IF you are in search of holiday ideas, travel tips, the latest holiday news, reviews and features - this is the place to be!

Monday, 12 April 2010

TRAVEL BLOG IS ON THE MOVE!!!

GOOD news - my travel blog has become so successful that it is now off on its own travels!

Due to its popularity, my blog has now been given a new home - and a new name On Your Travels - thanks to Trinity Mirror, on the Loughborough Echo website.

The new blog - http://blogs.loughboroughecho.net/onyourtravels/ - will continue to deliver all the latest travel news, deals, last minute breaks and suggestions for a relaxing holiday.

So don't delay - add it to your favourites, join the RSS feed and keep on reading - and thanks for all your support!

Last-minute breaks with Haven

HAVEN have come up with a cracking late half-term offer for families wanting to make the most of the lovely spring sunshine.

They’re offering a three-night weekend break from Friday April 16th from just £149 for a family of up to six in Standard self-catering accommodation. The offer is available at a number of Haven parks including their flagship resort Devon Cliffs near Exmouth.

For bookings and to check out similar deals click on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900

Sunday, 11 April 2010

More grandparents taking grandchildren on holiday

WITH families facing ever more pressure on their time, Haven Holidays has noticed a big increase in Grand Travel – grandparents taking their grandchildren away on holidays.

Haven says almost one in five spring breaks at its 35 caravan parks are grandparents giving their grandchildren a treat.

Haven’s holiday parks offer family-friendly breaks with masses to do for all ages from Annabel’s Creative Kitchen for tots to get messy making with cookie and cake decorating to archery, fencing and golf for older siblings and grown-ups.

There are also kids’ clubs in three age ranges from little ones to teenagers and a full programme of entertainment from children’s shows to live bands and cabaret acts.

The parks are also an ideal self-contained environment for youngsters to learn greater independence. Away from traffic and with security teams on duty round the clock, many families feel they offer a great deal of peace of mind.

One family who have found Haven appeals to all generations is the Shaws who live near Durham. They have been going on Haven holidays for 11 years, but as the breaks have become more popular they have had to increase the number of caravan holiday homes they book from two to four!

This year the family, including grandparents Kevin and Joanne, their sons Liam and Tom and seven youngsters, are all going away together to Haven’s Primrose Valley Holiday Park on the Yorkshire coast near Filey.

Joanne said: “It’s become something of a family tradition and it’s great the grandchildren still want to come away, but they really enjoy the holiday parks. Quite often we go out for the day, but we always like to be back by the evening for the entertainment.”

For families with younger grandchildren, Spring breaks are especially popular.

‘It’s a lovely treat for pre-school children before the parks get busy during the school holidays. And there are lots of activities especially designed for under-5’s which makes it easy to keep little ones entertained,’ say Haven. ‘Feedback from grandparents has suggested that they appreciate having so much to do without the need for any additional travelling. And the price is attractive too, with mid week breaks in April on selected parks and dates starting at just £99 for up to six people in ‘Superior’ accommodation.

For more information visit www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900.

Magical fun at a Sheffield hotel

A LEADING Sheffield hotel has sprinkled a touch of magic to its evenings by hiring a resident magician.

Steve Faulkner, the 2009 British Street Performing Champion, will be up to his usual tricks at The Copthorne Hotel Sheffield to entertain guests and enhance their stay.

Steve, 36, from Sheffield, has been a magician and street performer for 14 years performing his captivating illusions at corporate events around the world and warming up audiences for music acts including The Rolling Stones.

As well as holding the current national accolade for street performance, Steve was also the winner of the 2005 award.

Steve joins The Copthorne Hotel as the City’s only resident hotel magician.

Steve said: “The wonderful thing about Copthorne is that it gets me in contact with the people of Sheffield. The hotel attracts lovely people of all ages and it’s a great place for me to work.

“I live and breathe what I do. As well as the hours I do performing, I practice for four or five hours a day.

“Some of the tricks have taken nine years to develop and I will never get rid of them but I like to try new things. Magic is a bit like golf – you can always improve! People remember it for long time and that’s what I like about it.”

Orla Watt, General Manager at The Copthorne Hotel Sheffield, said: “We are thrilled Steve has joined our team. He’s great at connecting with our guests and making them laugh.

“It is really important for us to further enhance our guests’ visit to the hotel and Steve provides an entertaining and fun experience for all ages. We’re the only hotel that has its own resident magician so you could say we’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat!”

Steve will be working his magic at The Copthorne Hotel Sheffield once a week in the hotel’s bar.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Prague is the place for a cheap break

PRAGUE has pulled ahead of its Eastern European rivals to emerge as the cheapest city for UK holidaymakers to take a bargain break this spring, according to Post Office Travel Money’s City Costs Barometer (www.postoffice.co.uk/cityreport2010).

However the survey by the UK’s largest provider of foreign exchange also revealed price falls in some eurozone cities, with Lisbon and Dublin rating as best buys.

Despite the weak pound, which now buys 7.4 per cent less Czech koruna than a year ago, Prague was by far the cheapest of 15 city break destinations surveyed by Post Office Travel Money – with prices well down on 2009 levels (-38 per cent, comparing seven of the items also surveyed in 2009, including meals and drinks).

At £106.17, the 11 typical city break items -including drinks, meals, accommodation, sightseeing and transport - cost almost two-thirds less in Prague than in New York, the most expensive city surveyed (£307.96). Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Budapest and Warsaw emerge as cities where thrifty tourists will get more for their money, even though sterling has slipped significantly year-on-year against their currencies.

Low prices in Lisbon, second-placed in the City Costs Barometer, prove that the eurozone can also be good value for a city break. However the Post Office found wide variations in prices between the eight eurozone cities surveyed. For example, barometer items that totalled £122.53 in Lisbon cost over twice as much in Paris and Rome, the most expensive eurozone cities.

Sarah Munro, Post Office Head of Travel Money, said: “UK holidaymakers planning a city break this spring should do their homework very carefully. We found big price differences between cities and in cash-strapped times tourists can make their pounds stretch further by picking one of Europe’s cheaper capitals, like Prague or Lisbon.

“The exchange rate is another factor to consider before booking a break. Although sterling remains weak against the euro, it is stronger than 12 months ago so UK tourists picking a eurozone city where prices have fallen could actually be quids in.”

One of the cities where the Post Office did find lower costs was Dublin, second cheapest in the eurozone (£174.86). Criticised in the past for high accommodation, meal and drinks prices, Dublin looks to be 2010’s dark horse and a definite contender for a bargain break – especially for culture vultures. The Irish capital was cheapest for cultural attractions – with free entry to the top museum and gallery surveyed.

Accommodation prices in Dublin have also dropped by 11 per cent, one of the biggest price falls recorded by Hotels.com, who contributed room costs for the Post Office City Costs Barometer.

Alison Couper, Communications Director at Hotels.com said: “Now is a great time to visit the Irish capital as hotels there haven’t been so affordable for years. Dublin hoteliers have been offering great rates and promotions to attract customers during the credit-crunch.”

Istanbul, one of three European Capitals of Culture for 2010 – with a range of special cultural events scheduled, is another good value choice for a city break. At fourth place in the Post Office barometer, prices were low for all the items surveyed and sterling remains relatively stable against the Turkish lira. Although accommodation prices were up 15 per cent year-on-year, three-star hotels rooms were among the cheapest in the cities surveyed for the City Costs Barometer.

Currencies featured in the City Costs Barometer are available on demand at 1,600 Post Office branches (except the Hungarian forint, which can be pre-ordered). 2,600 additional branches offer US dollars on demand, while a total of over 8,500 branches stock euros. Alternatively over 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Bulldog goes for Breakfast....

SAVVY travellers have known The Bulldog Club for over 20 years and now, with expansion plans in place, the time has come for the company to change its name and refresh its image.

So, after many years loyal service, the bulldog retires to make way for The Bed and Breakfast Club.

In spite of its new name, it’s very much business as usual. The Bed and Breakfast Club has a respected brand, and high quality homes in its portfolio. Its principle remains the same: to offer upmarket bed and breakfast accommodation in exceptional private homes in London and the UK via a first-class booking service.

It has also made a few other changes, which include expanding its team, improving its website and enhancing its marketing efforts.

Its properties are popular with tourists and business travellers alike. Homes are in central locations at affordable prices.

For business travellers and cost-conscious companies, The Bed and Breakfast Club provides accommodation that is a home away from home for those who prefer intimate charm to an impersonal hotel. All properties are personally inspected to ensure the highest level of accommodation.

Emma Crane-Robinson, Managing Director, said: “Our hand-picked, privately owned homes each have a character of their own and promise sumptuous surroundings. We believe that bed and breakfasts reflect the culture of the city, provide a personal touch and make a refreshing change from the uniformity of hotels.”

Carol Ann Nicholls, Communications Director, added: “From our client base it’s obvious that there has been a sea change in attitude towards bed and breakfasts. Tourists and business people alike are choosing to stay in elegant private homes at enviable addresses instead of the run of the mill hotel chain.”

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Escape from the pressures of everyday life

WANT some time away for just the two of you to escape the pressures of everyday life?

Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire has the perfect break for you to do just that in a stunning part of Pembrokeshire, where you can discover yourselves again and enjoy that tranquil sense of well being.

Yr Hen Efail was once the old smithy and is perfect for a romantic retreat; it has been beautifully converted into 1 of 4 stone cottages set around the owner’s farmhouse. Surrounded by shared gardens it has its own patio where you can enjoy a relaxing alfresco meal in the beautiful surroundings of this magical property. Furnished to reflect the character of the cottage the open plan living space with exposed beams and stone walls are a real feature in this unique property. Enjoy an evening walk up The Crug to enjoy the panoramic views over Fishguard and out to sea to watch the sunset is a must.

This cottage is perfectly located to explore the beautiful north Pembrokeshire cost path and shares the same location as Periwinkle and Jemimas.

A week’s stay in Yr Hen Efail starting on May 21st 2010 is only £315 for 2 people for a really relaxing break to recharge the batteries.

01437 772760, www.coastalcottages.co.uk

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Supper at the Dormy House Hotel

FRESHLY cut asparagus (grass) will feature in all three courses of a special supper to mark the height of the season at the Dormy House Hotel in the Cotswolds on June 3.

In addition to traditional poaching, asparagus will also feature as a broth, brulee and sorbet in an extravagant menu using some of the finest asparagus available locally.

Not only will local asparagus be featured, the hotel will also use a special purple variety famous in Italy for its sweetness. Dormy’s Sales and Marketing Manager Orazio Pollaci, who has sourced English supplies of the purple crop from a producer in Herefordshire says: “Purple asparagus is grown in the mountains of Albenga, east of San Remo. In Italy some chefs prefer the purple strain because it is sweeter than its green cousin, softer and more delicate, making it easier to cook with. It is perfect in the summer to accompany light dishes like fish and white meat and ideal for risotto’s or just steamed”.

Chef Andrew Troughton has put the menu together for customers to experience the versatility of this crop which is only available for just a few months each summer. Purple asparagus will feature as a garnish in the starter.

The official British asparagus season runs from St George’s Day on April 23 to Midsummer’s Day on June 21. Dormy House celebrates the start of the season and all things English with a traditional St George’s Day supper. Over the ensuing 8 weeks, guests at the Dormy House will be able to sample a variety of asparagus dishes from its menus in its rustic Barn Owl Bar or more formal Dining Room.

The asparagus supper which follows the infamous Bretforton asparagus auction, held literally on its doorstep just a few miles down the road, will cost £35 per head.

ASPARAGUS EVENING MENU

Poached Herefordshire Purple Asparagus
Quail Eggs, Pink Grapefruit, Crispy Bacon
Hollandaise

* * * * * *

Fillet of Organic Salmon
Pomme Puree, Evesham Asparagus Broth
Crispy Chicken Wings

* * * * * *

Lemon & Asparagus Crème Brûlée, Biscotti
Asparagus Sorbet


£35.00 per person

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Hair theatre breaks are a cut above

WELCOME to the curly, shaggy, gleaming, steaming wonderful world of Hair.

Having wowed audiences and critics alike on Broadway, Hair the Musical transfers to London’s Geilgud theatre for two weeks of previews, with its official opening on 14th April. Originally a huge hit back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, this new version opened in Broadway in March 2009 and won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. 41 years after its journey began, Hair will also make history when it arrives in London as it will feature the first entire original cast to transfer to the West End. Short break specialist Superbreak (www.superbreak.com) has a range of packages available that include overnight accommodation and tickets to the show.

Hair tells the story about a group of young New Yorkers in the 60's struggling to balance their lives and loves, rejecting the lifestyles of their conservative parents and rebelling against the looming draft. As the plot develops, each tribe member tells their story although two become increasingly compelling: Berger the tribe’s ring leader and Claude its conscience Claude is enrapt by his new life, in awe of Berger and in love with university student Sheila. But he's faced with an unbearable decision - resist the draft as his friends have done, or compromise his pacifist principles and step up for his country...

THREE STAR PACKAGE – from £88.50 per person – staying at the three star President Hotel located on Russell Square and including a Grand Circle ticket to the show. Based on two sharing and valid week round in May and June.

FOUR STAR PACKAGE – from £162.50 per person - staying at the four star Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel occupying a prime location in Bloomsbury and including a top priced ticket to the show. Based on two sharing and valid at weekends in May and June.
For more information or to book call Superbreak on 0871 222 3055
or log onto www.superbreak.com

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Planning a seaside break in June?

JUNE is a great month for families with pre-school children planning a seaside holiday to Pembrokeshire.

Not only are prices much cheaper than in July and August but there’s plenty of ‘bucket and spade room’ on the beaches and far less queues at local attractions such as Folly Farm and Oakwood Theme Park.
Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire has a special website for families with young children – www.toddlepembrokeshire.com – which features more than 60 properties equipped with cot, highchair, baby listener and stair gate and a pre-booking service for buggies, back carriers and baby hampers.

As an example of prices, a week’s stay at Bluebell Cottage (sleeps four) in Broad Haven – just a two-minute walk from the child-friendly sandy beach – in mid June is £498.
ends

01437 772760, www.toddlepembrokeshire.com

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Pet-friendly discounts at self-catering properties

TO CELEBRATE National Pet Month, Blue Chip Vacations is offering 25% off all seven night stays at any of its 170 pet-friendly self-catering properties through to April 17.
Guests can stay in a host of coastal and rural properties including a range of dog-friendly holiday homes close to beaches that are perfect for four legged friends. These include:
Mincarlo, Torquay – Save £230 – Available from 10 April
Mincarlo is a spacious, newly renovated 4 bedroom house in the highly desirable St. Marychurch area of Torquay.
The property comfortably sleeps eight people in four bedrooms whilst the sun room, with direct patio access, can two additional guests. The spacious pet-friendly garden area wraps around the property offering an ample exercise area for pets as well as the opportunity to dine alfresco on the patio.
Its location is an ideal base to relax in and enjoy the tranquillity of the natural setting. It’s also close to great facilities and popular family attractions. And the year-round dog-friendly beaches of Livermead, St Mary’s Bay, Churston Cove, Elberry Cove, Maidencombe, Watcombe and Babbacombe are all within a short drive.
Mincarlo sleeps ten and can be booked for seven nights from 10 April for £709 (£71pp) saving £230 (including 25% discount).
http://www.bluechipvacations.com/holiday-cottages/torquay/mincarlo.html
The Manor House, near Newton Abbot - Save £412 – Available from 10 April
Manor House is an outstanding country house situated in the leafy hamlet of Coffinswell on the outskirts of the traditional market town of Newton Abbot.
Mentioned in the Doomsday book as the ‘Manor at Willie’, the property was home to Lord Hugo Coffin in the 12th Century, who played a prominent role in the local area. Situated in substantial grounds, which have been landscaped and designed by an internationally renowned garden designer, Manor House enjoys immaculately presented lawns and flower beds that perfectly complement the far-reaching rural views. Local walks are perfect for pets.
Internally, the property is gracefully presented with original features such as beamed ceilings in the kitchen and dining room. Beneath its period charm, the house has been fully equipped for modern living with special features such as its Sonnos multi-room music system, which channels music throughout the ground floor of the house. There are five spacious bedrooms, with spectacular views over the rolling Devon countryside. There’s even a sunroom from which views of the garden can be enjoyed, and a conservatory that houses a Moorish hot tub.
Manor House sleeps ten and can be booked for seven nights from 10 April for £1,257 (£126pp) saving £412 including 25% discount.
http://www.bluechipvacations.com/holiday-cottages/torquay/manor-house.html
Bookings can be made by calling Blue Chip Vacations on 0844 5612001 or by visiting www.bluechipvacations.com
Sweet Rose, near Torquay – save £72 – Available from 10 April
History meets modern day luxuries in this beautifully restored barn at Old Manor Farm, which has recently been awarded the prestigious ‘4 star gold’ rating by Visit Britain.
Sweet Rose is a cosy romantic retreat for two. Part of The Old Manor Farmhouse, a 16th Century Devon longhouse, Sweet Rose enjoys original character features such as stunning oak beams, cob and stone walls and high, beamed, vaulted ceilings.
Modern luxuries have been introduced such as a king-size bed, a roll top bath and Freeview TV/DVDs; you can even arrange pampering on-site including massages, manicures, pedicures and facials.
It’s also perfect for pets as it has a large communal garden enclosed with stone walls and apple trees from the old orchard.
Sweet Rose sleeps two and can be booked for seven nights from 10 April for £237 (£118pp) saving £72 including the 25% discount.
http://www.bluechipvacations.com/holiday-cottages/torquay/sweet-rose-old-manor-farm.html
For self-catering bookings please call Blue Chip Vacations on 0844 5612001 or log on to www.bluechipvacations.com

Luxury break on the beachfront on the Isle of Wight

WHO wants to be a millionaire – or at least live like one for a week! Well now you have the chance to enjoy the life of luxury by taking a break at The Beach House in Seaview on the Isle of Wight.

This stunning property is located on the beachfront overlooking Seagrove Bay. It is set over four floors and can sleep up to 12 people in great comfort, and has its own garden leading down to the beach.

