Home to the First Nunnery…
One of the first nunneries was believed to be in Folkestone. In 630, the King of Kent had the church built for his daughter Eanswith—who later became the patron saint of the church of St Eanswythe. It stands near where the Old Bayle Fort is now and on this site it was rebuilt as a monastery in 1095. In the Victorian era, builders were doing work in the church and they found remains in a box in a church wall. They believed the box held the remains of St Eanswythe herself!
Remember to Pack Sun Lotion!
Did you know that Folkestone is one of the sunniest places in the UK? It’s great for your summer holidays, as Folkestone averages about 2000 hours of sunshine per year.
The Hidden Roman Villa…
In 1923, a landslide on East Cliff in Folkestone unearthed an old Roman villa with even older relics that surrounding the place. To this day, the villa is site of interest, especially for scientists because of its wildlife and geology. In the 1950’s, the villa was open for tourists to look around.
William Harvey, the famous physician and journalist, was born in Folkestone. Harvey is most famous for discovering blood circulation in the human body and he was also the first to suggest that humans were reproduced via fertilisation from the egg and sperm. He also had close ties to the royal family and supported Charles I through the Civil War.
The Tallest Brick Arched Viaduct in the World!
With arrival of the Southern East railway, Sir William Cubitt built a brick arched viaduct (which is apparently one of the tallest in the world), so travellers could continue their journey to the Harbour Railway station. Unfortunately, it’s not in use anymore, but you can still see the viaduct standing tall in Folkestone.
History Behind the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway…
The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (RHDR) is one of Folkestone’s key attractions, which offers a scenic ride around Kent. On the launch day, the railway was attended by none other than comedy legends Laurel and Hardy!
During the First World War, Folkestone homed many nearly 65,000 Belgium refugees, as Folkestone was the main port where soldiers left to fight in the trenches of Belgium and France.
People Associated with Folkestone!
Over the years, there have been a lot of famous people who have lived in Folkestone!
The legendary actors, David Tomlinson, is one of them! Known for films such as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Love Bug.
Eastender’s veteran actress, June Brown (who plays Dot Cotton) is known to have two houses in Folkestone.
For all you rock enthusiast, Noel Redding the famous rock bassist also hails from Folkestone. He recognised as the bassist in the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Dynamo’s “Magician Impossible” Tour
If you’re looking for jaw-dropping be sure to see Dynamo on his 2015 tour, “Magician Impossible.” Dynamo is best known for his electrifying stunts and magic tricks that will leave you in awe—this show is unmissable! You’ll be seeing him at the Manchester Apollo and there will be an included excursion to the medieval walled city of Chester!
Cats at the Blackpool Opera House!
From its sold-out season on the West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” will be stopping at the Blackpool Opera House this summer! With its new run, Jane McDonald will be taking the reins from Nicole Scherzinger and playing the iconic role of Grizabella the glamour Cat, where she will be singing the infamous “Memories.” You’ll be staying at the Savoy, which offers spectacular views of the Irish Sea and you will be at a great position so you can get the most out of your stay in Blackpool.
Simply Red Live in Concert!
For the first time since 2010, Simply Red are returning for a world tour to mark an incredible 30 years. Overall, the band has sold over 50 million records and has won many awards, including two consecutive Brits for Best British Group. While on our Simple Red trip, you will also have free time to spend around Liverpool, where you can go shopping or see the city’s many popular attractions!
Ken Dodd at Blackpool!
Take a trip to Blackpool where you can sit back, relax and laugh out loud to the ever popular, Ken Dodd! Known as one of Britain’s favourite entertainers, Ken Dodd has won the Lifetime Achievement Award—one of comedy’s highest accolades. You will also be able to spend some time around Blackpool, where you can see some of the town’s endless attractions, such as the infamous Blackpool tower, enjoy time on the piers, stop off at the Zoo or visit Blackpool’s Madame Tussauds!
London Theatre Weekends!
As always, we have an array of exciting of first class shows for you to see at amazing prices! We have favourites such as Wicked, Billy Elliott, Mama Mia and Lion King, but we’ve also got some fantastic news shows like Made in Dagenham, Memphis: The Musical, Bend It Like Beckham and just in time for Christmas, Elf: The Musical!
Lord of the Dance
See the global phenomenon that is Lord of the Dance at the Dominion Theatre in London! Lord of the Dance, choreographed by Irish-American Michael Flatley, brings an energetic show of intricate and exciting dance routines! With this trip, you will also get free time in London Covent Garden where you can look around the shops or spend time in their cafes.
Sinatra at the Palladium!
To celebrate 100 years of Sinatra, the London Palladium will host an extraordinary concert that will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before! There will be a 24 piece orchestra, dancers along with never seen before footage of Frank Sinatra singing the songs he’s most remembered by, such as ‘My Way’, ‘Come Fly With Me’ and ‘Strangers in the Night.’
