Category Archives: UK

Things to do in the UK; attractions in the UK and the best places to visit in the UK.

25 of My Favourite Photos of London

Here are twenty five of my favourite photos of London, all taken by me over the last seven years during various visits to London.

london neals yard

Neal’s Yard

emirates cable car above the crystal

Emirates Air Line passing above the Crystal at Royal Victoria Docks

london brixton nuclear dawn

Nuclear Dawn Mural in Brixton

serpentine bar hyde park

The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in Hyde Park

london view from the shard

View from the Shard

The London Eye by night

The London Eye after dark

london royal victoria dock learn to wakeboard

Learn to wakeboard at the Royal Victoria Dock

london newham city farm blaze

Blaze, the shire horse, at Newham City Farm

london looking towards st pauls cathedral from millemium bridge

Looking towards St Paul’s Cathedral from under the Millennium Bridge

london sculpture outside mary seacole centre

Sculptures outside Mary Seacole Centre in Clapham High Street

london tower bridge

Tower Bridge

london trafalgar square fountain

Fountain in Trafalgar Square

london regents canal lock

View of Regent’s Canal lock from my room in Stepney

london fleet street boudary dragon

City of London boundary dragon mark in Fleet Street

london italian gardens kensington gardens

The Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens

london battersea power station

Battersea Power Station from the train

london limehouse basin

Dockland Light Railway train and water taxi stop at Limehouse Basin

london millemium dome

The 02 Millemium Dome in North Greenwich from the Emirates Air Line cable car

london covent garden

Covent Garden

london art deco daimler garage

View of Art Deco former Daimler car hire garage from my room at Holiday Inn Bloomsbury

london british museum

British Museum

london tiger elephans

Tiger elephant in Chinatown during the 2010 Elephant Parade in London

london looking out from behind columns at royal exchange

Looking out from behind the columns at the Royal Exchange in the City

london holland house garden

Holland House garden during the Open Garden Squares Weekend

london albert hall

The Albert Hall

london sphinx sculpture

Sphinx sculpture on Victoria Embankment

We’ve plenty of articles on Europe a la Carte about what to do in London. If you’re planning a trip to the UK capital you can use the HotelsCombined price comparision site box below to find the best hotel deals.


Do False Shop Fronts Make High Streets More Attractive?

I noticed a couple of false shop fronts when we were in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. These ‘shop jackets’ seem to be popping up all over the UK. The claim is that they make High Streets look more attractive than empty/boarded-up shops, they support surrounding surviving shops and inspire new businesses to open in the area.

false shop front

False shop front in Hawick’s High Street

I wondered how much a false shop front cost. The only indication I could find was a price around £1,500 each mentioned in a 2010 BBC article. I suppose it’s hard to carry out a cost-benefit analysis.

Personally, I’d rather see some imaginative murals by local artists on shop fronts. Then High Streets could have some sort of unique character, rather than duplicate faux shop fronts appearing in towns all over UK. I’d be much more likely to visit a High Street to see original art than false shop fronts. If local artists were paid for their work that could bring more money into an area’s economy compared to a false shop front firm being contracted to stick up a few of their standard designs.

What’s your opinion of false shop fronts?

More of the Best of London Tips

I’ve been to London several times since we published the ‘Best of Things to Do in London‘ on Europe a la Carte. Here are some more London tips, to help you plan your next trip.

Ride the Emirates Air Line Cable Car

I enjoyed my ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car from Royal Victoria Dock to North Greenwich.

emirates cable car above the crystal

 Emirates Air Line cable car

Walk the Regent’s Canal from Mile End to Victoria Park

I walked along Regent’s Canal from Mile End to Victoria Park. There’s a beautiful lily pond outside the Ecology Centre and lots of sculpltures alongside the path.

Lily pond at Terraced Gardens by Regents Canal near Mile End

Lily pond at Terraced Gardens by Regent’s Canal near Mile End

Discover Brixton

I spent most of my time in Brixton in Brixton Village, which has a mix of shops, stalls, cafes and restaurants. It was really hard to decide where to eat, but in the end I plumped for a Mexican restaurant.

Entrance to Brixton Village in LondonEn

Entrance to Brixton Village

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The Lowry Trail in Berwick upon Tweed

Below are my favourite paintings on the Lowry Trail in Berwick upon Tweed. The painter, LS Lowry, holidayed in the town several times from 1935. The Trail consists of eighteen of Lowry’s paintings mounted on easels at various spots around the town.

lowry trail

‘Berwick Harbour’

Some Portraits on L S Lowry on the Lowry Trail in Berwick upon Tweed

‘Some Portraits of L S Lowry’ at the RNLI station

The Town Hall on the Lowry Trail, Berwick upon Tweed

‘The Town Hall’

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10 Museums in Manchester, England

Manchester is a fascinating city which has done much to drag itself out of an industrial slump, and is now a popular destination. As it happens, it’s also full of museums and here are 10 museums in Manchester for you to visit.

Football Club Museums

For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Manchester is Manchester United; perhaps Manchester City FC comes quickly after that. Both clubs have museums attached to their stadiums so you can combine a visit to either the Manchester United FC museum or the Manchester City FC museum with a tour of their grounds.

manchester museums

Medals at the Manchester United Museum by edwin.11

National Football Museum

If those two aren’t enough, you can also head to the National Football Museum, which was set up to showcase England’s football heritage and to explain why England is the home of football. It actually began in Deepdale, Lancashire but was relocated to Manchester during 2012 to the former Urbis building.