On the ground floor there is a large wet room with two showers and changing area.

The master bedroom has a king size bed complete with dressing room, ensuite bathroom with bath, walk in shower and study area.

In the kitchen there is a range hob and oven, three refrigerators and a wine chiller. There is a flat screen TV in the living room and master bedroom, plus a projector television in the cinema room and broadband connection.

There is a spacious balcony with dining for up to eight people.

Prices for a week’s stay start at £1495, for full details please contact Wight Locations on 01983 811418 or visit www.wightlocations.co.uk

Friday, 2 April 2010

UK still proving a popular choice for holdiaymakers

WITH the Euro still giving you less than a pound’s worth of spending power and airport strikes disrupting overseas travel it’s hardly surprising that more people are opting for UK holidays.

And with some exceptional Spring deals around at the moment, staying closer to home is even more attractive!

‘It’s all about value for money and choosing a stress-free family holiday,’ say Haven Holidays who have thirty-five family holiday parks around the UK.

Haven are offering half board breaks from less than £13.50 per person per night for a family of up to six people INCLUDING dinner, bed and breakfast.

Half board packages are available at Hafan y Mor in North Wales and Craig Tara in Scotland. Accommodation is in comfortable heated apartments complete with bed linen and towels and includes a ‘help- yourself-to-as-much-as-you-like’ breakfast and a choice of three course dinner menus.

The £13.50 deal is based on a family of six people sharing a ‘Comfort’ apartment for four nights from April 19th at Hafan y Mor on the Llyn peninsula. The park also boasts a boating lake, go-karts, an indoor sports drome, RopeWorks climbing activity centre, bikes for hire and a choice of entertainment venues. ‘Plenty of people park up when they arrive and don’t move the car again until they go home,’ say Haven, ‘so it’s easy to keep petrol costs to the minimum too!’

Want to go cheaper? Self-catering breaks start at just £99 for a four night break for a family of up to six at selected Haven Holiday parks during April and early May. The special ‘mid-week’ price is available at a choice of Haven parks in the Great Yarmouth area, including Caister and Hopton Holiday Village; Riviere Sands in Cornwall; Thorpe Park and Golden Sands in Lincolnshire.

And even cheaper? Take your own caravan to Haven’s Blue Dolphin holiday park on the North Yorkshire coast for a mid-week Spring break and a family of four can stay for just £3 per night! The price is based on a ’basic’ pitch – benefit from electric hook up as well for an additional £2 per night.

Your money goes even further with lots of family activities included in the holiday cost. Enjoy heated indoor leisure pools, sports and organised activities, FREE football coaching for 5-16 year olds, FREE Learn2Swim lessons, kids’ clubs for all ages and a full programme of daytime and evening entertainment.

For immediate bookings click on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900. For camping and caravanning call 0871 230 1933 or click on www.caravancamping.co.uk

More Strictly Come Dancing stars appearing


DANCE fans are in for a double treat after Warner Leisure Hotels have added some extra names to their Strictly Come Dancing Experience Breaks – giving fans even more chance to see their favourite Strictly stars up close and personal.

A number of additional dancers have been added to a schedule of dates that is already proving irresistible for many Strictly fans - who are putting on their sequins and enjoying all the glitz and glamour of the unique Strictly Come Dancing Experience three and four night breaks.

Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova will be at the magnificent Grade-I listed Thoresby Hall Hotel near Sherwood Forest for the evening of Friday May 21st – an extra treat for fans booking a three night weekend break that features Strictly stars Camilla Dallerup and Mark Foster.

Karen Hardy and Craig Revel Horwood will be at beautiful Littlecote House Hotel, Berkshire, for a four-night midweek break beginning April 26th – and will be joined by Vincent and Flavia during the evening of April 26th.

And Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag will appear on June 14th at Nidd Hall, near Harrogate – providing an added bonus for Strictly fans booking the four night midweek break starring Camilla and Mark.

‘We’re thrilled,’ say Warner, ‘Our guests are loving the Strictly Come Dancing Breaks but the extra appearances will make these three dates even more special.’

The holidays offer a unique opportunity to see the Strictly dancers perform some of their own impressive dance routines at the hotel. The Strictly stars also take part in photo sessions with guests and reveal some of their secrets from the show in a ‘question and answer’ session.

Dresses and costumes from the hit BBC One TV programme are also on display and are available to try on, hire or even buy. The breaks include a range of dance classes with top international dancers and the chance to enter a dance competition judged by the audience and the Strictly stars.

Prices for the three or four night breaks, which take place at five historic Warner Leisure Hotels over the next four months, start at £339 and include the full ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ experience as well as dinner, bed and breakfast and a range of leisure opportunities.

The Strictly Come Dancing themed short breaks were launched recently by Warner Leisure Hotels in an exclusive collaboration with BBC Worldwide. The partnership with Warner’s is the first of its kind for the Strictly Come Dancing brand.

For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/strictly-come-dancing or call 0800 048 2879.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Spa breaks with The Bird In Hand Hotel

THE Bird In Hand Hotel near Maidenhead in Royal Berkshire is now able to offer guests weekend spa breaks, following its recent collaboration with the nearby Castle Royle Golf & Health Club.

Guests of the Bird In Hand who stay on the one and two-night spa breaks will receive a one-day guest pass giving them access to many of the facilities at Castle Royle. These include several fitness studios offering a range of aerobic workouts, as well as yoga, tai chi and pilates classes (to be booked in advance).

In addition, the modern gymnasium boasts industry leading Technogym equipment, plus a free weight area and stretching zone, and there’s a 20-metre indoor swimming pool, complete with sauna, steam room and spa pool.

Castle Royle also has an Aura Health & Beauty salon offering a range of treatments for both men and women, which is open to non-members (treatments to be booked in advance)

After working up an appetite, guests may return to the Bird In Hand safe in the knowledge that its popular restaurant will provide an appetising menu based on fresh ingredients in season.

Options include scallops wrapped in pancetta with lemon grass and ginger dressing, fresh smoked salmon and roasted pepper fish cake with crème fraiche, traditional cod and chips, and braised lamb shank with mashed potato and roasted vegetables.

The new spa breaks at the 14th century Bird In Hand are available Friday to Sunday and cost £60 per person for a one-night stay, based on two sharing, and include a guest pass to Castle Royal, plus dinner, bed and breakfast. A two-night stay costs £110 per person.

For further information or to make a reservation, telephone: 01628 826622 or visit www.birdinhand.co.uk

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter break in Pembrokeshire

ENJOY seven nights self catering accommodation in Pembrokeshire with all the family and celebrate Easter in style!

Easter is a great time for all the family and this package in Pembrokeshire is perfect for all ages. Your self-catering property stands in a quiet position within the greatly popular Ivy Tower Village with onsite leisure facilities of indoor heated pool, sauna, gym and tennis courts for all to enjoy.

An Easter egg for each will be awaiting your arrival at your property as will an array of Pembrokeshire breakfast treats ready for you to cook a hearty dish the following morning. Embrace this opportunity to catch the surf at the beach and get into action on the waves, the first to stand wins! If the surf wasn't enough sea air for the family then go on to catch yourself a memory with Sea Fishing along the Pembrokeshire Coastline. A family feast of frolics.

The cost for seven nights self catering accommodation, Easter eggs, Surfing and Sea Fishing for all the family of four from only: £219 per person.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Self-guided cycling tour around Cornwall

FOOD and drink lovers can experience the taste of Cornwall without worrying about their waistline thanks to a specialist holiday operator.

Cornish Cycle Tours offer an eight day self-guided cycling tour of Cornwall, taking in many of the county’s best known eateries, from the best pasty shops to Rick Stein’s restaurants and classic Cornish pubs.

Foodies can enjoy the critically-acclaimed culinary delights guilt-free: according to Government statistics four hours of cycling will burn nearly 1,500 calories, equivalent to four medium-sized Cornish pasties.

With so much excellent food to devour, an eight-day, 177 mile ride has been devised to combine the stunning beauty of the Cornish coastline with indulgent restaurants.

The route follows country lanes and dedicated cycle trails as much as possible, making sure guests see a side of the county that most visitors miss. As each night’s accommodation is pre-booked and luggage transfers taken care of, cyclists can stop wherever their taste buds take them.

Lanyon Rowe of Cornish Cycle Tours provides a brief slice of each day of the eight-day Cornish Tour and the treats on offer:

Days 1 & 2 - Wadebridge to Charlestown
“After settling in to your accommodation on day one, day two sees you hop in the saddle. There’s no better way to start your tour than with a glass of wine at the award winning Camel Valley Vineyard. If food becomes more a necessity as a result, there’s the Crown Inn, in Lanlivery, a 12th century longhouse and an ideal place to stop for a spot of lunch.”

Day 3 - Charlestown to Falmouth
“After finishing the 26 mile route from Charlestown to Falmouth, you’ll deserve a treat. Fortunately, Rick Stein has recently launched his first restaurant outside of Padstow with the opening of Rick Steins Fish & Chips on Discovery Quay, near the Maritime Museum, offering both dining in and takeaway options, and an oyster bar.”

