Tag: UK

Virtual Visit – The UK

Flights across the pond might only be about a hundred dollars, but virtual tours of the United Kingdom are free. Here are some fantastic tours from London and all around Briton, including some personal favorites. Now with intermittent food pairing choices! We’ll get through this

 

The British Museum

Walk the halls, study the exhibits, and generally immerse yourself in one of London’s finest museums. Their fantastic scones? You’ll have to make your own. Plus, the entire Asian wing won’t be closed every time you go. I’m not bitter. Plan ahead for this one, because clotted cream takes TIME.

 

The Museum of the World

In other VERY cool things (and also at the British Museum), use this interactive timeline to browse historical artifacts by continent and date. Take a journey through centuries of design in Oceania, or see what everyone was doing in 1020 AD. Color coded and intuitive, I can’t wait to lose a whole day here.

 

The National Gallery

Not only can you wander the halls of the National Gallery, but you can click on paintings from the tour, for an immersive experience, and see close up images and information. Afterward, sit on your stoop and take this tour of Trafalgar Square. It looks sunny, but I wouldn’t rely on it.

 

The Tate Modern

These tours are going to include many museums I love, but goodness do I love the Tate Modern. It’s controversial, but I would save the Start Display for last. It’s kind of the greatest hits, and it’ll leave you starstruck, rather than starting with their most famous exhibits, and then wandering listless through the rest. I recommend a gunpowder green tea, and ending by a river, if you can find one.

 

The Natural History Museum 

Get up close and personal with dinosaurs and gorgeous architecture at the Natural History Museum in London. I mean it about the architecture, too. Everywhere you look, you’ll find something beautiful and fascinating. If you’re still feeling energized, pop around the corner to the Victoria and Albert Museum for heaps more virtual collections.

 

National Museum Scotland 

Just LOOK at that mezzanine. The National Museum of Scotland has absolutely everything, trains, ancient jawbones, washed out British sunlight. This place is at the top of my list as soon as we’re allowed to go outside again. I’m an absolute sucker for rain and vaulted ceilings.

 

National Museums Northern Ireland

Do you like famous historical dogs? Because I think I have a new obsession. Everything here looks fascinating and hard to pronounce. Add to the experience by pretending you got there by boat, listen to some Irish sea ambiance, aim some fans directly at your face, and splash brine everywhere if you’ve got it. If you can’t get to the heart of Belfast by boat, that’s knowledge I’m better off without.

 

National Museum Wales 

Claustrophobic, but want to learn the history of coal in Wales? This is the tour for you. One of the best coal mining museums in the UK, according to their website. For the authentic experience, put on some noise cancelling headphones and close yourself in a closet. The live tour is 300 feet underground, and as fascinating as it sounds, I could literally NEVER.

 

Historic Royal Palaces

I confess, I just wanted to know if it was possible to tour the Tower of London without becoming so waterlogged and cold that I have to dry my jacket under the hand driers. At least I can say I suffered. The answer is no, not really – you can’t tour specific sites, as far as I can tell, but you can view extensive galleries of gorgeous, detailed pictures.

 

Houses of Parliament

Do you like beautiful architecture and places that can’t be filmed for satire? I guess this needs to go on my list. Look at the tiles, with the lions of Anjou. And all the reliefs, I guess monarchs or saints. I definitely want to know more.

 

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Featured image via the BBC

Hay Literary Festival CANCELLED

Adding to a string of cancelled events in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Wales’ annual Hay Literary Festival has been cancelled. Due to take place May 21-31, the festival relies on tickets and sales for 70% of income, and as a result, is now facing a significant threat to its existence. Director of the festival, Peter Florence, expressed his concerns surrounding this, in conversation with The Guardian.

As an organisation we now face a stark reality. We have ten days to raise the funds we need to support us in the coming months and secure Hay Festival 2021 and a time when we can again celebrate together and tell stories of these times

 

The town of Hay-on-Wye benefits greatly from the tourism aspect of the festival, as it brings in around 25m British pounds (approx 30m USD), to an otherwise low-paid area. Ticket holders for this year’s event will receive full refunds, though the organizers have set up a GoFundMe, and implore customers and the general public to offer what support they can in such an uncertain time.

Hay-on-Wye, lovingly dubbed The Town of Books, is the perfect locale for a literary festival. With over twenty bookshops, it is also considered the National Book Town of Wales.

Image result for hay on wye bookseller map

image via hay-on-wye

This year’s festival was due to have a line up of renowned authors, booksellers, and writers, the longlist of which included; Gloria Steinem, Ali Smith, Stephen Fry, and Hilary Mantel.

It’s clear that this will be a major loss for organizers, authors, residents of the village, and book lovers alike. With any luck, and support from those who can donate, the festival will be back with a bang in 2021.

feature image via hay festival

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How ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Is Causing Trouble in UK Courts

In a bizarre turn of events, some killers in the UK are getting reduced sentences by using what lawyers are calling “the Fifty Shades of Grey defence.” A few lawmakers are trying to change that.

 

 

The film adaptation of E. L. James best-selling Fifty Shades series caught some serious flack when it came out for its less-than-stellar portrayal of the BDSM subculture. In particular, critics of the series pointed to its shallow, one-dimensional understanding of consent and safety in BDSM contexts. Now, these concerns about James’ erotic series are having real-word, legal consequences.

