england Tag

kew gardens, royal botanic gardens, london, gardens, plants, millennium seed bank project
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Protecting the world a seed at a time

Kew Gardens, London, England In the world of conservation, there’s a lot of emphasis put on the survival of endangered animals. The idea of an entire species being wiped off the planet forever because of the actions of humans makes most people feel an impotent meld of despair and anger.But, of course, animals are not the only living things at risk from the destructive nature of humans. Hundreds of plant species have been made extinct in the past few centuries and thousands more are at risk. It’s why the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London established the Millennium Seed Bank Project.The Millennium Seed Bank is the largest off-site plant conservation project in the world. The aim is to collect the seeds of all the world’s wild plant species and protect them so, if something gets wiped out, it can be brought back to earth. The bank (housed in West Sussex)...

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14 May
queen elizabeth, diamond jubilee, public relations, rejuvenation of the monarchy (4)
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The rejuvenation of the crown

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee It wasn’t so long ago, I recall, that the Royal Family was a bit of a joke. An entire generation of them seemed unable to keep their private lives out of the tabloids with their adulterous, gaffe-prone, toe-sucking scandals. And the response to it all from the top left the public wondering why these people should be representing them.Oh, what time, a bit of clever public relations, and a lot of pageantry can change!To see the crowds in the mall and around Buckingham Palace this afternoon – more than one hundred thousand of them – shows how far the monarchy has come in the past decade or two. To see a gathering of such size, flags waving, is a rare sight for a head of state in a western democracy. When they cheered in unison, three hip hip hoorays, there was a genuine warmth, love and admiration...

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06 June
diamond jubilee flotilla, london, thames, queen's jubilee, river parade (5)
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Pomp and circumstance

Jubilee flotilla on the Thames Oh, for such a British event, there was such British weather. The rain and the cold didn’t keep the Queen’s loyal subjects away from the Thames to see her Diamond Jubilee flotilla, though. Oh no, it was something else entirely that stopped much of the crowd enjoying the festivities.“I suggest you either go home or find a pub with a tellie,” shouted the safety officer with the polite assertion that only the English do so well. The parade of boats down the River Thames had not even started yet but already people were being turned away.As I walked the back streets to try to find an access point, it was hard to move in some parts. Thousands – no, tens of thousands – of people were in the same boat (ironic pun intended). Each potential entry to the river met with the same result: a group...

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04 June
Blenheim palace, oxford, hitler's palace, where was churchill born, things to do near oxford (5)
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The English palace Hitler would make home

Blenheim Palace There's a certain playful vindictiveness to the plans Adolf Hitler once had for Blenheim Palace, the stately English mansion thirteen kilometres from Oxford. As the story goes, the Führer intended to make the palace his official residence when he invaded and conquered Great Britain.This was not just because he apparently wanted to turn Oxford into the capital, but for two more symbolic reasons. Firstly, Blenheim Palace is named after a German city where the first owner won a decisive battle against the French and Bavarian forces, a victory so important that Queen Anne bestowed upon him the land and money to build. And secondly (and presumably more personal for Hitler), Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Winston Churchill.With his acquisition of the property, Hitler was planning to enjoy the humiliation of England (if only the Germans had a word for that).Of course, as we know, his plan never came...

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05 May
big ben name change, elizabeth tower, westminster palace, unesco, london (4)
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Sign of the time

Changing the name For as long as any of us can remember, it’s been called Big Ben. The clock, faithfully telling the time for more than a century, high above the UK’s houses of parliament, has become one of the most iconic images of London and England more general (up there with the Spice Girls, I’d say). But it looks like it might be about to get a name change.Although it’s best known by its more informal moniker, Big Ben is officially called the Clock Tower. And it’s that official name that politicians may soon vote to change.In recognition of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, one member of parliament has proposed renaming the Clock Tower to Elizabeth Tower. The idea’s been quickly picked up by member on both sides of the house and seems to have unanimous support. Would this be a first? The name change would not be without precedent. Another of Westminster’s...

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13 April