Three Beacons in the Sea: The Lighthouses of Scilly

St Agnes Lighthouse

British lighthouses remind us that we are a sea-faring nation: they have a powerful romantic appeal. They were built, sometimes costing lives, in the wildest and loveliest corners of the British Isles.

Most continue to fulfil their original function. The lights are now automated, and the lonely life of the lighthouse-keeper is part of history, but the lighthouses still stand up to the wildest storms.

The Scilly Isles, in the Atlantic to the west of Cornwall, are subject to very violent winter storms, and they have been the scene of numerous shipwrecks over the centuries. Two of the three lighthouses of Scilly are still in use. They are surrounded by beautiful scenery, so those that plan to visit the Isles of Scilly are advised to go and enjoy these vistas.

St Agnes

St Agnes Lighthouse

St Agnes Lighthouse, built in 1680, is the oldest on the Scilly Isles, and it is only the second lighthouse ever built in Cornwall. The light is no longer functioning but the lighthouse still towers above St Agnes and serves as a marker for boats during the day.

In the early days, a coal fire was used to create the light, but an oil lamp amplified by mirrors was introduced in 1790.The last fire iron used for the coal fires can be seen on display in Tresco Abbey Gardens.

The light has been out since 1911, when a smaller automated light was built on Penninis Head, but the old lighthouse still dominates the island. It is the main landmark of St Agnes, the smallest inhabited island of the Scillies.

Bishop Rock Lighthouse

This is one of the most dramatic of British lighthouses. The small rocky outcrop where it stands climbs vertically up from 45 metres beneath the sea, four miles to the West of the Scilly Isles.

Shipwrecks around the Scillies were common in the 18th century, and included a major naval disaster in October 1707 when a whole squadron of the fleet foundered off the islands. 2,000 sailors were lost.

It was realised that the lighthouse at St Agnes was not enough to protect shipping from Atlantic storms, but it took nearly 150 years for another to be built.

The Bishop Rock lighthouse, started in 1847, was a feat of engineering and endurance. The first version was designed to rest on screw-piles rather than a solid base, as a way of withstanding the ferocious Atlantic storms. That idea didn’t work, and the lighthouse was swept away by a storm in 1850 when it was nearly complete.

The next one was built on traditional lines, with a solid base. A dam had to be erected and the sea pumped out, in order for work to proceed on the foundations. A team of workmen was housed on a small uninhabited islet nearby, where granite blocks were transported from the mainland.

In these harsh conditions, with work only possible at peaceful intervals in the often wild weather, the new lighthouse took seven years to complete. In 1858, the light was turned on. However, an 1881 survey revealed that the structure was suffering badly from its regular battering by the elements. To strengthen the structure, a massive granite platform was bolted into the rock, so that the force of the storms could be partly absorbed before hitting the lighthouse. The work was completed in 1887, and the Bishop Rock lighthouse has continued its work since then.

Round Island Lighthouse

1887 was also the year when a third lighthouse, Round Island Lighthouse, was completed, on a small island adjacent to St Helen’s. An ancient burial cairn was destroyed during its construction.

Round Island lighthouse is in another precarious place, with the 62 foot tower built on a 115 foot high mass of granite. Steps were cut into the rock for access, and top-soil was shipped to the island so that the incumbents could tend a small vegetable garden within the lighthouse walls. The lighthouse was automated in 1987 so nobody weeds the garden.

The Scillies are famous for their bird-life, including the iconic puffin. Round Island is notable for breeding seabirds, and it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Landing is not allowed except for lighthouse maintenance.

Resources:

http://www.simplyscilly.co.uk/

 

Top tips when visiting Dubai

The Burj khalifa

Dubai is a modern, glamorous and cosmopolitan city. However, it also has a very different culture to the West, meaning you will notice some key differences during your stay. It is a good idea to be aware of certain dos and don’ts before you travel to Dubai, to ensure that you don’t offend the local population or, even worse, end up getting in trouble with the law. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your time in Dubai.

Dubai city

Use the Right Greetings

It is a good habit to use the appropriate greetings when you visit Dubai. You don’t have to master Arabic to do this, but at least try to learn to say ‘as-salam alaykum’ when you meet someone, which means ‘peace be with you’. If someone says this to you, respond with ‘wa alaykum as-salaam’, which means ‘peace upon you’.

