London’s first Cable Car

London’s first Cable Car

Built as a people mover for the Olympics, it has fast become London’s newest tourist attraction. If you are visiting Greenwich, try this little known way to cross the river and return to central London.
A 1.1 km cable car crossing connects Emirates Greenwich Peninsula terminal near North Greenwich Tube Station across the Thames to Emirates London Royal Docks terminal and the ExCel (lightrail) in east London, also serving as a commuter alternative to London’s busy business hubs. The Thames is quite wide at this point and swinging high and wide across the river in one of the ten person gondola cars is an interesting alternative to the popular London Eye. Rising to a height of 90 metres the journey takes between five and ten minutes and provides unusual views of London, with the Thames barrier, Greenwich and the Olympic park downstream and St Paul’s Cathedral, the city and the new Shard building upstream.The view is even more impressive at night time with lights twinkling all over the city.
It is an inexpensive new attraction, and you can use your Oyster card to pay, which gives you a discount. Single adult fare is 4. 30 GBP only 3.20 GBP with an Oyster pass.
At present there is not much to do or see on Royal Docks side but restaurants are coming and you can take the light rail to St. Pauls and back to central London.

The next best thing

Had a long flight and need a nap or stuck with a long layover?

Currently being tested at Munich airport with some success, a Napcab might be your answer.

These portable rooms containing a comfortable single bed and a workstation – If you must work – are currently available at Munich Airport in Germany, with plans for future locations. There is even an Alarm clock for a wakeup call!

Cost is between 15 – 18 Euros per hour depending on time of day, with a minimum of 35 Euros.

Munich is an ideal stopover point for Germany and central Europe.

Air Canada and Lufthansa offer direct flights from Canada and there are connections to Venice and most large European cities.

See http://www.munichairport.com

Visit the Elora Festival

  • Ontario is bustling with festivals during the summer season and classical music lovers should not miss the Elora Festival,   which takes place annually in July. The  Opening night gala always features a major classical work and there is a varied program of Classical and popular music, by well known Canadian and US performers, backed up by the renowned Elora Singers .

With four venues around the lovely village of Elora, set in one of the prettiest parts of the province with the beautiful Elora gorge and ancient tooth of time rock, on the Niagara escarpment, take time to enjoy a picturesque village centre with tiny interesting shops and cafes and heritage B & B accommodation. Come for a concert, stay a day or two,  for a true Getaway.

For the full program or to order tickets see: http://www.elorafestival.ca

or call Festival office   519 846 0331

You can dine with the Watermen at The River Thames Luncheon Club

Full course Dining with a dash of History at the Watermen’s Hall

The bus set me down on a bustling street, a mix of graceful historic architecture and glass and chrome Towers, with smartly dressed people dashing to business appointments and lunch engagements. The medieval façade of Southwark Cathedral stood to our left, down the hill loomed the mighty Tower of London and Tower Bridge and the impressive monument to The Great Fire of London in 1666, the tallest isolated stone column in the world, is just down the road in Pudding Lane, on the spot where the fire began. This is the heart of the City of London, centre of Commerce since the Middle Ages and I’m on my way to the Watermens Hall, St. Mary at Hill , one of the ancient Livery companies, which still thrive in “ the city”.

Livery Companies had their origins before 1066, similar to Cities and Guilds which controlled the provision and manufacture of goods in the City of London and provided some protection for the people, really the forerunners of present day Trade Unions. Ancient companies included spectacle makers, vintners, pewterers, haberdashers, coachmakers and goldsmiths. Companies whose original purpose have virtually vanished, like Fanmakers and Horners have adapted to become Air conditioning and Plastics. One of the first charitable tasks undertaken by early guilds was care of their members in sickness and old age. Education was also a component and both these endeavours remain important parts of the Livery function today.

