Tag Archives: things to do

Cornwall Part 2

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the first part on Cornwall.

Things to do:

Minack Theatre is an outdoor theatre that was built by hand into the side of cliff which looks over the sea. The theatre includes a museum and offers tours when there are no performances

Some of the festivals to look out for are St.Endellion’s Easter Festival, a world-class classical music festival and around the same time the Cornwall Spring Flower Show (31st March – 1st April) at Boconnoc near Lostwithiel which includes everything for the garden, with displays, competitions, gifts and exhibits. Then in May, see the Lost Fest parades, exhibitions, and music and art events at Lostwithiel. St Ives’ September Festival celebrates the town’s artistic heritage, whilst at Newquay, the Cornwall Film Festival (8th – 11th November) celebrates Cornish and international filmmaking with events at the Lighthouse Cinema.

Follow the Coast Path that runs all the way round the Cornish coast for 258 miles. Land’s End is the extreme westerly point on the mainland of England where you can admire the Atlantic waves crashing on the beaches and on a clear day see across to the Scilly Isles.

Getting around:

Many of Cornwall’s coastal towns are linked to the main railway system by smaller, scenic branch lines. Cornwall has an extensive network of bus services run by First Devon and Cornwall and Western Greyhound. Ride Cornwall is a one-day unlimited travel ticket for use of trains and most bus services within Cornwall.

by top Cornish chefs. The December Primestock Show is when the quay is filled with cattle and sheep.

Eating out:

Newquay Meadery in Penzance is in a converted 1920’s cinema and is popular as a value for money restaurant that particularly welcomes families and children.

Famous chef Rick Stein has his home at Padstow, so where better to try his wonderful fish dishes than at one of his four seafood restaurants in Padstow or his fish and chip shop in Falmouth.

Accommodation:

For affordable B&B close to the beach, the coastal path, and famous Bedruthan Steps, try Efflins’ Farmhouse. Near to both, you’re spoilt for choice whether to dine at Jamie Oliver’s ‘15’ at Watergate Bay or at one of Rick Stein’s restaurants at Padstow.

If you fancy something a little grander, there are several hotels that used to be manor houses scattered across Cornwall. For example, the Rose-in-Vale hotel was a Georgian country house and can be found in a secluded wooded valley just outside Mithian on the north Cornish coast.

Bournemouth (Part 2)

Thanks for coming back. I hope you enjoyed the first part on Bournemouth.

Things to do:
Bournemouth has a number of exciting festivals. The Bournemouth Carnival Week was originally known as Bournemouth Regatta Week and has been over a hundred years. Activities take place on the beach, Pier precinct and Pleasure Gardens, where musicians, dancers and actors come to compete and perform.

‘ Bourne Free’, Bournemouth’s annual gay Pride Festival takes places every July and in August you can see the spectacular air displays at the Bournemouth Air Festival.

Go up in the air with the Bournemouth Eye, where tethered balloon flights give you a panoramic view of Bournemouth from 500ft up. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, walk along the coast and explore the Chines, curious ravines that have formed in the cliffs. The most impressive are Boscombe Chine and Durley Chine.

If you’re looking for something a little more educational, Bournemouth Oceanarium has ten recreated environments and displays about the ‘Global Meltdown’, along with an interactive dive cage to make this a fascinating place to visit.

There are concerts and exhibitions held regularly at the Bournemouth International Centre, as well as political party conferences.

Getting around:

Bournemouth is very accessible by road and rail. By bus, it takes about two and a half hours from London and there are frequent trains from London, Poole and the Midlands, with trains coming from Manchester via Birmingham New Street, Nottingham and Newcastle.

Shopping:

There are lots of choices for shopping, with all the well-known high street names in the centre, but also many independent shops. Larger stores like Beales, Dingles, Debenhams, Marks and Spencers are all represented. The Castlepoint Shopping Centre is some way out of town, but easily accessible by public transport. The Boscombe area is renowned for antique shops and vintage and designer clothes shops. Westbourne also offers a selection of designer outlets.

So whether you’re looking for something more special like menswear for the larger gentlemen, Hunts Clothing can help you, or for the more ordinary, there’s a good open-air market open Thursdays and Saturdays.


