Activity ideas for UK holidays

You might be saving up for that dream holiday in the Maldives, or maybe you just think it’s completely out of your budget and you’ll never be able to afford it. Either way, sometimes it’s nice to just have a short holiday in the UK in order to have a break on a budget. Below are three activities you can do to add a bit of interest to your British-bound break.

Head to the beach

It is often said that you are never more than 70 miles from the coast in the UK, so a beach break could be just the thing to help you unwind. You could go for a day trip or opt for a longer stay, either way there are a whole host of things to keep you occupied at the beach. From building sandcastles and digging the obligatory massive hole to a plethora of water-based activities to suit any budget. Skimboards are fairly cheap and can offer hours of fun as you and your family attempt to time your run just right to meet the incoming tide. Be careful though, try and skim on water that is too shallow and you’ll end up finding out exactly what a British beach tastes like. If you are on the South West coast you could even opt for surfing lessons and hire out a wetsuit and board for the week.

sprocker dog enjoying the beach

Go for a walk

It may seem like a simple activity, but most people end up spending a large proportion of their day sat down. At a desk all day working, in the car driving backwards and forwards, and in front of the TV in the evenings. Going for a nice stroll along the cliff tops or into the countryside could be the breath of fresh air you needed to reset. You could even choose to head into the wild and spend a whole week walking and camping through the wilderness. Reading up on some of the top tips when cross country walking could help to give you an idea of what to expect and whether it could be the right break for you.

The white cliffs of Dover

Museums and Wildlife parks

Wherever you choose to holiday in the UK, whether that be on the coast, in a city, or out amongst nature, you are sure to never be too far from a museum. From the usual history and art museums of London to the more specialised offerings such as the tank museum in Dorset, there is a museum for every interest and niche. There is also an abundance of wildlife parks. You could head to a safari or nature reserve, or head to one of the many sanctuaries. Whatever your favourite animal, you’re bound to be able to go and see it up close and personal somewhere in the UK.

penguin at colchester zoo

There you have it, a few ideas for activities you can do on your UK based holidays that will ensure that everyone is kept happy and busy, just don’t forget to leave time to relax in the evenings with your beverage of choice.

Post written in collaboration with Collette Lower. Images my own.

Reasons to travel (rather than sitting at home!)

People travel for many reasons, each with their own little motivation. Be it the need for relaxation, discovering different cultures to see friends, chances are everyone has something. The list goes on and on, and generally, not many people need much convincing to go travelling. However, there are times when one would rather just sit down and do nothing at home, lazing about the whole day without doing anything productive. As dismal as it may sound, it’s a safe bet to say that the large majority of people have been in that situation before. Work and the responsibilities of everyday life get to you, and all that’s on your mind is shutting down for a while. Nothing to be ashamed of, but is it the best thing to do? You could sit and do nothing at home, or travel somewhere else and then do nothing. An enticing proposition, is it not? Without further ado, let’s look at some reasons to travel around rather than sit at home and stare at the TV.

image via pexels

Wanderlust

The world spans far and wide, but life is short. Many people have that insatiable sense of wanderlust which just cannot be quenched by sitting around at home or checking out holiday destinations online. They need the real thing, the feeling of being in a new place with new people, new weather, new shops and suspicious looking foods with ingredients in languages other than their own. The call of the unknown, slowly exploring every nook and cranny of an otherwise alien to you location. It’s something that cannot be explained in words, only experienced.

With a purpose

Some people travel to different countries to help others. People usually go to less well-off countries to support the locals there. Volunteers from all over the world travel to places like India and Africa to try and make a difference in whatever way they can. Be it by helping homeless children get off the street or helping the local wildlife thrive. It is something everyone should consider at least once and if you really do not want to or cannot then the next best option still stands. Donating to or participating in charity adventures such as No Birds Bash involves both helping others and travelling making it a perfect fit in this scenario.

image via pexels

For fun

If you are travelling somewhere in your spare time and you are not having fun while doing so, you should try to realise why that was. After all, travelling itself is not an unfun thing, other than the lack of legroom on the plane it’s usually a blast. Maybe it was a one-off trip which turned out to be bland and the location which you had your expectations set so high for turned out to be not much different than several other places you’ve seen. If that happens, do not get discouraged, the world holds more different types of settings and opportunities for adventure than there are ants in your backyard. Getting put off from travelling for a while by a single trip is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, and if you ever hit that moment then just remember, that you travel for fun first and foremost. Do not be afraid to go to more exotic locations, somewhere across the world completely different from your usual place of residence. This does not mean you have to go and live in the jungle for a month, but countries far from the west such as Japan, have such staggeringly different cultures that you can explore the world anew. Be it amidst a busy metropolis like Tokyo or in a tranquil countryside like Kyōgoku. There’s something for everyone.

Post written in collaboration with Jay Donnelly.

