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  • arturowan's Profile Photo

    Songbirds...

    by arturowan Updated Nov 18, 2014

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    Favorite thing: I was going to title this Garden Birds, but there are not many birds I have not seen in English gardens over the decades, including every member of the Crow family, & all types of Gulls, not to mention Pigeons, none of which are known for their song...
    So I am using the title Songbirds, because it is the sounds of these tiny creatures which I never tire to hear when outdoors, & is a good reason for any lover of nature, in order to visit the British Isles...
    Birdwatching is a major interest in UK - some folk devote all their time to it, but though I do not consider myself a 'twitcher', or serious birdwatcher, I still love the presence of these little, tuneful, feathered friends...
    In his book The River Stour, author Russell Edwards recounts a visit to Dedham church, during which a Robin flies in & alights on the lectern, singing into the microphone! (see separate tip...)

    Fondest memory: Blackbirds & Robins are the 2 friendliest songbirds in Britain...

    2009 -2010
    Whenever I take a rest-stop when cycling, usually within a matter of minutes, the local Robin has appeared, often making a point of alighting on a part of my bicycle...
    I once had a Robin which saw me in its own little copse, soon after it had left the nest, & so became quite attached!
    Whenever I visited, he made a point of fluttering in front of my face, than sitting on all parts of my bike, from seat & handlebars, down the frame onto the pedals!
    0n 1 occasion, I had put a buncase down on the ground for him to peck out the crumbs, during which a shrew appeared in the leaf litter, picked up the paper & began making a getaway with it!
    The Robin chased after the shrew hidden in the leaves, pecking at the buncase which appeared to be moving along all by itself!

    While I was growing my own vegetables, I always had a Blackbird for company, hopping along at my heels, pecking at the grubs & worms turned over by rake or hoe...
    Blackbirds are the Songbird success story during my lifetime & I think it is no exageration to suggest that every suburban garden has a nesting pair, annually...
    0f course, most baby birds do not survive the first fortnight after fledging, so it is important to care for those that do, by feeding them regularly, but most of all during the coldest weather...

    Related to:
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    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • arturowan's Profile Photo

    Nettles!

    by arturowan Written Nov 13, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Nettles - the weeds that sting; how can they be a favourite?
    Despite having suffered countless stings over the years from these prolific plants, I have come to like them, representing as they do each year, the renewal of nature, & they are as much a sign of spring, as the yellow blooms of the first daffodils...
    Nettles are an essential part of the British eco-system, providing just about the best habitat for the laying of many types of butterfly eggs...
    If you want to find a free resource, abundantly available in the British countryside, then nettles are never faraway, & can be put to several uses...
    New nettles can be used to form a tisane - just pour boiling water on the fresh tips in order to create a 'green tea' - but do not steep to long, because the taste will be too strong...
    It is even supposed that nettles can be fermented to make ale, but I have never tried such a brew!
    As well as for drinking, nettles can also be used to make a soup, just by adding potatoes & some condiments to the boiling water, & I think this crop was regularly used by gypsies in order to add some 'greens' to any stew in the pot, at times of year when vegetables are scarce in Britain...
    Nettles are rich in calcium, magnesium, & iron, meaning that they are a healthy part of the diet, when eaten, or applied to the body, once the stings are softened with hot water...
    When I was staying at a Suffolk smallholding, a Czech girl working there, used the nettles to make her own shampoo...
    0ld nettles with pithy stems can be dried out & the leaves stripped-off to form a material which can be woven like hemp...

    Fondest memory: May 2013
    The spring of 2013 was the worst I can ever remember, with snow in both March & April of this year, causing it to be colder than the winter had been...
    When spring actually got going it was 2 months late, & I have never seen the ground so barren or miserable, in the second third of a year...
    The first shoots of green were the new nettles, & I have never been so glad to see this sign of the emergence of spring...

