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TIL FEB 9

This Is London - 8th February 2018

6 Photos: RBG Kew

6 Photos: RBG Kew KEW’S THAI-INSPIRED ORCHIDS FESTIVAL Thailand’s vibrant colours, culture, and magnificent plant life will be the centrepiece of Kew Gardens Orchids Festival in February. Inside the tropical paradise of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors to Kew’s 23rd annual Orchids Festival will get a chance to shake off the winter blues and get creative through a host of exciting new events and activities designed to appeal to all ages. Colourful floral displays will welcome visitors as they enter the tropical glasshouse and wander through a magnificently colourful Vanda tunnel, with three arches delicately covered with hanging orchids. Beautifully handcrafted floating Thai umbrellas will lead to an exquisite Bang Pa-In-inspired orchid palace. A traditional Thai market boat and rice paddy are central to this year’s water display, representing a typical bucolic scene, complete with a special Thai cart on loan from the Royal Thai Embassy in London. As well as the stunning visual displays, visitors will be immersed in the sounds of Thailand’s everyday hustle and bustle via four different specially commissioned soundscapes playing inside the glasshouse. From the grinding of ingredients and the sizzling of spices in a pan, to the tranquil sounds of an exotic spa and the regal stirrings of a palace, all aspects of Thailand’s culture are captured throughout the diverse soundtracks. The Princess of Wales Conservatory film room will be transformed into a versatile Thai themed activity area, where visitors can take a seat, put their feet up and learn about the beauty of orchids, and the important science work Kew is doing through a specially commissioned film. During the half-term week the film room will turn into a hive of activity for families. This year’s festival is hosted in partnership with the Royal Thai Embassy, London and partners. Entrance to the festival will be included in the daily entrance ticket. After Hours tickets can be purchased separately. WOMEN ARE SET FOR BATTLE OF BRITAIN AT THE VITALITY BIG HALF The elite women’s race at The Vitality Big Half is set to be a true Battle of Britain with the country’s best distance runners going head-to-head in London’s brand new half marathon on 4 March. Lily Partridge, who won the Seville Half Marathon last week in a course record time of 71 minutes and 9 seconds, heads the list of British women. Partridge, 26, is the fastest athlete in the field over the half marathon distance and will be using the race to prepare for her London Marathon debut in April. Charlotte Purdue, who is also preparing for the London Marathon, will be on the start line along with Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels – who are both running the marathon at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April. The bronze medallist from last year’s World Championships marathon and Britain’s fastest marathon runner in 2017 have been added to the stunning elite men’s field that already features Sir Mo Farah, Callum Hawkins and 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru. t h i s i s l o n d o n m a g a z i n e • t h i s i s l o n d o n o n l i n e

HAMLEYS: THE FINEST TOY SHOP IN THE WORLD As a boy, William Hamley dreamed of opening the best toy shop in the world, and in fact, he did. In 1760, he opened ‘Noah’s Ark’ and filled it with every type of toy, from rag dolls to tin soldiers. By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Hamleys was already a London landmark. The shop was so successful that a new branch was opened on Regent Street in 1881 and added a further five floors of toys. Hamleys, filled with everything from toy theatres, puppets, pedal cars and miniature railways trains, had become the largest toy shop in the world. Just like everyone else, Hamleys faced hard times in the 1920s, and was forced to close in 1931. But the story has a happy ending. Walter Lines bought Hamleys and worked hard to bring customers back. In 1938, his efforts were rewarded when Queen Mary gave Hamleys the Royal Warrant. Even though it was bombed five times during World War II, Hamleys did not stop. Wearing tin hats, staff served at the shop entrance, rushing in to collect the toys then handing them over at the door. When she came to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II showed she still remembered the toys her grandmother had given her, and in turn gave Hamleys toys to her own children. In 1955, she honored Walter Lines with a second Royal Warrant as a ‘Toys and Sports Merchant.’ The toys may have changed, but if he were here today, William Hamley would recognise the same delighted faces that he dreamt of in his shop as a boy. Its famous location at 188-196 Regent Street has over seven floors of toys and games that are sure to delight any child. With over 255 years of experience in bringing smiles and joy to children, Hamleys is known and trusted by families all over the world. Hamleys Toy Shop is situated mid-way along Regent Street. The nearest underground is Oxford Circus. 7 t h i s i s l o n d o n m a g a z i n e • t h i s i s l o n d o n o n l i n e

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