Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Travel matters!

The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see.

G.K. Chesterton


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Seniors holidaying dangerously

A SURVEY involving more than 11,000 UK holidaymakers has found the vacation habits of the over-50s have changed dramatically in the past decade.

50-plus travellers are becoming more adventurous, according to the Saga survey.

More than one quarter of respondents predict their holiday habits will change in the future and this is most notable amongst 50-59 year olds.

‘As people approach retirement, they can start to think more about how they will spend their free time,’ said Saga Travel’s Louis Myers. ‘Who wouldn’t want to spend that time abroad and seeing the world? With more disposable incomes and a thirst for adventure, taking holidays off the beaten track and experiencing different cultures is an enticing way to enjoy your retirement.

‘We see more over-50s opting for adventures in the Borneo rainforest, or following the Silk Routes in Uzbekistan, rather than taking a week in Eastbourne – as lovely as it is.’


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Picture Credit: "Eldre, Karen Beate Nosterud - norden.org" by Karen Beate Nøsterud -/norden.org. via Wikimedia Commons; "Rainforest understory in Lambir Hills National Park" by Mike Shanahan (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

Brits enjoy bonanza as £ rises against global currencies

TRAVEL money company Centtrip says that during the past two years, holiday costs have plummeted due to sterling increasing in value against 14 other currencies, with values rising between 2.2% and 107%.

Centtrip’s analysis reveals that two years ago the average British holidaymaker spent £628.51 while on holiday. Depending on where they go today, they could spend half this amount and still have the same spending power.

When comparing exchange rates on March 3 in 2015 and 2013, sterling has seen a 107.3% increase against the Russian rouble. When compared against the Norwegian krona, it is worth 36.9% more, and the corresponding figures for the Australian dollar, South African rand and US dollar are 33.5%, 32.0% and 2.2% respectively.

Brian Jamieson, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Centtrip said: ‘We are seeing unprecedented levels of strength in sterling and as it continues to grow, the power of our spending money while holidaying abroad increases. Many of our customers are locking in current attractive rates and buying euros to use today or at a later date. There has not been a better time for Brits to travel abroad, but we would urge travellers who want to take advantage of their increased spending power to check the spread rates when buying foreign currency.’


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Picture Credit: "Money" from this blog via Wikimedia Commons.

Southend Airport passenger numbers hit 1.09 million

THE number of passengers using Southend Airport, Essex, increased by 9% to 1.09 million in 2014 with capacity now available to handle five million a year.

Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler, Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘Our investment in London Southend Airport is now largely complete and we are well placed to grow the profitability of that business. The airport serves more than one million passengers a year and, as a result of our recent investment, now has capacity in its terminal to serve five million passengers.’


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Monday, 30 March 2015

Carnival time on Grand Bahama

THE three-day Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival on Grand Bahama Island starts on May 7. 

In Nassau harbour and on Junkanoo Beach, the carnival comprises concerts, cultural events, and street parades.

http://bahamasjunkanoocarnival.com





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Take a drive through history




THE Lakeland Motor Museum in the Leven Valley, close to the southern tip of Lake Windermere, has 30,000 exhibits assembled over half a century.

In addition to tracing over 100 years of motoring history, the museum pays tribute to Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell who between them captured 21 world land and water speed records in the Bluebird series of cars and boats. Highlights include full-size replicas of the Campbells’ vehicles: a 1935 Bluebird car, the 1939 boat, Bluebird K4, and the 1967 jet hydroplane, Bluebird K7.

There’s also a recreation of a typical 1950’s ‘Greasy Spoon’ café, seen on the sides of Britain’s main trunk roads such as the A1 and the A6. They served (and a good many still do) mainly fried or grilled food, and were not known for the availability of healthy options.

The museum is open daily, year-round.

www.lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk


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Families in the forest

SELF-CATERING holiday agency New Forest Living has added to its portfolio a property it says is right for large groups or “multi-generation” family gatherings ... It’s Rightmans Place in Linwood, Hampshire. 