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel

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  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    MONEY MATTERS - - - U.K. BANK NOTES

    by davidjo Written Oct 19, 2014

    Favorite thing: I saw a post by another member regarding the acceptance of Northern Ireland Bank Notes in England so i thought i would clarify the matter. The Bank of England circulates the 5/10/20 and 50 pound notes and they are accepted anywhere in the United Kingdom. Four Irish Banks and three Scottish Banks also circulate their own notes , 5. 10. 20 .50 and 100 pound notes, and even the 1 pound note circulated by the Royal Bank of Scotland is still in use.
    Having made many visits to Scotland i sometimes returned to England with Scottish notes and quite often they were accepted straight away by shops in London, but sometimes the cashier would be unfamiliar with the notes so permission to accept them had to be approved by the supervisor. So one way or another i have never been refused my Scottish notes in England. Notes from Northern Ireland follow the same rules, but i have never been to Northern Ireland, and never actually held one of their notes in my hand.
    Some shops will refuse Scottish and Irish notes but according to the Association of Commercial Bank Note Issuers they can be accepted throughout the UK.

    http://www.acbi.org.uk/media/sni_notes_factsheet_nov12_copy1.pdf
    QUOTE "2. What is the legal position regarding Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes?
    Banknotes issued by the authorised banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland are legal currency and
    can be accepted throughout the United Kingdom. They are authorised and approved by the UK
    Parliament, a position that was established by legislation as long ago as 1845 and has
    been reinforced more recently by Part 6 of the Banking Act 2009".

    However the Bank of England says that acceptance is up to the two parties involved.
    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/pages/about/faqs.aspx
    "

    In ordinary everyday transactions, the term "legal tender" in its purest sense need not govern a banknote's acceptability in transactions. The acceptability of a Scottish or Northern Ireland banknote as a means of payment is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved. If both parties are in agreement, Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes can be used in England and Wales. Holders of genuine Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes are provided with a level of protection similar to that provided to holders of Bank of England banknotes. This is because the issuing banks must back their banknote issue using a combination of Bank of England banknotes, UK coin and funds in an interest bearing bank account at the Bank of England."

    Anyway to avoid possible refusal of your notes try and spend them before you leave Scotland or Northern Ireland, and enter England.

    The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro and are not valid in UK.

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Springtime - rhododendrons

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 22, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Although I grew up in a town on the edge of a big city it was easy to escape for a walk in the country. Near my home there were three old estate houses and one of them Auchnacraig had a main driveway lined with rhododendron bushes. I got into trouble once when I was little for picking them and getting caught by the caretaker. Sadly Auchnacraig Estate House has long since been demolished, but the land is still there.

    Rhododendrons. Rhododendrons.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Springtime - bluebells

    by IreneMcKay Updated Apr 22, 2014

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    Favorite thing: My absolute favourite springtime flowers are daffodils but these were a bit past their best by the time we arrived and later flowers such as bluebells and rhododendrons had taken over. As a child I was fortunate enough to grow up next to two bluebell woods. Spectacular.

    Bluebells Bluebells Bluebells.
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Springtime - fields of bright yellow rapeseed.

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 22, 2014

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    Favorite thing: Living in Hong Kong I really miss the changing seasons. As a child growing up in Scotland I always loved springtime, watching the world come back to life again after the cold bleak winter. On our current visit to the UK in April 2014 we were fortunate enough to encounter fields of bright yellow rapeseed, bluebells, primroses, blossoming trees and lots of playful baby lambs(the later viewed from passing trains and without pictures - sorry).

    Rapeseed and blossom. Rapeseed. Rapeseed.
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  • arturowan's Profile Photo

    Water!