Seeing the world while helping others

Seeing the world while helping others – there’s a thought!

A lot of the time when we travel, we do so for our own pleasure. Whether we are jetting off on holiday or are heading off on an adventure of a lifetime, often it’s for our own enjoyment that we are travelling. While that is all well and good, there is another kind of travel that it is worth considering undertaking – travelling to help others.

Have you ever considered doing some exploring that will allow you to help other people (or animals)? Studies have shown that travelling to help others is one of the best ways to travel, as well as one of the most popular. Many travellers choose to travel in a way that allows them to help those less fortunate than them because they find that the work they do is totally and completely rewarding, and enhances their time abroad.

Does the concept of seeing the world and helping other people out at the same time appeal to you? If the answer is yes, then you may be interested in taking advantage of one of the ideas below.

Do a TEFL program

Are you an excellent teacher? Do you have patience and understanding? Then perhaps doing a TEFL project – AKA Teaching English as a Foreign Language – could be ideal for you. The fact is that when it comes to travelling abroad and helping others at the same time, teaching English as a foreign language could be the ideal way to do that, especially if you are someone who loves to teach and is understanding and patient. (For anyone wanting a future career in teaching, this is definitely the ideal way to travel and do your bit for the world.)

Raise money for charity

Not born to be a teacher? How about opting to raise money for charity instead? The fantastic thing about choosing to raise money for charity is the fact that there are so many different things that you can do, from undertaking a sponsored skydive to looking into charity walks, there are various options to choose from. How about, as you travel around the world, you find a new way to raise money in each country that you visit, and then donate it to a local charity of your choice? Just think how much money you could raise.

Join a conservation project

Do you care about animals in a big way? Then the perfect way to give something back while travelling could be to join a conservation project. Whether that means helping sea turtles in Fiji, orangutans in Borneo, or big cats in Costa Rica, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you are able to see the world while giving something back to it, and a conservation project could be the perfect way to do that.

Travel is a vital part of life; it’s something that every single one of us should aspire to do. However, so is helping others, which is why combining the two can be a great idea, and a fantastic way to make more of your time seeing the world.

Post written in collaboration with Beth Turner.

The City of Love: 10 things to do in Paris

10 things to do in Paris

10 things to do in Paris

Paris is the epitome of every love story, a place of romantic proposals, fantastic food and watching the sunset from the Eiffel Tower. It is somewhere many of us have on our bucket list to visit and some point in our lives. The magical and romantic reputation of this city is hard to match by any other. But what is there actually to see and do in the city of love? Let’s take a look…

Eiffel Tower

1. The Eiffel Tower

Constructed between 1887-89, this is the tallest human-made structure in Paris. It has become the city of Paris’ icon and is the home of thousands of proposals each year.

Notre Dame

2. Notre Dame Cathedral

Unlike the Disney film, you won’t find Quasimodo in here! This medieval Catholic church is stunning and is a great example of gothic architecture.

Musee Louvre

3. Musee du Louvre

You may have heard of this museum, as it is the most popular in Paris. In 2016 it was the world’s most visited Museum. It is the home of the most famous painting in the world: the Mona Lisa. It would be worth booking cheap flights to Paris just to see this stunning piece of artwork.

Arc de Triomphe

4. Arc De Triomphe

One of the most famous monuments in Paris, the Arc De Triomphe was built in 1806 and remains an architectural marvel for visitors from across the world.

Moulin Rouge

5. Moulin Rouge

You may remember the film based on this fabulous place starring Nicole Kidman, but the Moulin Rouge in real life is the birthplace of the can-can. It is the home of seductive dance and cabaret and is held in high esteem by many. It still holds shows regularly, so why not take a look if you are in the area?

Luxembourg Gardens

6. Luxembourg Gardens

Covering an impressive 23 acres of land and spanning the space which meets at Luxembourg palace, the gardens have become a popular tourist attraction amongst holidaymakers and houses the Medici Fountain, which was built in 1620.

River Seine

7. River Seine

The river Seine flows through the city of Paris like blood through veins. It is truly the heart of the city, and you can take tours along the river while looking at the beautiful town of Paris.

Sainte-Chapelle

8. Sainte-Chapelle

If you enjoy Gothic architecture, then this is the ideal place for you to visit. It began construction in 1238 and was the residence of the French monarchy up until the 14th Century. If you are a history buff, this place will blow you away!

Musee D'Orsay

9. Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay is one who holds mainly French art, furniture, and photography. It contains the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world. Adorning its walls are artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, and Manet. It is located on the left bank of the river Seine and is an impressive place to visit.

Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

10. Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

Translated into English as ‘Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris,’ this Roman Catholic Church is certainly a sight to behold. It is located at the highest point of the city, and this domed building allows for an impressive view over Paris.

