Monday, 30 October 2017

Restoration Reveals Rare Coffer's Hidden Secrets at Blenheim Palace

View of Blenheim Palace Boulle coffer showing hidden drawers 

A rare 18th century coffer, used to hold jewellery and other precious objects, has revealed its hidden secrets following a restoration programme at Blenheim Palace.

Designed by André Charles Boulle in around 1685, the Louis XIV coffer is among the finest examples of a process known as marquetry which was pioneered by the French master cabinetmaker.

In 2009 a pair of similar Boulle Louis XIV coffers were sold for more than £2.6m at Christie’s.

'Boulle was considered the ‘most skilled artisan in Paris’ and was awarded the title of cabinetmaker and sculptor to King Louis XIV in 1672,” said Blenheim Palace’s Kate Ballenger.

'Our coffer is believed to have been among a number of items purchased by the 9th Duke of Marlborough after his marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895.

'Due to the process and materials used it is very fragile and susceptible to environmental change over the centuries. As a result some sections of the marquetry had begun to separate and we took the decision to bring in a specialist restorer,' she added.

In Boulle Marquetry, thin sheets of brass, pewter and tortoiseshell are sandwiched together and the design, placed on top, is cut out with a fretsaw, providing identically shaped patterns in each material.

The separated pieces are combined to produce a design of brass on a background of tortoiseshell.

During the cleaning and restoration process, restorer Ludovic Potts was able to unpick a section of the coffer which had been remained locked for decades.

'Originally the coffer was designed to hold jewellery and other precious objects,' said Kate. 'For as long as anyone can remember the upper section of the coffer has remained locked as the key had been mislaid.

'When Ludovic was able to finally open the upper lid of the coffer he discovered Boulle had created a series of secret compartments hidden behind hinges where items of particular value could be concealed.

'The newly-opened upper section of the coffer reveals Boulle’s extraordinary craftsmanship in its original state; although sadly all the secret drawers were empty,' she added.

Assistant house manager Carmen Alvarez opens the Boulle coffer at Blenheim Palace 

Blenheim Palace’s coffer is one of three, the other two are in the Getty Museum, known as ‘du Grand Dauphin’ which have been traditionally associated with the marriage of the Grand Dauphin in 1680. The Blenheim example most closely fits an entry in the inventory of the collections of the Grand Dauphin in 1689.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Chewton Glen supports Ocean Brothers Atlantic Fundraiser

Local 5 star luxury country house hotel in Hampshire, Chewton Glen heavily supports the Ocean Brothers Gala Dinner which is set to be one of the biggest local fundraising events of the year. All proceeds go to the British Skin Foundation whilst guests enjoy a 3 course meal, drinks, major explorers speaking and live band the Late Shift comprising of medical professionals at this black tie event. Half-brothers Dr Greg Bailey (27) and Jude Massey (18) set off on January 15th 2018 to row the Atlantic for their late father/ stepfather and so far have raised £34,000 towards their goal of £100,000 to fund research into the illness which killed their father.

Guest speaker Dr Mike Stroud OBE, Sir Ranulph Fiennes climbing partner will be entertaining guests on many of his greatest adventures. Local inspirational speaker and auctioneer Manley Hopkinson has generously waived his fee and will be supporting the Ocean Brothers by conducting their live auction which includes prizes from the partner hotel Cliveden House with a 2 night stay for 6 with spa treatments and a champagne cruise on the river Thames worth £6,500 and also a lunch for 12 at the Chewton Glen with a gin masterclass with local producer Pothecary Gin. Also up for grabs is a week stay at a luxury villa for 7 in Corsica kindly gifted by Simpson Travel worth £5,000, a day spent with BBC presenter Dan Snow talking history and lunch at the Montagu Arms and a night navigation commando experience for 6 with Bear Grylls’ right hand man Dave Pearce.