Also, be careful when greeting people of the opposite sex. Don’t reach out to shake hands automatically as this may not be appropriate. To avoid any awkwardness, wait until they reach out their hand instead.

Know the Rules Regarding Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is only permitted in a place that holds a licence. Whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol in the street as you could get into trouble with the authorities. If you have any doubt at all, the best thing to do is avoid drinking alcohol.

You can always ask in your hotel for advice, and you don’t have to stay in the Burj Al Arab because many hotels are used to hosting Westerners. For instance, you can find some places at a fraction of the price that may have a licence for serving alcohol.

The Burj khalifa

Dress Appropriately

Dressing appropriately is one of the biggest issues for tourists. As a general rule, you should avoid dressing in anything particularly skimpy unless you are on the beach, as this could be considered inappropriate. Instead, wear modest dress and try to cover up as much as possible. Be especially careful if you enter a mosque. Men should wear trousers and a shirt, and women should wear something that covers their bodies as well as a head scarf. Everyone should remove their shoes before entering a mosque.

Avoid Public Displays of Affection

It is best to avoid any public displays of affection in Dubai to avoid any problems. You could get into trouble even if you are behaving in a way that is entirely appropriate back home, so don’t take the risk.

Be Respectful During Ramadan

If you travel to Dubai during the month of Ramadan, you should be particularly careful that you respect the local customs. This is a holy month for the Muslim population, who will be fasting during daylight hours. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during the day and ask at your hotel for advice about how and where to eat.

Enjoy Your Time in Dubai

Dubai is a fantastic destination for a holiday, but make sure you observe the above cultural tips during your stay. You may not agree with all of them, but by respecting the local customs and laws, you will be able to avoid any problems during your stay and enjoy your time here even more.

Alex Kennedy will never forget her first trip to Dubai when she fell in love with the place. Also an avid traveller and writer, she likes to visit Dubai at every opportunity.

Resources:

http://www.definitelydubai.com/

http://www.dubaitourism.ae/

 

How to have a whale of a time in Tenerife

Trio of whales in Tenerife

Dolphin and whale watching opportunities are often one of the draws of holidays such as cruises, but for those serious about seeing these impressive cetacean creatures in their own natural habitat, breaking apart the ocean waves and gliding across the surface, Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to go.

Trio of whales in Tenerife

Busy waters

The whale watching industry in Tenerife is also one of the most highly regulated in the world, having a strict code of practice on the behaviour of the boats when near the whales. No less than 28 species (over one-third of all species) of whales and dolphins reside in or pass through the Canarian waters. Resident species include the Pilot whale, Risso Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin, which is renowned for forming attachments to species other than its own, including humans.

The Sperm whale

The Sperm whale also swims the ocean around the Canary Islands, often in schools of 20 to 25. Identified by their enormous square head, they feed on squid, fish and octopuses at extremely deep ocean levels, where, to navigate and hunt, the whales emit clicks to sense what is around them.

Whale and dolphin watching

Besides the resident species, whale and dolphin watchers may well be lucky enough to spot one or more of the 24 migratory species which pass through the waters at various times of year and with flights easy to come by throughout the year and excellent weather for the boat trips almost guaranteed, the island is perfect for these activities.

Watch for free

There are also opportunities on the island to take part in volunteer programmes to assist in the conservation of the animals. One of the most popular routes to this once-in-a-lifetime experience is through AWF (The Atlantic Whale Foundation, http://www.whalenation.org) , which offers the chance to volunteer as a research guide on whale-watching boats around the shores of Tenerife and on research projects, with weekends free to explore the island and maybe take part in activities such as … surfboarding and windsurf courses, diving courses, power boat, skippering, life guard courses, Spanish lessons, salsa dancing, water skiing, horse riding, jet skiing, marine filming and photography and walking…

2013 AWF projects include underwater filming trips to fund a whale tagging project, and an eco film festival being brought to the island from London.

Paid options

For non-volunteers, there are great opportunities for paid-for whale and dolphin watching. There are various whale watching tour operators on the island but if tours are booked through www.whalesanddolphinsoftenerife.org many operators will donate a proportion of the ticket price to AWF.

Discovering Huerto Del Cura in Spain

Section of the garden at Huerto del Cura

So you’re going to Spain, and need a place to lay down you head after you have your fill of sightseeing and Spanish cuisine. If you’re looking for a quiet retreat after spending time in the busy streets, then have a look at Huerto Del Cura, home of the National Artistic Gardens.

