Dear Victoria, I heard about Fireworks Night but what’s the story? It sounded very bizarre…

Hi Perfect Cuppa, I’ve heard the British social season includes lots of events during the summer but somebody told me you have to get tickets way in advance? When do I need to start thinking about it?

Yes, that’s right, you need to be clued up to get tickets for events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and Royal Ascot. But the one you should really think about almost a year in advance is Wimbledon, as this is the event which is hardest to get tickets for. Te opening date for the UK Public Ballot is usually September 1st and it runs till mid-December. If you are success- ful in gaining a ticket, you will find out by mid-February and tickets are allocated randomly so you won’t be able to choose which game you go to. If you miss out on the public ballot then there are a limited number of tickets available online 48 hours in advance via Ticketmaster, but then the other way is to do what the British love best, which is queue on the day! You can queue up early in the morn- ing to get tickets for the same day or from mid-afternoon for ticket returns.

I have to say this is one of the stranger celebrations that we have in the UK. Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire or Fireworks Night) is on November 5th every year and this is a celebration of a historical event in 1605 when Guy Fawkes was arrested for trying to blow up parliament and kill the king. Te festivities were meant to celebrate the survival of King James I but most British people associate it with Guy Fawkes himself. We even have a little rhyme which kids learn in school: “Remember, remember the 5th of November; Gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason Why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot.” Tere are some big displays of fire-

works in London, usually on the weekend closest to 5th, including at Alexandra Palace in north London and Battersea Park in south London, but getting anywhere high up and open will mean you will see some of the great displays going off across London. You may also see other fire- works around the end of October and start of November as Hindus celebrate Diwali, the festival of light.

So come on Perfect Cuppa, spill the beans, you obviously love a cuppa, where are your favourite perfect places for afternoon tea around the capital?

Well, everybody has their favourite places and that’s often connected to the experience and who you are with. Tere are some obvious contenders but new afternoon tea experiences are launching all the time in London, es- pecially themed to match festivals and key events. So, here are my personal favourites and I’m sure you’ll discover your own as well! Te Wallace Collection is a small

museum just near Selfridges and is a mansion house with a great collection of Victorian paintings and furnishings, but also happens to house a beautiful conservatory restaurant, where they serve delicious afternoon tea among the palm trees. For a slightly different and creative twist on the afternoon tea, why not try Biscuiteers in Notting Hill, which specialises in beautifully crafted, artistic biscuits for afternoon tea, as well as the traditional scones and cakes. Fortnum & Mason has sold tea for more than 300 years and their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is a famous location for a very English afternoon tea. I also love wandering around the store afterwards, looking at their lovely food gifts and hampers, which make perfect gifts.

I hop thi ha answered some o yor mos popular qustions aot livng in Briain (o th Unied Kingdom t b exact) a wel a gven yo an insigt int what th contry ha t oer, what th popl are like and th meaning bhind or customs. I’m aways hapy t hlp i yo want t know any- thing else aot setling hre, lie in London, Briih culture o th Englih languag. Wethr yo’re hre fo six months o moe than 20 years, enjy yor time!

Victoria Rennoldson, founder of Perfect Cuppa English, regularly gives talks and writes about British language, life and culture. Perfect Cuppa English offers private, bespoke English language and British culture courses in everyday and business English, for greater communication confidence. You can get in touch with her at: & www.perfectcup-

8 FOCUS The Magazine September/October 2019

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