Set in 20 acres of private land in the New Forest National Park, it sleeps 11, and there are beds for toddlers. It’s also dog-friendly.

New Forest ponies graze right up to the front gate, and in the area you might see deer, woodpeckers, buzzards, and hawks.

Prices start from £2,065; www.newforestliving.co.uk


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Spain still the hotspot for Brits



SPAIN continues to be a favourite destination for British tourists. 

Almost 580,000 Brits had holidays there in January, an increase of 4.9 percent on the same month last year, says the country’s tourism ministry.

The next largest numbers were from France, Germany, and Scandinavia.


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Picture Credit: "Reflejos de la Catedral Nueva de Salamanca" by Santiagova via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cardigan Castle re-opens after £12 million make-over

CARDIGAN CASTLE is to re-open next month (April) after a £12 million restoration programme.

The 900-year-old Norman castle by the River Teifi, was abandoned in the late 1990s. It was bought by the local council which, in 2003 devised a rescue plan involving the help of volunteers. Restoration began in 2011.

The castle has restored gardens, an orchard, a space for live music and an education and visitors’ centre … and there is accommodation for B&B and self-catering guests.

‘It is hoped the castle will become one of West Wales’ top tourist destinations, attracting at least 33,000 visitors in the first year and bringing significant economic benefit to Cardigan and the wider area,’ said a spokesperson for the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust.


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Picture Credit: Cardigan Castle - "Bridge Street from Teifi Wharf"  " by E Gammie via Wikimedia Commons

Island delights at Easter






ON the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, parents can enjoy the island’s countryside coming into spring-time blossom while youngsters are kept busy with colouring, crafts, and an Easter treasure hunt. Open April 3-6.

THE former country home of Queen Victoria and her family, Osborne House will be providing an abundance of family activities this Easter. As well as exploring the stately home and beautiful outdoor gardens, visitors can take part in mini-dramas and children can follow in the footsteps of royal children playing traditional Victorian games.

AT Blackgang Chine, youngsters can play in a life-size game of snakes and ladders, take on the cliff-hanger roller coaster, or sail a pirate ship. It’s open throughout the Easter period from 10am-5pm.

ON Dinosaur Isle, visitors can see skeletal remains found by fossil hunters and watch palaeontologists work on their latest finds.

*Getting there: Wightlink Ferries depart from Portsmouth and Lymington. Offering day return travel and unlimited access to island buses from £21 per person, Wightlink’s Wight River Rover ticket is tailor-made for foot passengers looking to hop over to the island for the day.



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Picture Credit: "Return from Smallbrook Junction - geograph.org.uk - 1422405" by John Webber via Wikimedia Commons; "Blackgang Chine" by Editor5807 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons.

Lighten up in Sydney



VIVID SYDNEY is set to shine even more brightly this year, when the world's largest festival of light, music, and ideas delivers its biggest programme yet. 

For 18 nights, from May 22 to June 8, Vivid Sydney will transform the city and harbour. The 2015 program includes expansion into new city precincts – Chatswood and Central Park – its biggest ever music programme, and heavy-hitting speakers at Vivid Ideas.

Destination NSW chief executive officer Sandra Chipchase says: ‘Vivid Sydney is an incredible public event that has seen amazing growth, attracting a record 1.43 million attendees in 2014. It's the largest festival of its kind in the world, and with our biggest programme yet, there's even more to love about Vivid Sydney this year.

‘Favourite locations Circular Quay, Walsh Bay, Martin Place, and Darling Harbour are back with more than 60 light installations and projections, and more water theatre shows – this time with lasers and fire.’

www.vividsydney.com


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Picture Credit: "Vivid in Reverse (14780884779)" by jeremyg3030 via Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of www.vividsydney.com/media-centre

The pleasures of Margate

AN addition to the delights of Margate, Kent, this year will be the Dreamland Pleasure Park which, say its promoters, ‘will re-invent the classic seaside experience’.

