Massive Crowd Spontaneously Sings Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ At London’s Emirates Stadium
Ten blooms have been selected to mark 100 years of the Chelsea Flower Show and the public is being asked to vote for which should be show plant of the centenary.
The Royal Horticultural Society has drawn up a list of 10 plants launched at the Chelsea Flower Show since 1913, with one flower taken from each decade of the world famous gardening exhibition.
They range from the Streptocarpus ”Harlequin Blue” (left) to varieties of lupin, geranium (below) and rhododendron.
Candidates include the Saxifraga ”Tumbling Waters”, which has silvery foliage topped with spikes of frothy white flowers from 1913-1922; Pieris formosa, variety forrestii, an evergreen shrub which was introduced by Victorian plant hunter George Forrest and made its debut at Chelsea in 1924; Lupinus Russell hybrids (above), a rainbow palette of lupins unveiled by George Russell in 1938; Rhododendron yakushimanum(below), an evergreen with bell-shaped white flowers, discovered on the Japanese island of Yakushima, which was instrumental in developing rhododendrons for smaller gardeners.
People can cast their vote for show plant of the centenary at the Chelsea Flower Show next month or online at www.rhs.org.uk
Teens get mental health boost from riding London’s buses, UK study finds
Is there a way to grind up London’s buses and put the powder into swallowable tablets? The health mojo of these vehicles seems impressive, with research indicating they benefit hoary ol’ gadges and school-age juvies alike.
First came a 2012 study suggesting that people over age 60 who ride the buses for no cost (via the Freedom Pass) have commendable mental health. And that wasn’t just because people love free things, the researchers wrote in Ageing & Society: “Travelling by bus provided opportunities for meaningful social interaction; travelling as part of the ‘general public’ provided a sense of belonging and visibility in the public arena – a socially acceptable way of tackling chronic loneliness.”
Now the same team of scientists are claiming that teenagers get a similar psychological boost from free bus rides, which were introduced in 2005 to people under 17 and later to full-time students up to 18 years old. After talking with more than 100 London teens, they concluded that free rides had improved their “social lives and independence,” bettered their “confidence” and helped them feel “more like a Londoner,” according to the new study, published in the journal Mobilities under a title as long as a typical London bus. (“‘We can all just get on a bus and go’: Rethinking independent mobility in the context of the universal provision of free bus travel to young Londoners.”)
The research includes some interesting stuff, especially if you think you understand teenagers. The bus seems to be a way that the sprightly Oyster-card carriers maintain their group cohesion, for instance. More about that from the official release:
Travelling together was reported to be a key feature for young people. Researchers discovered that a ‘code of honour’ for bus travel has developed: travelling as a group is seen as a sign of loyalty and getting on a bus without friends or leaving them on the bus alone seen as a betrayal. While many adult travellers use a range of strategies to avoid others in shared space, young Londoners are embracing free bus travel as a site of sociability.
The researchers, who hail from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University College London, also found that teens feel more independent because they don’t have to ask their parents for fare money.
Read all about it in the full study.
London has been officially selected as one of only eight cities around the world to host a race as part of the upcoming Formula E electric car racing series.
The capital beat stiff competition from 23 cities around the world that expressed an interest in hosting one of the 10 races planned for next year. It now joins Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro as the selected locations for the inaugural season. Formula E Holdings, the promoter of the FIA Formula E Championship, said two more races would be announced at a later date.
The organiser is now planning to work with each of the selected cities to confirm their feasibility and finalise the calendar for the first season, with a view to signing formal agreements with the host cities by July. The final calendar will then be presented to the FIA for final approval at its World Motor Sport Council summit in September.
“The fact that cities from all over the world are interested in the FIA Formula E Championship is extremely heartening and shows a global commitment to clean mobility and sustainability,” said Alejandro Agag, chief executive of Formula E Holdings, in a statement. “The provisional calendar we publish today is composed of cities in America, Europe and Asia. We look forward to also racing in Africa and Australasia from 2015 onwards.”
He added that the company would now work with the cities to ensure the tracks adhere to the championship’s goal of delivering city centre racing that can demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles to as wide an audience as possible.
“[All the races will] be in city centres, easily accessible by public transport, and will feature some of the most beautiful and well-known landmarks as a spectacular backdrop for the races,” he explained. “The fact that we will only race in city centres highlights the main message of our Championship: the electric car as a solution for mobility in cities of the future.”
The news was welcomed by London Mayor Boris Johnson who described the plans for an electric vehicle championship as a “scintillating concept”.
“I am hugely keen that London be involved in the birth of Formula E,” he said. “It has the potential to highlight the impressive strides being made in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hosting a street race could also be of considerable economic benefit to our city.”
Formula E Holdings will now turn its attention to filling the grid for the championship, after the UK-based Team Drayson and Team China Racing recently became the first two teams to confirm their involvement.
London ‘Recovery College’ aims to open doors for homeless people
A pioneering educational project to help homeless people in London is attracting students by the hundreds.
The fledgling Recovery College in Southwark, set up by the St Mungo’s charity, provides free courses ranging from literacy and confidence-building to overdose awareness and singing lessons – all for those living rough on the streets.
