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The appeal of playing online scratchcards as well as classic paper based scratchies is stronger than ever, with incredible jackpots coming from online sites as well as the National Lottery jackpots rising and rising! Scratchie fever seems to be sweeping the nation at the moment, and if they are not being used as incentives to try and get employees to work harder, they are being slapped on everything from bags of rice to parking tickets to try and generate new and repeat business. Companies all over the UK are wising up to the massive thrill that scratch cards offer, and the latest business to get hooked on scratchies is a little-known bakery in London!

The Konditor and Cook bakery may be a chain of retail bakeries, however they are still not as well known as their competitors. All of this could be about to change, however, given that they are now capitalizing on the massive popularity of scratchies! They have cooked up (or BAKED up I should say!) a whole heap of excellent promotional scratchcards to try and entice new customers and secure some repeat purchases from their already loyal fans. At the moment there are no cash prizes hidden beneath those panels, but some might argue that the treats on offer are even BETTER! If you love your grub as much as you love playing these addictive games then this one will most definitely appeal to you! If you are lucky enough to get your mitts on a Konditor and Cook scratchie then you could be in with the chances of winning:

  1. Cake Decorating classes with the founder of Konditor and Cook, Gerhard Jenne
  2. A year’s supply of brownies
  3. 100 cakes
  4. 100 savoury pastries
  5. 10,000 £1 cakes and goodies

What a haul! This new company utilizing scratchies in an attempt to boost their business is simply more testament to how incredible popular this game seems to be! Over the Christmas period in particular there were a lot of companies using scratch cards as gifts to their customers and clients and I recently saw a report of an African food company using scratchies to drive more customers to purchase their sacks of rice! These are a great way to try and secure some repeat business, as we all know how thrilling the chances of an instant win can be Looks like we are not the only ones!

Street parties, picnics, Royal visits, thanksgiving services – all part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but none will be as spectacular as Sunday 3rd June when the Thames will be brought to magnificent life in a royal spectacle that will make history and be talked about for years to come.

Royal celebrations on the river are part of the rich heritage of the Thames, probably the most history-steeped of all rivers. Richard III was the first English monarch to travel to his coronation by water in 1483, setting a precedent for spectacular royal processions on the river. In 1487, when Henry VII’s queen travelled by barge from Greenwich to the Tower of London, the journey was accompanied by a special firework display. Years later in May 1533, another Henry sent his new wife, Anne Boleyn, on an even more impressive coronation journey. Fifty gold clothed barges, a further 250 smaller vessels and two magnificent lead barges, mounted with fire-breathing mechanical monsters and choirs which flamed and sang for the huge crowds lining the banks of the Thames.

The tradition continued and on 30 May 1610, after James I proclaimed his son Henry to be the Prince of Wales, another grand celebration was staged on the river. This was followed by a three-day river pageant which included a fully orchestrated ‘sea’ battle with two merchant vessels, two fully-rigged men-of-war and a pirate ship.

Over 50 years later, on 23 August 1662, King Charles II and Queen Catherine of Braganza were welcomed with a reported 10,000 boats and an extravagant pageant on their arrival at Whitehall from Hampton Court. Twelve barges, each carrying a mythological character delivered an oration to their Majesties. This event so impressed 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys that he wrote: “the most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames, considering the innumerable boates and vessells dress’d and adorn’d with all imaginable pomp.”

Music played an important part in these grand events. On 17 July 1717, Handel’s Water Music was performed on the Thames for King George I and a party of courtiers who had taken to the water in an open barge. Later, in 1749, to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, Handel was again commissioned to write a celebratory piece of music for a celebration on the Thames. The Music for the Royal Fireworks, as it became known, was accompanied by a spectacular barge-launched fireworks display and this same music was again performed some 250 years later as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

The Golden Jubilee wasn’t the first time that the queen had taken to the water. Six weeks after her coronation on 22 July 1953, a Royal River Pageant was held for the Queen on the Thames. The pageant comprised of 149 vessels and floats, divided into seven thematic sections: The Lord Mayor’s Procession, Her Majesty’s Services, Historical Tableaux, Marine Services, Industry and Commerce, River Services and Private motor yachts. The six-mile route began in Greenwich and ended with the Queen’s salute at Westminster.

