3 Fantastic UK Escapes

If home is where the heart is for you and your family, why not book a fantastic UK escape for your annual holiday this year? Read ahead for a few ideas of where might tickle your fancy.

Weymouth:

Weymouth, Dorset’s largest town, is the perfect cottage holiday location. With its Georgian seafront strolls, exciting festivals and celebrations, as well as adrenaline filled waterspout activities in the picturesque Portland harbour, Weymouth has something for everyone.

Situated in a sheltered bay at the mouth of the River Wey, with its clean sandy beaches and mild climate its popularity is vastly growing with the discerning holidaymaker today.

Weymouth offers fantastic shopping, restaurants, beautiful gardens and a World Heritage Site coastline and is a pure haven for walkers and cyclists, as well as wildlife and nature lovers. Shack up in a beautiful Weymouth B&B and it’ll feel like home.

Snowdonia, Wales:

Whilst the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park remain a permanent draw for climbers and hill walkers alike, it’s easy to forget the coastline of North Wales is blessed with wonderful wide sandy beaches, beautiful coves and dramatic cliffs. Whether you fancy the peace and quiet of a holiday in the mountains, or a lodge in the traditional seaside resort, you can find it all in Snowdonia.

The National park and surrounding area offers something for everybody, an outdoor pursuit and high adventure, a romantic break, enjoying some tranquillity of the countryside or simply some family fun. You can relax with the kids on the soft sands of Barmouth beach, opposite the extreme activity of tackling Snowdon via Crib Goch, not for the faint hearted! Because of Snowdonia’s diversity, there is a huge array of activities available no matter what the weather, and some beautiful luxury accommodation to boot.

Edinburgh:

A contemporary cultural capital, a city break in Edinburgh provides the opportunity to explore the cities history and heritage. The chance to enjoy world-class events and festivals, and pay a visit to the countries top museums and galleries. Being a compact walkable city allows you to explore the city however long your escape may be, the beauty being you can still enjoy Edinburgh on a short break.

You can explore the castle, Scotland’s top visitor attraction, or take a short walk to the modern home of the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyroodhouse, enjoying the sights of the historic town and Royal Mile along the way.

Princes, George St, and Multrees Walk offer a fabulous spot of retail therapy. Or if a more bespoke service is what you’re looking for, the specialist retailers of Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, Old Town and West End districts have got the whole package. If you’re looking to spend some time in the great outdoors,  the Royal Botanic Garden is the perfect location for a leisurely stroll. Or perhaps something more energetic, walking up Arthur’s Seat will reward you with the beautiful views of the city, Fife and Pentlands.

Hopefully this has given you a glimpse of some of the places that you might enjoy for a change from your typical sun, sea and sand holiday. We generally get so bogged down by the Great British weather that really, we overlook what beautiful places actually surround us, but with a bit of luck and sunshine, there are some perfect destinations for you to choose from.

This is a guest post from Eve at Top Backpacking Destinations

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Do Real ‘Old fashioned’ Bingo Halls Still Exist in the UK?

Before online bingo websites started launching themselves onto the internet, bingo halls and land based bingo were the only ways bingo fans were able to enjoy their favourite game.

Years ago, bingo games were played in small halls and social clubs, but as the popularity of the game grew, so did the bingo and gaming industry, and many bingo hall chains began popping up, and now, in the UK, there are hundreds of bingo halls across of the nation, with over 300 of them being bingo halls of the Mecca Bingo and Gala Bingo brand  – the two most successful bingo operators in the country. 

In most major towns and cities in the UK, there is a Mecca or Gala bingo club, and these operators have been sure to add features and amenities to every one of their bingo clubs to ensure that bingo fans can indulge in hours of fun.

Although bingo clubs supply the main thing players look for – bingo games and enticing cash prizes – most main bingo halls now supply bingo fans with a great deal more than their favourite game. 
These days, it’s not unusual to walk into a bingo club in the UK to find a bar selling alcohol and beverages, a cafe or canteen that sells fresh, hot food and a casino area full of slot machines and instant win favourites. 
By adding these facilities and comforts to their halls, bingo clubs have created a space where bingo fans can visit and enjoy a bite to eat and drink, and maybe dabble on the slots before, and in between, bingo games, and all of these features make for a fantastic evening/afternoon out with friends.

