10 Great Books to Help You Find the Meaning of Life…


For each of us, the meaning of life is different. But, we are all seeking answers so we can find our own meaning of life. For some of us, this is a lifelong journey. For others, it is a matter of taking the right steps to figure out why we are here, and what we are meant to do with our lives. There are several great books out there that can help you find the meaning of your own life. Here are our top 10 picks.

1. To be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future

to be told

Dan Allender tends to use a lot of Christian language in his work, but his writing can help anyone who wants to learn more about themselves and do better in life. The more you know about yourself, the better able you will be to understand why you do what you do, and how to make changes that will lead to your success in life.

2. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living


Author Howard Cutler wrote this Dalai Lama-inspired book for a Western audience. He talks about how important happiness is, and how easy it is to achieve.

3. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose


Check your ego at the door, and enjoy a more abundant life. This is the message from spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, who talks about how the ego is the cause of all conflict in life. This book was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club, and has been read by millions.

4. The Hundred-Year Marathon

3) The Hundred-Year Marathon

This is a book chronicling the secret strategy of China to usurp the US as the global superpower. Author Michael Pillsbury, who has served in senior national security positions within the US government, uses his own personal knowledge of the subject (based on his career experiences) to give us this wake-up call to challenges within national security.

5. Let Your Life Speak


This book by Parker Palmer is a great book about work and meaning. The ideas in the book will help you with your vocation, by letting you see the author’s journey. There are loads of great quotes, which you are likely to read many times over for daily inspiration and affirmation.

6. The Celestine Prophecy


Written by James Redfield (also his first self-published book), The Celestine Prophecy is part adventure and part New Age spirituality. It is about one man’s journey around Peru to discover nine insights into spirituality. Yes, the plot may be a bit cheesy, but the story is insightful and captivating.

7. The Artist’s Way


This is a great book for artists who are stuck in their work. Read about the 12-week journey that will help you get back on track with your art so you can get back to working on the greatest masterpiece of your life.

8. The Alchemist


Written by Paulo Coelho, this is the story of a shepherd’s journey to the Egyptian pyramids to find treasure. Learn how to discover your own legend, be your own purpose, and understand omens.

9. Dream Year


This book is new this year, but it is good enough to be included in the company of these other great books. Written by Ben Arment, author ofSeattle’s Pitch Night, this book is for entrepreneurs and anyone else who has big dreams and wants to find ways to see those dreams come to fruition.

10. The Secret


Based on the 2004 film of the same title and written by Rhonda Byrne (television producer, Melbourne), The Secret talks about the laws of attraction. This is a book that is going to show you how to believe in what you want, and actually get it because you believe in it.

Featured photo credit: Brittany Stevens via flickr.com


10 Tips To Enjoy Your First Shore Excursion…


The cruise ship industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors involving tourism today. From fresh college graduates to retirees, families and newlyweds – there’s a trip for everybody. In fact, about 20 percent of the U.S. population has already taken at least ONE cruise, and more are slowly joining the trend.

Cruise trips are fun not just because of the sumptuous margaritas and spa on board. What usually makes these trips unforgettable are the various shore excursions that come with the holiday package. A shore excursion is basically a land-based trip that comes with each port visit. Depending on the cruise company and destination of your choice, there are an almost unlimited number of activities to suit every taste and individual.

There are Caribbean shore excursions for those longing for some sand, sea, and sun during their honeymoon. For active folks who want to explore the Last Frontier, Alaska shore excursions will take you to Anchorage, Denali, and Girdwood with no problem. These trips also cater to exotic locations such as Southeast Asia, Europe, and all else in between.

But hopping onboard your first cruise can feel daunting. What if the trip was NOT what you expected? Is there a chance that you’ll get left behind during sightseeing?

Although cruises come with their own setbacks, there’s no great adventure without a little risk. For the first-time traveler, here are a few basic tips to enjoy your first cruise and shore excursion:

1. Decide on a number of destinations beforehand.

This is where it all begins. If you don’t have a Bucket List yet, it’s never too late to make one. Look at a map and pinpoint specific locations that you want to visit. In what continents are they located? Which specific cities are you most interested in? What attractions would you prioritize? You can use traditional pen and paper to jot down notes OR use online discovery tools such as Pinterest to collect ideas.

2. List what you want to do.

What type of activities can you imagine yourself enjoying?

In general, there are two types of shore excursions: active and sightseeing.Active shore excursions feature all kinds of activities: from snorkeling and diving to ziplining, kayaking, and snowboarding. Sightseeing shore excursions, on the other hand, are more leisurely and focus on seeing the main attractions of each destination. Do consider these before booking. You don’t want to end up paying for a zipline trip when all you want to do is shop.

3. Do your homework.

It’s a good idea to take your time researching the type of cruise trip and shore excursion you want. Look at different websites and find out about discounts BEFORE jumping into anything. Ask friends and family members for recommendations. Read related articles, guidebooks, travel websites, and even call tourism bureaus if you must.Bookmark sites that have special offers and/or discounts.

Take advantage of customer care hotlines for any questions you may have.

4. Narrow down your options.

Choosing a cruise line and accompanying excursion is easy if you’re traveling alone – but this becomes somewhat challenging if you’re taking friends or family members along. Be sure you all agree on the final plan BEFORE purchasing! This prevents arguments that might arise during the trip. If you’ll be with children and/or seniors, don’t forget to account for their needs when narrowing down your options for a holiday cruise.

