate which covers about 20,000 hectares (just over 50,000 acres) acres of heather clad hills, ancient Caledonian woodland.  The estate itself goes back to late 1300’s when King Robert II of Scotland had a hunting lodge there.  The first permanent house was constructed in 1390, and additions and expansions were made to what eventually became a castle through the ensuing years, and caught the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1847 while they were on holiday in the nearby Ardverikie by Loch Laggan.

Unlike most of the other castles and residences that are official state-owned properties that they Royal Family uses and enjoys, Balmoral Estate is a privately owned residence.  It was purchased by Queen Victoria (Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandmother) in 1848, and has been the Scottish home for the Royal Family ever since. Upon her death is was passed to her son King George V, who passed it to his son King Edward VIII, and following his abdication, it was purchased by his brother King George VI who succeeded Edward.  Elizabeth II received the Estate after her father’s death in 1952. 

Over the past 150 years with careful stewardship by the Royal Family and their estate management staff, the estate has preserved the wildlife, scenery and architecture which is available for all generations to enjoy.  During the spring and early summer months when the Royal Family is in not residence, the grounds, gardens and exhibitions are open to the public on a daily basis.

Balmoral is a wonderful venue for a day out and during the open season you will find lots of activities to participate in.  Activities such as guided walks and tours, luxury land rover safaris, plus the annual Balmoral Road Races and the St. James’ Place Foundation Half Marathon.  A featured favorite are the “Running the Highlands” training weekends – covering fitness training, running, flexibility, sports massage, nutrition, pilates, and running form and technique.  Additionally, salmon fishing is available on the River Dee, and the estate hosts car enthusiasts who gather for car rallies and exhibitions on the grounds.   Select areas of the grounds are available for private parties and events, including wedding receptions. 

Balmoral is a working estate mostly 1,000 feet above sea level, though there are seven Munros or mountains over 3,000 feet.  Throughout the estate deer stalking, grouse shooting, forestry, and farming are the main land uses. The estate provides an important recreational benefit to members of the visiting public and a range of user groups – and even provides accommodations that can be rented in a variety of cottages and lodges from 5 to 13 guests.  Pets are welcome but must be controlled at all times. 



For more information about how you might be able to experience the splendors of Balmoral, or other remarkable destinations throughout the Scottish highlands contact me at 317.776.1733 or via my website. 



Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics

This past Friday night we watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  While many people have posted in various social media forums about how the ceremonies didn't live up to the splendor of Beijing in 2008 - I liked what London put together.  I found it enjoyable, for the most part. True I could have done with a much shorter sequence of teenagers dancing and demonstrating technology - but otherwise I thought they did a really nice job presenting aspects of their national history and such.  I loved seeing the Queen take part in it all, and the fireworks at the end were spectacular.  Including English literature in the "Second Star and On til Morning" sequence was cool - especially considering that three of the literary pieces have all made their way into the Disney pantheon... Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, and Mary Poppins.

I love the Olympic games - both summer and winter.  Not being a huge sports person normally - I'm not one to sit and watch sports on television, nor do I participate in sports pools, fantasy leagues or anything like that, and I do not tend to talk about sports very often - so it's just not something that I get into.  Except for the Olympics.  I love watching the various sports and competitions.  I love watching the athleticism of it all; the drama and intrigue of watching the underdogs often out-perform the favorites - "upsetting" who people think will win.  

I've loved the Olympics since I was a little boy.  Every four years we would gather around our television set and watch the various games.  Growing up in Southern California it was exhilarating when in 1984 Los Angeles hosted the summer games, where the many different events took place all across the L.A. basin, including equestrian events taking place at the Santa Anita racetrack, just a few miles from the house I grew up in.  It was awesome.  

Both summer and winter have events that I love to watch... but it was only the winter games that saw one of my heroes actually get to coordinate, plan and produce the Opening & Closing Ceremonies for.  Who was it?  And what year?  Walt Disney.  Yes, Walt Disney.  