:)

I have been a bingo player all my life, although nowadays I tend to steer clear of the high street and play Wink Bingo in the UK at home on my computer.  It just seems a lot more relaxing and dare I say “fun” to play at home with a glass of wine and a big bar of Galaxy chocolate 

Bingo is a very social game, and although socialising and interaction isn’t really required in order to play the game, it has always been a game that players enjoy with a friend, or with a crowd of like-minded individuals, and although a great deal of land based bingo halls in the UK have lost a percentage of their players to online bingo, it’s clear thousands of people still prefer to chat face to face with their bingo buddies at their local hall, than chat via the chat rooms that sit in every bingo room online.

Shortly after the craze of online bingo hit an all time high, some of the world’s most renowned land based bingo halls launched their very own online bingo sites – including the two UK favourites, Gala and Mecca – and a lot of these sites have become the most popular online bingo sites across the internet, as many players have made the transition from a land based bingo hall to a virtual one.

Wherever you are in the UK, there are many bingo clubs to choose from, and these venues will always be a popular choice for bingo lovers looking for a fun night out with a game that comes complete with the potential to change their lives.

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Spend A Long Weekend in New York

If you only have a long weekend to explore the Big Apple, make every second count. Museums, towering edifices, monuments, and shopping will keep you busy during the daytime, while fine dining, Broadway, and all-night clubs beckon you in the evening hours. Are you ready for a dizzying adventure in the city that never sleeps? Here we go:

The Downtown Loop Sites and Attractions

First-time visitors to New York City should make the Downtown Loop their priority. Start your tour by choosing between the Empire State Building or the “Top of the Rock”—Rockefeller Plaza—to take in the incredible views of the city. Next, plan to get the ferry to the historic Ellis Island, or, if you’re in a rush, simply catch a view of the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. Head back toward Downtown to visit the bustling Times Square, where in addition to window shopping and photo snapping, you can buy discounted tickets to an evening performance of a Broadway show at the TKTS booth, located “under the red steps” in Father Duffy Square on Broadway and 47th Street. Finish off your evening by enjoying a show—whether it be on-Broadway or off—later on in the evening.

Shopping

When it comes to shopping in NYC, nothing beats an afternoon in SoHo. The district’s shopping diversity—from avant-garde fashion shops to big brand names like Hilfiger, Levi’s, and Guess—will keep you busy all afternoon. Shopping in Union Square/Flatiron District will also give you access to some big names. If you’re looking to do some bargain shopping, head to Orchard Street on the Lower East Side, home to some of the city’s best boutiques.

Of course, you’ll want to look stylish even before you arrive in NYC. Shop for bags at Avenue 32 for the world’s leading luxury bags.

Relaxation

A short holiday in NYC can easily turn into a whirlwind, so make sure to add in a few activities to slow down the pace of the trip. You can’t go wrong with a visit to Central Park, where you can visit Strawberry Fields, the Central Park Zoo, or Belvedere Castle, rent a bike for a few hours or rowboat around the Lake, or simply people-watch from your spot on the Great Lawn. For some addition R&R, pamper yourself at one of the city’s finest spas—Ohm’s on Fifth Ave. or Jeunesse on West 22nd—or scour TimeOut New York for the latest best value offers.

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Travelling with a Pre Existing Medical Condition

Travelling with a pre existing medical condition can be problematic. Many insurers exclude pre existing conditions as standard, whether that condition is a heart condition, HIV or AIDS, or a recurring injury. Motivations for doing so are the higher risk of having to pay out a medical condition that may be triggered during a trip. However, there are specialist forms of medical insurance for travellers that make allowances for different pre existing conditions, albeit with some catches. When arranging insurance, it is important to give full disclosure about conditions to avoid later problems, while also having to accept some exclusions, as well as higher costs. Attention to detail and planning insurance well in advance of a booked trip will also reduce the chance of problems with an insurer.

1 – Full Disclosure

List any or all pre existing medical conditions for your insurance. The questions on a form or from an insurance agent may be very personal, but will put you into a better position overall in terms of the policy received. Different companies will vary their approach to medical insurance for travel, so make sure you read through their terms and conditions before approaching them. In most cases, you will have to attach a waiver to a general policy that accepts excess payments onto a premium, or personal liability for handling extra costs.

2 – Accept Exclusions

Many insurers will be pragmatic about what can and cannot be included on an insurance policy for travellers with pre existing conditions. If you do get frustrated with what seems to be an unfair policy, move on until you find a better option. In the same way, you may find that insurance companies will not allow you to claim on a policy if you take part in any dangerous activities while on a trip that may aggravate a condition. You may also find that certain parts of a general travel insurance policy, which might include cancellation insurance against a trip, is invalidated if you have a condition that might cause you to cancel a journey at short notice.

