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Happy birthday Your Majesty! Celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in Britain

Britain’s longest-serving monarch met Britain’s longest-serving postman today as she shared the start of her 90th birthday celebrations with Royal Mail’s 500th anniversary.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the main sorting office in Windsor, after making the short journey from Windsor Castle, to begin the first official engagement of her birthday week.

queen

The Queen arrives at the Royal Mail in Windsor CREDIT: GEOFF PUGH FOR THE TELEGRAPH

The Queen, whose birthday is on Thursday, was greeted by a cheering crowd of hundreds of invited guests who had gathered in the car park to wish her an early Happy Birthday.

One of the biggest events will be The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration, in the private grounds of Windsor Castle (12 – 15 May); the town of Windsor is reached in 30 minutes by train from London. Queen Elizabeth II’s 90 years will be celebrated in 90 minutes of music, dance, song and equestrianism, involving more than 1,500 participants and 900 horses.

 

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe will celebrate the Queen’s reign through three exhibitions of more than 150 of her outfits. The exhibitions will be staged at Her Majesty’s official residences, with each collection carefully selected for its particular association with the place. ThePalace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh will highlight the use of tartan in royal dress (21 April – October). London’s Buckingham Palace will cover fashions from the 1920s to the 2010s with outfits representing the Queen’s childhood, wedding, coronation, royal tours and state visits (August – September), while Windsor Castle will contrast the Queen’s magnificent evening gowns with the fancy dress costumes she wore for wartime family pantomimes (September 2016 – January 2017). www.royalcollection.org.uk

The Queen’s official birthday weekend in June will be another highlight. As usual, the Queen will attend a service of Thanksgiving at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral (10 June), and the traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony will be on 11 June. To get your hands on tickets (£30) for Trooping the Colour, apply in writing in February. Alternatively, there are two rehearsal events – The Major General’s Review (free; 28 May) and The Colonel’s Review (£10; 4 June) – or you can join the flag-waving crowds lining the procession’s route from Buckingham Palace along The Mall and Horseguards.www.householddivision.org.uk/trooping-the-colour

The climax of the office birthday weekend will be a host of classic British street parties across the country on 12 June. The biggest one, and the first of its kind, The Patron’s Lunch, will be on The Mall in London. Most of the 10,000 tickets for this have already been allocated, but the remaining tickets will be made available by public ballot in March (£150; www.thepatronslunch.com). Otherwise, pack a picnic and head to one of thelive sites in Green Park and St James’s Park and watch proceedings from big screens. Expect a festival atmosphere!

In Edinburgh, The Royal Yacht Britannia will throw two parties fit for a queen. On 21 April and 12 June there will be complimentary birthday cake, Britannia fizz and music from the Musical Mariners on board the yacht, which was, according to the Queen, “the one place I could truly relax”. www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

The Queen has attended RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London more than 50 times since 1949 so it’s no surprise that the show is planning something special to mark this occasion (24 -28 May). A photo exhibition will portray the Queen’s many visits to Chelsea, and a floral archway built to commemorate the Queen’s birthday will be one of the first things the Queen sees when she arrives at the show. www.rhs.org.uk

There will be plenty of celebrations in the equestrian world too. As well as jumping, dressage and endurance events, the Royal Windsor Horse Show (11 – 15 May 2016) will be a chance for visitors without tickets for the 90th Celebration to see some of the acts; it will be in the same venue as The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration (from £16; www.rwhs.co.uk). Windsor Racecourse will hold HRH Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday Racenight on 16 May, with music after the racing (from £9). www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk

Articl source: Visit Britain and Daily Telegraph

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Bill Bryson on Great Britain

Bill Bryson must surely be one of Britain’s biggest fans – and in his latest book From The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, he sings the country’s praises once more. Here are some of his quotes about Britain we can’t help agreeing with:

London is the best city in the whole world.’ (source: Visit Britain Blog)

‘Britain is just about the perfect size for a country – small enough to be cosy and embraceable, but large enough to maintain a lively and independent culture.’

