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Getting back to nature in Newcastle

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It might seem odd to suggest getting back to nature in a big city like Newcastle, but it’s not so strange when you consider that it’s just a stone’s throw from the coast. So, it’s actually the perfect destination if you fancy combining culture and seaside fun on your next family holiday.

It’s the seaside aspect we’ll be talking about today, especially as the local coastline is not only dotted with lovely little seaside towns, but also Blue Flag beaches, traditional fish and chip shops and plenty of family-friendly attractions. Here are some of our favourite things to do when popping to the coast for a day, while you can find out more about local attractions and where to stay at NewcastleGateshead.

Visit the lighthouses

The local coastline is home to some fantastic lighthouses that are great fun for families to visit. Souter Lighthouse, with its classic red and white striped design, is definitely among the best, not least because it was actually the first lighthouse in the world to be designed and built for electric power. Having opened in 1871, it is no longer operational, but it’s still one of the coastline’s icons.

Alternatively (or as well!), you could head to St Mary’s Lighthouse and Island, which you’ll find at Whitley Bay. This lighthouse guided ships to shore for just under a century, finally closing in 1984. Today, one of its main attractions for visitors is the fact that you can climb all the way to the top – and trust us, doing so will give you some outstanding views of the coast. You just need to be prepared to tackle 137 steps!

What we also like about coming here is that there’s plenty else to enjoy alongside the lighthouse. You see, it’s surrounded by a nature reserve, which the kids are bound to love exploring – there are rock pools, a beach, wetland habitats and more. There’s also a little shop where you can pick up toys and souvenirs for the children to take home.

Head to the aquarium

While you might assume that the coastline’s only really a good place to visit when the sun is out, that’s actually not the case. When the wind’s howling, for instance, the beaches can be dramatic settings for walks (we’ll talk more about beaches in a moment), while there are plenty of indoor attractions too.

Among the best is the Blue Reef Aquarium, which is on Tynemouth’s Grand Parade. Come here and you can see everything from cute harbour seals to even monkeys – not being a marine creature, the latter is bound to be a particular surprise! Daring kids will love seeing species like black tip reef sharks, while the rockpool encounters will give them the chance to get up close to weird and wonderful creatures.

Hit the beach

The great thing about the coastline near Newcastle is that it’s home to lots of Blue Flag beaches. Stretches of sand with this award are known for being clean and safe, which makes them perfect for families.

Tynemouth Longsands is one of the beaches with Blue Flag status, and it has everything from pretty dunes and cliffs to a charming cafe right on the beach. King Edward’s Bay, meanwhile, is a lovely little beach that’s actually located below the fantastic Tynemouth Priory and Castle. Combining trips to both is a great basis for a day out, especially when the sun is shining!

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5 Awesome Things to Do in London

A day spent in London can include nearly an endless amount of possible activities! This city has something for literally everyone, whether you’re into cultural activities, eating great food, exploring the outdoors or people watching. There’s great shopping, dining and historical attractions and entertainment both on and off the beaten tourist path. So book some accommodation in London and use this list as a handy guide for spending a great day in London:

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Chill in a Park

There are so many green spaces in this city that you can almost forget that you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world. Chill out with a picnic and enjoy the trees, lakes, bike and walking paths and tranquil gardens. Kensington Gardens right off the side of Hyde Park is absolutely gorgeous. This is London’s largest and most famous park.

Shop Till You Drop

You absolutely can’t leave London without experiencing some of the world’s greatest shopping. Walk down Oxford street and take in some of the most expensive and luxurious shops in the world. Window shop in the unique boutiques on Bond Street and indulge in the glamorous lifestyle of the crowd in this area. People watching can be just as entertaining as swiping your credit card at these shops!

Buckingham Palace

This is an absolute do-not-miss in London! The morning is the best time to visit in order to beat the massive crowds that will gather during the day so leave your London hotel early and get your spot. Make sure to see the changing of the guard at 11:30 am, but get there early enough to nab a spot on the Queen Victoria Memorial right in front of the palace! Afterwards, you can bring a picnic to St. Jame’s Park for a nice view of the lake.

