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December 2009

What To Do In The UK – January

Posted December 24, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Hogmanay1 The fairy lights and tree ornaments may be safely tucked away for another year, but that doesn’t mean that January has to be a bleak, boring month. There are plenty of exciting events around the country, and you won’t have to put up with jingly Christmas music at all. If ‘losing weight’ wasn’t one of your New Year’s resolutions, then lucky you, there are more reasons for you to stuff yourself this month too!

1st January – Hogmanay, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’ raucous New Year’s celebrations are world famous. This year, the city has organised a week of events bookending the actual day. On the day, expect to see a colourful carnival lighting up the city’s streets, with a street party afterwards to see in the New Year. There will also be choir concerts, dance performances, and a giant puppet making its way through the city centre.

6th January – Farewell to Christmas, Geffrye Museum, London

Celebrate Twelfth Night at the Geffrye Museum in East London with music and feasting. There will be a bonfire in the garden, with holly and ivy being burnt. The museum also provides mulled wine and cake, with a bean and pea hidden in the cake. The two people to find the bean and pea will be made King and Queen for the day. Admission is free.

25th January – Burns Night, Scotland

Held to celebrate the life of the poet Robert Burns, Burns Night suppers combine poetry and feasting, culminating in a fun filled night for all. Guests may be served haggis, cock-a-leekie soup, and dessert such as Tipsy Laird or cranachan. Burn’s most famous work ‘Auld Lang Syne’ will often be sung to signal the end of the supper.

(Photo: unique-events.co.uk)

Virgin Provides ‘Gold’ Class Entertainment In Space

Posted December 23, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Spandau-ballet_153056sTheir music career may no longer be taking off these days, but the Spandau Ballet boys (men?) will be soaring through the stratosphere for real next year.

Richard Branson’s announcement that Virgin Galactic will be sending moneyed tourists into space soon begs the question – What’s the inflight entertainment like? After all, if you’re paying more than £100 000 for a seat, you’d expect something more exciting than a game of Tetris.

And something more exciting than Tetris is what you’ll get – if you happen to be a fan of 1980s pop music, that is. Spandau Ballet themselves have been lined up to perform on SpaceShipTwo’s inaugural flight, giving them the honour of being the first band to perform in space.

The aging former heartthrobs may have been used to performing in arenas filled with crowds of screams girls back in their heyday, but they should probably expect a much quieter audience this time around. After all, SpaceShipTwo only has enough space for six passengers, and ‘in space, no one can hear you scream’…

(Photo: independent.co.uk)

Breaks In Exmouth – Exmouth Hotels

Posted December 22, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Babbacombe Bay You won't have to embark on a long journey to see one of the natural wonders of the world. There’s one near you - those magnificent Jurassic cliffs that start at Exmouth are part of a World Heritage site that stretches to Dorset. The lively seaside town of Exmouth also has a whole host of other attractions to entertain visitors, so you’ll never be bored while visiting.

See
A La Ronde – This curious little 16-sided cottage used to be home to Jane and Mary Parminter, two wealthy 18th-century cousins. A La Ronde served as a huge display case for the souvenirs they collected during their ten-year ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. These days, the public can wander through its twenty rooms and view the treasures collected by the Parminter cousins. The round house was cleverly designed to maximise sunlight, with most of the rooms on the first floor. Be sure to have a peek at the shell gallery - a jaw-dropping display of millions of shells, stones and pottery shards lovingly pressed into the walls.

Stay
Imperial Hotel – Housed in a grand building that wouldn’t look out of place in a BBC period drama, the Imperial Hotel offers a luxurious stay with stunning sea views. While the façade may look old-fashioned, the interior has been done up in contemporary shades of grey and white, and offers all the modern amenities you would expect these days. The restaurant is spacious and well-lit, so guests won’t be jostling for elbow room at breakfast time. The elegant swimming pool is only open from May to September, but the golden sands are only a short walk away. Room rates start from about £65 per person.

Eat
Railway Carriage Café – Hop on this train to nowhere and enjoy a casual meal made with fresh ingredients. This café is set in a restored train carriage and serves unfussy meals that are great for a light lunch. Choose from freshly prepared sandwiches, paninis and wraps, or indulge your sweet tooth and order some scones, served with cream and blackcurrant preserve.


