United Kingdom

Dippy the diplodocus is leaving the Natural History Museum

Dippy the diplodocus in London
Natural History Museum Dippy Dinosaur

After 112 years of being displayed, Dippy the diplodocus is leaving the Natural History Museum in London.

Today a four man crew begins to dismantle this memorable replica in the Hintze Hall.

Furthermore, the dismantling process will take up to four days. Due to the work, the main hall will be closed to the public. In it’s place, the skeleton of a modern day blue whale will be showcased.

Many people around the world come to the Natural History Museum to see this iconic figure. Unfortunately, Dippy the diplodocus’ future appears to be heading into storage.

The current plan is to take Dippy on a tour around the United Kingdom starting in early 2018 and then ending in 2020. After which there does not appear to be any plans to display the dinosaur. Dippy will surely be missed.

Dippy the diplodocus background

First of all, Dippy the diplodocus is a replica of the American discovery in 1898. Newspapers billed the discovery as the “most colossal animal ever on Earth”.

As a result of the discovery, Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born millionaire businessman, set out to acquire the bones as a centrepiece for his new museum in Pittsburgh.

Consequently, when King Edward VII, Prince of Wales, visited the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, USA he requested a replica of the dinosaur. It was presented to The Natural History Museum in May 1905 by Andrew Carnegie.

Dippy is also one of 10 replicas of the original Diplodocus carnegii. Other museums with replicas include Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Moscow.

Goodbye Dippy

Sadly, Dippy is the main reason why I visit the Natural History Museum in London. There are many wonderful exhibits in the museum. There is an entire hall full of dinosaurs as well. However, it is difficult to imagine the Museum without its centre piece.

Perhaps, if enough people miss Dippy, then maybe he will be brought back for the public to enjoy.


Diplodocus : this is your life
The Museum’s famous Diplodocus is going on tour
A history in pictures: the Museum’s Hintze Hall


Brexit, An American Eyewitness Account

It has been a over a week since the Brexit results were announced and I have witnessed uncharted waters that the world has been plunged into. As an American living in London for the past 10 years I have come to see myself as a Londoner and have a unique perspective of the events. Now that we are in this new world I would like to provide my personal insights into the past several days. But first I’ll start with a summary of events.

The night before Brexit

Perhaps like many people in the United Kingdom, I stayed up late that night watching as the results slowly came in. The days before I watched as politicians verbally battled each other to sway the voters towards their arguments. In the news, other countries were reporting about their worries of the UK leaving the EU, but no one seemed to seriously think that it would happen.  People on Facebook were discussing Brexit and no one believed that the people of the UK would vote to leave. It seemed an unthinkable result.

As the hours slowly passed and the results continued to come in, members of the Leave Campaign had resigned themselves to a loss. Nigel Farage made an announcement early in the night, conceding defeat. However, that was premature. By the time we reached around 4:30 a.m. it was evident that the Leave Campaign had won and we as a country Brexited the EU.

The days that followed Brexit

Shock spread throughout the United Kingdom as people came to the realization that the world had changed for them. Some of the voters did not think they would win, others voted Leave as a protest vote. Many of the people who voted Leave had their own personal reasons and came from a diverse background. The Remain voters were shocked even more when they woke to the news that they had been pulled out of the EU.

The first of the big casualties began with the Prime Minister David Cameron. He quickly made an announcement and resigned his position. The news reported that “he had fallen on his sword”. Those words would be embraced by the media and used over and over as politicians resigned on a daily basis in England. The opposition party shook to its core as the party members rebelled against their leader.

Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labor party probably knew that his members would try and push him out but he had no idea how far things would go. As of this writing he is still struggling to maintain power after many member resignations and a vote of no confidence. It appears that any day now he is going to be challenged for the leadership of the party.

The demographic divisions

First of all, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while Wales and England voted to Leave. We clearly have a north and south division however, the overall vote of the United Kingdom as a whole was a majority Leave. This has resulted in a relationship strain between the north and the south.

The demographic divisions go a step further than geographical. As the results came in it became apparent that most of the rural country voted out while the major cities such as London voted to remain. Age groups were divided between older generations voting out while younger generations voted to remain. Then lastly, there seemed to be a division between people with degrees and those without. Those without degrees voted out while those with degrees voted to remain.

It is this latter demographic that has been targeted by educated people within the city of London. Facebook quickly trended articles and posts stating that the United Kingdom was pulled out of the EU by the uneducated working classes while the degree bearing people were forced to accept the results. But ultimately, it was the Remain Campaign who became complacent and assumed they would win, thus resulting in a lower voter turnout for them.

