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How many of you students of English in London know the meaning of the word “flask”.  In my dictionary it says: “ a narrow necked bulbous bottle for wine or as used in chemistry”. In the 1700s the Flask pub in Flask Walk, Hampstead, not far from central London, was named because it supplied bulbous bottles to Mr Phelps at the Eagle and Star pub in Fleet Street right in the centre of London and also two other pubs. But it was not wine in the flasks but water. As one of Hampstead’s attractions was the pure water from the Chalybeate springs which came out of the ground and was the safest liquid an…
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I know many of you are fans of the world famous English detective Sherlock Holmes and plan to visit his museum at 221B Baker Street in the heart of Central London. An employee there answers the thousands of letters sent from all over the world asking for the detective’s help. You need to walk down Baker Street and look at number 109, as this is what 221B would have looked like in Holmes’s day. Near Trafalgar Square which is literally the centre of London is “The Sherlock Holmes” pub at 10 Northumberland Avenue. This was once the Northumberland Arms Hotel and Conan Doyle has   Henry Baskervil…
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Did everyone enjoy the English heat wave last week when Central London basked in temperatures of 31-33 degrees C? I had a pleasant cold beer in Red Lion Square in Holborn where I noticed a Blue Plaque announcing that no 12 Red Lion Square was once the home of John Harrison watch and clock maker who saved thousands of lives. In the 18th century, he invented a clock and then a pocket watch that kept excellent time on board ship resisting changes in pressure, humidity, temperature and the rocking of the ship. It effectively solved the problem of measuring longitude so ships could calculate accura…
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So students of English in central London! When you complete your course at ICE will you get maried? Are you already married, if so what kind of cake did you have at the wedding? The traditional English wedding cake is a rich fruitcake covered in marzipan and icing and in three tiers. It was William Rich, who in a baker’s shop at 3 Ludgate Hill, introduced this cake for weddings around 1775. Every day William passed St Bride’s church in Fleet Street, central London. He admired the spire, which has four octagonal arcades or tiers capped by an obelisk. William thought “St Bride’s Church and brid…
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Students of English in the centre of London make sure, if you are invited to a party at 23 or 24 Leinster Gardens W2 close to Paddington railway station, that you don’t go. This is because, although 23 and 24 look as beautiful as the other five-storey houses in the street there are no houses it is just a 1.6-metre facade. The houses were demolished in 1868 to extend the Metropolitan underground line west from Paddington to Bayswater. The Metropolitan line was the first underground railway in the world starting in 1863 and going east from Paddington to Farringdon. The engines were steam powered…
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OK students of English, what is London’s most famous hotel? The answer is possibly The Savoy in the centre of London off the Strand. Opened in 1889 the first manager was not English but Swiss, Cesar Ritz and the chef was Auguste Escoffier whose mouthwatering dishes led to the expression to “scoff” your food meaning to eat far too quickly. Claude Monet painted “Waterloo Bridge” from his balcony, Johann Strauss was the leader of the hotel’s orchestra and a dishwasher, Guccio Gucci was so inspired by the rich, he returned to Italy to establish his now famous luxury goods company. In 1899 Ritz was…
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Which of you students of English who have been on the ICE Westminster walk in central London can remember one of the greatest love stories of all times? It was over 700 years ago when the English king, Edward I, was riding with his beautiful wife Eleanor who was married aged 12 when she was Princess Eleanor, L’ Infanta de Castile. In 1290 at Harby near Lincoln, Eleanor, now aged 49 and after having 16 children, died suddenly and left Edward heartbroken.  It took 12 days and nights to bring Eleanor”s body back to Westminster Abbey and each night where the funeral cortege stopped King Edward had…
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Hi prospective students of English coming to central London to study at ICE. Make sure that you know the difference between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, the latter being a bascule bridge that opens for big ships and is a tourist attraction. London Bridge’s claim to fame is that it is one of the world’s oldest being built first over 2000 years ago. There are legions of stories and songs about London Bridge, which was the only bridge over the Thames in London up until 1740. One story tells of how baby Anne Hewett, the daughter of clothworker, William, fell off the bridge in 1536 and was rescu…
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Mind the Gap...

Apr 24, 2017
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Now then, if I ask you students of English both past and present :”What do you know about the London Underground system (The Tube) invariably one of you will say to me: “Mind The Gap”, which is often heard when the train doors open. All but one of the stations have the same recorded announcement to warn passengers that the track is curved but the platform is straight and so there is a gap between platform and carriage. The exception is Embankment station on the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line. Here the announcement is the original 1960s version by Oswald Lawrence. Oswald died in 20…
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Is everybody enjoying the beautiful English weather? OK well this is a good time to visit The Royal Botanical Gardens better known by Londoners as “Kew Gardens”. There you will find the most amazing plants, shrubs and trees from all over the world.  You can also visit Kew Palace which was the final home of “Mad” King George III because a blood disease affected his brain as depicted in the film “The Madness of King George”. George III was King from 1760 to 1820 and he became ill in 1788 at the age of 50.  He, his father and later his sons enjoyed the palace on the banks of the River Thames as a…
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