3 – Higher Costs

Travel medical insurance is unfortunately going to be much higher than standard travel insurance, and even more so if visiting countries with high medical costs like the United States, Canada or Spain. Paying a premium on your insurance will, however, be worthwhile if you do have to claim.

4 – Follow Details

Check all details for a waiver before you travel, and before you commit to a single policy. Insurance companies will vary, so make sure that the policy you sign, and the premiums you agree to, are the best for your personal situation. A waiver agreement may contain different forms of liability, and you may have to provide evidence of appropriate medical supplies that need to be taken on a trip to ensure that a condition does not lead to a more serious emergency. While there are no guarantees that there won’t be problems, agreeing on a detailed policy will certainly make things easier to resolve.


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Bolton : A traditional town with a rich local history

Chances are, when you mention the town of Bolton, you think of comedian Peter Kay. But Bolton has an extremely interesting heritage, with wonderful natural sights in and around the area. Located close to the scenic West Pennine Moors, the original name of the town was in fact Bolton-Le-Moors. Historically, it is a part of Lancashire; however the town does reside within the county of Greater Manchester.

Bolton was one of the largest and most productive areas for textiles during the Industrial revolution, and this heritage can be seen still in many places. Traditional areas such as Barrow Bridge highlight this, being a former model village. It still is quite serene and picturesque.

On the outskirts of the town, you can find more historic sights such as Turton Tower. This is a listed building built originally in the 15th Century. It is now a museum offering a interesting look at local history. Bolton has many wonderful places similar to this, such as Smithills Hall. The Hall itself and the surrounding area (including a small farm) offer a great day out for the family.

If rambling is something that appeals to you, then Rivington Pike is ideal. At the summit of the many footpaths lies a watch tower, which offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Blackpool Tower in the distance.

Closeby to Rivington is the parish of Horwich. Here is where the local football team, Bolton Wanderers have their ground; The Reebok Stadium. Next to this is Middlebrook Retail Park, offering restaurants, cinemas and shopping which should keep a family busy for the duration of the day.

Coming a little closer to home, Bolton town centre offers a few attractions of its own. The town hall was built in 1866 and has an impressive clock tower that is quite Baroque in design. This however, is not the oldest building in the town. That honour in fact goes to a public house. Ye Olde Man & Scythe was built way back in 1251, making in one of the oldest in the country.

Bolton has a proud historical history, and is the perfect destination for those who like the great outdoors.

Halit Bozdogan is a proud Boltonian and writes for Bolton-based company Appliances Online. The worst place he ever visited in the UK was Luton. The best place is Windermere-On-Bowness. He’s also a new father to 5 week old Alfie James.

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The Holiday Checklist!

Every now and then it is good to just leave everything behind and go as far away as possible to kick back and relax.  (That’s what I think anyway!) but going for a holiday is one of the best ways of rebooting your body and consequently improving your performance at work school or wherever else. The first thing that you need to think about when going on holiday is the destination; after determining that, you need to ask yourself how you are going to get there. There are also a few other things that you need to look into:

How long is the trip going to take?

Think of it this way; if travelling by plane is going to take two hours will driving there make more sense? Basically what you need to do in this case is determine the cost and amount of effort that will go into booking and getting on board a flight and compare it to the cost and convenience of driving there.

Driving to destinations that are relatively near is great because you have complete control throughout the entire journey. You can stop wherever you wish and also, you can bring as much stuff as you like without having to worry about luggage limits and the like.

If you are travelling to a very distant place, say to ‘the land down under’; flying there will take in excess of twenty four hours. Unless you are shooting a documentary for the Discovery channel it would be a bit crazy to drive all the way there. So basically what you need to do is look for low cost flights.

How much are you willing to pay for your journey?

If you spend too much to get to your holiday destination you may not have enough cash to fully enjoy your stay there and as result you may go back home disappointed. You need to balance a few options here and there, for example, try and determine whether the Eurostar will cost less than flying or whether making a stop-over will bring down the cost of your air ticket.

What are you going to carry?

It is not rare to find flights that disallow you to travel with certain items or if they do you may have to pay extra. A good example is Ryanair which requires people travelling with sporting equipment to pay 80 pounds for every item for a return journey.

Is your furry friend accompanying you?