Audience watching a play at Regents Park open-air theatre, London

‘There isn’t a landscape in the world that is more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of Great Britain.’

A panorama in the Lake District

‘The makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns, the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep-dotted, plumply hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 50,318 square miles the world has ever known.’

Cottage in English countrysideFLPA/imageBROK/REX Shutterstock

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2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare

Death of most performed playwright in the world to be marked in Stratford-on-Avon, London and across the globe.

The world shares him and London claims him, but Stratford-on-Avon intends to spend 2016 celebrating William Shakespeare as their man: the bard of Avon, born in the Warwickshire market town in 1564, and who died there 400 years ago.

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Portrait of Shakespeare, 1598. Photograph: Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis

Stratford remained hugely important throughout Shakespeare’s life, argues Paul Edmondson, the head of learning and research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “People have seen Shakespeare as a Dick Whittington figure, who turns his back on Stratford and his family, goes to London to earn his fortune and only comes back to die,” he said.

“[But Stratford is] where he bought land and property, where he kept his library, where he lived and read and thought. We are going to spend the year re-emphasising the importance of Shakespeare, the man of Stratford.”

The 17th-century diarist, antiquarian and gossip John Aubrey, born 11 years after Shakespeare died, was at pains to point out there was nothing so very special about the bard. Aubrey, university educated unlike Shakespeare, said that he acted “exceedingly well” and that “his Playes took well”.

The world has not agreed with Aubrey. The anniversary of the death of the man from Stratford, the most famous and the most performed playwright in the world, will be marked across Britain and the globe.

Macbeth is about to open in Singapore, Romeo and Juliet in Brussels. Shakespeare’s Globe is completing the first world tour in the history of theatre, in which it has taken Hamlet to almost every country – North Korea is still holding out. The production will arrive back in London for the anniversary weekend of 23-24 April. They are also creating a 37-screen pop-up cinema, one screen to showcase each of Shakespeare’s plays, along the South Bank.

The National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and virtually every other theatre production company in the country will be marking the anniversary. Interpretations will range from the resolutely traditional to the Brighton-based Spymonkey’s Complete Deaths, a romp through the 74 deaths – 75 including a fly squashed in Titus Andronicus – by stabbing, poisoning, smothering and smashing across the plays. There will also be hundreds of lectures, recitals, international academic conferences, films, concerts, operas and major exhibitions.

For a man famous in his own lifetime there is little documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life and times. The plays would scarcely have survived if his friends and fellow actors had not gathered together every scrap of every play they could find – drafts, prompt scripts, scribbled actors’ parts, and 17 plays not known in any other version – into the precious First Folio published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.

The actor Mark Rylance has called it his favourite book in the world, and most of the surviving First Folios will be on display – including those belonging to the British and Bodleian libraries, and a tattered copy recently discovered in France.

Some of the most precious surviving documents will be gathered together in an exhibition at Somerset House in London, opening in February and jointly organised by the National Archives and King’s College London, including four of his six known signatures, which are all slightly different.

By Me, William Shakespeare will include his will, the court papers relating to the audacious move when Shakespeare and his fellow actors dismantled a theatre on the north side of the Thames and rebuilt it as the Globe on the South Bank, and accounts showing payments from the royal treasury for Boxing Day performances of James I and Queen Anne.

The outgoing Globe director, Dominic Dromgoole, recently jokily claimed Shakespeare as a true Londoner – albeit conceding “some spurious claim” by Stratford-on Avon. Stratford, however, will be insisting that the town made and educated Shakespeare His old school room is being restored with a £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant, to open as a permanent visitor attraction.

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”
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2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare; this special anniversary year is a truly unique opportunity to visit his home town Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire to celebrate the lasting legacy of the world’s greatest playwright. Start planning your visit to Shakespeare’s England in 2016 to see one of his plays performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, tour his Birthplace, pay your respects at his grave at Holy Trinity Church or simply walk in his footsteps and explore the place he called home.

Our popular Bards and Battles Day Tour visiting Stratford upon Avon departs daily from central London and our private customised tours can easily be arranged fro small groups and families.

