Biggsy Travels

unique travel experiences

Month: November 2015

Pretending you’re the Prime Minister

You’ve seen him dozens of times in the House of Commons, leaning on his despatch box, and you can get pretty close to standing there too! This all arose when we were invited to the Houses of Parliament by Exeter University’s chancellor Floella Benjamin. And on Guy Fawkes night!!

Meeting Floella Benjamin in the Cholmondeley Room

Meeting Floella Benjamin in The Cholmondeley Room

Where am I talking about? The Houses of Parliament (the ‘House of Commons’ and House of Lords’) sit inside the Palace of Westminster building, which itself sits alongside the River Thames in London. Its exterior having been photographed millions of times together with “Big Ben” on its northern flank.

So what’s it like to actually go there? Well whether it be for an organised charity event like ours, via an invite from your MP, or on a “paid for” tour you arrive at the opposite end to Big Ben at the ‘Black Rod’s Garden entrance’ and then 20 yards further along enter the building itself. 4-5 security guards welcome you as you proceed through one of two x-ray machines. All very procedural – just like an airport – but friendly nonetheless. On this occasion we headed diagionally across a courtyard towards The Cholmondeley Room and onto the terrace overlooking The River Thames. You can also attend Parliament if you write to your MP. Check out these posts to find out more about attending Prime Minister’s Questions and separately visiting the top of Big Ben! Continue reading

10 types of photos to take at Madame Tussauds

London’s Madame Tussauds is a museum along Marylebone Road full of life-size wax figures of famous celebrities, along with hordes of tourists taking photos of the “celebs” but often with the waxworks facing in the wrong direction. Let me explain. When a “real” human person is having their photo taken they tend to look directly down the camera lens. Something that many people choose not to replicate when taking photo of their preferred celebrity. Now this isn’t easy. A waxwork figure can’t look at the camera for you so it’s a case of having to position yourself up and down, left and right until the celeb appears to be looking right at the camera on your camera phone.

So what types of photos can you take? Continue reading

Where’s the hottest recorded place on Earth?

And that’s the “hottest” place recorded according to the ‘WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes’ … so let’s get the confusion out of the way to start with!

The hottest official recorded temperature is now credited to ‘Death Valley’ in the USA and not ‘Tripoli in Libya’. More specifically ‘Greenland Ranch, near Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California’ which hit 56.7°C (134°F) on July 13, 1913 and not the 58°C (136.4°F) that was recorded at ‘El Azizia (approximately 40 km south-southwest of Tripoli) Libya’ on 13 September 1922.

Check out the World Meteorological Organization for more “techie” information.

So when our tour guide Alex had mentioned where we were heading that day – the “hottest place in the world … Death Valley” I too recounted my GCSE geography lessons that taught me that it was actually somewhere in Libya that held that title! We were too remote for our bus’s Wi-Fi to connect to Wikipedia so it was only once we’d been handed copies of the local ‘Death Valley National Park Visitor Guide’ we could understand why the record had been changed.

Greenland Ranch weather station in about 1921

The oldest known picture of the Greenland Ranch weather station at in Death Valley taken at the latest in 1921. Image Credit: American Meteorological Society

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