Caravans – great even when you’re not travelling

If you are an owner of a caravan or thinking about purchasing a caravan then you may find this article quite useful. Once you have used your caravan for your travels you would generally leave it on your drive or in your garage, right?

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In fact rather than just letting your caravan build up dust, why not put it to good use even when you aren’t travelling around with it!

Make your caravan useful:

-        Extra storage space: when the summer is coming to an end and you have made good use of traveling with your caravan why not use it for extra storage space?  Often we accumulate a lot more things than intended resulting in finding it hard to find storage for everything. Have you ever considered using your caravan to store away all of your summer things? Such as suitcases, inflatables, parasols etc. These are items that you won’t want to store indoors and a caravan would be put to great use if you don’t have a garage available. It also makes sense to store summer items within your caravan as they will be easily accessible for the next time you choose to use your caravan.

-        A hangout space: do you ever want have some time to yourself without being disturbed? Why not use your caravan to chill out in and wind down with your favourite read? You could also use your caravan to escape from a family member or partner when you need a quiet moment to yourself!

-        Extra sleeping space: if you are having a get together but are limited to space in the house then why not have some of your guests sleep in your caravan? This will be extremely handy over the festive season when all the family come to visit.

-        Portable kitchen: if you are going on a day trip then why not bring your caravan along to use the kitchen facilities? You could park up at your favourite spot and make whatever you wish saving yourself money as well as having the choice of what to eat yourself.

-        Transportation: when it comes to the time of having to take a trip down to the tip are you usually limited when it comes to space for transporting your unwanted goods? Why not use your caravan for extra transportation space? You will be able to transport twice the amount as usual which means fewer trips to the tip! You’ll never have to tie anything down to the roof of your car again.

-        Antisocial activities: do you have a hobby that you want to pursue but it could be seen as a nuisance for the rest of the house? How about making music, home brewing or even using your caravan as a work space if you need to stay up later then the rest of the members in your household? Your caravan can be used as your own personal space so that you aren’t an annoyance to others.

If you are going to use your caravan to store valuables, you will want to look into some serious caravan security. The last thing you want is to lose your parasols!

CHEAT GUIDE TO THE GREEK ISLANDS

Find the one that’s right for you

The biggest hurdle when thinking about a Grecian holiday, is picking between the thousands of islands. That’s right, thousands. They range from tiny to the continental sized Crete and each island has its own variety of fun. So no matter if you want history, food and sun…you are bound to find plenty of it on one, if not all of the Greek islands.

For the Foodies: Folegandros, Crete and Lesvos

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Although many of the Ionian Islands have been invaded by Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) and their food has been merged to become a distinct Greek and Turkish blend. Both Crete and Lesvos are renowned for their olive oils but Lesvos is famous for its Ouzo (I tasted so much of it that I can’t eat liquorice without thinking I’m going to get drunk…it has an aniseedy flavour to it).

Most mediteranean cultures are known for their tapas or appetizers that are shared and enjoyed in a group. Folegandros has a wonderful lobster spaghetti (very creamy and the lobster just melts in your mouth) and Dakos (which I can only really explain as like a savoury biscotti texture with various toppings). GreekIsland-AncientRuinsWhat’s great is that some of the cheapest Greek fish is the best for you having high Omega fatty acids. If you can, have the Kollios which is called Gouna in Lesvos. It is simply grilled with herbs after being sun-dried, you can also have it fried but it takes away the deep flavour. Remember that the smaller taverns serve some of the tastiest fish on these islands.

For the Beach Lovers: Crete, Lipsi and Mykonos

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You’d think that you’d be able to pick any Greek island and you’d be bound to find a magnificent stretch of soft sandy shores to suntan your worries away…and you’d be right, so why even compare them? Well, there are some better beaches, sort of varying degrees of splendidness. Crete has a Venetian Castle that would put any sand equivalent to shame on Frangokastello Beach. For a less tourist-tastic beach, head to Lipsi where any one of the beaches is ogle-free and far less crowded than Skiathos. Mykonos, poor Mykonos. This island’s name has been used for many buildings outside Greece that has a remote Greek look about it (Club Mykonos to The Mykonos Casino) but I guess maybe these establishments want to replicate the paradise that is Mykonos, with its own style of decadence and energetic beach parties that will get every lazy beach bum off the sand and partying ‘til the sunrise.