Where to stay:

Bournemouth has a huge choice of accommodation. For the budget conscious, the Whitehall Hotel in the Westcliffe area has had several good reviews. With views over Studland Bay, it has large rooms and is very handy for the town centre and beaches. If you want to splurge, the Boscombe Spa Hotel is only 500 metres from the beach and has comfortable en suite bedrooms and also comes recommended.

Blackpool

Blackpool

Famous for the Blackpool Illuminations and the Blackpool Tower, there’s a lot more to the place that attracts visitors.

Places to see:

Blackpool’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, the view from the top of the Blackpool Tower is worth the climb. You go up seven levels of attractions including a circus, bug zone, aquarium and other distractions to delay your ascent.  Blackpool also has three piers and there are seven miles of beaches to explore.

The Blackpool Illuminations are on show for around five weeks through September and October and extend six miles along the Promenade, consisting of over a million light bulbs. Like a carnival, characters and themes are displayed with lasers and searchlights.

Things to do:

Blackpool is less of a place for sightseeing, but there’s a lot to do. For shows, the Winter Gardens is a popular venue. The hundred year old Grand Theatre comes highly recommended for its range of performances from community theatre, opera and national variety shows. Blackpool’s Dance Festival is a world famous annual ballroom dance competition held at the Tower Ballroom, the global centre for ballroom dancing.

One of Blackpool’s main attractions is the Pleasure Beach, maybe Britain’s largest funfair. If you don’t fancy a ride on the eleven roller-coasters, there’s a children’s rides area, side stalls and the park has some excellent Art Deco buildings. Those with a gambling streak might want to try their luck at one of the casinos along the Golden Mile, or see if you can win the jackpot in one of the arcades. For something a little calmer, you can take a donkey ride on the beach.

Getting around:

Blackpool has its own small international airport and offers domestic flights include cheap budget flights to other destinations in the UK. It’s well-connected by road and rail and is easy to get around by public transport.

Shopping:

Blackpool has a couple of shopping areas: one in the town centre with the Hounds Hill shopping centre; and the other in the South Shore Waterloo Road-Bond Street area. This area consists more of clothing shops, souvenir shops and even has an all the year round Christmas shop. The outdoors Bonney Street Market is full of little stalls selling a wide variety of items to buy.

Catch a tram to reach Cleveleys Market where you can find lots of traditional shops, from bakers to cafes selling traditional seaside food and lots of little shops that will keep browsing for hours.

Freeport Shopping Outlet Village is out of town a bit and is a US discount outlet style shopping park has  Marks & Spencer and Next stores in addition to other popular retailers.

Eating out:

There’s a wide range of choice from the best in fish and chips like at Harry Ramsdens on the main Promenade. A more rustic setting like La Fontana offers with its lively Italian courtyard, offering good traditional Italian dishes or for great value, try the Blues Bar & Brasserie at the Big Blue Hotel. This is a popular family restaurant that’s won awards and comes recommended highly for its food and service.  Particularly good value are the fixed price menus and Sunday carvery. Rooms are available here too at affordable rates.

Where to stay:

Blackpool is said to have more hotel and B&B beds than the whole of Portugal. Self-catering and hostel accommodation is available for the budget conscious, but there are hundreds of cheap and mid-range guesthouses, B&Bs and hotels. Try the Sandpiper Bed & Breakfast Hotel that offers great value and clean rooms close to the seafront, just a couple of hundred yards from the Promenade.

For something more upmarket, as well as the Big Blue Hotel with its suites, family rooms and ‘superior’ room, the four-star Barcelo Imperial Hotel is Blackpool’s most historic and is an impressive seafront hotel close to the Tower.

Oxford

Oxford

City of gleaming spires, Oxford is home to one Britain’s most important universities.

Where to go:

One of the oldest libraries in Europe, The Bodleian is second in size only to London’s British Library. Even if can’t get inside Radcliffe Camera reading room, as it’s just for students, it’s well worth a look from outside. Many of the colleges however, allow visitors in at certain times. Balliol, University and Merton Colleges all claim to be the ‘oldest’, founded in the 13th century. Exeter College‘s Victorian neo-gothic chapel is modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris and houses ‘The Adoration of the Magi’, the famous pre-Raphaelite tapestry by William Morris. Don’t miss Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs), the cute little pedestrian bridge for the students of Hertford College.

