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    From Balloch to Tarbet – The West of Loch Lomond

    Where the sun shines fair on the banks of Loch Lomond Britain’s largest loch (or lake) is one of the most beautiful destinations in Scotland (and trust me there are a lot of places to chose from). I have spent many childhood summers visiting my grandparents who are only a 10-minute drive away. Situated in the heart of the ‘Trossachs’ Scotland’s first national park, is a miniature version of the highlands, only an hour from Glasgow. Balloch The start of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs park is Balloch, which has plenty to do and see. Balloch Castle Country Park Initially developed in the early 19th century, the country park and…

  • Travel Advice,  United Kingdom

    How To Stay Safe During The UK Heatwave

    As the UK enters its longest ever heatwave, it is essential to remember to protect yourself from the sun. Travel safety is critical, with everyone being savvier overseas, but not considering that the UK sun can be just as hot! Here are the top tips for staying safe this summer The main risks associated with the current heatwave are dehydration, overheating and sunburn or sunstroke. If you are vulnerable to heat, stay in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm. This time is the hottest part of the day. Regularly drink cold drinks such as water, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Wear loose cool clothing. Make sure you wear a…

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    Bletchley Park

    Situated an hour north of London, is an inconspicuous estate close to Bletchley train station. A mansion and grounds, that was pivotal in the modern era of information technology and cloaked in secrecy. The home of the code breakers in World War II has exceptional historical importance and is still relevant today. The Mansion and grounds were purchased in 1938 by the head of the secret intelligence service, in the event of war. On the train link between Oxford and Cambridge and only 50 miles from London, it was a prime location to attract academics that the secret service would hope to hire.  Bletchley was to be the new home of…

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    The First Emperor and Liverpool’s China Town​

    The first Chinese immigrants to Liverpool arrived in the 1830s when the first vessel direct from China arrived in Liverpool’s docks to trade such goods as silk and cotton wool. More immigrants came in Liverpool in the late 1860s with the establishment of the Blue Funnel Shipping Line. The commercial shipping line created strong trade links between the cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Liverpool; mainly importing silk, cotton and tea. Liverpool is still a twinned city with Shanghai. From the 1890s onwards, small numbers of Chinese began to set up businesses catering to the Chinese sailors and some married working-class British women, resulting in many British-born Eurasian Chinese being…

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    Liverpool – Road Trip Playlist

    Liverpool has been synonymous with music since the Beatles burst on the scene in 1960s, and of course any road trip requires a banging playlist. Liverpool has been awarded a UNESCO City of Music status in 2015 for its influence on popular music that still resonates today, it seems that the only problem of making a playlist would be what songs not to include. The Beatles Liverpool’s famous sons are regarded as one of the most influential musical bands encompassing various styles of music and spreading ‘Beatlemania’ across the world. Living is easy with your eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see – Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles Not without…

  • Travel Features,  United Kingdom

    Britain’s Forgotten Mother Tongues

    International Mother Language Day is recognised by UNESCO on the 21st February each year, celebrating linguistic diversity and promoting multilingual education. There are an astounding 2464 languages listed as vulnerable, and at potential risk of vanishing, from almost 6000 languages worldwide. Almost 10% of these languages are critically endangered. It is possible that almost 600 languages may become extinct in a single generation. In the UK, there are 11 languages that are listed as vulnerable, and UNESCO registered 2 of these languages as extinct previously, but a resurgence and revitalisation has forced UNESCO to reconsider this classification. Manx or Manx Gaelic is the native Gaelic derived language of the Isle…

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    Happy Hogmanay!

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year or Happy Hogmanay! Hogmanay is the Scottish word used for New Years Eve, and is a huge celebration in Scotland, especially the capital Edinburgh. Although I have never spent a Hogmanay celebrating in the centre of Edinburgh or Glasgow, I have spent it with my family in Scotland and still have some of the traditions in my celebrations in London. Generally Hogmanay is spent with family, friends or neighbours, visiting their homes. On Hogmanay, we do not eat until just gone midnight, with a meal of steak pie (the table needs to be laid and full at midnight to bring a full table…

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    Shakespeare’s Stratford and Warwick

    William Shakespeare is one of Britain’s most iconic writers, play-writes, poets and manipulators of the English language. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and on a very wintery Friday whilst staying Birmingham I ventured down to Stratford to see what this quaint market-town. William Shakespeare’s birthplace and childhood home is located in the centre of Stratford, among cobbled streets and mewses. This restored building is owned by the Shakespeare centre and is a haven for lovers of literature. Although I did not visit the centre inside, so I cannot give an opinion on the attraction, it is a steep price at £15.75. Just walking along the Henley…