Brexit Backlashes

Backlashes happened in three different forms. First you had the educated and youth of London protesting the results in London. Secondly you had hate crime reports increase throughout England specifically targeting Polish people. Thirdly you had Scotland threatening the UK to veto the results or to run their own referendum for independence from the UK.

In the EU, many countries and politicians were also shocked at the results and soon found themselves scheming for a future without the UK. They announced that they would treat the UK harshly for leaving; this show of harshness was to deter other countries from trying to leave the EU as well. However, other countries are closing watching the UK and seemed to be waiting patiently for their turn to come.

My Thoughts

There is so much more detail to talk about, but this is pretty much a summary of the events. As an American I personally think that Brexit is a good idea for the UK. I believe that the UK as a country has its own sovereignty and that unelected foreign leaders have no right to impose their own views and laws on the British people. The EU is not a United States of Europe and in my opinion it is too diverse to ever be one. Each country still retains its culture and language, its own history and its own people. It is true that people can travel freely throughout Europe but the cost is high.

Global economies have been thrown into turmoil; the UK is navigating uncharted waters without a captain at its helm. Things will stabilize eventually, but it will take time and probably a few years. In the end I think this was a good decision by the British people but it will be up to history to tell how things turned out.


Places to see Cherry Blossoms in London

Did you know there are many cherry blossoms in London? Perhaps the most famous place to see cherry blossoms, this time of the year, is Japan. They dedicate forecasts and calendars to the blossoming of the sakura (cherry blossom). They even produce many sakura themed products such as cherry blossom chocolates, ice cream and many different types of drinks, including beer. A quick browse on Twitter (#hanami, #sakura, #cherryblossom) will produce many beautiful pictures of cherry blossoms.

London is one of the most popular destinations in the world and visiting during the spring is as much a treat as it is visiting Japan. During the spring each year cherry blossoms in London bloom for a short few weeks. The city has many green spaces which attract visitors and many of these places have cherry blossoms blooming.

Where to see cherry blossoms in London

Some of the most popular places to visit for cherry blossom viewing include:

Although these are some of the largest and more popular places to visit, there also many small and hidden parks around London with beautiful scenery.

For example, I live next to King George’s Park, located in the Wandsworth borough south of the river Thames. For many years this park has bloomed beautifully with cherry blossoms. It is one of the most perfect places to have a picnic and view the cherry blossoms.

Hanami – is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, especially cherry blossoms. Many Japanese people have picnics in the park and enjoy viewing sakura (cherry blossoms).

Below is an example of the cherry blossoms in King George’s Park.

Where else can you view cherry blossoms in London? Believe it or not, they are everywhere. You will find cherry blossoms randomly throughout the city, next to buildings, grocery stores, houses and anywhere there is a patch for a tree to grow. So if you are visiting London, the month of April can be a very colourful time of year.

Cherry Blossoms around England

One more thing. Cherry blossoms are not limited to London. If you take a trip out of the city, you will find many cherry blossoms out in the countryside. They are not as dense as you would find in Japan, but there are still quite a few nice scenes out in rural villages. If you like cherry blossom viewing, feel free to comment on where you have seen them in London our out in the countryside.


A Day at London Comic Con 2015

London Comic Con is an event that is held twice a year primarily for Sci-fi and Cosplay fans. I am sure there are many people who would probably disagree with me saying, “what about the role playing card games, comic book signings, artist showcasing their artwork, celebrity Q and A’s and of course the plethora of vendors selling and promoting their goods and services”. Of course there are plenty of events at London Comic Con; however, the cosplayers seem to dominate the event.

Cosplay fans

The first time Linaka and I went to London Comic Con was in 2008. Back then, the event did not seem as busy as it did this time around. In 2008 there were big name actors such as Battlestar Galactica’s Edward James Olmos and many of the cast from that show. Additionally there were other actors from tv shows and movies such as Chronicle’s of Riddick’s Christina Cox. The May 2008 event felt like a real treat.

There weren’t many cosplayers then as there were this time around; however, back then there were many more professional cosplayers. By professional I mean people hired to dress up for the occasion. Also, it felt like there weren’t enough big actors at this event.

How London Comic Con was different in 2015

London Comic Con crowds

Perhaps over the years, London Comic Con has increased in popularity. This time around, it felt like there were too many vendors of varying quality. Some of the products on offer seemed like something you would find at a local flee market or antiques show, while others were very commercial. The number of people crowding the event also made it difficult to get around or to take pictures. In a way, it felt like the essence of London Comic Con had some how been lost in the endless crowds and vendors.

My experience could also be influenced by my previous visit to London Comic Con and more recently by visiting Anime Japan in Tokyo. Compared to what I saw in Japan, my expectations in London were probably a bit too high. It was still a fun event.