5. Manage your finances (and other necessities) carefully.

Even if you already paid for the shore excursion package, don’t be caught without emergency cash on hand. Prepare about $50 (more, if you can afford it) in bills for unexpected instances. Buy anything that you might need beforehand, such as medicines. Ask your bank about using a credit card in your chosen destinations. Don’t forget health insurance and international roaming (when applicable).

Download the apps you’ll be using for the duration of your trip as well.

6. Consider advanced bookings/reservations.

When booking your cruise, you’ll encounter an option to either pre-book shore excursions (pay in advance) OR wait until you’re onboard. There are perks to reserving your slots ahead of time. The first is that you’re sure to get first dibs on must-do tours (like dolphin-watching or SUV off-road adventures in the Caribbean), because these usually tend to sell out days before the actual trip.


But if you’re still undecided or the cruise line offers different excursions that you might want to participate in, then waiting might be your best bet.

7. Familiarize yourself with policies and inclusions.

If you did book your shore excursion beforehand BUT it got cancelled at the last minute, you should know how to protect yourself. Be sure to familiarize yourself with tour policies and cancellations. ALWAYS read the fine print!How will your money be refunded for such cases? Will they put you in a different tour with the same value? What items or extras are included in your cruise trip?

If you’re not sure, get in touch with customer care and ask LOTS of questions.

8. Prepare for emergencies.

One thing that deters most folks from trying cruise holidays is that they hear plenty of people say that the tours don’t go as expected. However, if you plan for them ahead of time – and account for emergencies – you’ll get more out of what you paid for. For example: if you’re going on a dolphin-watching adventure and it says that the only thing included in the tour would be bottled water, ask if you can bring snacks. If you have kids or seniors with you, you’ll be glad you took the extra precaution.

Know your limits for active shore excursions. Don’t take adventures that your body might not handle well.

9. Remember meet-up times.

Most shore excursions these days feature independent travel. That means the transportation will simply drop you off at the main attraction or city, then it’s up to you to explore at your own pace. What’s important here is toremember your meet-up time. Secure tickets and other important documents while on the trip. If you can get the mobile number of a responsible cruise staff, then do so. This is particularly helpful for solo travelers.

It’s better to arrive early at meet-up points than risk getting left behind. Although cruise-backed shore excursions do NOT leave without all buses or passengers accounted for, you don’t want to delay the schedule for everybody else.

10. Be ready to negotiate.

The skill of negotiation will come in handy at certain points during your trip. You may need to bargain with local tour guides or cab drivers while in port to get the best rates. Or your original shore excursion might get cancelled and so you need to discuss other options with the ship’s activities coordinator. Either way, be ready for such situations. This is something you need to anticipate so you won’t be surprised later on.

With more than 20 million passengers enjoying a cruise holiday each year, you don’t want to be left behind in completing your Bucket List. Visit amazing places like Beijing, Jerusalem, Trinidad, Vienna, and Johannesburgwith various cruises and shore excursions available today.

Once you’re familiar with port protocols and basic cruise etiquette, you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy cruise holidays. In fact, you may even wonder why you didn’t take one sooner!

Featured photo credit: Link Hoang/unsplash.com via unsplash.com


7 Extreme Summer Activities To Remind You That You’re Alive…


There’s nothing like a little adrenaline rush to bring perspective to your life! Here are 7 things (ok, technically way more than 7) you can do this summer if you’re feeling adventurous, extreme, or just plain out of your mind.

1. I Feel the Need, the Need for Speed!

Whether you’re like Ricky Bobby and just want to go fast, or if you’ve ever wanted to be a race-car driver for a day and try out a high performance Formula One car, there are plenty of driving experience facilities and schools where you can push Porsche, Ferrari, and BMW automobiles to the red line. Of course, if you’re already the proud owner of an exceptionally speedy vehicle, you might try taking it down to the Mojave Mile and push 200 mph in the desert.


2. Extreme Distance Under Extreme Circumstance

Nothing says extreme like running the equivalent of five and a half marathons through a 100 degree desert over a 6 day time span. TheMarathon Des Sables in Morocco is one such foot race. It requires competitors to train for years to compete, lest they become casualties in the Sahara heat.


For those who aren’t quite as keen on the life-and-death aspect of racing, there’s always the Sopelana Naturist Race in Spain, where you can run a nude 5k at whatever pace you like.

3. Sharks, Bulls, and Crocodiles, Oh My!

For those that really want to get extreme with animals, riding an eight-second bull is always a thrill, but running from them instead is even scarier. This is what thousands of people do in Pamplona, Spain every year from the 6th to 14th of July.


If The Running of the Bulls isn’t your cup of tea, maybe fishing for bulls is – bull sharks that is. It will sate your appetite for large animal encounters. While there’s nothing quite like shark fishing to make you really appreciate the power of these animals, only the most extreme will swim in a cage with them in the open ocean. Shark-powered surfing would be at the top of the list, if it weren’t fake.

What’s not fake is the 16 foot long crocodile that you can get face to face with when you enter the Cage of Death in Australia. If you can handle 15 minutes with nothing but a couple of inches of glass between you and these prehistoric beasts, you’ll survive the once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re too afraid, well, just don’t let them see your crocodile tears.


4. Bugs, Blood, Poison, and Devil’s Water

Maybe live animal experiences aren’t your thing. Perhaps you prefer them dead and on a plate in front of you. Japanese wasp-filled crackers are just one delicacy to try this summer. While you’re in Asia you might also check out balut, a half-developed bird (usually duck), that is boiled and slurped out of the shell.