Halfway down a narrow lane leading to the riverfront we entered the headquarters of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, one of the oldest Livery companies, founded in 1555, when a one year apprenticeship program which still exists, was instituted for boy’s wishing to learn the Waterman’s trade. The watermen, ferryman on the River Thames, long before there were bridges, who were the equivalent of today’s Taxi drivers, were granted arms by Queen Elizabeth I in 1585 and in 1770 they were joined by the Lightermen, who ferried cargo up and down the river.

Their original meeting hall and all the records were completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and although they rebuilt, they eventually moved to the present premises in 1780. The small but attractive Georgian style building was designed by William Blackburn for the Company of Watermen. After suffering bomb damage in the last war, it has undergone several restorations which blends its historic ambience with modern up to date enhancements, and Watermen’s Hall is now the only original Georgian Hall in the City of London. You can see some of the historical possessions in the beautifully restored rooms, paintings, a collection of old silver and some old documents.

The Company still maintains its old traditions, offering Apprenticeship programs, Almshouse accommodations and pensions for aged watermen and encouragement of river activities. Among these are the 800 year old the Lord Mayors Show,  originally a water pageant, when a  company of watermen  escorts  the Lord Mayor’s coach in a colourful street parade showcasing the fabric and diversity of the Livery companies and other organisations,  through the old City of London, in November every year.

But necessarily, interest in the Watermen’s trade has declined and the Company looked to other methods of raising revenue. Now the hall can be hired for weddings and special events or you can dine with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen on selected days, for lunch or dinner with a difference. They welcome visitors and enjoy informing visitors on the past and future activities of this ancient and interesting corner of old London.

The River Thames Luncheon Club began eight years ago and is open to the public. Meeting monthly on Friday’s throughout the year,  the inclusive package  includes a five course taster luncheon with a cash bar and superb wine selection. At 55 GBP,  it is a high end choice, but come here for a special atmosphere and historical setting you won’t find elsewhere.

The event proved so popular that a Dinner Club was formed in 2014. The monthly dinners take place on Tuesdays with the same enticing menus.

Of the many ancient customs and traditions in London, the Livery Companies are among the oldest and most interesting and it is not often that non members can be part of them. It is a unique dining option to consider and a place to unwind on your next business trip to London.

Cook and Butler have now taken over Catering and Banqueting functions at this historic venue.

For further information or to make a reservation,

Contact:  Mark Grove

The Cook and  The Butler Event Company:

Tel: 020 7620 1818

Email:  cookandbutler@btconnect.com

Want to use this material?

Licensing rights to a large archive of travel editorial are available. Contact Managing Editor at: tessb@rogers.com

Use Canada’s Travel site before you go

If you plan on travelling abroad, the Government of Canada has a useful website, with a variety of information, which you should consult before you go. It also includes Registration of Canadian Citizens abroad, always a good idea, especially if you are going to a country where security is at risk. See http://travel.gc.ca

A market crawl in London

    London is known for its fabulous shops and shopping areas, but one of the fascinating elements of London is the street Markets. Some of them have existed for a century or more and have changed very little. Here is a sample including lesser known markets not often frequented by tourists, where the Londoners shop , and where you will find the true essence of London.
    North of the river:
    Probably the most famous is Portobello Market located in Notting Hill, made famous by the film of the same name, but Portobello Market existed long before that.
    Known best for its fabulous antique shops and stalls, on almost any day of the year you can find Londoners and Tourists alike jostling for bargains. Don’t be afraid to deal, canny stall holders know their merchandise, but you might be lucky and get a genuine steal among the knicknacks. Specialty shops sell a variety of merchandise like unusual nautical artifacts, and priceless antique silver and furniture, or browse the vintage clothing and jewellery stalls. A fruit and vegetable market and restaurants have exotic offerings from around the world and musicians liven up the eclectic atmosphere with some outdoor entertainment.
    Not far away, Camden Market located around Camden Lock is known more for arts and crafts and vintage clothing and attracts the arty sort. It has lost a lot of its character in recent years, but it is worth visiting not only for the bargains but for the picturesque atmosphere with brightly painted long narrow boats tied up along the canal. Now mostly houseboats, once they used to ply the canal bringing coal from the heart of England to the Port of London.
    Everyone loves Covent Garden Market, site of the original flower market of “My Fair Lady” fame located just north of the river in the historic theatre district close to Waterloo Bridge. Now catering mostly to tourists, I love the Chinese clothing stall in the covered section and my traditional jacket is greatly admired at dressup occasions. Entertainers like jugglers and unicycle riders keep the audience at many outdoor cafes enthralled by their talent. On my most recent visit it was a highwire artist who kept us all holding our breath.
    South of the river:
    Here you will find lesser known London markets where the Londoners shop.
    East Street Market , fondly known as “the Lane” just off the Walworth Road, is one of London’s oldest markets, mostly frequented by a very diverse local ethnic community, but it is a bustling place every morning and you can find just about anything you need at bargain prices. I once bought a length of sheer curtain material from a giant bolt at the fabric stall and made up curtains which lasted me through several homes.