Section of the garden at Huerto del Cura

World Capital of Palm Trees

It is located in the Alicante Province, inside Elche city. Better known as the World Capital of Palm Trees, Huerto Del Cura became part of the World Heritage in 2001. Along with Santa María Basilica church, and the Municipal Archaeological Museum, the National Artistic Gardens are among the top place to see while in Elche.

The best time to go

Climate wise, it’s along the coastline and in the southern part of Spain, so you can expect a mild climate. Summer temperatures average about 26C, while winters often go down to 7C. It receives very little rainfall, mainly in the fall.

When you book, the only factor that should be considered is the crowds July and August; peak vacation time. Otherwise, you can enjoy this beautiful location all year long.

8 arms palm tree

The historic sites in Spain attract a lot of people, but it also has some nice beaches to relax and lounge on. I can’t think of a better way to see those historic sites than to stay next to one! Huerto Del Cura began as an agricultural orchard, tended by a priest named Jose. The garden now has thousands of trees, including the famous Imperial Palm Tree with 8 arms.

As you walk through the park gardens, under the shade of the trees, you find a natural peace found in very few places around the world. The birds chirp around you, and you can smell the earth and fragrance from all of the plants. Spend a few hours here to unwind and let go of the stress you feel.

Huts at Huerto Del Cura

Accommodation

In terms of accommodation, rather than standard hotel rooms, the Huerto Del Cura hotel has huts placed around the original priest’s garden. The main building features:

  • Bar/Lounge
  • Business Centre
  • Fitness Centre
  • Free High-Speed Internet
  • Children Activities
  • Restaurant
  • Room Service
  • Swimming Pool
  • Wheelchair access

Of course these amenities are mostly just the icing on the cake! The serenity and beauty of the park is priceless.

 

Once you arrive at the airport in Alicante, there are lots of options to hire a car including Auto Europe. Many of the sites, including the gardens, are spread far apart and sometimes actually outside the main city. Having a car will ensure you get to see all of the beauty Spain has to offer.

3 cultural differences to know before travelling to China

The Great Wall of China

China and the West have distinct cultures in many ways. Some of these differences are very obvious while some are subtle. You should better understand them before you travel to China otherwise you are going to be annoyed and confused when encountering an “unbelievable” situation. Here I am going to discuss three cultural differences which would easily make a Western traveller go crazy.

The Great Wall of China

Queuing – The Ordered Chaos

Queuing with pushing and shoving is normal in China. Actually you are not going to see any queues in banks, shops, stations, etc. Instead of queuing one-by-one in the western way, Chinese people like to make a crowd and “fight” for it. It sounds terrible, and it is really terrible when you are in those situations. Although the Chinese government is promoting a better culture and people are improving, you still see people who are not queuing properly in some places. If you are waitng for a service or waiting to get on train or bus, you’d better bump into to the crowd and fight for it.

Direct Answers – Getting Blood from a Rock

In Western countries, when you are asking for an opinion for your work, people are likely to tell you how good or horrible it is. It’s not the case in China. When you ask a Chinese person to give you his opinion on your work or proposal, he will just give you indirect answer. They will beat around the bush without ever quite answering your question in a way a politician would be proud. Chinese people do that just because they do not want to cause conflict. They tend to avoid arguing with others by not giving their direct and personal opinion to others. That’s why you may feel frustrated when asking a Chinese for an opinion.

Restaurants – The Noisiest Place

Would you prefer a noisy place or a quiet place when dining? I would prefer both, depending on whom I am dining with. Most Western people are used to eating in a quiet environment. However, when you are travelling in China, you can hardly find a good place with a low noise level. In the point of view of Chinese people, the noisier, the better. People like to talk in a loud voice and they tend to talk non-stop when they are having their meals. Actually, you can easily find your ear booming not only for dinner, but also during lunch and breakfast. It is part of Chinese culture, but if you want to avoid this, you can try room service. However, you’ll miss one of the best parts about Chinese culture.

There are many things to learn about Chinese culture and many of them are really interesting. However, I’d like to leave it to you. Discovering a new culture itself is already an interesting and fun activity. You’d experience more if you are discovering the culture differences for yourself. Learning basic Chinese is also recommended before you go to China because most Chinese are not familiar with English. What do you think about the cultural differences?