To celebrate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, a River Progress and Pageant on the Thames was organised with over 140 vessels taking part. The Queen travelled aboard the Port of London Authority’s launch Nore which, dressed as a royal barge, landed several times to meet mayors of several London Boroughs and community groups before being welcomed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

For the Queen’s Golden Jubilee a new royal barge, based on an 18th century oared shallop, was built. The journey, from Isleworth to Greenwich, was accompanied by a dozen Dunkirk Little Ships and was joined by the Lady Daphne sailing barge, the Portwey steam tug and hundreds of smaller boats.

But no previous Thames pageant is likely to come close to this years, when at high water on Sunday 3 June 2012, over a thousand boats will come together on the River Thames for The Queen to lead her Diamond Jubilee Pageant. It will rival any spectacle that has gone before and be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river.

30,000 flag waving spectators will be on the water and over 1 million are expected to line the shore and wave flags from the bridges along the route which stretches seven miles along the Thames from Battersea in West London to Tower Bridge in the East. The full route, including the mustering and dispersal of the vessels, from Hammersmith to the Greenwich Royal Naval College is around 14 miles.

The Queen will ride down the river from Putney to Tower Bridge in a Thames sailing barge specially converted to give the appearance of an ornate 18th-century royal galley. Her Majesty will review the flotilla before it sets off from Albert Bridge near Chelsea and by the time it reaches its final stop at Tower Bridge it will have travelled under 14 road and rail bridges and taken a full 90 minutes to pass any given point. The flotilla will be divided into 10 sections, with musical herald barges separating each group. The barge was aptly described by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, as a royal quinquereme.

Everything from rowing boats to gondolas, passenger vessels to tugs, steamers, dhows, wherries, wooden launches, sailing boats, oyster smacks, square riggers and steam vessels, accompanied by the armed forces, fire, police, rescue and other services – everything, as Boris commented, “with the possible exception of the Ark Royal” will assemble all decked out in bunting and flags to welcome the Queen on this very special day in celebration of 60 years of her reign.

The gigantic fleet, selected by invitation and an open submission process, will be more than seven miles long and show our maritime heritage at its very best. Some boats have been chosen for their historic links, others simply because they will provide the Pageant with an element of fun, flair and a unique visual excitement. All will be accompanied by bands and hooters, water jets and whistles, fireworks and fantasy, even the sound of bells led by the Royal Jubilee Bells – eight church bells that will sound a quarter peal and be answered by churches along the route – and Gloriana, a hand-built 88ft row-barge with bell tower, covered in gold leaf.

This river pageant, centrepiece of the diamond jubilee celebrations and a tribute to Britain’s maritime history, will be the largest for at least 350 years and result in a long weekend of public holidays for the second year running.

Boats will muster at Hammersmith, Putney and Wandsworth, before entering the waters of the main route and passing Battersea, Albert, Chelsea, Vauxhall, Lambeth, Westminster, Hungerford, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Southwark, London and Tower, finally dispersing at Greenwich and the West India Docks.

The pageant can be reached by tube via a number of stations close to the route including: Pimlico Tube Station – 7 minutes from River Thames, St James’s Park Tube – 18 minutes from River Thames, Westminster Tube Station – 20 minutes from River Thames, Vauxhall, Waterloo, London Bridge and mainline stations: Victoria Railway Station – 21 minutes from River Thames and Charing Cross Railway Station – 29 minutes from River Thames.

Photo Credit: Ints Vikmanis / Shutterstock.com

A panic stricken man runs towards a lonely escalator, there’s something behind him, something that grunts and growls as it hunts him, sounding almost human but not human at all. The man trips, falling back on the escalator in a sprawl and turning to look down the moving staircase sees a shadowy creature moving on all-fours across the tube station’s white tiled floor as it begins to approach the escalator steps. The man has only moment’s to live, the tube station is central London’s Tottenham Court Road, and of course the film from which this scene is taken is An American Werewolf in London – voted Empire Magazine’s 107th greatest movie of all time in September 2008.

Tottenham Court Road, an interchange between the Central line and the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line, played a starring role in John Landis’ 1981 British-American horror film. Despite some initial debate over which tube station appears in the film (Aldwych station was once in the frame), the platform where the train carrying werewolf victim, Joe Kingsploy, arrives is definitely the northbound Northern Line platform. The sign for Tottenham Court Road can clearly be seen in several shots.

