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I was in the county of Angus, north of Dundee, yesterday working on my forthcoming guide to Angus. It was bright day with a few showers but the colours are amazing at the moment. My first stop was at the Reekie Linn Waterfall. It’s been pretty dry for a the last couple of weeks so there wasn’t a torrent of water.
Reekie Linn Waterfall
The town of Kirriemuir is know as the Gateway to the Glens. Kirriemuir is the birthplace of JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. Barrie gifted the Camera Obscura to the town. It’s amazing to see a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding countryside reflected in the concave white painted viewing table, the image looks like a surreal picture postcard.
More evidence has emerged over just how much you can save on travel insurance if you shop around, rather than buying from your travel agent. According to research by InsureandGo you could pay up to 91.8% more for single trip insurance from an travel agent than buying from the most competitive insurance companies. That’s a lot more to pay for the same product.
You can read my tips about travel insurance so you can buy the right product for you, at a good price. I seem to be a mission to save you money today. It’s just a coincidence the headlines about this and increasing bank charges for overseas debit card usage came to my attention today. Do you think it’s worth to effort to shop around or do you think why bother for a few pounds, it’s supposed to be fun arranging a trip, instead of penny pinching?
The UK has been enjoying hotter temperatures than the Med over the weekend. Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire recorded the highest temperature in Scotland at 23.7C, ten degrees above the average for mid April. Majorca only hit 17C accompanied by showers.
It just goes to show that we shouldn’t always be complaining about the weather in the UK and that visitors the the UK shouldn’t necessarily expect cool, wet weather during their trip. Have you been able to make the most of the good weather recently? We been able to eat most meals in the patio for the last couple of weeks.
I visited Newcastle upon Tyne on Friday last week, which you must have realised if you read my blog regularly. I plan to write a destination guide to the city soon, when I finish the guide to Angus in Scotland. I think that if I write a few blog entries when I visit a place that will make it less daunting for me when I start to write a destination guide, as I will have already done some of the preparatory work.
View from Swing Bridge east down the River Tyne
View from Swing Bridge north to Fish Market and Castle
I like walking along the quayside in Newcastle because of all the great views. It’s lovely in the evening too. What do you like doing in Newcastle?
I visited Seven Stories the National Centre of Children’s Books yesterday. I was really impressed by it and I’m sure that our sons would have loved it when they were younger. This is a place you should really must visit with your kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews as basically all kids and accompanying adults, will have a wonderful time here. Seven Stories aims to be the UKs national home for children’s literature in an extremely interactive way. The centre is brimming with books, recreated scenes from books, high tech digital media, storytelling sessions, original manuscripts, exhibitions, dressing up props and creative activities. There are also quiet corners where you can just sit and read a book. This is a place to revel in books and reading. The Bookshop has an extensive selection of kid’s books.
Seven Stories is so named because it is reckoned that there are seven basic plots for stories and the building, a converted Victorian granary in the Ouseburn district, also has seven stories.There is an admission charge of £5 per adult, £4 for kids and £15 for a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 kids. If you live within striking distance of Newcastle a family season ticket for £37.50 is good value. There’s a cafe with simple meals. snacks, kids platters and home baking. Free parking is available next to the building. I walked from Central Station in around half an hour, if you walk along the quayside the route is well signposted.
If you have you visited Seven Stories, let me know what you thought of it.
In Newcastle upon Tyne yesterday I visited The Art Works Galleries and The Biscuit Factory. The venues are only a few minutes walk apart in the up and coming Ouseburn area of the city, however their approach to exhibiting and selling art are quite different. Now I’m not setting myself up as a luvie art critic, I am merely commenting on very different atmosphere and ethos of the organisations.
I visited the Art Works Galleries first. It describes itself as the biggest single floor art gallery in the North East, houses in a former TV studio. It prides itself on its “raw and unpretentious approach to art”. It was pretty plain with white walls and a feeling of spaciousness. The art was mainly arranged by the artist with a short bio of the artist by the side. The artists rent a space from the gallery so the gallery does not take commission on art sales. This is done to make the art more affordable. What I really liked was that there were pieces of paper and pencils all around where you could write comments to the artist and post your comments in the appropriate box. There was a small self service cafe and toilet facilities.
