Strange Departures – Interesting Facts about London’s Airports

134,000,000 passengers arrive at one of London’s five major airports every year. But besides processing travellers and checking luggage, what are some interesting facts about Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, London City and Stansted Airports? Read on to find out more!

Heathrow Airport: The Ghosts that rumble beneath

photo Robin van Mourik from Alkmaar, Netherlands
33 of these fit beneath a deserted station beneath Heathrow Airport

Over 70,000,000 million people touch down and take off from Heathrow airport every year, yet few know what is actually beneath the airport.  Buried beneath Heathrow is a massive underground station, built as recently as 2008 under Terminal 5, but remains unused to date.  Despite this, there is hope that the station will become operation in it was hoped the station would become fully operational between 2020 to 2030. The hope is that as people become less reliable on cars, that the transition to trains will become eminent in the next few years.

Just how big is it? It can fit 33 double decker buses beneath it. Read more here: link

Gatwick Airport: Strange Menu Items

dead pidgeon
I don’t know what I expected…

In August 2010, the UK Border Agency (UKBA)  found a 21 kilogram briefcase abandoned at a carousel.  The bag had no identification on it. Upon opening it, the officials found pidgeons,  some which  had feathers plucked their skin. Officials suspected that the dead birds were bound to put on a menu in a restaurant some where in London. Read more about this incident and others here: link

Luton Airport gets unliked by its Facebook users.

An image from MDW Airport Accident was used.
Luton used an image like this from the Chicago Midway Airport accident.

Luton Airport’s attempt to make light of snow delays backfired when then used a photograph of crashed airplane. The photo was from a crash a Chicago’s midway airport. The crash depicted in the photo killed a 6 year old boy. The caption for the photo was “Because we are such a super airport … this is what we prevent you from when it snows … Weeeee :).”  The image only remained on the Luton Airport page for 75 minutes before outraged Facebook users cried out for its removal. Luton Airport profusely apologised, and banned 2 employees from using their Facebook page. Read more about this incident here: link

London City – The lost and found of bling-bling

money bag
€60,000 in cash was found at LCY Airport

Given London City Airports central location, its a popular place for spotting celebrities and the upper crust of British society. COO of London City Airport, Darren Grover, COO claims: “Because LCY is so close to central London it is popular with business travellers and celebrities, so we see more than our fair share of valuable items left in Departures. However, it is also a hotspot to find rather unusual item and expensive items in the lost and found. Here are some some of the things lost at Luton City Airport (LCY):

  • €60,000 cash
  • Bag of diamonds
  • Signed blank chequebook
  • Adult toys
  • Artificial skull
  • Glass eye
  • False teeth
  • Wigs
  • Designer watches worth £10,000+
  • Adult magazines

Read more here: link

Stansted Airport – Don’t get stuck here

We could have talked about the 10 eyeballs confiscated here in 2007, or UFO sighting hotspot, or  but instead it we’ll go with the dubious honor of Stansted Airport- The worst airport to get stuck in.  32,000 members of the MissTravel dating website agreed you do not want to get delayed here when on holiday. But don’t just take MissTravel’s advice, Airport revew site SkyTrax gives them 2/10 from over 600 reviews and  TrustPilot gives them 2 out 5 stars from over 2000 reviews. Earlier this year, an Irish woman, frustrated by long queues and badgering security, started stripping her clothes at the airport. She was promptly arrested but not after security broke her thumb.

stansted airport is bad
one of many unfavourable reviews of London’s Stansted Airport

 

 

 

London for kids

The Science Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collections of science, technology and medicine. Features include a Space Gallery and the Wellcome Museum of medical history. It’s is open daily 10am-6pm and admission is £6.95 for adults and free for children. It’s closed from 24-26 and 31 December and 1 January. The nearest underground station is South Kensington.

The Natural History Museum contains hundreds of exciting interactive exhibits with sections on ecology and the animal world, along with the new Earthquake Experience and the Dinosaur Gallery. It’s open Monday-Saturday 10am-5.50pm and Sunday 11am-5.50pm. It’s closed 24-26 December. Admission is £7.50 for adults and free for children. The nearest underground station is South Kensington.

The Imperial War Museum tells the story of 20th-century warfare on the home front and on the front line. Displays include the Blitz and Trench Experiences. It’s open daily 10am-6pm. Admission is £5.50 for adults and free for children. The museum is closed 24-26 December. It’s in Lambeth Road and the nearest underground station is Lambeth North.