Day 4 - Falmouth to Porthleven
“Half-way through your holiday and the recently renovated Amélies at The Smokehouse provides the perfect opportunity to reflect as the boats go to and fro and the sun sets in the background. In addition, this restaurant has green credentials and a focus on the freshest ingredients, cooked on a purpose built wood-fire.”

Day 5 - Porthleven to Porthcurno
“Day five sees the tour enter Marazion, grab a Philps Butchers pasty as a snack, (you deserve it). Then an easy, level ride around Mount’s Bay to Penzance and neighbouring Newlyn; both are famous for their fish.It’s also an ideal place for lunch, ending the day at Porthcurno; the Beach Café provides a brilliant place to stop for a tasty cream tea.”

Day 6 - Porthcurno to St Ives
“Day six is one of the shortest days on the tour which affords plenty of time to stop for a drink at The Beach Cafe, Sennen and enjoy the surfers in the sea. Whilst in the area, Gurnards Place Hotel is one of my favourite places to stop for hearty, wholesome food and local beers. Nearby, Moomaid Of Zennor sell lovely ice-creams. Finish the day with a plate of the freshest fish at the famous Porthminster Beach Café, St. Ives.”

Day 7 - St Ives to Perranporth
“First stop of the day is Hayle, which is known for its three miles of golden sands. Philps the bakers in Hayle produce a top drawer pasty. By now you’ll have pedalled over 100 miles - to celebrate, as you roll in to St Agnes head to The Meadery, a fantastic family restaurant serving locally-made mead and fruit wines. Not too much though, you’ve still got to make it to Perranporth.”

Day 8 - Perranporth to Wadebridge
“The final day of the tour should find you both fuller and fitter than ever as you arrive at Padstow. Whilst the picturesque port is famous as the home of Rick Stein, those in the know nip next door from his café to Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 where lunches start at £5.”

The 8 day/7 night Cornish Tour costs £590 per person, including accommodation and luggage transfers. For more details on this and other tours visit www.cornishcycletours.co.uk or call 01637 880710.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Strictly Come Dancing hotel break

GET up close and personal with the glitz and glamour from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing with a special break from Warner this Easter!

Warner Leisure Hotels still have availability for their spectacular Strictly Come Dancing Experience Break from April 5th at the beautiful Grade-II listed mansion, Cricket St Thomas – featuring Strictly stars James and current champion Ola.

The break offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in the world of Strictly with tuition from professional dancers, a chance to see some of the costumes used on the shows (you can even hire them!) question and answer sessions with the Strictly Stars and also a chance to see some breath-taking dance routines performed by James & Ola.

The final night of your stay is your chance to compete, judge or simply sit back, relax and enjoy being part of the ‘live’ audience for the Strictly Come Dancing Comes to Warner Competition.

Prices start at £364 per person for a four night break at Cricket St Thomas on 5th April, inclusive of accommodation, delicious 3-course dinners, hearty breakfasts, optional leisure activities and entertainment and the Strictly Come Dancing experience.

For more information visit the website www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/strictly-come-dancing or call 0800 048 2879.

Ideal base for campers and tourers

THE five star Vauxhall Holiday Park has all that campers, or those with touring caravans or motorhomes might want – and more!

Situated in Great Yarmouth with its 15 miles of golden sandy beaches and other attractions it has been designed to appeal to a wide variety of discerning holidaymakers. It is also only a short drive from the historic city of Norwich.

It has great facilities for touring caravans, campers and motorhomes with over 200 pitches, all have electricity & free awnings. There are baby changing facilities, heated shower/toilet block; gas cylinder refills are available on-site.

If you want even more luxury there are ‘Super Pitches’ which have mains water; grey waste water collection, electricity hook-up and TV including certain Freeview channels.

Once at Vauxhall Holiday Park there is plenty to do, new attractions for 2010 are the Adventure Climbing Wall and Laser Skirmish.

There is also the fabulous Indoor Tropical Water World, darts, pool, snooker, short mat bowls, gymnasium, football, tennis, kwik cricket and electric go karts.

Special facilities for children include Louie the Lion’s Kidz Club, while there are ‘Arty Kidz’ classes each afternoon and the Tiny Tots Club for the under fives.

When you are feeling hungry the The Reedcutters Restaurant & Coffee Shop is open from 9.00am – 9.00pm seven days a week.

In addition takeaway outlets offer burgers, fried chicken, kebabs, pizzas, jacket potatoes, fish & chips and fresh shellfish.

There is five star entertainment, at no extra cost, every night in the Regency Room while the all new V-Lounge is for the over 18’s and has live music, discos and karaoke.

Prices for a standard pitch are from £16 per night and £18 for a super pitch.

For more information please telephone: 01493 857231or visit www.vauxhall-holiday-park.co.uk where a copy of the brochure can be downloaded.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Kitesurfing event in Cornwall

BRITAIN’S best kitesurfers will kick off the 2010 championships with a new course racing event in Cornwall next month.

Athletes including the current ladies world champion will be at Watergate Bay to compete in the British Kite Surfing Association (BKSA) National Course Racing and Wave Jam. The event, hosted by the Extreme Academy, will be held from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th April.

Friday 16th will also see the official announcement that the BKSA has succeeded in attaining recognition for kitesurfing as a sport from Sport England, which will enable clubs and individuals to apply for development grants and Government funding.

BKSA Chairman Richard Gowers said: “2010 is set to be a great year for kitesurfing: we’ve been campaigning for five years to get the sport recognised by Sport England, and this comes at a time where kitesurfing is attracting more new participants than ever.

“Watergate Bay has been involved in the sport from the start - the kitesurf school there was one of the first in the country - so it’s great to be able to have Lisa O’Keefe (Director of Sport at Sport England) with us at Watergate Bay to celebrate this news at our first event of the year.”

With up to 30 competitors taking part in each heat, kitesurf course racing is highly entertaining to watch. Technical ability is key to success, with racers required to sail up, down and across the wind to navigate a triangular course marked by buoys.

Competition will take place in four divisions, split into professional and amateur categories for both men and women.

Westcountry kitesurfers will be well-represented at the event: Cornishman Denzil Williams, from Par near St Austell, is the current British course racing champion and no stranger to kitesurfing at Watergate Bay.

For Denzil, the start of the race is one of the most exciting elements for both competitors and spectators. He said: “It’s a bit like Formula 1 racing where you’ve got the whole field trying to get to the front as the starting hooter blows. You can have up to 30 people in a race, and everyone is trying to time their run so they hit the start line at the same time. It can be chaos and occasionally people’s kites get tangled.

“The discipline is really technical and the standard of competitors is so high that just one mistake can make the difference between winning and losing the race. So much can go wrong in a race, like picking the wrong tack or mis-timing your turn around a buoy. To win races requires fitness, strong legs, the right equipment and more often than not a good bit of luck as well.”

Exmouth’s Steph Bridge will be a strong favourite in the women’s event. As the reigning world course racing champion she knows more than most about the sport.

Off the water the kitesurfers will be celebrating their sport’s new official status at the event party on Saturday 17th April. Starting at 8pm, the £10 tickets include entry to The Beach Hut, a buffet and music from a DJ. Tickets are available from Alison Payne on alison@watergatebay.co.uk

Full details of all events at Watergate Bay can be found at www.watergatebay.co.uk

Friday, 26 March 2010

Free stays for event bookers

TODAY (March 26) Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is launching an exciting promotion to reward event bookers and PAs.

All residential bookings worth over £3,000 booked before 30 September 2010, will equate to a one-night free stay at the hotel for the booker plus £40 high street shopping vouchers.

Michelle Wells, General Manager for Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes, comments:
“PAs and meeting bookers are key influencers in business travel. We wanted to acknowledge their hard work with this reward package, plus give them a chance to enjoy first-hand experience of the hotel and see what we have to offer.”

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes’ meeting facilities includes seven flexible meeting rooms, with a maximum capacity of 80 theatre-style and 30 boardroom-style. A wide range of state-of-the-art audio-visual computer and technical equipment is also available on request.

Please quote ‘Treat me’ when booking the residential meetings and bookings promotion. The offer applies to all bookings over £3,000 made before 30 September 2010 and is subject to availability. The one-night free stay must be taken within six months of booking and is subject to availability and terms and conditions.

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is located on 108 Baker Street, London, W1U 6LJ. Rooms are from £99 per night excluding VAT (www.parkplazasherlockholmes.com; tel: 020 7958 5186. For further information on Park Plaza Hotels, visit www.parkplaza.com Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is home to the Aurora Spa. For further information, please visit: www.aurora-wellbeing.com

Win a private hotel suite for a year

DOLCE Hotels and Resorts is running a competition where one lucky son of a gun will win their very own private suite for a year… and for the weekends they are busy, they can share the privilege with ten of their bestest friends and family.

It’s a simple online application, open to anyone, and I thought you might want to share this opportunity with your readers and avid followers (and maybe enter yourself!!). All you and they need to do is log onto www.dolceprivatesuite.com, choose which European City they want their hotel suite in and enter a few basic details. As with everything… terms and conditions do apply. Competition closes on April 29, 2010.