The Cosplayers

Cosplayers at London Comic Con

I have to admit that some of the cosplay costumes were very good. There were a few professional cosplayers present but many of the home made cosplay costumes were amazing. It almost felt like the real event was happening outside. When we walked out of London Comic Con, we entered a crowd of fully dressed Sci-fi and anime enthusiasts. You could see thousands of people dressed in their favorite characters walking around, talking and enjoying themselves. We didn’t stay long enough, but it seemed that the real party was happening outside and late into the day.

Figurines, Cool Cars and More

Dragonball Z figurines

How could I forget the figurines, the cool cars and the random miscellaneous stuff going on. Three of the most unforgettable cars were present: Mad Max’s car, the Batmobile and “Back to the Future’s” Delorean. You could easily stand and take pictures with each of these cars. However, there was a fee to do something with the Delorean. If you could go to London Comic Con for anything, the cars are a must see.

Mad Max's Car

If you like figurines, there were many vendors selling a wide range of them. You could find anime figuring as well as comic book heroes such as Batman, Superman, and Supergirl. You could also find cute Japanese miniature dolls as well as figures of Godzilla and other various monsters. Besides that you had stalls of networked computers showcasing various video games. One odd game was Farm Simulator 15, for anyone interested in raising crops. I guess there is a market for that type of game in Europe.

Lastly, there were workshops on how do make your own character, your own costumes and how to color in Photoshop. For some reason Linaka and I did not see any stalls with actors. There seemed to be a big lack of them. We were there most of the day and only saw one talk by an animator giving a seminar in Photoshop.


Darth Vader Steam Punk Mask

Overall, it was a good experience. I felt a little let down with the quality of the event, but it was still fun. The number of cosplayers increased and the costumes were phenomenal. It was a great event for taking pictures and for seeing some of the cool cars such as Mad Max’s car, the Batmobile and the Delorian. If you want to see a lot of cool stuff, meet other Sci-fi and anime fans or just dress up, this is a cool event to visit each year. If you like this article, don’t forget to share it or if you want to add your own comments, use the form below.


Visiting the Tower of London Poppies

Ever since I started visiting London, I promised myself that I would visit the Tower of London. However, it wasn’t until this year (2014) that I finally decided to visit the Tower to see the Poppies display. What made it special was the fact that 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. I felt it was a moment in history that I had to be a part of.

 The Tower of London Poppies

Poppies at the Tower of London

 The Tower of London is one of the most visited tourist attractions in England and has seen a long history since it was first built in 1078 A. D. It is most famous for being used as a prison; however, it started out as a grand palace in it’s early history. Although it is called the Tower of London, it is actually a castle. Surrounding the castle is a moat which took center stage this year when artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper designed the ceramic poppies exhibition filling the moat. Titled, “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red“, the Tower of London Poppies were designed to represent every British soldier who fell in the First World War. Essentially, it was a temporary memorial in remembrance of the 888,246 soldiers who died in that Great Conflict long ago.

It would have been nice if the exhibit was permanent; however, it was only displayed during the month of November. When the artist was interviewed he stated that his intention from the very beginning was to make it a temporary exhibit. The long term goal was to sell the poppies to the public and raise money for charity. The remaining poppies would go on tour around the country. The last of the poppies will find a home in the Imperial War Museum in London and a couple other museums around the country.

Attempts at Stealing the Poppies

Apparently, there were several attempts by would be thieves to steal some of the poppies. According to local newspapers thieves tried to steal poppies from the vans they were being loaded onto. Luckily none of the poppies were stolen and the ones that were purchased have found their homes.

Interestingly, the sale of fake poppies as well as real ones were uploaded to Ebay and Gumtree. Ebay took action and banned the sale of poppies, while on Gumtree poppies were reportedly being sold for over £450. It is unfortunate to see such practices but there were a limited number of these flowers made and demand for them is beyond counting. I would not be surprised if more counterfeit poppies get created in the future.

The Tower of London Attraction

I have been wanting to go to the Tower of London for years and when I finally got there, it was the best time to go. However, the overall experience is memorable. Not only do you get to see this old building, but you also get to stand by the River Thames, see Tower Bridge in the distance, across the river you also get to see battle ships and other tourist areas. The sea of tourist which flood the area might be a small draw back, but it doesn’t take away from the experience.


Many tourist will want to see the poppies but unfortunately there were only on display for one month. Still, the Tower of London and the surrounding area are still unforgettable. The tourist booths, the food and the souvenir shops will keep any content and glad to be there. If you have been there, seen the poppies or just the Tower itself and want to share your experience, feel free to comment below.