Entrance to Legoland Windsor
Entrance to Legoland Windsor

At Legoland Windsor there are many activities including rides, themed playscapes, a special children’s driving school, LEGO boats and DUPLO gardens and miniworld. It’s open daily 10am-6pm. Admission is £17.50 for adults and £14.50 for children. The nearest rail station is Windsor Central or Windsor Riverside

From puppet making to turban tying, there’s always a huge range of activities for children of all ages at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Embark upon an adventure across the Museum with our Backpack Tours and Activity Cart, both filled with exciting hands-on activities including jigsaws, stories, puzzles and construction games.Backpack Tours – every Saturday from 1.30pm-5pm and additional days during school holidays.Activity Cart for Families – every Sunday from 10.30am-5pm with a special event every first Sunday of the month, and additional days during school holidays. For further information call
020 7942 2197

The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood houses a collection of toys, dolls & dolls’ houses, children’s costumes and nursery antiques. It’s open Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5.50pm. Admission is free. It’s in Cambridge Heath Road, and the nearest underground station is Bethnal Green. The museum is closed 25 December and 1 January.

The London Dungeon is the world’s first medieval horror museum complete with gruesomely realistic scenes. There are also two major shows including ‘The Jack the Ripper Experience’ and ‘The Theatre of the Guillotine’. It’s not suitable for very young children or those of a nervous disposition! It’s open daily 10am-6pm. Admission is £9.50 for adults and £6.50 for children. It’s closed 25 December. The nearest underground station is London Bridge.

HMS Belfast is a World War II cruiser, with nine decks to explore including the Captain’s Bridge to the massive Boiler and Engine Rooms well below the ship’s waterline. It’s open daily 10am-6pm. Admission is £5 for adults and free for children. It’s moored at Morgan’s Lane, off Tooley Street and the nearest underground station is London Bridge. It’s closed 24-26 December.

The Thames Barrier is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world. The Visitors’ Centre has spectacular views of the Barrier, along with working scale models and audio-visual displays. It’s open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10.30am-5.30pm. Admission is £3.40 for adults and £2 for children. The nearest rail station is Charlton. It’s closed 24-26 December.

At the BBC Experience visitors can see how the BBC operates, using models, studios, archives and plenty of ‘hands-on’ displays for radio and television. Admission is £7.50 for adults and £4.95 for children. It’s open Monday 11am-4.30pm, Tuesday-Friday 9.30am-4.30pm and Saturday and Sunday 9.30am-5.30pm. It’s in Portland Place and the nearest underground stations are Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street. It’s closed 25 December.

Rock Circus tells the story of rock and pop music from the 1950s to the present day, using spectacular robotic figures, lasers and videos. It’s open daily 11am-8pm. It closes at 9pm Friday and Saturday and opens at 11am on Tuesday. Admission is £8.25 for adults and £6.25 for children. The nearest underground station is Piccadilly Circus. It’s closed 25 December.

The Wembley Stadium Tour takes you behind-the-scenes to the dressing room, players’ tunnel, the Royal Box and the TV studio room. Admission is £7.95 for adults and £5.50 for children. Under-5s are admitted free. Tours start at 10am, with the last tour at 4pm. There are no tours on days of major events, so call the Stadium before visiting on 020 8902 8833, that’s 020 8902 8833. The nearest underground station is Wembley Park. There are no tours 25 and 26 December.

Madame Tussaud’s is the world famous collection of wax figures of famous people. It’s open Monday-Friday 10am-5.30pm and Saturday and Sunday 9.20am-5.30pm. It’s closed 25 December. Admission is £10.50 for adults and £7 for children. It’s in Marylebone Road and the nearest underground station is Baker Street.

At the Tower Bridge Experience visitors can see one of the most famous bridges in the world and spectacular views from the high level walkways 140ft above the Thames. In the two towers, there’s an exhibition which explains the history of Tower Bridge. It’s open daily 10am-6.30pm. Admission is £6.25 for adults and £4.25 for children. The nearest underground station is Tower Hill. It’s closed 24 & 25 December.

Changing of the Guard London Schedule

Buckingham Palace

Changing of the guards LondonAt Buckingham Palace, this ceremony takes place daily until 4 August at 11.30am. The Guard will change at 4pm on 15 & 17 June. The ceremony starts at 11.30am, and lasts 40 minutes. It takes place inside the palace railings, and you can watch it from outside.