There are no entry requirements and students help to design and deliver the courses themselves.
First launched as an experiment in autumn 2012, the college was taken aback by the demand, finding prospective students knocking on the door. Now, at the start of the second term, there are 395 people enrolled on 60 courses.
“The most popular courses have proved to be about raising self-confidence and developing self-esteem,” said Andy Williams, who helps to organise the college.
“The vast majority didn’t have a good time at school, so this is showing it can be enjoyable,” he added.
There are other courses on offer aimed at developing skills to help people get jobs.
The college has links with Ruskin College in Oxford and City Lit in London. Once a student has taken six of these free-form courses, they can be considered for something more formal with one of these institutions.
“The college provides a structured environment for people, but without some of the demands of mainstream education. It seems to be filling a gap,” said Stuart Bakewell, St Mungo’s area manager.
Founded in 1969 as a humble soup kitchen in Battersea, St Mungo’s now has projects in Bath, Bristol, Reading, Hertfordshire and Oxford, and looks after around 1,700 people in London and the south-east of England each night alone.
Amid a growing homeless population – up by more than 40% in a year, according to St Mungo’s – staff at the Recovery College have a positive outlook: “We want to be more ambitious for them,” said Williams.
There are some great pictures up this morning from London’s first plus size fashion weekend. Take a look.
Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty images
London ‘Micrarium’ aims to showcase tiny animals
They’re minuscule, there are millions of them, and one museum manager says they’re massively under-represented.
Jack Ashby, who is in charge of the Grant Museum of Zoology in central London, said Thursday he is trying to give dragonfly nymphs, tortoise mites, and sea spiders the attention they deserve, unveiling a “Micrarium” devoted to some of the animal kingdom’s smallest subjects.
“You go to any natural history museum and it’s normally full of big animals, but actually the huge majority of life on Earth is absolutely tiny, and we thought we’d right that wrong,” he said in a telephone interview. “We want to give people a chance to see what makes up most of the animal kingdom.”
The Grant Museum, whose history stretches back to before the Victorian era, has an eclectic group of items typical of 19th-century collections. It houses Dodo bones, a giant deer skull, an unusual batch of animal brains pickled in alcohol, and an even eerier-looking jar jammed full of preserved moles. Ashby said the back-lit walls of the Micrarium — housed in a former storage room within the larger museum — display 2,323 slides of mini-monsters, from tortoise beetles to baby cuttlefish.
He said many of the slides were once used as study aids for British zoology and anatomy students and that some of them date back to the 1850s. He added that visitors who have trouble making out the ancient slides will be equipped with magnifying glasses.
The Micrarium is already open to the public and, like the museum, is free of charge.
But don’t all come at once. The room is very small.
London’s unique Honesty Shop bus conversion is bringing out the best in people and raising money for charity
The Honesty Shop is a retail experience with a difference. Located in a 50-year-old double-decker bus in St Katharine Docks next to the Tower of London, it’s a shop with no staff and where payments are made in honesty envelopes placed into a custom-made letterbox.
A refreshing alternative to strip-lit stores and garish offer stickers, the Honesty Shop sells a range of British-made souvenirs, knitted clothing, toys, gardening tools and kitchenware. The items are all priced; the idea is that customers are game enough to add the correct money to an honesty envelope and post it into the letterbox without being asked. ‘Bus conductor’ Barnaby who manages the stock, sits upstairs to keep an eye on the proceedings just in case, and looks after the shop’s social media campaigns.
The shop is born of an idea that started three years ago in Gimmelwald, Switzerland, by hotel owner David Waterhouse. An empty shop in his Swiss village caught his eye, but he couldn’t afford to pay someone to run it. “I started thinking of the unattended displays of vegetables, eggs and preserves you sometimes find near farm gateways with just a box for the money,” he explains. And so the first village honesty shop was born and quickly became a popular tourist attraction.
Waterhouse eventually decided to bring the concept to London. “People said to me they thought the shop was great but it was something you could only do in Switzerland,” he says. But the success of the London shop proves them wrong. “We take stock every morning and every evening and don’t seem to have lost anything.”
The bus, dubbed ‘Trusty’, will be at Marble Quay, St Katharine Docks until February 2013. 10% of each sale is donated to a charity of the customer’s choice, from a pre-selected list including Macmillan Cancer Support and Compassion in World Farming.
Muslims and Catholics team up for Holiday food drive in Ontario
It was a first for both the church and the mosque. And it worked out beautifully.
In a partnership built on the true spirit of giving, members of the London Muslim Mosque have helped a Roman Catholic church drive gather enough food to help nourish more than 100 families this season.
“I feel extremely pleased and grateful, looking around this room,” Moe Lacerte said as he surveyed the donations that had been brought in to St. John the Divine Catholic Church.
“We’ve never had so much to give. We will have extra; we’ll be able to replenish our food bank here.”
Larcerte, the volunteer president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at the church, said he reached out to the mosque for the first time this year when asking for donations.
“We all want the same things: peace and respect, and I see this as a beginning of working together.”
