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Forget Big Ben and Buckingham Palace; London’s lesser-known attractions are just as interesting – and come with in-the-know kudos. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY SIMON FRY

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WALK THE LINE Opened in May 2015, The Line is a three-mile art trail running from the O2 Arena in North Greenwich to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Roughly following the Greenwich Meridian (marked by a milepost at the arena’s rear), the trail crosses the Thames via the Emirates Air Line cable car and features works by artists such as Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley. Taking in winding waterways, the route takes about three hours to complete: just try following it without singing the Johnny Cash song. the-line.org

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HIDE AND SLIDE Britain’s largest public artwork – the 114.5 metre-tall ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture – hides the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide. Standing beside West Ham United’s London ­Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the slide is 178 metres long and takes 40 seconds to ride at 25 km/h. Visitors enjoy a 30-kilometre view from the top before looping 12 times around the sculpture on a mat. Riders wear head-protection and elbow pads and there are lockers onsite. arcelormittalorbit.com

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GOING UNDERGROUND London Underground’s history is brought to life by a fascinating walking (and riding) tour recommended by leading UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph. In two hours you’ll discover how Queen Victoria coined the term ‘Tube,’ three possible explanations for the name ‘Piccadilly,’ and which line is the snobbiest! You’ll also spot distinctive oxblood tiles and the abandoned British Museum station, be told how the Underground became a brand (thanks, in part, to its iconic map), and where its ghosts live. insider-london.co.uk

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HO CHI MINH’S HOTELS Many may be unaware that the founder of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, lived in London as a young man and worked in two of its hotels. A plaque on what is now the New Zealand High Commission, at New Zealand House, 80 Haymarket (off Pall Mall) marks the site of the former Carlton Hotel, which was bombed in the Second World War. Ho Chi Minh worked there (allegedly, as a pastry chef) in 1913. Before that, he spent time, possibly as a coal-shoveller, at the present Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. draytoncourtlondon.co.uk

OCTOBER 2016

BLUE WINGS

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Blue Wings Curiosity issue October 2016  
Blue Wings Curiosity issue October 2016