23 Places So Gorgeous And Breathtaking You’ll Go “Whattttt”

We asked the BuzzFeed Community for their favourite hidden spots in the UK. Here are the results.

1. Polperro, Cornwall

Polperro, Cornwall

“There’s a small beach area where many caves and small pools of water are located, good for those who love to explore. There’s only a certain time of day you can visit too as the tide goes up very quickly.” – sophieb483cbacae

2. The Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides

“This summer I’m doing a 10-day tour of the outer Hebrides in Scotland. Ten days of standing stones, fairy pools, and Viking settlements. HEAVEN! Or, should I say, VALHALLA!” – beckie

3. The Roseland Peninsula, Falmouth

The Roseland Peninsula, Falmouth

Tom Tolkein / Via thomastolkien.wordpress.com

“The Roseland Peninsula, on the other side of Carrick Roads from Falmouth. Taking the ferry across the harbour to St Mawes and then an even smaller ferry across to St Anthony, walking around the peninsula, exploring the little beaches and coves, then getting the ferries back, walking across Falmouth and chilling out on Gyllyngvase beach. Perfect way to spend a hot summer’s day.” – Tom McAteer, Facebook

4. Longleat, Wiltshire

Longleat, Wiltshire

“There’s a beautiful path through the forest to a hill overlooking the Longleat estate and safari in Wiltshire. The locals all call it Heaven’s Gate – you can see for miles and it’s especially glorious at sunset!” – zoeye2

(This photo is of Wiltshire, not specifically Longleat.)

5. Vindolanda, Hexham

Vindolanda, Hexham

“I recently visited Hadrian’s Wall and i would strongly recommend that to everyone. Vindolanda is amazing!!” – matthews4db7f00b2

6. The Durdle Door, Dorset

The Durdle Door, Dorset

“Beautiful.” – yolandaw415afa4e4

7. Kinver Rock Houses, Staffordshire

Kinver Rock Houses, Staffordshire

“They’re so unique and their history is fascinating. And the surrounding area is beautiful too!” – sofamiliar

8. St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire

St Abb’s Head, Berwickshire

“The area around St Abb’s Head in Berwickshire, southeast Scotland, is beautiful. There are steep cliffs, but if you walk far enough you can find a ruined castle out on a tiny island.” – anniem4f5db16fc

9. Dunster, Somerset

Dunster, Somerset


10. Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire

“You have to include Sugar Loaf Mountain in Monmouthshire, Wales. I took myself off to Wales a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday last year, staying in Cardiff for a solo holiday. I googled things to do nearby – next thing I know I’m on a train to Abergavenny on a mission!

“The views were beautiful, and little did I know when I woke up that day that a couple of hours later I’d be up the top of a mountain, chatting to strangers and more importantly petting their dogs, so far removed from my normal London life!” – michaele44634e500

11. The Shell Grotto, Margate

The Shell Grotto, Margate

“It’s fascinating and gorgeous – and how the place came to be is still a mystery. Even reading the Wikipedia page makes it sound amazing.” – sophiab42cf32be2

12. Dean Village, Edinburgh

Dean Village, Edinburgh


13. Lerwick, Shetland

Lerwick, Shetland

“The Clickimin Loch is lovely at night when you look across to the Broch.” – kerrym4703fbb7f”

14. St David’s, Wales

St David's, Wales

“St David’s, the smallest city in the UK (pop. 1,841). The main attraction is the cathedral, which holds the relics of St David (unsurprisingly), Wales’ patron saint. The cathedral close is particularly beautiful, since it contains several ruined medieval buildings, including the bishop’s palace, as well as quite a few cows in the meadows by the river. Oh, the city is also in the middle of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only National Park designated primarily because of its coastline, which is truly spectacular.” – clickbaitmcclickface

15. Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

“Isle of Skye is pure magic… The Quirang is like walking in another world. You’ll never forget it.” – tacodingo2

16. Cragside House, Northumberland

Cragside House, Northumberland

“It was the first home in the world to take advantage of hydro power to generate electricity for the home, and it’s got vast grounds to explore. It’s kinda like if Willy Wonka and Frankenstein designed a stately home. Oh, and it’s beautiful.” – johntheone

17. Ladybower Reservoir, Derbyshire

Ladybower Reservoir, Derbyshire

“There’s a place in the Peak District, Ladybower Reservoir – it is a beautiful expanse of water. If you know the right way to go, it leads to Slippery Stones, a natural water swimming spot, and it’s super pretty in summer.” – Linkakq

18. Tollymore forest park, County Down

Tollymore forest park, County Down


19. Inverie, Lochaber

Inverie, Lochaber

“The main village on the Knoydart peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. It isn’t connected to the main road network, so it is only accessible by ferry (or a 17-mile hike!). It’s incredibly beautiful, with wonderful views of the islands Rum, Eigg, and Muck and Sgurr Coire Choinnichean as an incredible mountain background.