Check here for flights to Exmouth.

(Photo: exmouth-view.co.uk)

Breaks in Woolacombe – Woolacombe Hotels

Posted December 17, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Woolacombe Need a holiday on a nice sandy beach with clear turquoise waters close by? There’s no need to hop on a flight to the Mediterranean, just get a train or flight to Woolacombe, on the north coast of Devon. This pretty seaside town is filled with hordes of tourists in the summer, but visit during the colder months, and you’ll have the beach all to yourself.

Play
Woolacombe Crazy Golf – There’s a regular-sized golf course in Woolacombe, but this miniature version is infinitely more fun. The small size and unusual courses also make it a great destination for a family day out. The courses here feature tiny versions of landmarks around the area, with many of them made from the local stone. Make your way around North Devon in a couple of hours, as you putt the little balls into cute little cottages, over little bridges, and through Stonehenge.

Stay
The Woolacombe Bay Hotel – Set in its own expansive grounds, this sprawling Victorian building has a wealth of personality that isn’t found in more modern hotels. The hotel has retained many beautiful period features, while still managing to cleverly incorporate modern amenities throughout. Choose from a choice of sunny rooms facing the sea, or quieter rooms overlooking the village itself. The entrance leads out to a stretch of golden sand, where you can explore rock pools or learn to surf. However, with a luxurious spa and health club in the building, there’s no need to leave the comfort of the hotel should the weather get too chilly. Room rates start at £95 per person per night.

Eat
Mortehoe Shellfish – This unpretentious restaurant in nearby Mortehoe is geared towards seafood lovers. Customers are encouraged to dig in wholeheartedly with their hands – there’s no time for fancy cutlery here when you have such wonderfully fresh shellfish at your fingertips. The food is served with minimal preparation, although sauces are provided on request. If you’re undecided, then the seafood platter might prove to be the best option – a whole lobster, dressed crab, prawns, salmon and a mountain of other fruits of the sea, served on a gleaming platter.

Check here for flights to Woolacombe.

(Photo: northdevon.com)

Creative Inflight Entertainment Ideas

Posted December 16, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Anthrocircle Going on holiday may be exciting, but the flight there and back is usually a whole other story. No matter how fancy the inflight entertainment system may be, there are only so many repeats of Family Guy that you can put up with before you start grinding your teeth into bloody stumps. And that’s only if you’re lucky and your chosen airline does offer inflight entertainment! What do you do if you’re not one of those who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, and you’re facing a cramped eight hour flight? Here are some suggestions on how to pass the time -

Finger-knitting – As many avid knitters will no doubt agree, security restrictions these days mean that it’s nigh on impossible for me to bring a pair of knitting needles on the plane. So finger-knitting seems to be the way to go. Bring a skein of yarn along, and simply watch the hours fly by as you loop bits of string around your fingers. This rudimentary form of knitting may seem childish, but it is strangely addictive. And an added perk is that you end up with a hand knit scarf at the end of your flight – great if you’re on your way to a cold destination!

Origami – Airlines provide a ton of free inflight magazine and catalogues for your entertainment, but once you’ve read one, you’ve probably read them all. So put them to good use instead, and improve your paper-folding skills. Rip pages out of the magazines, and start folding them into birds, boxes and even make a few paper planes. It’s also a very cheap way to entertain your kids if you don’t fancy buying them colouring books and pencils with the airline’s brand plastered all over.

Food Architecture – Even with the fancy chefs the airlines are bringing in these days, most inflight meals are still hardly stuff to write home about (unless you’re writing a letter of complaint). So if you can’t face chewing on another luridly yellow, strangely sweaty block of cheddar the next time mealtime comes around, why not play with your food instead. Join forces with your neighbours, and assemble the mini cheese version of Stonehenge. Try to build a bread roll version of the Coliseum. Indulge your geeky side and erect a water cracker and butter ode to the Millennium Falcon. The possibilities are endless (and slightly more entertaining than chowing down on that mysterious brown ‘beef Wellington’).

