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October 24, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Green Secrets in London

It is safe to say that London is one of the greenest cities in the United Kingdom, full of parks. You could find nearly 500 green spaces all over the centre of the capital of England. You’ve probably been to the most common ones, but you might have missed a few hidden gardens, quiet yards, spooky cemeteries or public farms on your way to school!

So, would you like to get a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy city? Are you keen to just relax? Here is a list of three parks nearby that you should visit.

1. Abney Park Cemetery

The estate of the park once had Abney House on it which served as the home of Isaac Watts. Today, it is a public garden cemetery and an arboretum (a garden containing lots of types of trees). If you wish, you can visit the stunning gothic chapel in the middle, or meet over 200 000 people buried under unique-looking graves. However, if you get hungry, do NOT go mushrooming. The plants of the park are probably filled with arsenic and lead from the Victorian era.

Location: 215 Stoke Newington High St, Stoke Newington, London N16 0LH

2. Hackney City Farm

The city farm was founded in the 1980s to create a community where young people could gain experience with animals. To this day, it serves as a place that invites children to get used to nature: trees, plants, fruit, and vegetables. Also, it motivates them to create a friendly environment that cares for animals. You can meet a variety of lovely farm animals including donkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep, and even butterflies. Their chickens are also kept in natural conditions, which gives you the opportunity to buy free range eggs.

Location: 1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA

3. Barbican Conservatory

Located on Level 3 at the Barbican Centre, this conservatory is the 2nd biggest one in the whole of London. The tropical jungle is more than 2000 square metres, full of juicy plants and flowers. If you’re watchful enough, you could even encounter some exotic fish.
Are you feeling British or fancy? Both? Invite your friends and family for an afternoon cup of tea at the venue, enjoying cake specialties as well, made from organic fruit and herb grown in the Conservatory. Make sure you book tickets for this. Otherwise, general admission is free.

Location: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS

4. Primrose Hill Park

I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.
-William Blake, English poet

Primrose Hill is a park area on a hilltop more than 60 metres above sea level. It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer, from there, you can have an unusual and extraordinary view of London. How often do you actually look at the sky in the city? Be honest! It’s hard to focus on it if all the streets of London are so packed and crowded. Primrose Hill Park, however, is the perfect spot if you want to enjoy a stunningly wide and clear skyline during the day or at night.

If I can give you one piece of advice, as you are walking towards the top of the hill, do not look back at the view. Only turn around once you’ve reached the peak.

Location: Primrose Hill Road, London NW3

October 11, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Shakespeare’s Globe

How do you feel when you hear the word Shakespeare? Are you scared? Do you have any interest in his theatre, or have you already got bored? Do you know a lot about it?
Well, please tag along if you dare and find out some intriguing facts that you may not know about Shakespearean Theatre – and its links to London.

1. Shakespeare was not only a playwright: he was also one of the owners of a theatre, called the Globe. This theatre was located in London, on the south bank of the river Thames.

2. During a performance in 1613, the roof of the Globe caught on fire and the whole building burned to pieces. Thanks to a number of enthusiasts however, the theatre was rebuilt and was open again in a year’s time.

3. In Shakespeare plays, you can tell how a character feels emotionally by counting the syllables/beats per line. If you count more than 10, the character doesn’t feel at ease, is rather upset, and something troublesome is happening. The situation can get worse or more annoying as this number increases.

4. There weren’t any directors in Shakespeare’s time, so he also had to put every stage direction and instruction for the actors into the text. He gave a lot of detail: he even included how exactly the performers had to move on stage and what objects they had to use when they were acting.

5. Regarding characters’ appearances, actors didn’t normally use historically accurate garments. They chose clothes that were modern and fashionable at the time. So if they were performing a play about ancient Romans, they wouldn’t wear ancient Roman clothes: they would wear the clothes that people wore in Shakespeare’s own time!

