It may have been decidedly chilly this April in the UK, but when you come prepared it doesn't need to spoil a holiday there. This time we decided to Go West.
Such a beautiful part of the country with its pale brick houses scattered over sheep filled fields. You don't need to go to the best known picturesque towns to get a grip on what is Cotswold chic. The whole area oozes its own country charm.
Nailsworth is bursting with independent shops. I loved the quirky items sold in Sharland & Lewis. This shop is in a converted mill and also houses The Canteen which serves tapas on the weekend, and the Enchanted Childhood, a magical toy shop. Pop into the Hobbs House Bakery too. Take a pretty walk along by Ruskin Mill. Here a non-profit organization supports youth with learning disabilities through training in arts, craft, agriculture and environmental sciences. Nailsworth promotes art through its spring festival each year when local artists exhibit their work all over the town.
I've been won over by Hayle in Cornwall. Here are a few reasons why.
...The Great Outdoors
Godrevy beach with lighthouse is to the north of Hayle's 3 miles of golden sand. At low tide all the Hayle beaches join up to create a really spectacular expanse - great for brave bodyboarders, flying a kite, frizbee throwing, runs and building sand castles.
Prussia Cove - about 20 minutes from Hayle you will find the small and secluded sandy cove. No facilities here. Was known as a smuggler's hideaway in the 18th century.
Marazion has a man-made causeway that allows access to St Michael's Mount, at mid and low tide, 400 yards off shore.
The new promenade along North Quay and the Jubilee Bridge make improvement around the harbour for tourists and locals.
There are so many towns and cities along the south of France that are worth a visit and with Marseille being 2013's European City of Culture, there is no better year to start planning your visit. Here is QuirkyAccom's guide to the best places to visit, starting with the new City of Culture itself!
Imagine vast crowds of amiable locals and tourists, old and young, filling the streets as they focus in on a central plaza. Bars with tables spilling out on to the street and tempting smells wafting from tapas and churros stands nearby. The sky fills with a hanging smog from earlier fireworks displays, the smolding remains of charred figures, and fire crackers and bangers exploding on every corner. Not for the faint hearted or nervous dogs, Las Fallas throws caution and uptight health and safety rules aside. This is Spain and its fiesta time again!
A giant structure of cartoon-like figures looms over the plaza and looks out at the expectant crowd. Girls dressed in elaborate gowns with hair plaited and twisted and held with tall combs, are joined by others in traditional blouses, neck-scarfs and colourful woven shawls. They dance around the structure as the firemen prepare their hoses. Fireworks paint the sky overhead. Anticipation is building...
At last the fuse is lit and an explotion of light and flame quickly takes hold of the falla. As the fire envelops it the firemen spray the crowd, which cower from the extreme heat, and the buildings that surround it. Ash falls in giant flakes and the people break off from their cheers to guard their eyes. As the bonfire reaches its peak those at the front are absorbed into the masses behind, unable to hold their ground any longer. A prize falla has been burnt and the crowd slowly disperses in search of the next.
The train has to be the best form of travel. No hanging around at airports, or making your way out of town to reach one. Not being restricted to your seat for hours, as on a bus. And avoiding the fatigue of being the driver - and the arguments if you get lost. You can take in the scenery, perhaps be truly ensconced in local life, and if you can afford it, spend days being waited on and nights in the comfort of a sumptuous cabin. You just can't beat a good train journey.
To get in the mood I recommend you read The Great Railway Bazaar written by Paul Theroux.
My own travels began as a timid teenager with an InterRail ticket around Europe. See my blog on the experience here.
The Bullet Train - I'll be in Japan this summer so will beable to tell a first-hand tale soon. The super-efficiency of the Japan Railways (JR) system is world renowned. They travel at speeds of 333 km per hour. Between Tokyo and Osaka, the two largest metropolises in Japan, up to thirteen trains per hour with sixteen cars each (1,323 seats capacity) run in each direction with a minimum headway of three minutes between trains. Although we think of Japan as the master of the Bullet train, as they began there back in 1964, in fact the French and Chinese have surpassed them on speed. Their trains travel at up to 485km per hour.
- Visiting Valencia
- Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
- Skiing in Avoriaz
- More about Kobae from Base Camp, Utah
- Palaces or Beaches of India
- Saving Up - For the Budget Traveller
- Dealing with Altitude
- It's all in the Planning
- Hiking in the Costa Blanca
- Revelling in Rio
- Perth - The Alternative Stopover
- New to Norway
- Texas Road Trip
- My London Olympics 2012
- Spain - Far more than a Beach
- Hotel Pools with Vavoom
- FIB - Festival Internacional de Benicassim
- Orlando's Natural Beauty
- Clover Spa and The Hotel Inspector
- UK Festival full of surprises - Shambala
- Moros & Cristianos
- Only in India
- 1 year and 400 properties
- A Story from Base Camp in Utah
- Briefly in Barcelona
- Funky Fitzroy - Melbourne city living at its best.
- Filming The Hotel Inspector
- Local Fiestas in Spain
- Sport Heaven - Club La Santa
- Sydney Beaches - Manly to Bondi
- Weird is Wonderful
- Ski Sierra Nevada
- New Year in Sydney - The Place To Be
- Healthy Holidays
- Get Naked
- Tips for Learning a Language
- Alternative Weddings
- Motorbike Madness in Ho Chi Minh City
- Hiking in Spain
- Unusual Hotels
- Stopover in Dubai
- Sri Lanka - The South Coast
- A Taste of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka - the Emerald Interior
- Travelling Alone
- Chiang Mai Party Train
- Expat Christmas
- Chang beer on the Koh San Road, Bangkok
- Make Things Happen - Volunteer Work Abroad
- Ethiopia - Land of Mystery
- InterRail: How my travels began
- Support Japan - Go There!
- Futuristic Travel (part 2) - On Earth
- Futuristic Travel (part 1) - Space
- Coast to Coast
- Cape Town
- Ibiza - Mature Clubbing
- Hotels in Disguise
- Top Travel Reads
- Camino de Santiago de Compostela
- Sleep Well & In Style at UK Festivals
- The Pyrenees and Beyond
- Is a Bull Run Fun?
- Latitude Festival Review
- Socially Conscious Accom
- Brighton V Blackpool
- Lake District Tips and Tipis
- The Straw that Broke the Camels Back
- My Top Quirky Places to Stay
- Semana Santa in Guatamala
- Introducing Myself