If you’re feeling really extreme, find somebody that knows how to prepare the dangerous pufferfish, Fugu, considered a dangerous delicacy. You have to have a license to serve this fish, and the only way to obtain it is to prepare and eat it yourself. If you survive, you get your license. If you find yourself fixated with poisonous delicacies, you might try a cobra blood and heart shooter, which is exactly what it sounds like. Because the heart is served still beating, certain animal rights groups deem the practice inhumane.


If animals are out of the question for your extreme summer dining experiences, then maybe the world’s spiciest tequila will do the trick for you? Devil’s Water is a seven pepper tequila infusion that includes the spicy habanero pepper. This drink will make you cry if you’re not prepared for it, so make sure to pick out a tequila you enjoy and stock up on tissues to wipe your nose and eyes with.


5. There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough…

What’s more extreme that conquering a mountain by climbing to its summit? Climbing five in a row, of course. The Mt. Huashan peaks rise up 7000 feet above the Shaanxi Province in China. They are littered with Taoist temples, and are only accessible by treacherously narrow planks and stairs carved into the cliff face. If you can get over the heights, the range is a beauty to behold.


While you might expect to see Everest on this list, climbing mountains is tough work. Why trek up to the summit when instead you can just skydive past it? Forget expending the effort climbing up and down, just let an airplane and gravity do all the work.


Speaking of gravity, those that prefer keeping their feet firmly planted might want to try Nicaragua’s hottest new activity, volcano surfing (pun absolutely intended). Cerro Negro is an active volcano outside of Leon, Nicaragua. Somehow, that doesn’t stop visitors from hiking and boarding down its slopes!


6. Going Crazy in City Limits

The outdoors might not be for everybody trying to get their thrill seeking fix. For those that find comfort among the glass, asphalt, and metal of city skyscrapers, the Edge Walk in Toronto might just be the ticket for a good time. The CN Tower stands 116 storeys above the ground. Participants are encouraged to push their limits and lean back, allowing nothing but the tether to keep them from falling to the street below.


While many enjoy going to the intense Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas every summer, few will have the guts to hang suspended off the side of the stratosphere while they spin around for the Insanity Ride. While you get a full view of the Las Vegas lights, the sounds of your own screaming may be slightly distracting.


7. Cool Off In the Ocean

There’s nothing like catching a little sun by the pool during the summer, unless that pool is a deep dark tunnel that extends roughly 666 feet into the ocean. Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest known seawater tunnel. The world’s unassisted freediving record holder, William Trubridge, conquered 100 meters of it in 2011.


For those just trying to beat the summer heat, a quick kayaking trip to Antarctica may be in order. Paddling through frigid waters and floating ice might seem like a chore at first, but the unique sights of glaciers and marine life like seals and whales make this experience worth it.


Just Remember…

While living life on the edge can be exhilarating and produce unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, nobody wants to begin a summer that they won’t come back from. Even those who plan on a relatively mundane season would do well to brush up on and observe summer safety protocols now and again.

That said, don’t let anything stop you from going out and having the summer of your life. Sometimes getting your blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing in the sunshine are just what the doctor ordered to remind you what it is to be alive!


TURKEY-Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: At least 36 dead and dozens injured…

A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport has killed 36 people and injured more than 140, officials say.

Three attackers opened fire near an entry point to the terminal late on Tuesday and blew themselves up after police fired at them, officials say.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs suggested the so-called Islamic State was behind the attack.

Recent bombings have been linked to either IS or Kurdish separatists.

Tuesday’s attack looked like a major co-ordinated assault, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen.

Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, our Turkey correspondent adds, reporting from a plane stuck on the tarmac in Istanbul.

There are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.

Pictures from the airport terminal showed bodies covered in sheets, with glass and abandoned luggage littering the building.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world,” he said.

The US called the attack “heinous”, saying America remained “steadfast in our support for Turkey”.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We grieve for the victims. We stand by Turkey”.

‘Dressed in black’

Speaking several hours after Tuesday’s attack, Mr Yildirim said at least 36 people were killed and many wounded, some seriously, with foreigners likely to be among the victims.

He said the attackers had arrived at the airport in a taxi.

Footage on social media shows one of the attackers running in the departure hall as people around him flee. He is shot by police and remains on the ground for about 20 seconds before blowing himself up.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag put the number of injured at 147.

Taxis were used to rush casualties to hospital after the attack. Desperate relatives of those missing later gathered outside a local hospital where many victims were taken. Some expressed anger about the lack of information.

Flights in and out of the airport were suspended after the attack. The US Federal Aviation Administration initially grounded all services between the US and Istanbul but the stoppage was later lifted.

Some flights have now resumed at the airport.

People walk away from Istanbul Ataturk airportImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionTerrified passengers were seen leaving the airport on foot
An armed police officer at Istanbul's Ataturk airportImage copyrightAFP
Image captionArmed police sealed off the area
A Kalashnikov assault rifle is seen on the floor at Ataturk airportImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA Kalashnikov assault rifle was later found at the scene of the attack
Ambulances arrive at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast June 28, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionAmbulances flocked to the airport after explosions were heard
Medics take an injured man to hospital in IstanbulImage copyrightEPA
Image captionA number of injured people were taken to local hospitals

Eyewitness Paul Roos told the Associated Press news agency that he was due to fly home to South Africa when the attackers struck.

“We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,” he said.

“There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a handgun.”

Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium whose capital city was targeted by bombers in March, tweeted from the EU summit in Brussels: “Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at Istanbul’s airport. We condemn these atrocious acts of violence.”

#Pray for Turkey began trending on Twitter after the attack.

In December, a blast on the tarmac at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner. That attack was claimed by a Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK).