More recently the brothers have just finished their training row to London as pictured which took them a week and saw them finishing in Putney after really getting to grips with living and surviving on the boat for this longer period. They have stirred the hearts of many with their planned voyage in memory of their father/ stepfather and Lymington raised Sir Ben Ainslie has offered these words of support to the brothers, 'Big respect to Greg and Jude as they battle the Atlantic for such an honourable cause, inspired by their own personal loss. You will change people’s lives with your endeavours, Brothers. Row on. Row on'.

The Chewton Glen are eager to support the Ocean Brothers in every way they can and will be promoting and sharing their journey on their website now and when they set off in January 15th, 2018 and throughout the journey. Tickets to the event are almost sold out and so the last few to anyone motivated to support the ocean brothers in their fundraising to fight skin cancer can contact them for more information at

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Santa Specials remain as popular as ever at The Kent & East Sussex Railway

The Kent & East Sussex Railway in Tenterden was the first heritage railway in the UK to sell tickets to meet Santa on a moving train. The first tickets went on sale in 1974, the same year that the railway was granted a Light Railway (Transfer) Order to allow it to operate a heritage steam railway between Tenterden and Rolvenden. The railway now operates over a greater distance of 10 ½ miles between Tenterden and Bodiam. As the popularity of the ‘Santa Specials’ has grown year on year they provide a valuable revenue stream which is now essential to the continued running of Tenterden’s Steam Railway.

Many other heritage railways across the country have followed in the footsteps of the Kent & East Sussex Railway and are now also raising essential annual revenue from their own ‘Santa Specials’ experience.

Helen Douglas, Product and Reservations Manager at the railway said: “We were the first Heritage Railway in the UK to give children the much beloved experience of having Santa come and talk to them and give them a present whilst on a steam train journey. This format is now well recognised as a ‘Santa Special’ experience and this year we have sold more than 50% of our tickets already.

'We are so proud of the popularity of the Santa Specials. Families come back annually and we have many customers who travelled on the Santa Specials as children in the 70s who are now bringing their own grandchildren! The introduction in 2016 of the private compartments was immensely popular and many of the dates this year are already sold out.'

Today the ‘Santa Specials’ experience has grown and now offers additional entertainment at Tenterden Station with unlimited rides on a beautiful Victorian carousel and a chance to walk through a delightful miniature Christmas model village.

On board the experience is much as it began with a festively decorated steam train where every child can meet Santa and his elves during a 1 hour 10 minute return journey. Every child receives an age appropriate gift from Santa and older children between 13 and 15 receive a box of festive chocolates.

Everyone also receives complimentary refreshments too - a mince pie and choice of soft or alcoholic drink for adults and a soft drink & chocolate bar for children. Babies under 18 months of age at the time of travel are free of charge (providing they are not occupying a seat) and there's a little free gift for them too! Every family also receives a free family group photograph to take home as a momento of their special day.

Standard Class Tickets are still great value and start at £18. First Class Tickets from £24. Private Standard Family Compartments from £160 (for up to eight people).

This year the Santa Specials will operate on 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24 December 2017.

To book visit or call 01580 765155. First Class Seats and Standard and First Class Compartments have limited availability and may only be booked by telephone.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Marwell Zoo trains young wizards to fly for half term Halloween festivities

These spook-tacular snaps show trainee wizards defying gravity to master the art of broomstick flying ahead of Halloween.

Channelling their inner witch or wizard, children have been captured on camera flying high at Marwell Zoo as part of their fun-filled half term activities.

Marwell Zoo’s resident wizard professor is now busy putting trainee flyers through their paces to earn their Level 2 broomstick licence. Sessions last 20 minutes and take place each day in the ‘flying arena’ on the front lawn on a first come first served basis.

The magical activity is part of Marwell Zoo’s special event ‘Boo at the Zoo’ which takes place until Sunday (October 29).

Join the scary witch at 11am, 1pm and 3pm for some creepy storytelling in the Haunted Hall.

Meanwhile new for 2017, become part of the magic of Marwell Wildlife by getting creative and making your very own spellbinding wand (£1 fee applies).

