On the 4th of November I was booked on the 16.22 Cross Country train from Berwick upon Tweed to Edinburgh, aiming to get the bus to Edinburgh airport and catch my flight to London Gatwick with a connection to Thessaloniki, Greece.
I’d left plenty of time (or so I thought) for any possible mishaps/delays, including getting to the airport 1.5-2 hours before the flight.
My original CrossCountry service, originating in Conwall, was delayed by 80min. I was either going to cut it pretty fine or not make it to the airport on time.
When I enquired at the ticket office at Berwick upon Tweed, I was informed that although there was not another Cross Country train due in good time for me, an East Coast train, about 25minutes after the original Cross Country service had been due, had been contacted and the driver had agreed to take the Cross Country passengers on board, as there were enough seats available.
The East Coast train arrived on time, my Cross Country ticket was inspected, scanned and accepted and I made a time-wise comfortable onwards bus journey to the airport.
Well done East Coast, I hope in future this attitude is reciprocated by Cross Country so that passengers do not miss flights, appointments etc.
Given the beauty, quality and diversity of the coastline in the United Kingdom it will be of no surprise to anyone if you have fantasised about owning your own ocean view, because really, who hasn’t? For many, the cost of such a venture is formidable and so a dream is all that remains.
The very rich can afford to buy whole islands – think Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt, or Richard Branson for example – but then they can afford the 7 figure sums that such a purchase demands. For the rest of us, owning our own piece of coast is just a pipe dream.
Or is it? There are over 8,000 miles of gorgeous coastline around Britain. Some 45% of that is owned by the Crown, and on the whole the rest of it belongs to the Ministry of Defence, the National Trust and local authorities. Any that is left is in private ownership and occasionally bargains can be had at auction for a stretch of beach. Kate Bush paid £2.5 million for 17 acres of Devon coast just a few years ago, but other smaller plots can sell at anything from £80,000 upwards.
If this sort of money is out of reach but you are very keen on having your ocean view then it may be worth considering investing in a holiday lodge. What’s great about many holiday lodges is that they are set on well-kept parks with a wide range of facilities and they offer a more affordable option to seaside ownership.
Please click on the interactive map to view our coast hugging selections.
A) Ladram Bay, Devon
Offering truly spectacular views of the Jurassic coast in East Devon, Ladram Bay has great offers on pre-owned holiday homes for under £10,000. Some of the hire lodges even come complete with hot tubs overlooking the Jurassic coast – a World Heritage site. Who could ask for more? Certainly, Ladram Bay offers the quintessential holiday home sales in Devon and has remained family run for over 70 years.
Facilities on the park are first-rate – offering a large heated indoor swimming pool with a children’s play area pool, bars and restaurants, amusement arcades and entertainment, crazy golf, children’s play areas and Wi-Fi. As Ladram Bay Holiday Park is elevated it means that the vast majority of static caravans and holiday lodges have a bird’s eye view of the sea while access to the private beach offers the opportunity for some kayaking, rowing or motor boat hire, so you won’t run out of things to do.
B) Barmouth Bay, West Wales, Gwynedd
In Wales, Barmouth Bay is a highly desirable location. They have direct access to Barmouth Beach with its vast expanse of beautiful unbroken sand that never seems to become overcrowded, and an array of activities on offer such as body surfing and beach volleyball. Facilities on the park include a heated indoor swimming pool, walking trails, a children’s play area and Wi-Fi access.
C) Red House Chalet & Caravan Park, Norfolk
The Red House Chalet and Caravan Park in North Norfolk is a family run Holiday Park is set in two acres with stunning sea views and access to a private beach. There are a range of chalets and lodges to rent but for those with an eye on their permanent seaside view, the park does offer luxury and deluxe caravan holiday homes and holiday lodges for sale.
D) Sandhills, Dorset
If you really do long for a coastal view you may have to shop around and wait your turn for a pitch. Sandhills is located on the east side of Christchurch harbour, but also offers beautiful sea views towards the Isle of Wight, giving the park a very nautical feel. The park offers a range of holiday homes with easy beach access for all, simply cross the promenade to reach the sand.