The Queen’s Guard, accompanied by a band, leaves Wellington Barracks at 11.27am and marches via Birdcage Walk to the Palace. Changing the Guard is cancelled in very wet weather. When there is an important state event, times may change, and there may be no music. The nearest Underground stations to Buckingham Palace are Victoria, St. James’s Park and Green Park.
Horse Guards Parade

A separate ceremony is held daily throughout the year near Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall. It takes place daily, at 11am Monday to Saturday and at 10am on Sundays.

Horse Guards ParadeIn this ceremony the Queen’s Life Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks at 10.28am Monday to Saturday and at 9.28am on Sundays. It rides to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and The Mall. The nearest Underground stations to Horse Guards Parade Embankment, Charing Cross, and Westminster.
Windsor Castle

Weather permitting, the Guard Change at Windsor Castle takes place daily at 11am until 3 August. There will be no Guard change on 11, 18 and 25 June. The Guard will change without music or ceremony on 10, 17 and 19 June. The Guard will change at 4pm on 17 June and at 9am on 19 June.
Tower of London

Please note, that the ceremony at the Tower of London no longer takes place.
The Soldiers

The soldiers who take part in the guard changing ceremony at Buckingham Palace normally come from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards. The Foot Guards consist of the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards and the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. At Horse Guards Parade, the soldiers who take part are normally from the Household Cavalry, which consists of The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals. These seven regiments make up the Household Division and guarding the Queen is one of their responsibilities.

Day trips from London

Whether its a traditional English day at sea or exploring some of the historical treasures of Britain, there are hundreds of things to do beyond the capital city. So if you are looking to escape the bustle of London Town and experience some of the wealth of British Culture, then we would like to recommend these famous destinations as exciting day trips out.

Bathwick Hill, Bath, Somerset, UK - Diliff
Bathwick Hill, Bath, Somerset
Bath

Bath is one of the prettiest towns in Britain with a unique architectural character and a vibrant cultural life. Quite rightly, Bath is one of the Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Brighton.UK
Brighton UK
Brighton

From the exotic Royal Pavilion to trendy clubs, from small shops selling bonsai trees, vegetarian shoes (seriously!), and designer clothes stores to huge shopping centres, from the Marina and the Pier to the markets and pavement cafes – one can honestly say that Brighton has it all.

Cambridge

One always thinks of Cambridge as an old, rather sleepy, small university town wrapped up in its history. And on every visit, one realises how wrong this preconception is.
Cambridge

Canterbury

Canterbury’s history is one of juicy tales and spiritual depth. It is the most famous and the oldest of England’s cathedral towns with a rich history, but it’s also a busy market town.

Edinburgh

Universally acknowledged as one of Europe’s finest cities, Edinburgh has always been a magnet, a cosmopolitan melting pot drawing visitors from all over the world.
Edinburgh

Oxford

The ancient city of Oxford has been famous for its university for over 800 years. The city may be a commercial centre, the home of Oxford University Press and a major county town, but what has attracted visitors over the centuries is the wealth of warm stone college buildings with their quiet cloisters and peaceful gardens.

Stratford-upon-Avon 2010 PD 04
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-Upon-Avon

An accident of history put Stratford-Upon-Avon on the world map. If it hadn’t happened that William Shakespeare was born and died here, this small sleepy market would have remained just that instead of becoming one of the United Kingdom’s major tourist attractions.
Stratford-Upon-Avon

Winchester

Over its long and eventful history, Winchester has seen it all: it’s been the capital of England, and has been conquered by Normans. You’ll be pleased to learn that this colourful history is alive and well in Winchester today.
Winchester

Windsor

The words ‘Royal’ and ‘Windsor’ go in tandem. Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world, has been a royal residence for over 900 years.

River Cruising in London

Westminster pier 1
Westminster pier 1
There is no need to book in advance, simply buy your ticket on the day at the pier, before you board the boat.