P.S If you Twitter… here is one ready and waiting to go! “Great travel competition! Dolce Hotels & Resorts is giving away a luxury hotel suite for a year! Log onto www.dolceprivatesuite.com to enter”

P.P.S In case you weren’t sure… Dolce Hotels and Resorts is a collection of four star hotels located in breathtaking regions including Barcelona, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Provence and Frankfurt. www.dolce.com

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Dog-friendly coastal properties

IN CELEBRATION of National Pet Month, April 3 – May 3, South Devon self-catering specialist, Coast & Country Cottages, are showcasing their dog-friendly properties, perfect for a fun-filled family holiday where four-legged friends can also enjoy some canine capers.

Coast & Country Cottages offer a choice of 90 dog-friendly holiday properties across the South Hams, including Dartmouth and Salcombe and throughout the beautiful coast and countryside in between. With miles of fantastic coastline to walk on and many beaches and pubs that welcome dogs, the South Hams is the perfect destination for a short break or longer holiday that the whole family – and the dog – can enjoy.

Examples of Coast & Country Cottages’ dog-friendly accommodation include:

Well Cottage – a two-bedroom barn conversion benefiting from a quiet location, just a mile from the pretty market town of Kingsbridge and with the sandy beaches at Bantham and Bigbury and the sailing town of Salcombe just a short drive away. The property boasts a two-tiered garden and a large Canadian canoe for tenants to use to explore the nearby estuary. Small dogs are permitted. Sleeping five, prices in 2010 start from £425 per week or £85 per person.

Guillemot – Awarded five-stars by VisitBritain, this luxury four-bedroom terraced cottage is located within a few yards of Hallsands beach on the stunning Start Bay coastline. Dogs are welcome on the beach throughout the year and there are miles of South West Coast Path literally on the doorstep, perfect for exploring with four-legged friends. Boasting stunning sea views, the property also has a garden overlooking the beach. Up to two well-behaved dogs permitted. Sleeping eight, prices in 2010 start from £570 per week or under £72 per person.

Amberwood - a beautiful four-bedroom 17th century cob and thatch cottage located in the pretty village of Galmpton and only a mile from the picturesque fishing village of Hope Cove with its beautiful beaches and cliff top walks. Dogs will love curling up in front of the large Inglenook fireplace. One well-behaved dog permitted. Sleeping eight, prices in 2010 start from £620 per week or under £78 per person.

A charge of £20 per week is made for each dog staying in the property. For more information on dog-friendly properties, or to book, contact Coast & Country Cottages (www.coastandcountry.co.uk / 01548 843773). Alternatively, follow Coast & Country Cottages on Twitter (twitter.com/CandCC) or Facebook.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Break a world record on holiday with Butlins

THE global authority on record-breaking achievement, Guinness World Records, and the UK’s leading holiday company, Butlins, are bringing “instant record-breaking” to millions this spring and summer.

Following a very successful trial during half-term, the Guinness World Records Live! Challenge Fair will officially open at Butlins on 2 April, in time for Easter and remain open every weekend until November. Visitors to the three beachside Resorts, Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, will be able to undertake a series of challenges and be adjudicated “on the spot” to possibly earn them a place in the famous book.

Director of Production at Guinness World Records, Paul O’Neill, said: "GWR Live! is about bringing the adrenalin rush of record-breaking to the public - in Butlins we have the perfect partner to deliver instant record breaking entertainment to a live audience."

Mike Godolphin, Head of Entertainment at Butlins said: "We are really excited to be welcoming Guinness World Records to Resort and know our guests will rise to the challenge and thoroughly enjoy smashing records during their breaks."

Record challenges will include Tallest Lego Tower, Fastest Time to Dress ‘Barbie’, Longest Domino Line, a variety of tongue twisters, coin tossing and the Fastest Time to Make up a Bunk Bed – complete with duvets and four pillows. The Guinness World Records Live! Challenge Fair will also offer basketball challenges and a series of physical dexterity tests that will push the co-ordination power of every hopeful record-breaker to the limit.

Hundreds of record holders of all ages are expected to be crowned at Butlins this season, and it is the only place in the UK where holiday-makers can walk in off the street as ordinary people and leave certified Guinness World Records holders.

With Butlins currently reporting an increase of 10% on occupancy for Easter breaks due to the pull of quality entertainment and activities availability is fast selling out. Last minute breaks are still on offer with prices starting from £91pp per break, 2nd – 5th April at Skegness and £84pp per break, 16th – 19th April at Bognor Regis. Both prices based on four people sharing a Silver self-catering apartment. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.butlins.com (The maximum call charge is 2p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary).

Fun for the under fives

THIS year Haven Holidays has even more fun for under-fives on their 35 family holiday parks – all included in the price!

Little ones will love to shake, rattle and roll with ‘Tiny Mites’ sessions that use puppets and percussion instruments to encourage them to enjoy music, movement and drama. Suitable for babies from six months there’s lots of actions songs, rhymes and rhythm.

Tiny Mites Music is just one of lots of fun activities for toddlers on offer in Haven kids clubs.

Annabel’s Creative Kitchen takes place on all Haven parks throughout the year and is great way to introduce your little ones to cookie and cake decorating – whilst letting someone else deal with the mess! This exclusive activity, that includes healthy food fun as well, has been created by top children’s chef Annabel Karmel.

Wake and Shake gets the day started with early morning exercise, using lots of lively games and brightly coloured equipment that will tempt kids to join in and burn off their energy. And this year Learn2Swim lessons on Haven parks are free of charge too, with special sessions for parents and babies.

Little kids will love all the games, music, dancing and creative play available every day at Little Cubs club.

‘We welcome families with younger children,’ say Haven. ‘We make sure all our parks have baby-changing areas, buggy friendly access, high-chairs and baby menus readily available in restaurants and baby equipment available to hire to keep packing to a minimum. But most importantly kids are genuinely welcome in all our venues so families can enjoy time together.’

Haven Holidays was the runner up in Tommy’s Parent Friendly Awards in the Best UK Holiday Provider Category announced on Friday 19th March 2010. Haven say, ‘We’re thrilled that parents appreciate all the parent friendly facilities and activities we offer for families staying on our Parks.’

Haven’s prices are family friendly too. Four night breaks at selected parks in April are available from as little as £89 for a family of four in standard accommodation. Prices based on April 19th at a number of parks including Golden Sands near Mablethorpe, Caister near Great Yarmouth and Riviere Sands in Cornwall.

Call 0871 230 1900 or click on www.haven.com

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Blasts from the past with Vauxhall Holiday Park

GET away for a mid summer break and enjoy some of the biggest hits from the 60s & 70s featuring all live acts at the five-star Vauxhall Holiday Park.

In June it is holding the first ever Summer Festival featuring nine original bands including: Suzi Quatro, The Manfreds, Barron Knights, Vanity Fare, Eddie & The Hotrods and The Rubettes - plus tribute acts playing the music & songs of Madness, The Crickets, Tina Turner, David Essex and Neil Diamond.

Vauxhall Holiday Park is situated in Great Yarmouth, with its 15 miles of golden sandy beaches, and prides itself on catering for the needs of the modern, discerning holiday maker.

When not listening to top bands there is plenty of other things to do, new attractions for 2010 are the Adventure Climbing Wall and Laser Skirmish. There is also the fabulous Indoor Tropical Water World, darts, pool, snooker, short mat bowls, gymnasium, football, tennis, kwik cricket and electric go karts.

When you are feeling hungry the The Reedcutters Restaurant & Coffee Shop is open from 9.00am – 9.00pm seven days a week. In addition takeaway outlets offer burgers, fried chicken, kebabs, pizzas, jacket potatoes, fish & chips and fresh shellfish.

For the Summer Festival you can choose from a variety of luxury holiday homes accommodating up to eight people. New for 2010 is the ‘Falcon’, the ultimate in style and comfort for four people and designed to have a spacious and contemporary feel. It has two flat screen TVs with Freeview, large dining area, ensuite master bedroom plus a further bathroom and fully equipped kitchen.

Prices start at £100 per person per week, or £80 for a short break.

For more information about the Summer Festival which is for over 18’s only and runs between 12-19 June please telephone: 01493 857231 or visit www.vauxhall-holiday-park.co.uk

Monday, 22 March 2010

Unusual sighting at Loch Ness

LOCALS and visitors alike have reported an unusual sighting on Loch Ness.

A large spherical object has now been seen on several occasions and has caused a stir throughout the region.

The spherical object which resembles an oversized transparent ball, has been frequently been sighted on Loch Ness, just outside The Inch Hotel and has created much excitement in the surrounding area. Whilst the scientific community often regards sightings of the Loch Ness Monster as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking, there is no doubt that these most recent sightings are anything other than “WoW” balls!

WoW balls are the newest contribution to the mysterious waters of Loch Ness. The adrenaline-fuelled WoW ball session involves thrill-seekers climbing inside a giant inflatable sphere and once sealed up and secure, will - in theory - Walk on Water.

Offered as part of an activity package at the Inch Hotel on Loch Ness, the WoW ball experience is one of many outdoor activity experiences available to visitors.

Aiming to attract visitors keen to push the boundaries on the usual hotel break away, The Inch Hotel on Loch Ness has launched a variety of outdoor activity packages, designed to cater to the needs of couples and families that are looking for an action packed holiday.