If youâ€™re after a slightly more purse-friendly holiday this year, or simply just want something a little closer to home, there are loads of places you can go in the UK that certainly wonâ€™t disappoint when it comes to keeping the whole family happy.
If youâ€™re looking specifically for great things to do with the kids without the 9 hour flight to Disney Land Florida, or without having to update the passports, weâ€™ve handpicked some of our favourite family activities and adventures the UK has to offer.
Depending on what you class as a museum, there are over 2,500 museums in the UK alone. Therefore youâ€™d not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing one that will keep your family entertained. From interactive discovery museums such as W5 in Belfast and Eureka! in Halifax, to more traditional and classic museums to inspire, such as the Museum of Childhood in London (pictured below), thereâ€™s something for all kids, no matter how big or small! Help your child channel their inner artist too, in one of the many art galleries across Britain.
If your family thrives off adrenaline and excitement, a theme park holiday, or at least a day dedicated to thrills and rides is sure to get their heartâ€™s racing. Some of our favourites include Alton Towers in Staffordshire, LEGOLAND in Windsor, Thorpe Park in Surrey and Blackgang Chine on the Isle of Wight.
Zoos and Aquariums
The UK is great for animal lovers, with loads of different zoos, aquariums and safari parks to show your little ones some of the wonders of our animal world. Edinburgh Zoo is one of the best stops in Scotland as it is the largest wildlife attraction in the country. As for England, Chester Zoo and Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire are some of the best ones. For a completely different wildlife experience, The Magic of Life Butterfly House in Aberystwyth is a great choice.
If you want a beach whilst on your holiday, who said you had to travel far?! The UK is home to thousands of beaches, and whilst we canâ€™t promise 40 degree heat, if you time it right youâ€™ll definitely enjoy some sun and without the pain of a flight. The kids will no doubt love a few nights away in a lovely little bed and breakfast as you all head out with your buckets and spades. With companies like UK Breakaways, you can even opt for a hotel located right next to one of the beaches for a truly relaxing short break. Some of our favourite beach locations include Cornwall, Great Yarmouth and Dorset.
…and for something completely different
If your kids really love something completely different to what usual holidays consist of, amaze them at some of the attractions the UK has to offer that vary from the norm. From play centres to cave tours, wax work museums and roller rinks, adventure playgrounds (such as the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens pictured below) and treasure hunts, youâ€™re never far away from something to put a smile on their faces.
We’ve plenty of articles on Europe a la Carte about what to do in London. If you’re planning a trip to the UK capital you can use the HotelsCombined price comparision site box below to find the best hotel deals.
I noticed a couple of false shop fronts when we were in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. These ‘shop jackets’ seem to be popping up all over the UK. The claim is that they make High Streets look more attractive than empty/boarded-up shops, they support surrounding surviving shops and inspire new businesses to open in the area.
False shop front in Hawick’s High Street
I wondered how much a false shop front cost. The only indication I could find was a price around Â£1,500 each mentioned in a 2010 BBC article. I suppose it’s hard to carry out a cost-benefit analysis.
Personally, I’d rather see some imaginative murals by local artists on shop fronts. Then High Streets could have some sort of unique character, rather than duplicate faux shop fronts appearing in towns all over UK. I’d be much more likely to visit a High Street to see original art than false shop fronts. If local artists were paid for their work that could bring more money into an area’s economy compared to a false shop front firm being contracted to stick up a few of their standard designs.
I’ve been to London several times since we published the ‘Best of Things to Do in London‘ on Europe a la Carte. Here are some more London tips, to help you plan your next trip.
Ride the Emirates Air Line Cable Car
I enjoyed my ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car from Royal Victoria Dock to North Greenwich.
Â Emirates Air Line cable car
Walk the Regent’s Canal from Mile End to Victoria Park
I walked along Regent’s Canal from Mile End to Victoria Park. There’s a beautiful lily pond outside the Ecology Centre and lots of sculpltures alongside the path.