    by arturowan Updated Dec 2, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 1 thing of any benefit to somebody visiting, or intending to live in UK, is that the water is drinkable...
    A lot of folk here might inform you otherwise, & complain about all the impurities in mains-piped water, from calcium compounds that make it 'hard' & 'fur' up your kettle, to the artificial addition of compounds that are supposed to benefit your health...
    But the fact that folk feel the need to fuss so much over such trivial things, just shows what an easy life we have in UK...
    Nothing in the real world is without impurities, so the fact you can visit any standpipe, or public drinking fountain, & drink the water therefrom without the need to boil it, is something that people who've never travelled, just do not appreciate...
    When I was in Ukraine, the water was undrinkable, even after boiling, because there was so much sediment in the pipework, it made the water opaque & severely tainted the taste of the strongest tea I could brew...
    & that is without considering the threat of typhus, that has broken out in 0dessa from sewer contaminated water pipes...
    Water is a core ingredient in the brewing & distilling process - you cannot make beer or whisky without it being the main part of the recipe, & that means quality, 'soft' water from an unspoilt aquifer...
    SOFT WATER has a beautifully simple flavour, but even if you hate the taste of the stuff, if you're a drinker, you've still downed gallons of it!

    Fondest memory: My enduring love of the UK is its countryside - even in industrialised settings, such as Essex, for every estate with factories & refineries, there seems to be another such area nearby, just devoted to conservation...
    A county such as Norfolk, seems to be 1 nature reserve, bordering the next such conservation area - & thanks to its 'soft' water, also has the only whisky distillery in England...
    I'm still discovering plants, insects, & birds I've never seen before, & I spend a lot of time outdoors...
    UK wildlife & scenery is varied beyond compare, & combined with the beautiful sun rises & sets we also often are blessed with, this means I never tire of our natural heritage...

    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Food and Dining
    • Budget Travel

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  • worldkiwi's Profile Photo

    Britain - a great place, full stop.

    by worldkiwi Updated Aug 17, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Britain has so much to offer the traveller. There's the history that's so evident everywhere, but beyond that, there's the remarkable beauty of the countryside, the gusto of the big cities, the warmth of the village and small town pubs, the amazingly good and wide range of food (twenty years ago, foodies would have shuddered at the though of eating in Britain), and then there's the incredible range of cultures. For me, there's an ancestral link and all my great cousins and extended family scattered across England.

    Fondest memory: I have have to have TWO things here...

    My family, extended family, and friends in the UK
    VT's prompt for this text box is "what you miss the most when you are away from the United Kingdom". Well, that has to me my cousins and extended family in England. I wish the UK and NZ weren't on opposite sides of the planet! I'd be popping in for a cuppa a bit more regularly than once every three years otherwise!

    Cornwall or Kurnow.
    The second thing is a place - it's Cornwall. This is a county full of magic. Something lends the place an air of uniqueness: whether it is the Celtic history; its remoteness; or the sea air. Kurnow (Cornwall), stirs the passions!
    Have a look at the pages I've put together on this county.

    Mevagissey (2010), Cornwall. Wheat fields in the sun, Essex 2010. An important little church for me in Berkshire.
    Related to:
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    • Photography

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Spring Flowers

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 11, 2012

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    Favorite thing: I am British but have not lived in the UK for the last 24 years. It is not my favourite country. There are people I miss, but not that many other things. However, one thing I do miss is spring and in particular spring flowers. My overall favourite are crowds of golden daffodils, at the risk of sounding a bit William Wordsworthish. On our Easter visit to the UK 2012 we were too late for snowdrops and crocuses, but perfectly timed for the daffs, tulips, bluebells, primroses, hyancinths and blossom. Not to mention fields of newborn lambs. Lovely.

    Golden daffodils tulips blossom hyacinths.
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  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    History of the United Kingdom

    by grayfo Written Jan 25, 2012

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    Favorite thing: The United Kingdom started to become a unified nation with the political union of the kingdoms of England (which already included Wales) and Scotland in 1707 in accordance with the Treaty of Union. The Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain, which was ruled by a single monarch and parliament in London. In 1800 a further Act of Union saw the joining of the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 and following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland split from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to become the Irish Free State, a dominion of the British Empire but a day later, Northern Ireland split from the Free State and rejoined the United Kingdom. As a result, in 1927 the United Kingdom changed its formal title to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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  • Mobile Phone International Roaming in London/EUR

    by chopsy Written Jun 29, 2009

    Favorite thing: Some Information on using an International Mobile Phone/SIM in London/Europe.