“It’s also home to The Old Forge, which is the most remote pub in mainland Britain!” – hjj2

20. Millport, near Glasgow

Millport, near Glasgow

“It’s a beautiful tiny isle near Glasgow. You can rent bikes and cycle around the island in about 1–2 hours. Both cafés, one close to the ferry port and one in the ‘town’ part, are absolutely delicious. Biggest attraction? Crocodile Rock, for sure. It’s absolutely worth going to since it is such a magical and beautiful place to be.” – laram45f255215

21. Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

Giant's Causeway, Antrim

“Giants Causeway, County Antrim. Easily.” – annam4c7ab19bb

22. Beddgelert, Snowdonia

Beddgelert, Snowdonia

“Absolutely stunning.” – cerysedwards

23. Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk

“The vast beach and the colourful huts at Wells-Next-the-Sea, north Norfolk.” – danm49cb25d99”

Source: Ylenia and Buzzfeed

Meet The Stars Behind London Bars (And Restaurants And Cafés)!

London is home to a whole constellation of stars, including Jude Law and Madonna — but a few have also set up restaurants and bars in the capital. From Gandalf to Kelly Brook, who says your skills must end at acting?

1. Nobu – Robert De Niro

You may know him as Pam Byrne’s overprotective father in Meet The Parents (and the Fockers), but Robert De Niro is also the co-founder of esteemed restaurant chain, Nobu. There are over 30 branches across the world, two of which take pride of place in Central London. Nobu, named after owner and executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa, mixes Japanese and South American influences to create a menu of innovative “new style” Japanese cuisine. It’s often frequented by celebrities, making it a top spot for a bit of star-spotting.
19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB / 15 Berkeley Street, W1J 8DY


2. Steam & Rye – Kelly Brook

Kelly Brook is famous for errr…. we’re not really sure what, but she owns a top-class cocktail bar on Leadenhall Street. The interior was designed by Hollywood Set Designer Jonathan Lee, and was modelled on Grand Central Station in New York. They’ve got live music, a rodeo bull and Ladies Night on a Wednesday (which we’re pretty sure the men will have something to say about, but hey, half price cocktails girls)! The cocktail menu goes all out and they have everything from a Juan Direction, a popular cocktail with tequila and agave, and a Mile High, which comes with a paper aeroplane. They also have a bunch of sharing cocktails that come served in the mouths of dinosaurs and sharks and stuff.
147 Leadenhall St, EC3V 4QT


3. Pharmacy 2– Damien Hirst


Following on from the unsuccessful venture of Pharmacy (1?) in Notting Hill, Hirst has decided to have another go by relaunching the restaurant at his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. The interior very much reflects the name, with pills on the walls and pills on the stools. Coinciding with the gallery’s extended Saturday hours, Pharmacy 2 will be hosting ‘Lates’ on the last Saturday of each month during the Autumn. These evenings will include happy hour cocktails from 10pm, late-night dining and live DJ sets until 2am. PS. The gallery is currently showing a Jeff Koons exhibition which ends October 16.
Newport Street, SE11 6AJ


4. The Grapes – Sir Ian McKellen


Gandalf has returned! But rather than leading the Fellowship of the Ring in Middle-earth, he has bought a pub in East London. The Grapes is a traditional English pub, with proper ales and a Victorian long bar (and now with the added addition of the original ‘Gandalf staff’ on display behind the bar). There’s a heated terrace at the back that dangles over the Thames and flaunts some great views of the City and it’s also said that Charles Dickens used to dance on the tables in his time.