Major recent attacks


7 June, Istanbul: Car bomb kills seven police officers and four civilians. Claimed by Kurdish militant group TAK

19 March, Istanbul: Suicide bomb kills four people in shopping street. IS blamed.

13 March, Ankara: Car bomb kills 34. Claimed by TAK.

17 February, Ankara: 29 killed in attack on military busses. Claimed by TAK

12 January, Istanbul: 11 Germans killed by Syrian bomber in tourist area


23 December, Istanbul: Bomb kills cleaner at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. Claimed by TAK

10 October, Ankara: More than 100 killed at peace rally outside railway station. Claimed by IS

20 July, Suruc, near Syrian border: 34 people killed in bombing in Kurdish town. IS blamed

More than 61 million passengers travelled through Ataturk airport in 2015.

However, security concerns and a Russian boycott over last year’s downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border have hit the Turkish tourist sector this year.

A US state department travel warning for Turkey, originally published in March and updated on Monday, urges US citizens to “exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.”


25 Things That You Must Do If You Ever Visit England…

25 Roman Baths

roman baths


The Roman Baths give visitors the ability to still see how public bathing was done in the 19th century. Guests can check out the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, and the other buildings on its street level however, the bath themselves are located below the modern street level. This area receives around 1 million visitors per year and was featured in the 2005 TV Program “Seven Natural Wonders” as one of the wonders of the Western world.

24 Seven Sister Country Park

seven sisters country park


The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel at South Downs National Park. It has 280 hectares of chalk cliffs and open chalk grassland. Visitors have the option of cycling, canoeing, bird watching and hiking in the area. It is one of Britain’s untouched coastlines and it’s currently being managed by East Sussex County Council.

23 University of Cambridge

university of cambridge


Aside from being the center of public research in the United Kingdom, it is also the second oldest university in the English-Speaking world. Visitors will be able to appreciate the cultural and practical associations that the university portrays. Today, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate university and has a student population of 18,000 with 31 colleges occupying the various locations. The university offers students art centers, sports clubs and other school related amenities.

22 Chinatown in London

chinatown london


At the start of the 20th century at the East End of London, a lot of Chinese immigrants set up their businesses in order to cater to Chinese sailors who were frequently in the docklands. However, due to damage from the WWII Blitz; growing popularity of the Chinese cuisine; and an influx of immigrants from Honk Kong, it led to an increase of Chinese restaurants being opened elsewhere. Today, you can still find London’s finest and most authentic Asian cuisine off of Shaftesbury Avenue.

21 The Eden Project



The UK is striving to be a leader in the sustainable growth sector and has proven this goal when they opened the Eden Project. This area is home to numerous social and environmental projects. Visitors of the Eden Project will be able to see creative and stunning gardens as well as different artworks. It is also a place for music events and is the home of valuable plant and conservation research. This is definitely more than just a theme park. It is a place where people can learn with the help of interactive displays and detailed information provided in the 10 hectares of rockeries and gardens.

20 Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City

Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City


Visitors can check out the six areas in this historic center and docklands. It tells the story of how the UK developed all throughout the centuries.  This dock holds the story of the mass movement of people, slaves, and immigrants that came from northern Europe to America.  Today, it is a picture of modern dock technology complete with transport systems, port management and the home of significant commercial, civic and public buildings like St. George’s Plateau. However, due to it’s modernization, it has been labeled as an endangered World Heritage Site, one of only two in Europe.

19 Hadrian’s Wall

hadrian's wall


This place was once a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. They begun constructing the area in AD 122, during the time of Emperor Hadrian. The region served as a military fortification, a customs post, and levy taxation area. Visitors are still able to see a significant portion of the wall that has been rescued through the efforts of John Clayton during the 19th century.

18 Durham Castle

durham castle


This castle has been occupied since the 1840′s by the University College, Durham. Today, this place is open to the general public, but only with the help of guided tours since it is still being used as a working building by over a hundred students. This lovely castle sits on top of a hill in the River Wear on Durham’s Peninsula and is opposite the Durham Cathedral. This castle was first built in the 11th century as a way to project King Norman’s power and prestige in the north of England. It is an example of what early bailey and motte castles look like.

17 The Malvern Hills and Commons

malvern hills and commons


The Malvern Hills are a range of hills in the English counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and a small area of northern Gloucestershire. This place contains some of the oldest rocks in Britain. Mostly igneous and metamorphic rocks from the late pre-Cambrian known as the Uriconian, which are around 680 million years old! Today, people are be able to enjoy the 3000 acres of the open countryside or climb the highest point at the Worcestershire Beacon and even relax while viewing the wooded slopes.

16 York Minster

york minster


This is considered to be one of the best cathedrals in York, England and is also the largest in Northern Europe. Guests can enjoy the Gothic nave and chapter house. Visitors also love the medieval stained glass and the Five Sisters Window that is over 16 meters (52 ft.) tall. It was constructed as a clear Christian presence during the 14th century. The place also has an attached school and library that was created during the 18th century.

15 Royal Observatory Greenwich

royal observatory greenwich


This place has played a significant role in the history of navigation and astronomy. It is located on the hill in Greenwich Park, and is overlooking the River Thames. The Royal Observatory has been commissioned by King Charles II for the special purpose of “rectifying the motions of the heavens and the places of the fixed stars and in order to find the desired longitude of places in order to master the art of navigation.” The place is currently being maintained in the UK as a tourist attraction.The two clocks in the area were built by Thomas Tompion and were installed in the principal room of the building.

14 Soho of London

soho of london


Soho will always be a word connected with live entertainment, sumptuous food and pulsing nightlife. It is the main location for celebrations in London and contains quirky shops. Tourists can go on a walking tour and relax in the Soho Square. It is also a place to locate luxurious hotels and the place to find delicious and cheap snacks as well as fine dining restaurants in London.
Soho of London is likewise a place to check live theatre and performance; the place to see big budget musicals and important plays as well as some smaller stand up acts.