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    Glasgow Patter

    I am currently in Glasgow on a short surprise trip to visit my wee granny and have been thinking quite a bit about the language. Not the accent but the actual words used. Language is something that I have always found fascinating, not that I can speak anything other than English (know some very basic German and Turkish) and the UK is beautifully diverse in its regional dialects. Having spent many summer holidays in and around Loch Lomond, and my mum being Scottish I never really understood that there was such a difference until I starting talking to Londoners (friends and colleagues) that they maybe didn’t understand what I was…

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    The White Cliffs of Dover

    The famous white cliffs of Dover on the Kent coastline has always been a focal point for people entering and leaving the UK. With is close proximity to mainland Europe, Dover was the home to the first settlers to Britain with historical relevance from the Bronze age. When the Romans expanded through Europe though, Dover was the start of the network connecting the UK to Europe. The White Cliffs are part of the National Trust and for a small fee you are able to walk along the cliffs. The cliffs themselves stretch for about 8 miles! Apparently on a clear day, you can see France from this viewpoint (To be…

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    People Make Glasgow

    Glasgow is often given a bad reputation compared to its elegant and sophisticated sister Edinburgh, being more industrial and gothic to the pretty and romantic capital city but for what Glasgow may lack in aesthetics it makes up for in charm and character. Glasgow was crowned the City of Architecture, Capital of Culture and Commonwealth Games Host in 2014. What was once a city of gangs and slums, now shines with tolerance and diversity. George Square & Merchant City George Square and the City Chambers is the grand space that forms the city centre (almost like Trafalgar Square in London). There are some prominent statues in the square and depending…

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    Brighton Rocks

    Brighton is an iconic seaside town on the south coast of England. This resort is a day-trip haven in the summer months for Londoners, giving it the nickname ‘London-by-the-sea’. A lovely clean pebble beach, with lots of little shops and arcades all the way along. Beautiful in the summer months as well as a stroll along in the winter and you can’t go without pier doughnuts! Brighton Pier is open all year round so you can enjoy all the fun of the seaside any time of year. From fish ‘n’ chips to arcade games and funfair rides and free deck chairs. The pier does get very busy so be prepared for some crowding. The Lanes…

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    Exploring Edinburgh

    Edinburgh is one of the prettiest cities I have ever visited. This historic old town has a wondrous range of activities and things to do, with heritage, culture and festivals. The contrasts of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town has bundles of history. The city was leading the Scottish Enlightenment during the 18th century and retains its cosmopolitan feel with its summer festivals. Having lived in Dunedin (Edinburgh of the South) in New Zealand, before visiting Edinburgh, it was really extraordinary to see the similarities. Mostly with the street names and styling of buildings and monuments, but they really did attempt to make Dunedin an Edinburgh…

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    Giants and Dragons on the Northern Irish Coast

    On Christmas Eve, two of my girlfriends said that they had booked a super cheap flight to Belfast (£25 return flight) for February to see the Giants Causeway. So, naturally, I decided to gatecrash! We were flying out on Friday night after work and returning Sunday lunchtime, so we arranged a guided coach/tour company for our whistle-stop tour of the Northern Irish Coast. Our first stop was the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. Bushmills is Ireland’s oldest distillery, operating since 1608 and they have numerous different blends available in their store. Being half-Scottish, I am quite partial to a wee dram so upon our arrival, we decided to have a little tasting…

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    On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

    O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road, And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye, But me and my true love will never meet again, On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond My momma was born in Glasgow, and my Granny moved to near Loch Lomond while my mum was still little. Although my Mum has now lived in London since she was 18 when my sister and I were little we used to spend our summer holidays visiting the Loch and nearby Glens. I try to go and visit my wee Granny once a year, and I always take my camera to snap around…

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    Breathtaking Belfast

    My father-in-law is initially from Belfast, and my husband used to travel to see his family over there in the 90’s, but this was during the time of the ‘Troubles’ and he never really got to see Belfast. As things have settled since the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ the city is now a buzz of redevelopment and energy as it really opens its doors to the world. We were invited to a family party in Belfast, we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to visit and explore. I had been to Belfast before, for work a couple of times, but sadly travelling for work meant I got to see the…