It opens with two young Americans, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) backpacking there way around England. Following a famously tense visit to a very silent Yorkshire village pub (actually shot in the Brecon Beacons in North Wales), the two men, despite warnings to the contrary, venture deep into the moors at night where they are attacked by a werewolf. The attack results in Jack’s death whilst David is mauled and taken to a London hospital. It isn’t long before David begins to have disturbing dreams and then his dead friend turns up and informs David that he’s a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon.

The film, which was a massive success and caused Michael Jackson to ask Landis to direct his ground-breaking Thriller video, was mostly shot in and around London. Even the night time scene on the fictional Yorkshire moor was actually set in Windsor Great Park.

The hospital scenes, where David was brought after being attacked by the werewolf to recover, were filmed at Chiswick Maternity Hospital, Netheravon Road South. The hospital closed as a working unit in 1975 but went on to be used in a number of film and television productions including: the Chinese Detective, Angels, Not the Nine O’Clock news and the very popular Television series Bergerac.

When David is released from Hospital he goes to live with his nurse, Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), in her London flat. In reality the flat and the exterior shots used in the film are three London locations. The front of the flat was filmed on and around Lupus Street in Pimlico; Lupus is Latin for wolf which may have influenced Landis’ decision to use the Pimlico location. Other shots of the flat are of 64 Coleherne Road, Earl’s Court and Redcliffe Square also in Earl’s Court.

David, unable to stop himself from transforming into a werewolf at the rising of the full moon, is consumed by bloodlust and goes on to commit several gory murders. The werewolf’s first victims are partygoers Harry and Judith. We first see them as they alight from a London taxi on East Heath Road, Hampstead Heath, Hampstead. Deciding to play a trick on the host and hostess of the dinner party, they go to the rear of the house which, as it turns out, is a very bad move. The actual killings were shot on the Heath itself.

David then kills three tramps he comes across near to Tower Bridge, this is followed by the killing at Tottenham Court Road tube station; where for the first time we catch a glimpse of David in his werewolf persona. David is later introduced to his victims by Jack, his dead backpacking friend, as ‘the walking dead’ in an unspecified adult movie house somewhere in London. The porn film that is being shown is called ‘See you next Wednesday,’ to which a reference was later made in the opening lines of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

David runs riot in Regent’s Park’s, London Zoo. Waking up naked in the zoo, he steals balloons from a schoolboy to cover his modesty. Fleeing, David runs into a woman; the actress playing her was not told to expect a naked man prior the shot, all she was told that a man would come out and say something to her. The wolves used in the London Zoo scene were kept privately by Roger Palmer and appeared in several TV programmes and adverts. Roger went on to found the UK Wolf Conservation Trust which still keeps wolves.

The terrifying scene when the werewolf runs riot in Piccadilly Circus was filmed with multiple cameras and completed within half an hour. Police stopped the traffic and the public at the frantically busy intersection. It was the first time since the late sixties that filming had been allowed in Piccadilly Circus. This was due to another filmmaker, director Michael Winner, who set off an unannounced smoke bomb while filming a scene for The Jokers. Police were outraged as Winner escaped by speeding off in a taxi, leaving other crew members to be arrested.

Landis persuaded the Met to allow him to film by using testimonials from the Chicago police with whom he had worked with on The Blues Brothers. This, along with a fully worked plan and scale model of the area showing how traffic would be minimally disrupted, helped overcome official reluctance to approve the filming,

Towards the end of the film Landis himself appears briefly as a bearded man who gets hit by a car and thrown through a plate glass window in Piccadilly Circus. London landmark, Trafalgar Square, also appears in the movie when David asks a policeman to arrest him. At one point David screams, “I’m a f*****’ werewolf, for God’s sake!” Later changed for television to “I’m a famous werewolf, for God’s sake!”

One of the last views of London in the film is Winchester Walk, Clink Street, Southwark; the alley where David is finally cornered by police.

An American werewolf in London is the highest rated popular werewolf film on the Internet Movie Data Base, with an impressive 7.5 rating and the Number 1 werewolf film on Sqidoo.com which says: “This film has one of the best transformation scenes of any werewolf movie, which is all the more impressive since there was no CGI when this movie was made.”