Of Oxford’s museums, the most famous is the Ashmolean and the oldest in Britain (1683). It has fine displays of Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek and Roman, Western and Eastern art. The Museum of the History of Science in the Old Ashmolean building displays early scientific instruments and Oxford University Museum of Natural History has three hundred years of scientific collections. For art fans Modern Art Oxford has art and photography exhibitions, while Christ Church Picture Gallery holds a renowned collection of Old Master paintings and drawings.

Some of the best views of Oxford can be seen from the Church of St Mary- the Virgin’s tower dates back to 1280. The Vaults and Garden coffee shop specialises in organic food and fair trade tea and coffee.

Things to do:

Throughout term-time, you can watch amateur drama productions at the Burton Taylor, Old Fire Station and New Theatres as well as the Oxford Playhouse. For classical music, go to the Sheldonian Theatre for professional and amateur concerts.

Mostly lectures are only accessible to members of the university, but look out for public talks and lectures that occur throughout the year. Experience life as an Oxford student and get a feel of college life by enrolling on a course offered by the Oxford Royale Academy.

Two hour long walking tours are an excellent way of visiting some of the more famous colleges, or take a ghost tours around the city. Punting is a favourite pastime: do-it-yourself or hire someone to do the hard work for you.

Shopping:

Oxford’s finest restaurants, jewellers , fashion outlets, antique dealers and Oxford University shop are all on the High Street. Little Trendy Street or Little Clarendon Street is the bohemian area for shopping, and for interesting shopping, go to the Covered Market in the High Street where you’ll find shops selling chocolate, cakes, meat, hats, flowers and glassware.  Souvenir shops in the city centre sell Oxford University T-shirts, sweaters and all sorts of paraphernalia, though University of Oxford Shop is the official place to go.

Oxford has many bookshops selling antiquarian, specialist and new books. Blackwell’s Books is almost a tourist attraction in its own right, with what’s claimed to be the largest space for book sales in Europe.

Eating out:

Alpha Bar inside the Covered Market is where you can go for healthy organic, fair-trade food. Reasonably priced sandwiches have interesting fillings like baked tofu, seaweed and roasted vegetables. Salads are sold by the weight, so fill your recyclable container with healthy nosh.

Fishers Restaurant at St Clements is like a little corner of Cornwall, complete with lanterns, portholes and crisp red and white tablecloths. Fish is delivered fresh to the kitchen for the daily changing menu that includes mussels, lobster, seabass, Cornish sole, scallops, oysters, tuna and much more.

Where to stay:

Oxford Thames Four Pillars is a luxury four star hotel away from the bustle, set in 30 acres of parkland on the River Thames. Close to Christ Church College and St. Mary’s Church, it’s within easy access of the city centre.

The Old Bank Hotel is a Georgian boutique hotel that comes very highly recommended. Really central, it’s close to All Souls College, St. Mary’s Church and Radcliffe Camera.

Scarborough

Scarborough

The town was founded in 966 by Thorgils Skarthi, a Viking raider, but there was a 4th century Roman signal station on the Castle Headland and evidence of settlers 2,500 years ago.

What to see:

Don’t miss Scarborough Castle that was built by Henry II. Visit the old harbour and fish quay where you might see trawlers unloading their catch. For the literary-minded, pay homage to Anne Bronte who was buried in St. Mary’s churchyard. Art lovers might want to visit Scarborough Art Gallery in its Italianate villa. It holds a collection of historic and contemporary art and there are often exhibitions on tour.

Scarborough is one of Britain’s oldest seaside resorts. As well as the impressive Castle Headland, some of the most beautiful beaches can be found here.

Things to do:

Regular performances of drama are held at the Stephen Joseph Theatre which was originally founded in 1955 by Stephen Joseph. All of local resident Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s plays have been premiered here.  Europe’s largest open air theatre, Scarborough Open Air Theatre has played host to Elton John and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

South Bay is where you’ll find all the fun of the seaside, with amusement arcades, a funfair, the harbour, the Spa complex and donkey rides. North Bay is much quieter.  You can walk along cobbled streets on the Foreshore to see the art work on the walls, or take a stroll to the Italian Gardens on the South Bay, or go up to Oliver’s Mount which offers great views around the town. A walk to the castle offers lovely sea views of both North and South Bay. If you’d rather not walk, take an Open Top bus along the seafront to Castle Headland. Alternatively, a miniature railway can take you from Peasholm to Scalby Mills and around the Open Air Theatre. Or go for a cruise on Scarborough Pleasure Steamers, historic little ships that were part of the D Day Flotilla. Special sunset cruises run throughout summer from the harbour.

