Photo Of The Day: Summer Sanctuary

Jon Bowen, Flickr

For me, summer means spending time in the countryside – finding a quiet corner to explore that’s far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a time to breath in fresh air and take a moment and hit the “reset” button. That’s what I call a summer sanctuary.

Along with that comes eating outside. The summer months are meant to be spent outside, and what’s better than an afternoon coffee in the relaxing space of a garden or park? Flickr user Jon Bowen captures that summer essential in this simple photo snapped at Pullham Mill in Exmoor National Park. Green, luscious and relaxing, it makes me want a cup of tea and cake.

What is your summer sanctuary?

For a chance to be featured on Gadling’s Photo of the Day, submit your photos to the Gadling Flickr pool.

Who Has Europe’s Dirtiest Currency?

Think about how many hands the average dollar bill passes through; all jokes about “dirty money” aside, it’s practically impossible for the money that you carry in your wallet to be clean. But some bills are dirtier than others.

Researchers at Oxford put European currencies and banknotes to the test, finding that British pounds are actually cleaner than Euros. On average European bills and coins contain 26,000 bacteria, while UK currency has around 18,200.

How dirty is that? According to Ian Thompson, Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford, 11,000 bacteria is enough to pass on an infection. Makes you want to go wash your hands after paying for your souvenirs doesn’t it?

Surprisingly enough, clean and efficient Scandinavia actually tops the list of dirty cash. The dirtiest currency was the Denmark krone, at 40,266 bacteria, with the Swedish crown at 39,600 not far behind.

Maybe it’s another reason to get behind the Euro?

[Photo Credit: Jixar]

The Most Frequently Stolen Items From Hotel Rooms Might Surprise You

For whatever reason, staying in hotels seems to bring out the kleptomaniac in even the most honest people. It starts with taking home the miniature toiletries (which are of course, fair game) and before you know it, you’re trying to figure out how to stuff the fluffy white bathrobe into your suitcase without anyone noticing it’s gone.

Now we’re all familiar with the rampant theft of towels and linen from hotel rooms – in fact, the problem is so widespread that some hotels have resorted to inserting tracking devices in their linens to stop the thievery. However, it seems some hotel guests will steal just about anything that’s not nailed down (and some things that are). A poll of Britons uncovered a surprising array of goods pilfered regularly from hotel rooms.Among the more bizarre items stolen were curtains, with 27 percent of respondents admitting to taking home the drapes. Artwork was also high on the list, with one in three people claiming to have pinched the paintings right off the wall. Thirty-six percent also said they’d made off with picture frames from their hotel room – one can only presume these are the same folks that took the artwork. Other items of note included kettles, which were swiped by 19 percent of respondents (this was a survey of tea-loving Brits so perhaps it shouldn’t surprise). Hotels have also been busy replacing batteries and light bulbs, with more than half of respondents confessing to emptying out remote controls and lamps.

But perhaps the biggest sin to have been committed by British hotel guests? Stealing the bible. In an ironic twist, seven percent of people owned up to pocketing the very book that condemns theft.

[Photo credit: Flickr user UggBoy UggGirl]

The Shard, London’s Tallest Skyscraper, Opens To Public Today


Today London officially opens its newest landmark, a 1,016-foot skyscraper that has been under construction since 2009. As you can see above, the irregular pyramid-shaped building is entirely covered in glass, and resembles an icicle or chip of glass – hence the name, The Shard.

At 87 stories, the building is the tallest in the European Union. From the 68th to the 72nd floor, the new skyscraper has a viewing gallery and an open-air observation deck called The View from the Shard. Thanks to the fine folks at Visit London, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the new attraction just a few days before it opened to the public. Although it was a snowy, overcast morning, the panoramic views from the top were impressive. From the 72nd floor, it was easy to let your eye follow the dramatic curves of the Thames River and spot many of London’s famous landmarks. Officials said on clear days, visibility could reach up to 40 miles.

For those who are not familiar with London’s cityscape, The Shard has made things easy. Several telescopic viewfinders not only let you zoom in to various spots around London, but have also been programmed to point out historical and otherwise important places and monuments. As you point the viewfinder in any direction, the names of certain landmarks pop up on a screen. If something is unfamiliar, just tap the name to learn more. It’s a great way to orient yourself and learn more about the city – and even if it ends up being an overcast day, the markers can indicate what isn’t visible beyond the clouds.

Besides the observation galleries, the building will house 600,000 square feet of office space, 10 luxury residences valued at $50 million each, a Shangri-La hotel, and three floors of restaurants and retail space.

The building marks a new phase for an improvement plan in the surrounding area, which will soon be known as the London Bridge Quarter. In addition to The Shard, a shorter building called London Bridge Place will be built nearby, and major updates are underway in the London Bridge rail and Underground station.

Reports from London say Mayor Boris Johnson officially cut the ribbon for The Shard earlier today, and a couple has already gotten engaged at the top. Now that it’s open, the attraction is expected to draw more than two million visitors a year, and comes with an entrance fee of £24.95, or about $39, for adults.

[Photo credit: blogger Libby Zay]

British heritage under threat from thieves and vandals

British heritage, milepostA recently released study has shown that last year there were more than 75,000 crimes against British heritage sites. That shocking statistic includes damage to more than 30,000 historic buildings in 2011.

One rising trend is in metal theft. With hard economic times, thieves have discovered that selling scrap metal can turn a quick profit. Lead roofs are being ripped off old churches, Victorian ironwork is being dismantled and even entire statues are being carted away.

Deliberate vandalism and graffiti are also major problems. We reported earlier on one of the more disgusting heritage crimes where drunks are peeing on 700-year-old buildings in Cheshire. Even more ominous, at least 750 historic sites were attacked by arsonists last year.

The more serious damage to older heritage sites can’t be fixed and the whole nation is faced with the dire prospect of losing traces of its communal past because of the selfishness and idiocy of its underclass.

One example from an earlier year is shown here in this photo courtesy P.L. Chadwick. This historic Thames & Severn Canal milepost originally had a metal plate affixed to it, which gave distances. This has disappeared and cannot be replaced.