13 Lake District National Park

lake district national park


It is often referred as The Lakes and is located in a mountainous region in the North West England. It is famous due to its amazing lakes, forests and mountains. Visitors will be delighted to know that the place is associated with 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the other Lake Poets.The place also has the deepest and longest lakes in England like the Windermere and the Wastwater. The UK is trying to enter it into World Heritage Status in the cultural landscape category.

12 Westminster Abbey

westminster abbey


The Westminster Abbey is a large, Gothic Church located in the City of Westminster, London. It is where coronations occur and is also the burial site for the English and later the British monarchs of the Commonwealth realms. According to historical accounts by Sulcard in the 1080, the Abbey was first established in the time of Mellitus, Bishop of London. Up to the present time, the Fishmonger’s company still gives a salmon a year in the area since this was a community act during the early 1970s.

11 The British Museum

the british museum


This place has been created for the purpose of keeping the memory of human history and culture. It contains permanent collections that number to a total of eight million works. It is considered to hold some of the most comprehensive collections from various continents. It started in 1753 and contained mosts of the collections of physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum opened its doors to visitors on the 15th of January, 1759.

10 Shakespeare’s Hometown

shakespeare's hometown


Every writer and literature lover in the world is sure to be thrilled to visit Shakespeare’s hometown. The place has surprisingly been well-preserved and will show some of the remnants of the life of the English poet and playwright who has been regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.

9 Warwick Castle

warwick castle


Warwick Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century but was originally made of wooden motte-and bailey. It is considered one of the best symbols of 14th century military architecture and was also used as a stronghold in the 17th century. In its previous look it consisted of a mound, which was usually used as a keep or a tower and a bailey with an enclosed courtyard.

8 Lizard Peninsula

lizard peninsula


The name “Lizard” according to some researchers is a corruption of the Cornish name “ Lyds Ardh”, which means high court. The name Lizard Peninsula must have come from a Celtic name and was formed during the Iron Age and Roman Period. In the past, it was often called as the “Graveyard of Ships” due to the fact that this place is dangerous to shipping. Historical information claims that the area was previously inhabited with the discovery of burial mounds and stones.

7 Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

madame tussauds museum london


A famous wax museum in London that has branches in different major cities, it was created by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It contains the lifelike likenesses of historical and royal figures, film stars, models, sports stars and infamous murderers. Marie Tussaud was able to model famous people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin during their time. She was even able to model prominent victims in the French Revolution and made wax models of decapitated heads.

6 Tower of London

tower of london


Also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, it is a historical castle located on the North bank of the River Thames in central London. It was founded at the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. It served as a royal residence and contains a complex of several buildings within the two concentric rings of defensive walls. Throughout history it has been besieged several times and has been used as a treasury, menagerie and at the same time an armory.

5 Canterbury Cathedral

canterbury cathedral


This place is considered to be the most popular Christian Structure in England. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the main leader of the Church of England and considered the symbolic leader of the Anglican Communion.The church was rebuilt from 1070 to 1077 and was made larger. It was then renovated to have a Gothic style in 1174 in order to be able to house pilgrims who are visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket. Thomas Becket was the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in the 1170.

4 Going Places Cotsworlds

going places cotsworld


The cotswolds is a range of hills in the Southwestern and West-central England. It has a width of 25 miles and is 145 km long. The area is filled with attractive small towns and villages that are built underlying the Cotswold stone. The place is rich in limestone particularly fossilized sea urchins. During the Middle Ages, it was an important route for wool trade which is what made Cotswolds prosperous.

3 Stonehenge



This place is considered to be one of the most famous sites in the world. One can feel the dense complex of the Neolithic age and the Bronze Age as one sets foot in this area. Archaeologists believe that this place was created from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. But some are claiming with the use of radiocarbon dating that the first stones were raised from 2400 to 2200 BC. It was added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 and some studies released in 2008 stated that Stonehenge may have been a burial ground in the past.

2 Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site


This is included in the list of World Heritage Sites on the English Channel along the coast of Southern England. In historical records during World War II, some of the sections of the Jurassic Coast became the property of the Ministry of War and were used as a military training ground. Today, however, it has been returned to civilian use.

1 Natural History Museum

national history museum london


It was officially known as the British Museum until 1992. It is the home of life and earth science specimens that range over to over 70 million items.Visitors can see collections related to mineralogy, paleontology,  zoology, and entomology. The best part? There is no admission fee!


Brexit: What happens now?…

Parliament at dawnImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The UK has voted to leave the EU – a process that has come to be known as Brexit. Here is what is likely to happen next.

Dawn breaks

At exactly 06:00 BST it was confirmed that the UK had voted to leave the European Union. The first thing to stress is that the UK will not leave immediately. The UK is still a member of the EU and will probably remain so for several years. The process of leaving will begin, however.

David Cameron’s resignation statement

David Cameron outside Downing StreetImage copyrightPA

In a statement outside Downing Street, David Cameron said the government would respect the result and carry out the instructions of the British people.

Although it was his responsibility to remain in No 10 to “steady the ship” – including by attending a meeting of EU leaders next week – he announced he would step down in the autumn as he was not the right “captain to steer the country to its next destination”.

A new Tory leader and prime minister is expected to be elected by the end of September.

The markets react

City analystImage copyrightPA

Market reaction to the referendum result has been immediate and dramatic.