For the History Buffs: Rhodes, Crete and Patmos

 

Like there is no shortage of beautiful beaches on any of the Greek Islands, the same can be said about the historical jewels embedded in the landscapes. In Rhodes you will find temples to Athena, the Acropolis of Lindos which is partially reconstructed to give you a look back as to how opulent it must have been especially with all the frescoes. Rhodes has an amazing Archaeological Museum housed in a hospital for knights from the 1400’s which houses examples of Hellenistic and 4th-century BC marble figures and the island is home to the Temple of Aphrodite (a place frequented by the loved and the lonely).

Crete is the birthplace of Zeus, agreed upon by the locals. This island has ancient sacrificial caves, Venetian fortresses, palaces, ottoman villages and exhibitions of the Knossos excavations.

Patmos has a smaller historical footprint and is largely Catholic in tradition rather than Greek mythology. It has a number of distinct and magnificent monasteries, such as the Monastery of St. John the Theologian who wrote the Biblical Book of Revelations. It is a mecca for followers of the saint and those interested in the interconnectedness of Catholic and Greek Orthodox practices.

Travelling

Ferry travel can be fun, island hopping from one exciting adventure to the next but if you’re headed to a single island, I would choose Crete. It’s a bit more central to North Africa, East and Western Europe than the rest of the islands. It also has more frequent flights coming in and departing making the Crete flights more affordable through popular travel agents and charter airlines.

Sometimes it’s better to spend a longer time in fewer places than spending the majority of your trip just rushing through the sites in order to say, “I’ve been there”. Most places need a few days to unleash the magic that maybe only the locals get to witness. Crete and the other Grecian islands offer a new experience every time you step ashore, so it should never feel like a once-off visit but instead feel like you’re visiting family or an old friend.

Romance in Newcastle

Newcastle is a great place for a romantic trip away – after all, there’s no better way to spend some quality time together than breaking with your normal routine. City breaks, which offer bags of culture and plenty of options when it comes to what to do, are usually the best choice and Newcastle is, I think, absolutely ideal.

This vibrant city in the north-east has a great mix of historical and modern buildings, not to mention swish bars and restaurants and some glorious green spaces. Plus, there are plenty of hotels for all budgets (you can take a look here), which means you can find something that suits both your tastes and wallet.

Enjoy a tranquil walk or bike ride

Newcastle’s a great place for walking and cycling, both of which are ideal for a romantic afternoon out – just make sure you wrap up warm! While you could just meander around the city centre (there’s certainly lots to see, like the historic Castle Keep), you’ll find there’s a brilliant selection of walking and cycling trails in the surrounding area.

For instance, if the day is bright and sunny (and not too windy) you could follow the Marden Circular Walk – a 7 mile route that’ll lead you along the beautiful cliffs at South Tyneside. Or, if you like the sound of something much closer to the city centre, you could amble through Jesmond Dene – a green oasis just minutes from the hustle and bustle.

Alternatively, hire bikes at the Cycle Hub and tackle the NewcastleGateshead Wylam Loop which, while being 20 miles long, is quite gentle because it’s almost completely flat. Plus, it has the advantage of giving you a mix of city and countryside views.

Dine out in style

There are some absolutely fabulous restaurants to choose from in Newcastle. Perfect for a romantic meal is Cafe 21 at Trinity Gardens on the Quayside. What’s nice about this restaurant is that the attention to the food really comes across – the bistro-style dishes here are delicious and created with care, without being pretentious.

This is echoed in the decor, I think, which is really elegant, yet creates a relaxed atmosphere. The menu is always tempting – especially the desserts, which include plum crumble souffle, Tanzanian chocolate mousse and creme brulee.