76 Narrow Street, Limehouse, E14 8BP


5. Dandy Café – Alt J’s Gus Unger Hamilton


Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger Hamilton claims he didn’t always want to be a musician, but rather dreamt of becoming a chef. In a space that was once just shipping containers and rubbish, Gus has followed his dream and opened up a new café in South Hackney. With a focus on natural wine and simple scrumptious food, the Alt-J member’s café is definitely worth a visit.


36 Hours in Edinburgh

Where old and modern merge seamlessly: along with medieval alleys, design-forward buildings and a ‘new’ Scottish cuisine.

Edinburgh, a charismatic city full of staircases and hills festooned with Georgian and neo-Classical buildings, is well-versed in incorporating the modern into the old. While it has always been an arts center and a cosmopolitan capital, the city is now turning its vibrant energy toward creating a new Scottish cuisine, a nearly uncountable number of craft beers, and design-forward buildings like the Scottish Parliament, which stands as the symbol of the new Scotland. Yet the charm of “Auld Reekie” is still there in its cozy pubs, medieval alleyways and talkative, wryly self-deprecating residents.



The National Museum is one of Edinburgh’s crown jewels: a museum that presents a remarkably detailed history of Scotland, from its prehistoric past to the cloning of Dolly the Sheep, who can be found on the first floor. Ten new galleries opened in July, and it would be easy to spend an entire day watching videos about the country’s last lighthouse keepers, learning about the Scottish labor movement, playing with the interactive science exhibits, marveling at how small a vintage Tiger Moth airplane is, and admiring the gloriously airy Victorian atrium. Admission is free, so if you need a stimulant make the two-minute walk to Brew Lab, one of the city’s best independent cafes, which has an industrial chic vibe and top-notch coffee (3.50 pounds, or $4.65), then head back for more. Don’t forget to pick up a tote bag printed with Warhol-esque images of Dolly’s face as a souvenir.

2. PUB GRUB, 6 P.M.

In the upscale neighborhood of Stockbridge, even the pub food is excellent, especially at casual, stylish Scran & Scallie, from the owners of the Michelin-starred Kitchin. You’ll find classics like sausages and mash, and fish and chips, but consider going to the next level and order roast bone marrow, ox tongue and mushrooms, and girolles on toast. The clientele tend to linger over drinks and desserts (try the sticky toffee pudding if it’s on offer). Dinner for two, around £60.


Stockbridge Tap is a bar for serious beer lovers. The international selection changes frequently, but the knowledgeable and friendly bartenders will ask you to describe your favorite tipple and then find the perfect selection. End the evening with a short stroll to the Last Word for one of the most creative and professional cocktails in the city. This basement bar is dimly lit even at 4 p.m. Try the Same But Different, a mix of tequila, mezcal, strawberry jam, rose liqueur and fresh lime juice. There’s a small lab in the back where they do crafty things like clarify chartreuse. Bar snacks include a selection of cheese from the excellent I.J. Mellis cheesemonger around the corner.


4. FRY-UP, 9:30 A.M.

The Scottish fried breakfast is a thing of legend (and also perhaps the world’s best hangover cure). The newly opened Angus Fling has a central location, booths upholstered in tartan and an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The Scottish “fry” comes with sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomato, fried potato bread and a slice of haggis (£6.90). Add a pot of tea for the full Scottish effect.


Walk off that breakfast with a stroll to the Scottish Parliament building, making a detour down tiny Crichton’s Close for a visit to the Scottish Poetry Library. This hidden spot is a haven for literature lovers: Sit down in the second-floor listening library where you can put on headphones and listen to poetry. In the shop, you’ll find illustrated linotype postcards with lines of Robert Burns poetry (£1), and anthologies of Scottish verse. Move on to the Parliament building, a stunningly modern branch-and-leaves design created by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles. It’s a captivating building whether you love the style or hate it, and several themed tours (history, design, architecture) are offered throughout the day — book in advance. If you miss the tour, it’s still possible to pop your head into the chambers where Parliament members meet. If the independence vote ever passes, this is the place from which Scotland will be governed.


