Fun train ride

5 day trips from London by train

Sometimes the perfect trips are only one day long. Each of these historical English destinations is only a short train ride outside of London and sure to bring joy to the entire family.

Fun train ride

1. City of Hull

Founded in the 12th century, the city of Hull is located about 310 km north of London. Travelling by train take only a brief 2.5-hour journey out of the capital city. The Deep is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hull. Built underground alongside the Humber estuary, The Deep houses a massive complex of aquariums. Visitors can explore the aquariums by taking an elevator that moves through a tank containing over 3,500 different species of fish. For visitors looking for historical attractions, Hull hosts several large museums. Museums of particular interest are the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull and East Riding Museum, and the Hull Maritime Museum.

2. Stonehenge

Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a prehistoric ring of huge stones. While the actual function of the structure is unknown, researchers believe the structure served in a religious capacity or as a burial ground. Carbon dating suggests the stones were moved to their current state around 2000 BC. The mystery surrounding the purpose of the stones adds to the excitement of exploring the ruins as a tourist. Trains from London can reach Salisbury, just outside of the Stonehenge site, in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Stonehenge is only a 13 km bus ride away from Salisbury. Avebury is a nearby prehistoric rock structure that should not be missed if already going to Stonehenge.

3. City of Bath

The ancient city of Bath is only a 90-minute train ride from London. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath is best known as an original Roman bathing site. Natural hot springs provide mineral-rich water for bathing. If tourists want to participate in an authentic Roman bath, they can visit the Thermae Bath Spa. While the baths are the main attraction, tourists will find the Royal Victoria Gardens and the Royal Crescent to be worth the trip alone.

Roman bath open to the public

4. White Cliffs of Dover

A train from London to Dover only takes about 1 hour. Tourists looking for one of the most scenic views of the English coastline should venture towards the White Cliffs. Visitors at the White Cliffs can even see the French border across the English Channel. The cliffs maintain historical significance due to their important role in defending the nation from attack before air travel. Both the Port of Dover and Dover Castle are good attractions to spend time at during the day.

5. City of Liverpool

Any Beatles fan will enjoy exploring the city where the rock band was founded. A brief train ride away, the city of Liverpool offers a wealth of original Beatles attractions. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour even takes tourists to dozens of sites such as Strawberry Field and Penny Lane. Train rides from London to Liverpool generally take about 2.5 hours. However, people who are not fans of the Beatles can still find something to appreciate about the city of Liverpool. History buffs will enjoy exploring the city that saw 40 percent of the world’s trade during the 1800s.

The Mayflower pub - the oldest on the River Thames

Where to best experience London’s nightlife

Calling all party people – the London club scene is hotter than ever right now, so it’s the perfect time to take a trip, especially if you never been before.

We know reading’s not all that hip, but we’re sure you’ll be glad you took a minute to browse this blog post, and find out all about the best London pubs, bars and clubs to visit.

The Mayflower pub - the oldest on the River Thames

The Pub

The Mayflower, “the oldest pub on the River Thames

There has been a pub on the Rotherhithe site – which is now home to The Mayflower – for hundreds of years. It is every inch the traditional London pub, complete with oak beams and wooden panelling, plus a gorgeous view of the Thames from the upmarket upstairs dining room. There’s also an excellent pub quiz!

The Wine Bar

Gordon’s Wine Bar

As the oldest wine bar in London, Gordon’s is conveniently placed a stone’s throw from Embankment tube station. This quirky establishment is almost entirely underground – with exposed brickwork, flickering candlelight and a great atmosphere all adding to the experience. The variety of wines is vast, choose something classic and French or, a highlight, the fortified wine drawn directly from casks behind the bar.

The Cocktail Bar

Callooh Callay

From the cassette tapes which decorate the toilet walls to the Narnia-style wardrobe you can walk through, this trendy Shoreditch bar screams out for party people to come and play. Hidden on a cobbled East London side street, Callooh Callay offers superb cocktails and even better puns – try best-seller, ‘If you don’t gnome me by now’ which, obviously, comes served to share in a big gnome.

The Club

Fabric

This world-famous club is a must-go for anyone who wants to truly experience London’s nightlife. It can get a little crowded, but hang on in there till the early hours of the morning and things get a little more relaxed. Most of the big acts don’t come on till around 3am but the consistently fantastic weekend line-ups mean that they’re sure to be worth waiting for.

In terms of accommodation, a trip to London centred on the nightlife is best experienced from rented apartment, so that there’s no need to worry about waking other hotel guests. Plus, you can spend the money you save on getting into that hot new bar, and even carry on the party back at your very own crash pad if you’re not burned out by the time the clubs closed.