Stop by the Pumpkin Patch to design and carve your very own special pumpkin to take home (£3 fee applies).

Wand-making sessions and pumpkin carving workshops are 10.30am until 4pm daily.

Don your scariest costume and transform fully into character with face painting available at the gift shop from 12pm until 4pm daily (£3.99 fee applies).

From ring-tailed coatis to dyeing poison frogs, snake-necked turtles to Amur leopards, cotton-top tamarins to flamingos and giraffes there is an incredible range of species to see and over 140 acres of beautiful parkland to explore with play parks, trains, and animal talks, there is plenty to occupy your little ones whilst you relax and soak up the surroundings.

Visitors can enjoy a range of daily animal talks and feeds including curious coatis, marvellous meerkats and penguin talks.

Marwell Zoo is operated by Marwell Wildlife, an action oriented conservation charity at the forefront of conservation work around the world, working in partnership with communities, statutory agencies and other non-governmental organisations. The charity engages with over 35,000 children and young people through their educational programmes, and welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year to Marwell Zoo.

Marwell Wildlife’s projects extend from the reintroduction of desert antelopes in the Sahara through to community based projects in Northern Kenya and habitat restoration in the south of England.

For more details and for a full list of park events visit the charity's website

Monday, 23 October 2017

Las Iguanas Gunwharf Quays has had a Makeover!

Gunwharf Quays' Las Iguanas celebrated their reopening last week after makeover with a vibrant new look. The quirky restaurant décor reflects the team’s most recent travels to South America, and guests can enjoy an invigorating space that sees comfy banquettes teamed with a backdrop of sunshine shades of yellow, sky blue and turquoise.

Diners can sit back and relax whilst admiring the big bold graphics dancing across the walls, inspired by the colourful selection of street art in Buenos Aires. They are complimented by swathes of foliage and a flash of neon here and there. The biggest change that regulars will notice is that the bar has been moved to create a more comfortable space for Portsmouth’s cocktail aficionados to enjoy.

The menu at Las Iguanas is carefully developed and served up by a team of skilled chefs who love cooking from scratch; discovering unique flavours and inspiring recipes from across Latin America and bringing them to life through high quality, fresh ingredients.

The new menu additions are no exception. Luscious new Ipanema Mussels – cooked in a lightly spiced lime, coriander and coconut sauce and served with ciabatta will tantalise those taste buds whilst the Seco de Cordero - Peruvian style slow cooked lamb shank in a golden ale, red wine and Amarillo chilli sauce, served with roasted sweet potato mash and crispy chilli and onions is a meat lover’s dream.

If meat isn’t your thing, Las Iguanas are Vegetarian Society approved and a new attraction is the Cauliflower and Corn Quinotto, a perfectly cooked Peruvian-style quinoa risotto with smoked cheese, roasted cauliflower and charred baby corn, topped with puffed quinoa and crispy chilli.

If there’s room for dessert, you can continue your journey through the Latin continent with a Banana Empanada, where traditional pastry is hand- filled with banana, sweet plantain and delectable dulce de leche. Served with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of rum-flavoured syrup, this is relaxed dining at its best.

If truly tropical is your thing, the Piña Colada Mess will energise your taste buds; Piña Colada ice cream is served with caramelised pineapple salsa, crispy pineapple pieces and toasted coconut chips… definitely a dessert that will have you daydreaming of Copacabana.

So on to the cocktails… Las Iguanas have turned Happy Hour in to ‘Happy Days’ for Autumn, with all cocktails now available 2 for 1 ALL day, EVERY day. It’s a game changer. Las Iguanas commit to using premium spirits, including their own award-winning artisan Magnifica cachaça distilled by the de Faria family near Rio, in the Famous Brazilian Cocktail the Caipirinha, and there is something for everyone, with 14 newbies on the list.

