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Why it’s a Great Time to Visit the UK

There has never been a better time to visit London or the UK in general. Tourism has seen an increase and this is mainly down to the pound dropping since the country voted to leave the EU in 2016. People are now getting more pounds for their money and spending is going up.  According to National Statistics, 39.1 million international visitors have come to Britain in the 12 months since Brexit which is 6.6% up on the previous year.  This is great news for the UK’s tourism industry and for the UK economy in general.

Many people visiting the UK head to the capital to see the many iconic sites such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London. There are many iconic buildings and locations to visit which is why visitors need to come back time and time again.

Here at Traditional Tours UK we run a number of tours taking in some of these iconic locations. To see some of the traditional locations like Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral, our Panoramic Tour of London by Mini Coach is a must. You can just sit back and relax as we guide you around London’s top locations. Those wanting a walking tour should book our City of London Walking Tour. Covering 2000 years of history you will learn about the Romans right up to today’s modern buildings.

We also run some tours which visitors might not necessarily think about. For instance our Quirky London Tour takes visitors to the more off beat parts of London where you get to explore quirky places, eccentric characters and learn bizarre anecdotes that some born and bred Londoners know nothing about.
Those wanting to sample the London Pub life need to go on our Pub Tour of London. Pubs and taverns have always been an important part of London life for centuries. On this tour you will be able to sample some of the best ales London has to offer.

Those wanting to learn about the London underground should book our Tube Tour. You will need an Oyster card topped up with at least £7 of pay-as-you-go-credit. It lasts for 2 hours and due to the continued work on the underground network, the route may change on the day.

Literary Tours

Britain is known for its many literary greats. Charles Dickens, Beatrix Potter, Shakespeare and Jane Austin and 4 that stand out. We offer a tour on each of them.
Our Beatrix Potter tour takes in the breathtaking Lake District scenery and takes you to Hill Top, the childhood home of Beatrix. You can immerse yourself in the world or Beatrix Potter with other likeminded fans of this literary great.

Our Dickens tour is based in London and is a walking tour taking you to places that Charles frequented and featured in some of this stories such as Pickwick Papers, Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist and many other books.

If Jane Austen is your favourite then our tour of Bath is for you. You will be able see where she lived, see locations that inspired her novels and visit The Royal Crescent, Pump Rooms and The Roman Baths.

On our Shakespeare tour you delve into the history and London life of the world’s most famous playwright. On route you will past theatres and other historic sites Shakespeare would have been familiar with in his literature. Also see film locations and original sites of buildings whilst enjoying a panoramic tour of London

Our Top 10 ‘Typically British’ Traditions

British people are known for their tradtions and we are quite proud of them.  Here at TTUK we have been discussing our top 10 favourite British traditions which we can all relate too.  So below I have put together our top 10 typically British tradtions that we are all guilty of.

 1. Having a Sunday roast dinner

One of the most iconic things about Britain is a Sunday roast dinner.  Sunday is not a proper Sunday unless we have a roast dinner.  And it’s the favourite meal of the week. Roast Chicken, Beef, Pork, Gamon or Lamb, it  doesn’t matter what meat, us Brits love a Sunday Roast.  In fact we also like to mix it up a bit and have a couple of different types of meat, especially when we go out for a carvery.  Roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings are a must.

2. Putting the kettle on

We don’t need an excuse to put the kettle on.  If there is a crisis, or we are celebrating, or someone comes to visit the first thing we do is put the kettle on.  There are some Brits are very particular in how tea should be made.  I for one have to add the milk last.  A tea bag needs to stew in boiling water to get the full flavour, once it’s as dark in colour,  only then the milk should be added. Some people get angry if tea is not made correctly.  This I totally understand.  This rap by stand up comedian Doc Brown explains it perfectly “My Proper Tea”. (please note if cursing offends you, this rap is not for you)

3. Biscuit dunking

Dunking biscuits in tea is serious business in Britain.   There is even a website dedicated to the practice!  According to those that have taken the tea dunking survey the plain digestive is our favourite biscuit to dunk. I myself prefer the custard cream. Dunking biscuits is fine when it comes to digestives, bourbons, custard creams or the hobnob.  However it’s quite a different story if you have bought lesser known biscuits and tried the dunk.  There is nothing worse than losing your biscuit in a fresh cup of tea.   Many people try to grab it quick and if they are lucky will be successful,  but I tend to let it sink.  The only trouble with the sinking strategy is remembering it’s there. There is nothing worse than getting a mouthful of soggy biscuit from your last slurp of tea.  Many people will refuse to drink the tea and make a fresh cup if they accidently dropped the biscuit.