Santa coming to town

Where to book an alternative Christmas party in Manchester

Santa coming to townChristmas parties in Manchester are fantastically varied thanks to the city’s status as a major destination for sport, shopping, bars, restaurants and museums.

As a result, this is the perfect location for an alternative festive celebration, with the venues on offer catering for a huge range of needs and preferences.

 

The city has fantastic transport links, with excellent motorway links; Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria and Manchester Oxford Road train stations right in the heart of the city; as well as excellent bus and tram (Metrolink) connections, meaning everyone can easily reach their chosen venue in or around the city.

Organisers of corporate events who are bored of the typical hotel gathering, and clubs and societies that want something a little different for their Christmas party, should check out these exciting Manchester party venues, which each offer an alternative to the conventional event.

Old Trafford

Old Trafford is one of the north-west city’s top attractions, being home to one of the most successful football clubs in the world, Manchester United. What better place for sports fans or those seeking an impressive location to host their party?

The National Football Museum

Another venue option for party organisers who want to embrace Manchester’s fantastic sporting culture is The National Football Museum. Guests who select the package from events specialists  have private access to the Level 1 gallery, can enjoy the Trophy Photo experience, and can even play the Be a Presenter Game for the ultimate themed evening.

Chill Factore

Chill Factore is one of Manchester’s newest and hottest attractions, despite being an indoor skiing and snowboarding venue. This is the perfect pick if you’re looking for a truly festive evening, with the (albeit fake) snow and seasonal decorations.

Imperial War Museum North

A great alternative option for the office Christmas party is the Imperial War Museum North, with its fantastic location on The Quays and state-of-the-art facilities making it one of the top picks for corporate gatherings.

Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI)

Another one of Manchester’s top museums in the MOSI, and this exciting and stunning venue is a great place to host a Christmas party. It’s the perfect choice for any organisations in the transport, science or engineering sectors.

Manchester Art Gallery

Book a Christmas party at the Manchester Art Gallery and your party could enjoy private access to the exhibits, which currently include Alexander von Wagner’s most famous work The Chariot Race and a Vivienne Westwood evening dress.

The Lowry

Another one for art lovers is the Lowry, which is named after one of Manchester’s most famous painters, L S Lowry. The building, located on the Manchester Ship Canal, with its magnificent and unique architecture, certainly stands out on the waterfront, making it one of the region’s most spectacular party settings.

The Berney Arms - not accessible by car

Norfolk – this quiet little corner of England

Norfolk is a great county to choose for a traditional family break at any time of the year, but it’s a particularly good choice for a summer holiday as there’s so much great coastline to explore. More and more families are choosing to stay within the UK for their summer break and given the stunning natural beauty which the UK has to offer, it’s easy to see why.

The Berney Arms - not accessible by car

From Hunstanton to Sheringham

Norfolk has a wealth of heritage, culture and stunning scenery to offer and one way to explore it is by taking the coast path which is one of twelve national trails and stretches from Hunstanton to Sheringham. The whole trail is within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so there’s plenty of breath-taking countryside to take in as you’re walking along. There’s lots of wildlife to look out for as you’re making your way along the coast path, which is great for keeping children entertained, and you may spot some interesting birds. You should also keep an eye out for seals as you pass Blakeney Point.

Norwich

If you head into the city you’ll find a lively hub of activity with great shopping, restaurants and bars all set within the medieval lanes and historic architecture. You can’t miss the city’s impressive cathedral which is definitely worth a look.

Cherry Tree

As for accommodation, staying in one of Norfolk’s caravan parks means that you have plenty to do on site as well as exploring what the area has to offer. For example at Parkdean’s Cherry Tree Holiday Park, Mill Rd, Burgh Castle, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR31 9QR, you’ll find that there is a fantastic heated swimming pool (great for rainy days) and a kids’ club that offers plenty of entertaining activities for the kids when you fancy a bit of quiet time by yourself. Cherry Tree is conveniently situated for easy access to Gorleston Beach and the seaside town of Great Yarmouth, where you’ll find the Pleasure Beach, Model Village and Sealife Centre.

Staying in

Staying on a caravan park also means that there are plenty of other children for yours to play with and make new friends during their holiday. There’s evening entertainment provided so there’s no need to drive off-site every night. And of course, staying in self-catering accommodation, you can do as much or as little cooking as you feel like.

From countryside to coastline, from forests to farmland, Norfolk also has bustling city life, shopping and restaurants to keep city girls happy.