The FTSE 100 index of leading shares fell 8% after opening in London. There was a big sell-off of bank shares, with Barclays and RBS down by more than 30%.

The value of the pound has also been hit hard on the foreign exchange markets, tumbling to lows not seen since 1985. At one stage, it hit $1.3305, a fall of more than 10%.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney – who is likely to emerge as a key figure in the coming days – said some “market and economic volatility” could be expected in the wake of the Brexit vote but the Bank was well prepared.

He said it stood ready to offer all necessary assistance to ensure financial stability, including £250bn of extra liquidity for the banking system and potential support for sterling.

Some in the Leave camp acknowledged there would be a short-term “blip” in the markets but insist things will quickly return to normal.

European leaders respond

Angela Merkel and Francois HollandeImage copyrightEPA

All EU leaders wanted the UK to stay in the bloc and a Leave vote has been met with dismay across the Channel.

Hastily-convened meetings are now taking place in Brussels and across foreign capitals on how to deal with the fallout of the UK’s decision with an emergency summit likely next week.

European Council President Donald Tusk has called for calm, saying the vote is historic but “not a moment for hysterical reactions” – appealing for unity among the EU’s 27 other members.

What will happen next is difficult to predict. A long, hard road of negotiations between the UK and EU beckons although it is unclear when this process – likely to take years – will begin.

EU leaders are worried about the prospect of “contagion”, with the UK’s decision already fuelling demands from populist, anti-EU parties in other countries, including France and the Netherlands – for referendums of their own on EU membership.

Europe’s leaders will want a joint declaration of a determination to continue – and there will be demands for the UK to set out where it stands on key issues such as free movement, to reassure the 2.9 million EU citizens living in the UK that they will not be deported.

Pushing the exit button

Mr Cameron has said it should be up to the next prime minister to decide when to activate Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty – setting in motion the formal legal process of withdrawing from the EU.

Once Article 50 is triggered, there is no way back into the EU unless by unanimous consent from all other member states.

But quitting the EU is not an automatic process – it has to be negotiated with the remaining members. These negotiations are meant to be completed within two years but the European Parliament has a veto over any new agreement formalising the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Leave campaigners have said there is no need to trigger Article 50 immediately, suggesting that first there should be a period of informal discussions with other EU members and the European Commission to iron out the main issues and the likely timetable.

The idea, they say, would be to allow other EU leaders the time to realise they need a “friendly” trade deal with the UK to continue exporting their consumer goods into the British market without tariffs.

There is also a suggestion that Article 50 should not be invoked until after the French presidential elections in May 2017 and the German parliamentary elections next year to avoid Brexit becoming an issue in the campaigns.

Also Britain could, technically, ignore all of this, the Vote Leave campaign says, and simply write the EU out of its laws, although that wouldn’t make future negotiations any easier.

As only one part of one country has ever left the European Community – Greenland more than 30 years ago (read Carolyn Quinn’s feature on how they left) – we will be in uncharted territory here.

Exit negotiations begin

European council of ministersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

So, depending on when the prime minister triggers Article 50, perhaps at some time in late summer, or early autumn 2016, negotiations will begin in Brussels on the terms of its exit and the nature of the UK’s subsequent relationship with the EU.

This would involve not only rescinding the European Communities Act, which gives primacy to EU law in the UK, but also sifting through an estimated 80,000 pages of EU agreements, which have been enacted over the past five decades, to decide which will be repealed, amended or retained – a process which Parliament will want to oversee.

After two years, the UK would no longer be bound by existing EU Treaties unless both it and the other 27 states agree unanimously to extend the process of negotiations.

Parliament will not stay silent

The Big Ben bell in the Elizabeth Clock TowerImage copyrightAP

The majority of the UK’s 650 MPs are in favour of Britain staying in the EU and while they will have to respect the will of the British people, they will not be silent bystanders.

There are already moves among the 450 or so MPs who want to stay in the EU, across the Labour, Conservative, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green parties, to keep the UK in the single market in any exit negotiations.

This would mean Britain would have to keep its borders open to EU workers and continue paying into EU coffers.

They say it would be legitimate for MPs to do this because the Leave campaign has refused to spell out what trading relationship it wants the UK to have with the EU in the future – and it would demonstrate the sovereignty of Parliament the Leavers were so keen to restore.

During the campaign, Vote Leave called for immediate legislation to pave the way for Britain’s formal exit by the next election due in 2020, the centrepiece of which would be repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, the brief piece of legislation that brought the country into the European Economic Community, as it was then known.

Who would lead Britain’s negotiations?

Michael GoveImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMichael Gove is seen by Conservatives as a pivotal figure in the transition to a new leadership

Then there is the question of who will do the negotiating for Britain.

The most senior members of the government – David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Theresa May – are all Remain supporters and some of them may choose to depart when the PM stands down.

During the campaign, the Leave side said that it would be happy for existing ministers and senior civil servants – including cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood – to lead the negotiations although they would expect senior Leave figures to play a very prominent role, as well as figures from other parties, business, law and civil society.

Now, however, it seems certain the next prime minister – whoever they may be – will take charge of the process. Could this be Boris Johnson or Michael Gove – both of whom were tipped for major promotions whatever the outcome of the vote.

Summer 2018 – exit looms

As the Article 50 two-year deadline approaches after the vote to leave, the prime minister of the day will be under pressure to sort out the terms of Britain’s exit and a new trade deal with the EU before the country ceases to be a member.

It is possible, say Remain campaigners, that Britain’s membership could cease and the UK revert to trading with the EU under World Trade Organization rules, which would involve exporters being hit by import taxes, or tariffs.