Walt Disney was selected as the Pageantry Committee Chairman for the VIII Winter Olympics in 1960, in Squaw Valley, California.  I knew about that as a young person, but never really investigated it all that much.  I've seen concept art from the Disney archives that show the two massive, 24-foot tall snow sculptures and the "Tower of Nations" that Disney Imagineer John Hench designed for Walt in his role as the Chairman.

In doing a bit of research online, I found this information on Wikipedia, as well as other information - but this says it really well.  


Opening ceremonies


A plaque on an official flagpole commissioned by Walt Disney for the 1960 Games
The chairman of the "Pageantry Committee" was Walt Disney, who was responsible for producing both the opening and closing ceremonies.[7] He planned on an opening that would include 5,000 entertainers, the release of 2,000 pigeons, and a military gun salute of eight shots, one for each of the previous Winter Olympic Games.[25][26] The opening ceremonies were held on 18 February 1960 at Blyth Arena in the midst of a blizzard. Heavy snow fell the morning of the 18th and caused traffic problems that delayed the ceremony by an hour. The festivities began with a sustained drum roll as the flags of each participating nation were raised on specially designed flag poles. As the Greek standard bearer led the 30 participating countries in the traditional Parade of Nations the weather broke and the rest of the two-hour ceremony proceeded in sunshine. Vice President Richard Nixon represented the United States government and declared the Games open.[27] The Olympic flame was lit by Kenneth Henry, Olympic champion of the 500 meter speed skating race at the1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo. The Olympic oath was taken by Carol Heiss on behalf of all the athletes. As the national delegations exited the stadium fireworks concluded the ceremonies.[28]

The Olympics have had such an impact on the world... but then - so did Walt Disney.  And every four years... (two years now since they separated the winter and summer Olympics from being held in the same year) you can be sure I'll be sitting in front of my television watching the games and enjoying the art of sport.  

Until next time,


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where in the World Wednesdays - Destinations to Explore Before Leaving this Life


London.  The city which is so utterly steeped in pomp and pageantry;  the city where history and tradition are not merely valued and prized, but rather are ingrained and integrated into daily life; the city of modernity in art, fashion, music, education, commerce, and entertainment; the city that claims itself to be the capital of the 21st-century Europe.  It is, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “the epitome of our times, and the Rome of today.”

London has served as the capital of England, and The United Kingdom since the 10th century.  It is the largest metropolitan city in England, and is generally considered the largest metropolitan city in all of the European Union.  It was originally founded nearly 2,000 years ago by the Romans, as Londinium. 

London has been awash in celebration through the first half of 2012, thanks in large part to the Golden Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who first aceeded to the throne 60 years following the sudden death of her father, King George VI.  Elizabeth is now the second longest-serving monarch in England’s history, behind Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years.  And now, in just a couple of days, will see the grand spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics – the games of the 30th Olympiad of the modern era. 

Windsor Castle
London has always been a popular destination within Europe.  Given its’ age as a city, and the vast array of historical, political, and social events and movements that have taken place within the community, there is a dramatic number of museums, gardens, palaces, galleries, cathedrals, parks, concert halls, neighborhoods and shopping destinations to visit.   
Westminster Abbey
Buckingham Palace
Tower of London

Depending on the length of an individual stay, visitors to London will have ample opportunity to take in many of London’s most famous sites – including such historic places as:


  • Westminster Abbey (dating back 1066)
  • Windsor Castle (similarly dating back to the 10th century)
  • Tower of London (dating back to the 11th century)
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral (dating back to the 17th century)
  • Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens (dating back to the 1730s)
  • Buckingham Palace (dating back to 1705, expanded to its’ current size in the 1830s)
  • …and so many more.

The city has so much to offer, and now, once again, London will be the center of the world’s attention – at least from July 27th through August 12th while hosting the Summer Olympics once again.  The last time London hosted the games was in 1908.  The games were scheduled to be in London in 1944, but due to World War II, those games were canceled.  For more info on the games themselves, visit the official site here.  


For more information about how you might be able to experience the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia - or the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or to simply plan your vacation to England, contact me at 317.776.1733, or simply visit my website.