If you want to bring your dog along with you on holiday then using a plane might be a little bit tricky. There are quite a number of arrangements that you might need to make in order to fly with your pet; this is basically because there are rules for travelling with pets and in most cases they will complicate everything. In this case it might better to just fuel up and get on the road.

It is important to purchase travel insurance once you have made your booking. This will be of great help if for one reason or another you have to abandon your travel plans. As with all other types of insurance, make sure that you understand all the terms and conditions before taking up a policy.

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Some of the Best Wedding Destinations in the World

So after gathering all the courage you have proposed your woman and she said yes, so what next? Well everyone wants their marriage ceremony to be the perfect and should be memorable affair throughout the life. However these days planning a wedding ceremony is a very big and difficult task, from finding the best location to caterers and from photographers to invitation list. Everything needs to be planned properly in order to have that perfect ceremony.

So just to make your problem bit lighter, here is some of the suggestion on location where you would love getting married.

1.Le Chateau d’Esclimont, France tops the list. It’s a scenic valley located just 45 minutes away from Paris. So what can be better than making your wedding not less than a Fairy tales? As the place offers many ancient castles turned into hotel offering wedding services like Chateau d’Esclimont. So while waiting for your wedding, guests can enjoy natural beauty, fishing, horse riding and hiking as almost all the hotels have scenic surroundings.

2.California is yet another world famous destination for getting married. California provides everything possible to the couple and their guests from snowy mountains to sunny beaches. So, you can just book Cheap Flights to Los Angeles & head anywhere from Central Coast to Northern or Southern California. Be assured of an awesome marriage ceremony. California boasts about its numerous wedding venues, talented vendors and entertainers to make you wedding a special affair. The ideal location to get married is California’s amazing central coast which has hotels like The Cliffs Resort offering excellent wedding services. So what else can be better than getting clicked with your wife with an ocean in the background?

3.Many couple wants to have a relaxing wedding and honeymoon so they pick that destination which can serve both the purpose. Bali, Indonesia is just the place for such kind of couple. Here couples can enjoy the exotic wedding with authentic Indonesian food, dance and wine. After couples can extend the stay and enjoy their honeymoon.

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Best Things to do in St Andrews

St Andrews has long been known as a destination for tourists interested in soaking up a truly historical Scottish golfing experience. St Andrews is a university town that is steeped in history, with architecture dating back as far as the 8th century however the most famous landmark in St Andrews is of course the golf course. St Andrews Golf Course dates back to 1754 and actually governs many of the rules that are applied to the game of golf across the world.  Thousands of eager golfers make the pilgrimage every year to either watch the open championships or to Play Golf in St Andrews  with a group of friends.

Although this sea side town has much more to offer the adventurous tourist than golf, we would still highly recommend booking a golf tour if you plan on staying in the area for an extended period of time.

Eating Out

As St Andrews is a coastal town, visitors are treated to some of the best seafood restaurants that Scotland has to offer. One of the most famous and highly decorated seafood restaurants in St Andrews is, the very appropriately named “The Seafood Restaurant”, a restaurant that has been awarded 3 AA rosettes for excellence.  The Seafood restaurant is in a class of its own, offering patrons locally sourced west coast mussels, scallops and oysters as standard. The restaurant also offers delicious St Andrews lobsters in a variety of dishes.

If you are not into fine dining and still want to sample some delicious locally sourced produce then you should also try the new Tail End Chip shop which serves a range of traditionally battered a deep fried fish served with chips and tartar sauce.

Site Seeing

There is also a large amount of tours and activities around St Andrews to fit everyone’s tastes. One of the most famous landmarks in St Andrews is the Cathedral.  St Andrews Cathedral is usually free to enter and wander about at your own pace, however if you would prefer to take on a more structured experience you can pay for a guided tour of the Cathedral. In the summer months it is also common to find special tour guide deals that also include a tour of the castle.

If you have a head for heights we recommend taking the tour so you get a chance to climb the 200+ steps up St Rule’s tower, some of the only remaining ruins in the Cathedrals grounds.

Education

If you didn’t quite have the academic prowess to make it into St Andrews University there is still an opportunity to get a glimpse into the some of the mental powerhouses that the establishment has produced. The museum at St Andrews University plays host to some of the achievements and studies that St Andrews Alumni have produced over the years. You will be amazed at the contributions that have been made to mankind from such a small and unassuming part of the Scottish Coast.

More Information

If you are looking for more information on some of the great places and things to do in St Andrews then you can find more information at the Tourist Board website. Whatever you decide to do in this magical city you will leave with memories that will last a lifetime.

