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Friday Commentary: National Gardening Week

April 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

This week our panel share their favourite gardens

Sandringham gardens Photo: Karen Roe

Sandringham gardens Photo: Karen Roe

Versailles Palace, Claude Monet and Minnesota. That might seem like three random things plumped together, but they all have one thing in common: beautiful gardens. From Keukenhof’s tulips in the Netherlands, to Gardens of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland, there’s just something about that heady mix of fragrance, colour and fresh air that brings out the best in us, our countries – heck, nature itself. This week is National Gardening Week, and here at HomeAway.co.uk we know two things: firstly, that here in the UK we’re famous for our love of gardening (let’s NOT bring up hosepipe bans); and secondly, that gardens are an integral part of any home – either here or on holiday.

And in that leafy vein, our question to the green-fingered panel this week:

“What is your favourite garden to visit in the UK or abroad and why?”

Spring has sprung in Salzburg

April 16, 2014 at 3:35 AM
Salzburg old town, Austria

Salzburg old town, Austria

My favourite season is without a doubt spring.  As winter wanes and the days grow longer and warmer it’s a sign that it’s time for us to shake off our winter doldrums. The fresh air and blossoming spring landscape inspires us to put an end to our winter hibernation and explore the world around us.  If I could choose any place in the world for a spring holiday it would be Salzburg.

The Austrian city stretches out along the Salzach River, on the northern rim of the Alps.  The city is not only famous as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music, but it also has some of the world’s most magnificent examples of Baroque architecture.

Somerset: Keep calm and carry on

April 14, 2014 at 6:15 AM
Spectacular Cheddar Gorge

Spectacular Cheddar Gorge

This year has certainly thrown out some challenges in the way of weather, but how amazing has it been to see how the regions most affected have rallied? A coming together of communities, local businesses, councils, travel providers and many other organisations and individuals who have committed to helping in any way possible.

Over the last few weeks I have felt honoured to share stories from some of these individuals and organisations, learning how much has been done so that we can all look forward to spring and summer in some of England’s most beautiful counties. To see what I’ve been up to, check out my posts on Cornwall and Devon

This week I have been looking at Somerset, long a favourite holiday destination for not only U.K. holidaymakers but international visitors too. For those who have not yet had the pleasure of visiting the heart of the West Country, now is the time to take a look and learn just why it’s such a popular location. For seasoned visitors, it’s also time to take a look – at what’s going on over the next few months. Somerset is open and ready to welcome visitors; in fact, it’s literally bursting with events and attractions!

Family friendly days out in the UK & Europe

April 13, 2014 at 2:20 AM
Make the time to enjoy a day out with the family

Make the time to enjoy a day out with the family

Boredom-induced whining, siblings waging war for de facto ownership of the remote control, impatient demands even the most schooled negotiator would fail to meet: brace yourself, folks, the Easter holidays are just around the corner – and hot on the heels, a potentially torturous summer break is but a mere soggy spring away. To the kids, this means two months of freedom from school and an inevitable sense of expectation. To the parents – ah, not so much!

Don’t get me wrong, dear reader: any mother or father relishes the opportunity to spend more time with their apple-cheeked little darlings. On the other hand, keeping them amused for the duration of any extended time-off is a feat of Atlas-like proportions.

Enjoying that "spring vibe"

Enjoying that “spring vibe” (Photo: Bo Gordy-Stith)

However, there’s no need to despair! These days, the oft-uttered phrase “there’s nothing to do” should be all but expunged from our collective vocabulary. The wealth of activities on offer throughout the country assures that it’s easy – in theory at least – to alleviate any form of tedium that may set in over the holidays. From most outposts of the British Isles, you’re never more than a short journey away from all manner of family-orientated ventures. Alas, if you’re a long journey away from theme parks, beaches and zip-wired forests, I suggest you keep the Sky remote on your hip – and protect it with your life!

Friday Commentary: Favourite Easter Memories

April 11, 2014 at 5:54 AM

 Get ready for a weekend of chocolatey fun as Easter approaches!

Easter bunnies

Easter bunnies Photo: Lin Pernille Photography LLC

This time of year (and for months before!), most of us can’t escape the Easter bunny. The hot-cross-bun-clad celebration grows year on year, with just about everything spring-related infiltrating our shop shelves: cutesy animals, cutesier clothes and tons – and tons – of chocolate. At Easter, some go on egg hunts; some on daffodil-draped walks. Most of us stuff our faces with mini eggs, simnel cake and creme egg-flavoured shots (just me then?). What’s your favourite Easter memory? We’ve asked a HomeAway panel to share their own Easter egg-speriences (sorry – I can’t help myself!).