4. Wearing summer clothes the minute the sun comes out

Stripping off at the first sign on sunshine is a very British thing to do.  It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, if the suns out and it feels warm, we will strip for the occasion. If the sun is shining in winter, you can be sure to find some brave chap wandering the streets in a pair of shorts.

5. Saying sorry

Us Brits pride ourselves on being polite and using manners.  However we do go overboard and apologise for everything.  Even when we’ve done nothing wrong we still say sorry!  Why do we do this?  I am not sure, but I think a lot of the time when we use the word sorry we actually mean ‘excuse me’.

6. Cheering on the underdog

We always love to see the underdog come out on tome.  One prime example is how we all got behind Susan Boyle back in 2009.  When she said she wished to be as successful as Elaine Page the judges and crowd collectively rolled their eyes and sneered.  But the moment she began to sing, the crowd and the nation were behind her.  It’s similar to how we all loved the first Rocky film, an average kid goes the distance with world heavyweight champion.

7. Eating a full English breakfast

We all love a good full fryup. From my experience, having travelled quite a bit, the best place to get a full English breakfast is England.  Countries abroad try their best to accommodate us, but they never get it right.  You need quality sausages, proper bacon, couple of eggs, fried or scrambled, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and a fried slice of toast.  We all have our preferences but the main stay is quality sausages and bacon.

8. Never jumping the queue

It’s rare you will see a British person jumping the queue. Us Brits have the ability to queue nicely and wait our turn even if there are no barriers, signs or security enforcing us to do so.  Our amazing queue etiquette was on display in May this year when hundreds of Ed Sheeran fans queued to enter the 02.  There were no barriers in place but the fans formed a perfect ‘S’ queue and waited their turn to enter.

9. Talking about the weather

We talk about the weather as often as we say sorry. We are obsessed with talking about it. We are a small island and our weather is very unpredictable.  It is all down to our location in the world.  There is a lot of moisture in the air and water in the atmosphere makes the weather unpredictable.   One day it can be warm enough for summer clothes, but the next cold enough for overcoats and central heating.  We have had hot weather in November and cold weather in August.  Luckily we are prepared to an extent, we all know all about layering clothing in this country.     What we as a country are never prepared for is weeks and weeks of the same weather, be it a heat wave or snow.

10. Eating turkey on Christmas Day

The majority of families in the UK will eat turkey on Christmas Day. As a country we get through on average over 10 million turkeys at Christmas time.  Often families do like to have other meats, but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Turkey.

Types Of Tours Available In The UK

Taking a tour is a great way to spend a day, a week, or just a couple of hours and learn in depth about things that are of interest to you or things that you have never thought about but would be keen to see and/or do. When you take a tour you have an expert guide or guides who will teach you much more about your interest in their subject and show you people, things, and places of importance.

Beatrix Potter

For example, you can take an afternoon tour of Beatrix Potter sites in the Lake District, beginning with a cruise on Lake Windermere – the largest lake in the country. Then you visit Hill Top Farm where the author wrote many of her books, and you can go into the house, explore the garden, and visit the shop.

Then you are taken into the medieval village of Hawkshead and see William Wordsworth’s old grammar school. There are plenty of chances to get off the bus and explore the local delights. Then it is back on the bus to go to Tarn Hows, a well-known beauty spot with fabulous views of the Langdale Pikes. Finally, you are taken back into Windermere.

Charles Dickens

You can step back in time to a bygone era and visit some of the fragments of London that Charles Dickens not only knew, but which he featured in some of his stories. Guided by a world expert on the life and works of Charles Dickens you will learn lots of surprising facts about this time in the 19th century. Visit the sites that are mentioned in stories such as Pickwick Papers, Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist and many other books.

Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is widely considered as the greatest English language author who ever lived.  Now you can take a Shakespeare London walking tour into the history and London life of the world’s most famous playwright. It starts from The Old Vic and you will be guided through areas frequented by the Bard of Avon.  Along the way experiencing readings and learning about the 16th and 17th century London.

Much of Shakespearean London has been swept away during the Great Fire of London and The Blitz, however your expert guide and actor will guide you alongside the great artery of Elizabethan London – the River Thames, leading you past theatres and other historic sites Shakespeare would have been familiar with in his literature.

Anfield Stadium

Football fans may take delight in exploring the stadium of their favourite football team. For instance, Liverpool Football Club at its’ Anfield Stadium offers The Anfield Experience and The Ultimate Anfield Experience. These begin with a drink with one of your LFC “Legends” in one of the Executive Boxes where the Legend will share personal experiences and memories of playing for the club, and includes a Q & A session. This is followed by morning refreshments in the Café and a Preview Tour of the Stadium where you will see some of the new features of the Main Stand and the manager’s new dugout.

A three-course lunch is served in one of the Executive Boxes and includes a visit from your Legend. There is also a visit to the Liverpool FC Story which is the club’s interactive museum, there are opportunities for autographs and photos, and you get an exclusive limited edition gift to take home. Football fans will love this tour.

Leeds Castle

How about a visit to Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent? Here you can take a tour of the restricted areas “below stairs” where the servants took care of all the chores, prepared meals, kept the wine, and more, in order to see how they made the running of the Castle seem effortless. In fact, they had to operate with military precision. You can see falconry displays every day in the area in front of the Maze: displays include falcons, hawks, vultures, and owls.

Every Wednesday you can join one of the Castle gardeners for a tour of the gardens. Learn about the Culpeper Cottage Garden with its neat box hedges and displays of irises, hollyhocks, and roses. Then explore the wonderful Lady Baillie Mediterranean Terraces featuring exotic plants including palm trees and bananas. Leeds Castle also offers the History Set in Stone Tour where you will discover what happened in 1660 to cause half of the Castle to fall into the moat, and what a medieval toilet in the time of Henry VIII looked like!

Stonehenge

You can take a day trip to Stonehenge which begins with a visit to Windsor Castle. You will be one of the first people to enter the Castle on that day and see Queen Mary’s Doll’s house and tour the State Apartments.

Then it’s onwards to Stonehenge. This impressive rock formation has been there for 5,000 years and its’ purpose is still hotly disputed to this day. You can explore the stones and learn about the history in the visitor centre.

A packed lunch is provided on this trip, avoiding wasting time queueing in a restaurant. After Stonehenge you visit Lacock which is a magical medieval village. You will see Lacock Abbey which is not an abbey at all, but a quirky country home that was built on the foundations of a former nunnery.

Then it’s onwards again to Bath which is the first UK city to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a walking tour of the city sights and learn about its’ rich history before finally getting back on the coach for the return journey to London.

Those are just four of a huge range of different tours that you can take in the UK which include people, things, and places which you may never have dreamed existed.

Mind the Gap on our London Underground Tour

The London underground is taken for granted by Londoners, for them it’s a way of life and has always been there. It’s very crowded, expensive and unloved by most Londoners.  But where would London be today without it?

The underground or Tube as it was nicknamed in 1890 was the very first underground railway in the world. It turned out to be one of the greatest engineering feats of modern times.  It took over 150 years to create and it’s still expanding today. Over 250 miles of underground tunnelling carry millions of people each day around London. The Tube has helped people to get to work on time and has completly defined London.

The first line that operated was between Paddington and Farringdon and used gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam trains.  This line is now a part of the Northern line.  It began operation on January the 10th in 1863 and over the years has grown to the 11 lines it has today. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that they electrified the lines and electric trains were introduced. Today it takes around 4.8 million passengers to locations around London making it one of the world’s busiest underground transport systems.