Services from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier depart at 10.20am, 10.40am, 11am, 11.30am, 12noon, then every 20 minutes until 3pm, then every 30 minutes until 9pm. The last return trip from Tower Pier is at 9.30pm. Journey time each way is 25-30 minutes.
Boats from Westmister Pier to Greenwich Pier depart every 30 minutes from 10am-5pm, with the last return trip at 6pm. Journey time each way is 45-50 minutes. Call W.P.S.A. on (020) 7930 4097
Boats run from Embankment Pier to Tower Pier and then on to Greenwich every 30 minutes from 10.30am-4pm, with the last return at 5.15pm from Greenwich Pier. From Embankment Pier to Tower Pier, it’s £5.50 single for adults, £3.50 single for children. From Embankment Pier to Greenwich Pier, it’s £8 single for adults, £5 single for children. The return journeys are free of charge. The service is run by Catamaran Cruisers.

There are 1 hour-long circular cruises from Tower Pier. They depart daily every 30 minutes from 11am-6pm. The cost is £5.80 for adults and £3.20 for children.  Call Thames Leisure on (020) 7623 1805
There are also 1 hour-long circular cruises from Westmister Pier. They depart every 30 minutes from 11am-6.30pm, or 7pm subject to demand. Boats also call at St Katharine Pier. The cost is £5.80 for adults and £3 for children. Call Circular Cruises on (020) 7936 2033
Boats from Westmister Pier to Thames Barrier via the Dome, depart at 11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.45pm and 2.45pm, with the last return trip at 4pm. Adults are £6 single, £7.25 return; children are £3.30 single, £3.90 return. The service is run by Thames Cruises. Call Thames Cruises on (020) 7930 3373
From 17 April boats from Greenwich Pier to Thames Barrier via the Dome, depart at 11.15am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, with the last return trip at 4pm. Adults are £3.50 single, £5 return; children are £2.25 single, £3 return. The service is run by Campion Launches.

The Great Gunpowder Plot of 1605

REMEMBER, REMEMBER. THE 5th of NOVEMBER . . .

Angered by the treatment of Catholics in England, Guy Fawkes and a small group of conspirators developed a plot to blow-up the Houses of Parliament and kill the Protestant King James I in the process. The conspirators stored 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar, just under the House of Lords and planned to take action at the Opening of Parliament scheduled for November 5th. A warning letter, however, reached the King, and Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed guarding the barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was convicted, hung, drawn and quartered, and the King ordered a day of celebration and Thanksgiving. Today, the cellars are still ceremonially searched before the State Opening of Parliament, and Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated every November 5th with elaborate bonfires and fireworks.

All Around London
London Landmarks
London’s Historic Attractions
London’s Historic Buildings

The Oldest Shop in London

The Old Curiosity Shop - Iain Crump
The Old Curiosity Shop – Iain Crump

This London shop dates back to 1567 and is considered to be the oldest shop in central London, surviving both the Great Fire of 1666 and The Blitz. Although the site claims to be the inspiration for Dickens’ fourth novel The Old Curuiosity Shop (1840-1841), there is no evidence to support the claim. The shop’s name was actually added shortly after the novel was published, and it is likely that the owner was connecting the shop to Dickens’ success and fame. Today, the shop carries unique designer fashion and footwear.

The Old Curiosity Shop
13/14 Portsmouth Street, WC2A 2ES

Execution Dock

execution dock by Tarquin Binary
execution dock by Tarquin Binary

Those found guilty of piracy were once taken to Execution Dock along the Thames for a very public and painful death by hanging. The corpses were  then chained to a stake and held in place until three tides had washed over them. The most famous pirate to reach his end at Execution Dock was Captain Kidd who was found guilty of murder and piracy in 1701. His body was tarred and displayed in an iron cage hung over the River Thames as a warning to others. The actual location of Execution Dock is disputed, but a reminder can be found behind the historic Prospect of Whitby Pub in Wapping.

THE BEST HONEY IN LONDON

Best Honey In London
Best Honey In London

The Hive Honey Shop in Battersea was recently awarded ‘The Best Honey in London’ at the 2013 London Honey Show. Visitors to the award-winning honey shop can choose from over 700 products including fine honeys, beeswax candles, royal jelly, cakes, sweets, and cosmetics. Visitors can also ‘gaze into the secret world of the honey bee’ through a 5-ft high, glass-fronted beehive filled with 20,000 live bees. James Hamill, head beekeeper and owner of The Hive Honey Shop, has had bee-keeping running in his family since the 1920s, and his shop is filled with family heirlooms as well as other bee related items he has collected throughout the years. Look for the ‘world’s largest honey stirrer’ on display as Mr. Hamill attempts to break a new Guinness World Record (www.thisislocallondon.co.uk)

The Hive Honey Shop
93 Northcote Road, SW11 6PL