A 16-acre, vintage-themed leisure complex, it will have all-weather attractions, including a re-built Grade II-listed scenic railway, the UK's oldest roller coaster, plus a collection of fairground rides from 1910 to the present day.

The opening date has yet to be announced. Get more info - www.dreamland.co.uk


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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Head to Chatsworth this Easter



ONE of the biggest and most popular Easter Egg Hunts in the region and special appearances from the Easter Bunny are just two of the treats in store for those who visit Chatsworth this Easter as the Derbyshire estate opens for the season.

There will be plenty going on over the whole school holiday period (March 28 – April 12), with spring-themed craft activities taking place daily in the Oak Barn and outdoor crafts and spring bulb planting at the newly-opened educational centre, The Stickyard.

www.chatsworth.org


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Picture Credit: "Chatsworth Bridge" by Rob Bendall [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Easter in Kent

FROM feeding newborn lambs to cracking clues in Easter egg hunts, Kent has much to entertain young and not-s0-young at Easter.

Visitors to Howletts Wild Animal Park (near Canterbury) and Port Lympne Reserve (near Hythe) are guaranteed a cracking time. 

Activities will be held every day from April 2 to April 19. On Easter Monday, visitors at Port Lympne can watch the gorilla family taking part in their own Easter egg hunt. www.aspinallfoundation.org.uk

There will be new lambs at the Rare Breeds Centre, Woodchurch, Ashford this spring, Easter chicks and piglets are expected too. www.rarebreeds.org.uk

Spring will be in bloom at Leeds Castle, with an Easter egg hunt through the Woodland Walk, circus-themed characters to find and jesters' japes at the castle during the Easter weekend. Children can learn circus skills in the grounds, where jesters will demonstrate stilt walking and perform juggling shows. You can also have your face painted and have a go at archery. www.leeds-castle.com

Activities are on offer at Penshurst Place, Tonbridge, as the venue celebrates the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. 

Follow a family Magna Carta trail to discover just how wicked King John was, and learn why the barons revolted. www.penshurstplace.com


Experience the fun of the fair at the Festival of Steam at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham. The two- day festival on Easter Sunday and Monday features a steam funfair, street entertainment, live music, and walkabout acts. Steam trains will be in motion and hundreds of classic cars will line the streets. www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport 

Explore the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford. Set within 120 acres of Kent countryside, the castle is one of England's oldest family estates. 

It opens its doors for the 2015 season on April 4 with a grand Easter egg hunt. www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk




Tractor rides through Kent orchards, Easter egg hunts, and a chance to pet baby animals will all be available at Brogdale this Easter. Home of the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale will hold its annual Easter celebration on Good Friday, Easter Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The Brogdale Barn will be full of calves, lambs, goats, and chickens, and families can meet the animals and the farmers who care for them. www.brogdalecollections.co.uk

Chartwell will take visitors on a journey around the grounds and woodland of Winston Churchill's family home. Follow wartime bunny rabbits along the route and find items the bunnies have lost on their way. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

ww.visitkent.co.uk



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Picture Credit:"Flickr - law keven - Feeling Ruff...HBWE Everybody..-O))" by Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA via Wikimedia Commons; "Magnat Carta fragment" GoHoliday via Wikimedia Commons; "World Garden of Plants, Lullingstone Castle - geograph.org.uk - 214919" by Danny Robinson via Wikimedia Commons

Gather than clan in Devon




LILLEBY, a split-level house sleeping 12 and perched on the cliffs above Devon's South Sands, might be the answer for multi-generation family holidays or groups of friends planning a get-away. 

Just three-quarters of a mile from the sailing centre of Salcombe, the south-facing 1990s-built house has views over the estuary to East Portlemouth.

Set in two acres of land at the end of a private lane, the main house sleeps ten in five bedrooms; the sixth twin room is in an outside annexe.