 

image via the spectator

 

Harriet Harman, a member of parliament and former Labour party leader, called for a change in order to stop abusers who kill their partners from dodging murder charges by claiming their partners perished during consensual rough sex.

During a debate in the House of Commons, Harman dubbed this strategy “the Fifty Shades of Grey defence” and said:

It used to be the case that men used to routinely get away with murder and only be charged with manslaughter because they could say that, although they had killed her, it was not his fault, it was her fault because she provoked him. And that was the provocation defence which led to a charge being reduced down from murder to manslaughter.

 

 

Harman argued that defendants using the Fifty Shades defense are essentially doing the same thing in a different way. The precedent in the law is especially chilling because it allows the killer to control the victim’s narrative:

[The victim], of course, is not there to say otherwise. So, in the witness box, [the accused] gives lurid, unchallengeable accounts of her addiction to violent sex, and explains that the bruises that cover her body were what she wanted. The grieving relatives have to listen to his version of her sexual proclivities and see them splashed all over social media and in the newspapers. He has killed her, and then he defines her.

Ms. Harman brought up the example of Natalie Conolly, whose killer was sentenced for manslaughter rather than murder after he testified Conolly had died during “rough sex.” In order to get justice for women like Conolly, Harman argued the law needs to be changed.

 

image via Express & Star

 

Ms. Connolly’s constituency MP Tory Mark Garnier also spoke in support of the Domestic Abuse Bill, back Ms. Harman:

What we can do is we can make sure that somebody who really understands this can make the decision, so in the event of this type of injury and homicide under a domestic abuse setting that the Director of Public Prosecutions is the one that is consulted if a change is going to be made and that way those families get the support…If there’s any way that we can remember her, we have to do something to make sure this can never happen to anybody ever again.

 

 

 

Featured Image via The Telegraph

Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Memoir is Poised to Flop

As Britain experiences another confusing chapter in the Brexit farce, David Cameron’s For the Record struggles to attract readers’ attention. Clocking in at an absolutely massive 752 pages, Cameron’s memoir promises a candid look at his time in parliament. It arrives in bookstores at a particularly inopportune moment in British politics, with Brexit dominating the news cycle for the past month or so. Preorder sales have been…less than stellar for For the Record.

 

Image via PA:Press Association

 

Cameron’s memoir languished low on the charts all of last week. In some sense, who can blame readers for not jumping at the opportunity shell out for such a hefty tome? The book was slated for publication last year, but Cameron’s publishers insisted on cutting nearly 100,000 words. But nearly 752 pages (even after the cut!) is quite the commitment for any reader. Still, for politics junkies, perhaps a book based on nearly 53 hours of recorded meetings Cameron held with Daniel Finkelstein (a conservative Times columnist) is well worth it.

 

 

HarperCollins, Cameron’s publisher, purchased to For the Record the rights for nearly £800,00, so the book’s lackluster preorder figures are causing quite a bit of stress for them. Now they’re relying on the former prime minister’s name to drive attention to the memoir. Though, given how events since 2016 have unfolded in the UK, perhaps the fact that Cameron’s name was on the book doomed it from the start. Comparisons made to Tony Blair’s memoir, A Journey: My Political Life, about his time as prime minister don’t bode well for Cameron either. Blair’s book broke sales record when it first hit shelves, but the initial preorder figures for For the Record have been abysmal, ranking as low as 335th last Thursday on Amazon charts.

 

Image via Yui Mok/PA

 

The memoir features Cameron’s opinions on Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and the now-infamous 2016 European referendum that ultimately ended his tenure as Prime Minister. He suggests Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit and merely supported it to further his political career without thinking it would ever succeed. Cameron’s inside perspective is interesting in light of the fact that Johnson currently finds himself at Downing Street in large part because of he championed the leave movement.

For The Record releases this Thursday, September 19. So help out ya boy Dave and pick up a copy. Please, he’s begging you, like actually.

 

 

Featured image via Alamy

“Book Ripper” Vandalizes Hundreds of Books in UK

Once upon a time, Jack the Ripper terrorized the streets of London. Today, the infamous “Book Ripper” is terrorizing the shelves and libraries of Herne Bay bookshops in the UK.

The Guardian reports that a literary vandal has been consistently ripping pages in half in hundreds of books throughout second hand shops and libraries, and then returning them to their shelves.

 

 

Demelza charity executive Ryan Campbell reported that around a hundred books have been found with pages torn in half horizontally since April. Herne Bay Library reported similarly damaged books for over six months. Shops have found that their true crime book sections have been particularly vandalized. The elusive Book Ripper has quite the calling card.

 

Demelza store manager Nick Rogers | Image via KentOnline

 

Campbell elaborated that the damage extends beyond just regular customer sales for the charity, “Of course people donate these books towards the care of children with terminal illness so it’s almost like taking the collection box.”

Campbell also explained that the damage has increased over the last few weeks to “quite a few” copies a week. While signs have been put up throughout the town, and the police have been notified, there are still no leads.

Hold your books close, friends. Do not take them for granted. I know that if I woke up to find my precious comic book collection or my vintage copy Of Mice and Men ripped in half, I would cry.

 

Featured Image via The Guardian