Just announced this week, Jane McDonald will be playing Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats!
Jane McDonald, presenter and singer, will be taking over from Nicole Scherzinger and latterly Kerry Ellis for an eight week run at Blackpool’s Opera House. McDonald has said of the role and being back at her old stomping ground is a “marriage made in heaven.”
The cat who McDonald is playing, Grizabella (famously played by Elaine Page), is known as the “Glamour Cat” in the production; a prominent character of the musical, who is regularly taunted by the others for her dishevelled and old condition, as she no longer represents the proud and flamboyant dancer of her youth. Grizabella also sings the famous “Memory”—a song that has been covered by many artists such as Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand.
Jane McDonald, best known for being an outspoken Loose Woman presenter, rose to fame on the 1998 TV show, The Cruise; a docu-soap that captured the lives of people who worked on cruise ships. McDonald has stated that she was “thrilled” to be joining the cast of Cats: “I will be working with a fantastic production team and cast and I am looking forward to the reaction from audiences in Blackpool.”
We will be seeing Cats at the Blackpool Opera House on the 23rd of August, where you will have free time around Blackpool. Click here for more info and search for “Cats” in our holiday finder.
What animals live at Longleat? Well, quite a few…
Amur tigers are native to the Amur-Ussuri region of Russia and are the largest of the big cats. They’re incredibly powerful and heavily muscled with their average weight around 600 pounds, but can exceed 800 (especially in male tigers). At Longleat, the Amur Tigers live on a diet of 7kg of meat a day that has had vitamins and mineral added to keep the animals healthy, whereas in the wild, tigers would munch on a variety of animals, from porcupines, hares and peacocks to deer, blackbuck and wild boar. For each successful kill, tigers will fail 10 – 20 times.
DID YOU KNOW..?
-Unlike other members of the cat family, Amur tigers enjoy water and are strong swimmers, often luring their prey into the water to catch them.
-Tigers’ night vision are ten times stronger than that of a human.
- A tigress will hunt every 5- 6 days if she has cubs and every 8 days if she is one her own.
- A tiger’s colour and stripes acts as a camouflage and enable tigers to identify their kind from other animals.
The Grant’s Zebra, which comes all the way from Southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the upper Zambezi and southern Tanzania. At Longleat, the Zebras graze on the Safari’s pastures and high-fibre cubes, whereas in the winter the Zebras eat hay.
DID YOU KNOW..?
- Currently, the Grants Zebra is not as risk of extinction, however with the ever-expanding population in Africa, there is need for more agricultural lands and less habitat for the Zebra. Grevy’s Zebra is endangered with less than 500 left in the wild and are also at the risk of poachers.
- No one knows exactly why Zebras have stripes, but theories include that when a herd of zebras are together, they confuse predators, like lions. It has also been thought that the stripes deter harmful flies that carry disease.
- Zebras groom each to secure social relationships within the herd.
- A new born foul will be up and about within an hour of its birth.
The Lowland Gorilla originates from Africa; the Eastern Lowland living in Eastern Congo, whereas the Western comes from West and East Central Africa. The gorillas are peaceful animals and live in groups of 12, although never own any territory. Throughout the year at Longleat, the Gorillas eat a variety of foods, such as apples, oranges, bananas, lettuces, cabbage, brown bread, sunflower seeds, monkey nuts, primate cubes and dog biscuits, whereas in the wild, they feast on nearby vegetation and will only strip the plants, so that the vegetation can grow back quicker.
DID YOU KNOW..?
- The number of gorillas surviving in the wild is not known.
- When they drink, they soak their hands and suck the water from the back of them.
- Out of the three gorilla subspecies (lowland, Eastern Lowland and Mountain) the Mountain gorilla is endangered, mainly due to human encroachment and poaching, as poachers keeps Gorillas hands and heads for trophies.
The hippopotamus comes from South, East and West Africa and can live up until the age of 50 years. The hippo’s natural diet is the grass along the banks of the water and they feed on 40kg a night, from sunset to dawn. At Longleat, the hippo feeds on weeds in the lakes and the lakeside pastures, whereas in the winter they eat hay and high fibre cubes.
DID YOU KNOW..?
- Fossil Records indicate that were once several species of hippo, but now we are down to two: the pygmy hippo that lives in the forest and a larger hippo that lives near the water.
- Up to 45% of hippos die in their first year.
- A hippo can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes.
- The hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa.
- Hippos open their jaws wide to display their large teeth as a threat display.
The Lion is usually found from the south of the Sahara to South Africa, excluding the Congo rainforest. Like many other carnivores, lions are opportunists when it comes to looking for their meal, so they have a varied diet. They may eat small animals such as hares and monkeys, however they reserve their hunting techniques for bigger animals, such as Zebra and Wildebeests. At Longleat, the lions can eat up to 25 kg of meat per week with minerals and vitamins.
Did you know..?
- Due to a Lion’s size and its mane, lions have a hard time remaining unseen while capturing its prey.
- The male lion can sleep up to 16 – 20 hours per day.
- Like fingerprints, each cat’s whiskers have an individual pattern.
- The bulk of the pride is formed by females, so in order for the pride to work the females must get along, through grooming and giving each other friendly nudges.
- There are no hierarchy of lionesses – they are all of equal importance.
Which animal is your favourite?
For more info on our trips to Longleat, click here.
Today, we had a visit from one of our long-time group organisers, Ray Dawes, who has been organising tours with Travelstyle’s group department since 1993.