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Understanding Hotel Star Ratings

Three star European hotels, which are some of the most common, can be understood to be ‘middle of the road’. They offer a good level of comfort and generally have all the modern amenities that you would expect in a modern hotel. Where they tend to differ is in the level of attention to detail and quality of welcome you receive from the staff. In other words, star ratings are based on the ‘objective’ things that a hotel offers. You are not guaranteed to enjoy staying at a three star hotel, since you may well find the ambiance and staff aren’t to your liking. Because of this, it’s vital to carefully browse hotels and look closely at pictures and reviews.

Going down the scale, a one star hotel is not necessarily bad. The facilities will be quite basic – expect a simple room with limited washing facilities (often shared) and little in the way of food options. Two star hotels are a step up, giving you more modern facilities such as an in-room TV, and the possibility of hotel dining.

Once you get up to the four and five star level, you start to see some of the ‘luxury’ style options. Key among these is the concierge service. The concierge offers guests aid with many different things; it’s a general service and can be a defining factor in a hotel’s reputation. The highest end hotels often have a concierge that will have a go at tackling almost any request from a guest. At the more mundane level, four and five star hotels will certainly be equipped with a gym, pool, daycare services, a choice of dining rooms and business suites.

Remember that star ratings are no universal. A four star hotel in India is generally not the same level as an equivalently rated hotel in the UK. On the other hand, super luxury hotels in Dubai and other exotic locations have received up to seven stars – clearly these hotels offer a very high standard of service, and are certainly up to standard with Europe’s best five star offerings.

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A great weekend in Sheffield with the kiddies – and for less than a tenner for the full day!

Sheffield offers some of the cheapest cost-of-living anywhere within the UK, and equally, some of the best attractions. Contained within the remit of the city’s boundaries are myriad free attractions, and this article helps to pick out some of the best.

Peak District


The city contains some of the largest green-spaces anywhere in Europe, and only a cheap bus-ride away from the city centre are the peaks. World-famous in the climbing and walking communities, they offer some of the most spectacular views imaginable, and the chance to try your hand at a number of free activities, from biking to climbing and orienteering. The rolling hills and sweeping views have inspired some of the country’s finest artists, and you can follow their footsteps on one of the many walking routes offered around the area, with different lengths and difficulties to suit all ages and abilities.

Botanical Gardens

If you love the outdoors, but aren’t feeling quite adventurous enough to tackle the peaks, Sheffield’s botanical gardens showcase nature at its finest, and with a bit of planning you can catch one of the many free exhibitions held there. With over 5,500 plant species, you can marvel at nature’s handiwork, as well various art displays and listed buildings showcasing man’s aptitude for creation. Whilst the weather is never guaranteed, the abundance of rainfall in the area means the gardens are equally beautiful, all year round.

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Museums

If you feel like indulging your cultural side, Sheffield has an abundance of free museums, catering to a wide array of tastes and interests. The city’s historical background is explored in fascinating detail in the Millennium gallery, showcasing some of the most intricate metalwork found anywhere in the world. The Weston Park museum offers an extremely child-friendly atmosphere, with permanent exhibits on the polar environment and prehistoric animals (including a life-size woolly mammoth!), as well as temporary exhibits that reflect current social trends (most recently was an exhibit on the evolution of sport). As well as the displays, the museum is situated in beautiful parkland, which can be enjoyed both on foot, or from a chair at the elegant cafe at the museum entrance.

St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral


Free to enter, and located in the aptly-named Cathedral street in the heart of city-centre, parts of the incredibly grand cathedral date back to the 11th century, making it one of the oldest buildings in the city. All periods of the area’s history are represented in its astonishing array of artefacts and statues, showing Sheffield life through the ages. For the religious amongst us, there are many services that welcome your participation, but regardless of your beliefs, the building offers an incredible window into the past. Conveniently, the building is located directly outside one of Sheffield’s many tram-stops.

Markets

The main high-street in the city centre regularly holds markets, and if you’re lucky enough to catch one at a seasonal time of year (Christmas or Easter for example) you’ll be treated to an assortment of open-air theatre, free activities and an unparalleled air of vibrancy and excitement. Even if you don’t want to sample any of the goods on offer, the atmosphere and the chance to try your hand at all manner of free activities, from basket-weaving to making bread, makes the short walk worthwhile. Even on regular weekend markets, you’re likely to find street-performance, busking and generous vendors galore, giving you a real taste of how full of life Sheffield is.

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