Indulge in Culture

London has some of the best museums in the world, making it a number one destination for anyone looking for some cultural immersion. Over 240 museums will satisfy your desire to explore everything from modern art to natural history and science, design and imperial war. There are also tons of niche museums covering interests like rugby and cartoons. Bring the kids to one of the fabulous children’s museums and watch their wide-eyed fascination.

Enjoy a Spa

Pamper yourself for a day during your holiday and relax your tired feet from all that walking. There are so many luxury spas to choose from in this cosmopolitan city. Enjoy all the treatments including a facial, massage and scrub for face and body. You’ll emerge feeling refreshed and renewed for the rest of your holiday.

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The Other Side of A Cancun Holiday

Cancun is one of those vacation spots where you just can’t go wrong. From watersports to beach time, exciting nightlife and exploring the Mayan culture, there’s something here to make everyone’s holiday amazing. Travelbag’s Cancun Holidays is the perfect starting point for inspiring your trip. But while you could indulge in the typical shopping, sunbathing and resort life on Cancun, you could also go for something a little different! So why not get on the other side of a Cancun holiday? Travelbag’s Cancun holidays has everything you need to prepare for a fun and unique experience in this gorgeous destination:

Get Tipsy at the Tequila Museum

Obviously it’s not a holiday in Mexico without some tequila beverages to lighten the mood. But why not take it a step further and really learn about the stuff at the Tequila Herradura Sensory Museum. On an hour and twenty minute tour, you’ll learn the history of the local tequila, the distilling process, and even the best drinking etiquette. Good thing nobody’s driving!

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Explore the Underwater Museum

A completely different kind of water experience takes you beneath the sea to experience an art installation that doubles as an ecological benefit. The eco-sculptor who created the 450 statues that are on display underwater intended for them to help promote new coral growth and divert divers from the fragile reefs nearby. It’s totally unique, so get scuba trained so you can dive down and check it out! You can always throw on some snorkeling gear and dive right down as well.

 Check Out the Turtle Hatchery

After a few days of beach bumming and hanging around the touristy areas, you’re bound to be craving an escape from the crowds. Head to the turtle hatchery for a random afternoon of hanging out with the little guys! You’ll get up close and personal with all sorts of turtles, and it’s super cheap to get in. Where else do you have the chance to see a baby turtle? And all proceeds go towards helping the animals, so you can feel good about a good cause.

Strap on a Jetpack

This insane new “watersport” is relatively new and super crazy. You literally strap on a jetpack, undergo a brief training and then you’re taking off like a rocket, able to fly over the ocean for several minutes at a time using the power of the water. If you’re into really new and crazy things, you absolutely have to check this out! Cancun is the perfect place to do it, with its insanely gorgeous waters.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Travelbag.

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Chamonix: A Brief Insight Into This Popular Ski Resort

Chamonix is a destination that is famous all over the world and it attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. The natural beauty surrounding Chamonix is described by many as “breath-taking.”   This amazing resort is ideal to take a holiday in both the Winter and Summer months and the following is a brief insight into this popular ski resort.

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Location

Chamonix is situated  1,035 above sea level in the north-westerly area of the French Alps. It is just 15km away from both the Swiss and Italian borders. When taking the journey from Geneva airport to Chamonix, you will be travelling north west of the Alps and will be in very close proximity to the Swiss border. Chamonixfirst.com offer a reliable transfer option between Geneva airport and Chamonix. As it located in a glacial valley, Chanomix provides visitors with stunning scenery all throughout the year and it is suitable to holiday here during both the Winter and the Summer months. Nestled between two magnificent and impressive mountain ranges, the town itself boasts some of the most amazing Alpine scenery that the world has to offer.

Where to Stay

There are many smaller villages situated on the outskirts of Chamonix that are still referred to as Chamonix. You should do some research into the area in general and let your desires and interests depict which area you will visit.  There are both pros and cons to every area but the pros always outweigh the cons. If you decide to stay in a chalet in the center of town or one in the surrounding villages, you will not miss out and will still gain access to the best lifts that the country has to offer. However, it has to be noted that if you’re after exciting nightlife, central Chamonix is the place to be.