    Borough Market near Southwark Cathedral is one of the oldest wholesale and retail food markets in London and in recent years has become the “IN” place for both tourists and Londoners alike, with many international restaurants and gourmet food stalls offering food and produce from around the world. Suppliers come early every morning bringing fresh produce from all parts of England.
    If you should find yourself in Brixton, for a true Londoners Market take a stroll around Brixton Market. Operating on Atlantic Road since the 1870’s it moved into covered arcades the 1930’s which are now protected Heritage buildings. You can find merchandise from just about every area of the world here, reflecting the multicultural community of Brixton. With a large Caribbean community, fruit and vegetable stalls abound and a shop selling only bolts of colourful original African dress fabric particularly caught my eye. A large Portuguese community is also represented with fresh fish shops containing every imaginable type of whole fish, fresh for the asking, if you have filletting expertise! Stir in some `antique and junk shops and ethnic eateries and you have a slice of authentic London life, you won’t see “Up West”.

Bloor Street Arts and Culture corridor

>A mile of cultural treasures in the heart of Toronto

TORONTO, Canada (April 2, 2014) – Today twelve Toronto arts and culture organizations
announced the creation of the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, a uniquely Torontonian
arts and culture destination.

Toronto’s Bloor Street is a vibrant corridor with a dozen permanent world-class
arts organizations presenting professional arts and cultural events for the public
year-round in destination venues – all in almost exactly one mile (1.6 kms) – between
Bathurst and Bay Streets. These twelve arts and culture organizations have come
together in a collaborative partnership, and created the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.

Arts and culture destinations on the Bloor St. Culture Corridor include the Bloor
Hot Docs Cinema, a historic century-old cinema and one of the world’s only documentary-focused
theatres; Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir and TheToronto Consort,
both located in the revitalized Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre with the newly renovated
Jeanne Lamon Hall; the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre; the Native Canadian
Centre of Toronto; Alliance Française de Toronto who will be launching their newly
renovated building with theatre and gallery space this spring; the Istituto Italiano
di Cultura; Koerner Hall, one of North America’s best concert halls, at The Royal
Conservatory; three exceptional museums including the Royal Ontario Museum, the
Gardiner Museum, and the Bata Shoe Museum; as well as the Japan Foundation.

The Bloor St. Culture Corridor offers a wide variety of arts genres, from museum
experiences to films, art exhibitions to music concerts, and it also offers opportunities
to experience some of Toronto’s cultural diversity, including French, Jewish, Italian,
Japanese and Aboriginal arts and culture.

Torontonians and visitors to the city can easily take public transit to get to the
Bloor St. Culture Corridor (there are 5 major subway stations along the Corridor),
and walk from a museum to an afternoon art talk or exhibition, shop, have lunch
or dinner, and enjoy an inspiring concert or film —  all within just a few blocks.