Try Mezcal Watermelon Smash, a winning combination of Olmeca Tequila, Bru-Xo Mezcal, watermelon, mint, cucumber and lime or the Latin American take on the classic; a ‘Golden’ Porn Star Martini, compromising Gosling’s Gold Rum, apricot, Funkin passion fruit, vanilla and pineapple with a shot of cava. Celebrate spending time with people you like with a host of new sharing drinks.

Alpaca Punch will bowl you over; El Dorado 3 year old Rum, falernum, passion fruit, lime and cranberry, topped up at the table with a showy bottle of Freixenet cava for 4-6 to share. Or dive in with the new Tropical Fishbowl; Beefeater gin, Sauvignon Blanc, passionfruit, elderflower, Ting and a few finned friends swimming around for 3-4. Barrel o’ Caips is a giant version of the signature Caipirinha cocktail made with Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaça and fresh limes, perfect for 3-4 to enjoy this Brazilian classic.

The Hotlist continues to bring you exciting specials each month and if you’re feeling virtuous, there are also plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails and soft drinks to whet your whistle. From this Autumn Las Iguanas will only be giving out plastic straws on request for most drinks, as they commit to reducing usage and environmental impact with their Straws Suck campaign.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Wonderful Wakehurst, a great place to visit all year round

Photo by Anne Frost

Autumn is a beautiful season, don’t you think? The trees are changing colour gradually with a rich mixture of reds, yellows, greens and browns providing such a vivid contrast to the spring and summer. The weather can be variable of course, but fortunately there are still many days when the sun will shine and there will be blue skies, making it the perfect opportunity to get out and about in the South East.

Wakehurst, near Ardingly in West Sussex is the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is open all year round. Whatever the season you can enjoy many days out visiting with family and friends, young or old to enjoy the varied landscape, explore the wide range of different walks. Find out about the important conservation work inside the 21st-century architecture of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank. Wakehurst is well known for its’ superb botanical gardens and its impressive collection of trees that rightly make this such an interesting attraction.

Photo by Anne Frost

This October is the 30th anniversary of the “Great Storm” of 1987, which sadly resulted in several people losing their lives and caused havoc and devastation across much of the country. Wakehurst experienced significant damage too, losing 20,000 trees overnight. As a result, Wakehurst embarked on an ambitious conservation programme to replicate different types of forest from around the world – and when you visit, the success of this project is clearly evident as well as being internationally important.

Today the gardens are beautifully maintained by the friendly and knowledgeable staff and indeed the many volunteers who work so hard to make Wakehurst such a special place, both for people living locally and indeed for visitors from across the UK and abroad. Acers are a particular favourite of mine and autumn is an ideal time of year to appreciate these stunningly attractive trees with their gorgeous foliage of several colours and hues.

Photo by Anne Frost

Wakehurst covers an area of 500 acres in size, so you are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding how to while away a few hours or even spend the whole day there. Take a stroll along the Himalayan Glade, spend time in the peaceful surroundings of the Water Gardens, see the waterfalls and lakes or simply have a walk through the various woods and other gardens. There is also a daily tour organised (lasting approximately 1-1½ hrs) that enables visitors to see plants of seasonal interest and also discover more about the fascinating history of the estate.

Photo by Anne Frost

As a year-round attraction, Wakehurst has a number of events taking place suitable for the family… with plenty of half-term fun guaranteed! The Millenium Seed Bank is the venue for a range of science and art activities for children, including a photo trail to discover which Wakehurst trees were storm survivors; an opportunity to make a flying pheasant and a wind tunnel; and lots of wild play in the Children’s Heritage Garden. The price is £3 per child plus normal garden admission. For more information please click onto the website. Enjoy the half-term holidays!

Written by Simon at Hibou Communication

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Halloween Entertainment at Blenheim Palace

Head to Blenheim Palace for Halloween entertainment this October Half Term. From 21 - 29 October find lots of new Halloween tricks and treats at the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site perfect for a spooktacular family day out.

What's on?

This year Halloween has taken over the Blenheim Palace with thrills and spooks on selected dates happening in the Palace, Great Court, Cinema in The Stables, The Gallery and the Pleasure Gardens too. From find a Crow in the State Rooms to a Spooky Trail to win a Halloween Treat.