Features include a high vaulted entrance hall with large balcony, a 30ft drawing room, a conservatory and balconies on two levels.

It's available for spring and summer weeks through Helpful Holidays priced from £2,165 (£180 pppw) or autumn get-aways from £1,415 pw (£118 pppw), while short three-night breaks are from £1,011.

www.helpfulholidays.com


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New in Notts

TWO new tourist attractions in Nottinghamshire will soon be opening for visitors.

The National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham opens today March 28, followed by the National Civil War Centre in Newark on May 2.

  • The National Videogame Arcade – (www.gamecity.org) - a five-storey building in the heart of Nottingham's Creative Quarter – will be the world’s first dedicated cultural centre for games. Its aim is to promote the cultural, educational, economic, and social benefits of games.
  • The £5.4 million National Civil War Centre will be the first attraction of its kind in the UK, telling the complete history of the 17th century clash between the Crown and Parliament. (www.nationalcivilwarcentre.com)


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Friday, 27 March 2015

To Italy by train …

TRAIN travel search and booking engine Loco2 now includes the full range of Trenitalia tickets, making booking rail journeys to and around Italy easier.

Its website - 
https://loco2.com/italian-rail - has 24 guides about taking the train to Italy, featuring - 
popular destinations, 
recommended routes, and 
tips for finding the cheapest tickets. 


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Picture Credit: "Tende viaduct and Italian train 1by Smiley.toerist (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

Coming up on the Mount



JUST 400 yards off Mount's Bay in Marazion, St Michael's Mount is a Cornish landmark and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South West. Its spring season kicks off with the annual Cadbury Easter Egg Trail (April 3, 5, and 6).

Spring will see a spotlight put on St Michael's Mount - 
www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk - unique terraced gardens, which open on April 20. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet members of the gardening team, including new head gardener, Lottie Allen. Learn what they do day-to-day and hear about the garden's history and current design.

For many visitors, it is astonishing that a garden exists here, but despite the gales and salty winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate so that frosts are a rarity and the rock acts a gigantic radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night creating a micro-climate in which unlikely plants flourish. Puya, agave and aloe rear out of the bedrock, agapanthus wave their heavy heads, and binding threads of rosemary, lavender and coronilla tumble down the terraces.

A Garden in a Castle Festival (May) will bring the glories of the mount's sub-tropical planting into the castle itself.

With 30 islanders calling the village their home, the mount is a living community. On the village tours (daily at 11am and 2pm) hear about the families which live here, explore the buildings that have played many roles in the village's history, and discover what life here today is like.

At low tide, a cobbled causeway appears from the sea and the mount can be reached on foot. When the tide comes in, boatmen ferry visitors across the water to the island.

Tickets/Opening Times: St Michael's Mount castle, shops and restaurants are open daily (except Saturdays) until November 1.

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Picture Credit: Go Holiday

Devon delights





SOUTH DEVON'S The Shops at Dartington is a year-round destination for both shopping and entertainment. This year’s events include an Easter Fair, a Food Fair, and an Apple and Cider Weekend.
  • During the Easter break, The Food Shop will be celebrating its first birthday with food tastings from Devon producers taking place every day. Throughout Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, there will be family fun with music, Easter egg hunts, a bouncy castle, craft stalls, and an Easter hamper prize draw.

And for your diary there are also these:

  • Dartington Food Fair (May 24-25) celebrates the best of Devon's produce. There will be 40 food and drink producers, plus cookery workshops.
  • The Apple and Cider Weekend (September 26-27) is a celebration of Devon's favourite tipple. 
For more see; www.dartington.org/shops or www.shopsatdartington.co.uk

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Picture Credit: "Dartington Cider Press Centre" by Jonathan Billinger via Wikimedia Commons

Kids go free on the Heathrow Express

CHILDREN will be able to travel free on the Paddington-Heathrow Express from today, March 27.  The offer applies to children under 16 accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The airport train service has run its Kids Go Free offer in the past for limited periods, but as the Easter holidays begin, it will become a permanent fixture.

