Things to do, places to go this weekend

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The Independent Culture
Something fishy

If your idea of seafood delight is a portion of battered cod and greasy chips, then maybe you should expand your mind and take a trip to Grimsby this weekend, where you'll find the first ever Grimsby Seafood Festival in full flow. On offer is the opportunity to sample a wide range of fishy delights at Grimsby's pubs and restaurants, as well as attend masterclasses and demonstrations by local chefs. Today, as well as tucking into the slippery specialities, you can also see them in action on the waterfront, with a guided tour of the fish docks giving a vivid sense of the world's most dangerous industry. Tomorrow, it's all aboard the PS Lincoln Castle in Alexandra Dock for a wine and fish tasting plus tips from the Sea Fish Industry Authority, and on Wednesday, there's a seafood masterclass at Grimsby College with local chefs Franco Conteglacomo and Abdul Salique, who will also be spicing up the festival with an Indian fish night tomorrow. The festival runs to 28 July and, if fish for lunch and dinner is not enough, you can head for TC's Club on the docks each morning, for the best fish breakfast in Grimsby.

Around Grimsby (01472 342422) to 28 Jul

State of the cartwheel

The Chinese State Circus is back, and this time it's "incomparable". At least, that's how they're billing it, and it's hard to argue after a gander at the all-new programme. Forty-six top-class acrobats dressed in costumes direct from Peking Opera will do their stretchy stuff to the accompaniment of a live Chinese orchestra: watch the brand-new "Elastics" trapeze routine and feel glad that someone has turned bungee-jumping into art. Other acts include people doing extraordinary balancing acts on bicycles, and the popular Dragon and Lion dances, sort of like a conga with culture. Once you recover from the pure sensory overload of the show, you might begin to wonder where people got the curious idea to do acrobatics in the first place. The programme points out that it started about 2,000 years ago, as a series of physical techniques designed to prepare the body for battle, and became an art in its own right as the rulers of the Han Dynasty patronised creative pursuits of all sorts. But the Chinese State Circus is not all random dangerous physicality; like any good cabaret, it has links between the acts which are a charmingly humorous take on Chinese folklore.

Theatre Big Top, Jackson's Field, Rochester (01634 828020) Sun 23 Jul to 30 Jul then on tour around the country

Ticket to ride

Does Mickey Mouse send you running for Rentokil? Is Alton Towers too hedonistic? Do you sometimes catch yourself wondering how railway timetables are compiled? The answer to your problems could be at hand. Located on a 15-acre site outside Bradford,Tran sperience, the newly opened West Yorkshire Transport Discovery Park, tells "the story of public transport in the UK from the dawn of the railway era to the present day". It could only happen in a country where Thomas the Tank Engine is a national hero an d On the Buses topped the TV ratings. pounds 24m has been ploughed into the project, to create a hobbyist's heaven which places defunct vehicles side by side with hi-tech displays. Transperience even has its own transport network including a kilometre of tram lines that snakes between the site's four buildings. Visitors can find out about the art of timetable compilation in the interactive Exploratorium where vehicle simulators enable the visitor to drive trams and buses. Move over Space Mountain, your days are numbered. Transperience is at Low Moor, near Junction 2 of the M606 near Bradford, BD12 7HQ. (01274) 690909. Open 10am-5.30pm daily; pounds 6 adults (pounds 4 in the week); pounds 5.50 OAPs; pounds 3.50 U16s; free under fours

Beach to his own

If the unpredictable British weather prevents you from getting to the seaside this summer, the themes of sun, sea and sand are being celebrated indoors in a number of galleries around the country. Landlocked Leicester's exhibition, "Life's a Beach", houses the BT award-winning "Holiday in a Lunch Hour", where lunchtime visitors to the gallery are guaranteed sunshine by being transported to holiday locations of their choice through interactive multi-media technology. And no money is wasted on sun-cream.

"Oh! I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside" in Scarborough is an eclectic exhibition showing the work of eight different artists working in a wide variety of media and styles including artist Dick Todd, who describes his work as "beach-combing with a camera".

"Beside the Seaside" in York has gathered the work of UK artists whose work focuses on images of that strange world where land and sea meet, both in Britain and further afield. All exhibits shown can be bought by visitors including ceramic life-size ducks by Sue Dunne at pounds 40 a piece, while paintings range from pounds 150 to pounds 500.

'Life's a Beach', City Art Gallery, Leicester (01162 540595) to 2 Sept; 'Oh! I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside', The Crescent Arts Workshop, Scarborough (01723 351461) to 2 Sept; 'Beside the Seaside', Kentmere House Gallery, York (01904 656507) to 24 Aug

Wet, wild and with it

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge is broadening its horizons this summer. From today, visitors will be offered the chance to time travel in order to discover the vital role of wetlands since the beginning of time. On arrival, they will be presented with a "time travel key" which in turn provides access to the "time line", an interactive 300 metre-long route charting the history of mankind. En route, take in the prehistoric world of dinosaurs, glimpse images of Ancient Egypt and get an insight into man's voyages to the moon. The aim of all of this is to highlight the conflicts between the natural world and humanity. After confronting the world's most dangerous creature face to face - travellers will be invited to make a pledge to help the planet. Other free activities include cave- and face- painting, excavating replica dinosaur bones, archaeopteryx jigsaws and pond-dipping.

