In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Angry Birds gets its own UK theme park
The popular mobile phone game has added a new level: a playground in Nottinghamshire.
“Angry Birds!” shouts an excited small boy as he careers around the corner and stands in front of the fenced-off area. The sign on the fence says the new play area doesn’t open until next week. Parents explain this to their disappointed children. Some of the adults look sad too. “I’m addicted to Angry Birds,” says Terry Lalton, a recovery driver from Doncaster, who is here with his children and extended family.
“This looks quite good. They’ve got the catapult [a reference to the game].” “It looks fantastic,” says one of the small boys with him. Will they come back when it opens? “I hope so,” he says. I have already been on the slide and to the top of the climbing frame. I feel smug.
Sundown Adventureland, an attraction in the Nottinghamshire countryside, is home to the first Angry Birds theme park in the UK. There is already one in Finland (and an unofficial park in China), and the company licensed to make the equipment says it is looking at other sites.
Angry Birds started as a mobile phone app – if you are not one of the 200 million monthly users, it’s a game where you catapult birds at egg-stealing pigs – and in March, Apple revealed it was the most popular paid app ever. Last year, Rovio, the Finnish company that created the game,reported revenues of £60.8m – nearly a third comes from merchandising. “I’ve got it on my iPad,” says Mrs Rhodes, Sundown’s 83-year-old owner. “My grandson put it on for me when it first came out and I never bothered with it, but when this came up I had a go.”
What is the appeal? “The birds look strong and fearless,” says eight-year-old Reece Beardsaw, who is looking through the fence at the new playground. “They’re wicked.” His mum adds that he doesn’t play the game but he likes the characters – he has Angry Birds branded clothing and stuffed toys at home.
Whereas the game also has an adult fanbase – David Cameron is a big fan, as are Salman Rushdie and Jon Hamm– the playground is aimed at the under-10s. An Angry Birds ride is planned, as well as a small rollercoaster, but these are some way off. For now, young fans will have to make do with a selection of exciting, but fairly standard, branded playground equipment.
Forklift truck driver fined £150 for causing £1 million damage to aircraft
A Heathrow fork-lift truck driver caused more than £1 million damage to an aircraft after he misjudged the size of his baggage cart, a court was told.
Dennis Jackson, 60, sliced through the tail of an SAS Airbus 321, with 175 passengers on board, as it prepared to fly to Copenhagen on June 12.
Uxbridge magistrates were told he had forgotten which vehicle he had been driving.
Engineers later found that his high loader was only inches away from the fuel line.
Such was the force of the impact that one member of the crew was knocked off her feet as she was standing in the cockpit.
The 175 shaken passengers were evacuated from the aircraft.
Another member of the crew feared the plane would burst into flames, Amanda McCabe, prosecuting, told the court. “The damage was very clear – it had sliced through the rear of the aircraft, causing extensive damage.
“The fuel line was very close to where it had impacted, and there were passengers and crew on the aircraft – it was preparing to move away from the stand,” she said.
“This collision was due to the defendant not following instructions contained within the Heathrow Airport Operational Safety Instructions.’’
The plane was evacuated and on inspection, engineers found the rear door had been jammed shut.
Bethan Charnley, defending, said Jackson was responsible for an ‘expensive accident’ after forgetting he was driving the largest type of the vehicle.
The high loader in question had earlier that day been used to lift a car into an aircraft’s hold, she said.
48 hours in surreal Brussels
Floating men in bowler hats don’t dot the sky in Brussels, but the city is full of references to surrealist painters and poets such as Rene Magritte and Paul Delvaux, who lived and worked here.
The Belgian capital is full of galleries and museums with surrealist works and, heading off the tourist track, you can see surrealist art in the streets and visit bars where Magritte and his contemporaries drank.
6 p.m. – Whether you get a train from Brussels’ Zaventem airport, a Eurostar from London, or a bus from the low-cost airport in Charleroi, south of Brussels, you’ll probably arrive at Gare du Midi station.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to reserve the Magritte room at Hotel Le Dixseptieme and spend the weekend surrounded by the artist’s prints. The best way to get there is jump onto a northbound train and travel one stop to Gare Centrale.
6:10 p.m. – You’re now in the heart of Brussels’ former Latin Quarter, where Magritte and his clique had studios and galleries.
Step out of the station onto road Cantersteen and head right until you come to a semi-circle-shaped pedestrianized area at the foot of Brussels’ Mont des Arts — a monumental staircase and park originally conceived by King Leopold II to improve the area for the city’s 1910 hosting of the World Fair.
Hotel Le Dixseptieme is one block down Rue de la Madeleine, one of the streets that radiates from the semi-circle.
7 p.m. – A fine place to have dinner on your first night is La Roue D’Or, a surrealist-themed restaurant just off Brussels’ spectacular Grand Place. Bowler-hatted men peek at guests from behind the bar.
From the hotel, head back up Rue de la Madeleine until you get to the junction with Rue Duquesnoy. Turn right, and then right again down Rue de Marche au Fromage. Carry on into the pedestrianized area and the restaurant is left, at 26 Rue des Chapeliers.
9:30 a.m. – The best place to start your journey is out in the down-at-heel northwest suburbs of the city, where Magritte’s one-bedroom flat has been turned into the Musee Rene Magritte. It’s not to be confused with the Musee Magritte, the Magritte museum, the new gallery that you will visit towards the end of your journey.
Snow way: Simon Beck creates amazing artworks on the slopes
Ever felt you’ve been snowed under by a task so big it seems impossible to finish?
Then spare a thought for Simon Beck who spends hours at a time creating huge works of art in the ski fields armed with only his imagination and giant raquettes (snowshoes) on his feet.
The 54-year-old Englishman, who works as an orienteering mapmaker, has been creating these amazing works of art since 2004 and said he began making the formations as it “seemed a natural thing to do”.
Gradually over time his works have become more complicated as he gets faster and more inventive.
Mr Beck creates most of his work in the French ski resort of Les Arcs, where he owns an apartment and lives during most of the winter. He can spend up to 10 hours a time on the pieces, which can cover an entire ski field.
Using a handheld orienteering compass, Mr Beck sets out his designs using pace counting or measuring tape and creates curves with a clothes line attached to an anchor at the centre and designs are chosen from geometry.
Heavy snowfall with at least six days of cold weather creates the perfect conditions, with designs usually lasting until the next heavy snowfall.
On his Snow Art Facebook page, he admits most skiers might think he’s mad wasting good skiing time but that he hopes “to spread the message the mountains and snow are beautiful and worth preserving, and there are better things in life than spending so much time doing things you don’t want to”.