It is part of the company's plan to increase the number of leisure travellers using the 15-minute service.

Over the Easer weekend – April 3-6 – Heathrow Express - www.heathrowexpress.com
- is also running a price offer for adult leisure travellers and it is reducing single standard tickets from £21.50 to £10 and return tickets, valid for travel after the four-day period, from £35 to £31.50.



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Picture Credit: "Heathrow Express P1180327". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Airlines tighten safety rules after Germanwings suicide crash

EASYJET and a Norwegian airline are to change cockpit security regulations immediately in reaction to the Germanwings plane crash. The new rules will insist that two crew members are in the cockpit at all times.

easyJet made the decision after consulting with the Civil Aviation Authority.

In a statement, a spokesman for the airline said: "easyJet can confirm that, with effect from tomorrow, Friday March 27, it will change its procedure which will mean that two crew members will be in the cockpit at all times.

‘The safety and security and of its passengers and crew is the airline's highest priority.’

The changes come after it emerged that after the pilot had gone to the lavatory, his co-pilot of the Germanwings passenger jet locked himself in the cockpit and crashed the plane.


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Where to have an eggsplosive Easter

EXPECT explosive Easter fun at The Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey, Essex, which is open daily during the school holidays from March 28 to April 12.

Over the Easter Bank holiday weekend, there will be children's activities and explosive arena events: 


Good Friday and Saturday will provide special Easter activities designed for younger children, with an egg hunt, crafts, and face-painting.


On Easter Sunday and Monday, watch out for an arena event featuring live gunpowder and other pyrotechnic explosives in twice-daily shows.

Set in 170 acres of parkland, the Royal Gunpowder Mills - www.royalgunpowdermills.com -mixes secret history, science and scenic surroundings to produce a different day out for all the family. 

Visitors can trace the history of explosives in an audio-visual show, uncover the truth behind the infamous Gunpowder Plot, come face-to-face with real space rockets and get to grips with more than 200 firearms ranging from muskets to machine guns. 



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Picture Credit: "Napoleonic battle reenactment at Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills" by Lisle45 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Ryanair improvements aim to make travel an 'enjoyable experience'

A RANGE of improved services, fee reductions, and digital developments are to be introduced by Ryanair over the coming year.

The move came as the budget carrier unveiled an eight-point ‘customer charter’ including a promise to make travel an ‘enjoyable experience’ as Ryanair marks its 30th anniversary.

The initiatives include:

· New aircraft interiors and cabin crew uniforms

· Lower airport check-in and missed departure fees

· Real time airline fare comparisons on Ryanair.com

· A destination content service, featuring customer reviews

· A travel insurance product, replacing the current drop down insurance.

· Personalized promotional e-mails with customer-specific tailored offers

· A new 'hold the fare' feature – €5 (£3.62) to hold a fare for 24 hours

· An improved inflight menu

· New seats with more leg room



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Picture Credit: "Ryanair pescara 04" by Ra Boe via Wikimedia Commons

As You Like It ....

Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humor, and like enough to consent.


William Shakespeare


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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Travel and ....

... holiday quotes;

After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.
Kenneth Grahame


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New in South Africa








NEW on the self-catering market in South Africa is La Clé des Montagnes – a cluster of four villas in the Winelands village of Franschhoek.

Set in gardens and with private pools, the houses are for couples, friends, and families seeking the privacy, space, and the conveniences of a private home, yet with daily servicing, a 24-hour concierge, and a butler. 

Services range from private chefs and childminders to helicopter transfers and golf excursions.

A 45-minute drive from Cape Town, the Franschhoek area features 40 wine cellars and a higher concentration of award-winning restaurants than anywhere else in South Africa.