Edinburgh Castle is perhaps the city’s biggest draw, and even on a weekday ticket lines can be long. Instead of elbowing your way past the crowds, head southeast to Craigmillar Castle: just three miles from the city center but surrounded by grassy fields and refreshingly low on visitors (admission, £5.50; taxi, around £10). A beautifully preserved castle whose original incarnation was built in the 1300s, it grew over the centuries with each resident family making changes. Ramparts and arrow-slit windows offer fabulous views all the way to Edinburgh Castle. The guidebook (£2.50) provides ample information on the building’s details and its occupants (Mary Queen of Scots was a guest). From here, stroll along the edge of Holyrood Park for a mile to reach the Sheep Heid Inn, a low-ceilinged pub that claims to have fed guests for six centuries. Have a hearty lunch of sloe gin-smoked salmon followed by a chicken and ham pie. Take a peek in back, where an antiquated skittles alley (a type of bowling) is still in use.

image for Craigmillar Castle

Once a veterinary college, the arts and performance space known as Summerhall is packed with warrens and small hallways that make it a fabulous place to wander for a few hours, especially if there’s a performance happening. The space hosts exhibitions, theater, dance and music events throughout the year, and even the hallways and elevators are home to shows during the annual Fringe Festival. Stop by to check out the art and browse through the original works for sale in the shop. In the tiny distillery in the back, giant casks of gin and rows of bottles await. Finish up at the bar, once the school’s Small Animal Hospital, and have a pint of Summerhall Pale Ale, made in the on-site brewery.


Aizle is one of the growing number of Edinburgh restaurants where the menu takes the form of a list of ingredients (black vinegar, chicken skin, summer berries, for instance). Happily, these ingredients manifest themselves as beautifully executed plates; a set menu of four dishes, with “snack” and dessert (£45), changes monthly, according to the harvest. If you’re looking for the future of Scottish food — local, thoughtful and laid-back — look no further.

9. WATER OF LIFE, 9:30 P.M.

Scotland’s production of small-batch and you’ve-never-heard-of-them whiskies is booming, and facing a menu of two or three hundred choices in a local pub can be overwhelming. At the Whiski Rooms, you can try one of the whisky flights (starting at £17), each a selection of four sorted by region and style, such as Highland malts, extra-peaty vintages from Islay, and sherried single malts. Stock up on bottles from the shop next door, which also offers guided tastings during the day.


10. LEITH, 10 A.M.

Edinburgh’s historic port, Leith, sits on Firth of Forth and is the ideal place for a Sunday stroll. The face of the neighborhood has changed rapidly in recent years, and now the area is a fascinating hodgepodge of quirky pubs, secondhand stores and trendy cocktail bars. Stroll along the waterfront and then turn south, keeping an eye out for the murals, an ongoing public art project by the local organization LeithLate. Check out the hip young things sipping hair-of-the-dog cocktails with brunch in the Lioness of Leith, or stop for a pint in the bicycle-themed Tourmalet. Finish up with lunch at the King’s Wark, a 15th-century pub with mismatched chairs and a pub menu that includes Shetland mussels in garlicky broth.


It’s a steep climb to the top of Calton Hill, but the panoramic views — of Leith, the Firth, and Arthur’s Seat (an ancient volcano) — are worth it. Developed as a public park in 1724, the hill is dotted with monuments, among them the acropolis-style National Monument, which has remained technically “under construction” since the early 19th century. Climb the spiral staircase to the top of the Nelson Monument (admission, £5; closed Sundays from Oct. 1 through March) for even more spectacular views. Make sure to stop by Collective Gallery, which relocated here in 2013 and operates a small exhibition space featuring pieces by artists working in Scotland.

12. SNUG PUB, 3 P.M.

Sink into the velvet seats of Kay’s Bar, a small Georgian coach house turned quiet Victorian pub tucked away from the crowds on tiny, circular Jamaica Street. This is the “local” for Edinburgh residents, from geezers nodding off over pints of the oft-changing selection of ales to university students solving the world’s problems as the table fills up with empty glasses. The smattering of original fixtures and the warm red glow of the walls, furniture and carpet make this snug pub a cozy place to retreat from the inevitable rain.



Visit our website: http://b2b.abbeyirelandanduk.com/




Alternative Manchester City Guide

A thriving arts program, a strong student community, pioneering architecture and industry, a vibrant LGBT scene, world-class food and drink – Manchester has it all. And that’s not even mentioning that infamous footie squad.