Working in partnership with outdoor adventure activity company Boots N Paddles, 2010 sees The Inch Hotel launch a series of action packed outdoor activity experiences ranging from an overnight stay to a 3 day break, suitable for groups, families and couples of any age.

In addition to the afore-mentioned walking on water experience, other package options include an Ascent & Descent Adventure Day including climbing and abseiling; a guided canoe trip on Loch Ness; the chance to explore Glen Affric on foot and a demanding mountain biking experience on the Great Glen Way.

The Inch Hotel, which is located on the outskirts of Fort Augustus at the South end of Loch Ness, recently changed to new ownership and is keen to establish itself as an experience-led hotel. Nick Sharp, the General Manager, comments, “We are noticing increased popularity in our hotel packages and as a result have decided to create a series of new experiences which both capitalizes on our unique position on Loch Ness and offers guests something a little bit different than the usual weekend away to a hotel.”

Originally a Victorian Hunting lodge, The Inch Hotel is a family run venue which always feels like the perfect place to come home to at the end of an action-packed day.

The hotel prides itself on its warm and welcoming atmosphere, where guests can truly relax and unwind. Small and intimate, The Inch Hotel is home to 14 individual ensuite bedrooms – some of which have views overlooking Loch Ness, a comfortable living room with roaring log fires, a first class restaurant serving locally sourced, freshly prepared food and an intimate bar with a variety of perfectly aged malts.

Prices start from £120 per person based on 2 adults sharing - includes dinner, bed & breakfast and activity.

For further details and to book call 01456 450900 or visit www.inchhotel.com

Sunday, 21 March 2010

iPhone app gives savings on tourist attractions

A BRAND new iPhone app taking the UK by storm is helping families make their money go further this Easter holiday.

vouchercloud, the mobile discount voucher application, has signed up hundreds of the country’s leading tourist attractions with major money-savings offers for the family over the holidays and weekends.

The offers include 2-4-1 admissions at top attractions including Chessington World of Adventure, The Eden Project and Bowlplex Bowling as well as great family deals at the best regional family venues around the country.

There are also exclusive discounts in the UK’s favourite restaurants and casual dining outlets – all leaving more money in the budget for those all important chocolate eggs!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Escape to County Cork


ENJOY an Irish Easter escape at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort in County Cork for just £117 per person per night for a two-night break including a full Irish breakfast each morning, a gourmet dinner and an optional Easter Monday brunch.

Set amidst 220 acres of breathtaking countryside, this stunning contemporary resort offers the perfect spring getaway with plenty of onsite activities including golf on the inland links course, target archery, laser-clay shooting and walking the estate dogs.

Guests can also indulge in a spot of pampering at The Spa at Castlemartyr, with a wide range of luxury treatments such as the signature Gaelic Escape massage, or enjoy some exercise to burn off those Easter eggs in the impressive wellness centre with its ozone-treated pool, fully equipped gym, and yoga and Pilates studio.

The Easter Break offer is available from 2nd to 6th April** on a bed and breakfast basis in a classic bedroom with a gourmet dinner in The Bell Tower restaurant included, along with full use of the spa facilities.

With more new flight routes operating from the UK to Cork with Aer Lingus and Aer Arran, there are direct flights from a host of regional airports across the UK, as well as a new ferry route direct to Cork from Swansea with Fastnet Line.

For bookings call 00 353 241 219000 or visit www.castlemartyrresort.ie

*Minimum stay two nights

**Easter Monday brunch will cost an additional £50 per person

For best flight deals and regional departures visit www.aerlingus.com

For sailings from Swansea to Cork visit www.fastnetline.com

Friday, 19 March 2010

Egg-cellent hotel offer in Cornwall

WITH Easter being the longest bank holiday of the year, Barclay House, two AA rosette awarded restaurant and hotel in Looe Cornwall, is offering a unique gastronomic package including an ‘egg-cellent’ Easter hunt in its extensive gardens.

The 11 bedroom Victorian house hotel asks guests taking advantage of the Easter weekend special to arrive on Good Friday and enjoy dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings at Barclay House, with locally inspired spring menus designed by Head Chef Benjamin Palmer. On the Sunday night dinner is included at newly acquired, award winning Trawlers on the Quay - quite simply, one of the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall.

On the morning of Easter Sunday, the gardens of Barclay house will become a land of adventure and mystery, as guests can take part in a traditional Easter celebration with a twist. An Easter egg and Champagne hunt will take place in the grounds, which will encourage children and adults alike to take part and follow the clues to find prizes including traditional chocolate eggs, Camel Valley sparkling wine and Cornish lust. The hunt will then be followed by celebratory teas, coffees and hot cross buns in the hotel bar.

The multi award winning restaurant at Barclay House prides itself on promoting the very best Cornwall has to offer by serving inspiring local dishes coupled with excellent customer service. The daily changing menus are all freshly prepared using the finest local ingredients including fresh “day boat” fish from the trawlers of Looe - creating a range of local, seasonally inspired dishes. Guests can also relax over the weekend by sampling the hotel’s facilities including an outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna and gym and onsite hair stylist.

Prices start form £499 per couple and the offer includes; participation in the egg hunt, accommodation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights accompanied by a full Cornish breakfast as well as dinner at Barclay House on Friday and Saturday nights and dinner at Trawlers on the Quay on Sunday evening. For those who cannot stay over, both Barclay House restaurant and Trawlers are open for an Easter Sunday lunch priced at £25 for three courses, or £15 for younger guests.

Looe is easily reached by road, rail and air with flights from London, Glasgow Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin and Cork directly to Plymouth, just 19 miles away. Once at the hotel, the local town, harbour and beach are all just a 10 minute walk away. The hotel offers ample car parking free of charge to guests.

Resident proprietor of Barclay House Graham Brooks comments; “We have very recently purchased Trawlers in Looe and thought it would be great to encourage hotel guests of Barclay House to experience both of our restaurants, especially as Trawlers is only a ten minute walk from Barclay House. With this in mind we created this special Easter package, as well as this we wanted to include something traditionally associated with Easter, however we didn’t see why the adults should be left out of the fun, hence the twist of the champagne and egg hunt.”

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Family time in Ireland

BOOK a fun filled, family break at The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, Killenard, Ireland this Easter.

From 3rd to 8th April, 2010, The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, Killenard, located 1 hour South-West of Dublin, has an exciting itinerary of complimentary activities for all the family to enjoy including Arts & Crafts, Giant Games, Easter Egg Hunt, Family Movies and much more.

The luxury resort has a unique and memorable show for resort guests on Monday April 5th when Wildlife Expert ‘Jungle Dave’, as seen on ‘The Late Late Show, Ireland’ and the children’s Saturday Morning TV programme, ‘Am Satitude’, will bring some of the worlds’ most exotic creatures including a giant 12ft Snake, an 18ft Anaconda, Scorpions, a Crocodile, Tarantulas, Iguana, Insects, Lizards and Polly the Cockatoo. One hour shows of ‘Dave’s Jungle’ will take place at the Heritage on Easter Monday at both 2pm & 3.10 pm.

This full interactive experience is safe and child friendly, educational and character building. A chance to meet, interact and learn about these wonderful animals.

Whilst the Children soak up the excitement, Mum’s can relax and indulge in a truly world class spa experience with a choice of over 70 treatments by Pevonia Botanica in the award winning Spa and travel through the unrivalled heat and cooling journey of The Heritage Spa Experience.

Dad’s can unwind on the 18 hole championship golf course, designed by Seve Ballesteros and Jeff Howes. Baby sitting services are also available for parents needing a break from the kids.

This 98 bedroom luxury hotel also offers 24 self catering apartments ideal for families.

For further information visit www.theheritage.com

Golf, golf lessons, junior golf camps, babysitting services & Spa treatments are subject to availability and it is recommended to pre-book these services.

Ironbridge Gorge is a beautiful tourist destination

THE Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and its neighbouring town of Telford are peacefully set in the heart of beautiful Shropshire surrounded by glorious countryside, quiet villages, stately homes and leisure attractions.

At the centre is the iconic Iron Bridge, which spans the River Severn and remains an enduring symbol of the Industrial Revolution that took place here around three hundred years ago.


Heavy industry has long disappeared from the valley, the mines are closed and the ironworks silent but many of the historic buildings remain as a testimony to the area’s industrial past. Today the Gorge is a place of beauty with the restored buildings set either side of the River Severn’s wooded valley.

More about the region’s fascinating past can be discovered at the new landmark Visitor Centre in Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums. The Severn Valley Railway will also be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, while a new Bar & Grill will open in the spring at Weston Park sizzling up lunch and dinner all year round, and senior citizens will be able to join Silver Safaris being introduced at Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies from Easter.

The World Heritage Sites’ only brewery has just opened its first pub, the Old Fighting Cocks at Oakengates, which they have recently restored to its Victorian splendour. Also open to visitors, the Ironbridge Brewery visitor centre is offering mini tours and has a shop and bar serving real ales brewed on the premises.

