Monthly Archives: February 2017

Exploring Dover Castle

26th February 2017

What do you think of when you hear about Dover?

Well, it’s not just a place to escape from England in your car over the sea to the wonders of France, Europe and beyond! On my recent trip I discovered there’s a lot more to the area than meets the eye. Plus, combined with the hourly high-speed train that whisks you from King’s Cross to Dover in under an hour, it makes it a great destination for a day (or a weekend) trip from London.

First thing that should be on your schedule: Dover Castle. Sitting atop the White Cliffs of Dover, it’s an amazing site where you can easily spend 3-4 hours walking around on the grounds and exploring the medieval tunnels, the Great Tower, taking a tour of the underground hospital and the World War II tunnel complex.

The medieval tunnels, which you can explore on your own, were great to transport you back to medieval times. As I ventured beneath the castle I imagined how hard it must have been to run around in the freezing winter with armour and weapons and walking up the tall stone staircases. Brrrr. You might have spotted them in Avengers: Age of Ultron where it was used as part of the interior for the Hydra Outpost in the Sovokia. Sadly I didn’t spot Iron Man, Captain America, or even a sighting of Thor’s mighty hammer…but there’s always next time (Avengers 3?)

My favourite bit had to be the Great Tower where English Heritage transformed the interior as if Henry II and his court was residing at the castle. I felt a bit like a presenter on MTV Cribs: Medieval King Edition. From the traditional kitchen to the dining hall and the bedrooms: the interiors give you an idea of how the castle looked and an insight of how lives were when it was used as a royal palace, but left enough room for fantasy and your imagination to weave your own tales.

For those who won’t be seen exploring anything that’s 200+ years old, there’s plenty for you too. There are two tunnel tours for you to embark on.

The Wartime Tunnel Tour takes you deep under the cliffs to the cavernous complex, which has been used for hundreds of years. Originally constructed to fend off Napoleon, they were later used as a base for WW2 – focusing on Dunkirk, and also secret operations hub during the Cold War until 1984. The network of dark cavernous corridors was gargantuan, and I couldn’t believe how much rock had been moved to create the place – I think there were 4 miles of tunnels in total – you get to explore a small section of this, and it takes around 45 minutes.

If you want a bit more of a personal story, the Underground Hospital tour is your best bet and is around 20 minutes. Here you get to hear the insights and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the underground hospital, told through the story of an injured pilot getting treated during WW2. They don’t allow taking photos on the tours, but you can take photos on the rest of the site.

A bit away from the main castle area lies The Saxon Church that’s still in use, and a still standing Roman lighthouse where you realise how far back in history the place goes. I’d recommend checking out a map of the place before you get started, as there’s a lot of routes you can take within the walls, but don’t worry there’s lots of signposts and useful information boards explaining the what/when/where of each building.

The opening hours vary, depending on the season, so do make sure to check out the website before heading to Dover. They also close during extreme weather! During the holidays there are also period displays with actors and other activities.

monumentally big changes you’ll face in London in 2017

9th February 2017

london polaroid impossible projectHey guys, how is everyone surviving in these times of change?

Well if you are heading to London to catch a breather anytime soon I have to give you a warning:

Things are changing quicker than before and I’m not even talking politics wise – here are three monumentally big changes you’ll face in the capital in 2017…

london piccadilly circus

The Piccadilly Circus billboard lights have been switched off until autumn. Yes, the UK’s answer to NYC’s Time Square and the selfie background of millions will be a no-go zone for months. Until then you’ll have to do with a temporary advertising banner that will replace the lights. When work has finished it will feature a 4K screen, so you can see every tiny pixel of that Coca-Cola logo – is that progress for humanity or what? While you are there you can tell your friends/company that it’s the first time since World War Two the lights have been turned off. Scary!

The Queen Elizabeth Tower and its even more famous bell, Big Ben, will be silenced and scaffolded for urgent repair work that’ll take up to three years. So bad news if you want to take that one shot to prove you’ve been in London. The powers that be seem to realise this is a marketing no no and have said they’ll ensure the clock dials are visible for as long as possible during the works and have promised us that at least one clock face is visible! Will it be the same? We’ll see…

Has it been your dream to stand in the hall of the Natural History Museum and get up close and personal with one of their most iconic attractions?  Too late, after more than 100 years of service Dippy the Diplodocus has been replaced by a Blue Whale. If you really want to get your bone-fix on with Dippy, you should check his tour schedule as he is on a UK goodbye tour (I kid you not). Let’s hope he’s not donated to Battersea Dog’s Home! Though to see the looks on the dog’s faces would be worth it..

To end the post on a more positive note … London now has the night tube AND Fabric has re-opened! Which means you can pull an all-nighter, party til the small hours and run to catch your 7 AM plane at Heathrow.