    You will need to be careful if you plan to use your home country mobile number/sim when travelling - International roaming charges can be ridiculously expensive! Additionally, you may have to pay a premium to receive calls as well as making calls.

    In the UK, many supermarkets sell Pay-As-You-Go SIM cards where you do not need to sign up for any long term contracts - you just buy the SIM card together with ~ £10 worth of Credit and you're ready to go. Tesco give you £10 extra free credit if you top up £10 so this may be a good bet. Tesco call charges are comparable to other PAYG plans. The good thing about buying from a supermarket is that you can top-up your credit in the supermarket which may be preferable to registering your credit card details, etc.

    These SIM cards will allow you to make and receive international calls but may not have an international roaming facility so may not work in the rest of Europe. I would guess that european countries have comparable PAYG systems and I've certainly seen booths at many European airports selling such SIM cards. There will be a new phone number for each of the new SIMS.

    NOTE: Outgoing international calls will probably be significantly higher than if you were on a contract but receiving will/should be free (for you).

    For the UK check www.carphonewarehouse.co.uk for details on plans from the big players. Incidently, I've seen billboards advertising Vodafone have cut international roaming charges for this summer so this may also be a good option if you're starting in the UK.

    Another option is for you to purchase credit for long distance carriers where you dial an access number and a pin-code before the telephone number. These access numbers can be dialled from mobile phones (local uk number) and I think the cost of the local UK call and the long distance call would be cheaper than if you made the international call directly from the mobile. This credit comes in the form of small plastic credit card size cards which have a scratch off section with the pin code - you can buy these from small grocery and newspaper shops.

    And finally,I *think* the handset needs to be quad-band to work in the UK and Europe if it's a US phone.

    Cheers
    Anil

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  • deeper_blue's Profile Photo

    Immigration

    by deeper_blue Written Dec 9, 2008

    Favorite thing: The UK (particularly England) has a wealth of different nationalities living there. Indian, Chinese, Jamaican, Polish, Pakistani, Australian, Somalian, Turkish... you name it we have it. You could say the same for the eclectic mix of food, language and religions present here.

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  • deeper_blue's Profile Photo

    National Identity

    by deeper_blue Written Dec 4, 2008

    Favorite thing: The United Kingdom has been a country for over 300 years, consisting of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is all of the above excluding Northern Ireland. Once home to the largest empire in the world over 25% of the world population and land mass. It has made an indelable mark on the planet.

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  • axwell's Profile Photo

    Visa Electron travel card

    by axwell Written Jul 6, 2008

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    Favorite thing: The Post Office Travel cards are VISA ELECTRON issued at any post ofice you simply fill in the form pay the ammount you want onto the card and they issue the card. You must phone the telephone number they give you 24 hours later to activate.
    This is the quickest way i know to get VISA ELECTRON card
    Good luck

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  • traveldave's Profile Photo

    London

    by traveldave Updated May 23, 2008

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    Favorite thing: London was founded by the Romans in about 33 A.D. when they established a small port and trading community on the banks of the River Thames. They called their town Londinium, which was a Latinized version of the old Celtic name for the area.

    At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, London was the largest city in England. Because of its importance as a trading center and its strategic location on the River Thames, the Normans made London their capital.

    Up until about 1666, London was confined to a relatively small area within walls. However, in that year, the Great Fire destroyed much of the walled city. As London was rebuilt, the walls were not rebuilt, and the city spread to the area that is now known as the City. By the eighteenth century, London enveloped surrounding settlements including Westminster, which was the political and religious center of England.

    In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, commerce and industry made London the largest and richest city in the world. People from the English countryside poured into the city, and subjects from the far-flung British Empire immigrated to London as well.

    During the Second World War, Nazi bombing wiped out many of the central areas of the city. As a result, London saw massive rebuilding projects during the second half of the twentieth century, so that central London is a curious mixture of traditional and modern architecture.

    Nowadays, London is still one of the largest cities in the world, with about 13,070,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. It is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, due to immigration from former British colonies all over the world.

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