Things to Do

Chamonix offers activities ranging from world-class skiing to top class cookery classes. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway or an adventurous filled holiday you’re looking for, Chamonix will not disappoint on any level. It is obviously famous for its exhilarating Winter sports that include skiing, snowboarding and both hiking and biking activities. In recent years, it has become more popular for those who are looking for a slightly more chilled out holiday and offer those visitors cookery courses that will give you an insight into some of the most tasty and tantalizing foods that French cuisine has on offer.  The food served in Chamonix restaurants is of a very high standard and must maintain that level of excellence in order to endure the competition.

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Unknown Gems of England’s North-East

In any destination, there will be attractions that are well known to the locals but rarely heard of further afield. In my opinion, discovering these turns a good break into an excellent one – and I believe this is especially the case when you’re on a staycation. After all, it’s really easy to think you know your country like the back of your hand, so discovering new things and realising there is still so much to learn is an invigorating experience. Recently, I discovered the north-east of England has a lot to offer in this regard.

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Below, you’ll find my list of the area’s most interesting little-known gems. And if these inspire you to visit the north-east and you want to know more about things like local hotels and other attractions, you can find out practical information here.

The Victoria Tunnel

My first hidden gem can be found on Stepney Bank in the Ouseburn Valley. A fascinating slice of history, the Victoria Tunnel dates back to 1842, when it was built to help transport coal for loading on to ships. In more recent years, it played an important role in World War II when it was converted into an air raid shelter.

These days, it is both undergoing restoration work and open for public tours – but you do need to book well ahead of time. You can do this through the Ouseburn Trust, which offers guided tours – complete with audio and visual effects – all year round.

The Biscuit Factory

Over on Stoddart Street in Shieldfield, Newcastle, is the Biscuit Factory – a unique art gallery. Housed in an old Victorian factory that’s been fantastically converted for the purpose, this is a commercial gallery, so you can actually buy the pieces on display here.

What’s more, the fact that it has a lovely cafe and an interesting programme of workshops means that it’s got a particularly great atmosphere, so it’s somewhere that art aficionados are guaranteed to fall in love with.

Cullercoats Bay

Next on my list is Cullercoats Bay, which I’ve included for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a lovely little beach that’s especially great for families, enclosed as it is between two piers. Secondly, it featured in the artwork of Winslow Homer (an American artist), and whether you’re an art lover or not it’s always lovely to explore landscapes that have been a source of inspiration.

While you’re here, make sure you check out the south of the bay, which is where the local fishing and leisure boats launch from. Other things to see include a Victorian lifeboat station and the Fisherman’s Watch House.

Tyneside Cinema

Last up we have Tyneside Cinema, which is a real treasure. This Grade II listed building is the only newsreel theatre in the UK that is still running as a full-time cinema. Its original Art Deco design has been beautifully restored, so coming here is a memorable experience.

What I really love about this place, though, is that it’s also got an excellent programme of screenings that include world cinema titles as well as the usual Hollywood blockbusters. It has four screens in total, in addition to two bars and, rather charmingly, a traditional coffee room.

 

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Take a Multi – Centre Holiday This Year

It is that time of year where many people are heading off for their summer vacation. But there are many people that are only in the planning stage for the summer holidays, and are not sure where to go – So why settle on one destination?

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Have you ever heard of a multi centre holiday? In a nutshell, this is a holiday where you travel to more than one location to vacation.

Choosing any one holiday destination can be a hard, and sometimes cruel decision to have to make. Maybe it is a case that you have whittled the choice down to two or more destinations, and cannot pick between the two. Or maybe it is a thing that you want to go to one place, and another in the family is determined that you all go to another. This is where Multi Centre holidays are a God send.

With a multi centre holiday, you are not bound to just the one destination – rather you can spend part of the holiday in one destination, and then travel to another again at a later time. And another after that, if the mood takes you, when booking! This is what is great about this kind of holiday – it will settle any arguments there have been about where to go, as you can all go to the destination of your choice. This way, everybody is a winner – what could be better?

If this sounds like something that would be of interest to you and your family, why not book a Multi Centre Holiday with Trailfinders?

Multi centre holidays are getting exceedingly popular with tourists these days, and it is for good reason too. Many people travelling to the likes of the United States, Australia or Asia opt to book a multi centre trip, as it does not limit their travel experience, and they can take in as much as possible, to really get a sense of what a region is like. Something that is hard to do when tied down to just one city when on holiday.