Zaragoza- the city of 4 cultures

Urban Zaragoza

Zaragoza is a famous cultural city that has more than 1000 years of amazing history. The exact date of foundation is uncertain; the city is believed to appear in the period of 19th-15th centuries B.C.

Urban Zaragoza

The Romans

The city of beautiful architecture and breathtaking scenery was long ago a Roman colony and the name of the city was Cesar Augusta in honor of the Roman emperor August.

The Moors

All together Zaragoza bears traces of many cultures and invaders such as Romans, Arabs, Jews and Christians. That’s why it is often called – “the city of four cultures.” In 714, the Moors captured the city and gave it a new name – Sarakusta. They built many imposing buildings like a brilliant Aljafería Palace, 11th century. Beautiful towers and domes of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin of Pilar, the patron saint of Spain, reflected in the waters of the river Ebro, which flows through the city.

The Christians

In the 12th century, the city was captured by the Christians. And today the presence of 3 worlds’ most important religions is presented in a special style called “mudehar”, which combines luxurious Arabic style with delicate European.

Nuestra Señora del Pilar

The old town and most interesting part of the city is located between the park and the palace of the Aljafería Bruel. The heart of the place is Zaragoza’s cathedral Nuestra Señora del Pilar. The legend says that the church was built on the very spot where Apostle James witnessed visitation of the Blessed Virgin. The existing building appeared later, in 1515 facade of the cathedral was decorated in Baroque style. The interiors of the temple are decorated with extreme luxurious: bronze, different varieties of marble and jasper, which is a rather rare combination in Spain. Great retablo was completed in 1509 by a prominent sculptor Damiano Formenti. The arches of the cathedral were painted by a young Francisco Goya. The cathedral is kept in a so-called Holy column – a relic associated with the phenomenon of the Blessed Virgin in Zaragoza. If you take to the right you will get to a nice street, filled with Zaragoza restaurants that serve the best Spanish cuisine in Spain.

La Seo

Another outstanding landmark of Zaragoza is the Cathedral of San Salvador, often referred to as La Seo. It was rebuilt in 1541 – 1551 years from the mosque that existed during the Moorish occupation. This mosque, in turn, was an early Christian church. Cathedral of San Salvador is a Spanish example of late Gothic style. Among its numerous treasures one should pay attention to the great retablo, made of alabaster.

Torreon del Court

The ensemble of the Plaza del Pilar includes incredible Torreon del Court – the former residence of the Moorish rulers of Zaragoza, built in 918, which since then has come down to our days with great loss but is still one of the most photographed spot in the city, inside the building is pretty simple, today it hosts art exhibitions.

In the countryside of Zaragoza

Entering the US – what you’ll need

USA flag in the wind

Something for everyone

USA flag in the wind

The United States of America is home to many fascinating destinations for people coming from all over the world. On the one hand, the US is known for its big cities, dotted all over the country: New York and Philadelphia in the east, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the west, Chicago and Detroit in the northern areas or Miami in the south. All of these cities have their own character and represent the diversity of the American culture and lifestyle. On the other hand, the US is famous for its natural sights, such as the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite National Park, the Everglades National Park in Florida, the Niagara Falls, Death Valley and many more.

The American Dream

In short: The huge area of North America offers something for everyone and is therefore among the top destinations for tourists in the world. Apart from that, the country is closely associated with the American Dream which is believed to promise hardworking people success in life, no matter where they come from and what their background. For this reason, Europeans, Asians, Africans and many others dream of starting a new life in the “country of unlimited opportunities.” Before travelling or immigrating to the US, however, people have to fulfil entry requirements, differing somewhat depending on your country of origin and the purpose of your visit.

Tourist or immigrant?

Depending on your individual plans, there are different requirements which need to be satisfied in order to be granted entry into the US. As a tourist, you either need a visa, or must carry a passport from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program. As the United Kingdom participates in this program, all UK citizens are able to enter the USA without a visa for a maximum of 90 days. Rather than carrying a visa, citizens of participating countries must get authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in order to enter the US as tourist. If you come to the USA for business purposes, however, you’ll need to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa which allows you to stay for a maximum of 180 days.