Gateway to Blists Hill
Part of a massive redevelopment at Blists Hill, the Visitor Centre now acts as a dramatic gateway to the open air Victorian town and World Heritage Site. The main exhibition hall greets visitors with a stunning cacophony of sight and sound as massive images are projected on nine metre high walls telling the harsh reality of life during the evolution of mining and hot metal industries.

Also new is Canal Street, a wonderful parade of shops authentically copied from the period originals where local townsfolk go about their daily lives and an artisans’ corner with the work of plumbers, tinsmiths and decorative plasterers on display. Other developments at Blists Hill include an Incline Lift, which is reminiscent of the historic lifts that once hauled goods up and down the sides of the Severn Gorge, and the narrow gauge Clay Mine Railway. This takes visitors on a short journey into a blacked out ‘clay-mine’, where a fantastic audio-visual show depicts the ‘explosive’ story of a father and son team of clay miners.

Severn Valley Railway’s first public passenger train steamed out of Bridgnorth on 23rd May 1970 on the short four-mile run to Hampton Loade. In four decades the SVR has grown from its original concept of a handful of enthusiastic amateurs organising Sunday steam-ups in the overgrown, abandoned BR sidings at Bridgnorth, to become one of the UK’s most polished ‘heritage’ tourist attractions, hosting more than a quarter of a million visitors each year, and with a turnover in excess of £6 million.

Steam locomotives now pull vintage trains taking visitors on a sentimental journey through 16 miles of glorious countryside from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and return. The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley tells the history of the railway and includes a replica of the pub where the first planning meeting for the formation of the railway society took place.

May 22nd and 23rd will see a special 40th Birthday Party while a ‘reunion’ theme is expected to be a feature of the SVR’s big ‘Autumn Steam Gala’ in September, when several ex-resident locomotives, which came to the Severn Valley line in its early days, will make celebrity appearances on the Kidderminster-Bridgnorth line.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums and Severn Valley Railway along with Weston Park, the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford and Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies are known as Shropshire’s star attractions.

Weston Park, the 17th century ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford with around 1,000 acres of gardens and parklands, restored its former Granary last year, which opened as an art gallery and farm shop selling locally sourced produce. From spring 2010 a new 60-seater restaurant, the Granary Bar & Grill, will also be opening in the old malting house with an open plan kitchen and split-level seating area with views over Church Pool and the estate cottages.

The menu will feature freshly prepared dishes using the region's finest produce with emphasis on 'easy eating' in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Combining history with adventure in a unique setting Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies is an 18th century ‘theme park’ with a fantasy landscape of rugged rocks, caves and grottos plus wonderful views and walks. Every Thursday Hawkstone will be providing a complimentary Land Rover ‘Silver Safari’ service to key high points in the park allowing access for anyone unable to walk up the steep climbs.

Ironbridge and Telford has a wide choice of accommodation for visitors ranging from four star hotels with dining awards to traditional country inns, farmhouses and comfy B&Bs; there are also quality camping and caravan sites and cosy cottages for those who prefer to self-cater. For further information, or to obtain a copy of the Ironbridge and Telford visitor and accommodation guide, Tel: 01952 567562 or log onto www.visitironbridge.co.uk.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Join Gordon Banks for dinner

BY EARLY July, we’ll be approaching the height of World Cup fever and hopefully cheering on Wayne Rooney and co in the quarter finals.

What better way to soak up the full atmosphere of the world’s biggest football competition than in the company of one of England’s greatest heroes of the game Gordon Banks OBE.

The legendary goalkeeper will be hosting a private dinner at Warner Leisure Hotels’ magnificent Littlecote House Hotel, Berkshire, when guests will have the chance to ask him about his illustrious career and especially England’s greatest moment of sporting glory, the 1966 World Cup.

During the evening there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and take photographs.

The VIP dinner is just one of many outstanding breaks at Grade 1 listed Littlecote House Hotel this year including hot air balloon flights, horse racing trips, and a Psychic School featuring Jayne Wallace, one of Britain’s top mediums. That’s in addition to a full programme of live entertainment that ranges from Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band to an evening with popular comedian Tom O’Connor.

The three-night weekend break from Friday July 2nd costs from £309 for an Ambassador Room with a £60 per person supplement for the private dinner with Gordon Banks OBE. The dinner with Gordon Banks takes place in the evening on Sunday 4th July.

For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or call 0800 1388 399.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Last-minute family breaks for Easter

YES, the sun is shining, the daffodils are blooming and Easter is only a couple of weeks away.

If you haven’t booked an Easter break there’s still time to treat the kids to a couple of days away with Haven Holidays – and the good news is that it won’t cost the earth!

Haven are offering Bank Holiday breaks on selected parks from less than £200 for a family of up to six people. Three days arriving on Good Friday, in a ‘Standard’ two bedroom holiday home costs from just £199 and includes a fun-packed package of Easter activities, free Learn2Swim lessons, free football coaching, kid’s clubs and a whole programme of daytime and evening entertainment.

All Haven parks have tip top facilities with heated leisure pools, multi-sports courts and a range of fun extras including Adventure golf, climbing walls, pitch ‘n putt, golf courses – even horse-riding, fishing and boating lakes.

The special Easter deal is available at Riviere Sands in Cornwall, Doniford Bay in Somerset, Reighton Sands in Yorkshire and Presthaven Sands in North Wales. Check the website on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900 for immediate bookings and details of other special offers.

Relax this Easter with a cottage holiday

GET away with the whole family this Easter holiday and experience the magic of Pembrokeshire! Coastal Cottages have some fantastic properties to suit you and your family’s needs, with great locations so there is something for everyone!

For a get together with family or friends Coed Cadw and Coed Cadw Farmhouse are adjoining cottages in a lovely peaceful setting, yet only a short walk away from the local village pub with its recommended restaurant. A short drive away is the town of Newport with its beach, golf club and many pubs and restaurants that need sampling!

Coed Cadw farmhouse is a semi detached, traditional stone farmhouse situated in the Pretty Nevern valley. The farmhouse has been renovated throughout but keeps many of the original features with exposed beams and slate floors running throughout, the wood burning stove set in an inglenook makes the lounge a cosy retreat. The Pretty country kitchen opens up onto an enclosed and lawned garden where you can sit and enjoy a drink in the evening when the children are all tucked up.

Adjoining the Farmhouse and enjoying the tranquil setting is Coed Cadw Cottage. This charming cottage is full of character, attractive furnishings throughout blend well together. The large open plan living room has patio doors which open out onto the enclosed lawn, bringing the outside in.

The two cottages can be booked together, for a relaxing break, sleeping 10 in this wonderful part of Pembrokeshire.

A weeks stay in Coed Cadw Farmhouse and Coed Cadw starting on the 27th March on a special offer price would be just £774 (saving £87) sleeping 10 people.

01437 772760, www.coastalcottages.co.uk

Monday, 15 March 2010

Combine a short break with a theme park visit

AS ALL the major theme parks open their doors for the 2010 season and with the Easter and half-term holidays fast approaching, what better way to enjoy a short break than combining it with a trip to a theme park to try out the latest new attractions.
This year sees a new th13teen rollercoaster at Alton Towers, a whole new pirate themed land at Legoland Windsor and the new SAW Alive horror maze at Thorpe Park to name but a few. Short break specialist Superbreak combines overnight accommodation with tickets to the parks for the ultimate thrill packed break.

What’s new for 2010
Alton Towers – New Ride TH13TEEN
The ultimate rollercoaster, Th13teen, launches on 20th March 2010. Th13teen will be based on the discovery of an unearthed burial site in an area of unexplored woodland known as the Dark Forest. Built on the site of the old Corkscrew rollercoaster, visitors will be invited to take a petrifying ride on Th13teen, venturing into the seemingly living and breathing Dark Forest. There they will face an unknown horror that has been unleashed from the ancient crypt The Ride has been developed with the world’s leading coaster and thrill consultants who have collaborated to combine the ultimate elements of physical and psychological fear – to create what experts are dubbing a ‘PSYCHOASTER’

A package costs from £173 per family of four (two adults and two children sharing a room) staying one night at a supersaver mystery hotel in Stoke on Trent on a b/b basis with two consecutive day entrance ticket to the park. Children aged 4-11years. Valid from 20 March onwards.

Legoland Windsor – New land for 2010 – Pirates Landing
Enjoy a whole new land where visitor can try out their swashbuckling, seafaring skills at the Pirate Training Camp, an interactive adventure play area with so much to explore. Or climb aboard for a breathtaking ride on the new swinging LEGO galleon, the Jolly Rocker – the first ever pirate ship in any LEGOLAND park, swinging to an incredible 18 metres high! Then set sail for a soaking and follow the pirates on a hunt for treasure on the “explosively” enhanced Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench. With new interactive water cannons, it’s one adventure that’s bound to go with a splash! There is also a new pirate-themed live action show for 2010, ‘the Pirates of Skeleton Bay’, the first in the park’s history, featuring death-defying acrobatics and swashbuckling.

A package costs from £201 per family of four (two adults and two children sharing a room) staying one night at the three star Premier Inn London Heathrow on a room only basis with a two consecutive day entrance ticket to the park. Children aged 4-11years. Valid from 2 April – end of May at weekends.