The triathlon is a fairly new Olympic event and was held for the first time at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. It consists of three events, the 1500 mtr swim in open water, a 40 km bike ride and a 10km run and the event became popular in America in the 1970s as a training regime but soon developed into a sport in it’s own right. The three events take place consecutively over a gruelling two hour period. Athletes undertake the swim first for safety reasons, as this reduces the chance of cramping in the water.

The 2012 London Triathlon will start and finish in Hyde Park [August 4th and 7th]. The swimming event will take place in the Serpentine, followed by the cycle ride around central London and finishing with the run back, in Hyde Park. Spectators will be able to view this Olympic event for free on most of the course, no need for tickets or a trek to the stadiums is necessary for this exciting event.

GB Hopefuls.
In September 2011 Alistair Brownlee took the Triathlon World Title with a convincing win on the 2008 Olympic course in Beijing. Brownlee was thought unlikely to qualify for the games in 2008 but after making the team, finished as the top Brit in the competition. Younger brother Jonathon finished second and Brit Will Clarke, was ninth. Alistair and Jonathon have virtually reserved their Olympic places, which leaves just one place to fill on the Olympic team. There are plenty of contenders for the coveted place including Tom Bishop. Bishop won the Senior National Championships at Windsor on his first attempt and last year came second in the Junior World Championship, he recently said that his life at the momement consists of ” eating, sleeping and training”. Bishop considers the triathlon run his best discipline and his objective now is to qualify for the Olympic Team. Veterans, Will Clarke and Tim Don may have other ideas about who should take the final spot, Bishop said recently “there’s a lot of people going for that last spot but, if my training continues to go as well as it has been, I’ve got a chance”.

Helen Jenkins won her second World Triathlon Championship after finishing runner up ,in the season ending Final, in Beijing the day after Brownlee took his title. This follows her win in August at the Hyde Park triathlon in London, when she won in some style and met GBs selection criteria for the 2012 Olympics. After the race she said ” That hurt so much. I just kept running and running”. Jenkins who finished 21st at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is not guaranteed selection as others may also qualify, giving the selectors a wider choice of competitors to choose from. Jodie Stimpson who was placed 14th at Hyde Park, Vicky Holland and Scot, Kerry Lang, will also have their eyes set on London 2012.

Daniel Goodings / Shutterstock.com

The recent release of the ‘Big screen’ version of John le Carre’s novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has sparked an interest in the world of international espionage and known ‘spy’ locations for a whole new generation. The movie has a fine, strong cast, including Gary Oldman who may be nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of George Smiley, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, as one of the few women in the tale, makes a welcome return to the big screen. The celebrated novel about British spies, was published in 1974 and was adapted for TV by the BBC in 1979. The TV version starred Alec Guiness as Smiley, the man who must uncover the ‘mole’, both versions remain true to the books mood, brilliantly recreating the sullen, sombre mood of the Cold War years. The London of today is a far different place, however for interested parties [spies and others alike!] it’s practically awash with known spy locations, here are just a few to whet your appetite :

54 Broadway: Under the guise of the Minimax Fire Extinguisher Company, M16 moved it’s headquarters to this building in 1926. It didn’t take to long for London’s taxi drivers to realise it was a spy location. German Intelligence used a blind match seller, standing on the opposite side of the road, to monitor activities at the building in the 1930’s.

In and Out Club, Piccadily: a recruiting venue for both M15 and M16 the building fell into disrepair in recent years however it is now being renovated. This adress was used in correspondence found on a dead British officer, who was deliberately dropped into the seas off Spain during WW2. The officer carried documents which led the Nazis to believe the Normandy invasion force would land elsewhere, the true story was told in the 1956 film ‘The Man Who Never Was’.

2 Whitehall Court: This imposing building housed the headquarters of M16 until 1919. The Service’s first and most famous Chief, Sir Mansfield Cumming had an office built which could only be accessed by a series of confusing corridors, with false walls and staircases which led nowhere. Cumming created a tradition which has been continued by all subsequent heads of the Service, he always signed his correspondence with a ‘C’ in green ink.

St Ermin’s Hotel, Caxton Street: Parts of the hotel were used by M16 as an operational centre during WW2. In 1940 Winston Churchill established SOE, the Special Operations Executive, who would carry out many daring spy operations on mainland Europe during the war and whose officials also operated from this building.