The deal would have to be agreed by a qualified majority on the council of ministers and be ratified by the member states. It would also have to be agreed by the European Parliament and MPs at Westminster.

Under this scenario British ministers would return to Brussels, at some point, to negotiate a more favourable trade deal, which Remain campaigners have warned could take years, maybe even decades, to fully complete.

The Leave campaign insists that a favourable trade deal could be done fairly rapidly because it would not be in the interests of France and Germany to lose access to the British market for its consumer goods.

They also reject the two-year timetable for exit, saying the government should aim to complete negotiations on a new EU-UK trade deal by 2020.

The UK’s future up for grabs?

Scottish First Minister Nicola SturgeonImage copyrightAFP
Image captionWill the SNP seek to capitalise on the result by pushing for another independence vote?

The SNP warned during the campaign that if – as has happened – the UK overall voted to leave the EU but Scots voted to remain, Scotland would be taken out of the EU “against its will” and this could be the trigger for another independence vote.

Senior SNP figures have said the vote shows Scotland sees its future in the EU and the issue of its constitutional status could be revisited.

Former leader Alex Salmond has suggested a second independence referendum could take place within the next two and a half years, depending on how long it takes the UK to depart.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to win a majority in last month’s Holyrood elections means this will be harder to achieve and there are no guarantees that an independent Scotland would be admitted into the EU.

But the Brexit vote will fuel concerns in Westminster that the future of the Union is now in serious doubt.


A less than United Kingdom…

Leave campaignerImage copyrightPA
Image captionLeave campaigners are jubilant

The EU referendum has revealed an ancient, jagged fault line across the United Kingdom. It is a scar that has sliced through conventional politics and traditional social structures, and it is far from clear whether the kingdom can still call itself united.

The referendum was ostensibly about membership of the European Union. But voters took it to be asking a different question: what kind of country do you want Britain to be?

Yesterday seemed to offer a fork in the road: one path (Remain) promised it would lead to a modern world of opportunity based on interdependence; the other (Leave) was advertised as a route to an independent land that would respect tradition and heritage.

Which path people took depended on the prism through which they saw the world.

It has been striking to me how in one place almost everybody expressed genuine bewilderment that anyone would consider anything but a vote to leave, and in another neighbourhood they are quite baffled as to why people wouldn’t be desperate to remain.

The maps of how people voted show that this was a victory for the countryside over the cities, particularly in England. London, Manchester, Bristol, Leicester, Leeds and Liverpool – for the most part, the metropolitan centres voted to remain. But the further from the big city centres one travels, the more emphatically people voted to leave.

City dwellers are generally more comfortable with globalisation and diversity. Country dwellers are more traditional in their outlook.

Successful cities are places in flux, constantly evolving to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. A city without cranes is a city that is moribund.

But in market towns and rural villages, it is the opposite, with a focus on protecting heritage and celebrating history. It is a more conservative outlook that can see modern life as a threat, often nostalgic for a simpler, bucolic order.

Anti-London sentiment

At its most concentrated, this divide manifests itself as anti-London. There is a widespread view in the land beyond the M25 that the capital has been the driving force behind a globalising agenda that pays no regard to the customs and way of life of non-metropolitan Britain. London’s overwhelming vote to remain will simply be seen as evidence of how out of touch it has become.

How leave won the referendum

With Scotland voting overall to remain, and a similar picture in Northern Ireland, there will be powerful pressures upon the fabric of the UK. This country finds itself having to deal with an existential crisis.

Remain campaign placard in WestminsterImage copyrightPA
Image captionLondon was out of step with much of the rest of England

As smaller nations with greater anxiety about isolation and irrelevance, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw the choice in a markedly different way to England. The Scots will be asking themselves some serious questions about how their best interests are now served. Similar conversations will take place in parts of Northern Ireland.

For many English voters, this was an opportunity to wave the flag of St George and restore a sense of national pride. Many resented what they saw as special treatment for other parts of the UK, particularly Scotland. In some respects, the vote for Brexit was a vote for English nationalism.

It was also a vote to stop foreigners and foreign ways changing the character of neighbourhoods and communities.

Anxiety about immigration is one manifestation of a broader fear of globalisation – an alien force that makes people uneasy or frightened, emerging unbidden and unwanted from the strange planet London.

The rural/urban divide is matched by a generational divide: young people largely supported Remain because they tend to be unafraid of modernity and embrace difference; older people largely supported Leave because they are more comfortable with what is familiar and are less at ease with change.

So it was that, for many, the seat of power became not the solution but the problem. London’s “political class”, you will hear it said, has been determined to force its will on the rest of the country, using every devilish trick at its disposal to make sure it gets its way.

People take part in a flash mob Ceilidh dance in a show of support for the campaign to remain in Europe, ahead of the EU Referendum, in EdinburghImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionYoung people and those in Scotland were more inclined to support the European project

Before a vote was cast, a taxi driver in the north-west of England told me that Remain would win because the establishment would make sure it did. When I queried this view, he explained matter of factly that votes would be altered or the count fixed. To him, it was quite obvious.

He was not alone. In the days up to the referendum, Brexit supporters were advising each other to take a pen along to the polling station rather than use the pencil on offer when voting.

That belief in an establishment conspiracy will not go away with the result. The break with the EU will not be straightforward or swift. The disappointments of a messy Brexit, the concessions and compromises that real politics will demand, will test our system of governance.

Trust in politicians, already at very low levels, is likely to have been damaged still further by a campaign that saw both sides accuse the other of bare-faced lies, with institutions and authorities dismissed as corrupt, experts and public servants as biased.