Hop on board the Blenheim Palace ghost train which takes you through a creepy tunnel to the Pleasure Gardens where a cackle of witchy goings-on are to be found. Families can lurk around the Labyrinth or take the Mini-Beasts Trail around the Pleasure Gardens. There will be Spooky Tours running throughout the week in the Palace with a ghoulishly special candlelit tour for brave witches and wizards.

Discover the 17th Century Alchemist lurking in The Gallery along with an interactive Mini Beasts Animal Show. See a wicked Wizard Stilt-Walker and enjoy a ghoulishly good Fire Performance set to music in the Great Court.

There will also be classic spooky storytelling in the cinema of the Stables Courtyard with ghostly tales; perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit.

Indulge in a wickedly delicious Halloween Afternoon Tea at The Orangery during October Half Term and discover a whole host of treats in the Pleasure Gardens Deli including ice-scream and toffee apples, with pumpkin carving too!

Don’t miss Blenheim Palace’s bumper Halloween Half Term activities!

Admission Prices

Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £15.30, Child £7.10, Family £41.00

Ghoulish garden fun at National Trust Stowe this Halloween

Get the kids outdoors this October half-term for some spooktacular fun at National Trust Stowe.

Throughout the school holidays from 21-29 October 10am-5pm, your family can follow the creepy pumpkin trail in the gardens to find the clues and uncover the spooky story of a brave warrior hero, Britomart.

Picking up from where you left off at Easter, the terrifying tale of the Faerie Queene continues. Solve the clues throughout the trail to help Britomart on her daring quest, and claim your creepy crafty prize at the end. Dress up in your best Hallowe’en costumes and share your photos with us via Facebook and Twitter @NTStowe.

The trail costs £1.50 and the money raised goes back to the restoration of the gardens. Normal admissions apply. Pick up your trail from the potting shed, outside the shop.

Visit to find out more information about the gardens and future events. Stowe is located in Buckingham at the tip of North Bucks with great travel links to Milton Keynes (20 mins), Aylesbury (45 mins), Bicester (25 mins), Northampton (35 mins) and Oxford (50 mins).

Torrid Tales Invade the Fortress This October

Ghostly apparitions and torrid tales will be taking over the Redoubt from 21 - 29 October, as the spooky torchlit Twilight Ghost Tours return to the creepy corridors of the fortress.

Featuring new tales of smugglers and drowned sailors, the hour-long frightful torchlit journey into the dark prison cells, casemates and caponiers will uncover some more gruesome stories and chilling accounts of haunted sightings, disease, deadly accidents and even murder.

From the ghostly Lady in the White Gown to the pipe smoke often smelt in the Magazine Room, the twice a night tours led by character actors, will take in over 300 years of history and reported sightings on the seafront and in the fortress.

After the sell-out success of last year, the tours this time return twice-nightly and will offer new stories and new characters in an immersive experience, taking in some new locations, with a few frightful moments along the way.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said:

'The Redoubt takes on a completely different atmosphere at night, glowing in the torchlight and echoing throughout the corridors - it’s a great way to experience how soldiers and their families would have felt in this imposing building. The tours have gone from strength to strength each year, and this year we have lots of new tales to keep returning visitors spooked, with plenty of bangs and screams for good measure!'

The week of frightful fun continues throughout half term with a creepy quiz for little horrors to complete throughout the cobwebbed corridors from 21 – 29 October. With scary bats lurking around every corner, young explorers can try making spooky crafts and enjoy a fangtastic treat at the end of their trail.

On Saturday 28 October, free Stargazing returns in the evening to the Gun Platform with telescopes and talks provided by Eastbourne Astronomical Society from 6 – 8pm. This month stargazers can expect to see the Andromeda Galaxy, Saturn and the sun rising on craters in the moon, along with the possibility of a few shooting stars.