Alternatively, head to the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar & Grill, which is tucked away in Hotel Indigo. Expect outstanding food, fine wines, and an endlessly tempting selection of cocktails.

Take a stroll along the Quayside

With its cluster of restaurants, bars and cafes and river views, the Quayside is one of the finest places for an idyllic evening stroll. I think it’s best to see this part of the city when the sun goes down, because that’s when the spectacular Gateshead Millennium Bridge is beautifully lit up against the dark water and sky – such a romantic setting.

And of course, because there are so many excellent restaurants and bars here, it’s a great place to spend the entire evening.

Majorca for romantics this spring

Want to jet away with your loved one? There’s nothing more romantic than escaping your daily lives to a haven of beautiful beaches and glorious weather. Majorca may not be the first destination you think of when booking a trip, with classic loved-up city breaks like Paris, Venice and New York usually top of couples’ lists.

Majorca is neighboured by its smaller sister island Menorca, the party hotspot of Ibiza and picturesque Formentera. It is known for its quaint towns and villages, as well as all-purpose resorts with everything you could possibly want for on holiday. Let’s not forget the hundreds of stunning coastal spots and beaches to explore.

The weather is certainly one of the main attractions. If you’re travelling to the Balearic Isle in spring, temperatures are much cooler than in the height of summer (approximately 15 degrees Celsius), with eight hours of sunshine a day on average.

Spring is also ideal for those on a budget, as it isn’t until the months of June to September when the hordes of tourists arrive. There’s also plenty of cheap holidays to Majorca to make the most of at this time of year, with companies like Bookable Holidays, so you don’t have to break the bank to get here.

Palma de Majorca is a popular place to base yourself on a trip to the sunny Balearic isle if you like a good dose of culture on your holiday. Not only can you expect sun, sea and sand, but the city boasts a historic heritage that stretches back to the Roman era. Le Seu Cathedral is a must-see, with its stunning architecture reflecting the city’s varied history which saw the Romans, Moors and Spanish take control.

If you and your loved one are after a good night out, resorts like Magaluf are for you. One of the highlights for summer-time revellers is the Majorca Rocks Festival – an event that kicks off the summer party season. This year Californian sister act Haim will be headlining the festival, after a year of phenomenal success around the world. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Jake Bugg, Biffy Clyro and Ed Sheeran, the girls will also rock the crowds at sister festival Ibiza Rocks.

For getting away from it all, head to some of the lesser-known towns and villages for a real authentic experience. Towns the wine-producing area of Felanitx and Andratx, a rural village in the Tramuntana mountains are worth a visit.

Why not enjoy a walk to take in the stunning landscapes? The Serra Llevant mountain range in the north east of Majorca is also a good spot for taking in the views. The undulating limestone landscape offers fantastic views of the sparkling ocean and scenic surrounds. On a clear day, you can reportedly even see the smaller Balearic island of Menorca in the distance.

Best Places In The World For Photography

The world is home to some truly incredible sights – some natural and some manmade – and many people are keen to try and capture their own impression of these beautiful locations on film. There are many really spectacular places for photography – we’re going to pick out a few of our favourites.