Lily pond at Terraced Gardens by Regent’s Canal near Mile End
I spent most of my time in Brixton in Brixton Village, which has a mix of shops, stalls, cafes and restaurants. It was really hard to decide where to eat, but in the end I plumped for a Mexican restaurant.
Below are my favourite paintings on the Lowry Trail in Berwick upon Tweed. The painter, LS Lowry, holidayed in the town several times from 1935. The Trail consists of eighteen of Lowry’s paintings mounted on easels at various spots around the town.
Manchester is a fascinating city which has done much to drag itself out of an industrial slump, and is now a popular destination. As it happens, it’s also full of museums and here are 10 museums in Manchester for you to visit.
Football Club Museums
For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Manchester is Manchester United; perhaps Manchester City FC comes quickly after that. Both clubs have museums attached to their stadiums so you can combine a visit to either the Manchester United FC museum or the Manchester City FC museum with a tour of their grounds.
Medals at the Manchester United Museum by edwin.11
National Football Museum
If those two aren’t enough, you can also head to the National Football Museum, which was set up to showcase England’s football heritage and to explain why England is the home of football. It actually began in Deepdale, Lancashire but was relocated to Manchester during 2012 to the former Urbis building.
The Museum of Science and Industry (also known by its much cooler acronym, MOSI) is not just a typical science museum – it is strongly based in the history and development of the city of Manchester and includes a working cotton mill and the chance to see what climbing into a Victorian-era sewer would have been like.
Manchester’s Museum of Transport includes the biggest collection of buses and trams in Britain – vehicles that have been restored but date back to the beginning of public transport. Since many buses used across Britain (and in fact the world) were made in Gorton, close to Manchester, it’s definitely in a fitting location.
The People’s History Museum in Manchester used to be known as the National Museum of Labour History and is an important national centre for looking at the history of working people. Its exhibitions look at home, work and leisure over the last couple of centuries along with some interesting temporary displays.
The Imperial War Museums that you known from London also have a branch in Manchester, known as theÂ Imperial War Museum North. It’s been running for a decade now in an amazing building designed by Daniel Libeskind.
Owned and housed by the University of Manchester, the Manchester Museum includes over six million artefacts in collections covering archaeology, botany, ethnology, geology and zoology. One of its star exhibits is a T-rex fossil named “Stan”, the second most complete tyrannosaurus ever excavated.
Set up in 1986 by British Chinese artists who felt they didn’t have a voice in modern Britain, the Chinese Arts Centre is a thriving art museum with changing exhibitions both from major artists and from emerging ones.
The Police Museum and Archives are a treasure trove of stories about Manchester’s past crimes and criminals, along with giving you an insight into life as a police officer over the past couple of centuries. It’s housed in the building which was one of Manchester’s earliest police stations.
Being the only Jewish museum outside of London, the Manchester Jewish Museum has quite a responsibility to pass on the stories of Jews in Manchester and how they’ve contributed to the development of the city. It’s housed in an old Spanish and Portuguese synagogue.
I finally got around to visiting the Wellcome Collection in London in March 2013. It bills itself as ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’, which is a pretty accurate description. Henry Wellcome was an pharmaceutical entrepreneur who amassed many medical artifacts during his travels.
For me, the most evocative piece in the museum was the ‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture by John Isaacs: the British sculptor’s statement on obesity.
‘I Can’t Help the Way I Feel’ sculpture at the Wellcome Collection
Array of surgical instruments at the Wellcome Collection
We had lunch at The Pough in Bondgate Without in Alnwick, north east England, in March 2013.
Exterior of The Plough in Alnwick
There’s free parking at The Plough, up a slope through a rather narrow archway. We sat in the area at the back of the bar. There was a very wide selection of dishes on offer in the menu, supplemented by a few more Daily Specials on the blackboard.
Interior of The Plough
My husband had one of the Day’s Specials – Roast Pork served with Black Pudding, Mash & Mustard Sauce. I had a taste; the pork was delicious. I’m not a fan of black pudding but it was very good.
Roast Pork served with Black Pudding, Mash & Mustard Sauce