Thursday, 27 October 2016

London Bridge

Londinium (later becoming London) translates as "the settlement on the wide river" and is where the Roman's stopped marching and killing to begin work on establishing their new Capital City (cheekily ignoring Colchester, Essex on the grounds that it didn't have any Premier League football teams)

And so to work, beginning, as any self respecting Sim City builder would do, by building a bridge. 

Today's London Bridge is, in my opinion, the most disappointing of all the bridges that span the Thames. Chauffeuring around many tourists as we sight-see our way across this great city I'm yet to meet anyone who isn't underwhelmed by London Bridge, admittedly there are a lot who believe Tower Bridge to be London Bridge but, that explained, not one person has extolled the simple concrete structure to be anything more than that, a simple concrete structure. 

The best fact I know about the current pontoon is that it is hollow and the warm air from the Tube is pushed through meaning that while all other bridges will freeze over in a snow storm, London Bridge won't. Hmm.

This hasn't always been the case though. London Bridge has a proud and magnificent history with the area carrying many great spans over the centuries. My favourite was a time when the bridge, carried not just people and traffic, but houses, shops and even a two storey church, a la Pontevecchio, in Florence. 

To get a glimpse into that time I head to the north side of the Thames, St Magnus the Martyr Church to see a 4 metre model depicting the Bridge as it would have appeared in around the 1400. It is an amazing peice of work and the detail of around 900 people crowding the bridge shows King Henry V riding in from Southwark with the Mayor of London waiting to greet him. There's even a deliberate planting of a 20th century character which I didn't find (apparently it is a policeman) 

The claustrophobic hustle and bustle show London as crowded then as now and why the congestion on the Bridge forced a decision that if crossing from North to South then you stayed to the left, as you did if coming from Southwark to the City of London. We still to this day drive on the left or 'correct' side of the road.

The small exhibition also has pictures and facts about the Bridge history, like the last transition saw an American businessman relocate, stone by stone, the outgoing bridge to give a focal point to his new housing development in Lake Havasu, Arizona. My favourite picture is the one of two, new and old, Bridges along side each other. 

London Bridge has, of all the Bridges, the greatest history. It is where the decapitated heads of 'traitors' where gruesomely mounted on a spike to deter any of the like-minded. Where Watt Tyler crossed with his revolting peasants, though he had to wait until the bridge opened as it used to closed at 9pm.

The exhibition is small, free (donations excepted) and walking distance from the Tower of London. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Your Very Own Brexit

Brexit has certainly made a few headlines across the World and it seems to be the only thing anyone can discuss at the moment across the UK. Whatever the implications for the UK itself, the economy and foreign policy, there’s one immediate benefit to people across Europe and the World… With the pound dropping against the Euro and the Dollar, there’s never been a better time to holiday in the UK.
The 38 year low of the pound on Friday had the hidden benefit of making your Dollar and Euro go much further than it ever has! Where $500 on Thursday night would have given you £333.21, today you’ll get £379.41 for it. That’s a massive £46.21 extra which could be spent in the following ways…
·        Family tickets to the Tower of london
·        two adult tickets on the london eye
·        ten pints of lager
·        two tickets to an English Premier League match
Not only will currency be cheaper to exchange, but the relative cost for hotels, flights, food and drink will all drop against the previous cost of a UK holiday. Airfares from the US have dropped to below $500 for a round trip which should be incentive enough to visit the UK.

But it’s not just the price of flying that should entice you to the UK, connections on to Europe won’t always be as easy as they currently are. Right now, when you arrive in London and clear immigration you then don’t need to again if you decide to carry on to Europe afterwards. Although we love a queue in Britain, the rest of the World isn’t so keen so to avoid those long queues the next two years is when you need to be visiting the UK.
Luckily, if you’re connecting through the UK rather than staying, there’s a number of options if you have a few hours to spare. For a much cheaper price than ever before (cheers Brexit), you can take a Chirton Grange car and spend the day in Windsor – like the Queen would – or even head into London for a few hours. The car will, of course, have you back at Heathrow in enough time for your onwards flight.
Obviously, we’d rather you stayed and toured the City with us. The popular Chirton Grange Spy Tour which reveals the gruesome World that lurks beneath the surface in London will no doubt have some more stories added to it over the coming years and the family fun of the Football Tour will now give you a chance to see more English talent than ever before thanks to immigration laws changing.
So although there’s a lot to frown about with Brexit, maybe there’ll never be a better time to visit the UK…

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Making it happen, whatever...

