An Overview of the Cotswolds

Posted by 07heaven on June 30, 2016

The Cotswolds are a typical English delight, and cover a surprising amount of land. Defined by their ‘wolds’, or rolling hills, the Cotswolds, named for the golden limestone found there, run through five separate counties, all with their own distinct character: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Somerset, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. Spend a holiday exploring each of them in turn, or pick an area and explore it more thoroughly – whichever you choose you won’t be disappointed.

Salisbury, Wiltshire

The ‘city in the countryside’, Salisbury is surrounded by rural England and home to the ancient Salisbury Cathedral, itself home to the Magna Carta. You could also visit the vibrant market, one of the many houses and museums and soak up the history in this richly cultural ancient city.

Wells Cathedral, Somerset

Wells is the smallest city in England, with a population of just 12,000 people, but its cathedral is not to be belittled. Built in the 14th century, it’s one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country, with sweeping scissor arches, spectacular stained glass windows and the famous Wells Clock – considered to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain still in use. Take a guided tour around the Cathedral or just stop for a visit while you explore the beautiful city.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Oxfordshire

This wildlife park in Burford, Oxfordshire, is home to over 260 species of animal and a great day out for families and wildlife lovers alike. Enjoy the daily penguin or lemur feedings, visit the Reptile House, Tropical House or farmyard – to name but a few – and bring your dog along if you want to!

Cheltenham Race Course, Gloucestershire

Witness some of the best jump racing in the world year round at the famous Cheltenham race course. Make a day of the races or visit while you’re exploring Cheltenham itself – it’s a haven of stylish shops and restaurants, beautiful gardens and festivals.

The Cotswolds Distillery, Warwickshire

The first full-scale craft distillery in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds Distillery produces its own dry gin and single malt whiskey. Snug in the beautiful village of Stourton in the North Cotswolds, the distillery hosts both tastings and tours.

July and August 2016 in London

Posted by 07heaven on June 28, 2016

Not sure what’s on offer in the capital this summer? We’ve highlighted some of the must-sees, whether you’re in the city for a day trip or for a longer stay.

Rio Olympics on the Big Screen

Rio de Janeiro might be a little further away than Stratford, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get close to the summer Olympics! There will be screens to watch the Games at Beach East at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 6th-21st August (and they’re depositing over 2,000 square metres of sand in the Park too!). The London Bridge City Summer Festival will also be airing games and highlights, and the Summer of Sport at St Katherine Docks will be screening the games – settle down into a deckchair next to the river and you’ll practically be in Rio…

London Wonderground

We’ve blogged about London Wonderground before – the annual entertainment festival held at South Bank runs throughout the summer and is home to a plethora of theatrical shows, comedy, arts and culture, with something for the whole family to enjoy.


If you couldn’t get tickets to the tournament, don’t worry – there are viewings of the matches held across the city, including Summer of Sport at St Katherine Dock. To really soak up the atmosphere, try visiting the village of Wimbledon itself. It’s full of independently-owned shops, restaurants, museums and galleries, and Wimbledon Common is a beautiful must-visit. You could even visit a Buddhist temple while you’re there – it was the first to be built in the UK.

Notting Hill Carnival

Held this year on 28th and 29th August, ‘Britain’s biggest street party’ is coming to Notting Hill for two days of dance, music and festivities. The carnival originated in 1964 as a way for London’s Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their cultures, and today the carnival is an opportunity for everyone to experience a splash of Caribbean colour.

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

What better way to celebrate the queen’s 90th birthday than by visiting Buckingham Palace? Visit the State Rooms and this year’s themed exhibition, which commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s birthday with ‘Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe’, a detailed exhibition of the queen’s clothes. Catch it while you can – it’ll move on to Windsor Castle in September.

Visit Winston Churchill’s War

Posted by 07heaven on June 23, 2016

Think you learnt everything you needed to know about World War II in school? Think again. From the now-famous war rooms to recently-discovered secret bunkers on private estates, the South East is full of spectacular Second World War landmarks, all brimming with history and connected to one man…

Churchill’s Secret Bunker, Norwich

In 2012, a second World War wireless station was discovered on a private property in Norwich. Known as IN-Station or Zero Station, this bunker is believed to be one of only 32 built in England during the war – and only 12 have ever been found. Wireless stations were built by Winston Churchill to counteract a feared German invasion, and by 1940 the increasing threat of invasion prompted a ‘Special Duties’ branch, using civilian volunteers across the South East and East Anglia. Relatively little is known about Special Duties, as much of the information about it was classified or destroyed, but by 1944 over three thousand civilians had been trained. Norwich’s station, which was hidden behind a bookcase with an aerial hidden by a tree and an escape tunnel, has recently been given heritage protection.

Churchill’s Blitz Bunker, Central London

A disused London Underground station used by Churchill during the Blitz has recently opened to the public. Down Street station in Mayfair was used as a tube station between 1907 and 1932 and sheltered the Prime Minister during air raids, as well as serving as the location for coordinating the country’s railways. You can also tour passageways underneath Clapham South and Euston Station, which were used as public shelters, and 55 Broadway near St James’ Park, which used to be the London Underground headquarters.

Churchill’s War Rooms

It doesn’t sound all that glamourous to say that a set of basement offices in Whitehall were the beating heart of Britain’s war effort. And they weren’t designed to be comfortable – in 1938, with war looming, the New Public Offices building was chosen for its large basement and strong steel frame and became the War Cabinet’s meeting place during air raids. Opened to the public in 1984, there is an exhibition dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill and an exhibition of the Cabinet War Rooms – the perfect day out for any military history enthusiast.

