In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
London’s top 10 peaceful places
Barge Walk, Hampton Court
Following the curve of the river from Hampton Court Bridge to Kingston is a tree-lined stroll, with clusters of swans, vine-covered walls and rowers aplenty. Halfway along, the land lifts to reveal Seething Wells, the marvellously named former water treatment works with pipes wide-mouthed over the river. Anglers here pitch their tents in a close huddle, so you might have to squeeze around the group to carry on your journey. The route does get busy, particularly near the palace, but is worth it for the pockets of peace you’ll encounter further along the way.
• Train to Hampton Court station. From the rail station, head across the bridge to the palace and then take the footpath eastwards along the river
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, Kew
This lovely little place is a sanctuary within a sanctuary. Queen Charlotte’s Cottage is at the end of a secluded paddock in Kew Gardens. This 18th-century rustic cottage was built as a country retreat for the royal family. Open in the spring and summer months only, it seems to be one of the less popular attractions in the gardens, which makes it perfect for those seeking a bit of tranquility. The paddock originally housed exotic animals including kangaroos, but is now a fine flower garden which, in the springtime, displays more bluebells than you’ve ever seen in your life.
• Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (kew.org, adults £13.90, children under 17 free). Kew Gardens tube or Kew Bridge overground station. The conservation area surrounding the cottage can also be seen along the Thames path (thames-path.org.uk)
About fugging time – villagers fight for name change
Fed-up residents of the Austrian village of F…ing are reportedly set to vote on a name change after being bombarded with prank calls.
Locals of the scenic town are likely to vote in favour of adopting the name “Fugging” after being hassled by pranksters who call to ask “Is that F…ing?” before laughing and hanging up, the UK’s Mirror reported.
The town has literally become the butt of jokes, with unsuspecting local drivers catching couples in the nude romping in front of signs.
Many signs have been stolen despite being welded on steel posts in concrete in the ground.
Mayor Franz Meindl said the pressure has just become too much.
“The phone calls are really the final straw”, Mr Meindl said.
“The only problem is that we need all of the F…ing residents to agree to the name change, everyone needs to agree for it to happen.”
Local entrepreneurs made the situation worse by selling “f…ing” beer and Christmas cards.
Residents last voted on the issue in 1996 but decided to keep the name.
End of the runway for BMI, but will passengers suffer?
BMI could be about to vanish. British Midland, as was, has done wonders for UK travellers. But by Friday the Heathrow-based part of its operation is set to become part of IAG and will be subsumed into BA. What will it all mean for passengers – and staff?
Remind me of the tangled history of BMI?
It wasn’t easyJet that opened up the skies of Europe – it was British Midland. Under Michael Bishop (now Lord Glendonbrook), the airline demanded the right to compete against the established “flag carriers” in the 1980s – first of all taking on British Airways from Heathrow to Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow, then expanding into Europe. It helped break the cartel that kept fares prohibitively high.
Sadly, for the past decade BMI has found it impossible to compete with no-frills airlines, and at present it’s losing £5 per second. Lufthansa, which is its very unwilling owner, has long been keen to offload BMI, and by Friday it should become part of IAG, the company that owns BA and Iberia of Spain.
Last week BA revealed plans for assimilating BMI that will see nearly half the 2,700 staff lose their jobs. How are the job cuts decided?
As is so often the case, it’s the back-office staff who will suffer most. BMI has the finest HQ in aviation, a stately home close to East Midlands airport called Castle Donington. But many of the functions carried out there, from marketing to finance, will simply be absorbed by existing BA departments with little room for staff to be tranferred. Survival prospects are highest for front-line staff at Heathrow – 1,100 ground staff, cabin crew, pilots and engineers will find that they are working on planes with a different livery.
If BMI is such a basket case – why is BA taking it over?
London 2012 Olympics: Giant sandcastle built on Weymouth beach
A giant sandcastle has been unveiled on Weymouth beach to mark 100 days until the start of the Olympic Games.
The sandcastle, which measures 13ft by 6.5ft, took volunteers four days to build.
Weymouth and neighbouring Portland are hosting the Olympic sailing events, to be held between July 29 and August 11.
Around 15,000 spectators are expected to watch the races from Weymouth beach, which will be transformed into “Weymouth & Portland Live” in time for the Games. The attraction will be free to enter, and will feature two giant screens and an interactive sports arena, allowing visitors to try their hand at several events, including rugby, football, volleyball, sailing and kayaking.
Simon Williams, head of Weymouth and Portland 2012 operations, said: “Excitement here is mounting as in just 100 days our golden sands will welcome visitors from across the globe to enjoy the greatest show on earth.
“There are so many events, attractions and festivals on that there will be something for everyone to enjoy.