Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gherkin engineers to create Diamond Jubilee cake

For families enjoying London getaways next weekend, the Diamond Jubilee Festival in Battersea Park will be a big hit with its live music, market stalls and pop-up pubs.

But one particular attraction at the event looks set to be very popular with the crowds. Organisers will be staging a cake contest and the entries are expected to be extremely impressive.

One is a scaled down edible version of the City of London's iconic office block 30 St Mary Axe, which is also known as the Gherkin and is 180 metres tall.

Arup, the company that designed it, is taking on three other teams on Sunday June 3rd in a cake baking contest to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 60th year on the throne.

Their sweet treat will be two storeys high and will contain a number of key ingredients, all designed to ensure that the mighty cake is sturdy enough to stand up.

"While we know a lot about concrete and steel, we were dealing with things like chocolate and fruit cake," electrical engineer Stephanie Black told the Sunday Times.

"We had to do a lot of testing on the new materials before we realised that diamond-shaped blocks of crispy cakes were the most sturdy."

But Arup will face some tough competition. Also entering the contest will be Expedition Engineering – the company that designed the velodrome for the London Olympics – and engineering firm Buro Happold, which was responsible for building the O2 Arena.

Visitors to Battersea Park won't just be able to view the impressive entries, they will also be invited to taste them once the judging panel have picked a winner.

Other events taking place at the festival include a 1952-themed tea dance, a classic car boot sale, a steam fair featuring nostalgic fairground rides and of course the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Where to go in London for evening drinks

Those who have managed to book London hotel deals to coincide with the start of the warmer weather are in for a treat – there is nothing like sipping a drink in a sun-drenched square while watching the crowds bustle past.

So after you've spent the day trailing around the tourist attractions and sights to see in the capital, why not stop off at one of London's many bars, pull up a chair next to a pavement table and enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine?

There are so many places to choose from that you might be poring over your A-Z for a while. If you're staying in central London hotels you can always find a watering hole off The Strand – the Covent Garden Cocktail Club holds a happy hour every day from 4pm to 7pm (all night on Mondays) and you can buy one drink and get a second free.

Telegraph travel journalist Priscilla Pollara recommends heading to Azteca Latin Lounge on the Kings Road in Chelsea if you find yourself around those parts after a busy day of retail therapy. This little bar also runs a BOGOF offer on cocktails from 5-7pm each night – perfect for those who need some refreshment after tackling all the shops.

Fancy having a bit of a stroll before grabbing some drinks? Go for a wander around Regents Park and then stop off at The Albert on Princess Road, which boasts a gorgeous beer garden where you can soak up the last of the sun's rays.

If you find yourself near London Bridge at the end of the day, try Brew Wharf next to Borough Market. You can have a poke around the stalls and then get a bite to eat at the gastropub, which has an outdoor terrace so you can look out over the Thames as the sun goes down.

Topiary Formula One car wins gold at Chelsea Flower Show

Holidaymakers who are enjoying their London getaways this week might have had the chance to pop in on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to see a Formula One car and pit crew pick up a gold medal.

The Williams F1 Story garden created by King & Co made it to the finish line with a topiary car and be-helmeted pit workers and was handed a best in show accolade.

Owner of the garden Paul King told the BBC that the display had taken three years to cultivate and its prize had left him buzzing.

"From a professional point of view it's utopia and we're so happy we've achieved a level of excellence that's so hard to achieve," he said.

"We knew we'd done it as well as we could, but we thought the judges may not feel it was a Chelsea-type thing, but more a cutting edge, off the wall thing."

A Japanese-style garden that was inspired by the traditional lives of those who live in the Satoyama region took home the best artisan award.

Chris Young of the Royal Horticultural Society, which hosts the show every year, gave visitors a run-down of his favourite garden displays, suggesting that a look at the Brewin Dolphin Garden is well worth a look.

"The success of this garden lies in the balance between the planting, hard landscaping and spaces, from the yew topiary and rustic steel gates to the substantially pleached limes," he explained.

Participants of the Chelsea Flower Show should also pay a visit to the Rooftop Workplace of Tomorrow garden, which features hanging chairs and a lounge area where conferences can be held. A 'pick your own' herbal tea bar is also included in this innovative display.

More than 157,000 green-fingered visitors attend the popular garden display event every year to see 500 exhibitors show off their gardens, courtyards, floristry skills and garden products, so people staying in central London hotels this week might be tempted to see if they can get hold of tickets.

Kate Middleton’s family ‘to join Thames Jubilee flotilla’

In little over one week's time, people staying in hotel rooms in London will be flocking to the banks of the Thames to watch the Queen take pride of place in a floating parade of vessels to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

Joining her in the flotilla of more than 1,000 boats will be other members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who will be accompanying the monarch on a gilded barge decorated with flowers.

Kate Middleton's parents and siblings are reportedly also taking to the river on June 3rd and will be included in the Royal Squadron, following the royal barge down the Thames between Tower Bridge and Battersea.

The Daily Mail reported that Carole and Michael Middleton, along with son James and other daughter Pippa, will be travelling the seven-mile route on board the Elizabethan, which is a replica 1890s Mississippi paddle steamer.

"Michael and Carole's inclusion on the Elizabethan has only just emerged and has taken a lot of people by surprise, but the Queen is incredibly supportive of the duchess and her family," the newspaper quoted a palace source as saying.

"Boats travelling in the Royal Squadron are solely reserved for special guests of the Queen, which demonstrates just how far the Middletons have come."

Visitors who are booking central London hotels for the bank holiday weekend should plan whereabouts they want to stand on the banks of the river so as to get the best vantage point.

With the organisers of the flotilla estimating that one million people will be thronging the route, it might be worth heading to the lesser known spots between Putney Bridge in the west of the city and Canary Wharf in the east.

It promises to be a spectacular show, with music, fireworks and live entertainment to be provided by the organisers. The flotilla itself will contain a barge hosting a floating belfry, and the peals of the bells will be answered by clanging from riverfront churches along the way to celebrate Her Majesty's 60th year as head of state.

Tourists for London 2012 ‘may want to explore further afield’

Overseas tourists who will be staying in London hotels around the time of the 2012 Olympics are no doubt looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere in the capital and seeing what the city has to offer.

But there is no reason why they should not travel a bit further out to experience some of the other sights available in the UK, according to the National Trust.

Joe Lloyd, enterprise manager of the organisation's Scotney Castle, explained that many visitors will want to explore other parts of England while they're based in London – and there are plenty of other places to see.

"There will be a really positive atmosphere this year, and that will benefit the National Trust's properties and places," he said.

"What we mustn't forget is that we have some of the world's most amazing places – a lot of the coastline is National Trust, so it's not just about going to a house and garden. It's all about getting outdoors and embracing [that]."

With a good rail and road network servicing the counties outside London, tourists can easily hop on a train to visit the South Coast or head towards the historic city of Oxford for a day trip.

Manchester, although a couple of hundred miles away from the capital city, can be reached in two hours on the high-speed train, while there are beautiful seaside villages and museums to be found in Essex, just a short train ride away.

"We're enjoying the best of British that we have to offer," commented Mr Lloyd.

"We do feel we're going to see quite a lot of people coming from various countries to enjoy our properties. So we're gearing up and making sure that everywhere – certainly within the London area – that we have lots of accessible maps and that various people are brought in so they can show what we have to offer."