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Situated in the south of England on the river Thames, London is the capital of the United Kingdom. These days London is a bustling, modern city but its history dates back to Roman times. This mix of old and new, is what gives London its magic charm.
At its centre, stand the imposing Houses of Parliament with the iconic Big Ben clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of the British monarch’s coronations. Across the river Thames is the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that provides panoramic views of the entire city.
And, of course, no trip to London would be complete without a visit to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, where you can watch the changing of the guards. Visit the Tower of London and follow a ‘Beefeater’ guard on a guided walk through this dark and infamous complex. View the remarkable Crown Jewels and visit the White Tower, Traitors’ Gate and Tower Green, where Anne Boleyn met her grisly end.
If you’re a cricket fan, you simply must do a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground, which is referred to world-wide as the Home of Cricket.
Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom, situated in the West Midlands, near the geographic centre of England. Birmingham exploded in the 18th century, during Britain’s industrial revolution, when the population grew from 17,000 to over 70,000. Today, with a population of over a million people, it’s the centre of Britain’s light and medium industry and is still sometimes described as ‘the city of 1,001 different trades.’ Since the 1970s, however, the city’s service sector has grown to rival the manufacturing sector.
Wartime industrial activity and heavy bombing left the city exhausted in 1945, but they eventually began razing slums and bombed-out areas in the central districts and replacing them with tall blocks of apartments and office buildings. Birmingham is now the cultural centre for a wide area. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre opened in 1913 and has acquired national renown. The Birmingham Hippodrome plays host to original theatrical productions and serves as the home for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
There is much to explore in Birmingham and nearby towns. For example, be transported into an amazing underwater world at The National Sea Life Centre, located in the centre of Birmingham. At the Coventry Music Museum, learn the real story of Coventry’s musical heritage, going right back to the Roman occupation. Do a tour of the Jaguar Experience Castle in nearby Bromwich and immerse yourself in the world of Jaguar, with tours of their state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. It’s also home to the Aston Villa, Birmingham City, and West Bromwich Albion professional football (soccer) clubs and the Warwickshire County Cricket Club plays its home matches at the historic Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
Nottingham is situated in central England’s Midlands district. Widely known for its role in the Robin Hood legend and for the hilltop Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, rebuilt many times since the medieval era. In the Lace Market area, once the centre of the world’s lace industry, the Galleries of Justice Museum has crime-related exhibits. Wollaton Hall is an ornate Elizabethan mansion with gardens and a deer park.
If the idea of Robin Hood excites you, you can try your hand at archery at The Adrenalin Jungle. Set in the heart of Sherwood Forest, spread over 150 acres of woodlands and clearings, choose from paintball, quad bikes, off road karts, archery, an assault course, tarmac karts, clay pigeon shooting and 4×4 off road driving. If that sounds too adventurous, you can always join an historical pub tour and learn about local history and folk-lore from your guide.
Then, there’s the City of Caves, a visitor attraction in Nottingham that consists of a network of caves, carved out of sandstone. They have been variously used over the years as a tannery, public house cellars and as an air raid shelter during the war. The Nottingham Museum has historic transport and industry displays, housed in 17th-century stables, plus working diesel and steam engines. If you are a nature lover, don’t miss The Arboretum, which features a collection of more than 800 trees, some of which planted when it opened in 1852.
With its vast array of ancient buildings and castles, you won’t be disappointed with your visit to Nottingham.
Kent is a county in the south east of England, around 200 kilometres from London and less than an hour by train. Known for its gardens, it’s often referred to as the Garden of England, a phrase first coined by Henry VIII. Kent is most famous for its oast houses, having tall conical or pyramidal roofs. These are actually the old kilns that were used for drying hops, once grown throughout the county.
If you are into beautiful beaches, stunning castles, exciting culture and delicious food and drink, then you can’t go past Kent. Voted by Lonely Planet as having some of the best beaches in Europe, as well as art galleries, elegant stately homes, fun-filled family attractions and more than 4,000 exhilarating foot and cycle trails
Lots of ancient castles to explore or visit Dreamland Amusement Park Museum in a 1950s arcade with old pinball machines, fairground artefacts and a bijou cinema. Plus, there’s Howletts Wild Animal Park featuring gorillas, tigers and monkeys in a 90-acre park with keeper experiences and a treetop challenge.
In the city of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral has a 1,400-year history and features a Romanesque crypt and medieval stained glass. The underground Canterbury Roman Museum, has excavated mosaics. Whitstable, to the north, is a coastal town with colourful cottages and a harbour-side fish market. East, along the coast, Margate is home to the Turner Contemporary art gallery.
Somerset is a county in South West England. Home to the world heritage site of Bath, with its famous Roman baths and pump rooms. This lovely city has so much to offer the visitor, it’s rightfully one of the most popular tourist destinations in England.
There are lots of places to go in Somerset, including Glastonbury Abbey, which is said to be the final resting place of King Arthur and his wife, Guinevere. If you travel to Bridgwater, don’t be surprised when you see a 12-meter-tall willow man. Built by the Somerset artist, Serena De La Hay, at a cost of 15,000 pounds, this roadside attraction is seen as a symbol of the local area. The fame of the wicker man only increased after an arson attack in 2001. The decision was made to rebuild the roadside attraction with increased fire protection, including a moat to stop potential arsonists from gaining access.
Somerset is also famous for apples and cider and many cider farms offer tours and free tastings. And of course, there is their world-famous Cheddar cheese. Cheddar originated in Somerset around the late 12th century and is named after the dramatic Gorge and caves in which the cheese used to be stored.
In the north west of the county, you will find historic Dunster, a picturesque town just two miles from the coast and the seaside resort of Minehead. Dunster boasts a stunning castle, unique Yarn Market, pretty thatched cottages, inns and cafes, and is set right on the edge of dramatic Exmoor.
The mighty port of Bristol is also in Somerset. This historic city is home to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and the world’s fifth oldest zoo.
Surrey is a beautiful, historic county, located in the South East of England. It has some amazing attractions and is full of landmarks and exciting things to do. Explore one of the many zoos and animal parks that Surrey has to offer or visit Runnymede, the historic site where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.
Discover Denbies Wine Estate, one of the largest vineyards in England or explore historic houses and palaces. If you are looking for family fun, Surrey has farms, museums and theme parks for you to enjoy. Relax and explore the beautiful countryside and surrounding chocolate-box villages. For those who love walking, Surrey has some of the most extensive footpath networks in the country. You could take it up a gear and hit one of the many mountain bike trails. For road cyclists, the 2012 Olympic Cycle route up Box Hill is a must do and has helped make Surrey a real Mecca for cyclists.
To complement the stunning countryside, Surrey has some wonderful activities. Soar at treetop level at Go Ape, Wild Wood Adventure or Skywalk Adventure. Ice skate or go bowling at Guildford Spectrum or splash and have fun in one of the many swimming pools located across the county. Head to Topgolf and challenge your friends and family to an addictive point-scoring golf game or an exhilarating and memorable day or half day at Campaign Paintball and Laser Park.
The Brooklands Museum, offers visitors a completely new and exciting experience. The museum displays a wide range of motoring and aviation exhibits, ranging from giant racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles to an unparalleled collection of Hawker and Vickers/BAC built aircraft, including the Second World War Wellington Bomber and the only Concorde with public access in South East England.