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Escape London and Explore Britain’s Countryside

London is one of the world’s most exciting destinations, however, the surrounding countryside is brimming with beautiful villages, ancient cathedrals and amazing historical sites. Explore the historic charms and wealth of English culture that lies outside the capital and explore the ‘Real Britain’.

Country Lane Exploration

Country Lane Exploration

Escape the city in style with one of our coach a ‘small group’ mini-coach guided tours. Follow the River Thames as it winds it’s way through Royal Windsor and Britain’s oldest university town, Oxford. These famous destinations are suitably close to London and ideal for day trips.

Go further afield and discover the delights of Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford Upon Avon, set back upon the banks of the weeping River Avon. Head from there to Warwick and see the countryside unfold before you like a fairytale kingdom from the towers of England’s finest medieval fortress. Soothe your aches and pains with a trip to the beautiful spa town of Bath or discover the remarkable monuments of Salisbury and mystical monoliths of Stonehenge. Let us be your guide to the treasures of the English countryside.

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10 ideas for a great trip to Orkney.

The beautiful islands of Orkney, lie just north of the main coast of Scotland. If you want to speak like a native, remember that the islands are called “Orkney”, not “The Orkneys”. The biggest includes the capital city of Kirkwall and is (confusingly!) called Mainland.

Standing stones Orkney

GETTY Some of the standing stones in Orkney are older than Stonehenge

1. Marvel at the stone circles and tombs that are even older than Stonehenge. Orkney was a very important place 5,000 years ago, and the islands are littered with them.

2. Tuck into crab and lobster – Orkney is famous for seafood. You’ll also see thousands of sleek cattle grazing on the islands and Orkney beef is delicious. Excellent restaurants to try local foods include The Foveran near Kirkwall or The Ferry Inn in the enchanting little port of Stromness. thefoveran.com and ferryinn.com

3. Go seal watching. Seals can often be seen bobbing around offshore, and if you are lucky you’ll come across some basking on the rocks. You can often see them lying around on the little islands that lie in the harbour of Stromness, called Inner and Outer Holm. You can walk across to these islands in a few minutes at low tide but be careful not to get stranded and check the tide times first.

Sandy beach on Westray

4. Pop into a welcoming Orkney pub and sample some of the real ales brewed on the islands, such as Red McGregor and Dark Island. Or, try a dram of superb Highland Park Single Malt Whiskey, distilled on Orkney for over 200 years – illegally in the early days. It has been voted ‘Best Spirit in the World’ three times. sinclairbreweries.co.uk and highlandpark.co.uk

5. Discover what life was like 5,000 years ago on these islands and explore the stone age village of Skara Brae. It was only revealed when it was uncovered by a raging storm in 1850. The cosy stone-built homes are complete with their beds, cupboards and fireplaces. Some even have an en suite toilet. To find out more, search for Skara Brae on the website historic-scotland.gov.uk

6. Most people stay on the biggest of the islands, which is confusing called Mainland. But it is fun to take a ferry to Westray if you like bird watching. During summer, the dramatic cliffs here are alive with thousands of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes, and this is the best place to spot puffins. The ferries don’t have room for many cars, so book a few days ahead if you have a vehicle. orkneyferries.co.uk

Neolithic houses at Skara Brae

GETTY Stone Age houses at Skara Brae. They were uncovered by a storm in 1850

7. Looking at prehistoric tombs doesn’t sound very exciting – but on Orkney, it really is. The most spectacular is Maeshowe (you must book to see this – call 01856 761 606). The most fun is The Tomb of the Eagles on South Ronaldsay; to enter this you need to lie on a wobbly trolley and drag yourself in by a rope. Guaranteed to raise gales of laughter. Maeshowe: historic-scotland.gov.uk (then search Maeshowe). Tomb of the Eagles: tomboftheeagles.co.uk

8. Walk on water. The Brough of Birsay is a little tidal island off the west coast of Mainland. It boasts the remains of a Viking town, a lighthouse and spectacular cliff walks. But you need to check the tide times – you can only walk across the causeway to the island for about 2 hours before and after low tide. To check tide: surf-forecast.com