Prices range from ZAR4,050 (£224) per person per night: www.lacle.co.za




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Picture Credit: "Franschhoek Valley" by User:Da_Legend - Own work via Wikimedia Commons; "Pool" courtesy lacle.co.za







Win a 5-star break in Wales

QUALITY COTTAGES has partnered with Welsh organic dairy producer, Calon Wen, offering a prize holiday in a five-star cottage via a video competition.

The video made by Quality Cottages introduces one of Calon Wen’s farmers, Owen Lort Philips from Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire. 

 His family has a 400-year history in farm. Owen’s passion for Welsh farming and the role Calon Wen plays in organic farming is clear in this short film. Calon Wen's message is clear: Organic milk, butter, and cheese from cows who have a happy life.

Quality Cottages has partnered with a number of Welsh companies and attractions over the last year, creating short films to showcase what Wales has to offer.

To enter the competition, go to www.qualitycottages.co.uk/calonwen  

The competition closes at 23:59pm on Friday 15th May 2015



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Picture Credit: "Walk along from Lawrenny" by Andy Lesnianski via Wikimedia Commons; 
"Calon Wen's Moula logo" courtesy qualitycottages.co.uk/calonwen and calonwen-cymru.com

Bristol Airport welcomes National Express service

BRISTOL AIRPORT has announced a National Express service for transport to and from South Wales following the withdrawal of bus First Group. 

The move ensures the continuation of the only direct public transport link between South Wales and Bristol Airport. 

Cheaper than its predecessor, the service operates between Cardiff Bus Station and Bristol Airport, offering a direct public transport link for Welsh travellers who fly from the airport.

Operating 12 times a day in each direction, the 216 service is run by South Wales-based Edwards Coaches, reaching the airport from Cardiff in one hour and 20 minutes. It calls at Cardiff University and Newport Rail Station.

The new service is fully wheelchair-accessible.



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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Italy online

THERE are more than a thousand cultural events all over Italy between May and October; from north to south, in big cities and small villages, there will be exhibitions, concerts, shows, festivals, theatre, and traditional celebrations.

To find out what’s happening, where, and when, go to www.verybello.it , created by the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism.






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Picture Credit: GoHoliday via Wikimedia Commons.

Ferry ports delay warning ahead of new passport checks



PEOPLE travelling to France by sea and train should set off earlier than normal when new exit checks at ports and Eurotunnel come into force next month. 

It was “advisable” for travellers to build in extra time on days when ports are particularly busy, according to Britain’s immigration and security minister, James Brokenshire.

The concerns relate to exit border checks that come into effect on April 8, and could impact people heading abroad for spring holidays.

Every tourist leaving the UK will have their passports checked at ferry ports for the first time in 20 years.

The checks will double the amount of time for a car with a family of four, prompting concerns that queues will build up, blocking major roads to the ports. 

The problems are likely to be particularly acute at Dover, which handles 60% of UK ferry traffic to Europe with 50 sailings a day.

Ferry companies have told the Home Office that family vehicles will have to join queues of lorries on the A20 and M20. Trials found “significant queues (of 650+ cars) will form on days when overall car numbers exceed 7, 500,” according to a letter from the UK Chamber of Shipping to MPs on the Home Affairs Committee. 

Mr Brokenshire played down concerns, saying he did not recognize the “extreme” stories about how the changes could impact travellers and insisted there were contingency plans ready. He said the government had been working with ferry companies and Eurotunnel for the last 18 months, and stressed that the checks were little different to those already carried out by airlines.

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Picture Credit: "Vehcles queueing for the ferry" by RichTea via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m a holidaymaker … get me out of here!

AN attraction based on the hideous telly show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here is to open at Thorpe Park, Surrey, later this month (March).

The attraction will have the jungle theme, with a maze with chambers, caves, and tunnels. Ant and Dec, who compère the telly (un)reality show will support the marketing campaign.

‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! is the perfect fit for the Thorpe Park Resort and its family and young adult visitors. It is challenging, edgy, and above all fun,’ says a resort spokesman.