If you like this kind of post, why not check out 8 Things to do in Queensland, New Zealand.

Post written in collaboration with July Marson.

A muggle's guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - how to make the most of your time at Universal's Islands of Adventure

A muggle’s guide to… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You may be forgiven for thinking that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park in its own right but in actual fact, it is just one part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. Since The Wizarding World opened in June 2010, it has been Islands of Adventure’s biggest crowd-puller, with people even queuing for up to 8 hours to get into the park on the opening day! But fear not Potter fans, here is my run-down on my time in Hogsmeade which will hopefully help and inspire you on your own wizarding adventure.

Top Tip: Get to the park before it opens and grab a map. As soon as the gates open, head straight to The Wizarding World. The rest of the crowd are sure to be heading in this direction too but the amount of people will be far less than later on in the day.

Rides

First up, make a beeline for Hogwarts Castle as this is where the main ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, can be found. Enter the castle (don’t forget to stash your belongings in one of the free lockers!) and follow the corridors of Hogwarts school, where you will find yourself in the familiar surrounds of the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Dumbledore’s office and other recognizable locations from the movies and books. You’ll be enchanted by the moving, talking portraits as depicted in the movies and even holograms of some of the main characters, so much so that the attention to detail here makes the queuing process a bit of an experience in itself.

Eventually when you reach the ride, you take your seat upon a 4-person “bench” and are then strapped in and whisked away for an adventure through the land of Harry Potter where you will follow Harry twisting and turning on his broomstick, over the Quidditch pitch and through the Forbidden Forest. You’ll see a fire-breathing dragon, giant spiders and evil dementors among other things – all in a clever mix of real animatronic models and high-tech computer graphics. The ride lasts for around 4 minutes and you’ll definitely want to ride it again just to take it all in! We were incredibly lucky and the longest we had to queue for this ride was around 20 minutes but queues for this have been known to exceed 4 hours!!

The next biggest ride is The Dragon Challenge, which is a nod to the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire. Consisting of 2 large and looping rollercoasters, guests will all join one queue and then must choose whether they want to ride the Chinese Fireball or the Hungarian Horntail (red or blue, in muggles terms). Both coasters travel at the same time and there are even a few moments when it appears as though both rollercoasters, or dragons, may collide. Perfect for thrill seekers, wizards and non-Potter fans alike.

A slightly tamer, yet still fun, rollercoaster ride is The Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a lot less stomach churning than The Dragon Challenge and aimed more at a younger crowd. Just don’t forget to bow to the Hippogriff before you ride!

honeydukes-at-wizarding-world-orlando

Shopping and Dining

If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on a Pygmy Puff or a Golden Snitch, then all the best Potter merchandise can be found at the shops in Hogsmeade. These include favourites from the books such as Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and, my favourite, Honeydukes sweetshop. I defy anyone to walk out of Honeydukes without purchasing some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (rotten egg flavour jellybean anyone?)

Top Tip: Inside the bottom of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans box there is a little piece of paper revealing which colour beans relate to which flavour. I must admit part of the fun is the Russian Roulette element but if you don’t like surprises or want to trick your friends into eating all the nasty ones then this might come in handy!

You can also visit the Owl Post in Hogsmeade where you can send a postcard home with a special Harry Potter stamp and a Hogsmeade post mark. The stamps are pretty pricey as you have to buy a whole pack (they won’t sell you just one) but you can always purchase a postcard and get a Hogsmeade post mark on the back (you just won’t be able to post it).

While the queues were kind to us for the rides, unfortunately they were a problem at Ollivander’s wand shop and so this was one part of Harry Potter World we failed to experience. Because the shop is small and is an interactive environment, limited numbers of visitors are allowed in at any one time. So true Potter fans should definitely aim to get here early if they want to see and do everything.

If you’re peckish while in this part of the park, then The Three Broomsticks serves up traditional British dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, but even if you’ve already eaten, make sure you take a seat in the Hog’s Head pub and sample some famous Butterbeer or Hog’s Head Brew.

Top Tip: Butterbeer is non-alcoholic and comes in regular or frozen (slushie). No one should leave Hogsmeade without trying Butterbeer as the taste is indescribable!

hogs-head-at-harry-potter-world

Other entertainment

There are plenty of things to look at in Hogsmeade, besides rides and shops. The village scenery is very beautiful and detailed, and true to the films. If you are there at the right time you may witness the Triwizard Spirit Rally, with ribbon twirling from the Beauxbaton witches and mock-fighting from the Durmstrang wizards.

Of course, I should add that my visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was before they opened Diagon Alley at Universal Studios last year – which now even includes the Hogwarts Express to connect the two Universal parks!

Have you had the chance to visit the new Diagon Alley section? What did you think?

please-dont-feed-the-birds

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A muggle's guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: This guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was written prior to the extension at Universal Studios.