Extended stays – the Green Card

If planning to stay in the USA for an extended period of time for living and working over there, you will need an immigration visa. With high qualifications and professional experience, you can apply for an EB-1A, an EB-1B or an EB-1C visa, depending on the level of your qualifications and your professional status. For non-UK citizens, it is also possible to participate in the Green Card Lottery mentioned on the same site. People holding a different nationality but currently living in the UK may however apply. Here you would only need a school leaving certificate comparable to a US high school diploma or two years of work experience in a job requiring two years of training. So why not prepare a trip to the USA as a tourist to get a first impression on the American way of life? It may well become a life-changing experience.

Bizarre Hotels and Travel Accommodation

Fancy staying in this?

Everyone likes a nice hotel but when so many hotels seem to be completely identical it’s sometimes more fun to find a small local B&B with local charm, or an apartment with fantastic views. These hotels will give you an unforgettable experience for their own reasons.

The Crane- Netherlands

Fancy staying in this?

Yep that’s right. It’s a hotel and it’s a crane and it’s not modelled on the avian variety. Although the prices can be very steep (excuse the pun) it’s definitely a hotel stay which you won’t forget. The interior is very smartly decorated and although it isn’t the biggest bedroom you have ever seen, it’s well decorated and cosy. It has state of the art appliances; including showers, T.Vs and audio equipment and you can rotate the crane to get a 360 degree view. The hotel is situated in Harlingen which is about an hour’s drive outside of Amsterdam but closer to Groningen and Heerenveen.

Propeller Island City Lodge – Germany

Do you see me?

This distinctive hotel is located in Berlin and was created with the artistic vision of Lars Stroschen to which he offers the opportunity to “live in a work of art.” The hotel has 30 unique rooms, so you’ll have a hard enough time agreeing with your other half about which one you would like to sleep in. The upside down room offers a different twist but one which could become nauseating or disorienting after a few drinks. The landscape room is well lit and considered as one of the most aesthetically pleasing rooms.

The Hobbit Motel-New Zealand

Living close to ground

The Lord of the Rings films were filmed in New Zealand so it’s only fitting that someone created some accommodation based on the famous ‘Hobbit Huts’. The rooms are embedded into the land and go underground. The rooms are blessed with fantastic views as well as unique charm. The surrounding area is a small town but it is easily accessible to a number of fun activities, including caving and a Kiwi Culture Show. Prices aren’t too prohibitive and the novelty of the rooms will definitely keep the kids entertained.

 

Britain’s Strangest Summer Festivals

Cheese-rolling

As the summer months roll around, cities and towns all over the world gear up for one of the rites of the season: festivals. Most people expect celebrations of food and music or a commemoration of an important historical event or figure, but in some parts of the U.K., a simple strawberry festival is not enough. Why gorge yourself on strawberry jam when there are far more interesting activities in which to partake?

Interesting activities abound in every corner of Britain during the summer. From toe-wrestling to cheese-rolling, Britain may hold the monopoly on the strange and unusual. Not convinced? Check out these five wacky events competing for space on your summer to-do list.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, Gloucestershire

Cheese-rollingWhile most people enjoy cheese on a sandwich, in this small village in the Cotswolds, catching a rolling wheel of cheese as it careens down a hill allows for serious bragging rights. The traditional event, held on the Spring Bank Holiday in May each year, is believed to have started over a century ago as farmers competed for the rights to graze on the town common. Others claim the event started as a pagan tradition to honour spring. In either case, these days thousands of spectators and participants from all over the world congregate in the village of Brockworth to chase large wheels of cheese down a steep hill. The cheese can reach speeds of up to 112 kilometres per hour on the hill, so this is not for the faint of heart — although anyone can enter. And the prize? A wheel of cheese, of course.
Dunmow Flitch Trials, Great Dunmow, Essex

Feel the need to prove your marital bliss? Do you love bacon? Then head to Great Dunmow in mid-July to compete in the Dunmow Flitch Trials, where you and your dearly beloved compete with other happy couples to convince a panel of judges you have not argued, offended each other or wished you had not gotten married at any point in the previous year. If you can manage that, your prize is a flitch of bacon or half a pig cut lengthwise.

International Bognor Birdman, Bognor Regis, Sussex

Since time began, man has attempted to fly with varying degrees of success. Those who want to release their inner Wright Brother have the chance at the International Bognor Birdman Competition (also known as Bognor Birdman) each July in Sussex. Professional and amateur aviators fling themselves off the end of a long pier into the ocean to see who can stay airborne the longest. Professional aviators often use hang gliders, but the real show is the amateur division, in which participants don crazy costumes (think flying donuts and woodland creatures) before crashing their contraptions. There are other Birdman competitions around the world, but the Sussex event is the oldest and most popular.