Thorpe Park - New for Spring 2010 - Saw Alive
Set to be the world’s most extreme horror attraction, SAW Alive will test visitors to Face their Fears in a new, year round live horror maze featuring 6 iconic scenes from the terrifying 'SAW' films! This theme park is aimed at adults and thrill seekers and many rides are not recommended for young children. And don’t forget – there is also the ‘SAW – The Ride’ which opened in 2009 and is the world’s first ever horror movie-themed rollercoaster with a ‘beyond vertical’ drop of 100º from a terrifying height of 100ft.

A package costs from £155 per person staying one night at the three star Premier Inn London Heathrow on a room only basis with a two day entrance ticket to the park. Valid from 2 April – end of May at weekends.

For more information and bookings call Superbreak 0871 221 4444
or visit www.superbreak.com/agents

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Haven's £40m investment unveiled

HAVEN Holiday parks all around the UK are preparing to start the new season on March 19th by unveiling the results of a £40million winter investment programme.

Holidaymakers booking an early season break will be amongst the first to try out the new facilities at Haven’s 35 parks. New attractions range from Adventure Golf courses, new sports and play areas, improvements to venues and ShowBars, upgraded accommodation and, best of all, two fabulous Space Bowls giving guests the ultimate ‘Wow’ factor at Combe Haven near Hastings and Marton Mere at Blackpool!

Swimmers using the Space Bowls can expect a high speed ride down the flumes before spinning around the bowl and dropping into the pool. Great fun but not for the faint-hearted!

Haven say, ‘We’ve invested £40 million in our parks to ensure that families can enjoy even better facilities and some spectacular new innovations. But we’ve made sure our prices have remained affordable to provide the best possible value for money.’

Spring breaks start from as little as £99 for a family of up to six in ‘Superior’ holiday homes on three night breaks from March 19th or four night breaks from March 22nd. The special deal is available at a wide choice of parks including The Orchards near Clacton in Essex, Golden Sands near Mablethorpe, Hafan y Mor in North Wales and Haven’s flagship park, Devon Cliffs near Exmouth.

If you can’t get away until the Easter holidays Combe Haven is offering breaks from April 9th at £179 for a family of six and Marton Mere is offering Bank Holiday Breaks, arriving 2nd April from £299 – both prices based on ‘Superior’ bedroom holiday homes.

For bookings and more info call 0871 230 1900 or click on www.haven.com

Antiques break with TV expert Eric Knowles

DO YOU have an heirloom in your attic, or a treasure in the shed?

If you think there’s a chance your car boot bargain might turn out to be a valuable antique, find out on a special holiday break featuring Antiques Roadshow expert, Eric Knowles.

The special ‘Antiques with Eric Knowles’ Experience Break is happening at Warner Leisure Hotels’ magnificent Thoresby Hall Hotel & Spa, on the edge of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, on April 5th.

The TV presenter and author will join the four-night midweek holiday for two days when he will be available to give you a valuation on your treasures, answer your questions and present a talk about the fascinating world of antiques.

The break coincides with the Newark Antiques Fair, Europe’s biggest antiques and collectibles event where you can browse around as many as 4,000 stalls offering a huge variety of furniture, architectural pieces, porcelain, pottery, silver, jewellery, paintings, books, maps, prints, and toys. Transport to the Antiques Fair and the entrance cost are included in the price of the Experience Break.

Grade I listed Thoresby Hall is the perfect setting to be inspired by historic art and culture. Dating back to 1875, the beautiful stately house was designed by Anthony Salvin with gardens by Sir Humphrey Repton and parklands landscaped by Capability Brown. The extraordinary Great Hall which rises through three storeys is steeped in history, and legend has it that Robin Hood exchanged vows with Maid Marion in the nearby church of St Mary. During your stay the full story of the mansion will be brought to life by the Thoresby Players.

While the hotel may be historic, the quality of its four-star accommodation and level of service with superb facilities on site is of the highest contemporary standards. There are three outstanding restaurants to choose from and a wide range of leisure facilities including a leisure centre with swimming pool, sauna, steamroom, bubble pool and fitness room, plus a state-of-the-art spa and a full programme of evening entertainment.

Prices for an Ambassador Room start at £314 per person including three-course dinner, bed and hearty breakfast. There’s an £85pp supplement for the Antiques Experience with Eric Knowles. For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or ring 0800 1 388 399.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Big weekends with Butlins

BUTLINS Big Weekends are just one big unforgettable party!

Butlins adults-only Big Weekends pack all the fun of a fortnight into just three days with a party atmosphere, big name headline acts and top tribute bands all included in the price of the break.

* We Love the 70s, 26th – 29th March, Butlins Minehead @ £75 pp per break (including accommodation, most facilities and all live entertainment)
The Real Thing, Brotherhood of Man, Alvin Stardust, Richard Street’s Temptations and Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers appear live on stage to bring the true feel of the 70s to life. They are supported by tributes to ABBA, Tom Jones and T-Rex. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.bigweekends.com

* 80’s Madness, 16th – 19th April, Butlins Skegness @ £57pp per break (including accommodation, most facilities and all live entertainment)
The Teenies are the new 80s so get a taste of the mega-stars of the original decade at this break when Bananarama, Toyah Willcox, Bad Manners and Musical Youth all appear live on stage. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.bigweekends.com

(All guests must be aged 18+ years)

Is home exchange the new stay-cation?

If the ‘stay-cation’ was the holiday phenomenon of 2009, could 2010 be the year of the home exchange?

Millions of Britons chose to spend their holidays at home last year as the economic recession took hold, and with confidence still not fully restored, would-be travellers are continuing to look for ways to keep their holiday costs down.

One creative option is a home exchange: ‘swapping’ your property with that of another homeowner elsewhere in the world - cutting the cost of accommodation almost to zero in the process.

“Last year seemed to be all about saving money by staying at home, while this year there’s a greater consumer willingness to travel but still an emphasis on affordability,” commented Dianne Stewart of global home exchange site Homes-Club International (www.homes-club.com).

“A home exchange is the perfect solution - providing travellers with potential access to a range of accommodation across the world while helping them to save money too.”

A glance at a leading online travel website shows just how significant these savings could be, regardless of destination. A week-long stay from 24 July in a centrally-located three-star hotel would cost a family of four £973 in Bath and £1,035 in Geneva.

Further afield, the same seven nights would cost £830 in Perth (Australia), £607 in Cape Town and £1,030 in Manhattan, New York.

“Home exchange can also provide a more comfortable experience for families - a private house or apartment is generally more spacious and will have more home comforts than a hotel room or suite,” added Ms Stewart.

The home exchange concept started in the 1950s, largely in the USA at first, then spreading across the world as demand for international travel increased and levels of home ownership grew. Although still a relatively small part of the overall travel market, it is growing quickly, partly in response to the global economic downturn.

Home exchange typically works on a membership scheme basis, with annual membership of Homes-Club International currently priced at just £25. After joining, members are free to browse the site to identify properties in their chosen destination and make direct contact with the owners to negotiate a property swap. If second homes are involved members can use each others’ properties at different times and negotiate over length of stay.

To ensure privacy and security, full property details can be viewed only within the password-protected members’ area of the site. Homes-Club International membership is open to anyone with a connection with independent schools anywhere in the world - past and present parents, former pupils, staff and governors.

A free guide to what to do on holiday

WEST Country cottage specialist, Helpful Holidays, produces a free annual guide for its holidaymakers to help them make the best of their time away.

Entitled What shall we do today? it contains discount vouchers and deals for 80 major attractions throughout the South West and is sent to guests before their holidays so they can plan their outings in advance, saving valuable research time and money while on holiday.

This year the booklet features a wonderful variety of places to visit throughout Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset including gardens, historic houses, castles and family adventure parks, as well as wildlife and activity centres. New this year is Extreme West, which is offering a 10% discount on their South West activity gift vouchers – experiences range from Tiger Moth flying to quad biking, sailing and falconry.

Attractions don’t pay for inclusion, but are selected on their willingness to offer a financial incentive to visitors; deals range from discounted entry for one free child with every full-paying adult, or group rates for individual entry.

Helpful Holidays has also included its own top ten suggestions for walks, beaches, places to eat, houses and gardens to visit, children’s attractions and West Country wonders such as the Eden Project, Minack Theatre and Lundy Island.

Other useful pages list farmers’ markets, walking and cycling trails, eateries and a selection of the most interesting events, as well as award-winning beaches for each of the four counties.

For information about Helpful Holidays’ portfolio of over 600 places to stay in the West Country, visit www.helpfulholidays.com or call 01647 434063 for a brochure.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Converted hayloft is ideal base for coast visitors

A FORMER hayloft and stables in Bamburgh have been sympathetically converted to provide an exceptional base for visitors to the North East’s Heritage Coast!

Wynding Down is just 200 metres from the sandy beach and Bamburgh Golf Club.

It is a well appointed, three bedroom property, tastefully furnished and equipped to a very high standard providing excellent accommodation in this sought after part of the village.

The sitting room has an open fire, with views of Bamburgh Castle on one side and the sea on the other.

Prices for a week’s stay start at £295.

For full details please contact Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages on 01665 830783 or visit: www.northumbria-cottages.co.uk.