Tuesday, 12 June 2012

lonely, gorgeous beaches


With no one else intrepid enough to brave the elements of British beaches in winter, you own a whole bay, and you suddenly seem so much smaller, problems so much less important when you remember how big everything is and that the waves will keep crashing no matter how badly everything goes wrong.

Also, makes you so much less guilty about the post-walk fish and chips, doesn't it?
This beautiful beach is in Suffolk, with one of the best fish and chip shops in the country nearby, blackberries to pick in the autumn and a rowing lake complete with island and a Peter Pan wendy-house to complete the perfect idyllic English holiday.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

hideaway harbours and calm seas




Tobermory, Isle of Mull / Kinlochbervie Harbour, the morning after a gale / setting sail for Stavanger


Venezia in -3 degrees

Although almost canal-freezingly cold, one of the most picturesque winter holidays we could have wished for. Here's our how-to for a dream winter weekend on an (extremely tight) budget in one of the most beautiful cities in the world:

- Pick a fabulous hotel. Carefully. Venice is packed all year round, even in February. We chose a beautifully decorated small hotel on the island of Murano, famous for its glass making. Perfect for escaping the crowds after a long day of sightseeing and wrestling through stampedes of tour groups. Check reviews on reputable websites like lonelyplanet.com, which actually send reviewers to the hotel in question, unlike some other sources. Also, moving your holiday by a weekend can reduce prices by up to £50 a night, so its worth being flexible. Ours was very affordable, with a chandelier in our room and breakfast included.

- Budget airlines are not as bad as they are often made out to be. You are paying less than a train fare, so be patient and stand in a queue. Its a small price to pay for the holiday on the other side, especially on short-haul flights within Europe. Be sensible with your packing, take a trashy magazine to entertain you at the gate, remember that queue-jumpers will face the bad karma of their actions soon enough without you shouting at them and you will survive the flight in a zen-like state of calm despite having paid less than you would have spent on a pair of shoes.

- Pack your favourite, worn in and waterproof shoes. Venice needs to be explored on foot, and after an 8 hour day of exploring endless but beautifully quaint alleys, finding yourself cut off by a canal and having to turn around and start all over again, you will either want to marry your thick socks and lovely boots or throw your pinching new heels into a canal. 

- Never, ever eat a tourist menu. Ever. No matter how sore your feet are or how loudly your tummy is complaining. Ever. Take our word for it. The anger is not worth the convenience.

- Don't be afraid to explore. Take a map, use it, but don't be chained to the recommendations for tourists. We found an ice rink set up in a beautiful square and the best food in Venice by turning down tiny streets that looked pretty. 

- Try not to murder the people you are with when they take photos every 3 steps leaving you to freeze your toes off. Remember they carried your bags at the airport and that deep down, they are nice people.

And finally, enjoy one of the most atmospheric holidays of your life, with an 'oooh look at THAT' around every single tiny winding corner. Our guide full of tips and tricks for once you've got to Venice is coming soon.