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Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

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The Hampton Court Palace Flower show is the world’s biggest annual Flower Show and this year it took place between the 5th and the 10th July. Held in the grand setting of Hampton Court Palace near Richmond upon Thames, the grounds encapsulate the stunning formal gardens designed by Capability Brown and the renowned maze.

The show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their judges reward the top show gardens and floral exhibits on the first day of the show. They award a ‘best’ in each category and then there are four medals available ranging from gold through to bronze.  If you are a keen gardener or just a flower fanatic, this is not an event to be missed.

Show Gardens

Every year there is a range of show gardens judged at Hampton Court including water, summer, city, world and conceptual gardens amongst others. The conceptual gardens are always a massive hit as the public loves to view the creativity on display. The Hythe Garden Landscape entry proved popular this year as it featured a giant wooden wave. It was also interactive as visitors were asked to write memories directly onto the wave, bringing out the correlation between waves crashing on the sand and the passing of time.

Other conceptual gardens raised awareness for a variety of issues including depression and cancer. There was also a garden sponsored by The Dog’s Trust which hoped to increase interest in dog rescue. The best garden in the conceptual category was judged to be The Border Control Garden which was sponsored by UNHCR. This set out to highlight the plight of refugees and draw attention to the risks many of them undertake to find shelter.

Marquees

There are two main marquees at the Hampton Court Flower Show – one which showcases a wide variety of blooms and one which focuses solely on roses. A marquee dedicated to roses is unusual at flower shows and thus this display always proves popular. Every year, new roses are introduced and there is an overall ‘best in show’ chosen. This year the best rose exhibit went to ‘Peter Beales’ Roses’.

Visitors to the flower show were in for an extra treat this year as there was the addition of the Butterfly Dome. This was filled with exotic butterflies from Indonesia and South America, you could wander amongst the plants and admire the beauty of the butterflies. In addition, the area surrounding the dome was planted with meadow flowers designed to attract our own native butterfly species.

Other Activities

Celebrity gardeners were out in force at Hampton Court with Monty Don presenting the main show for the BBC. In addition, several theatre demonstrations took place where renowned experts talked about their specialist topics and took questions from the audience. On Saturday it was a family day with lots of kids’ activities on offer including a cookery class and even a space themed scarecrow competition. Throughout the show, there was the opportunity for all visitors to shop, learn about gardening, listen to music and admire the flowers.

Another highlight of the Hampton Court Flower Show is the food and drink on offer. There are Champagne & Seafood Restaurants if you prefer something more formal, or you can browse the array of food courts where a vast array of savoury and sweet delights are on offer. Hog roasts, fish and chips, fresh produce including strawberries and cakes and pastries are all available from a wide range of suppliers.

Getting There

The show is easily accessible by road from the M25 or directly from central London. There is plenty of parking available at the two large car parks, although each will cost £15 per day. If you prefer to travel by train head to Hampton Court station from Waterloo, which is approximately a 30 minute journey by rail. If you want to make a real feature of your visit next year, why not experience the event from the air with a private helicopter charter before landing in style. If you want to enjoy a glass or two of champagne you need not worry as you will travel home with equal flair.

Next Year

As you can see there was plenty on offer at the Hampton Court Flower Show this year and they have just as much planned, if not more, for next year. One way to make it extra special is to attend the Preview Show, and tickets for the 2017 event are already on sale. If you are lucky enough to attend, you will be one of the first to see the show. Additionally, you can enjoy fine dining to live music and fireworks. It’s best to book early if you don’t want to miss this event, as it always proves a popular outing.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone

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The British Grand Prix held at Silverstone each year is one of the most prestigious events dedicated to motorsports in the UK. If you are a fan of motor racing or are just drawn to the high adrenaline and glamour of the event, you won’t be disappointed by the visit.

The Circuit’s History

The circuit is based near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire and it is one of the oldest continuously staged Grand Prix events in the world. Silverstone hosted its first international Grand Prix in 1948, and because of this, it then became home to the first ever Formula One Championship in 1950. That year, Guiseppe Farina won for the Alfa Romeo team and in 2016, Lewis Hamilton claimed his third successive home trophy for Mercedes.

The Grandstand

Over the years, the circuit and infrastructure at Silverstone have gradually been improved, and as it stands now, the track boasts world class facilities.  In recent years, more than £50 million has been spent upgrading the circuit and in 2012 two new grandstands were added, seating a capacity of 3,500 people.

The circuit also has its own campsite, which many visitors use over the course of the weekend whilst the track days take place. The good news for fans is that even if you aren’t in one of the grandstands, the 24 giant screens positioned around the track ensure you are unlikely to miss any of the action.

The Track

The track at Silverstone is 3.66 miles long and drivers compete over 52 laps, completing in total over 190 miles during the race. The lap record in a Grand Prix was set by Fernando Alonso in 2012, although Lewis Hamilton holds the fastest lap time, a second faster, but this was completed only in qualifying in 2013. The fastest corner is known as “Maggots” and drivers often take the bend at 188 mph experiencing almost 4.5g of force.