Not far outside of Scarborough, Robin Hood`s Bay and Whitby Abbey are interesting day-trips. There are six miles of beautiful coast path walk, part of the Cleveland Way. Helmsley Castle and Rivaulx Abbey are not far west of Scarborough and you can walk between the two through the Yorkshire Moors National Park, also part of the Cleveland Way (3 miles each way).

Getting around:

Trains come cross-country from Liverpool, Manchester, Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and York as well as north-south from London, Newcastle and Edinburgh to York where you can get a Transpennine Express train to Scarborough.

Eating out:

With over fifty chippies to choose from, this is THE home of fish and chips. It’s true, fish really does taste better by the sea!  Ice cream is also a speciality. At the 1930s ice-cream parlour, Harbour Bay, you can indulge in some of the biggest ice creams you’re ever likely to see.

Almost a Yorkshire institution, La Laterna Ristorante has stood at the same site for over forty years and serves high quality Italian food. Forget it if you’re after pizza as this is the place to come for game, risotto, pasta, and the Lanterna’s speciality, truffles.

Where to stay?

Eighteenth century and Grade II Listed, The Windmill is the last surviving windmill in the centre of Scarborough and has nine ensuite courtyard rooms , a couple of suites in The Windmill itself and two self-catering cottages.

For dramatic views across the sea, Raven Hall Country House Hotel is located 600 feet above sea level overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. With a full range of amenities, the hotel also has a nine-hole cliff-side golf course, tennis courts, games room and heated indoor swimming pool. Eight Finnish lodges that have been designed with the environment in mind supplement the 52 rooms in this historic and quality hotel.

Plymouth

Plymouth          

A long nautical history, Plymouth is where the Mayflower left with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620.

Places to see:

The Mayflower Steps are where the Pilgrim Fathers set off for New England in 1620 on the Mayflower. Visit the Plymouth Mayflower for an interactive insight into Plymouth’s nautical heritage and background to the Pilgrim Fathers’ trip.

Robert Lenkiewicz murals are huge murals scattered around the Barbican. Lenkiewicz achieved fame in the mid-1980s when he embalmed the body of a local tramp! Some people find his art disturbing.

If you fancy a tipple, visit the oldest hin producer, the Plymouth Gin Distillery. Making it here since 1793, you can tour around the stills before you take a tutored tasting and free G&T in the bar.

The much-restored Barbican area has over 100 listed buildings. Tudor houses on cobbled streets look out across a harbour filled with fishing trawlers and yachts. A lot of the Tudor and Jacobean buildings have been converted into galleries, craft shops and restaurants. Another historic area worth looking at is Devonport where you can go on the Devonport Heritage Trail with over 70 waymarkers outlining the route. For a good view over the city and surroundings, head for Smeaton’s Tower, an eye-catching 70ft high lighthouse that used to stand on the Eddystone Reef before it was moved here in the 1880s.

Francis Drake was supposed to have spied the Spanish fleet from Plymouth Hoe that overlooks Plymouth Sound. The Hoe became a favourite holiday spot in the Victorian era and now the promenade is backed by grand villas and hotels.

For further views of the surroundings, the Wheel of Plymouth offers 360 degree views from its 60m high moving platform.

Things to do:

Style Plymouth (March) is a live fashion show, where you can try out beauty treatments or can hang out at a ‘man creche’ in front of a big screen where live 6 Nations Rugby is screened.

 Sky Ride Plymouth (May) is an eight kilometre cycle ride that starts from Hoe Promenade and passes the city’s famous waterfront and landmarks such as Smeaton’s Tower.

Several cultural trails have been designed to explore the landscape and discover some of its hidden gems. Trails include a variety of themes including Man and the Landscape, Trade and Settlement, Coast in Conflict, a Colourful Landscape and Car Free days out.

Shopping:

Plymouth has one of the largest shopping centres in the South West featuring many independent retailers. National brands and high street names can be found in Plymouth’s Drake Cross shopping centre. Specialist retailers are concentrated in the Independent Quarter where you can pick up unique pieces of art from the Barbican’s historic quarter.