On Halloween, the more daring can experience a night time film screening of The Exorcist (Director’s Cut), as Casemate 20 is transformed into a paranormal film set, followed by a creepy ghost tour of the fortress.

The Redoubt is open every day from 10am to 5pm until 12 November, costing £4.50 per adult and £2.50 per child.

Twilight Ghost Tours run at 6.30pm and 8.15pm each evening from 21 – 29 October, costing £6 per person and are suitable only for adults and those aged 13 and over. Advance booking is essential.

‘The Exorcist’ film evening on 31 October costs £8 per ticket, minimum age 18, doors open 7pm for drinks and popcorn.

For more information or to book online visit or telephone 01323 410300.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Celebrate the Isle of Wight Literary Festival with Red Funnel’s offer

To coincide with the sale of tickets for the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2017 (12-15 October), title sponsor Red Funnel will be offering festival ticket holders 20 percent off vehicle returns from Southampton to East Cowes starting today until the 16 October.

Red Funnel is also offering those heading to the Literary Festival great savings on the Hi-Speed Red Jet service between Southampton and West Cowes, taking foot passengers to the home of the Literary Festival in under 25 minutes. Festival ticket holders can also travel on a day return basis for just £9, or book a different return date for just £12.

Keat’s Cottage that the poet rented in the heart of Shanklin, is now a charming B&B and restaurant and is another of the stops costing as little as £97. The boutique hotel is just a 5 minute walk to the seafront and serves up local Island delicacies with fresh, local produce picked that day.

The festival will be taking place at a host of venues around Cowes and will feature over 70 speakers such as Andrew Marr, Dame Jenni Murray and Frank Gardner. What’s more holidaymakers can enjoy the new Literary Heroes Trail which takes visitors on a journey across the island to discover locations where celebrated writers went on holiday, spent their childhood days and features the places that meant so much to them.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Royal Museums Greenwich announce 2018 exhibitions

National Maritime Museum

2018 is an exciting year for Royal Museums Greenwich, with a number of new galleries and exhibitions opening throughout the year. Autumn will see the opening of the Heritage Lottery funded (HLF) Exploration Wing, four new galleries spanning Pacific and Polar exploration and Britain’s maritime past. At the National Maritime Museum enjoy the work of some of Britain’s best loved photographers, Martin Parr, Tony-Ray Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts in the special exhibition, The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present.

Exploration Wing

National Maritime Museum

Opens September 2018

The ‘Exploration Wing’ will bring four new permanent galleries to the National Maritime Museum in autumn 2018. Looking into exploration in its widest sense, each of the four new galleries will bring the themes alive for people of all ages: ‘Pacific Encounters’; ‘Polar Worlds’; ‘Tudor and Stuart Seafarers’; and ‘Sea Things’, a gallery showcasing the richness of the Museum’s collections. The HLF funded galleries, designed by Casson Mann, will allow the National Maritime Museum to exhibit 1000 more objects from its collections, and provide access to areas of the museum previously closed to visitors.

Pacific Encounters

The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and has been home to many different people and cultures for more than 50,000 years. When the first European explorers sailed to the Pacific in the 17th-century, the encounters between Pacific peoples and Europeans were complex and far reaching in their consequences.

The new ‘Pacific Encounters’ gallery will tell tales of exploration and exploitation, as European travellers ventured into the vast ocean. The gallery will display objects from the voyages of renowned figures, such as Captain Cook, alongside a full size Pacific voyaging canoe - putting the museum’s collections into the broader context of Pacific histories, identities, and the legacies of these early encounters in the Pacific today.

Polar Worlds: past, present, future

The polar regions have been a focus for British exploration and scientific enquiry for centuries. For Britain, the Arctic, and later the Antarctic, became spaces to map and understand, to investigate and discover, to endure and to conquer. They also became theatres of national character and myth – where heroes were made, and sometimes lost. Today, as the world’s climate is changing, the polar regions are once more in the spotlight – the places where the most dramatic shifts are being experienced first, and where our attitudes to the future of our planet are formed.