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Antarctica
The Antarctic isn’t the most accessible of places, but that means it is one of the most untouched landscapes on the planet. Its mountains, ice cliffs, icebergs and coastline are all waiting to be discovered and the scenery is perfect for landscape photographers.
What’s more, the region is home to a host of unusual and fascinating wildlife, such as the fearsome leopard seal, the majestic emperor penguin and the graceful albatross. If you want to have a chance of capturing some good shots of the local fauna, make sure you pack a telephoto lens.
If that’s piqued your interest in travelling to the Antarctic, you’ll find further information about itineraries here.
Cambodia
For landscapes of a very different kind, head to Cambodia in south-east Asia. This country is home to some particularly striking manmade monuments, most notably the temple complex of Angkor Wat. There are some amazing photography opportunities here, with wonderful wide-angle shots and intricate details in the stonework waiting to be captured on camera.
In the nearest town to Angkor Wat – Siem Reap – there are also some great scenes, such as the Wat Bo pagoda, which sits near the river, and the charming wooden houses that are built on stilts. The city of Phnom Penh, meanwhile, is an fascinating contrast of old and new, with traditional pagodas and temples surrounded by modern buildings. Trying to capture this juxtaposition on film can be a challenge, but one that’s incredibly fun for enthusiastic photographers.
Ecuador
If it’s wildlife photography that you’re interested in, you’ll struggle to beat the Central and South American nations, with Ecuador in particular standing out. One of the highlights of this country is the Galapagos Islands, an incredible archipelago that is home to many species found nowhere else on earth.
Blue-footed bobbies, frigate birds, marine iguanas and giant tortoises make especially stunning subjects, but you’ll find many other striking animals to shoot photos of here as well. Another place in Ecuador that wildlife photographers will love is the Amazon Rainforest. The reflection of the trees in the river is an evocative image, while there are dozens of creatures that inhabit the jungle and that you should look out for.
The indigenous villages and houses on stilts that jut out over the water are especially good spots if you want to capture something of the human side of the Amazon basin.
New Zealand
For breathtaking and varied landscapes, there are few better places in the world than New Zealand. Across the two islands you have everything from sandy coves and towering mountains to impressive fiords and vast lakes – not to mention the geothermal sites like Rotorua and bustling cities such as Auckland and Wellington.
Travelling around the country will give you the chance to snap photos of a host of different scenes, although perhaps one of the most impressive is Cape Reinga, at the north-western tip of North Island. From this vantage point you can see the tidal race where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. The coastline here is stunning, with rugged cliffs, golden beaches and rolling waves for you to admire.

The latest item that is always in my travel bag!

As you all know, I try to travel as light as possible. I cut out anything that I think I won’t need or will weigh my bag down, there’s nothing worse than trekking from bus/train station to your hotel with a huge bag! Of course there are always items that you simply must travel with, without them we would be lost. My bag usually has the following necessary items in it; laptop, camera, passport, travel tickets and cash, of course there are clothes but I don’t think we need to remind ourselves that we need to pack them – well I hope not guys. Now there is one more addition to the above list, Bimuno’s TRAVELAID!

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You always here about these great new inventions that will help you with any stomach problems whilst on your travels and are always sceptical, I saw this one and thought it would be the same as the rest. How wrong I was! Travelaid is absolutely fantastic and perfect to put in your bag when you go off on your travels or for a short break.

Bimuno make a wide range of prebiotic goodness for all of us. Prebiotics help support your gut’s ‘good’ bacteria, and that in turn can help our bodies to get rid of all of the bad bacteria that can end up causing us problems.Their product TRAVELAID has been designed to help people that travel to avoid getting an upset stomach which could end their holiday.

We’ve all been there, we go to a new country which has a different culture and cuisine to the one that we are used to back home. Then one day out of the blue you can’t leave the hotel or guest house because you always need to be in close proximity to a toilet. It’s the best way to lose a day or two from your holiday, if you’re on a tight schedule that could be the difference between seeing one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and not – everyone wants to avoid that happening! Well, with TRAVELAID you have much less chance of that happening to you.

It could be easier to take, which makes it absolutely perfect for me because I sometimes get lazy when on the road. All you have to do is chew two pastilles a day, that’s it guys! There’s no mixing a powder in to your food or drinks, you just pop two of the tasty pastilles out of the pack and in to your mouth. You can then go about your day as you planned, it’s perfect. The guys over at Bimuno really have come up trumps on this one, the product is perfect for travellers in every way.

You will be able to find the Bimuno products at all good chemists. You can also find them online; the Bimuno website – www.Bimuno.com - you can find them on twitter @BimunoUK and their Facebook Page is always good to find out about the latest products, promotions and competitions.