Town Crier’s Championship, Blackpool

If you’re planning a summer holiday in Blackpool, keep in mind in the middle of July, town criers from all over England congregate in the town’s centre for the annual Town Crier’s Championship. The rule is simple: The loudest voice wins. The competition includes a number of side events as well, such as a prize for the best-dressed crier.

If you want to witness the Town Crier’s Championship in Blackpool, don’t wait till the last minute to arrange your travel plans.

World Toe-Wrestling Championships, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

A popular charity event, the World Toe-Wrestling Championships attract thousands of spectators and participants who want to show what their toes can do. In each event, two combatants sit opposite each other, interlock their toes and attempt to wrestle their opponent’s foot until it touches a marker on either side. The winner receives bragging rights for the next year and all of the proceeds go to a local charity.

These are a few of the unusual and strange festivals you’ll find around Britain this summer. So if you don’t have the budget or the time to travel to a major event, check to see what’s happening in your area. Chances are, there is something out of the ordinary.

Picture credit: Mike Warren

My housesitting experience

Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury, London

Perhaps like me you get as much from the planning of any trip as from the travelling experience itself. I like spending time researching just the right mix of new and old, adventure and meander. But debates with myself about the travel budget, generally go along these lines:

  • If we are driving all the way down to the South of France from England, can we afford not to stop in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles on our way down…?
  • But think of the additional costs of staying in each of those cities in peak season…it might restrict you to a bread and water diet for the whole month you are away!
  • OK, we’ll have to stay in one and take day trips to the rest – but it won’t be the same!

Making the budget stretch – housesitting!

My major frustration is always how to fit more into each trip, in order to see more sites and glimpse the country as a local might see it. I ask myself the same questions with every holiday – what can I do to make my budget stretch further…?

Then one day, a friend in Oz suggested I try housesitting! If I housesit I can save money on accommodation and learn about my new location from a local’s point of view. And, as a home owner myself I can appreciate another’s security concern about leaving their property standing empty when they go away.

 

I am more than happy to take care of their home in exchange for somewhere to sleep during my trip.

 

In London

Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury, London

Now, with every housesitting experience, I find I am more and more taken with the idea of touring a new country, and learning about it from a local’s perspective. When I housesat in London my friend recommended some off the beaten track things to do. I was staying in Bloomsbury, and she suggested that I take a peek at Sicilian Avenue, which has a unique eclectic mix of old style independent cafes, boutiques and restaurants, without the crowds of nearby Covent Garden.

We had breakfast there daily, in this quiet haven, so close to the hustle and bustle of the city. She also suggested that while we would certainly enjoy the theatre in London, we should also try the comedy clubs (over 70 in London alone!) for an evening’s entertainment at half the price!

In Paris

Paris by night, from a balcony in Neuilly-sur-Seine

We also house-sat in Paris, in August, for some other friends who like most Parisians had decamped to a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean. Thanks to them we discovered a beautiful small market in Rue Poncelet, which opened when many supermarkets were closed. We enjoyed a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower from their balcony, for which we could have paid dearly had we been in even the cheapest hotel. And we discovered an alternative Paris through the Hidden Paris Tours – they were a relatively new group and it was our friend’s local knowledge that enabled us to enjoy this fresh perspective on the city. Did you know that Bette Davis (American screen icon) lived and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris..?

Even Down Under

New Year Celebrations, Sydney Bridge, Sydney

Today, my business partner is based in Perth, Western Australia and despite owning several properties around the world she housesits whenever she can in order to experience new locations, and learn about new cities.

Having housesat for friends in London, and in Paris I am now planning ‘the big one’, a trip to Sydney in December – I hear they do New Year really well in New South Wales! Saving money on accommodation means I could add more time to my holiday, maybe go to a show or two at the Opera House while I am there.

In fact, my partner and I have both grown to like the idea and the experience of housesitting so much that we decided to start a housesitting network operating across both the UK and Australia.

Useful links:

London – Time out –http://www.timeout.com/london

Paris – GO Paris – http://goparis.about.com/od/moneymatters/qt/Visiting-Paris-On-A-Budget.htm

Sydney – My 24/7 http://my247.com.au/Sydney