This new gallery will examine the major British polar expeditions over the past 250 years, including the famous journeys made by Scott and Shackleton. Scientific and geographical investigation were key reasons for such expeditions, resulting in important discoveries about our planet that are still relevant today. The display will use the Museum’s outstanding collections to bring polar exploration to life, and will bring together the past, present and potential futures of these important places.

Tudor and Stuart Seafarers

The Tudor and Stuart Seafarers gallery will explore how England, and later Britain, emerged as a maritime nation between 1500 and 1700. In the late 15th-century, England’s priorities were predominantly domestic and European but over the subsequent two centuries, the people of the British Isles travelled further across the seas, and transformed the country into a leading maritime, economic and political force on the world stage.

Using over 100 objects from the museum’s rich collection, visitors will experience compelling stories of adventure, encounter, power, wealth and conflict, which will include the exploration and colonisation of ‘new worlds’, the growth of English trading networks, and the ferocity of early-modern naval warfare through the conflicts with the Spanish Armada and the Dutch. It will feature an array of characters including Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth I, Francis Drake and Samuel Pepys as well as some relatively unknown people such as seaman Edward Barlow and shipwright Peter Pett.

Sea Things

‘Sea Things’ is a playful gallery that will explore how our identity has been shaped by the sea. It will showcase the museum’s rich and diverse collections as a visual spectacle of over 600 objects, many on open display. Hands-on activities, a maritime quiz, talking statues and sharing personal maritime memories are just some of the ways that visitors can interact with the collection and find their own connection to the sea.

At the heart of the gallery, a digital wave will draw visitors to its shores where they can explore varied stories of adventure, achievement, love and loss through some of the museum’s most unusual, quirky and poignant objects. Visitors will also discover different perspectives for each object from the views of co-curators form our local community, stimulating their curiosity and encouraging them to look at the collection in new and different ways.

The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to present

National Maritime Museum

Opens March 2018

The nation’s love affair with the seaside will be celebrated in the National Maritime Museum’s special exhibition for 2018, which will showcase beach photography by some of Britain’s best photographers. The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present will run from March to September 2018, and will feature over 100 works by some of Britain’s most celebrated photographers, Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts.

The exhibition will explore our changing relationship with the seaside over the last six decades and will hold up a critical and affectionate mirror to a much-loved and quintessentially British experience, captured by photographers who share a mutual love of the seaside. The Great British Seaside will include images from the archival collections of each of the photographers, news film as well as some never before seen images.

Monday, 9 October 2017

It's a carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas

It’s a Carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas, so go tropical with a South American feast this year. There’s something for everyone on our three-course festive menu, whether you like it super-spicy or as cool as a coconut.

Get the party started

The party starts here from just £19.95 per person, with £5 off on selected dates! Enjoy a festive twist on some of our favourite dishes and some exciting new additions. As well as our tempting Christmas menu, this festive season you can get your favourite Happy Hour cocktails & coolers 2FOR1 all day every day. Move over mulled wine, Magnifica Cachaça is here. And that’s not all, we’ve got some amazing drinks packages to pre-order for the perfect party!

Party planning is as easy as mince pie

You’ve got to organise everyone? Not to worry! You can now manage your party online with our easy booking & pre-order system. Just add an email address for each person so they can click & choose their own selection from the menu.

If that's too much tech, that’s not a problem. Our party organisers are still around to help with the finer details, just call or visit your chosen restaurant.

A little extra treat

If you're the party organiser you could get your hands on a tasty Las Iguanas voucher to give yourself a treat in the New Year. If there are 10+ people in your party, we’ll send you a £20 voucher, and for parties of 30+, we’ll send you a £50 voucher.

Parties Make Presents

Over the years you've helped us to deliver over £100,000 of toys to children’s charities across the UK. We’re sharing some Christmas cheer again this year. We’ll donate £5 for each party booking of 10+ ordering from the Christmas menu. Our partner The Entertainer will then match the donation. Find out more.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Five great hotels for Christmas

Whether you want to spend Christmas Day in the lap of luxury, grab a pre-Christmas break or turn your Christmas shopping into something to look forward to, these five hotels chosen by The Good Hotel Guide have got Christmas sorted.

