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A jewel in England’s crown: The Lake District

April 2, 2014 at 1:00 AM
the beauty of the English lakes in spring

the beauty of the English lakes in spring

Spring has officially sprung, although I am sure we will experience some cooler weather again and of course the inevitable April showers will soon be upon us. But the fact that the trees have green leaf buds, the grass is lush having been watered by the recent downpours and the clumps of daffodils have bright yellow heads reminds us all that Easter is just around the corner – and with it the promise of warmer, sunnier days. Of course the shops are already stocked full of Easter treats, and I am staunchly ignoring my children’s pleas to purchase them now – apparently because they deserve a reward for whatever reason they think may sway my judgement!

I often talk about my family in posts as I love to share the travel experiences we have, hopefully inspiring other families to start their own travel memory bank. My favourite time of year is Easter. For the last 14 years we have spent the bank holiday weekend away in the UK, either just the four of us, or with friends and their children. A popular destination is the Lake district, and it’s not just a favourite of mine – it is a renowned UK destination worldwide, which isn’t surprising considering it boasts such stunning natural beauty.

Devon: keep calm and carry on

March 31, 2014 at 2:52 AM

The age old adage that when a storm passes waters are clearer and that a sense of calm and tranquillity follows is most definitely the case across the South West of England. Here at HomeAway along with Visit Devon, the Devon Tourism Partnership, local businesses and Teignmouth and Dawlish Community Interest Company would like to share how Devon coped with the spectacular storms and showed a huge energy, commitment and passion to get things up and running again.

Journalist Brian Jackman commented in his article for the Telegraph that “the South West has shaken itself off like a wet dog and is ready to play again”. I’d like to add to that it is looking sleek and well groomed and most certainly ready to welcome visitors this Easter.

Friday Commentary: Mothering Sunday – do mothers get a good deal?

March 28, 2014 at 4:57 AM

This week’s debate from our panel of experts

time to spoil mum with breakfast in bed

Time to spoil mum with breakfast in bed

This weekend, mums up and down the country will be woken up by excited children, glowing with pride at the home-made gifts they’ve crafted (with a little help from dad), together with a well-deserved breakfast in bed and a hand-made card sparkling in glitter and glue. Well, that was Mother’s Day when I was young; today we’ve moved past the old Mothering Sunday tradition of picking flowers on the way over to see mum, and certainly past the drab bunches of petrol-station flowers I remember. Today, there are many more opportunities to spoil mum, from spa days and short breaks away, to unusual gifts like 3D chocolate selfies (but let’s face it – not many mums will really want to bite their own heads off…).

Throughout our childhood, mums are there for us every day: providing us with a helping hand; picking us up after scraped knees; ever called upon to be our shoulder to cry on. With that in mind, maybe mum should be treated to a day of pampering more than just once per year. Do mothers get a good deal when the family heads off on holiday? Or is mum still stuck in the same routine, just in a different place? As we celebrate the centenary of Mother’s Day, is it enough that it’s just once a year, or do mothers really deserve a holiday too?

This week we rounded up our panel of experts and asked for their thoughts on whether mum gets a good deal, at home and when away.

9 amazing treasure hoards that were found by amateurs

March 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM
The Hoxne Hoard. Image: Image: Ahala

The Hoxne Hoard. Image: Ahala

Everyone dreams of finding buried treasure in their vegetable patch. With the prospect of paying off the mortgage and having the British Archaeological Society dig your garden in one fell swoop, who wouldn’t want to unearth a stash of Viking loot?

For thousands of years, mankind has been burying items for safekeeping and then promptly forgetting where they were interred. One man’s lost treasure, however, is another’s found fortune. The following treasure hauls were all discovered by amateurs: that’s right, people just like you who got lucky, got smart or got a metal detector.

Friday commentary: Is it fair to fine parents for term-time holidays?

March 21, 2014 at 6:25 AM

The weekly debate from our panel of experts

family holidays fine in term time?

Should family holidays carry a fine in term time?

There has been a lot of debate about the rising cost of family breaks during school holidays. It has been an emotive issue and one which our panel of experts took a look at in our first Friday commentary. We have seen parents take to social media and groups lobbying for government intervention and price regulation, resulting in a parliamentary debate. The travel industry respond by stating it is responding to a simple case of supply and demand, coupled with the summer season being the only time several large operators turn a profit.

Over the last couple of months since this story first came to the fore we have seen a plethora of ideas for how best to deal with the situation be suggested. One idea which seemed to gain traction has been a proposed reduction in air passenger duty during the summer holidays; this has been supported by the airline industry and Michael Gove, the Education secretary. Scrapping the tax in summer could save a family between £52 & £376 on an overseas holiday. A controversial suggestion has been to take the kids out of school for a term-time break, an option which (though once acceptable) has been banned by recent legislation, and now incurs a hefty fine, as Stewart and Natasha Sutherland found out.

Both sides of the argument have responded to this with holiday companies offering to pay parents’ fines and the Department for Education stating that:

“Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent. Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday, because this is a criminal offence and when doing so they are always risking prosecution.”

This week we put it to our panel of experts: “Is it fair to fine parents who take their children out of school during term time to save money?”