These are just some of the reasons why you should consider taking a multi centre holiday. However, a little research will show you all the possibilities that are available to you in relation to multi centre holidays. There are holiday ideas to suit almost everybody, and you will be delighted to find just how affordable these types of holidays can be!

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The Unique Cuisine of Sicily

Italy, as a whole, is known for it’s amazing and unique cuisine, dishes that are instantly recognisable as Italian. Nowhere is this truer than on the Island of Sicily.
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Italian food has spread across the globe, and for good reason. You can get a bowl of spaghetti, or grab a pizza in any of the 4 corners of the Earth.

Sicily is blessed with almost perfect conditions for produce growth, with the powerful sun,  fertile volcanic soil, and an irrigation system introduced originally introduced by Arab immigrants. All these things come together to enable the production of many different types of crops, which are full of flavour.

If you are planning on taking a journey to Sicily, you will soon discover that Feasting is a hugely important feature of Sicilian life, to this day. There is scarcely a wedding, birth, baptism or first Holy Communion without an associated feast!

Durum Wheat is one of the main products of Sicily,which is used then to make one of Italy’s most famous dishes – pasta.

Another product which is featured all throughout the Island is Citrus Fruits. Amazingly, 62% of Citrus Farms in Italy are on the Island of Sicily. Qualityvillasitaly.co.uk has more information available on this topic, and more.

You are sure to find on your visit to Sicily, that there is an abundance of Fish based dishes. Being an Island, you will get some of the freshest fishes dishes you have ever experienced locally.  Dishes including fish such as sardines and anchovies can usually be found through March to September, and the likes of squid, prawns, crabs and mussels can be obtained year round.

Olive Oil is a large industry in Sicily, and it is the 3rd largest oil producing region in Italy. Olives were first brought to Sicily by the Greeks thousands of years ago.

A unique dish to keep your eyes peeled for is “Arancini”, which is a deep fried ball of rice, which is stuffed. Rice was introduced to Sicily by the Arabs, when Spain and Sicily  was occupied by the Arabs.

Finally, cheese is in plentiful supply in Sicily, and some of the more unique types are caciocavallo, a cows milk cheese, which can be enjoyed either fresh, matured or smoked. Another type available throughout the region is pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese, which can be eaten fresh, or at a later time.

Those are some ideas as to the unique style and types of foods and cuisines available to you in Sicily.

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Best 5 Beaches in St. Martin

There are few places in the world that are as beautiful as St. Martin. Finding a beach on this small caribbean island is not a problem at all. The problem might be deciding which beach to go to. All of the beaches offer a different environment to its visitors. Some have a good bar scene, some are isolated, some are popular, some offer water sports, but they all are picturesque. It doesn’t stop there, there are stunning St. Martin villas that can offer you your own private stretches of beach and a private home to have during the week. This can be much more enjoyable than sharing a hotel with hundreds of other guests. Finding the perfect stretch of beach can be tough, but lucky for you heres a quick guide!images-106

Orient Bay

This is a hotspot in St. Martin. One of the most popular and well known beaches in St. Martin, Orient Bay Beach is for those who really enjoy a party. This is the perfect place to let loose and have a good time. It is fully equipped with a wide range of amenities like restaurants, shops, and water sport options. The true culture of St. Martin is embraced on this beach as clothing is optional, fair warning!

Happy Bay

As the name suggests, Happy Bay is the perfect place to be happy. It is still untouched by tourist amenities and is only accessible by a ten minute hike through the woods. The hike is worth it as the secluded beach with white sand is lined with coconut trees. This gives it a true authentic Caribbean feel.

Friars’ Bay

This is another popular beach destination but more family friendly than Orient Bay. The biggest draw to this beach is its the two famous restaurants. Friars Bay Beach Cafe and Kali’s Beach bar are both perfect restaurants to enjoy the culture of the island. During the day they are both relaxing places where beach goers can grab a drink and some food. At night on the other hand, both places turn into party spots with rock and reggae filling the air.