Currently busy under the streets of London the new Elizabeth Line is in construction.  It will stretch for 60 miles from Reading to Heathrow and opens in December next year.  There will be 40 stations on route, 10 completely new builds and the other 30 are upgraded stations. Currently this line is boosting the UK economy by billions of pounds and supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes.

From May this year there will be new trains introduced on the Liverpool Street Line.  They will feature air conditioning, CCTV and have dedicated wheelchair spaces as well as space to use for push chairs and bicycles. They are going to be more eco friendly by using 30% less energy.

Interesting facts

  • During the war many tube stations were used as air-raid shelters
  • Average speed on the Underground is 20.5 miles per hour
  • In 2015 the busiest Tube station was Waterloo and used by around 95 million people
  • The fastest line is the Metropolitan where trains can reach over 60mph
  • Aldgate Station was built on a massive plague pit, where more than 1,000 bodies
  • Dr Who’s Tardis can be found outside Earl’s Court station (well and an old blue police box can be found there)
  • Sadly 50 passengers a year kill themselves by throwing themselves under a train
  • One of the levels in Tomb Raider 3 is set in the disused Aldwych tube station, featuring scenes of Lara Croft killing rats.
  • You can visit the disused Aldwych Station Tour with Brit Movie Tours
  • Aldwych station is most commonly used for filming
  • The London Underground Film Office gets over 200 requests a month
  • During WWII the British Museum stored treasures in part of the Piccadilly line
  • It is open for 24 hours on New Year and for special occasions such as the London Olympics
  • Alcohol was banned on the Tube from June 2008
  • December 4 2015 was its busiest day to date when 4.82 million people used it
  • The Jubilee Line is the only track that connects with all the other lines
  • Today about 55% of the London Underground is actually above the ground

Want more facts?  Head over to this page where the independent wrote an article with 150 facts which being updated as stats change.

London Tube Tour

Fancy a tour? Traditional Tours offer you the chance to learn 150 years of history on our underground tube tour.  The tour starts at Paddington Station and takes you to some of London’s most famous and peculiar tube stations.  You will learn lots of interesting and lesser known facts including London’s Ghost stations and just how accurate the famous underground map really is.  The tour lasts for 2 hours and you will need a zone 1 travelcard or an Oyster card topped up with at least £7 of pay-as-you-go credit.  The tour costs £15 for adults and £12 for children. Click here for more details and booking. We look forward to warning you to ‘Mind the Gap’.

Virtual Houses of Parliament Tour

Not many people realised that people can visit the Houses of Parliament here in London. The Houses of Parliament are located inside the Palace of Westminster and are open to the public at various times and prices throughout the year when Parliament recesses.

However did you know that you could visit the Houses of Parliament virtually anytime, anywhere now? The Houses of Parliament can now be explored by anyone at anytime thanks to Google increasing its world famous street view coverage to show inside buildings and businesses.

There are a number of virtual tours of the building including the Central Lobby, Westminster Hall, the Prince’s Chamber, St Stephen’s Hall, House of Lords Chamber, the Members’ Corridor and Lobby and the Peers’ Lobby and Corridor.

The 360-degree virtual tour of the Commons can be found on this page:

http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/online-tours/

 

Houses of Parliament virtual tour

It is quite interesting as the exclamation marks dotted around the 360-degree virtual tour points out what room your in and what names art and features of the rooms. Some of these you can click on and reveal some interesting facts about these sections.

Houses of Parliament Facts

  • The Palace of Westminster was originally built as a royal palace in the 1000’s.  Over the years it has been home to a number of monarchs until the time of Henry VIII.  In 1547 Henry’s son left the building to Parliament as a permanent place to meet and work.  Ever since then Parliament have always met in the building.
  • A tragic fire in 1834 destroyed the majority of the original building.
  • In 1945 Sir Giles Gillbert Scott the House of Commons chamber was rebuilt after it was destroyed during the London Blitz. Westminster Bridge, leading to the Houses of Parliament is painted the same green.
  • The oldest part of the building is Westminster Hall which was built from 1097 – 1099 by King William II.
  • The Queen addresses Parliament once a year, however she or any other member of the  Royal Family is allowed into the House of Commons.

 

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