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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?”

Bits and bobs abroad: Six holiday beauty essentials

March 19, 2014 at 4:49 AM
Image courtesy of Sofia Salom

Image courtesy of Sofia Salom

The captain has switched off the seat-belt sign. The plane is cruising at 30,000ft, high above the Portuguese coast. And the biggest predicament in your life? Whether to have the Pinot Grigio, the Cabernet Sauvignon, or both. That is, of course, until you have your very own Home Alone moment – but instead of shouting “KEVIN!” at the top of your lungs, a whole host of beauty goodies that you’ve forgotten come to mind – and you know it will cost you double the price to invest in these holiday godsends on the other side of the pond.

Given that we aren’t exactly equipped on a daily basis for a week by the beach in blissfully hot temperatures, I think we can be forgiven for our somewhat uneducated method of packing. One bottle of sun cream; one pair of flip flops that cut into our toes; one too-large-hat-that-we’ll-never wear again: these do not suffice for a job well done in the packing world.

But fear not, beautiful holidaymakers – I’ve devised your top six go-to items that should be mandatory in your suitcase. Asides from this, and your passport, everything else is just filler.

A Jersey jaunt

March 17, 2014 at 2:45 AM
Gorey Harbour, Jersey Photo: David Blaikie

gorey harbour, jersey photo: david blaikie

One of the warmest places in the British Isles and the most southerly of the Channel Islands – Jersey is a haven for all things good. When I think of Jersey, my thoughts turn to warm sunny days, yachts and sail boats creating pretty pictures in the St Helier marinas. And, of course, whether strolling around St Helier browsing the boutiques, sat on one of Jersey’s many beaches or exploring the green and lush countryside, there is always time to enjoy a Jersey ice cream, which I think can be included in the delicacies that are Jersey home-grown.

So what is the best way to explore Jersey? Car, cycle, boat or by foot: the answer? All are great ways to explore this beautiful island – a total land mass of 45 square miles, measuring nine miles by five miles, Jersey proves good things certainly do come in small packages! Old English charm, a sophisticated cosmopolitan vibe and good old seaside fun are a few of the things that make Jersey such a special place.

Friday Commentary: Safe travel

March 14, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Staying safe whilst on the move isn’t always easy

 

Stay safe and avoid conflict spots around the world

Stay safe and avoid conflict spots around the world

Events in recent months and years have turned once safe and popular holiday destinations, such as Cairo in Egypt, Bangkok in Thailand and Ukraine, into virtual no-go areas. Egypt has seen a decline of 28.9% in January with visitor numbers down to half their 2011 height of 1,147,962. Whilst the recent shutdown of Bangkok during the protests has given tourists pause for thought.

At the same time as people are reconsidering holidays to Egypt and Thailand we have also witnessed the unfolding situation in Ukraine. Last week at the worlds largest tourism fair, ITB in Berlin, Ukraine’s tourist board was trying to make the best of a bad situation with images of the protests in Kiev being used as an image of hope and change, something they believe will inspire some of the 80,000 tourists which visited from the UK in 2013. Elena Ovcharenko, head of public relations and marketing for Kiev’s tourism office spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald and said the following of Kiev: “I think it’s our story at the moment – it’s the sad side of our story but we’re proud that Ukraine has these heroes and people who weren’t scared to defend the interests of their country,”

With HomeAway having rentals in Egypt, Thailand and Ukraine we thought it would be timely to look at how to stay safe when abroad and what to do if the unexpected happens. So we asked our panel of experts their advice on safe travel, and where would they stay away from?