Art Works Gallery
The Biscuit Factory is billed as the UKs largest original art store, in a converted biscuit factory. It definetly has more of the feel of a retail outlet as soon as you enter the building with a very sleek modern interior. The exhibits are displayed over two floors, with some artists having small areas dedicated to their work. There was an area laid out with works soon to be auctioned. There’s no mention of the financial arrangements with the artists in their website. There is a brasserie and a cafe and toilet facilities.
The Biscuit Factory
Personally I felt that there was much more of an emotional connection with the exhibits and the artist at the Artworks Galleries. However I would recommend that you visit both venues as there are interesting pieces in both venues. I’d be interested in your comments if you have visited the Artworks Galleries or the Biscuit Factory or are an artist who exhibits at either.
Chinatown is a district in the centre of Newcastle with a good selection of Chinese restaurants. The district is well signposted for pedestrians. There is an ornate gate across one of the entrance roads.
I have tried several of the restaurants and my favourite is the Ho Buffet, close to the gate at 41 – 43 Gallowgate, tel 0191 2212270. They usually have a couple of prawn dishes which you don’t often find in the low price buffets. There is plenty of choice with around 40 dishes on offer. A meal, costs between £6 – £10 per person, depending on the time you eat and the day of the week.
Gourmet weekends run every weekend during June 2007. This is the cherry season in Apulia, the heel of Italy. You will be based in Biscelgie, a medieval town 35 kms north of Bari. On Saturday afternoon there is a tour of the old town including the 11th century cathedral followed by a fish feast dinner. After breakfast on Sunday you have chance to pick cherries in a local orchard, visit a Bronze Age monument and lunch at Zappino farm. The cost is 79 euros per person based on two sharing, 84 euros for single room occupancy. The price includes accommodation at the 4 star Hotel Salsello, coach transfers, museum entry, dinner, breakfast and lunch with water, wine and soft drinks included. Please complete an enquiry form if you’d like me to check availability for these weekends.
If you’d like to stay in a typical trulli house in the region a double room in a trulli piccoli costs from 69 euros per night.
I visited Apulia in November 2004. The visit was all too brief. I ‘d planned to write a guide to the region since that trip but I haven’t made the time to do this. Also I lost the photos I took during the trip which hadn’t been uploaded during a computer crash. I think I need to go back again for longer and to take more photos.
If you’d like to stay in a trulli a double room in a trulli piccoli costs from 69 euros per night
One of the most prestigious global surfing competitions, the O’Neill Highland Open will take place in Thurso in the far north of Scotland from 24 April – 1 May 2007. There’s prize money of £60,000 up for grabs. Let’s hope that the competitors have been doing their cold weather training and added an extra layer of insulation to their websuits, although the waves are predicted to be ideal at around 20 feet, it’s not going to be like surfing in California. If you can’t make it to the event it’ll be online.
There’s a competition with a first prize of a wet suit on the tartan adorned website. I noticed that the second prize was a watch with a tartan strap. Come on now, not everything Scottish has to be tartan!
Firstly I thought I’d have a look and see if what accommodation was on offer in my local area of North Northumberland. The Saddle Hotel in seaside village of Alnmouth, close to Alnwick, has double rooms for £58 a night.
I thought I’d also feature a couple of places to stay in Scotland, as it’s the Historic Scotland free weekend, so you could visit a couple of castles, Edinburgh and Craigmillar, during your stay. In Edinburgh the St Andrews Boutique Guest House with double rooms for £65 a night gets pretty good reviews. It’s located around 3 miles from the city centre but close to bus routes. You can buy an all day bus ticket for around £2.50.
The 4 star Ballathie House Hotel, 12 miles from Perth, has double rooms from £85. The hotel stands in it’s own estate overlooking the River Tay.
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