• Preview of London's treasures: a find and match game

    Meet the must see of London with a find and match game. There are beyon 9 mythical places or elements of London (Yes! 9 not 10, a place appears twice, it's a little trick!)

    Those are the possible answers:

    • London Bridge
    • Trafalgar Square
    • Saint Paul's Cathedral view
    • The Double Decker Bus
    • London Eye
    • Buckingham Palace
    • Westminster
    • Phone Cabin
    • London Tower

    Have Fun!

     


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  •  I was introduced first to the magic of London by the movie Harry Potter. The beauty of the scenes, this magical atmosphere, the magnificent building and the cute English accent as a whole, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the place where it was shot. Of course London itself was a great teaser but I knew I wanted to see more. And then one day while waiting the DLR (outdoor metro) I saw my salvation just in front of me: A poster announcing the studio Warner Bros where Harry Potter was shot is in London and is opened to visits! I couldn’t wait to see it and a few days later there I was waiting for the bus to pick us up, destination: the Harry Potter Dream at Leavesden!

    The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    First, when you arrive, next to the parking you can admire the giants play chess from the first Harry Potter movie: and let the show begin! You then arrive in a great hall where you can see the portraits of the main actors or have fun discovering the hundreds of goodies from the movie while waiting the visit.

    To start, you enter a waiting room that turns out to be Harry’s first room under the stairs at Privet Drive! You then access to what looks like a cinema room and watch a short teaser showing what you are about to see. And then when you expect it the less, a door opens to let you in Hogwarts’s feast room. The feeling you get when you first come in is indescribable: a mix between amazement and excitement probably: I believe it’s the movie’s magic invading you… The room is filled with costumes and you can even admire the teacher’s reproduction standing there.

    The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    After this wonderful start, you continue de visit in a large hall where you can hear the movie’s original soundtrack and come across various mythic places such as Harry’s and Ron’s Gryffindor room, Dumbledore’s office, Gryffindor’s common room or even the Ministry of Magic’s great hall. There are multitudes of settings elements, costumes you recognize from famous scenes of the movie. There also is a make-up section, a place dedicated to the movie’s animals such as Crookshanks or magic elements such as the living paintings.

    The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    The mystery of Quidditch finally reveals its secrets in this room thanks to a “green space” dedicated to special effects.

    You are then brought to discover outdoor settings such as the Dursley’s house, Hagrid’s motorbike, Arthur Weasley’s fling car, the knight bus. Yet, you don’t expect what is coming: you can even taste the Butter Beer from the movie. Only two words to say: wonderfully surprising!

     The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    The visit continues then in another building where visitors are invited to discover all kinds of accessories responsible of the movies magic such as robots, masks or make-ups. The details are unbelievable; you can admire the mandragory (living, screaming plant) or Aragog (giant spider) or even the head of the basilisk from the second Harry Potter movie. And when you think you can’t be more amazed, you enter in Diagon Alley! This room is breathtaking; all the shops are there: Gringotts bank, Olivander’s wand shop and even the Weasley’s shop! Every single detail is astonishing…

     The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    When you think you are close to the end a last great surprise is actually waiting: an incredible giant model of Howart at a 1:24 scale! The level of detail and the imposing size of the model sensational…

    The magic world of Harry Potter (Artistic life)

    After this high dose of emotions you can admire the panel of wands you come across in the movie and finally, you reach the exit.

     The Harry Potter studio visit was breathtaking, amazing, thrilling, full of emotions and surprises and finally very complete. Being able to see behind the scenes of the movies that made the whole world dream for years is a real present. Of course, the visit is expensive but it deserves to be seen and takes a whole afternoon. To conclude, I would qualify this visit as a must see of London! Or should I say is simply was... Magic!


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  • Countries all have their symbols or icons used to forge and represent a population as a unit, to inspire patriotism and pride.

    National symbols are commonly used in National Celebration and can be visual, verbal or iconic. There are many national symbols in England that were all inherited from history.

    The Anthem :

      

    The Flag :

    England's symbolsTo start, the flag of England symbolizes St George’s Cross (in red) and finds its origins back in the 12th century when Saint George was the Patron Saint of the country. Moreover, at the time, Crusaders were identified by their distinctive white tunics with the Red Cross to represent the glorious Saint George, famous for having killed a dragon. It is difficult to tell which element is the consequence of the other but joined, they made the red-crossed flag on a white background become a National symbol and eventually, the country’s flag.

    The Lion :England's symbols    

     The lion is considered as the national animal of England. Symbol of bravery, Lion was the nickn ame of Eng li sh warriors in medieval times under Richard the Lionheart. Today the Lion remains the national animal and is represented on the Royal Arms of England (that symbolizes the English monarchs) or even as emblems for national sports team. The lion sculptures  on Trafalgar Square are witnesses of the  importance of the Lion as a national symbol.  

    The Rose :

    England's symbolsTo understand this symbol you have to go back in 1455: Two families are eager to seize the throne and are ready to destruct anything that would say in their ways. After literally exterminating the entire Plantagenet line that rules England for over 300 years the Yorks and Lancasters started a bloody race to the throne that lasted 30 years. The war took its name from the two roses that respectively symbolized the house York (white rose) and Lancaster (red rose). Additionally, Henty VII from the House Lancaster won and became King Henry VII. He later on married Elizabeth of House York and this is how the blending of the Houses gave birth to the Tudor Rose. Therefore, the Rose symbolizes at the same time the end of the war and the marriage between House York and Lancaster.

