Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Yank’s Tour of the BBC

In 2005, for my 40th birthday, we took a trip to London. In addition to all the other great stuff to see and do in London, we were anxious to see if we could get a tour of the BBC. At the time, I had a great fondness for British TV and watched quite a few shows, but not as many as I do now. I guess now it’s an obsession. (See my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com/.) We found out that, yes, the BBC does offer tours of their facility. So, we booked one.

The BBC Television Centre is located very close to the White City tube stop in West London. It was opened in June of 1960 and is considered one of the most recognizable TV facilities in the world. It’s been featured in the background of countless British TV shows, including Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which was shot inside the studios.

I wasn’t able to take any photographs inside, so I just have a few of the outside. Unfortunately, you can’t see the unique shape of the building from the ground. It’s actually shaped like a Question Mark. Supposedly, the building’s architect drew a question mark on a piece of paper thinking that it would be a perfect shape for the site.

Our tour started at 10:45am. Our tour guides were Debbie and Ollie. They were very entertaining and very knowledgeable. There was a lot of walking involved, up and down lots of stairs, down long hallways. The facility is huge. Being in the TV business, I had a lot of questions to ask. Basically, they do things the same way they do here. Freelance production personnel are sometimes hired for shows.

The tour included the newsroom where BBC World News is broadcast and two studios, seen from up above through the lighting grid. Top of the Pops was schedule to be taped later that day to air that night. The crew was setting up the stages and prepping for the shoot. Dr. Who, Fawlty Towers and Absolutely Fabulous are among the many programs taped or filmed in the studios.

They had a silly little weather center demonstration with a blue screen. Several members of our tour stood in front of it and played weatherman.

We saw the dressing rooms and heard some stories about celebrities that had stayed there. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember what stories they told us, but I do remember they were about a lot of the “divas” that would come to perform. They would have outlandish requests for things. Not unlike the “only green M&Ms” rumors you hear about rock stars.

Then there was a wacky quiz program that the tour was involved in. I was forced to be a contestant. They showed clips of shows and we had to answer questions about them. No knowledge of the show was needed. Just an observant eye. What color was Nigel’s shirt in that scene? Stuff like that. I won. My prizes, a BBC coffee cup and pen. Woo hoo!

From what I’ve read, the tour is pretty much the same today.  But they’ve added some props and memorabilia from BBC shows, including the Tardis from Dr. Who.   If you’ve never seen a TV studio before, it’s kind of fun to see behind the scenes and learn about some of your favorite TV shows. There are also opportunities to be a part of the studio audience during a show taping.   I would recommend the BBC Studio Tour, if you’re ever in London.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/

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Categories: Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mitchell’s Fish Market – Even if you’re not a seafood fanatic

TEDDY’s RATING: 

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m not a big seafood fan. So why would I go to a place called Mitchell’s Fish Market? Well, there were expiring gift cards involved, so I kind of had to go. But I definitely was not disappointed. Of course, I made sure ahead of time that they had several “Turf” choices on the menu.

First off, I’d like to shout out to our wonderful waitress, Aline. She was top-notch, making some excellent suggestions. She recommended the Elderflower and Pear cocktail. It sounded unusual, but Aline said it was very good. And it was. So much so that I wasn’t willing to let anyone else in my party take a sip! This signature drink contains Absolut Pear Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, champagne and fresh lemon juice. I love champagne drinks. This was light and bubbly, very refreshing.

Since I’m totally a Turf girl, I chose the pot roast for my entree. (Decided to forego the appetizer, soup or salad to save room for dessert.) It is served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was delicious, very tender and tasty. The rest of my family tried the Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta, the Lemon Chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and the Cod and Shrimp with Hush Puppies and coleslaw. All entrees were highly rated by all.

So, now we come to the dessert. Yes, the best part of every meal. Aline recommended two desserts, the towering 7 layer Carrot Cake and the “Sharkfin” pie. We got one of each. These desserts are gigantic. More than enough for sharing – with 27 of your closest friends.

The Carrot Cake was quite moist and sweet, but I have to say that my favorite Carrot Cake is still baked by The Dessert Lady.

“Sharkfin” pie, what a crazy name for a dessert, but when you see it, you’ll know why it’s called that. This dessert is a huge wedge of vanilla ice cream layered with chocolate fudge, peanut butter, a chocolate cookie crust and honey roasted peanuts. You’ll be hooked after your first Great White bite.

Mitchell’s has over 80 different menu items which change daily based on the availability of fresh seafood. Their website says they’re “absolutely, positively obsessed with freshness.” If it’s not 100% fresh, right off the boat, they don’t serve it. Their motto is “Fish any fresher would still be in the ocean.”