Shrek the Musical and Blackpool Christmas Circus
We have tickets to the immensely popular Shrek the Musical at the Liverpool Empire! Join Shrek and Donkey on another world-wind adventure as the musical arrives directly from the West-End with all new songs, plus the crowd-pleasing anthem “I’m a Believer”! We’re also throwing in an excursion to the Blackpool Tower Christmas circus; an exciting event that will be sure to get you into the festive mood.
Welcome back to our bi-weekly blog on the little-known facts about the holiday destinations we visit. This week, we’re looking at Bath—a city known for its hot springs and 18th Century Georgian architecture.
A Muse to Many…
Bath has influenced many famous authors over the years, such as Jane Austen, who lived in Bath for a number of years and she even set two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, in the city. It’s also known that Mary Shelley was inspired by Bath to finish the celebrated story of Frankenstein. Charles Dickens also stopped off in Bath, as he satirized the Bath social scene in his novel, Pickwick Papers.
Over the years, Bath has attracted many of Hollywood’s famous faces, as the city has been the setting of films such as The Duchess, Les Miserables and the BBC adaptation of Persuasion.
See Bath’s Famous Landmark…
The Royal Crescent was thought up by John Wood the Younger and it took seven years to build, finally opening in 1774. Originally, the Royal Crescent homed the elite of the Georgian society and many notable people have either stayed or lived there—if you look around there are many plaques to commemorate them around the houses.
A World Heritage Site…
In 1987, Bath was inscribed as a world heritage site, due to its beautiful Georgian architecture, many theatres, museums and event and sporting venues, which makes Bath one of the major centres for tourism in the UK, with over 1 million staying visitors per year to 3.8 million day visitors.
Did You Know?
Sir William Herschel, who was German born but lived in Bath later on in life, discovered the planet Uranus in his back garden on New King Street. Originally, William Herschel named the planet “The Georgian Star”, which won him favour with King George the III. However, this did not stick (mainly because the French didn’t like referencing the English King) and it universally became known as Uranus — unbeknownst, the start of many, many jokes…
Famous People from Bath…
Comedian, Bill Bailey, known for his sharp humour and musical-comedy was born in Bath. He is best known for the music game show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and has also been in popular comedy shows, such as Spaced and Black Books.
Everyone’s favourite television cook, Mary Berry, is also from Bath. She’s known as “Mary Queen of Cakes” from her many baking recipe books, but also from fame of the immensely popular, “Great British Bake Off.”
Actress Julia Davis also reigns from Bath! She’s best known as Dawn from Gavin and Stacy and has also appeared in films such as Four Lions, Persuasion and Love Actually.
Famous author and former children’s laureate, Jacqueline Wilson, was born in Bath and is known for her diverse and popular children’s stories that cover hard topics, such as mental illness, abuse and foster care.
For a while, East London—especially around the Hackney/Holloway area– has been a hotbed for producing up-and-coming places to visit, which is great if you’re looking to veer from your typical tourist activities. If you’re wanting different to the down-right quirky, places like Brick Lane, Spitalfield Markets and Bethnal Green are perfect for shopping and food, plus you’re bound to see some colourful sights with the fantastic street art.
On the Saturday we arrived, we moseyed down Shoreditch High Street on our way to Spitalfield market. It was bustling with people, especially with crowds from record shops (it was national record day).
Spitalfield is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon, providing a mixture of quirky shops to high-end retailers. It’s also a short walk from Brick Lane, where we walked down later on and found the famous cereal cafe, which was still open at eight in the evening (cereal isn’t just for breakfast!), plus there was also a chocolate shop called Dark Sugar, which had a phenomenal display of truffles and a sweet, chocolate-y aroma that hits you as you walk on by. Yet, one of the highlights of the area is the range and diversity of the bars; it has a fantastic collection of rustic pubs with an array of stouts and pale ales, beautiful wine bars for the sophisticated of us and endless cocktail bars that serves the classics to their own twisted creations.
We stopped at the Hawksmoor cocktail bar (we heard good things), which is a converted cellar that’s known for its delicious cocktails. I went for a drink entitled “Mikey’s Tea”, a mix of chamomile gin, maraschino and lime, topped off with grapefruit juice (very refreshing!). Other cocktail pictured is the “Nuclear Banana Daiquiri” (Rum, Chartreuse, Banana & Lime) and right in the left corner is the “Green and Red Margarita” (Tequila, Lime, Lemon & Agave Syrup. Frozen).
Other interesting cocktails that I would have liked to have tried included “Full Fat Old Fashioned”, which contains butter, sugar and bourbon, and “Honey I Shrunk the Figs” (ten points for the name), which is vodka, fig, blood orange, chocolate bitters, lime and soda.