Leconfield House, Curzon Street: Early in 1945 this building became MI5s headquarters. The original structure had windows which could accomodate machine guns which could be used if the German’s ever reached the capital. Many famous names from the Service drank here at a bar called the “Pig and Eye”, including Peter Wright, author of one of the greatest espionage books ever written, Spycatcher. The building has now been modernised and refurbished.

18 Carlyle Square, Chelsea: Once home to Kim Philby, one of Britain’s most infamous spies. Philby was an MI6 officer who spied for the KGB in the 1950s, he is believed to have cost the lives of hundreds of Western spies in Soviet controlled Eastern Europe. The double agent was one of the Cambridge Five, unmasked in 1963, he fled to Moscow and he was paid a salary by the KGB until his death in 1988.

Bajan Superstar Rihanna surprised Tube travellers in London by catching the Jubilee Line to her sold-out concerts at the O2 Arena.

Rihanna chatted with fans and posed for pictures in a crowded carriage, telling one that she didn’t know “how you guys do it”, according to the Evening Standard.

Adrienne Amado, from St John’s Wood, told Nick Ferrari on LBC that Rihanna, who was accompanied by a posse of minders, was offered a seat from Green Park but declined. Wearing a relatively modest white top for her journey to the Arena, Rihanna left the packed Tube train at North Greenwich station,

A spokeswoman for the singer said: “Rihanna decided to get the Tube rather than drive to the first of her 10 sold-out 02 shows”.

rihannapopstar@me.com

The National Lottery is giving you the chance to win London 2021 Olympic Tickets or a cash prize worth £10,000 with it’s new Scratch Card ‘Win Gold’. Simply visit the National Lottery website, select 4 events from each row. Reveal three gold medals in any row to win the prize for that row, or reveal a ‘WORLD RECORD’ symbol to automatically win the prize for that row.

The Scratch Card game costs £1 per go, There is a 1 in 3.45 overall chance of winning a Prize on each Play of the Game. The Expected Prize Payout Percentage for this game is 66.00%. However the odds for winning the pair of Olympic Tickets is about 1/5000! Overall there are about 1700 tickets available to be won.

Strangely London isn’t particularly well served by Racecourses, the nearest course to central London is Kempton Park. The Christmas meeting at Kempton is undoubtedly the highlight of the racing calendar in London. The big race is the King George Chase, with past winners of the King George including the legendary Desert Orchid, four time winner and forever immortalised at the course with a statue beside the paddock.

Other racecourses near central London include the world famous Ascot racecourse, Sandown Park and Epsom Downs. All these horse racing venues are within easy traveling distance from London by rail or car. Windsor races is also on the outskirts or the Greater London area. Set in 165 acres of beautiful Berkshire countryside and located on the banks of the River Thames, Windsor is best known for its lively summer evening fixtures.

If you are willing to travel just 60 miles outside the capital you can visit the home of British Horse Racing at the fabulous Newmarket racecourse. Regular commuter services run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Stansted Airport and Ipswich where onward connections by rail or road can be made to Newmarket.

In 1998 plans were drawn up for a new all weather racecourse in East London, the course was to be named ‘London City Racecourse’ after much legal wrangling the plans for the new course have been withdrawn. In light of the reduction in the number of horse races in the UK it is unlikely that London will get a new racecourse anytime soon.

Special thanks to Horse Racing Photo for the free image!

London organisers have sealed a deal with Dow Chemical Company to restore an innovative wraparound curtain to encircle the Olympic Stadium for the 2012 Games.

Olympic officials had scrapped the wrap late last year because its price tag of £7 million had been deemed too expensive at a time of economic austerity. Architects and artists had decried the decision, suggesting the look and image of the games would suffer.

But now, the wrap is back. Dow Chemical, the Midland, Michigan conglomerate, won a bid process to take on the visual centerpiece of the Olympics. The move comes even though Dow, the official ‘Chemistry Company’ of the Games, will be barred by Olympics guidelines from etching the firm’s logo onto the curtain.

‘This wrap will embrace the look of the games,’ said Keith Wiggins, managing director of Dow’s operations in Britain. ‘This is going to be a super, central, visual centerpiece.

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