And to ensure their seafood is the freshest and the best, Mitchell’s is “chain of custody” certified. I had never heard of that before. It means that Mitchell’s has a screening process for their suppliers, so they know exactly what they’re getting and where it comes from.

I noticed that there are a lot of blogs out there devoted to gluten-free diets. All of you out there will be pleased to know that Mitchell’s has a gluten-free menu.

Mitchell’s has several locations across the eastern and central US including Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Date of Visit:  February 26, 2012

www.mitchellsfishmarket.com

Categories: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Blooming Magical at EPCOT

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Spring has sprung early and it’s already time for the 2012 EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. It starts today, March 7th!

I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to the festival, but since this is the 19th one, I must have gone 18 times! And I know that I will definitely keep going for years to come. There’s always something new to see. The displays are beautiful and you can’t help but take a million pictures. (Alas, not all million are posted here!)

Every year the entrance to the park and the entrance to World Showcase are redesigned with topiaries that showcase Disney characters or movies. This year will feature Fantasia at the park’s entrance.

In the past, they’ve featured Toy Story characters, Cars characters and our favorite Disney standards. The Disney landscapers and horticulturists always do a fantastic job designing over 100 different topiaries that are featured throughout the park. I’ve just included a few here, but will highlight more in a special story about the festival’s topiaries later this month.

I always take the Rose Walk, which goes between World Showcase and Future World.  If you time it right, there are hundreds of roses in bloom of all different varieties and colors. It may be a cliché, but I do always stop and smell these marvelous roses.

Make sure you take a stroll through the butterfly house which has grown in size over the years. Hundreds of butterflies all flying freely around you. It’s lovely.

HGTV will have their cavalcade of stars at the Designer’s Stage in the Festival Center including Jason Cameron from Desperate Landscapes, Monica Pedersen from Designed to Sell and Carter Oosterhouse from Million Dollar Rooms.

The Flower Power Concert series will feature performances by music legends from the 1960s and 1970s: Jose Feliciano, The Guess Who, The Turtles, The Spinners, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and more.

This year we will surely miss the beloved and extremely entertaining Davy Jones of The Monkees, who passed away last month. He usually opened or closed the Flower Power Concert series. He was scheduled to appear May 18 through 20. We love you and miss you Davy!

The festival runs every day at EPCOT from March 7 until May 20, 2012. Flower Power Concerts take place at the America Gardens Theatre at 5:15pm, 6:30pm and 7:45pm each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival.

Dates of Visit:  Yearly

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/

Categories: Disney, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Extra Day to Enjoy the Magic of Walt Disney World

For the first time ever, Walt Disney World kept the gates of the Magic Kingdom open for a full 24 hours. What a special way to spend that extra day of this leap year!

I have a weekday season pass, so I can go to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks pretty much anytime. I thought it would be a fun to check out the Magic Kingdom on this special day, this extra day of the year, to see what it would be like and who would be there.

Now, I’m not one of those diehard, mouse ear-wearing, pin collecting Disney fans, so I wasn’t there at 6:00am with plans to stay the whole 24 hours, although I’m sure there were many people who did just that. They were probably the ones walking around in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers. No kidding, I saw several people dressed like that.

11:30pm – Arrive at Magic Kingdom.

I was very surprised to see so many people still at the park. And not just adults. There were little kids wide awake and raring to go. I did catch some people sneaking in a few yawns, though. Most of them were weary parents.

Some of the rides still had long wait times. But since it was a special day, I waited 30 minutes to ride something I had never ridden before, the Astro Orbiter. Flying high in a spaceship – whoohoo! From there, back down to earth on the PeopleMover. It was kind of a long wait for that too.

It had been quite a while since I’d seen Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3-D movie, so caught that. Took Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. And then ventured into the Enchanted Tiki Room. I can’t even remember the last time I saw that show. But I tell you, it’s pretty surreal watching those animatronic birds at 2:00am!

Before heading out, rode Pirates of the Caribbean, which was only about a 5 minute wait. The Haunted Mansion is always a favorite, but the wait was 35 minutes, even at 2:30am. And believe it or not, at that time of night/morning, the wait for Peter Pan’s Flight was 40 minutes.

A special commemorative t-shirt saying “I Took a Leap and Didn’t Sleep. I Pulled an All-Nighter at the Magic Kingdom” was for sale, but when I was ready to buy one, they were sold out. The shirts would be available online, but only through March 1, 2012.  I put my order in!

3:30am – Leave Magic Kingdom

So, a mere four hours of extra magic for me. But it was a fun experience. If this turns out to be successful for Disney World, which I’m sure it was, there are plans to do it again in four more years. Let’s start the countdown…

Dates of Visit:  February 29 – March 1, 2012

Categories: Disney, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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