As one of the most diverse and lively cities in the UK, Manchester is paradise for the curious explorer looking for interesting things to see and do. It’s not too hard to dig a little deeper under Manchester’s skin and find something unusual. This alternative Manchester city guide will give you some tips to get going.

alternative manchester, manchester guide

Things to do

Alternative neighbourhoods:

To steer away from the well-heeled Northern Quarter and other popular central districts, head south. Over the last few years, suburbs like Chorlton and Withington have been revived, with new bars, restaurants, and independent shops cropping up to breathe in new life. Chorlton makes a nice spot to potter around, with lots of places to eat and drink on Beech Road – read our Chorlton food and drink guide for more.

In Withington, swing by Deco Records, an independent record store selling second hand vinyl, merch, guitars, and more. Vegetarians shouldn’t miss Fuel, Withington’s veggie and vegan mothership with live music too. Call in at Solomons, just opposite, for breakfast and coffee or a live comedy show and cocktails at night.

In the evening a safe bet is Burton Road – an area arguably more in Chorlton than Withington, or perhaps even Didsbury, but that’s by-the-by – where you’ll find good places to eat and drink like Volta for charcuterie and share plates, or Mary & Archie for craft beers and hearty food. Both of these suburbs are linked to the city centre via the tram.

manchester guide, manchester city guide, alternative manchester, victoria baths manchester

Victoria Baths:

Opened in 1906, Victoria Baths was the place to go swimming in Manchester a century ago. So proud were the council at the time that it was named a “water palace” with beautiful ornate features such as stained glass and tiled floors. A Turkish Bath was also built here, giving it an exotic feel.

Unfortunately, by 1993 the golden years has dissipated and the council deemed the building too expensive to run, which resulted in closure. However, the baths still held a place in the people’s hearts, and became a heritage centre. Now, there are exhibitions, open days, and tours run here frequently, offering a way to connect with this special part of Manchester’s history.

Up until 2015, the Cornerhouse was the best place to go in Manchester for indie and arthouse cinema showings. Its merging with a new, up-scale project called HOME kicked up a bit of a fuss in the local neighbourhood, but even though the original project comes under a new guise, it still serves its purpose. Stop by the cinema at HOME for classic, world, and independent films. This new movie theatre plays a handful of films every day so there’s sure to be something interesting on while you’re in town.


Alternative parks:

There’s plenty of green space in Manchester, but some parks are a cut above the rest. Whitworth Park makes a scenic spot, alongside a visit to Whitworth Art Gallery. The centre has recently undergone a £15 million development and houses a collection of 55,000 piece of artwork, from fine art to textiles, print, and even wallpaper.

If you’re in Whitworth with your family or children, pick up a free art hamper from the gallery and take it out into the park. These are full of art supplies and make for a fun way to combine creativity and getting out in the fresh air. Hampers are available daily from the centre.

For something with a little more variety, head to Fletcher Moss Park & Botanical Gardens in Didsbury. Here you can walk in woodland, by the riverside, and among a wide range of different plants. Open every day of the year from dawn until dusk, this is a fool-proof day out in Manchester.


If you’re of the more active persuasion, stop by the National Cycling Centre to try to the BMX or MTB tracks. Having undergone a major transformation in 2011, this is one of the most comprehensive cycling centres in the UK, with a wide and varied programs of things to do. Bike hire is available, plus lessons or coaching sessions. There are tracks for riders of all abilities, or a café and NCC tour for those who want to take it easy. Time your visit right and you could watch Team GB practising!


Where to Stay


There are few more unique places to stay in Manchester than at one of the Eclectic Hotels locations. With two properties in the city centre and two in Didsbury, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to this miniature hotel chain – but all provide luxurious and stylish accommodation. With a sharp focus on design and inspiration from their townhouse roots, these hotels are full of character without compromising on decadence.

Rentals and homestays:

As a modern, lively city there are plenty of people in Manchester using AirBnB. If you’re looking for somewhere up-market to stay over a weekend with your partner or a couple of friends, take a look at this city centre apartment, with modern furnishings and exposed brick walls. For slightly more affordable apartments, consider this two bedroom flat in Didsbury, or this beautifully-decorated cosy studio is perfect for a couple in the same area.

If a room is all you need, this bright double in Chorlton has a bunch of great reviews and is located close to a lot of top food and drink hangouts, plus links to the city centre. Around the same area is a cosy single room ideal for solo travellers on a budget, with friendly hosts to boot.