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Malta Airport 4th best in Europe

MALTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT has been ranked the fourth best in Europe, according to the 2014 Airport Service Quality Awards. The airport obtained its best score ever, with an overall passenger satisfaction score of 4.22 on a scale from one (poor) to five (excellent).

Despite a large increase in participating airports, Malta has ranked in the top five for five consecutive years, while the overall 2014 performance exceeds results in previous years.

The airport was placed fourth after Keflavík (Iceland), Moscow Sheremetyevo, and Porto (Portugal), and was followed by Zurich.



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Monday, 23 March 2015

Golf boom for the Algarve

THE ALGARVE, one of Europe's leading golf destinations, is gearing up for a busy 2015 after reporting an increase of more than 50,000 rounds played on its courses last year.

A spokesperson for the Associação Turismo do Algarve said: ‘We are delighted that so many more visitors enjoyed golf in the Algarve last year and had the opportunity to experience our distinct offering. We continue to work hard with our golf tourism industry to deliver exceptional levels of service to our guests, and to send them home with wonderful memories.’



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Picture Credit: "Golfe22". Licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Fact or fiction, the challenge for Nature Watch

A SURVEY by UK holiday property rental company holidaycottages.co.uk suggests that one in seven children believe that they might come across fictional creatures from the Harry Potter series in the British countryside. 

Fourteen percent of the 7-12-year-olds questioned said they believed in dragons and werewolves, creatures commonly spotted at Hogwarts, while 11 percent thought Gilly Weed and Whomping Willow were real plants and trees.

In response, holidaycottages.co.uk is urging families to remedy this and encourage children to explore the country’s wildlife as part of its Nature Watch campaign.

When asked to state whether certain species were real or fictional, almost half of the children surveyed either didn’t know or thought that common native trees and plants, such as Silver Birch, Holly, Bluebell and Honeysuckle, were imaginary species.

The agency’s Nature Watch campaign is designed to encourage families to spend more time in the countryside this spring and summer. In an effort to raise children’s awareness and understanding of wildlife, nature and the importance of protecting their natural habitat, it has developed a free wildlife activity pack that can be download from its website.

It’s also running a competition. Young explorers who share their wildlife picture, photograph or short story have the chance to win a £500 voucher towards their next family holiday. Full details at www.holidaycottages.co.uk/blog/nature-watch.

‘We take great pride in offering holidays to some of the UK’s most beautiful locations and want to encourage the nation’s children to enjoy the great outdoors with Nature Watch,’ said James Morris, director at holidaycottages.co.uk. ‘I come from a generation that spent a great amount of its childhood playing outside, not cooped up in front of a television or computer screen. The fact that a third of today’s 7-12 year-olds don’t know or think that dragonflies, honeybees, and daddy long legs are not real just shows us that we need to get back to that and celebrate our native wildlife more.’

Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: The company was either extraordinarily unlucky in surveying what turned out to be an exceptionally dim sample of children, or education standards in our schools are far worse than even the pessimists fear. Either way, these findings are terrifying!



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Picture Credit: GoHoliday via Wikimedia Commons.

Forest guide




THE NATIONAL FOREST and Beyond Tourism partnership has launched its 2015 Visitor Guide at the National Trust's newly-opened Arts and Crafts cottage, Stoneywell, Leicestershire.



Stoneywell and its unique history – it was built as a summer residence in Charnwood, part of The National Forest, by locally born architect-designer Ernest Gimson – is one of the attractions highlighted in the guide. 

John Everitt, chief executive, National Forest Company - 
www.nationalforest.org, said: ‘The guide captures the essence of the National Forest, with plenty of ideas and inspiration for day trips and short breaks, and the voices of Forest residents and national travel writers make for great reading.’


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Picture Credit: By Ernest Gimson (died 1919) via Wikimedia Commons; courtesy nationalforest.org