Top tips to travel Europe by train

Travelling through Europe by train is one of the best things that you will ever do! It’s cost effective, comfortable and quick, that is why so many travellers choose to buy a ticket that will take them to every corner of the continent. With so many great sites giving you an insight into eurail it has never been easier to book tickets and find out all of the information you need. I have been fortunate enough to see Europe using the amazing rail network on offer, here are my tips for those that want to do the same.

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Finding the information you need

When you are travelling it can sometimes be difficult to find the information that you are looking for. When you are at a station look out for the information desk, the person at the desk may not be able to provide you will all of the answers you need if they are very busy. If you need to find out what time trains are leaving then look out for the yellow posters around the station. Always have faith in strangers, I was helped out by so many people along the way. People are nice wherever you are in the world, so if you are stuck just smile and ask someone nicely.

Buying your ticket

Some people like to buy their ticket as they go, if that is what you’re doing then you will need to head to the station early to do your planning. I prefer to organize everything in advance through TGV, it means that things are easier in the long run. It also means that you don’t have to worry about budgeting for travel when you are on the road because you have it sorted already.

Onboard the train

You will find yourself travelling long distances on trains, do not worry about eating because you will find that the long distance trains will have restaurants and cafes on them. It is a good idea to stock up from a local supermarket before you travel if you are on a tight budget. Pick up some simple food that will keep you going until you reach your final destination.

Absorb the Milan Lifestyle

Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world alongside London, New York and Paris. If you are visiting this fine city in northern Italy you can learn much more about fashion, shop until you drop but also discover that there is so much more to this fine city than fashion.

There is a fairly sophisticated tourist infrastructure in Milan and you will be able to get guides to introduce you to the finest sites so that you can spend further time exploring the things that really interest you. You can even get someone to show you the real fashion district. There is a walking tour based around Via Montenapoleone where you can see a host of fashionable shops and take a closer look without any pressure to buy.

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Introductory tours

Tours offer you the chance to see one of the finest churches anywhere in the world Milan Duomo, La Scala the world famous opera house, the San Siro Stadium which is shared by Milan’s two soccer giants, AC Milan and Internationale, and a location that is less famous, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

You can actually visit the San Siro and see the museum chronicling the history and achievements of these great clubs both of whom have been European Champions. Similarly you may want to look behind the scenes at La Scala if your interest is drama and opera. However the jewel in the crown is the church.

Da Vinci

The church may not be famous in itself but its contents most certainly are, Leonardo Da Vinci’s the Last Supper is painted on the refectory wall. There are huge crowds wanting to see this masterpiece and the best way to avoid long queues is to go on organised Milan Tours that can get priority for a group. Preservation of the masterpiece has always been a challenge and one of the limits put in place is the restriction of numbers allowed in to look at it at any one time.

Brera

Brera is the district of intellectuals and artists, the equivalent of Paris’s Left Bank and close by is a historic fortress, Castello Sforzesco which houses museums and art collections. This is a historical place with literature and antiques at every turn. There are bars and restaurants that you may see on an introductory tour that are worth coming back to experience.

Italians are known for their style and fashion sense and of course for their cuisine. Nowhere are these elements better represented than in Milan. Once you get your bearings you can spend your time exploring fashionable districts, learn more about the history and culture of the city and dine in fine restaurants. City holidays are sometimes not the best way to relax but in Milan you are likely to relax into the lifestyle very easily.

Image attributed to        Freedigitalphotos.net Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

 

 

 

Quirky shopping spots around Newcastle

As well as its fair share of high street stores, Newcastle boasts some quirky and unusual shops, making it a fantastic place for a bit of retail therapy. Of course, you can pop to H&M or Debenhams anywhere in the UK, which is why I’m going to focus on a few of the city’s more quirky offerings.

High Bridge Quarter


What I love about shopping in Newcastle is that many of the city’s top independent stores are located in one area – High Bridge Quarter. This is not only a real mecca for shopaholics, but also one of the most historic parts of the city, boasting cobbled streets and old buildings.