One of the greatest sights you will ever behold is that of the London Marathon. Thousands of runners, from top athletes through to people dressed as chickens, pound their way past the many familiar landmarks on route to completing many months of training.

It isn't so welcome in the chauffeur world though but only for the practical, obvious reason of all the roads being closed. So it is the one day in the calendar that we at Chirton Grange don't go looking for work in the Capital. That said, we do not ignore any client request but certainly look out for other companies wanting to generously pass on to us that 09:00 Greenwich to London City airport transfer.

Some client requests are helpful in that their route doesn't cross that of the Marathons so, in fact, they are easy jobs as most motorists refuse to drive in London on Marathon Sunday....not so simple this year though.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, comes from one of our largest clients. To get 12 of their valued Travel Agents from Heathrow airport to the Cheval Three Quays Hotel at around 1pm on Sunday.....Marathon Day. The hotel sits beautifully on the River Thames practically underneath Tower Bridge and will be hemmed in by over 30000 runners, the route crosses past Tower Bridge twice, with roads closed from 0600-2000. The last thing anyone needs after an 8 hour flight is a further 8 hours sitting in Starbucks

At Chirton Grange we always look for solutions not problems, say yes then work out how, and here is how we are going to do it. 

First we pick up the group in 2 x Mercedes People carriers we would normally use a coach for 12 people but we might need to 'weave' the back streets and this will be quicker. Then, after some investigation we know we can get to the London Eye before meeting any road closure. The cars finish here and we  now escort our guests to the London Clipper Boat service placed right under the Eye. In around 20, uninterrupted, minutes we will step off at the Tower Pier not 50 metres from the hotel door.

The added bonus is that our guests will get an amazing view of the runners as they head down the Embankment and all this for only an extra £7 per head when using their pre-purchased Oyster cards. Our escort will assist with check in before jumping back on the Clipper and return to the waiting car. Tom Cruise eat your heart out.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Soccer Tours

We refer to it as 'Day 3 Syndrome'

Most parents reading this who have brought their family to tour the UK will know exactly what we are talking about. Day 3 is when the younger members hit the wall and are done with Henry VIII and Stonehenge. Well, we have the solution.

First, let's start as we mean to go on as in dear old Blighty we call the worlds must popular game 'football' and, while a huge chunk of the rest of the planet refer to it as 'soccer', we are going to pull rank on this because, well, we invented the sport so it's our ball and you don't get to play unless you agree.

The English Premier League is arguably the greatest football league in the world and, without question, the richest. England also has the oldest professional team (Notts County) and we are the only country to have 4 professional, full time leagues. In short, we live football.

On their visit to the UK it is on most sports fans 'tick list' is to watch a game of football. With the majority going on to break the bank by committing to the Holy Temples of the football powerhouses and the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

While we totally understand that, and you should do this if you can, we want to introduce you and your family to a football experience that aims to blow away the jet-lag and burn some energy off those who are now twitching for their iPad again.

Every week is different and dependant on the fixtures etc but it should go something like this:

Eat breakfast like a professional and meet us in the hotel lobby for a private chauffeur transfer to the:

Wembley Stadium Tour- the home of football

Don't be fooled by the state of the art stadium you'll see today; this place is haunted by the only England World Cup win and over a century of Glorious FA Finals, internationals and concerts. With time for photos by the pitch and in the dressing rooms, this really is football heaven.

Then onto

Foot Golf 

Always had a problem getting the golf club to do as you tell it? Well now let your feet do the talking, as the name suggests,  you are going to play a round of golf by kicking a  football around the fairway and into the hole. A fantastic and fun day part of our day but who will get the boasting rights and come out on top?

Next up, it's lunch. This is always flexible and dependant on time but you call the shots. Let us know what you fancy and we will book it in advance so we are not late for the BIG 3pm kick off.