Visiting Hertfordshire

Posted by 07heaven on June 21, 2016

Just west of Essex and north of Greater London, Hertfordshire one of the smallest counties in England, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of wonderful places and events. With plenty of history, culture and attractions, Hertfordshire is the ideal place for a weekend away or short holiday.

St Albans City

This ancient city is steeped in history, and recorded in history as far back as the 9th century. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1553 to become a market town, and has thrived ever since. Try nearby Heartwood Forest, just north of the city, for some spectacular views, visit the spectacular cathedral or spend a day wondering the streets and taking in the history, architecture and independent shops.

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral stands over the location where Alban, the first British saint, was buried. St Albans is the oldest British site of continuous Christian worship, and free guided tours are available for visitors to learn more about this wonderful building. Make sure you take in the spectacular nave, which at 85 metres long is the longest in England, and the stunning Rose Window, made from beautiful coloured glass.

Hatfield House

Built in the 17th century by the 1st Earl of Salisbury, Robert Cecil, Hatfield House is a wonderful example of Jacobean craftsmanship, with the spectacular Grand Staircase and beautiful stained glass windows in the private chapel. The house is still in the Cecil family, and is filled with a variety of paintings, tapestries and mementos, all a little insight into the house’s history. Hatfield House’s main claim to fame is that Henry VIII’s children Edward, Elizabeth and Mary lived there – and that it was where Elizabeth I learnt of her accession to the throne. There are festivals, markets and events at Hatfield all year – visit their website for more information. You can also visit the house, the park and the gardens.

Hertford Castle

A royal palace for over three centuries, Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood at Hertford Castle. Built in the mid-15th century, the building is secluded but magnificent. These days it’s available for hire and hosts local carnivals and open air cinema evenings  – visit their website to find out more about individual events and for an interactive tour of the castle.

Africa Alive! Animal Adventure, Suffolk

Posted by 07heaven on June 16, 2016

Run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia, Suffolk’s Africa Alive! wildlife park is packed full of Africa’s most beautiful and spectacular wild animals. Spend a day there with your family, try a wildlife photography workshop or just visit the lemur encounters…

Plains of Africa Safari

The Plains of Africa attraction at Africa Alive! is a little different to a regular park, as animals from the African savannah roam freely together, just how they would in the wild. Open daily from 9:30am, the Africa Alive! safari is one of the best ways to watch the animals in as close to their natural habitat as possible. It might not quite have the climate of the real African planes, but don’t let that put you off! Keep your eyes peeled for giraffes, zebra and much more.

Kingdom of the Lion

Visit the king of Africa’s big cats at Kingdom of the Lion enclosure, and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the pride from the Lookout Lodge.

Birds of Prey Displays

Birds of prey displays are seasonal, so do check the website for more information, but if you’re there while a display is on, it’s a must-see. The park’s overall bird collection includes owls, ostriches, Guinea fowl, flamingos and storks – don’t worry, the storks won’t be in the birds of prey display!

Twilight Tours

Groups of 20 or more people can experience Africa Alive! during the twilight hours with a three hour personalised tour that starts at 6:30pm. A senior member of staff will guide you around the park, and you’ll get a view into the animal kingdom usually hidden from day trippers.

Conservation Month

September is ZSEA conservation month – visit their website for more information on 2016’s special events.

Lemur Encounters

These sweet, inquisitive little animals are a must-visit, as they’re wonderful to watch and a stalwart of African wildlife.

Photography Workshops

There are two photography workshops on in 2016, taught by local professional James Neale. Come along for a great day of learning how to get the best from your camera and how to improve your wildlife photography skills. Maybe don’t ask a lion to pose, though!

Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker

Posted by 07heaven on June 14, 2016

Have you ever driven around Essex and spotted a sign indicating a ‘secret nuclear bunker’? Or seen it in a list of ridiculous road signs? Well that very secret bunker is Kelvedon Hatch Secret Bunker in Chelmsford, at Bunkerland Adventure Park. Just 20 miles from London, Kelvedon has been used as Regional Government Headquarters, was par­t of the RAF’s radar operations during the Cold War and was also a civil defence centre. With its 10-feet thick reinforced concrete walls, maze of rooms and secure location 100 feet underground, the bunker’s goings-on were so secret that local villagers had no idea what it was there for!  Open all year, Kelvedon Hatch hosts parties, overnight stays, corporate days and paranormal and role play groups, as well as being home to a variety of spectacular events and activities.

The Bunker’s Scientists’ Centre and Devolved Central Government

The central hub of the bunker, the scientists’ centre housed experts who would monitor nuclear activity and predict fall out patterns. The civilian operation room, by contrast, was where ministers would be based.

The BBC Studio and Plant Room

Should an emergency arise, the BBC Studio would have issued emergency broadcasts across the region. The plant room is home to the bunker’s systems, which were all duplicated for contingency reasons.

The Bunker’s Dormitory and Sick Bay

The bunker was built to accommodate up to 600 people, and their living facilities were fully equipped. Make sure you stop off in the dormitory and sick bay for a close up view of what actually staying at the bunker was like.

Nuclear Races Obstacle Course

Bunkerland Adventure Park is also home to the Nuclear Races, a gritty, muddy and ridiculously fun obstacle course that has various courses and events available.

The Last Survivors Zombie Experience

Take a group of friends on this live action zombie survival experience! Spend two hours inside the grounds and bunker alongside a few members of the undead…

Rope Runners Adventure Park

The award-winning high ropes park Rope Runners is just next door to the bunker, and hosts activities including rope climbing, air rifle shooting, water zorbing and archery. A great day out for the family, Rope Runners is also open for parties, corporate groups and multi-activity days.

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