Mosque members welcomed the request with joy, said Ali D. Chahbar, who helped organize the drive with Zeba Hashmi, head of the outreach committee.
“To us, the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of brotherly love, and why wouldn’t we want to be a part of it?”
Chahbar said he noticed the spirit this week as he left a shop with items for his daughter to make a gingerbread house.
“It is so nice. People are really different. They are nicer and you notice it,” he said. “I wanted to get a megaphone and shout ‘Can we keep this going all year, people?’.
“We are not Christians and don’t celebrate Christmas but we are engulfed by the spirit and . . . any time there’s a jubilant harmonious feeling, whatever creed it is under, we thrive on it,” he said.
Chahbar said most of the 30 boxes of food donated by the mosque were collected by children at the Islamic School.
“It was fantastic, amazing,” he said. “Within the blink of an eye, they had boxes and boxes.”
Lacerte had a similar reaction to the food collected by members of Western University’s Muslim Student Association.
“We filled a pickup truck, and my van is filled to the gunnels,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”
London, by Instagram: Unusual exhibition of images taken and edited in 2012 using smartphones
These dazzling artworks depict the capital in ways never seen before - and they are all photos captured and edited on mobile phones. The images, edited using smartphone app Instagram, are part of Iconic London 2012, which showcases the work of some of the best mobile photographers on the arts scene.
Instagramers London is exhibiting the work of 30 influential ‘IGers’, who will each present their own unique vision of the city in a memorable year. The pictures have only previously been seen through the photo editing social network of around 100million users.
Over the course of the year, 13,000 images were submitted.
Iconic London 2012 is the second exhibition hosted by Instagramers London, after ‘My World Shared’ received high acclaim as the first of its kind in Europe in October 2011. In a year that has highlighted London’s position as a cultural capital across the globe, this second event aims to be bigger and better, and takes a retrospective look at life in London during 2012, a key date in the history of our capital.
The exhibition will feature images from the winners and finalists of the year-long Iconic London image challenge, with all images available for sale in aid of the Royal Marsden Cancer charity. The artwork is on display until December 16 at the Truman Brewery on London’s Brick Lane.
Some of the Instagram community’s most influential users worldwide will be sharing their mobile photography expertise. They include Phil Gonzalez, creator of the Instagramers.com network, Yvonne Bouman, organiser of Instagramers Holland, and Thomas Kakareko, an influential mobile street photographer from Berlin.
Chinese automaker BYD Co. is sending 50 electric cabs to London in a boost to China’s struggling makers of all-electric vehicles.
BYD and London cab company Green Tomato Cars announced this week they will start a trial using 50 of BYD’s e6 sedans in late 2013.
The Chinese automaker, one of whose investors is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Corp., says the e6 can travel 300 kilometers (186 miles) on one charge.
BYD has supplied 300 electric taxis and 200 electric buses being used in the southern city of Shenzhen.
China’s electric vehicle sales are falling behind the United States and Japan, according to McKinsey & Co. The consulting firm reported this week that sales of all-electric autos in China fell 31 percent in the second quarter to just 235 vehicles.
This weekend’s Open House London, the free annual event that allows visitors a look inside landmark civic and innovative residential buildings normally closed to the public, is the largest in the organisation’s 20-year history.
Nearly 800 properties will be opening their doors – here’s a preview of some of the highlights
[Photograph: Tim Crocker]
The London Marathon raised more money for charity than ever before and broke the fund-raising world record for the sixth straight year, organisers said on Wednesday.
Marathon runners raised 52.8 million pounds, one million more than last year, bringing the total raised since the race began in 1981 to 610.7 million pounds.
“We are extremely pleased to announce another amazing record amount of money raised for charities by London Marathon runners,” race director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.
“The fact that this figure increased again for the sixth year in a row, despite the well publicised economic woes, shows just how committed our runners are to raising funds for good causes.”
PICTURED ABOVE: (top) Graham and Delwyn Cure, parents of Australian track cyclist Amy Cure, are staying with Elizabeth Gill, center, at her home in Muswell Hill, North London, during the Olympic Games. (bottom) Couchsurfer Shamey Cramer, left, from Los Angeles, and his host in east London, Emy Ritt.
Olympic hosts: Londoners open their homes to the world
When one of the most expensive cities in the world hosts the Olympics, high prices for tickets and hotel rooms are no surprise. But Londoners have embraced the spirit of the Games by opening up their own homes free of charge to athletes’ families and spectators from around the world.
For some, it was reports of hotels and homeowners attempting to cash in on the Olympics that motivated them to offer open up their homes. Dozens of British residents have invited guests to use spare rooms as part of organized homestay schemes, while countless more have offered up their sofas through message boards for budget travelers such as Couchsurfing.
(click HERE for full story)
Photo of the day: Book labyrinth is a bibliophile’s dream
Ebooks continue to rise in popularity, but sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in the touch and smell of a good paperback book. In London, bibliophiles can take their obsession a step further by physically immersing themselves in thousands of books at one time. Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo used 250,000 books to create this literary maze for the London Festival, a 3-month-long cultural event held concurrently with the 2012 Olympics.