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucester (01453 890333) open daily 9.30am-5pm

Six of the best:: cream teas

Maids of Honour Tea-Rooms and Restaurant 288 Kew Road, Kew, London (0181-940 2752) Go for a stroll in Kew Gardens and re-fuel with a cream tea at the tea-rooms named after the puff-pastry cake. Full cream tea costs pounds 4.20 per person and consists of two scones, clotted cream, jam and either a Maid of Honour or a cake of your choice, all washed down with a pot of tea. Tea is only served from Tuesday to Saturday 2.30-5.30pm.

The Ritz 150 Piccadilly, London (0171-493 8181)

Afternoon tea at the Ritz is a glamorous affair and there is a strict dress code: no trainers or jeans. A selection of sandwiches, followed by scones with the usual trimmings and a choice of cakes. Tea is pounds 16.50 but you can have as much cake as you can eat. You must book for the 3.30 or 5pm sittings or try your luck at 2.00pm

Manor House Hotel Castle Coombe, Nr Chippenham Wiltshire (01249 782 206) The 17th-century Manor House Hotel offers two vanilla scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam and a bottomless pot of tea or coffee for pounds 7.50 per person. Once you've had your fill, you can go for a stroll around "England's prettiest village".

Loddiswell Tea Lawns Loddiswell Station, Woodleigh, Kingsbridge, Devon (01548 550 462) Loddiswell's Tea Lawns were once an old GWR station, now cream teas are served daily from 10.00am-6pm through the summer. Owner Mr Moss reckons his scones are the largest in England. They come covered with clotted cream, loads of jam and as much tea or coffee as you can drink. All for a mere pounds 2.60.

Polly Tea-Rooms 26 High Street, Malborough (01672 512 146) This pretty, old-fashioned tea shop is a popular haunt. Go for a long walk in Malborough forest and then undo all the good with a cream tea: pounds 4.10 for three scones smothered in cream and jam with a pot of tea or coffee and a slice of cake. On Saturdays and Wednesdays the market is in full swing.

De Greys Broadgate, Ludlow (0158 872 764) Traditional service (all the waitress wear black dresses with starched white aprons). Cream teas include bread and butter, scones with jam and cream, a choice of cream cake and a pot of tea. They have a cake shop next door stacked with all sorts of calorific treats.

NORTH 1) Betty's Cafe Tea Rooms, 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate, Tel: 01423 502 746 Traditional Yorkshire afternoon tea demands a big appetite so skip lunch and spend the day being as energetic as possible so you can take full advantage of what pounds 8.00 will get you: Roast ham or corn-fed chicken sandwich, sultana scone with the usual trimmings and a Yorkshire curd tart to finish off. If this sounds too much there is a scaled down version with scones and a pot of tea.

2) Shepherd's Kitchen, Hadraw, nr Hawes, N. Yorks. Tel: 01969 667 679 Hadraw is famous for its spectacular single drop waterfall which is the highest in England and starred in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. The Shepherd's kitchen is just opposite the waterfall and a popular re-fuelling point for hungry hikers. All the food is homebaked on an Aga and a cream tea is a bargain pounds 2.35

3) De Greys, Broadgate, Ludlow Tel: 0158 872 764 You can expect a very traditional kind of service at De Greys, all the waitress wear black dresses with starched white aprons and they serve toasted tea cakes on silver dishes. Cream teas include bread and butter, scones with jam and cream, a choice of cream cake and a pot of tea. If you still feel hungry and want something for the journey home then they have a cake shop next door stacked with all sorts of calorific treats.

4) Chirk Castle, Chirk, Clwyd, nr Wrexham, N. Wales Tel: 01691 773 279 Spend the day at the National Trust's 14th Century Castle (entry is pounds 4.00 for adults. free for members) Once inside there is a knot garden and spectacular topiary to see before you take tea in the vaulted tower tea rooms. Pot of tea, two scones with cream and jam for pounds 2.95 or you can try the Welsh tea which includes home made Bara Brith - a local speciality.

5) Wallington, Jedburgh Road off B6342, Northumberland Tel: 01670 774 274 The 13,500 acre estate is perfect for long walks and there are several established routes which take in views of the Cheviot hills. The village of Cambo was built on the estate in 1740 is half a mile from the Clockhouse restaurant and is worth exploring before your traditional cream tea pounds 2.95.

6) Caledonian Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh Tel: 0131 225 2433 The large colonial style tea lounge looks out on Princes Street Gardens and the castle. Round off a day's serious shopping or an afternoon at the Scottish National Gallery with the Celebration Tea for pounds 14.00 is worth the expense as it includes a glass of Champagne.

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