For a seasonal spectacle: The Five Arrows, Waddeson, Buckinghamshire

The Five Arrows - Credit, Rebecca Gavin
Built in 1877 to house the architects and craftsmen working on nearby Waddeson Manor (Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s new party palace), this half-timbered, ornately patterned Grade II-listed hotel comes into its own at Christmas.

There’s an extensive Rothschild wine selection, and the recently refurbished rooms are spacious and welcoming. Book a Christmas package for dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant and tickets to see Waddeson Manor’s Imaginarium, a new light and sound show projected onto the French chateau-style house (11 November 2017 - 2 January 2018).

Good Hotel Guide tip: Ask for a room away from the busy road if you’re a light sleeper.

For festive luxury: Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire

Chewton Glen Treehouse
This privately owned country house spa hotel on the edge of the New Forest is an impeccable choice for Christmas. It’s unstintingly luxurious, family friendly and innovative. If money’s no object, book a tree-house suite, built on stilts in a secluded forest setting.

Each suite has floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-burning stove, a whirlpool tub, a kitchenette, and a breakfast hamper delivered to the door. That in itself is celebratory enough, but throw in a festive afternoon tea, a sophisticated five-course Christmas dinner, and wintry walks through the beautiful grounds and along the beach, and the Christmas cheer-o-metre goes through the roof!

Good Hotel Guide tip: Even the cheapest rooms are large, lavishly furnished and very comfy.

For a traditional Christmas: Park House, Midhurst, Sussex

Park House
You won’t find a more perfectly traditional way to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day than at this relaxed country house hotel and spa beneath the South Downs. Park House’s Christmas package promises a ‘home-from-home’ atmosphere – if your home happens to have waiters, a golf course and spa that is…

‘Proper’ Boxing Day activities on offer include a bracing walk on Witterings beach or in the hotel’s beautiful grounds, shopping the Boxing Day sales in Chichester, or watching the hunt depart in Petworth Park. The main event involves cocktails, Champagne, optional Midnight Mass, and a four-course lunch followed by a buffet dinner.

Good Hotel Guide tip: Save room for the excellent full English breakfast!

For Christmas shopping: The Old Vine, Winchester

The Old Vine
The espresso machines and designer fabric and wallpapers sit decidedly well in this Grade II-listed 18th-century inn with oak beams and a roaring log fire. And its location opposite the cathedral green mean it’s perfectly placed for shopping in the self-proclaimed ‘England’s Christmas capital’.

There’s a popular Christmas Market with an ice rink and performances by local choirs on the cathedral’s beautiful close (20 November – 22 December), and more seasonal events than you can shake a cinnamon stick at, such as walking tours of the city’s festive highlights and The Ginchester Christmas Market (2 December).

Good Hotel Guide tip: For extra-special Christmas vibes, book the top-floor suite with views of the cathedral.

For a pre-Christmas breather: The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire

The Feathered Nest
The Feathered Nest has all the ingredients of a winning Christmas break: great food, a crackling fire and country walks. Set in a 300-year-old malthouse in the heart of the Cotswolds AONB, this gastropub has Raymond Blanc protégé Kuba Winkowski at its helm.

Book a pre-Christmas break away from the throngs of Christmas shoppers, breathe the fresh air, and sample some fabulous food – and wine. If you like what you sip, you can probably stock up on it for Christmas and New Year at The Pantry, which is run by The Feathered Nest; they’re the UK representatives of Rainbow's End, the Malan family’s wine estate near Stellenbosch. And if you really need to go Christmas shopping, Bicester Village is close too.

Good Hotel Guide tip: The Cuckoo’s Den bedroom is spacious and comfortable with a roll-top bath and views over the rolling countryside.

Find more great hotels for Christmas.