The Hawksmoor also had an upstairs where you could have the fine-dining experience, however we stuck it out in the cellar and treated ourselves to one of their fantastic burgers. Here is the “Nacho Cheese chicken sandwich”; a Doritos-encrusted chicken burger (better than it sounds) that was topped with avocado and habenero salsa—not great if you’re afraid of spice! However, there are other sandwiches/burger you can enjoy from a pulled pork sandwich to chilli cheese dogs. Another highlight of the place was its attentive and friendly staff, who made sure you were comfortable and, despite being busy, were quick on the customer service.
On the Sunday, we got up early to check out Columbia Road Flower Market, which apart from the obvious, they sell many outdoor accessories and furniture, plus there are lots of independent shops selling things you won’t see anywhere else.
As you can see, a beautiful selection of flowers…
It isn’t a trip to London without seeing the Queen…
We then wandered up Brick Lane to see what it had to offer in the day. It wasn’t planned, but we encountered the Sunday market, which offers an array of colourful and delicious world foods for you to try (there are lots of samples!):
Keep refreshed with their fruit juices…
Or maybe a bratwurst?
And…more cake! ‘Cause you can never have too much cake. Fact.
Late morning, we stopped off at the Whitechapel Gallery, which regularly changes its exhibitions, so it’s always good to check out what’s on via their website. The gallery also has free entry, so it’s worthwhile to stop off for an hour or so to see what’s going on. When we were there, there was artwork from Andy Warhol to David Hockney, plus there was plenty of visual and audio displays.
We then moseyed down St Paul’s Road in Islington, which is abundant with kooky shops, from homeware stores with the biggest teapot collections to stunning bakeries that treat their buns like miniature artworks, such as Belle Époque Patisserie—where I bought these cakes:
Okay — so we did go out of East London, and venture into central London, where we visited the V&A. We went specifically to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, where we had pre-booked tickets (if you get the chance to see it—do! It’s on until 2nd of August). They are also plenty of free exhibitions for you to see, plus if it’s a sunny day you can lounge on the V&A’s courtyard and admire the building’s outstanding architecture.
So, if you are looking for something different, East London has plenty to offer from their arts, culture and cuisine. I definitely recommend the food markets, afterall, if you can’t stuff your face on holiday, when can you?
Click here to check out our London Freedom Weekends, where you can go off and do your own thing.
Welcome back to our bi-weekly blog on the hidden facts of our favourite holiday destinations! This week, we’ll be stopping off at York—a beautiful medieval city that is rich with history and has plenty of world-class attractions to offer, but what facts can we uncover about the place?
Do you believe in Ghosts?
Back in 2002, York was announced as one of the most haunted cities not only in the UK, but in Europe! The city has over 500 recorded hauntings according to the Ghost Research International, with stories of little girls haunting shops and women appearing through the mist on York’s streets. Is this surprising? York is a pretty old city and has been a centre of conflict and tragedy throughout history, so it’s no shock that there would be a ghost or two (or maybe 500).
THE LONGEST MEDIEVAL CITY WALLS IN ENGLAND!
At 3.4km long, York is home to the longest and best preserved city walls in England. To walk around the city walls can take up to two hours to complete, but at least you can enjoy some beautiful views of the city!
The Bar Convent
York is also home to one of the oldest working convents in the world! The convent was founded in 1686 and was established as a school for girls. It now houses a museum, a library, archives and a gift shop—plus, you can even book a bed and breakfast with the nuns…if you should so desire (although, the place is probably haunted).
The Devil that lives on Stonegate!
If you walk down Stonegate, you will notice a red, mischievous devil that sits on top of number 33. The red devil is a symbol for the printers, and the devil indicates the way to the coffee yard, where in the eighteenth century the writer and publisher Thomas Gent had his premises.
The Oldest Shopping Experiences!
The Shambles is known as one of the oldest shopping streets in Europe, as it’s been mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086. It’s one of the best preserved medieval streets, which used to be filled with butchers and residential houses—many of the butchers would have had slaughterhouses in the back of the buildings. You’re still able to spot some of the original meat hooks that are attached to the shop fronts.
Famous People from York…
Guy Fawkes, known for the Gunpowder plot, was born in Stonegate, York. The Minster Library records confirm that a Mr and Mrs Fawkes lived in Stonegate and the school he attended—St. Peter’s—refuses to burn a Guy Fawkes effigy.
The famous actress, Dame Judi Dench, hails from Heworth, York. She is known for the James Bond franchise, A Room with a View, Shakespeare in Love, Philomena, Iris, Chocolat and…well, we could go on!
Another famous actor from York is David Bradley—best known as Mr. Filch from the Harry Potter series–has starred in works such as Harry Brown, Game of Thrones, Hot Fuzz, Our Friends in the North and Doctor Who!
John Snow—the physician (not the broadcaster), who was considered the father of modern epidemiology due to his findings on the London cholera outbreak in Soho, which changed the water systems in London and other cities and changed public health throughout the world.
Was there anything you did/or didn’t know? Tell us in the comments!