     The Tudors then continued using this symbol as their own when they usurped the throne.

    Saint Edward's Crown :England's symbols

    This crown is one of the English Crown Jewels that is officially used for coronation ceremonies. This symbol is also used in various coats of arms or badges.

    The Oak Tree :

    England's symbols

      

    Symbol of strength, beauty and survival, the Oak tree became a national symbol after King Charles II hid in what is called now the Royal Oak while escaping the parliamentarians after his father’s execution.

     

     

     

    Sources:

    http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/St-George-Patron-Saint-of-England/ 

     http://www.england.org.za/national-symbols.php 

     http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/symbols.html 

     http://ezinearticles.com/?The-National-Flower-of-England&id=3775104 

     http://www.heritage-history.com/www/heritage.php?Dir=wars&FileName=wars_roses.php


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  • The Queen and the adoration she aspires are legendary. Observing and questioning people about Elizabeth II while my stay; I could understand there truly is a deep relationship between her and her subjects. I therefore believe, understanding, her role in the country is part of the trip when you are willing to discover England.

    Monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom. The power is passed from ancestors to their children until another family takes the throne. Kings and Queens are classified by great families. See below a timeline of those families according to Britainexpress:

     Queen Elisabeth II is the heiress of ten centuries of Monarchy in England. She is Head of State in the United Kingdom in the context of a constitutional monarchy. Her role isn’t to rule the country: the Crown doesn’t have the ability to create and pass legislation: the elected Parliament does. However, she has a constitutional role and representational duties; she is Head of the Armed Forces, Fount of Justice and has an important role to play with the Churches of England and Scotland.

     Yet, her role goes way beyond formal titles: the Queen is part of the national identity, represents the stability and continuity not to mention centuries of history. Furthermore, the Queen has always been a role model of success and charity. For instance, during the World War II, she was a member of the Auxiliary territorial Services in the British army and currently is the patron of more than 600 charities, which explains people’s adoration for her in England.

     Many tourists wonder in a corner of their head about the Crown’s fortunes. To start, Crown’s fortune is based on each family member’s personal fortune (about £350 million for the Queen) and what is called the “Crown Estate” (valued at £7.3 billion). The “Crow Estate” is the lands the Crown owns but they don’t personally belong to the Monarch just like the extraordinary British Crown jewel (to distinguish with the Queen’s personal Jewels).

     I believe, the Monarchy really is a point of interest when you visit England. Being able to visit the Tower of London, stepping into 1000 years of history, admiring the Royal Jewels or meeting in the entrance of a building the Royal guard and even standing in front of the astonishing Buckingham Palace are some of the greatest memories I will keep from London.

     Searching information about Queen Elisabeth II, I came across funny facts about her: Did you know the Queen speaks perfectly in French? Or that she is the only citizen allowed to drive without a license or to travel without a passport? Below, a factsheet about the beloved Queen Elisabeth II.

    References:

    http://www.britainexpress.com/History/monarchs.htm 

     http://abcnews.go.com/2020/queen-20-surprising-facts-elizabeth-ii/story?id=16405804

     http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2114386_2114388_2115566,00.html

     http://www.royal.gov.uk/Home.aspx


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  • An English national sport...In England, drinking tea is much more than just a habit, it is a custom. More than 60 billion cups of tea are drunk yearly in the UK (around 165 000 000 every day) and 87% of Brits consume tea. Consequently, tea in UK is a great market that weights £655 million in 2011 and met a 22% growth in only five years.

     Where does this custom comes from? Contrarily to beliefs, tea appeared only recently in England compared to the length of its existence. Indeed, tea came far away from China in the seventeenth century while it existed since 2737 BC in China. History of how tea was brought in England is rather blurred but the most probable explanation is that it was brought as a gift by sailors of the British East India Company and remained something of a curiosity until the wedding of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II. The princess was a tea addict and her love of tea made the drink fashionable among the court and the wealthy classes. This last event is the turning point of the history of tea in Britain because then began the importation of tea in Britain by the East India Company. An English national sport...

    During a long period tea was imported from China until the British monopoly on trade with China was ended. The East India Company then started to grow tea in India starting in Assam and began the era of the tea clippers: As the Company lost its monopoly, individual merchants raced with their own ships to bring home expensive tea, leading to the famous races between British and American clippers around 1860.

     Gradually, tea established as part of the British way of life, which was officially recognized during the First World War when the Government insured its importation at affordable prices because of its morale-boosting effect.

     While the An English national sport...tea was already strongly established as a national beverage, it met over time great innovation such as the tea bag invented in the US and introduced in England in 1953 by Tetley or the multitudes of flavors now available on the market.

     Tea in England isn’t just a beverage but a social tradition. For instance, gathering around a tea break is a custom since 200 years (not to mention the tea parties) and there is a formula to realize the perfect cup of tea with a specific brewing time according to the county and the type of tea (if you are interested in making the perfect brew click on: http://www.tea.co.uk/make-a-perfect-brew) .

     Finally, 98% of people in Britain drink their tea with milk and 30% of them add sugar to their “cuppa”. So if you ever have the chance to visit England, don’t forget to savor a delicious cup of tea with milk of course!

     Source: UK Tea Council (http://www.tea.co.uk/tea-a-brief-history-of-the-nations-favourite-beverage and http://www.tea.co.uk/teafacts.php ), Mintel study (http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/britains-growing-appreciation-for-green-and-herbal-tea-hits-sales-of-builders-brew ) and Tetley's website (http://www.tetley.co.uk/about-us/history)


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