Getting about:

Plymouth is well served by rail, buses and ferries. The railway station is a few minutes from the town centre. Ferries and the Mountbatten Water Taxi operate daily from the Barbican landing stage.

Eating out:

Highly recommended, the Glassblowing House offers good value and high quality locally-sourced fresh produce. Overlooking Plymouth’s majestic Sutton Harbour waterfront, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the historic Mayflower Steps.

Plymouth runs regular farmers’ markets and hosts a number of food related events including the annual Flavourfest. For a real taste of Plymouth and the South West though, visit local organic farm shops, vegetable farms, clotted cream and ice cream dairies, real ale breweries and local vineyards and pick your own fruit for a great foodie day out.

Where to stay:

For a charming B&B, the Athenaeum Lodge Guest House in a Georgian Grade II Listed Building comes recommended. Located close to Plymouth Hoe, it’s just 200 metres from the sea and close to the centre of Plymouth.

Boringdon Hall Hotel is a historic and captivating Grade I Listed Elizabethan Manor House Hotel located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and just five away from Plymouth.  The family owned and run four-star hotel has a number of majestic four-poster bedrooms with oak-panels and antique furnishings in the old part of the building.

Cambridge

Cambridge

The elite university has made Cambridge famous all over the world. Whilst you may not be lucky enough to get an invite to one of the college May Balls, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this beautiful old town.

Places to see:

Visit one or two of the fine old colleges that make up Cambridge University. King’s College and its Chapel are open to the public, as well as Queen’s College with its medieval Old Hall and Mathematical Bridge. Even if admiring only from the outside, the other colleges are worth looking at.

Cambridge is not short of museums. Maybe the most famous is the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University’s art and antiquities museum. Kettle’s Yard, home of Jim and Helen Ede also houses fine early 20th century art. The oldest museum is the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and this is packed with over a million fossils, minerals and gemstones. The University Museum of Zoology includes specimens collected by Charles Darwin and complementing this, the Whipple Museum of the History of Science displays scientific instruments and models since the Middle Ages. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has items coming from all over the world and the Museum of Classical Archaeology has one of the last collections of plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture left the world. The Folk Museum is the only local social history museum in Cambridge. As well as being the national memorial to Scott’s work, the Polar Museum covers the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic by Scott and Shackleton, and is part of the Scott Polar Research Institute which continues their scientific work. You can visit the University Library’s exhibition of treasures and highlights from the Library’s world-class collections of manuscripts and printed books.

Cambridge is a city of green spaces. Take a wander along the Backs (meadows behind the colleges that back onto the River Cam); visit the Botanic Garden of Cambridge University that’s been open to the public since 1846 and is home to several important botanic collections; or Jesus Green, parkland that’s adjacent to Midsummer Common and provides a welcome retreat away from the bustling city centre. Parker’s Piece is another open space in the centre of the city, or one could visit even Christ’s Pieces, near to Christ’s College with its typical Victorian park design and tree lined avenues.

Things to do:

The Arts Picture House shows foreign and art-house films with an annual film festival in July. Also in July, look out for the Folk Music Festival and Shakespeare Festival. The Midsummer Fair (mid-June) and Strawberry Fair in early June are both held on Midsummer Common.

The Cambridge Corn Exchange is Cambridge’s arts and entertainment centre. The ADC Theatre hosts student and local amateur productions like Footlights, but something a bit more alternative, the Junction holds club nights, gigs, comedy and dance.

Getting around:

Cambridge is extremely well-connected, with good road links and frequent trains taking you London or directions north. National Express has a frequent and cheap coach service to London too.

Shopping:

Cambridge presents a good mixture of big shopping malls and small, independent boutiques. At the outdoor markets you can find traditional goods of high quality.

Eating out:

With over a hundred restaurants in Cambridge, there’s something for everyone.

Milton Brewery is a small real ale brewery with its own pub, the Devonshire Arms, housed in an old converted post office five minutes away from the station. As well as serving their own real ales as well as a selection from other micro-breweries, they have an excellent menu of traditional food like bubble and squeak, venison sausages and mash and Milton Ale-battered haddock, hand-cut chips and minted peas.

