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Monday, 12 April 2010


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.


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

* * * * * *

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.

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).
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.
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.
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