The district is a hive of activity and it’s not only retailers who have set up here – there are a host of independent restaurants, bars and pubs too, so you can easily spend an entire day in the area without needing to go anywhere else.

It’s easy to get to High Bridge Quarter – which includes Upper High Bridge and Old George Yard – as it’s just a two minute walk from Grey’s Monument. If you want to find accommodation in the heart of the action, take a look to see what NewcastleGateshead has available.

Quirky stores in High Bridge

There are many amazing shops in the High Bridge Quarter, offering something for everyone. One place that all fashionistas should head to is Attica Vintage, where you’ll find a wide array of vintage clothing dating from the Victorian period right through to the 70s and 80s.

In addition to garments, Attica also sells furniture and accessories, so you can kit out your home with some stylish vintage pieces from whatever era you love. As if all that wasn’t enough to get you interested, Attica was named by Vogue as one of the best stores outside London in 2012.

Deep Vintage is another store that’s caught my eye as a great place for unique and exciting finds, with plenty of authentic vintage clothing on sale that will revamp your wardrobe. Deep has built up an excellent reputation since opening in 2004, so it’s a must-visit on your shopping trip.

However, High Bridge is a great place for more than clothes shopping – there are a host of other interesting outlets to be uncovered here. One of the most prominent is RPM Music, Newcastle’s oldest music shop.

You won’t find the standard chart toppers here, but you will be greeted by an amazing array of music from a host of genres, including indie, rock, soul, hip hop and funk. As well as CDs, this shop sells vinyl, music DVDs and merchandise like T-shirts. What’s more, it also hosts gigs, so you could just discover the next big thing on a visit to RPM Music. It’s also the place to come if you want to pick up concert tickets for most of Newcastle’s best music venues.

Take a break

If you fancy a break from shopping, there are some excellent independent cafes and restaurants to visit in High Bridge. You can pop into Blakes Coffee Shop for a caffeine boost, grab a beer at The Duke of Wellington, which is famous for its selection of real ales, or discuss the day’s shopping at Newcastle’s oldest pub – The Old George Inn.

Another option if you want a bit of time out from splashing some cash is to stop by BALTIC 39 – a hub for contemporary art where you can browse exhibits by local creatives and even see the artists at work in their studios.

Visiting Vegas: Information for first timers

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Millions of people flock to Las Vegas each year, whether it’s to get hitched, a stag or hen do, to gamble or to have a wild weekend, there is something for everyone in Vegas. The city is iconic and a place that everyone wants to visit, it has appeared in so many Hollywood blockbuster movies that the main attractions are familiar to everyone. If you haven’t seen vegas before then you can expect excess like you haven’t experienced before, casinos galore and the most famous strip in the world. It is a place where dreams are made, and where people head to have the time of their lives. To make sure that you have the best holidays to Las Vegas we have drawn up a list of some great advice for you to follow.

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Wear the right clothes
Remember that you are in the desert so the weather is hot, very hot! You should expect that whilst it is very hot outside, when you head into the casino the temperature will be freezing due to the fact that the air con is working over time. Your natural instinct is to wear as little as you possibly can, but you should bring a jumper or cardigan with you to wear once you head inside. If you’re heading to Vegas during the winter months then remember that the desert also gets cold during the winter as well.

Always open
Vegas is open 24 hours so you’ll be able to eat and drink at any time of the day, you will always be able to gamble! The city doesn’t get quiet at any time really, there are always people out eating and enjoying themselves. If you feel the need for a midnight snack then you won’t have any problems finding a 7-11 to get whatever you need.

Drink plenty of water
One of the most important things you need to do is keep hydrated. We already mentioned that you will be in the desert so it is going to warm and may even be a shock to your system. The temperature hits an average of 105 degrees during the summer months. Make sure that you always have a bottle of water to hand, this is even more important if you have been partying and drinking lots of alcohol. If you have kids then you have to make sure that they are drinking water all the time. A lot of visitors suffer from heat stroke, this can easily be avoided if you are strict about your water consumption.