The Scale of the Operation

Over Grand Prix weekend there are around 900 volunteer marshalls on site whose responsibilities focus on spectators, incidents, and flags. There are also vast numbers of people on duty including track personnel; incident officers; pit marshalls; medical staff; and those taking care of hospitality in all its different forms.

The food and drink brought into Silverstone before Grand Prix weekend is estimated at around 20,000 bottles of mineral water, 10,000 bottles of wine and 6,000 bottles of champagne. As well as a variety of food outlets around the track, there is also hospitality offered at both the Brooklands and Woodcote Suites.

Besides those who camp at the site, it’s estimated that over 9,000 hotel beds are booked across Northamptonshire over the weekend of the Grand Prix, boosting the local economy.

Track Safety

Medical preparedness and safety is taken seriously at any Grand Prix event and the governing body of motorsport always looks to make improvements to keep the drivers as safe as possible in what is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the world. A huge medical team is always on hand including doctors, paramedics, nurses and radiographers.

Getting to Silverstone

If you are traveling by car, you can approach Silverstone from both the M1 and M40 and both are signed well. A three-day parking pass starts at £65. If you want to get to the track by rail, you will need to travel to the mainline stations of Northampton, Banbury or Milton Keynes and then take a bus or taxi to the circuit.

On F1 weekends it is best to be aware that the whole location gets hugely congested and there can be long queues at both arrival and departure times. If you want to avoid all that stress why not arrive and leave by air via a chartered helicopter flight.

Are You Ready for 2017?

If you are a seasoned F1 fan and you have never made it to Silverstone, maybe 2017 is the year for you. Tickets have already gone on sale and it’s vital to book early if you want to avoid disappointment. As well as purchasing tickets to the event it’s important to consider how you will travel and where you will stay, as accommodation will be pre-booked around a year in advance, so get thinking now!

The great thing about the Grand Prix weekend is that even if you can’t make race day on the Sunday, there are still opportunities to watch the practice laps and qualifying events on the Friday and Saturday and both are just as exhilarating as the race itself. However, if you are lucky enough to make it on the Sunday you will experience the thrill first-hand of seeing who lifts the trophy.

A Reveller’s Guide To Glastonbury

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Glastonbury Festival takes place in June and is held in Pilton, Somerset within walking distance of the iconic Glastonbury Tor. While Glastonbury is known throughout the world for its music, the festival also plays host to comedy, theatre, cabaret, circus, dance events and many more things that are best left to be discovered upon arrival.

The Early Days

Around 175,000 people now attend the festival annually which makes it the largest greenfield event in the world. This differs greatly from its beginnings in the early 1970s when around 12,000 people headed to a completely unknown commodity. The festival was an intermittent event until 1981 and then after that watershed year, it has only gained in popularity. Now it is held every year, except for a break every fifth year, so that the attendees, the organisers and even the land, can recover.

The Infrastructure

Glastonbury is a major undertaking in terms of infrastructure, with transport, water and electricity having to be put in place every year. With so many people on site, security is also a major concern. Many of the staff work on a voluntary basis which has meant that over the years the festival has raised millions of pounds for good causes. Most people camp at the site, in anything from a tiny tent they brought along with them through to luxury (glamping) yurts. A big part of the fun for many, however, is roughing it up for the best part of a week with their friends.

Headliners

Glastonbury headliners are always leading rock and pop bands but there are thousands of other artists who appear during the 5 days of the festival. The site itself is vast, covering over 1,100 acres, so while the Pyramid Stage is where all the main events take place, there are hundreds of different areas and arenas featuring all types of entertainment as well as bars, food courts and markets.

Headliners in 2016 on the Pyramid Stage were Adele, Muse and Coldplay, with special guest appearances from Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Michael Eavis himself during Coldplay’s Sunday headline slot. Expect the unexpected is the unofficial motto at Glastonbury, and rightly so.

The Weather

Glastonbury is almost as famous for the weather as it is for music. With the notoriously changeable British Summer sometimes bringing sunshine and heatstroke to the attendees; but more often than not, bringing downpours which can turn the site into a mud bath. Whatever else you plan to take to Glastonbury, welly boots and a waterproof jacket are the first two items on your shopping list.

Getting There

By train, the closest station is Castle Cary. If bus is your preferred choice then you need to get to either Bristol or Bath and then you can take a local bus route from there. There is parking at the festival too, however this cannot be booked in advance and needs to be paid for in cash at the gate. Where possible they recommend car sharing to save on petrol and space. If you want to travel in style to the festival, why not charter a helicopter and travel stress-free. You can arrive cool, calm and unruffled, ready to enjoy the show.

Glastonbury is the type of event fans either go to year after year, never missing any of the big name acts, or it’s something that people have on their bucket list as a once in a lifetime experience. If it’s the latter for you, make sure you don’t miss out on such an amazing event. With this year’s event just over, you better start planning for 2017 in the coming months. Tickets generally go on sale around October time, with headline acts already confirmed as well, according to Mr Eavis (AC/DC and Daft Punk are the two rumoured names being mentioned most).Tickets cost around the £230 mark, but you get 5 days of camping for that, plus the thousands of artists and acts you get to see, as well as the memories that last a lifetime.

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