Gillingham, Brentford, Leyton Orient are teams we would be very surprised you'd heard of but that is where we are heading next to watch professional football at a high level if not the exactly the top level. Stopping briefly at the club shop (not compulsory) for a memento of your new found passion it's then into the ground to watch the match.

There is a wealth of quality football (subject to alteration) being played every weekend away from the big wages and high ticket priced top teams. Football watched by 'ordinary' people, in places the corporate giants shy away from sponsoring, where you can still stand on the terraces and drink your Bovril* watching tackles fly in that 'they wouldn't get away with in the Premier league. Football player as we all watched growing up here in the UK.

After the match, you will of course then be whisked back to your hotel to get the kids into bed and enjoy a few glasses of wine!

You will need suitable clothing, footwear and a sense of fun. The love of soccer (we'll give you that one) is helpful but not the determining factor in the whole family enjoying the day together.

Email is to find out more and pleased do so in advance of your traveling so we can work out the best day/game possible to make it a day to remember. 
*Other meat flavoured drinks are available... Actually I don't think they are, but alcohol is...

Monday, 11 January 2016

Beat the January Blues with Chirton Grange

So Christmas has been and gone. New Year came and went. I guess now you're all back to the grind and but not quite with it enough to be writing 2016 when you write the date? Thought so.

It's an odd time of year this, people are all getting over Christmas and that seems like an excuse for many not to get out and do things ("Oh I would, but you know, it's January..."). Well fear not because Chirton Grange has a comprehensive list of January and February goings on around the capital that we're sure will get you out there.

London Art Fair - Business Design Centre, Islington
This one probably ticks that New Year's Resolution box to be more cultured. The event takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington from 20th January until the 24th January. The even better news is that with Time Out London, you can get 40% off a ticket...

London International Mime Festival
The mime festival takes place from 9th January until 6th February at various venues and in various events over the time period. There is a full list available here but as mime isn't really our cup of tea, we haven't got a lot else to say about it........

Henry IV - Barbican
Again, if you're after filling your culture commitments, January in London can help you out. The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) returns to the Barbican for parts one and two of the Henry IV between 14th January and 23rd January. We understand that Richard II will be making an appearance later in the year. Probably best to book a car for this one and enjoy with a lovely evening meal. You can contact Chirton Grange about these bookings...

Lumiere London
This is fantastic, this. 30 artists have been asked to fill London with light between the 14th and 17th January. There's anything from neon dogs to light up stick men climbing buildings going on. There's a full list of 30 attractions here, alternatively, you can book an evening tour with Chirton Grange and we'll show you them all!

Chinese New Year
So you thought New Year was over, right? Well it isn't. Relive the celebrations with the Chinese New Year parade in London on 14th February with the morning parade through Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. You can follow this up with an evening in Chinatown for the celebrations. Why not treat that special someone since this year Chinese New Year coincides with Valentine's Day.

Imagine Children's Festival
The Southbank Centre will once again put children in charge as it celebrates the annual children's festival. This year there's a Roald Dahl theme to proceedings and various readings by other authors, as well as Music, Film and comedy for appropriate ages. This runs from 10th Feb until the 21st so check out the website for more information

Grimaldi Service
This is a must see, it really is. You won't think so when I tell you what it is, but it's a must see... On 7th Feb, clowns will gather at the All Saint's Church in Haggerston to honour the king of clowning, Joseph Grimaldi. Obviously. Well worth a look, you can book a car for the occasion with Chirton Grange

Craft Beer Rising
Definitely book a car for this one, you won't want to be driving or negotiating public transport... The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane will be hosting 150 exhibitors of finest ale, craft beer and lager with over 380 beers to be sampled. Although there's no token system anymore, the beers are still much cheaper than you'll get them for in pubs across the country so get down to take advantage. This festival runs over the last weekend in February, 26th-28th.

So there you have it, try and get out and do just a few of them and I'm sure the January/February blues won't strike this year. It'll also get 2015, sorry I mean 2016 off to a cracking start and tick a few of those resolution boxes.

Of course, better than trying one or two is to contact Chirton Grange and incorporate them into a London tour with a dedicated car and driver for the day, meaning you can concentrate on just enjoying yourself