Today is here…Surreal yet unbelievably fun moments were aplenty throughout our recent sojourn in London, thanks to Visit Britain in collaboration with Malaysia Airlines (MAB) and Dorsett Hospitality International.
After a fitful night’s rest and hearty English breakfast at Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush, Pilot Parker from MAB together with Visit Britain Blue Badge guide Henrietta Ferguson (the gorgeous gal beside yours truly) showed us a jolly good time in London and its surrounds. Our carefully curated itinerary covered five distinct locations and experiences designed to ensure we #LoveGreatBritain.
Built in the 18th century, Blenheim Palace is Britain’s only non-royal palace and the current home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. The formidable buildings along with its rolling, windswept grounds and parkland is a World Heritage Site.
Take the Lights, Camera, Action tour to learn which scenes in the latest James Bond and Mission Impossible flicks, Spectre and Rogue Nation were filmed. It was also the location of choice for the period movie ‘A Little Chaos’ starring Kate Winslet.
Walking through the warren of rooms provided plenty of jaw-dropping moments thanks to its ornate, gilded interior décor and priceless collection of antiques, wall-size tapestries and precious objects d'art including a 300 year old table clock that still chimes on the hour. We also visited the guest room where Sir Winston Churchill was born in and a memorial room dedicated to the great leader.
A shutterbug’s paradise, practically every nook and corner of its palatial surrounds is fair game. Suffice to say our knowledgeable guides had a hard time keeping us in line as we sneaked away frequently to snap endless photos.
After the whirlwind tour, we were treated to a simple but delicious lunch at the Oxfordshire Pantry. The fresh salad with pine nuts and ham, carrot cake, salmon sandwiches and scones among others featured locally sourced ingredients. The East Courtyard Shop left us spoiled for choice with its exclusive Blenheim Palace memorabilia, homemade preserves and jams, books and souvenirs.
For information on Blenheim Palace, visit: http://www.blenheimpalace.com/
CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
No self-respecting foodie or performing arts fan should miss out on this soul-satisfying musical which is based on Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Make your way to The Theatre Royal Drury Lane – a three and a half centuries old theatrical hub with two Royal boxes in London’s West End.
Marble sculptures in the foyer, detailed ornamental plasterwork on the walls and ceiling and the multiple tiers of royal boxes made the Theatre Royal an impressive sight to behold.
Right from the get-go, the musical had us spellbound like kids trapped in a candy store. The entertaining song and dance about Charlie Bucket and his fantastical Golden Ticket passage into Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory was choc-full of dark humour, sweet whimsical tunes and enchanting scenes.
One cannot help but be impressed by the talented cast performing in that glorious song and dance. Augmented by cutting-edge lighting and stage props, no wonder most visitors make time for a night out to a musical or theatre performance at London’s West End. Thank you Visit Britain for hosting us to this spectacular show.
For more information on Charlie & The Chocolate Factory musical, visit: http://www.charlieandthechocolatefactory.com
STAMFORD BRIDGE STADIUM TOUR
STAMFORD BRIDGE STADIUM TOUR
English Premier League (EPL) football has a huge following in Malaysia so stadium tours of one’s fave football club (FC) is a ‘must’ when visiting Britain. Admittedly, I were kinda cool to the idea but Pilot Parker together with his pal Paddington Bear convinced us the fully guided one hour tour of Stamford Bridge Stadium – home turf of 2014/15 Premier League Champions Chelsea FC - would be memorable. Ok, it was a new learning and eye-opening experience for a non-footie fan like me.
The beautiful game is a major money spinner and you’d get insightful glimpses on the art of management once you go behind the scenes at one of the world’s greatest football clubs (never mind if the current flock under The Special One is having a lousy season).
|The Press Room where pre & post match PCs were held - guess who's in the hot seat right now?|
We were privileged to access areas normally reserved for players and officials; the tour taking us to various stands in the Stadium, down to the Press Room, Home & Away dressing rooms, the tunnel and dug out areas. Shutterbugs of course should have a field day as we did.
|David Beckham was one of the players who had pitched his skills against Chelsea in the past besides other legendary footie greats like Bobby Charlton & George Best|
Despite the hordes of fans that use the stadium year in, year out, we were flummoxed by how pristine and well-maintained everything was − from the natural grassy field to the photo backdrop outside at the stadium perimeter.
You can also visit the Museum which shows the evolution of Chelsea FC on and off the pitch throughout the years. No fans and supporters will escape unscathed from the veritable range of footie memorabilia sold at the expansive merchandise store.
For more information on the Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge Stadium Tour, visit: http://www.chelseafc.com/the-club/museum-stadium-tours.html
THE VIEW FROM THE SHARD
London’s highest viewing platform which blew us away with fantastic 360° bird’s eye views of the cosmopolitan city from the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors. Completed in July 2012, it was a 12-year journey to bring the 310-m high, 95-floor spire-like building to fruition.
Developed by Irvine Sellar and conceptualised by renowned architect Renzo Piano, The Shard is a dynamic vertical city with the Shangri-La hotel onsite in addition to offices, apartments, restaurants and bars.
The official website also explains that “eight sloping glass facades, the "shards", define the shape and visual quality of the tower, fragmenting the scale of the building and reflecting the light in unpredictable ways. Opening vents in the gaps or “fractures” between the shards, provide natural ventilation to winter gardens.”
For us laymen, the thrill is in the noiseless, smooth and rocket-fast ride up in the lifts. Stepping out onto the expansive viewing deck, the sight of a semi-foggy London spread out far and wide underneath us is truly something to behold.
For more information on The Shard, visit: http://www.the-shard.com/
A unique 75-minute interactive walk and ride attraction taking the young and old into the kingdom of Far Far Away. Starting with a magical 4D ‘DreamWorks Tours’ bus ‘driven’ by Donkey, my heart sank down during part of the bumpy, loopy simulation ride which involved being chased by witches on broomsticks and close calls with mountainous cliffs.
DreamWorks animation, captivating story-telling and a good dose of Donkey’s cheekiness abound as we trooped into Shrek’s Swamp then rode briefly in Rumpelstiltskin’s Carriage. After popping into The Poison Apple Pub, we watched Pinocchio being strapped to the Wheel of Torture, walked through the Mirror Maze and cooked up a spell at The Muffin Man’s House.
While it was fun in some parts, other sections may be appear scarier for younger tots who aren’t used to sudden loud noises and somewhat sombre surroundings. For more information and ticketing services, visit: https://www.shreksadventure.com/london/