The pillars of the British establishment have been damaged by the indiscriminate potshots of the disenchanted. Scepticism has given way to suspicion and cynicism. Our precious democracy has suffered injuries that will take years of careful work to repair.

The referendum has reminded us of a dangerous division that lies just beneath the surface of Britain.

The Leave share of the vote mapped

Industrial revolution

It is a volcanic gulf that has its origins in the furnaces of the Industrial Revolution. Traditional rural ways were crushed by the arrival of vast mechanised municipalities, and the legacy of that violent social upheaval lingers today.

In the century after 1750, Manchester was transformed from a market town of 18,000 inhabitants to a teeming metropolis of 300,000. It was a similar story in Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.

Those sucked into the gravitational pull of the new manufacturing centres were forced to adapt to urban dominance, but such was the resentment that it lives on to this day.

Nigel Farage with UKIP posterImage copyrightPA
Image captionNigel Farage and the Leave campaign successfully tapped into concern about levels of immigration

For the poor agricultural labourers marched from farm to factory, and for the rich landowners supplanted by ambitious industrialists, the new age of international trade was as horrifying as some regard the globalisation of today.

Then, as now, there was bewilderment at how anyone would willingly give up the certainties of age-old structures and customs for the risks of rapid social and economic change. Then, as now, equal bewilderment that anyone would willingly forgo the benefits of progress.

That is the ancient fault line that this referendum has exposed once again. The disillusioned of the left and the traditionalists of the right found common ground in opposing globalisation. The young, the well-educated and wealthy, those most resilient and optimistic, were far more willing to embrace the opportunities it offers.

It is a fault line across the UK, a scar that has never been properly treated. I do wonder now if it is more likely to tear apart than to be healed.


Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU…

Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he said he would attempt to “steady the ship” over the coming weeks and months but that “fresh leadership” was needed.

The PM had urged the country to vote Remain but was defeated by 52% to 48% despite London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backing staying in.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK’s “independence day”.

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results.

Flanked by his wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term and to then hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative conference in October.

It would be for the new prime minister to carry out negotiations with the EU and invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal, he said.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,” said Mr Cameron. “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”

Media captionEU vote: David Cameron says the UK “needs fresh leadership”

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said UK banks’ “substantial capital and huge liquidity” allowed them to continue to lend to businesses and households.

The Bank of England is ready to provide an extra £250bn of support, he added.

The referendum turnout was 71.8% – with more than 30 million people voting – the highest turnout at a UK-wide vote since 1992.

Mr Farage – who has campaigned for the past 20 years for Britain to leave the EU – told cheering supporters “this will be a victory for ordinary people, for decent people”.


Area-by-area in maps: See how people voted

Pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – who are both likely to be among contenders to be the party’s next leader and therefore PM – had signed a letter to Mr Cameron overnight urging him to stay on whatever the result.

Mr Johnson made no comment as he left his London home where a large crowd had gathered.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who called for the UK to remain in the EU but was accused of a lukewarm campaign, said poorer communities were “fed up” with cuts and felt “marginalised by successive governments”.

“Clearly there are some very difficult days ahead,” he said, adding that “there will be job consequences as a result of this decision”.

He said the point he had made during the campaign was that “there were good things” about the EU but also “other things that had not been addressed properly”.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said Labour’s leader had been “utterly gutless” in the way he approached the campaign.

Former Labour Europe Minister Keith Vaz said the EU should call an emergency summit to deal with the aftermath of the vote, which he described as “catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and for the rest of the world”.

Media captionNigel Farage: “Dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom”

Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier described the referendum result as as “a sad day for Europe and Great Britain”.

But Leave supporting Tory MP Liam Fox said voters had shown great “courage” by deciding to “change the course of history” for the UK and, he hoped, the rest of Europe.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the EU vote “makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union” after all 32 local authority areas returned majorities for Remain.

A less than united Kingdom

Mark Easton, BBC home editor

Taxi driver waves Union FlagImage copyrightREUTERS

The EU referendum has revealed an ancient, jagged fault line across the United Kingdom. It is a scar that has sliced through conventional politics and traditional social structures, and it is far from clear whether the kingdom can still call itself united.

The referendum was ostensibly about membership of the European Union. But voters took it to be asking a different question: what kind of country do you want Britain to be?

Yesterday seemed to offer a fork in the road: one path (Remain) promised it would lead to a modern world of opportunity based on interdependence; the other (Leave) was advertised as a route to an independent land that would respect tradition and heritage.

Which path people took depended on the prism through which they saw the world.

Read more from Mark

Britain is set to be the first country to leave the EU since its formation – but the Leave vote does not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc.

That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 – the date of the next scheduled general election.

Foreign exchange in TokyoImage copyrightAP
Image captionTraders in Tokyo monitor exchange rates

Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states.

Mr Cameron previously said he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a Leave vote but Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU have said he should not rush into it.

They also said they wanted to make immediate changes before the UK actually leaves the EU, such as curbing the power of EU judges and limiting the free movement of workers, potentially in breach of the UK’s treaty obligations.

The government will also have to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU and fix trade deals with non-EU countries.

In Whitehall and Westminster, there will now begin the massive task of unstitching the UK from more than 40 years of EU law, deciding which directives and regulations to keep, amend or ditch.

The Leave campaign argued during a bitter four-month referendum campaign that the only way Britain could “take back control” of its own affairs would be to leave the EU.

Leave dismissed warnings from economists and international bodies about the economic impact of Brexit as “scaremongering” by a self-serving elite.

The CBI said many businesses would be concerned about the referendum result.

It said “the urgent priority now is to reassure the markets”, but warned against “rushed decisions”.