Manchester museums

National Football Museum building by Smabs Sputzer

Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry (also known by its much cooler acronym, MOSI) is not just a typical science museum – it is strongly based in the history and development of the city of Manchester and includes a working cotton mill and the chance to see what climbing into a Victorian-era sewer would have been like.

Manchester museums

MOSI mural by Terry Wha

Museum of Transport

Manchester’s Museum of Transport includes the biggest collection of buses and trams in Britain – vehicles that have been restored but date back to the beginning of public transport. Since many buses used across Britain (and in fact the world) were made in Gorton, close to Manchester, it’s definitely in a fitting location.

Manchester museums

Buses at Museum of Transport by interbeat

People’s History Museum

The People’s History Museum in Manchester used to be known as the National Museum of Labour History and is an important national centre for looking at the history of working people. Its exhibitions look at home, work and leisure over the last couple of centuries along with some interesting temporary displays.

peoples history museum manchester

People’s History Museum by Neil T

Imperial War Museum (North)

The Imperial War Museums that you known from London also have a branch in Manchester, known as the Imperial War Museum North. It’s been running for a decade now in an amazing building designed by Daniel Libeskind.

Manchester museums

Imperial War Museum North by Bernt Rostad

Manchester Museum

Owned and housed by the University of Manchester, the Manchester Museum includes over six million artefacts in collections covering archaeology, botany, ethnology, geology and zoology. One of its star exhibits is a T-rex fossil named “Stan”, the second most complete tyrannosaurus ever excavated.

Manchester museums

Stan the T-rex by mahesh_f

Chinese Arts Centre

Set up in 1986 by British Chinese artists who felt they didn’t have a voice in modern Britain, the Chinese Arts Centre is a thriving art museum with changing exhibitions both from major artists and from emerging ones.

Manchester museums

Chinese Arts Centre by loscuadernosdejulia

Greater Manchester Police Museum

The Police Museum and Archives are a treasure trove of stories about Manchester’s past crimes and criminals, along with giving you an insight into life as a police officer over the past couple of centuries. It’s housed in the building which was one of Manchester’s earliest police stations.

Manchester museums

Police Museum cars by Firing up the quattro

Manchester Jewish Museum

Being the only Jewish museum outside of London, the Manchester Jewish Museum has quite a responsibility to pass on the stories of Jews in Manchester and how they’ve contributed to the development of the city. It’s housed in an old Spanish and Portuguese synagogue.

Manchester museums

Manchester Jewish Museum by EadaoinFlynn

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Photo Tour of the Wellcome Collection in London

I finally got around to visiting the Wellcome Collection in London in March 2013. It bills itself as ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’, which is a pretty accurate description. Henry Wellcome was an pharmaceutical entrepreneur who amassed many medical artifacts during his travels.

For me, the most evocative piece in the museum was the ‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture by John Isaacs: the British sculptor’s statement on obesity.

wellcome collection

‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture at the Wellcome Collection

[Karen Bryan] Sent you a message!

Array of surgical instruments at the Wellcome Collection

Transparten full size model of female body at the Wellcome Trust in London

Tranparent model of female body at the Wellcome Collection
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Review of The Plough in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

We had lunch at The Pough in Bondgate Without in Alnwick, north east England, in March 2013.

plough alnwick

Exterior of The Plough in Alnwick

There’s free parking at The Plough, up a slope through a rather narrow archway. We sat in the area at the back of the bar. There was a very wide selection of dishes on offer in the menu, supplemented by a few more Daily Specials on the blackboard.

Bistro at The Plough in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Interior of The Plough

My husband had one of the Day’s Specials – Roast Pork served with Black Pudding, Mash & Mustard Sauce. I had a taste; the pork was delicious. I’m not a fan of black pudding but it was very good.

Roast Pork served with Black Pudding, Mustard Sauce, Mash & Veg at The Plough in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Roast Pork served with Black Pudding, Mash & Mustard Sauce

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Exploring Brixton in South London

Our son Simon recommended that I visited Brixton when I was in London in March 2013. After a morning exploring Clapham, I headed to Brixton. On exiting Brixton tube station I wasn’t sure which way to head. I turned left and soon came upon the street market in Electric Avenue.

brixton electric avenue market

Market in Electric Avenue

Further along that street, I saw the entrace to Brixton Village, which is an indoor market consisting of several arcades. It was an extremely cold day,  so I was glad to be in a covered area.

Brixton Village in south London

Restaurant tables in Brixton Village

Reliance Arcade at Brixton Market

Entrance to the Reliance Arcade in Brixton Village

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Review of Travelodge London Bank

I booked a room at Travelodge London Bank for four nights in March 2013. The total cost was £146, on the non-refundable Saver rate, booked 5 months in advance. £36.50 a night is a really good price for Zone 1 ensuite double room in a London hotel. The hotel is a two minute walk from either Cannon St or Bank stations. There’s an M&S Food at Cannon St station and a Tesco Express about five minutes walk away. Many of the restaurants and cafes nearby are closed at the weekend.

Travelodge London Bank

Travelodge sign in St Swithin’s Lane

I arrived at the hotel around 12.30 but  check-in wasn’t until 15.00. As Travelodge don’t offer luggage storage facilities and I wanted to make the most of the daylight hours, I paid the £10 early check-in charge, enabling me to deposit my suitcase in my room and get out and about. I was allocated a double room on the first floor, directly above the hotel entrance overlooking the cobbled courtyard, shared with a restaurant. I was a bit concerned that my room might be noisy if people from the restuarant and hotel came out into the courtyard for a cigarette, or if the restaurant’s rubbish bins were wheeled out early in the morning. But I wasn’t disturbed by any exterior noise.

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