Don't drink too much!

Best evening activities for a London stag weekend

If London is the place to be for your stag weekend, the array of choice on offer can be overwhelming. As a city, London can cater to a massive range of tastes and budgets, but knowing what you are looking for can help you narrow down the options and have a fantastic weekend.

Don't drink too much!

A multi-faceted city

London can offer a huge range of choices for a stag weekend, from a pub crawl around the city, visits to trendy bars in the West End, to taking a more bohemian turn around Camden. As with any stag experience, knowing the tastes of the members of the group can help you to plan for a successful time. When thinking about the itinerary for the evening, there is an almost endless selection on offer.

Something to eat

Given that a meal out in London can be an entire evening in itself and that the capital has plenty of choice when it comes to restaurants, the mantra of planning ahead rings true again. Similarly, the role of the meal in your evening will dictate to an extent the sort of place you plump for. If you only want a meal in order to provide foundations for the rest of the evening’s activities, something cheap, cheerful and plentiful is in order. An all you can eat buffet or noodle bar, of which there are many dotted around the capital, will provide much food for not many pennies. If the meal is likely to be a more central part of the evening, perhaps if you have older relatives along on the stag weekend who are unlikely to join you for the rest of the shenanigans, a restaurant like The Fish & Chip Shop in Islington provides a great take on the Friday night tea staple. Described by the Independent as an “undoubted success”, this place provides a fun start to your night.

A night on the tiles

Once you have eaten, often the next order of the day is taking to the bars and ending in a nightclub. With so many pubs, bars and clubs to choose from, it can be tough to know where to begin. In an area such as Greenwich or Camden there are many places within walking distance, so using this place as a hub you can plan your entire night. In terms of clubs, London Bridge’s Cable was among one of the Guardian’s top 10 clubs in London and is well worth a shout for late night drinking and dancing.

Away from the bars

If spending your weekend in the pub is likely to be eschewed in favour of other activities, London has an unrivalled selection. Taking in a comedy club or even a west end show can make your weekend live long in the memory. If you are stumped for activities to fill your weekend, there are companies like Chilli Sauce who can do the spade work for you, they even offer stag weekends abroad for those interested.

Although this article is about skiing, we couldnt resist this amazing view of Hemsedal

5 reasons to consider Norway as your next skiing holiday

There is some unfair criticism banded around about skiing in Norway. Reading through it, you start to question whether anybody has ever been to it. Not having the biggest of reputations in the ski world any minor criticism can have a massive affect. And there is plenty, mainly undue. So here are some of the benefits that are to be had based on a recent trip to Hemsedal. It is always good to add a bit of balance to the scales.

Although this article is about skiing, we could'nt resist this amazing view of Hemsedal

1. It’s for everyone

Some resorts in Europe can definitely give off a feeling of exclusivity. It can be enough to put people off. After all holidays are a time for to let it all out and relax. Thankfully skiing is Norway’s number one hobby. None of the pomp here. Seen more as something that is done on the weekend, it is accessible to everyone. A definite benefit in my book.

2. Cross country skiing

Get off your cross trainer machine in the gym and try the real stuff outdoors. Sometimes you don’t feel like hurtling down a mountain on two pieces of wood. You just want to be on ground that is a bit more level. Well Norway is the place for it. They love it so much that it borders on being a national obsession. It definitely isn’t seen as the coward’s way out here, which can be the case elsewhere. Interesting Fact: Hemsedal has a 120 kilometres of Cross Country tracks. That is a significant amount of real estate.

3. Night Skiing

The daylight hours can be very short in winter. Luckily due to modern engineering and that clever man Benjamin Franklin there is a way around it. The Twilight ski. Many of the major resorts have installed floodlit runs. It definitely adds to experience knowing you have that extra cushion of time to carve some lines. Also it gives you the opportunity to sight-see a bit more. Anything that gives me time for dog sledging is a benefit in my book.

4. Cheap Lift Passes

To put it simply it offers better value for money. Let’s face it lift passes can be the biggest drain on any skier’s budget. In much of mainland Europe the price is pretty high and this shows no sign of slowing. In Norway the prices are around 1570 NOK for eight days. That is under £190 GBP and considering the pound is not at its strongest that’s very good value.

5. Long Seasons

Two words that delight any snow fiends’ ears and for good reason too. It means that there is less of a worry about getting time off of work. A longer window of opportunity means that there is no need to negotiate with colleagues over time off.

So Norway does have its pluses. In fact it has at least five. It also has its negatives but all in all it deserves a bit more credit. Maybe if a few more people visit there then it will get it.

