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Two World-Class Swimming Events Come to London

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After the success of the Olympics in London in 2012 there has been a renewed interest in sport and fortunately, we now have facilities available which can host world-class events more than ever.

The London Aquatic Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was central to many dramatic sporting moments played out during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The centre was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and its stunning wave design provided the backdrop to many world records during 2012, including the dramatic swim of British Paralympian Ellie Simmonds into the history books, when she won two golds and set a World Record in the 400m freestyle.

Now anyone can enjoy swimming at the London Aquatic Centre, but with a seating capacity of 2,500, during May 2016 it’s been home to two world-class events, the LEN European Aquatics Championships and the European Masters Championships.

What Are the LEN Aquatics Championships?

These championships are run by LEN, the governing body for aquatics in Europe. Held in the spring every alternate year, they include four water based disciplines: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, although the open water events are not held In Olympic years. The Masters championship is held for all entrants who are 25 years or older.

At the Press Conference at the start of the event, President Barelli of LEN highlighted that Europe is the strongest continent in aquatics and that the athletes have achieved great results in recent years, outnumbering all other continents in terms of titles and the number of overall medals earned. It, therefore, bodes well that the championships will be exciting events in all the disciplines.

In fact, Great Britain has already done well as one highlight was Tom Daley winning 3 medals, among them gold on the final day of diving. Daley who is still only 21 was ecstatic to win his third European 10m Platform title and the 1,700-strong crowd cheered him on to victory. His score of 570.40 was enough to claim gold, and he said it was the perfect boost ahead of the Rio Olympics later this year.

Ross Murdoch, amongst a whole host of other British medal winners, also did well as he claimed gold in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke. It remains to be seen what the final medal tally will be for the British team.

Getting London Swimming                                                  

As the championships are being held in the heart of London it was fitting that prior to the event the LEN European Aquatics Championships launched a project to get the capital swimming: Swim London 2016 – London Learns to Swim.

Surprisingly more than 21 percent of adults in England have never learned to swim, and this venture gave those in the communities closest to the London Aquatic Centre, in Hackney, Newham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, the chance to take swimming lessons. Its aim was to invite at least 225 non-swimmers to get involved, with a 12-week group swimming course where all the participants were encouraged to support each other.   A special highlight was that all those involved would then train for a special team relay which is being held at the Championships.

How Do I Find Out More About The LEN Aquatics Championships?

The event has a live tracker and is also being live streamed so you can catch up on all the events over on There are also still tickets available for some of the events, perfect if you want to experience the atmosphere live. The nearest underground station is Stratford with St. Pancras and King’s Cross the closest available mainline rail stations. You can also cycle, drive or if you want to arrive in style you could always travel by one of our bespoke charters.

The greater the level of support events such as these receive, in terms of visitor numbers, and with the superb facilities based at the Olympic Park, it is hoped that the UK will host more world-class events in the years to come. If that is also reflected in more people getting out and enjoying sport then it can only be a win-win situation.

London in May: The Chelsea Flower Show

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Towards the end of May, you would be hard pressed to open any newspaper or watch the news without seeing the latest updates from The Chelsea Flower Show. During this annual event, the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are transformed into an oasis of colour and fragrance as flowers and plants from around the world are brought together in one place.

Billed as the world’s greatest flower show the event runs from the 24th to the 28th of May this year and is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society. It features various plant themed displays and cutting-edge design from world-renowned horticulturists. In 2015, the show was visited by over 165,000 people and it is expected that this year the numbers may even top that.

The first day of the show is always Press Day and various celebrities such as Rosamund Pike, Demi Moore and Mary Berry were seen enjoying the displays. If you are intending to drop by, what highlights can you expect to see this year?

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Floral Arch       

HM the Queen is patron of The Royal Horticultural Society and as Her Majesty celebrates her 90th birthday it is only fitting that a stunning floral arch has been designed to mark the occasion. The Queen accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying their first visit to the event, were given a tour of the show on the first day and admired the arch and the photographic exhibits which accompany it.

Health, Happiness and Horticulture

We are all aware that our happiness levels lift when we are in nature and the theme of the show this year highlights the wellbeing benefits of bringing plants to urban areas. BBC presenter Ann-Marie Powell has designed an exhibit dedicated to this subject and in the process, she provides visitors with tips they can try at home in their own green spaces.