(Photo: anthropology.wisc.edu)

Breaks In Burgh Island – Burgh Island Hotels

Posted December 15, 2009 by BookingBuddy

You don’t need to go too far to escape to paradise, only as far as the coast of Devon. The tiny spit of land known as Burgh Island is less than a mile from the mainland, and easily accessible by foot during low tide. Despite its proximity, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a quieter, more elegant age during your stay there, away from the trappings of modern life.

Stay
Burgh Island Hotel – This sprawling hotel has been carefully restored to its original Art Deco glamour. The rooms – with names like Josephine Baker, Noel Coward and Gertie Lawrence – allude to the many illustrious guests who have left their mark on the place. Each room has been decorated in authentic 1930 style, with gorgeous unique features offering a strong dash of individuality to each one. It’s easy to imagine yourself being a fabulously witty Art Deco era ‘personality’ while lounging around among the plush silk and velvet furnishings. Room rates start at around £300 per night per night.

Play
The Mermaid Pool – Relax and have a splash around this seawater rock pool and pretend you’re a mythical mermaid. The rocks ringing it protect the pool from the rougher tides of the sea nearby, and help keep the water warm and clear. The newly restored wooden diving deck offers opportunities for fun and games, or just sit and admire the sea creatures which make the pool their home.

Eat
The Pilchard Inn – Run by the Burgh Island Hotel, this ancient smugglers’ inn offers a more informal dining experience compared to the black tie atmosphere of the hotel’s restaurant. The food itself is as elegant as that served in the main restaurant, except you won’t feel out of place here if you happen to be in jeans and a t-shirt. The majority of ingredients come from a twenty-mile radius of the island, with seafood and local game playing a starring role. The winter menu features luscious Bigbury Bay oysters, juicy duck breast, and vividly pink organic salmon.

 

Check here for flights to Burgh Island.

Breaks in Whitby – Whitby Hotels

Posted December 10, 2009 by BookingBuddy

110400a The port of Whitby may have been the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s atmospheric Dracula, but the only pain in the neck you’ll feel will be from spending too much time gazing up at the impressive ruins of Whitby Abbey. The town itself has an air of cheerful industry, and yet is tranquil enough to make an ideal place for a short break.

Eat
Magpie Café – This laidback restaurant is housed in a beautiful building by the port. Lauded by none other than Rick Stein himself, the Magpie Café showcases the best of the town’s local produce. Seafood features heavily, and the menu’s standout dishes are their fish and chips – the haddock is fried with skin on, making for a juicy, tender bite under the crispy deep fried batter.

See
Whitby Abbey – Even without its roof and open on all sides to the elements, the ruins of Whitby Abbey are still a stunning sight to behold. Towering over the surrounding countryside, the magnificent structure is visible from most points in town. On a dark, moonless night, it is easy to see how its looming silhouette inspired Bram Stoker’s famous novel, and the reason why Whitby is a must-visit destination for present day Goths.

Stay
Broom House – This gorgeous former farmhouse has been carefully converted into a comfortable, six-bedroom guesthouse. The rooms are furnished in a very comfortable country-chic style, making guests feel right at home. Located right on the edge of the North York Moors Park, it makes a great base to start exploring the expansive Moors. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the steam train that runs through the bottom of the garden! Room rates start from about £40.

Check here for flights to Whitby.


(Photo: nymcam.co.uk)

Visit The World’s Oldest Cities

Posted December 9, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Samarkand Towering skyscrapers of steel and glass may be very eye-catching and cutting edge, but they do tend to look alike after a while. If modern cities such are Sydney and Tokyo are starting to look very similar these days, then maybe it’s time for a change of pace? Instead of rushing around under the shadows of tall, shiny office buildings, why not travel to some of the oldest cities in the world and discover the origins of civilization?

Athens, Greece - Often referred to as the ‘cradle of Western civilization’, this city has layers of history buried under yet more layers of history. Monuments from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires all jostle for space in this ancient city, while camera-wielding tourists engage in elbow fights for a chance to pose in front of these magnificent ruins.