Old Man of Hoy

GETTY The Old Man of Hoy looks out on to Scapa Flow

9. Look up to see the towering, dramatic cliffs on the island of Hoy. Here, you’ll find the famous 145-foot sea stack known as The Old Man of Hoy. The island looks out onto the huge natural harbour of Scapa Flow, which was the Royal Navy’s main naval base during both World Wars. Hoy is also scattered with wartime buildings. Find out more about wartime Orkney at the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre. scapaflow.co.uk
10. Come to Orkney on a day trip from John O’Groats on mainland Scotland if you’re short of time. The ferry only takes 40 minutes to get to Orkney, and then you travel on by coach. There are several itineraries to choose from taking in many of the main sights. jogferry.co.uk

By Anne Gorringe Express (Source)

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Forget Stonehenge: National Trust uses Giant’s Causeway to lure Chinese tourists to UK with marketing blitz in four major cities

  • There has been a 35% increase in Chinese visitors in past three years
    Tourism chiefs travelling to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou
    Audio guides and welcome maps to be distributed in Mandarin

It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, and now tourism chiefs are pushing the merits of Giant’s Causeway into the Chinese market.

Over the last three years there has been a 35 per cent increase in Chinese visitors at Giant's Causeway

Over the last three years there has been a 35 per cent increase in Chinese visitors at Giant’s Causeway

The National Trust’s World Heritage site, the only one in Northern Ireland, is currently being promoted in four major cities in China on a sales mission organised by Tourism Ireland.

Residents in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and eventually Guangzhou will be educated in the history of the famous location in County Antrim.

And with Chinese visitors to the site rising by 35 per cent over the last three years, the marketing strategy shows no signs of letting up.

Speaking to the BBC, Alexandra Mehaffy, National Trust tourism development manager for the Giant’s Causeway and north coast, said: ‘Our Chinese visitors are able to hear the stories and mystery of the Causeway landscape explained to them in Mandarin through an audio-guide and a welcome map is also available in Mandarin.

‘They are very impressed by our World Heritage site and the natural beauty of the north coast.’

It is reported that China’s outbound travel is expected to increase by 15 per cent to 114 million trips this year and estimated to reach 20 million trips by 2020.

THE UK’S 28 WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd

Durham Castle and Cathedral

Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

Ironbridge Gorge

St Kilda

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey

Blenheim Palace

City of Bath

Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church

Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church

Henderson Island

Tower of London

Maritime Greenwich

Gough and Inaccessible Islands (Extension of Gough Island Wildlife Reserve.

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Blaenavon Industrial Landscape

Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda

Derwent Valley Mills

Dorset and East Devon Coast

New Lanark

Saltaire

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City

Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal

Frontiers of the Roman Empire (including Hadrian’s Wall)

Giant’s Causeway, on the north coast of Northern Ireland, boasts 40,000 interlinked basalt columns extending into the sea, while the area surrounding it is home to wildlife ranging from peregrine falcons to seals.

Legend has it the giant Finn MacCool built the enormous ‘stepping stones’ to Scotland to do battle with a rival there – though the more prosaic explanation is that they were formed by cooling lava 60 million years ago.

The site’s website states: ‘Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, for centuries the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists, stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it.’

Full Article in the Daily Mail: By John Hutchinson for Mailonline

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2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon: Visit the Windsor Castle Exhibition this summer.

2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon.

Windsor Castle Exhibition: Saturday, 31st January 2015 to Wednesday, 13st January 2016

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

In celebration of the allied victory, George IV created the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, a grand space filled with portraits of those instrumental in the victory, among them the Duke of Wellington.

Throughout 2015, Waterloo at Windsor: 1815–2015 will combine a themed trail through the State Apartments with a display of prints, drawings and archival material that explores the battle and its aftermath.

The trail will highlight objects seized on the battlefield by the victors, including silver, furniture, weapons and the beautiful red cloak belonging to Napoleon, presented to George IV by Wellington’s ally, Field-Marshal Gebhardt von Blücher.

Windsor Castle Exhibition link

All our small group Windsor Castle tours allow time to visit the exhibition.

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