For something more stylish, the Midsummer House on Midsummer Common is Cambridge’s only Michelin starred restaurant and serves high quality British cuisine.

Where to stay:

For simple and modest B&B, you can’t go far wrong with Brooklands Guest House, a friendly guesthouse situated in the centre of Cambridge. A little bit out of Cambridge is the Bedford Lodge Hotel, located at Newmarket, the famous horse racing centre. A four-star hotel, it combines the charm and character of a country house but still offers the best in modern comfort.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen is famous for its imposing granite architecture and beautiful beaches. It has a long history and has plenty to offer its visitors.

Places to see:
Aberdeen boasts several museums: the children can dress up in one of the many uniforms at the Museum of the Gordon Highlanders Regiment; the Maritime Museum is where you can find out a bit about the mechanics and technology of ships and oil rigs; an art gallery features paintings from Impressionist to modern Scottish Colourists; and the Marischal Museum displays items brought back from all over the world by local people.

Old Aberdeen is where you’ll find St. Machar Cathedral and the university. The High Street and the Channory have many fine old buildings.

Things to do:
Aberdeen’s Bohemian Quarter near Belmont Street is where the night life, bars and live music venues are, along with the Belmont art-house cinema.

Choices for music lovers range from the Music Hall with classical music performances as well as other types of music, to The Lemon Tree alternative acts and the annual International Jazz Festival or pop and rock concerts that are held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre- easily identifiable by its tall viewing tower. For musicals and plays, His Majesty’s Theatre is the place to go.

Satrosphere Science Centre is Scotland’s first science and discovery centre that opened over twenty years ago. This place will keep the children entertained for hours with its interactive exhibits and live science shows.

For the more sportive, learn or refine your skiing style at Aberdeen Snowsports Centre, a top artificial snow-sports centre. Aberdeen and the surrounding area is a golf enthusiast’s paradise with over 50 courses to choose from. Play amongst the sand dunes of Balmedie at Donald Trump’s newest golf resort and tee off on fairways located 1,200 feet above sea level or play at the prestigious Royal Aberdeen course which is the sixth oldest club in the world.

Getting around:
Aberdeen’s rail station is in the centre of town. From London you can take advantage of the overnight sleeper service and arrive in Aberdeen feeling refreshed. Trains run frequently from Glasgow and Edinburgh connecting to the rest of the country. A choice of bus companies offers services all over Scotland and the rest of Britain. If you want to fly, Aberdeen Airport is one of the UK’s fastest growing airports and is just 6 miles from the city centre. You can get a ferry to Shetland or Orkney from Aberdeen too.

Shopping:
Wide and running a mile long, Union Street is the main shopping area. The shops are fairly standard here, but there are lots of little shops tucked away in the side streets, selling anything from Bohemian dresses to Indian furniture. For example, check out Ethnic Style for its Fairtrade clothing and other great gift ideas from Fairtrade suppliers.

There are a few covered shopping centres such as the Bon Accord Centre, linked to the St Nicholas Centre and Trinity Centre that offer you the usual high street shopping experience. The Academy and West End are where you’ll find unique boutiques and one-off designer shops. On the last Saturday of every month, Belmont Street is where you can shop for good produce at the Aberdeen Country Fair.

Eating out:
The Silver Darling on Pocra Quay at North Pier is a fish restaurant that’s run by Frenchman Didier Dejean and claims to have one of the most impressive coast views in Scotland.

Less of a place to eat (despite its name), The Grill is a whisky connoisseur’s dream. As well as fine malts, there’s also a first class range of draught and packaged lagers and cask and keg ales. Bar snacks include famous Stovies & Oatcakes and haggis.

Where to stay:
The Marcliffe at Pitfodde, just outside the city, offers luxury and style with its spa and leisure facilities. Set in 11 acres of wooded grounds, it’s a converted Victorian mansion furnished with many antiques and paintings by Scottish artists. It has an extensive cellar with over 400 wines and 100 malts!

For something more modest and in the centre of the city, Arden Guest House is a warm and friendly family-run guest house that gets good reviews.

Bangor and North Wales 2

Great that you’re back! Enjoy the second part of things to do in Bangor and North Wales.