It’s also being highlighted how important nature is for our health and Chris Beardshaw has designed a Show Garden which will be taken as a whole to the centre of Great Ormond Street Hospital after the event where it will be a place for parents to spend some quiet time.

Working in the garden can also be a great form of exercise with all the weeding, digging and mowing involved. ‘Healthy Garden, Healthy Gardeners’, an exhibit by Coventry University, demonstrates how our muscles are put under immense pressure as we work in the garden and what we can do to lessen the potential for any strains or injuries.

A Musical Evening

If you are a fan of music just as much as of the great outdoors, then you will appreciate the twilight event which features a glass of champagne as you listen to the celebrated Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra.

The Great Pavilion

The centrepiece of the Great Pavilion this year is a 60-foot carriage from Belmond British Pullman. Surrounding it in the 6,000sq foot space is a fully planted-up station. There are also beautiful and thought provoking exhibits from more than 100 specialist plant breeders, nurseries and societies. One highlight is the ‘Discovery Zone’ which highlights the importance of plant science.

The Chelsea Flower Show is a great escape into nature whether you are a keen gardener or not and there is an abundance of things to see and do and plenty of places to shop. The event is relatively easy to get to with the closest tube station at Sloane Square, the nearest rail station at London Victoria and public parking allocated in Battersea Park, which can even be pre-booked with your tickets. If you want to arrive in style you could check out one of the bespoke charters which land close by at The London Heliport in Battersea.

There are very few tickets available, however, so if you want to get your hands on them you will have to act fast. Alternatively, you can enjoy the highlights of this year’s event on television and then make sure you plan ahead early for next year when you will be able to truly enjoy a bloom filled London in May.

Funny April Fools Pranks That Shocked and Awed London Residents

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April Fool’s Day has been a British tradition since the late-1600s. While it’s not an “official” holiday, many people celebrate by pulling practical jokes on their friends, family and co-workers. In England, London is at the heart of the wackiness, often taking the jokes so far that residents, tourists and even news reporters, take them seriously.

Here are 7 of the funniest and most unbelievable April Fool’s Day pranks that the people of London have fallen for!

First Class Tube Service

In 2015 Transport for London (TFL) announced that all underground trains would have a first class carriage. TFL knows full well that most people would rather cough up a few extra pounds than have to squeeze between two bodies on their morning commute; it’s not actually a bad idea!

Easyjet Perfume

In 2015 the words of Easyjet, the scent was to “evoke the musty smell of a packed A-319 airbus.” If there’s one thing you don’t want when you’re on holiday, it’s the smell of 150 passengers’ body odour. Fortunately, it wasn’t true.

Warburtons Bread-Shaped Skyscrapers

In 2014 Warburtons announced that they were in the process of building two bread-shaped skyscrapers in the City of London overlooking Square Mile. These buildings were to fit right between The Gherkin in order to complete the sandwich.

bread building

Greenwich University’s Algae Burger

In 2014 Greenwich University announced that it would be serving a brand new burger that could boost the immune system. They stated that the main ingredient was algae and the purpose behind the creation was to combat the flu during freshers week.

Richard Branson’s UFO

In the early hours of April 1st 1989, Richard Branson dressed up as an alien and flew a custom designed hot air balloon that was shaped like a UFO over London. To make the illusion even more realistic, he even brought strobe lights on board that blinked every ten seconds.

The Thames Aquacab

In 2015 Addison Lee – the UK’s largest mini cab company – announced a new line of vehicles called the Aquacab. These amphibious cars would supposedly be fitted with custom designed nautical satnavs, allowing passengers to travel via the River Thames.

The M25 Change of Direction

In 1991 the London Times reported that the M25 would become a one-way motorway in order to relieve congestion. They stated that the traffic would go clockwise on Monday’s Wednesdays and Fridays, and counter-clockwise on Tuesdays and Thursday. Even the BBC fell for the joke and aired an interview with angry locals.

Big Ben Goes Digital

While the BBC are usually the first to fall for the jokes, they have also been known to take part in the action. In 1980 they famously reported that Big Ben would be converted to a digital clock in order to modernize the area. BBC Japan took the joke a step further by auctioning off the clock hands!

Want to get away from all of the mania and wackiness this April Fool’s Day? The London Helicopter can provide the perfect escape.

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