Ray has recently retired from his post as the Grassmoor cricket chairman and for the past twenty-two years he has organised a holiday every April and October. With the help of our group’s department, he has booked a range of mini and weekend breaks that are known for his tightly coordinated itineraries (he’ll always have a spare if you lose one!).
The first tour he went on was advertised through the Mansfield Chad, which was a theatre trip to see Miss Saigon (his favourite although his wife, Sylvia, much prefers Les Miserable). After the success of the theatre weekend, he decided to chase us up, and from then on, he’s been organising group tours for the Grassmoor cricket team, friends and family.
Over the years, he’s been on many tours, such as venturing to Paris and visiting Dublin, so we asked him, what was his favourite tour? “By far the Orient Express,” he told us. The Orient Express rang him in the early hours of the morning and needed to confirm that they were still boarding, as they were originally booked for afternoon cream tea, and due to unforeseen circumstances, they had to be upgraded to a three course meal (we can see why it’s become a favourite!).
After many London weekends that included matinees and touring the city’s hotspots, he decided that they had “done” London. They tried five day breaks in Scotland and Ireland. They visited Edinburgh, which became one of the group’s favourites, “although it did rain a lot,” he told us, but he added it was a good place for a tipple! The group also enjoyed Dublin, where they visited the famous Guinness Factory! He’s not got anything planned for the future, although he would like to go on a German Rhine River Cruise with his family.
He told us the reason why he kept on booking was, “You can’t beat Travelstyle. You know that you’re going to get a good holiday and how you do it for the price…I’ll never know!”
Ray has now stepped down from organising tours, but it has been a pleasure working with him and we’ll miss him popping in for a cuppa and chatting about the next group tour, although the kettle will always be on for the next time he passes our way!
Welcome to one of the first in a bi-weekly blog on the secrets and interesting facts about Britain’s favourite destinations! This week, we stop off at Scarborough; one of England’s oldest and popular seaside resorts.
Many say that Scarborough was the world’s the first seaside resort. In 1626, Eliza Beth Farrow discovered a spring on the South Cliff, which she believed had health-giving properties. Her claim was proved right in 1660, when Dr Witties wrote about the medical benefits of the spa water from Scarborough, and from then on people around the country travelled to Scarborough to cure their ailments. By the mid-1800’s, the invention of the railway meant an increase in popularity of people wanting to laze on the beach, and from then on, history!
Did you know that the South Cliff Lift in Scarborough was one of the first seaside lifts of its kind in the UK? The lift originally opened in 1875 and cost eight thousands—not bad, since it’s still in operation today!
The medical drama, The Royal, (which ran between 2003 – 2011) was filmed on Scarborough’s Esplanade. The Royal was set in the fictional seaside town of Elsinby and was a spin-off to Heartbeat.
Anne Bronte died in Scarborough, as her and her sister, Charlotte, travelled to the seaside town in hope that the fresh air would be good for Anne. Unfortunately, three days later after their arrival, Anne died and was buried in St Mary’s Church. There’s a plaque outside the Grand Hotel that marks the site of Wood’s lodging, where she passed.
Famous Scarborough Folk:
Sir Ben Kingsley, Oscar winning actor, was born in Snainton; a village just outside of Scarborough. He won his Oscar as Mahatma Ghandi in Richard Attenborough’s film, Gandhi.
Novelist Susan Hill was born in Scarborough and is known for her books such as Gentleman and Ladies and Springtime of the Year, but is probably most famous for penning the book The Woman in Black, which was adapted into a major West End play and later has become a film, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Paul Ingle, the featherweight boxer, represented Great Britain in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and turned professional in 1994 and was known as the “Yorkshire Hunter.”
Dame Edith Sitwell, the poet and novellist, also reigned from Scarborough! Her work was inspired and often set against music and she was known to support modern and innovative poetry trends.
Interested in Scarborough? Click here to see our holidays!
Have you been watching Poldark? If not, what else are you doing on your Sunday nights? We’re now offering a guided tour to one of the focal points of the show, Chavenage House—or Trenwith House if you’re a Poldark fan!
First, we’ll be spending some time in Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, where you can take a leisurely stroll through the town and enjoy the Tudor architecture. Stratford-upon-Avon is steeped in rich history and culture and there are many fascinating museums that you can visit, such as Anne Hathaways cottage, which is great even if you’re not Shakespeare’s number one fan.
On the Sunday–before we head to the Poldark part of the tour–you will stop of at Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. The Cotswold is famous for its honey-stone architecture, idyllic village scenes and stunning countryside—and Bourton on the Water does not disappoint, as it’s regularly voted one of the prettiest villages in England! Here, you will have free time to mosey around the village, look around the shops and visit the many parks and attractions.
Then, we’ll will be visiting Chavenage House, as it is one of the key sets of BBC’s Poldark! Prepare to discover the interesting history behind this house, as some parts of the building dates back to medieval times! The house holds many interesting rooms, tapestries, pictures and furniture that can be dated back to the Cromwellian period! So this is the perfect opportunity for any history buff. Chavenage is the perfect place for an intimate tour, as it’s usually conducted by the owner or a member of the family.
Not only is the house featured in Poldark, but it has already been the star of many programmes, such as Lark Rise to Candleford, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, Tess of the D’Urbivilles, Dracula and many more!
After the tour, you can tuck into a Cotswold cream tea with scones, sandwiches, and cake—yum! Definitely the cherry on the top (excuse the pun…)!
For more info and dates, Click Here