Getting around:

If you’re coming to Bangor from Ireland, you can cross on the ferry to Holyhead and from there Bangor is just 30 minutes away by train. The station is about a mile from the town centre.  On the North Wales Coastal Line, Bangor connects via Chester to the rest of the country. There are also good buses that link with services to the south and west Wales, Wrexham and Barmouth.

Shopping:

Bangor’s claim to fame is it has the longest High Street in Wales. In the city centre you will find a couple of modern shopping centres, Deinol and Menai, with a good mix of smaller shops and national chain stores.

If you’re in town in October, taste before you buy at Gwledd Conwy Feast, North Wales’ biggest annual food and drink event. Also in October, try downing a few oysters at the Anglesey Oyster and Welsh Produce Festival or go shopping medieval style at Conwy Honey Fair (September) which has been running for over 700 years.

Eating out:

From pub-grub, Indian, Oriental, Italian or good local Welsh produce, there’s lots to choose from.  For high quality local food, you can’t do worse than going out to Tavern 21 at St David’s Park on Anglesey. Enjoy its stunning views across the bay while you savor their freshly caught fish and Anglesey beef.

If you fancy something simpler, the Blue Sky Café is a good choice. Not just for vegetarians, there’s lots of choice everyone. Serving Fairtrade coffee, come here if you fancy just a sandwich or try one of their Olive Board Platters, fajitas, or Blue Sky Platter with its great selection of local produce.

Where to stay?

St George’s Hotel is Llandudno’s top 4 star hotel and comes highly recommended. As well as fine dining, it offers luxurious rooms, many with breathtaking views across the coastline and all the services you’d expect of a high quality hotel.

Heulfre Bed and Breakfast offers high quality accommodation in a traditional Victorian house. The rooms are richly furnished rooms with antique beds, roll top bath and the place oozes with character.

Take a leap: Unique things to do in Britain

It would be a shame not to do a post with a mention that today will be a one in 1460 year opportunity. Most people wouldn’t so much as bat an eyelid at it, but as it’s something special  so rare I thought I would suggest unique things that you can do in a day around the UK to celebrate its uniqueness!

England- For those residing in London, chances are the most time you will get to day is to have a drink, so to make it a unique one and head to St Pancras’ Station to drink Champagne at the World’s longest champagne bar. For more Capital adventures, why not try something for free, The British Museum is free to enter, or perhaps you want to challenge yourself and climb up St Stephen’s Tower (most commonly known as Big Ben Tower!). In the North, see art with a difference at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, or head to Grizedale Forest in the Lake District for a walk where interesting sculptures blend into the surroundings. Afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Shop in York is also a wonderful experience for the traditional scone, cream cake and tea fan. Kick back and enjoy friendly service whilst tucking into Britain’s best afternoon treats.

Scotland- Standing at one of the UK main island’s most northerly points, John O’Groat’s is an experience that everyone should aspire to have. Despite being dubbed “a seedy tourist trap” by the Lonely Planet guide, I actually quite liked the town. It’s unspoiled; you can watch the puffins and seals playing down by the water, enjoy and ice cream and above all just watch the sea. If this is too much of a trek for you, there are plenty of exciting things to do in the Scottish Cities. Visit the Wallace Monument in Stirling, or climb up to Edinburgh Castle for the sound of bagpipes or a view of the city. For an Island visit, go to Orkney to see the oldest building in Britain.  Skara Brae which was built in 3500 BC is the most complete Neolithic village in Britain. For a sweet tooth, head to Aberlour in Moray to the place where Walker’s shortbread is manufactured and sample some Scottish Whiskey at the same time.

Wales- Today is traditionally known as a day when women can propose rather than the other way around. So if you’re recently engaged or planning on a proposal, why not get married in a cave? Dan Yr Ogof caves can legally hold weddings in their Cathedral cave. If not getting married, then just visit anyway! Another interesting trip out in Wales, is a boat trip out to Caldey Island to the monastery. Dotted around the island there are many interesting little things to explore such as beaches, plants, a light house, the old priory and the monastery itself. Urbanites around Wales may however prefer something a little more city oriented. Don’t worry Wales has that too! Watersports in the city are available in every manner. Take an afternoon off and go kayaking, canoeing, rafting and windsurfing at the International Sports Centre. At night do something different and take the Creepy Cardiff tour. See some of the best attractions in the city whilst learning some haunting facts.