Castle and river in the Cotswolds

Walking Holidays in the Cotswolds

Walking holidays can be grand – sunshine, exercise, landmarks, and nature are wondrous, especially in combination with each other. While driving makes arriving to the destination quick, walking makes an adventure out of it. The Cotswolds are the perfect region to visit for walking holidays. There are more trails to complete than time allows, leaving the desire for more.

Castle and river in the Cotswolds

Bibury and the River Coln

This is just one of Cotswolds walks that pay homage to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (2012). This short stroll averages a completion time of 2 hours and covers 6.5 km. If embarking upon this trail in the summertime, butterflies and wildflowers will be plentiful upon entering the Ash Copse. Arlington Row is visible towards the end of the trail. The tiny Cotswold cottages of Arlington Row have an ancient history dating back to the 14th century. The trail ends next to the Bibury Trout Farm and Two Inns.

Kingham to Chipping Norton

The Cotswolds Conservation Board put forth a series of walks to enable the public to take day strolls with the convenience of public transportation at the end of the trail. The route from Kingham to Chipping Norton is accessible by two paths. Allot 3 hours for the 9.7 km path and 5 hours for the 15 km path. If taking the long path, venture a short way south of Adlestrop to Lower Oddingtion to visit the Fox pub, which also serves as a bed and breakfast. Upon resumption of the trail, stop at The Chastleton House. Entry to this rare Jacobean home is first-come first-served and access cannot be certain. The end of the path lies in the town centre of Chipping Norton.

The W.A.S. Way

As the newest way-marked trail in Gloucestershire, The W.A.S. (Walk around Stroud) Way encircles the parish of Stroud. This 16 km path requires only 5 hours, making the perfect day stroll. Markings are located at 16 different checkpoints to ensure no confusion. Sturdy shoes are essential, as there is variable terrain. Spectacular scenic views show off the regions that lie beyond Stroud and Deverow Hill. Stroud’s Old Cemetery and surrounding land provides refuge to wildlife as the Local Nature Reserve.

Cotswold Way

Feeling adventurous? Traversing most of the length of the Cotswold escarpment is the Cotswold Way. This path stretches over 164 km with the origin city of Bath and the concluding city of Chipping Campden. Much of the way is comprised of countryside and picturesque towns; however, many landmarks reside along the pathway. The Sudeley Castle is one of few castles left in England that still maintains a residence. If wishing to view the castle by tour, make sure to plan beforehand. To reach the highest point in the Cotswolds, follow the path to Cleeve Hill. Complete the holiday with a well-deserved tipple and Toad in a Hole from the Eight Bells pub in Chipping Campden and then retire for the day in a luxury Cotswold Cottage.

Perhaps a self-planned walk is not ideal. Several businesses throughout the region specialise in planning walks for folks of all needs. When driving an automobile, the world seems so small and little, seemingly insignificant things remain unseen. When walking, the beauty of those “insignificant” things truly shines through – making the world, which was once small, now large again. When visiting the Cotswolds, take the time to take a walk!

Stonehenge - unmissable

Round-up of some of the best places to visit in the UK

When you visit somewhere new it’s great to come away feeling as though you’ve experienced life just as the locals live it! This means cramming in as much of the culture as possible into your activities; sight-seeing, food and drink and, of course, the nightlife.

If you are leaning towards the UK for your travels this year, keep in mind the vast differences between each region. A week in London alone will not give you an insight into the whole of the UK.

Here is our guide to five destinations that greatly differ from one another, offering a smorgasbord of UK culture for you to remember long after your return home.

Stonehenge - unmissable

London

As England’s capital city, London is a thriving city for those who love to work hard and play even harder. Take a ride on the London Eye to get a bird’s eye view of the city, or visit Buckingham Palace and really see how the royals live. You can also see all your favourite celebrities in the world-famous Madame Tussauds museum, which has hundreds of waxwork replicas of well-known faces for the perfect photo opportunity.

Edinburgh

Get a taste of Scotland with the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Whether you visit the animals at the renowned Edinburgh Zoo, or wander around the 72 acres of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, there is something for everyone in the capital of Scotland. With stunning architecture to wow you on every street corner, you can top it all off with a trip to Edinburgh Castle, which sits proudly on its own volcanic rock overlooking the rest of the city.

Brighton

Voted one of the top city break beach destinations, Brighton beach offers a lovely promenade with a throng of cafes and bars to keep you well fed and refreshed. It’s easy to get around in this compact city, with major attractions including the famous Brighton Pier, the historic house of Preston Manor, or Brighton Museum and Art Gallery for a sample of the arts.