Beirut, Lebanon
– With a history that stretches back at least 5000 years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this city is nothing much than a bunch of dusty old buildings, but Lebanon’s capital is a bustling, modern city these days. Churches and mosques stand side by side, and visitors who aren’t fans of gawking at Phoenician remains can choose to go shopping at ultra-modern, air-conditioned shopping centres. 

Samarkand, Uzbekistan
– As one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Samarkand has seen the fall of several great civilizations. Modern-day Samarkand is a cheerful, bustling market town boasting a wealth of carefully restored archaeological treasures.
These days, you’re more likely to run into hordes of beige-clad retirees bargaining for a silk rug than rampaging Mongol soldiers on their way to sacking the city.

(Photo: math.unicaen.fr)

Breaks in Portpatrick – Portpatrick Hotel

Posted December 8, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Sea-view-big It may take you a while to reach Portpatrick, hidden away in a corner of southern Scotland. But should you make the effort to travel there, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views in this charming village, wrapped around a scenic harbour like a horseshoe.

See

Dunskey Castle – Walk about a mile out of town, and you’ll find this ancient castle perched precariously on the cliffs, looking for all the world like it is about to fall into the Irish Sea at any moment. ‘Castle’ may be a slightly ambitious title for this little building, but it does allude to the romantic past of these roofless ruins. There is currently no access to the interior, but the area around the castle makes a great spot for photographs, with the raging sea and crumbling castle providing an excellent backdrop.

Stay
Portpatrick Hotel – The Portpatrick Hotel occupies a commanding position on a hill, and offers guests spectacular views overlooking the village and its charming harbour.  The building itself is a magnificent structure, with several turrets that give it the feel of a fairytale castle. Rooms are modern, comfortable affairs, with elegant colour schemes in keeping with the classic character of the building. Room rates start at about £70 per person.

Play
Logan Fish Pond – A fishpond with a difference – this blowhole just beside the Irish Sea has been used for the last two centuries as a live fish larder. Stroll through the pretty little gatehouse and down a flight of steps carved into the cliff, and you’ll be greeted with a clear green pond housing some cod, plaice turbot and pollack. Visitors are allowed to feed pellets to the fish during feeding times, and there are also touch pools, a cave aquarium and a bathing pool near the pond.

Check here for flights to Portpatrick.


(Photo: carlton-portpatrick.co.uk)

Breaks In Wells-next-the-Sea – Wells-next-the-Sea Hotels

Posted December 3, 2009 by BookingBuddy

Wells next the sea 1 Wells-next-the-Sea may be over 700 years old, but it’s still looking remarkably good. Age had given this town on the North Norfolk Coast a hefty dose of character. It has everything you’d expect from a good seaside town – fish and chips, pretty beach huts, and pretty views. The sea itself, however, is just over a mile away but the easy walk there is scenic and refreshing.

Play
Abraham’s Bosom – This natural lake sits just short stroll from the stunning beaches of Wells-next-the-Sea. Spread across 5 acres, this saltwater lake has plenty of space to spare! There is an activity centre attached to the lake, and visitors can indulge in outdoor activities. Go boating by yourself or in a group, have fun on the crazy golf course, or simply jump up and down on the trampoline. There is also a picnic area, so you can take a rest and fill your tummy while enjoy the views.

Stay
The Crown Hotel – The character of this former coaching inn has been carefully preserved, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to share your living quarters with the horses. In fact, all twelve bedrooms have been given a bright and airy makeover, with original fittings left in place as a nod to the past. The furnishings are minimal but comfortable and modern, with plenty of space to move around in. The restaurant on the ground floor serves tasty, unpretentious meals, with most ingredients sourced locally. Room rates start from £90.

Eat

French’s Fish and Chips – Complete the quintessential seaside experience by ordering some fish and chips here. Its shop on the Quayside is brightly lit and spacious enough for several tables – a far cry from the cramped conditions of most fish and chip shops. However, on nice sunny day, why not grab a meal to takeaway, and enjoy it while perched on the seawall at the Quay? The menu has the usual choices of cod, plaice and haddock, with skate and huss also occasionally available. 

Check here for flights to Wells-next-the-Sea.

(Photo: photoanswers.co.uk)

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