Grand-Case Bay

The beaches at Grand Case Bay are located in the middle of the fishing village where it gets its name. It is a very long beach, providing lots of space for its visitors. There are several gourmet restaurants in the area and there are also smaller traditional eateries called lolos. It is definitely recommended to eat at one of the smaller lolos for the chance to try traditional St. Martin food. This is also a great diving location as divers can explore the incredible Creole Rock.

Pinel Island

This is a two for one deal as the small island off the east coast of St. Martin has two beaches. The island is named after the pirate Pinel, who tried to take the larger St. Martin but was beaten back by its inhabitants and crashed on what is now the island named after him. The beach on the west side of the island, facing St. Martin, is smooth and has calm waters. This is the more relaxing family friendly side. The east side, facing the open water, is more rocky and a good place to nature at work with waves continually crashing onto the shore. Getting to this island costs less than $10 USD and is a 10-minute boat ride from the pontoon in Cul-de-Sac.

 

 

 

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Considering Applying For A Balance Transfer?

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Nowadays, there is great value to be had on credit card interest rates, and this has all been borne out of competition between the different banks and financial institutions.

Balance Transfer

So, what is a balance transfer? A balance transfer, in simple terms, is where you transfer the balance of money owed in a credit card account, to another account with another financial institution or bank. This is often done to take advantage of better interest rates.

Credit card companies will often offer attractive rates to encourage new customers to transfer their balance to them. Incentives are usually offered also, such as lower rates for a fixed term, or even 0% interest due up to a certain time. Some institutions may even run schemes, like loyalty cards, that accumulate additional benefit. Card companies will often offer 2 different rates, a “Teaser” rate, which is low (or nil), which runs for a fixed period and then expires; and a normal rate, which is the rate you will progress onto after the cessation date for your “Teaser” rate has passed.

So, are you looking for a balance transfer? What should you know, prior to making an application to transfer your balance to a different financial institution? The first thing you should do really is some research – the internet is probably your best tool available to help with this, as you can compare what the difference between the institutions is, quite quickly.

You may find that price comparison websites are helpful for this task, but it is always a good idea to double check the rates directly on the website of the financial institution, to ensure that the rates that are quoted are entirely up to date.

“Teaser” rates are an incentive to get new customers to sign up, so it is worth paying attention to what the normal rate you will graduate to will be, if you decide to go with one company over another. The “Teaser” rate may be as low as nil, but the Normal rate could then be quite high after your expiration date, so this is important to keep in mind.

Also, ensure to read the small print – there may be a clause that will prevent you to again transfer within a certain time frame. This has come about as a result of customers taking advantage of the “Teaser” rate, and immediately transferring their balance to another company once this rate had expired.

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Isle Of Man – The Sights

The Isle of man is a little island which is located in the center of the British Isles. Due to the fact that it is so close to Britain, it has always been a very popular holiday destination for the British. But it also has become known for a decent holiday spot for people all over the world.

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There are many things to both do and see when you are on the island. It’s not a mad party island, so don’t come here looking for wild nights.

The largest waterwheel in the world – the Laxey wheel, is 72 feet in diameter. This is one of the islands most visited attractions. The village of Laxey also has tours of the mines that you can visit as well as a woolen mill where tourists can buy some locally made crafts.

If you’ve ever wished to ride on a steam train, then it can be done here! The island has two fully operational railways that utilise steam trains. The great Laxey mile railway only opens it’s doors on Saturdays and some Bank holidays, but you can still ride on the other steam train during your visit to the Isle of man.

If you are looking for a cheap flight to the island then click here to see numerous deals throughout the year, and is worth checking out first.

The most famous road race in the world take place on the island every year. This is the TT races. Thrill seekers and fanatics from all around the globe flock to the isle during the events. There is a great buzz and atmosphere there for it, and you can see other races alongside it, as well as bike and car rallies.

If you are a birdwatcher, then you will love the opportunities that the island can offer you. From ravens, terns and peregrines to black guillemots and sandpipers – it’s got something for you to observe. So make sure you don’t forget those binoculars.

The island has a few diving clubs peppered around the coast line. This gives tourists the chance to explore the beautiful underwater wildlife. There are many shipwrecks to discover and explore as well. Some of these are protected by the government, so you will have to find out which ones aren’t.

There are also plenty of golf courses and museums for you to enjoy as you spend a few quality days, or weeks relaxing and recharging your batteries.

 

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