6. Audience members weren’t always as well-behaved as nowadays. At the time, a lot of them were terribly grumpy and bad-tempered. They weren’t afraid to shout loudly during performances if something wasn’t happening to their taste, or to shoulder each other after enjoying several mugs of ale.

7. Don’t be afraid to read Shakespeare! Just make sure you get an edition that includes modern notes, making it easier to comprehend. If you do, check that it is from a credible source, so you’re actually reading the ‘real stuff’, and not a present-day playwright’s words. Enjoy Shakespeare’s juicy words, celebrate them!

8. In the past, people paid only a penny for a standing ticket in the Globe. This might not sound like much money, but wages were so low then that this was the amount of money they earned in an entire day! If people wished to sit comfortably in the balcony, it cost them a lot more, so this option was only available for the richer individuals.

9. You can visit the modern Shakespeare’s Globe in London today! And if you want to do this cheaply, you can get standing tickets for just £5. Watch out though – the weather might be bad, and umbrellas aren’t allowed. If you want to watch the plays in more comfort, you can sit on wooden benches under the roof for between £20 and £50.

You now know a lot of background information when it comes to Shakespeare, so why not actually treat yourself to a ticket and have the experience of a lifetime?

October 11, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Harry Potter and a Day in London

What is the UK most famous for??? Fish and Chips? Rain? The Queen? For many people, the answer is “Harry Potter”! However, did you know that a lot of the Harry Potter film locations can be visited today? In fact, there are some right here in London, which you can visit almost as quickly as you could using magical Floo Powder.

1) King’s Cross Station: Harry’s Hogwarts adventures begin at King’s Cross. You can see a sign marking the imaginary platform 9 ¾, with a luggage cart disappearing into the wall! You can take pictures with this, so if you haven’t already been there, you should go now!

2) St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel: While at King’s Cross, you might want to visit the St. Pancras Hotel next door. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the hotel is filmed as the entrance to the station.
Fun fact: The hotel has also been used in other films, including 102 Dalmatians and Batman, and a Spice Girls music video!
Station: King’s Cross

3) Claremont Square: Not too far away is Claremont Square. The row of houses here was used as the outside of Sirius Black’s house, 12 Grimmauld Place, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Station: Angel

4) Reptile House: Reptile House in the London Zoo, is where Harry realises that he can talk to snakes and frees the python in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The scene was filmed here, though the enclosure is actually used for a black mamba snake. While you have to buy tickets, the zoo is a lot of fun if you like animals, just don’t try and free any of them!
Station: Camden Town

5) Leadenhall Market: The market features in the first movie as the exterior of Diagon Alley. Additionally, the door to an opticians shop in Bull’s Head Passage was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron pub. The market is also one of the oldest in London, and dates back to the Victorian age!
Station: Monument

6) Borough Market: This market is also used as the entrance to Diagon Alley, but in the third movie (can magical alleys move?!). After getting off the Knight Bus, Harry goes to the Leaky Cauldron, which is in reality, the ‘Chez Michele’ flower shop in Borough Market. Have a look if you can find it!
Station: London Bridge

7) Australia House: As the name suggests, this is where the Australian High Commission is. It is where the inside of Gringotts, the wizard bank, was filmed in the first movie.
Station: Temple

8) Warner Brother’s Studio:
This is perhaps the most obvious place to go if you’re a ‘Potterhead’ (a massive Harry Potter fan!), and is where all eight movies were filmed. The studio has actual clothing and sets, including Privet Drive and The Forbidden Forest. You can book a tour from Victoria, or travel there yourself, but tickets get sold out quickly, so make sure you book in advance.

9) Primark:
Bet you weren’t expecting this one! While not a film location, Primark stocks a lot of Harry Potter merchandise at more reasonable prices than sold at the studio. Check out the Primark at Tottenham Court Road for a lot of HP options!

There are of course other London locations in the films, including Millennium Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Westminster Station. At Bloomsbury International, our social programme schedule includes some Harry Potter related outings – so if you’re studying with us, make sure to join in.

Whichever way you choose to explore these locations, we hope you have an absolutely magical time!