Lake District

Experience the beauty of the English countryside with one of the UK’s top holiday destinations, the Lake District. Situated in the North West, this stop-off on your tour will show you just how lush and green the UK can be. Visit the tranquil Lake Derwent, or sample some British heritage at Wray Castle, where famous author Beatrix Potter found inspiration for some of her most well-known tales. You can also visit the Beatrix Potter museum to learn everything there is to know about the children’s author.

Cardiff

A trip to the UK would not be complete without a visit to Wales and its bustling capital city, Cardiff. If you are a Doctor Who fan, enjoy the Doctor Who Experience with impressive special effects and filming with star, Matt Smith. Soak up the Welsh history at the open air, St Fagans National History Museum with over 40 historic buildings, including a Victorian school and a medieval church. There is also a growing reputation here for fine dining, as well as a lively nightlife that will see you through to the early hours.

If you have time to fit all five destinations in, you are sure to get a fantastic overview of the UK and all it has to offer. Make sure you are prepared before you catch that flight though, by exchanging your rand for pounds sterling. You can get great exchange rates, ensuring that you get the most for your money while on holiday. Be sure to pack a raincoat too, as the UK weather can be very unpredictable with glorious sunshine one day, and torrential rain the next.

Couple cycling amidst red flowers

Flanders custom built for cycling

Couple cycling amidst red flowers

Flanders is a region seemingly custom built for cycling. With its gently rolling hills and wide cycleways, it’s no wonder the likes of Eddy Merckx hail from this corner of Northern Europe. And, not content with having a slice of cycling heaven on its doorstep, Flanders is also home to great beers and delicious chocolates. Unfair or what?

So, with such an array of features on offer, it’s clear Flanders can be enjoyed by riders of all ages and abilities. The region boasts smooth and safe cycleways for novice riders, as well as more challenging cobbled pathways for those looking for a more energetic holiday.

Professionals can be seen slogging it out in the world-renowned Ronde de Flanders, whilst enthusiasts and retronauts alike can enjoy the now iconic Retro Ronde – a celebration of cycling, clothing and moustaches from a bygone era!

Whilst entrants are strictly limited to riding bicycles and made before 1987, the fun is made to available to all. Because, Flanders is cycling. And, cycling is Flanders.

For more information on Flanders, visit:

http://www.cycling-in-flanders.com/

Find out more about the Retro Ronde here:

http://www.retroronde.be/

 

magnificent entrance to the British Museum

Experience some of London’s historic sites

While many people visit London to enjoy its modern culture, there are many more who visit the city for its rich history and medieval structures. If you plan to be in London in the near future, here are 4 historic sites that cannot be missed:

1. Nelson’s Column

Located in Trafalgar Square, the Nelson’s Column is dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson. As the victor of various naval battles, he became a national hero, and was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar (although he was still victorious).

Nelson’s Column does not require admission, which makes it a great place to visit on a budget. Since it is centrally located, there are many shops and places to eat nearby, although parking is restricted due to heavy traffic. Luckily, you can stay in a nearby hotel within walking distance or close to public transportation.

Magnificent entrance to the British Museum

2. The British Museum

The British Museum is a world renowned museum that has a collection of artifacts from around the world and throughout history. From the Ancient Egyptian to the Samurai, the museum has plenty to offer in order to keep visitors busy. In addition to its exhibits, the museum also offers workshops, trails, and other activities that are perfect for family visits.

Admission to the British Museum is free, and it is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. However, on Fridays, the museum is open from 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM.

3. The Tower of London

You cannot visit London without stopping by the Tower of London. Built in the 1080’s by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London is a royal residence, Norman fortress, and prison all in one that is rich in history. With plenty of family activities available, such as the Medieval Palace family trial and Yeoman Warder tours, there is plenty for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

The Tower of London is open from Tuesday to Saturday at 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, and Sunday and Monday at 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

4. Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tour was built in 1365 as part of the medieval Westminster Palace. It was used to store King Edward III’s riches and known as the “King’s Privy Wardrobe.” In 1834, a fire burned down most of the palace, although the Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall survived the ordeal.

AKA King’s Privy Wardrobe

Today, visitors can visit the Jewel Tower and take tours. The tours typically last for about a half hour and includes exhibits, as well as views of the vault and medieval moat and quay. The Jewel Tower is open to the public daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Although there is much to see and do in London, it is important to take the time to learn more about its history as well. With these 4 historic sites, you will both entertain and educate your entire family on your next trip.