Where to eat and drink


Grindsmith, Takk, and North Tea Power are the shining stars of the coffee houses in Manchester’s city centre, but there are a few gems around the other neighbourhoods. Head to Tea Hive in Chorlton for a quirky, vintage setting and a large selection of teas, cakes, and good coffee. Further east next to Whitworth Park stop by Anchor House Coffee for delicious brews. Cake lovers should not miss And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon in Didsbury, which was voted one of the best tearooms in the UK with a selection of cakes that’s impossible to choose from.


Chorlton Green Brasserie does a solid brunch in a stylish setting, with a small but strong menu that will set you up for a day of exploring the area. Thyme Out Deli in Didsbury is another strong contender for best brunch in Manchester and prides itself on fresher-than-fresh produce. For a gut-busting American-style brunch in the city centre, visit Moose Coffee. The menu here is mighty, with a vast array of waffles, eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, and much, much more. Come hungry.

guide to chorlton, manchester food and drink, guide to manchester

Lunch and dinner:

Chorlton is good for lunch, in particular tapas at Bar San Juan, a place that’s much easier to get into during lunch hours as opposed to battling the heaving crowd in the evening. Also try Barbakan Deli, a local favourite with Polish roots that shouldn’t be missed on a Saturday when giant pans are set up outside cooking up all kinds of sausages. Come on other days for giant sandwiches. Mish Mash and The Lead Station are top choices for dinner in Chorlton.

You could walk around anywhere in Manchester and find a good place to have dinner, but if you want some pointers for world food check out Seoul Kimchi for Korean, Ziya for a contemporary Indian restaurant, or De Nada for highly-rated South American flavour.


Germans reveal why they still ‘Love UK’

Admit it, times have been hard for the UK recently. First, the result of the EU membership referendum left many – even among the winning side – in shock. The value of the pound plummeted and the prime minister announced his intention to quit. Then underdogs Iceland kicked England out of Euro 2016 in humiliating style.
So German paper Zeit Online decided it needed to cheer the Brits up a bit and show they were still appreciated. The best way to do this it decided was to ask its readers to list things they like about the UK.

Initial tweet

And did they respond! The hashtag #WeLoveUKBecause quickly started trending in Germany. Thousands of people used it, confirming their affection for the island nation.

Apparently, the German are true lovers of many things British, as they have demonstrated with their tweets. A variety of aspects of British life were mentioned, from culture to sport to food and weather.

Of course, there was tea. “You can make cups of tea like no one else and it is the answer to every single problem!” one person tweeted.

Tea tweet


“#WeLoveUKBecause of Doctor Who, breakfast, very friendly people everytime, black humor, lovely landscape and – yes, the weather!” another user tweeted. Others said “your #pubculture is unique”.

Muppet Show tweet

“Music, TV and film wouldn’t be the same without all your talent and your dry, dark humour,” one tweet said. And they weren’t alone. Many expressed their fondness for Monty Python and Sherlock. And some Germans clearly have an abiding admiration for the late great Margaret Rutherford, the original big screen Miss Marple.

Tweet of photo of Margaret Rutherford

A queue

That tweet wasn’t the only mention of British food. “#WeLoveUKBecause whoever survives such breakfast habits and such weather apparently owns [an] adorably viable set of genes,” one said.

Food tweet

Fish&chips tweet

Many also pointed out the general friendliness of the nation. “Strangers call you ‘love’ or ‘darling’ and somehow that feels really nice,” a user said.

And beautiful landscapes were also mentioned.

“Some of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. The Highlands, Edinburgh, Beachy Head, multiple beautiful towns & villages.”

Tweet admiring the London landscape

But all in all, if you are British and you have had a bad week, don’t feel sad! There are people out there who love you!


Britain’s new i360 tower a ‘pier in the sky’


The world’s tallest moving observation tower, the i360, opens to the public on Thursday, a futuristic landmark that has transformed the historic seafront in the English tourist resort of Brighton.

A 162-metre (530-foot) high steel tower is ringed by a doughnut-shaped glass observation pod that gently glides up and down.

The design is meant to be a 21st-century take on the Victorian pleasure piers that characterise British seaside towns: this time, a vertical pier in the sky, according to project chiefs.