The Bloor St. Culture Corridor will help local residents and visitors to Toronto
to enjoy the extraordinary wealth of cultural experiences that are so easily accessible
on Bloor Street. By working collaboratively and cooperatively, the cultural organizations
will increase awareness of the culture destinations and events happening on Bloor
Street, as well as nearby restaurants, stores, and hotels. The Bloor St. Culture
Corridor will help people to connect with what’s happening at the arts and culture
destinations on Bloor Street more easily, more often, and plan to include multiple
destinations in an afternoon or a day on the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.

An App is now available from the website http://www.bloorstculturecorridor.com which details upcoming events, including numerous free events during Bloor Street Culture Corridor Culture Days, September 6 – 28, 2014

The Bloor St. Culture Corridor is working with Tourism Toronto, the City of Toronto,
the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, the Bloor Annex BIA, The Ontario Arts Council, local residents
associations, and others.

The Bloor St. Culture Corridor can be found online at http://www.bloorstculturecorridor.com,
on Twitter @bloorstculture, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bloorstculturecorridor.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Kelly

Originator/Director, Bloor St. Culture Corridor: info@bloorstculturecorridor.com

Director of Marketing,
Performing Arts, The Royal Conservatory: heather.kelly@rcmusic.ca<

Splash out at the Intercontinental

Splash Out at the InterContinental Toronto Centre,  a cradle of luxury and  convenience.

 

 

The large picture windows of my 18th floor room, overlook the  CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, Toronto Islands and the new Ripleys Aquarium to the south and the bustling Thursday Farmers market in Simcoe Park on Wellington Street to the north. But inside, the room with its king size bed and fluffy pillows and large well equipped bathroom  is an oasis of calm and the place to be whether on a business trip or a weekend break.

The 25 storey Intercontinental Hotel ,   which recently celebrated its tenth year at this location, has  586 redesigned and updated guest rooms,  superior meeting facilities , a Spa retreat and popular glass canopied Azure Restaurant and Bar in the elegant spacious lobby, where I enjoyed a delicious full breakfast.  “I love the friendly, comfortable ambiance” said my breakfast companion.

Just far enough along Front Street to be a bit removed from all the chaos of the construction projects in the downtown core, yet close enough to walk anywhere you want  to be,  it is  ideal for a Family City Break  with several popular attractions closeby. Park your car and forget it; you can visit them all within a few minutes walk. Turn right out of the lobby onto Simcoe Street and you will come to Bremner Boulvevard and the CN Tower, everyone’s favourite excursion and Rogers Centre. Even if there are no sports events, you can take a tour of the Rogers Centre. www.rogerscentre.com  Just opened right next door is the Ripleys Aquarium, a wonderful new attraction that will delight visitors of any age. It is an inventive world of wonder, with interactive displays, and  a long curved tunnel showcasing just about every fish and form of marine life  in their own marine settings.  Be careful if you suffer from claustropobia, you might get a bit agitated on the slow moving pathway it winds its way through the marine world. A restaurant and educational component completes the complex, a fine addition to Toronto attractions. http://www.ripleyaquariums.com/Canada

Back on Front street, you might be interested in the little known free museum at the CBC building across the road, which contains many artifacts and mementos of well loved series from the past, and just to the east at Front and Yonge Street, the Hockey Hall of Fame will delight fans, young and old.

To celebrate the opening of the nearby  Ripleys Aquarium, The Intercontinental Toronto Centre is making its own splash with a “Be a Big Fish at Intercontinental Toronto Centre” Package, commencing October 21 and starting at $399 per night + tax.

The package contains some innovative extras like a fishbowl in your room which can go home with you or be donated to an educational institution and of course, tickets to the Aquarium. For details and reservations see:  www.torontocentre.intercontinental.com

 

 

 

 

The only review that counts – Mum, age 98 reviews my book

Tessa's Mom age 98 and sister look at Tessa's bookPhoto courtesy of Liliane

Sadly my Mum, Vera Woolacott passed away shortly after this picture was taken, but not before she cast her critical eye over my newly published book and gave it her stamp of approval.

See Finding my Footprints in Sarum – by Tess Bridgwater on Amazon.com or  Amazon.uk