It is hoped that the attraction will further boost tourism in the southeastern resort of Brighton, a gem of 1700s and 1800s architectural grandeur.

Designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield, the tower is the sequel to their London Eye observation wheel, which opened in the British capital in 2000 and is one of its most popular visitor attractions.

Several places wanted a copy of the giant wheel, but the husband-and-wife team felt the concept wasn’t viable in smaller cities.

Instead they took the chance to recalibrate it for Brighton, already Britain’s most popular seaside destination for foreign tourists, in this project that has taken 13 years of work to come to fruition.

“The key ingredient, as with the London Eye, is moving very slowly to a great height for a fantastic view,” said Barfield.

– ‘The architecture of pleasure’ –

The i360 sits at the entrance to the 1866-built West Pier, which burnt down in 2003.

With a height to diameter ratio of 40 to one, it is the world’s slenderest tall tower, according to Guinness World Records.

“This is very much in the spirit of the West Pier, whose purpose was to delight, entertain and inspire people,” Marks told AFP, standing at the top of the tower.

“Just as it invited Victorian society to go out and walk on water, the i360 turns that concept vertically and invites people to walk on air and get a new perspective on the city.

“Everybody seems to love a great view,” he added.

“It’s a pleasure both to the eyes and the intellect not only to gaze at the horizons but to look beyond them.”

The tower cost £46 million ($61 million, 55 million euros) to build but promises to break even as long as it attracts around half its estimated annual 700,000 visitors.

From the top, visitors can see for 26 miles (42 kilometres) along the coast and out over the English Channel.

Until now, the Royal Pavilion has been Brighton’s standout landmark: an over-the-top, mock Indian palace completed in 1823 as a seaside residence for King George IV, who was known for his indulgent lifestyle.

The Sussex city is also known for its Georgian and Regency terraces, as well as its later Victorian piers, and is now home to an up-and-coming arty crowd and is often considered Britain’s “gay capital”.

The tower’s designers say the new structure, which dominates the city’s skyline, is in keeping with Brighton’s history of bold architecture built for pleasure, but it has not been universally welcomed by locals.

The tower’s nicknames range from the “iSore” to more sexually innuendoed names, and some residents decry the local authority taking on a £36 million loan to fund the project — though the city council insists it is charging the i360 a higher rate than the borrowing costs.

– Alien spacecraft-style pod –

The 18-metre diameter pod — technically an oblate ellipsoid shape — is pulled up by a giant cog and steel cable winch system, located underground. It also uses a counterweight within the tower.

Christian Bouvier, vice-president of French cable car experts Poma, which built the pod and the drive mechanism, said the vertical lift system was a new technical challenge for the company.

“This has never been done before,” he told AFP.

The 200-capacity pod looked like a visiting alien spacecraft when first assembled next to a cornfield in France, Bouvier said.

Looking out from his maiden ride in the pod, he said: “It’s really the wow effect. It is sensational to see, as if in a helicopter.”

Bouvier compared the i360 to Paris’s most famous tower.

“David Marks is really the Gustave Eiffel of our century,” he claimed.

The tower’s lattice steel cladding is designed to diffuse the wind so that it does not wobble, and to protect it from expanding in the sun.

“The results of this actually turned out better than the theory,” said Bouvier.

The pod will travel up and down around 200 times a week, starting in September, and cost visitors £15 ($20, 18 euros) a ride.

by Robin Millard

© 2016 AFP


Find Archive Film Footage in the UK and Ireland

As part of its current Britain on Film season, the BFI has produced an interactive ‘film map’ that allows you to search for archive videos made in your local area. Tap in your postcode and the site brings up any films it has related to said location.

Find the map here: http://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film/map/

The collection ranges from 1895 to the present day and includes adverts, newsreels, government-made films, TV shows and movies, as well as the world’s earliest home movies dating back to 1902.
London is particularly well represented, though it has to be said that the search can yield fairly broad results at present — better to think in terms of larger areas like the East End or the City rather than your local launderette. The project is in its early stages but has grand ambitions to grow the current catalogue of 2,500 digitized archive films to 10,000 by 2017.
Ultimately the aim is so create a huge interactive library that will offer instant insights into the past and easy access to a rich variety of material once locked away in warehouses and dusty attics. The BFI is keen for the public to get involved too, so the collection can expand further.

The map works for London, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Dublin.